I recently had a conversation that ended being painful for me. I found myself with those words in my head again. “I’m too little”, “not capable”, “not smart enough”, “no one will care or listen to me”. Anyone else have those thoughts? All I could think about after the conversation ended was, “what the heck just happened?” I sat there crying wondering if all those things were true. Self-doubt didn’t just creep in, it came flooding in like a flipping tidal wave. It left me feeling like I was 5 again and wanting my big brother to save me (see blog post Running).
What struck me as odd is the person I was talking to never actually said any of those things, that’s just what I heard. How could I hear those negative things about myself if I have stepped out and crushed those boxes? How could I still think about those feelings of inadequacy if I no longer believed those lies? Crazy, right?!
A couple of things happened. First, it really broadsided me because I hadn’t considered that when you step out of a box, some people aren’t going to like it. Some people will see something different about you, not like it, and try and put you back in a place where they are comfortable. That really was the bottom line, the person I was talking with didn’t like the fact that I was “free”. My freedom to be and do what God is calling me to do somehow threatened that person. Shocker!
Second, if you look at a crushed box, it’s typically flattened and mangled. Nothing really will fit in it again and certainly not whatever was in it to begin with. Or consider this, have you ever tried to put something back into its original box and for whatever reason it just doesn’t quite fit anymore? The box isn’t wide enough, deep enough and the top definitely, won’t close. That’s how it felt. Being stuffed back into a box that no longer was wanted or needed.
So, there I sat, crying and wanting my big brother. My big brother went home to the Lord in 2008 so that wasn’t possible, which really made me cry. Then it occurred to me to reach out to a trusted friend. A friend that would speak truth over me. She was there for me, spoke truth over me and figuratively reached out her hand to yank me out of the mangled box that wasn’t for me anymore but was trying to consume me anyway. Whew! Dodged a box and learned a huge For Real Life lesson.
The truth and lesson for me was that this hurt, this sucked and I’m a work in progress. I may not be there yet but definitely; not where I used to be. Trusted friends are life lines that you build when you reach out to others along the way. Reaching out to others also means that we will be vulnerable. That’s okay. Being vulnerable is also how we grow and learn to be outside of our boxes.
Some people who see you running emotionally free, doing what you know God made you to do, are not going to particularly like it. They may smile, agree and even tell you how awesome you are but somewhere under it all their words won’t feel quite right to you. The words may even be painful. Just so you know up front, you will react deep down inside. Reach out to that trusted friend. Be in community with people who love that you are out of your boxes and love that you are free to be who you were made to be. Run fast in their direction, grab their hands and let them pull you back to that safe place where you are accepted and belong.
Take time today to cultivate that type of trusted friend by being that type of trusted friend. Is there someone that needs you to listen to them? If not, make it a point to connect with someone to start building the type of friendships that are accepting of each other and safe to be you.