Saturday, September 24, 2005

psalm 139:13-18

When people first meet me, they think I'm strong and confident.

I'm not.

Let me share with you a little secret (or, a big secret, whichever way it happens to strike you): Deep inside my heart, there is a cloud of perpetual uncertainty lingering on the horizon, like a penetrating dust storm that's forever threatening to sweep through the desert. Terrifying, its power rests partly in its borderless nature (part of my insecurity lies in deciding whether or not to reveal to others the extent of my insecurity). Couple that with the storm's relentless advance, and I'm left with the sense that it will inevitably bury me.

"See," I think, "when I reveal what I'm really thinking to someone, when I open up a window to share my deepest insecurity with another, I'm afraid they'll think me unlovable and unattractive. After all, no one loves someone who's weak. We want to be around people who are strong, people who can carry their own weight, people on whom we can depend. You can't depend on someone who's weak, unsure of themselves."

Aware of how I make others feel when I reveal my weakness, I'm sometimes reluctant to show my true self to people. But, on occasion, I take a step of faith and do so. I'm saddened to report that many times my fear simply causes others to cringe. Even those closest to me. To be sure, the scary animal inside me does assume my form when I release it from its cornered, caged pacing. So, at first, the thrill-seeker is confused: "That looks like him, but something tells me it's another 'him', like his evil twin brother or something." Released from captivity, the disguised animal moves quickly towards the spectator. At this point, the spectator feels the approaching animal will kill them, but really the animal just wants to be gently stroked. No one knows this, however, because the animal is forever growling, baring his teeth, until at long last, he can receive just a little love and understanding. The only way to tame fear is with love.

The other day, I released a piece of my insecurity to someone. Instantly, I felt like I had driven that person away. I had become one of the most unattractive people on the face of the earth. So, I said, "I'm never going to show my true self again. They want me to be the strong one? Well, they got it. I can be the strong one. I don't have to show them what's really going on inside me. And I never will. Starting now."

And with that resolution, I thought: "I hate myself. Why do I have to be this way? Why can't I be stronger? More confident? Secure? Why do I repel people by the way I am? I hate myself."

The next morning I opened up a book I use as an aid in my spiritual life. It's called Celtic Daily Prayer.

First, the day's entry suggested I read a portion of Psalm 139. I did so. It said: "For you created my inmost being, you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well."

Then, it suggested I read Jeremiah 29:11: "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

Then, it suggested I read a portion of I John 4, which said: "There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment."

I sensed God whispering in my ear: "I love you, Troy. I made you. I love you just the way you are. So, why are you punishing yourself? I love you."

Then, I found myself identifying with this poem, written by an author whose name I do not know:

Often I strain and climb
and struggle to lay hold
of everything I'm certain
You have planned for me.
And nothing happens:
there comes no answer.
Only You reach down to me
just where I am.
When You give me no answer
to my questions,
still I have only to raise my arms
to You, my Father
and then You lift me up.
Then because You are my Father
You speak these words of truth
to my heart:

'You are not an accident.
Even at the moment of your conception,
out of many possibilities,
only certain cells combined,
survived, grew to be you.
You are unique.
You were created for a purpose.
God loves you.'

I don't really have anything more that I could add to that.

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