Growing Pains

Learning to be authentic is probably one of the more difficult of life’s lessons- at least for some of us, who being obsessive people pleasers, tend to bend our thoughts, words, and world views to conform to those in whose company we wish to remain. Unfortunately, living that way kind of feels like eating spiritual/emotional potato chips- they taste good in the short term, but leave one feeling polluted overall. Living authentically is not always ‘nice’- sometimes it involves truth-telling in very emotionally unsafe environments, where the outcomes are not easily predictable. I am not quite brave enough to live authentically with certain members of my family- but the journey is not yet over. I am not sure what silences me the most- fear of rejection, fear of another’s anger, or feeling like my concerns might be trivialized- at any rate, the end result of such silence is the betrayal of the ‘real person’ within. That person (ME) has just as much of a ‘right’ to feel, have convictions, and express legitimate needs/desires as anyone else.
As a teenager, I spent many hours in the school counsellor’s office, describing hypothetical situations (“I have a friend with this problem…”) in an attempt to pick her professional brains for strategies to deal with my own situations. Of course, I never admitted to having any ‘needs’ at the time- it was purely under the guise of ‘trying to help someone else’. I am sure that the counsellor saw right through me, but to this day I still find it difficult to navigate my way through the conflict, confrontation, and other unavoidably messy human interactions that bind us together in the prism of relationships. It is always so much more “socially acceptable” to be on the giving end, but more often than not, my modus operandi has been to “give and run”- I could not tolerate the thought of my gift being unacceptable (doing or saying the ‘wrong thing’). Like a “Gumby”, I flexed in multiple directions, always looking for ways to be “OK”. I realize now that such a way of being was illusory and self-protective. As Paul said ‘when I was a child, I spoke, thought, and reasoned as a child’. Children are weak and vulnerable- but they do grow up eventually. If allowed to flourish in the light of God’s unfailing love and forgiveness, perhaps we will all reach that haven of blessed transparency.

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