Learning Late

All of my life I have been a solitary human being. I seldom reached out to build relationship with people; I almost never sought and cultivated relationships with people in my profession. I did two things: raised my children and tried to run my church.

Because of the way I lived, I grew up and have lived as an adult with a skewed vision of what life is all about. I robbed myself of wonderful relationships which could have helped me emotionally and spiritually in some of the situations in which I found myself. Being in those relationships would have afforded me wise counsel from those whom I trusted and who loved me, and would have allowed me to see that what I was feeling or not feeling was not unique.

People reached out to me, but I did not reach back because I did not know how. I thought that “being there” in a pastoral role for my church members was adequate, but I didn’t realize that “being there” and forming relationships are two different things.

I never asked for help – not for anything. I figured if there was an issue, I’d figure it out, and I normally did, but I did so at the expense of benefitting from people who had “been there, done that” and who could have helped me see things I did not see.

I learned late that the way I was living was not the way to live. I wrote about 15 years ago that I had lived in a cocoon, but writing about it didn’t mean I got out of it. The cocoon was safe, and I stayed inside of it. But safety was not what I needed. I needed to come out of the cocoon and let my wings dry so that I would be able to fly and soar.

I watch people now and see others who live as I lived. I listen to people who say they have few friends. I watch people as they crumble from situations that happen in the lives of all people just because they do not have a support system to help them get through it all.

I was young …and now I am old. In the Christian Bible there is a psalm that says just that: “I have been young and now I am old, yet, I have never seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging for bread.”  It occurs to me that one cannot be “righteous,” i.e., be in relationship with God if we are not in relationship with each other.

I, the preacher, have been out of genuine relationship with God because I have not been in relationship with human beings. What a troubling revelation!

When you get older, you start getting things meant to attend to your aging. When you hit age 50, you get sent an automatic registration for the AARP. You get notices about products you can use for incontinence, hearing loss, and aching joints.

What you don’t get, however, are notes to remind you that you still have time to make thigs right in your life, to make relationships, to stop living an isolated life, and to experience life in a new way, be you incontinent, suffering and crippled from arthritis, or both.

What is clear is that being a “late bloomer” is not a bad thing. It is a blessing, a gift, to make sure that for the rest of the days you have on earth, you can live life “abundantly.”

It is hard to begin again when you are older…but it is not impossible. The cocoons in which so many of us have lived are not prisons unless we make them so. They are, instead, self-imposed berths of isolation which have weak seats and thin walls.

We can, in other words, break free.

A candid observation …

Understanding “Shyness”

 

I have finally come to an understanding of what being “shy” is all about.

It is about low self-esteem and fear.

I am shy. I am animated when I present, when I preach, when I teach, but when my public performance is over, I am terrified of interacting with people. I am not good at it.

I am afraid to call meetings, even board meetings, because I am afraid of rejection.

I call it shy. It is worse than that.

I am fond of saying that there can be no reconciliation until there is truth- telling. Today, I am telling the truth.

I have never reached out to people. In therapy, I learned that because of my childhood, I learned to be isolated. It was safe. Where there is no interaction, there can be no rejection. My mother was gone …somewhere…and I lived with foster parents. My mother said my biological dad didn’t want me.

Cool. I stayed by myself. My only real connection was with my mother, who was gone somewhere and only came to Detroit, to the home of my foster family, intermittently.

I learned to be a loner.

My entire professional life, I have been a loner. Didn’t seek people out, people who did what I did, who could have helped me and with whom I could have had really good friendships.

I formed a board for Crazy Faith and have never called a meeting because I am afraid.

I have an urge to call for a vigil to address all the craziness that is going on in this country, but have not, because I am afraid. “Shy,” I call it, but it is really fear.

I had learned to be a loner.

As I raised my two children, I realized I had a problem and did see, thank goodness, that life is about relationships. I encouraged, pushed my children to make relationships, which they have done.

Score for me on that one.

But I, who call myself “shy,” who has a ministry called “crazy faith,” and who teaches that fear and faith cannot exist in the same sphere, the same space, live in fear. Fear of rejection, mostly.

Sharing this is scary, but necessary. I am determined to grow.

“Shy” is a misnomer. It is low self-esteem, based on fear of rejection, fear of not being good enough.

A candid observation…

Fighting Insecurity

When Whitney Houston died, it was revealed that, as talented as she was, she didn’t feel like she was “enough.”

I know that feeling.

How in the world does it happen that people who are so deeply and richly talented, live in the grip of insecurity? Where in the world does that come from?

Let me be a tad personal here.  I’m smart. I’ve gone to the best schools. I’ve done some good work in my life, and yet, I have been my own worst enemy. I have held myself back. I will not and have not advocated for myself. I have felt “less than” so many people, and have been afraid to move forward and up into what I have been sent to this world to do. I am shy to a fault.

Where does that come from? 

It is exasperating to see people I know moving forward, and see myself sitting still. It is maddening to see people use opportunities to their benefit, while others, like me, let them pass by because of this dratted feeling of not being “enough.” And it is scary to think that I might leave this earth without pushing through this wall.

I would bet that my mother, long deceased, and who said that being depressed is selfish, would say that being insecure is selfish, too.  Is it?

I am better than I was …but I’m not good enough, I mean, not strong enough, yet. I am still behind the wall of insecurity.  Every day, I say, “OK, God gave me one more day…” and I move a little. But I need to move A LOT!

I am fighting for my life. The wall of insecurity is a killer, as deadly as any illness of the body. Insecurity is an illness of the spirit, and it is an illness I would like to disappear. I wish there was an easy way to get out of it. There is not. You simply have to recognize it, face it, stare it down …and push through.

I don’t normally write really personal stuff on this blog, but this is a battle that I think I need to put out on Front Street so that it can be cast into the sea and be gone forever.

A candid…and very personal … observation …

 

 

Shy to a Fault

All my life, I have been shy to a fault.

People don’t realize it; when I share it in workshops or in places where I speak, people literally laugh and say they don’t believe me. I am so animated when I speak or present, it’s hard for people to believe that when I am done, I crawl into a shell.

I have always done it.

While there is nothing wrong with being shy, I write this to ask any of you who are shy not to let it compromise your life and your possibilities, as I have.

I have not made friends with people as a rule. I have not fostered and cultivated professional relationships. I have not mingled with people of my profession much, getting to know them, and allowing them to know me.

For the years I was a pastor, I basically went to church, did my “church work,” and go home. Oh…I did raise my children, and did quite well at that, I am pleased to say. But I did not build relationships. I did not diversify the palette of my life.

My therapist ( yes, I see one regularly) said that I made my world too small. Isn’t that a wonderful description of what being shy does?

Where in the world does the shyness come from? Is saying I am shy another way of saying I am insecure, or not confident?

I can remember once I went somewhere to preach. I got there early, with a friend, and was led into a roomful of women I didn’t know. I looked around, and the woman was whisking my friend to another area of the building. I wanted to die! There were all these women whom I did not know. They were well-dressed and articulate …and it felt like their heads were blowing up into huge balloons right in front of me; it felt like the balloons were coming toward me! I could not run out. I told myself that …and so I made myself walk to the balloons and, in talking, was able to stick a pin in them so that the big heads shrunk down to normal. I found that I could talk with these women; I found out that I had much to say and that they listened, but I will never forget the terror of those few moments.

Since then, I have been practicing not being shy. Some people from my former church would see me in a crowd, “working the  room,” and would encourage me. That meant a lot. Someone knew I knew this particular weakness of mine, and saw that I was trying to meet it … and, in effect, beat it.

But the bottom line is that I have hurt my life and my career by being so shy. I told/taught my children not to be like me, and thank God, they have listened. I have gone to the best schools, but didn’t connect with people. They, too, have gone to the best schools and have connected with people, have good friends all over the country, and are nurturing the relationships they have made even as they make new connections.

I told you I raised my children well.

I write this because this morning I wept for a few moments as I dealt with seeing myself “face to face.” Sometimes, I like what I see. This morning, I did not.

But the little weeping spell is over. I decided to write because someone else, a young person with lots of gifts and talent, is hiding under a bushel somewhere.

Please come out. The world needs you.

A candid observation …