Recently my daughter told me that a friend's parents had offered to pick her up at our house, take her to her friend's bowling party, and then drive her home again. I said oh no, I would come get her after the party, as there was no need for them to do all that driving. She replied forcefully “Mum, they offered to bring me home, and if someone offers something, you have to accept, otherwise they’ll think you don’t like them”. I assured her they won’t think any such thing, and explained that whether or not we accept someone’s offer has nothing to do with whether or not we like them.
And yet later that evening, when my own friend turned down an offer I had made when I'd thought she might need a friend on an upcoming trip, I found my daughter's words echoing in my head. Why, knowing there was not a shred of truth to it, would such a thought enter my mind? And yet strangely it did. Even though I fully understood my friend’s reason for saying "thanks for the thought, but maybe another time". Even though I knew the reason she didn't want my company had nothing to do with me in particular, she just wanted to take some time for herself. Even though I myself sometimes choose solitude over the company of friends and family.
I am a hypocrite in the face of my own insecurity. I wonder if this is normal. I wonder if my insecurity is a burden for my friends...I hope not.
O, Insecurity, you curious beast...how do I hate thee? Let me count the ways...
I hate when the fear of perceived rejection paralyzes and weakens me. I hate when ridiculous and irrational thoughts crawl out of my brain and swirl around my mind. I hate that, even though I recognize their absurdity, those thoughts still lead me to a place of withdrawal. I turn inward and circle the wagons, determined not to risk rejection again.
But then I always do...risk rejection again, I mean. Because, in spite of my insecurity, being open to possibility lifts my spirit and fills me with joy. I love that moment of optimism and hopeful expectation when possibilities seem endless. I love when I am not bogged down with doubt. So I try to find the courage to offer my support, my friendship, my talents, before insecurity silences me.
(By the way, I am offering my voice in church on Sunday. It is my first time singing at the microphone. I don't know how this happened! I am both afraid and proud of myself. My choir friends lift me with their encouragement. I pray for the courage to sing with joy. I'll let you know how it goes.)
Naturally, things don't always turn out quite how I'd anticipated. Such as when what I offer, with the best of intentions, is not what is wanted. When insecurity gets the better of me, I retreat behind a curtain of aloofness. But when I feel stronger, I realize the important thing was to have offered in the first place, and I trust that it was appreciated, even if not accepted. This strength comes faster than it used to; I suspect this has much to do with my growing faith.
I am reminded of something Valerie said in her sermon last Sunday about the joy of knowing Someone cares. It's certainly true for me that feeling wrapped in the arms of God is joyful and powerful and strengthening...such unconditional love and acceptance blows my insecurity away. Without being burdened with insecurity, I do not take it personally that my friend did not want my company, and am able to feel glad she is taking some well deserved time for herself. I am content to accompany her in thought and prayer only. Perhaps she will want me to join her on another journey...but if not, I'm pretty sure I won't take that as a sign she doesn't like me :)
But, awesome healing power of the Spirit notwithstanding, we can always use a little help from our friends...
Lennon & McCartney wrote this song, but Joe Cocker's live performance at Woodstock is brilliant and unabashedly passionate.
PS (added June 22) - as promised, you can find out how my singing went here