My new “tribe member” here in Gainesville is kicking my butt these days. She’s a hard-core weightlifter with an absolutely GORGEOUS sleeve of tattoos, a passion for the outdoors and a “take no lip” attitude. Please do not take offense, but she really does deserve to be called a bad a$$ with the highest admiration.
Right now she’s reacquainting me with the gym and lifting weights (I competed in weightlifting in high school and was okay), but through this reacquaintance comes a ginormous swallowing of pride. I’m dependent on her to show me the ropes again so that I don’t hurt myself. I’ve had to tell her my limits. I’ve had to admit where I’m too soft and be okay with that for now.
It’s more humbling than what is comfortable, but I would rather be unashamedly humble and dependent for now so that I can one day deserve to be called a bad butt too.
About two years ago, I wrote a blog post entitled “Staying Soft in a Hard, Hard, World” as a way of raising my sweet fist to the world for questioning the value of sensitivity and emotional tendencies. LOL. It was actually a major hit with those who read it, but that’s not the point.
Two years later, I sit in my office at the University of Florida on day two of Spring semester classes reflecting on the flood of students who came to my office today to hug me and tell me all about their holiday break and their plans for the semester ahead. They came back because they knew the response they would receive from me, a response of genuine love, excitement, hugs and tears and all the feels.
Yet, as I take inventory of a majority of my friends who I actively surround myself with for my own support and needs, I find myself utterly and completely sensitive to the fact that I am known as the one who is sensitive. The one with the hard-core soft core. The sappy one. The one with extreme joys and extreme pain. The one who can’t always put her foot down or be confident or own who she is proudly and audaciously. The one with one too many feels.
And so I have to tell you the honest truth. I hate being that friend among my friends.
Sure, it’s easy to play the part well—I being that friend who “needs” someone else to tell me how it really is, to tell me to suck it up, buttercup, to give me the pep talk of a lifetime that should probably be made into a Pinterest pin or something.
But here’s the thing.
While I love those who love me enough to want to lift me up and shake me until I snap out of whatever emotions I’m experiencing at the time, deep, deep down, I (the emotional one) do not love feeling like I need emotional crutches. And, I REALLY do not love feeling like my friends think I need them to be my emotional crutches.
It’s a matter of pride, folks. We all want to be proud of who we are and own who we are. And we don’t want to be dependent on other people because of who we are. No one is proud of dependence.
Noticeably, there’s a widespread fascination and obsession with personality types. With my own fascination of personalities and behaviors of people comes the thought that perhaps narcissism is what draws us to studying our own personality type and others. Perhaps deep down we hope that in studying all types of people we can justify our own actions and believe we are better for who we are naturally.
Or maybe I’m wrong about all of that.
But, I don’t think I’m wrong about the dependence issue. I think we as people (who since the beginning of time had to figure out that we need each other to survive) do not like having to depend on someone else to move forward in life, to become better ourselves. We see it in toddlers as they want to do everything themselves despite the fact that they wouldn’t know how to do anything had it not been modeled for them by someone ahead of them in life.
In my Jesus Calling devotional for today, January 5th, a passage stuck out to me and struck a chord on my heart strings, a chord I wasn’t sure made a pretty sound.
(Yahweh speaking here:)
“True dependence is not simply asking Me to bless what you have decided to do. It is coming to Me with an open mind and heart, inviting Me to plant my desires within you. I may infuse within you a dream that seems fay beyond your reach. You know that in yourself you cannot achieve such a goal.
Thus begins your journey of profound reliance on me. It is a faith-walk, taken one step at a time, leaning on Me as much as you need. This is not a path of continual success but of multiple failures. However, each failure is followed by a growth spurt, nourished by increased reliance on Me. Enjoy the blessedness of a victorious life, through deepening your dependence on Me.”
I believe God works in my life in many ways, through prayer, through examining and analyzing and meditating on His word, and through circumstances. He also works through my friends, through my tribe.
I want to be utterly and completely dependent on God’s hand and provision to move me forward in this life. If I’m changing things about me, I want it to be because He has worked and provided in such a way that I am moving forward in a direction He is leading me. If I’m becoming something different than who I am now, I want to be more like who He made me to be. And that applies to my soft core, too.
But, as I am moved towards becoming a better me, I am liable to misstep. I will fail somewhere along the way. Two steps forward, one-and-a-half steps back.
In that failure though, in that humbling moment of realizing I need help, there is an opportunity to move forward even faster and stronger if I am willing to rely on HIM and how He works, including through the love and support of my friends.
I have a handful of “ideas” to adopt for 2017. I won’t list them all here, but I will share with you this one. I want to be unashamedly humble in my weaknesses and reliant on God’s ways to help me become stronger, whether that’s in the weight room, in managing my feels, in becoming more audacious and confident in who I am, or whatever.
The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them;
he delivers them from all their troubles.
The Lord is close to the broken-hearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Corinthians 12:10