Browsing Tag:

community

Facing up to the fear of rejection

the-fear-of-rejection

I realized a long time ago that I am an introvert and not just that, but I am the worst kind of introvert.

A shy one.

For me, navigating social situations is as violent and harrowing an experience as walking across a minefield.

 

I come away feeling exhausted. The kind of tired that seems to stretch through your bones making you limp and lifeless.

 

As a child I remember the world feeling big and garish. Going new places or having to make new friends arose the same feeling inside of me as losing my mum in the supermarket. A wild-eyed, pursed-lipped panic.

 

I thought as I grew older the feeling would fade but I’ve carried the same trouble with me into adulthood.  

 

The root of my shyness, as with most afflictions of the heart, is fear.

 

The fear that causes my voice to catch in my throat. The fear that suppresses my innate urge to love others. The fear that dulls the kaleidoscope of colours in this world.

 

The fear of rejection.

 

It has always plagued me. Sneakily crawling back into my life as it takes on new shapes and forms.


 

My fear of rejection causes me to shrink, inhibiting the hospitality that gives me life.

 

One of my greatest joys is welcoming people into our home.

 

I think that’s why I love food so much, because it brings us together. We gather around slices of pizza or steaming bowls of soup and we are united as one.

 

I’ve always hoped that someday I will be lucky enough to have a home with a gigantic kitchen and dining table so there will always be space to pull up one more chair.

 

But the desire to make people feel welcome, to talk to strangers and to make new friends is shadowed by this belief that they won’t like me.

 

So before they even tell me they have other plans or other friends I shut them out.


 

The fear of rejection has trampled all over romance in my life as well.

 

For as long as I can remember I’ve been infatuated with someone. Because loving feels as natural as breathing to me. I can hardly contain the swelling affection that sings within my heart.

 

But far too often I’ve found myself pining after someone for years because I’m so afraid that they won’t feel the same way about me.

 

Loving someone feels like far too much to ask. The risk of heartbreak seals my lips shut.

 

Rather than allow someone the chance to know and love me, I keep them at arm’s length and shy away from my feelings.


 

And in my day to day life, the fear of rejection makes conversations feel like an uphill battle.

 

I worry that my opinion won’t be heard or appreciated. I’m concerned that if I speak someone much more clever or witty will shut me down.

 

So I become disengaged. I smile and nod but do not venture to participate in the scene before me.  I save my breath and try to take up as little space as possible.

 

the fear of rejection, love, shame, disengagement, connection, community, facing rejection, overcoming hurt,

 

Over the past month I’ve been unemployed and wrestling with this nagging feeling of unworthiness.

I have found myself withdrawing from my friends and wanting to hide rather than go out and be sociable and last night I finally figured out why that is.

 

Everywhere I go people ask me questions. What do I do? Where am I going? What is my plan?

 

And somewhere deep down I have this belief that what I do defines me. Right now I don’t do anything and therefore I feel like I don’t belong.

 

Without a plan, without a purpose, I am not valuable. I am not interesting. I am not worthy.

 

With every job application I send, I attach a little piece of myself to it. Every time they reject me or ignore me altogether, I get a little bit smaller.

 

The fear of rejection gains its power from the simple fact that we put our sense of worthiness in the wrong places.

 

We define ourselves by our career, by who we date, by the people we are friends with, by the shininess of our car and by the size of our clothing.

 

We fall into this same old trap time and time again.

 

We become crippled by shame. Overwhelmed by self-loathing. Infected with a lack of self worth. We shrink down and we shrivel up. We are wounded easily and we snap without warning.


 

But you know what, I’m so tired of being afraid.

 

I want to live fully. I want to love with my whole heart. I want to be actively engaged with life.

 

I need a reminder of who I am because I’m not too sure anymore.

 

Perhaps because it is so unbelievable that we could have any worth just by existing.

Maybe because of the subliminal messages we have received our whole lives that tell us we there is no elevator to success, we have to take the stairs.

 

But here is the truth…I matter because I AM, not because I DO.

 

You matter simply because you have life running through your veins and breath flowing in and out of your lungs.

 

We need not fear rejection because we already belong. We are valuable. We are loved.

 

Regardless of what others may say. Regardless of whether we fail or succeed. Regardless of whether we are picked first or last.

 

We are worthy.

 

It makes me feel needy that I require so much reassurance. But then I am reminded that I was created by a God who has an infinite capacity to fulfill this need.

 

So what a beautiful reunion it is when I place my heart back in His never-failing hands.

 

“If you look at the world, you will be distressed. If you look within, you will be depressed. If you look to God, you will find rest.” – Corrie ten Boom

Craving community and the cost of real connection

craving-connection-the-cost-of-real-community

 

When I think of community I am reminded of those big cheesy quilts that hang in libraries, town halls and council offices. With pieces of fabric cut into various shapes representing the famous landmarks of the town. Smiley faces of children waving from playgrounds. Buses winding up and down the thin strips of grey material. Cotton bud clouds, rippling streams, parks with cheery swing sets.

It’s a picture of happiness, warmth and safety.

 

A wonderful reminder of what it looks like when we do this thing right.

 

This mish-mash of colour, texture and patterns requires an experienced hand to sew it all together. Because traditionally, quilts are made in small squares, then these individual pieces are slotted together and sewn to create one masterpiece.

 

Each person works on their square, stitching themself into it.

 

Some sew tight, neat little stitches, bound up like the tension they hold in their shoulders. Some sew large, loose stitches. Looping carelessly, lighter than a feather.

And somehow these mismatching segments have to pair up at the ends and complete the square pattern.


 

Community is a funny thing. This group of imperfect people getting together and attempting to create something beautiful and worth celebrating.

 

At times it can feel like more of a shambles than a beautiful quilt.

The strain of different stories and mismatching beliefs creating gathers and tucks instead of smooth seams.

 

This world is full of messy, broken people, desperately trying to fit in. More than anything we just want to belong. We just want people to love and accept us.

 

But more often than not, I feel like I don’t fit in.

 

I often feel embarrassed that I cannot hold myself together. I frequently assume I’m the only one who is coming apart at the seams. Perhaps I am, or it may be that I’m the only one who’s being honest.

 

Is it really true that you feel fine every time someone asks you how you are doing? Do you really have nothing that you are afraid of? Nothing you are longing for? Nothing that rattles you or causes you to lose sleep at night?

 

Am I really the only one who feels like a mess?

 

Seems unlikely.

 

The truth is that we think we need to have it all together. We need to don these masks and keep our worries to ourselves so as not to burden the rest of the world with our problems.

 

We think we are the only ones who are struggling. We believe it’s our responsibility to gather up these crumbly bits of our lives and carry them all on our own. This is our cross to bear and we clutch it tightly. 

 

We’re afraid that if we let others see our broken pieces they’ll be overwhelmed or judgmental. Or that they will reject us and our cumbersome baggage. 


 

But I’m so tired of living this way.

 

I hate feeling like I’m the only one whose cheese is always falling off of their cracker.

I hate being the only one who gives their whole heart in every conversation.

 

I’m craving authenticity like oxygen. I thirst for honesty like a cool drink of water. I’m desperately hungry for a taste of realness.

Give me more of your imperfections, your mistakes and your shortcomings. I need to breathe again.  

 

Can’t you see that these are the things that make us human? Don’t you know that these are the threads that connect us to one another?

 

community, the cost of real connection, friendship, relationships, love, finding friends, vulnerability

 

This world has become far too scripted, airbrushed and filtered, it’s hard to tell what’s real anymore. We put up walls and we get defensive. We keep each other at arm’s length and avoid deeper conversations. We beat around bushes and we stick to polite small talk. 

 

This is not real love. This is not real community.

 

We need to be all in.

 

Giving everything regardless of what we get in return. We need to be there to cheer for one another in the high points. We need to be a shoulder to cry on in the low points. We need to pray for, fight for and root for one another.

 

Because what I do know is this…I can’t get enough of people who let me see them fully. I’m like a moth drawn to a flame. This kind of honesty is irresistible.


 

And what I’ve noticed is something beautiful happens as we co-exist. As we rub up alongside one another we begin to adopt pieces of everyone around us. A phrase from one person, a gesture from another.

 

Rather than those separate quilt squares stitched together, we become like this beautiful tapestry. We are interwoven. Threaded through each other. We become so much a part of one another’s stories that it’s hard to tell where one person starts and another ends.

 

That’s the vision I have for my community. Tightly bound, bright and colourful, not easily unraveled.

 

Creating community like this is all of our responsibility. And it takes hard work. Building trust doesn’t happen overnight. It takes patience and persistence. We have to start showing up with our masks off. Make-up free. Walls down.

 

We have to be willing to be seen. We have to allow ourselves to be known. It’s unnerving, uncomfortable and at times painful but a thriving community cannot be matched in its’ wonder.

 

And it starts with you.

 

Open your heart, your curtains, your door. Let the light in on those cobwebbed corners of your living room. Sit face to face with the steam rising from your cups of coffee. Link fingers, hold hands, wrap your arms around them.

 

Suddenly, we are one.

 

One body, one voice, one heart.

 

“Courage gives us a voice and compassion gives us an ear. Without both, there is no opportunity for empathy and connection.” – Brene Brown

The gift of our diversity

the-gift-of-our-diversity

I am ignorant. I am naïve. My mind is narrow and my knowledge is limited. I see the unfamiliar as threatening. The unknown as alarming. In my bubble of consistency and uniformity I am safe.

 

But I’m slowly learning what lies beyond the unfamiliar, uncertain and uncommon is extraordinary.

 

If we always colour within the lines, if we only stick with what we know, we risk missing out on the fullness of life.

 

When we step outside our comfort zone, when we sit and listen to those who look and sound nothing like us…we experience something beautiful. We realize that we really aren’t that different after all.

 


 

We’ve recently moved into a new neighbourhood and I decided that I would like to take this fresh start as an opportunity to get to know my neighbours properly. Previously, I’ve missed that acceptable window in which to become acquainted with my neighbours and so I lived beside them for years without ever knowing their names or their stories.

 

This time had to be different. So I started small. I baked a batch of apple and cinnamon muffins, nothing flashy or obnoxious and we went over to introduce ourselves.

 

We were greeted by a smiling Chinese woman and her daughter. I rambled an introduction nervously before realizing that she didn’t speak English and couldn’t understand a word I’d just said. Fortunately, her daughter translated for us and kindly ushered us in for a cup of tea.

 

We stepped into their lounge and sat gingerly on the edge of their couch while they boiled the kettle and pulled cups and teapots together. The TV was blaring in a language foreign to my ears. There were strange figures forming a shrine on the mantelpiece. The cup was tiny and made of glass which burnt my fingers as I picked it up.

 

I felt myself shuffling uncomfortably as one who has traveled infrequently and only to countries which speak English.

 

But as we sipped our tea, breathing in the sweet scent and sharing in this sacred ceremony our guards started slipping. Our differences became less noticeable. Our exquisite humanity knitted us together.

 

We began to share our stories, where we came from, what we love to do, what makes us unique and what makes us the same. We sat and chatted in broken English and messy Chinese and came away an hour later with two new friends and a dinner invitation for later that week.

 


 

And it was over dinner that I realized the significance of food and friendship in our lives. That something as simple as a batch of muffins can enable two families to build bridges and forge a relationship.

Because gathered around the table with the pink plastic cover, the mismatching chairs, the delicately painted bowls and thin wooden chopsticks, we were a picture of heaven. Regardless of our nationality, native tongue or chosen religion, we gathered here.

It is around a table that communion becomes real.

 

“Here we break bread and receive one another. We set aside our differences, our grievances and we are one.  This is love. This is Jesus. This is heaven touching earth.”

 

There’s a lot of talk these days about right and wrong. We search relentlessly for answers, for truth, for the moral high ground.

But all of this seems to just lead us further into segregation. We are divided by our opinions and our pride. We can’t see past our narrowminded views and we can’t step down from our high horses.

 

There are plenty of people who go through the motions, who obey the regulations, who colour within the lines.

But when we’re so busy polishing our church shoes and pointing fingers, we miss the big picture.

 

We are all the same and infinitely different. We carry separate dreams, fears and failings. But we are bound to one another in love. That’s the way it was always meant to be.

Beneath all of our arrogance, insecurities, doubts and fragility is a beating heart seeking connection.

 


 

Too often we let things stop us from reaching out, from crossing the street or baking a batch of muffins. But I’ve tasted and seen that God is good. I know now that this way is the best way.

 

“Welcoming strangers and making friends. Picking up the stragglers and inviting them in. Humbling ourselves and letting others go first.”

 

That’s what Jesus did and that’s what he’s asked us to do too.

 

And as much as I’d like to keep my head down and my blinds drawn… I simply cannot ignore this call. And now I’ve got a taste of it I really can’t stop.

 

I keep getting these heart nudges to be the one to say hello, to ask someone to join in, to give without getting anything in return.

 

And what I’ve found is as much as I give, it’s returned to me pressed down, shaken together, running over. That’s the way it is, we give the little we have and get immeasurably more in return.

 

So we can play it safe, we can colour within the lines and do only what is necessary or we can move beyond our bubbles of consistency and uniformity. We can move towards the unknown, uncommon and unfamiliar because it is there that we find one of those delightful thin places where heaven meets earth.

 

That’s the gift of our diversity.

the-gift-of-our-diversity

P.S. Welcome to the new blog! I hope you like what you’ve seen so far. In this space I’m going to be writing about living intentionally, building relationships and finding encouragement for your everyday life and I’d love to have you stick around for more. Feel free to Follow my blog with Bloglovin, connect on Facebook or follow along behind the scenes on Instagram.