Overgrown Pokeweed and Insecurities
I love to show off my house. Any time someone is coming over, I manically clean it. I light candles. I probably will have food out and maybe even a bottle of wine aerating. I've put a lot of time and care into the house because I take pride in it. However, the interior of our house has never really matched the outside. The siding needs repainted. The doorframe in the front is kind of (really) falling apart. And the landscaping...
...the freaking landscaping. When we saw the house for the first time, we loved the inside, but when we got to the backyard, it was even better. There were tulips and daffodils aplenty. So much green; so much space. We were sold immediately on the whole package of the house.
What we didn't know was how many weeds would grow. And they grow hearty. And they grow everywhere.
The last two weeks of my summer I spent completely overhauling the front yard, and it looks the best it ever has (if I do say so myself).
But the backyard. UGH, the backyard!
Basically, if you come over to my house, I will not even open the curtains to let the sunshine in, in fear that you will see the backyard. (The picture for this post is of our dog in our backyard in the winter. When the land is barren. And that's the most you're ever going to see.)
I understand that a lot of you probably don't care. Lawns aren't really that important to you. But on the off chance that seeing overgrown pokeweed will make you think less of me, I'm going to keep that part of our property out of sight.
This is how I've functioned for most of my life.
On the off change that seeing overgrown insecurities, turbulent emotions, and depression will make you think less of me, I'm going to keep that part of myself out of sight.
A few weeks ago, my dear friend Shannon pointed out to me that my dissatisfaction with certain communities stems from a lack of authenticity. I didn't realize until she talked me through it, but unless I feel that you are being vulnerable and genuine with me, I'm not interested in whatever you're selling-- even if that's yourself.
Since that talk, I've realized that I'm not always the most authentic. The most genuine. The most vulnerable. I encourage it in others, and I seek it out in close friendships. But there are parts of my life that are so guarded that even Josh has a difficult time getting me to open up about it.
With this discourse running through my head, I've looked at a multitude of relationships in my life through this lens. Here is what I've come to terms with.
It's so important to find people who love you as you are. The friends who are the most valuable to me are the ones who know I am emotional, insecure, depressed, and messy, and love me not just despite it, but because of it. We all need friends who are not expecting us to be just like them, or hoping that we'll grow or turn into someone else. And we need to do the same. Love people where they are at and for who they are. There is beauty in difference and variance. And there's something so remarkable about friendships between people who are wired differently, as long as there is mutual respect for each other as human beings.
Which brings me to my next discovery that has weighed heavy on my psyche. It's so important to want to be a better version of yourself, not a completely different person. We want to grow. It's important to keep developing your character, and how you treat others. However, lean into your strengths. Recognize the core of who you are, and allow that to be what you develop. You do the world a disservice when you try to change and adapt yourself to be someone or something else. Don't let biased standards of society or other people tell you who you should be. Don't let those lies seep into the cracks and fracture your identity. Embrace authentic friendships and spaces where you can be who you truly are.
My father-in-law, Rick, preached at church this morning, and specifically addressed the lie that people will only love you if they see what you want them to see. He yearns for our church to be an environment where everyone feels welcome, like they're coming home, and he especially wants everyone who attends to feel comfortable enough to be themselves-- the good, and the messy.
I want the same thing for my life. I want to be able to be messy, and honest, and vulnerable. And I want you to be able to do so with me. The key here is for us to meet each other's vulnerability with empathy. Without it, the vulnerable party will feel naked and ashamed. By being intentionally empathetic in moments of authenticity and uncomfortable truth, not only do we encourage genuine relationships, but we also communicate an unconditional love and belonging. (This wisdom brought to you by Brené Brown's many books that I obsess over and will recommend to anyone. Please read).