I think I'm finally ready to write the post that I alluded to in this post.
The past few months I have felt especially called to community. I feel God asking me to take more chances in trusting people and relying on people. Like maybe he's taking his eraser and correcting the crooked lines in my life.
I love my parents, but I sort of imbibed the philosophy from them that expressing emotion was a sign of weakness and that personal autonomy was the highest goal that a person could strive for. I internalized the idea that everyone hates being bothered. By phone calls, visits, asking for favors. One of the highest goods is privacy and the ability to live without needing anyone else. The thing I really love about my parents is that they always seemed to enjoy spending quality time with us kids. Viewing their relationships with other people, it seemed like they'd do all they could to get away.
I'm pretty sure it was just a symptom of 2 introverts working with the public all day and needing some down time. Still, I didn't have an example of openness and warmth. I think that's why I have such a hard time forming relationships with other people.
I think that God is working on me with chisel in hand, chipping away at the wall that surrounds me. He keeps placing me in situations in which I am forced to trust and rely on other people. And let me just say: people continually surpass my expectations and pleasantly surprise me every time.
When I went on the Appalachian Trail several years ago, I was truly alone in the world. I was unable to rely on my crutches: my parents or my husband. And it was hard. I couldn't be vulnerable, but yet I was so lonely. I finally attached myself to some older men and became part of a group. They actually helped me. They gave me company and let me stay with them. It was never anything inappropriate, I think they may have felt sorry for me. When my sleeping things became wet in a deluge of Smoky mountain mist, they lent me a jacket. When one of them went to hang his food bag, he would go out of his way to ask for mine and hang it too. The experience of caring was unexpected and nearly foreign.
Other people on the trail also showed so much kindness. There were strangers who would pick up hikers and drive them places, just out of the goodness of their hearts. People saw that I was down and went out of their way to comfort me. Each instance was like a little chink with the chisel and hammer.
When I returned from the AT, my old patterns resumed. Life as normal returned. I never questioned or understood that the ways I was accustomed to were dysfunctional until I started seeking God again. Somehow it seems like God keeps exposing these old memories of mine and infusing them with new significance.
Fast forward to now. My pregnancy with LC and her birth really opened me up to new people. I got really personal with my midwives. I had to rely on them in utter vulnerability. I was literally naked and moaning, deprived of all my usual barriers. There was one I was especially close to, as she was very motherly. This was a completely new kind of dependence which created another little crack in the wall.
A couple of months ago I started to realize that God seemed to be calling me to deliberately seek community with other people. I felt called to start going to the church that my cousin attends, which I had avoided before because I thought the church was an "extrovert church" and the friendliness was beyond my comfort level. I also hope that LC can grow up knowing her cousin and see me interact in friendship with my cousin.
I felt convicted one day after reading a Scripture (I wish I'd written down which one!) that I have been miserly with my money, but even more with my words and time. Not choosing to spend my time reaching out to others, and to leave too many things unsaid. I also mentioned in a previous post about my struggles with Facebook. I think that God has been calling me to abandon this social media for quite awhile, as I've always used it as a crutch to have superficial relationships with people without getting too close. In this past week which I've been avoiding it, I have noticed more personal friendliness and openness to others.
Of course, it's difficult to see a path through crossed wiring. All I can do is take little steps and trust in the grace of God to help me move forward.