My neighbor's dog has killed 4 "mouses" in their backyard over the past few days (as told me to by their kindergartner). This morning she called me over to help her figure out for sure what is this rodent running in her yard. As we both hover over this 2 1/2 inch long, lifeless, furry animal, fear rose up from our feet to our heads as we explored the possibility that this animal would come alive and attack us all. Yeah right. At one moment, I even commented on how silly it was that here we were two grown women frozen in fear over a 2 1/2 inch long furry, lifeless animal. We didn't know what it was capable of doing. We didn't know if it were to come alive which way it would run - up our pants leg like some cartoon we'd likely both seen in our lifetime. Or would it suddenly grow fangs and inject rabies in our blood?
Ok, so I can have a pretty vivid imagination. What can I say?
But what is it in your life that you fear because you don't know what it is capable of doing? Which direction it will take? Or what attack it will use?
What's so ironic about this scenario this morning is that it literally came minutes after closing up a chapter of a very solid book I've started reading in the mornings: What Women Fear - Angie Smith. I can't say I am someone who is overcome with fear on a regular basis not like some of my dearest friends who have shared their fears. So many moms deal with the fear that something will happen to their children or their families. And while I definitely have had those thoughts, I have to say I am not someone who lets it consume me.
I do however deal greatly with the fear that I won't be accepted. Yep. I'm pretty open and vulnerable, I get that, but after reading something this morning in my time that just hit the nail on the head for me, I have decided that being open and vulnerable is the only way any of us will ever grow.
I get to start back up in a women's Bible study next week - the one I've spoken about quite frequently here over the past 2 years. That first year, this group of women was so refreshing to me. I had a small group of very open and honest women. We had a leader who was very in-tune to what our group needed on a weekly basis and it didn't always involve following that day's line up of questions. I got so much out of this group that I joined again last year. But we all know that different stages of our lives call for different ministries and last year, I didn't get quite the same warm cozy feeling. I started blaming other people until today when I read this:
"We can become so caught up in what we think people are seeing in us that we lose sight of who we are. As a result, we may begin to shut down socially and decide that building walls makes more sense than a broken heart. As a result, many of us talk about the weather at Bible study instead of the fight we had with our teenage daughter the night before knowing that we might be labeled as an overprotective parent or the one who can't control their children. And long after the issue is resolved, we will still be seen as the one who messed up. The labels we create (and dwell on) for each other are killing our chances for genuine community and we are missing the best part of each other."
wow. I don't even know where to start on this excerpt, except it hits so many different scenarios for me: family, some of my closest friends are not transparent with me and vice versa, going to my women's study each week and not feeling connected, and even the community group we were a part of for a while - it always seems in every situation that time goes on (years!) and you realize you don't really know someone. When I think about this commentary and the whole "we don't share what's really going on because we're too afraid of the label that will be attached to us from that point forward" I just think that hits the nail on the head.
But what about the flip side of that: are you just as guilty of labeling someone based on something they share? As much as I don't want to admit it, I know I am guilty. I'm sorry. So many people need grace and wisdom when they become vulnerable, not labels and judgement.
One of the most successful community groups from our church (and success to me is measured by the number of people who are doing anything they can to be a part of it) has great leaders. I've spoken with the wife about why it is so successful and she thinks it is because from day one of each new year, her and her husband are brutally honest with everyone in their group and challenges its members to do the same. She has said that she tells them if you are not open and transparent here and tell us about what is going on in your lives, how can we truly be a community group? Sharing life and praying for you, standing beside you through all of life's journey. THAT my friend is what a community group is all about. Or any group. A group of friends. A group of bible study. Hey, even your FAMILY should operate this way, but we all know they don't always.
I'm not sure I have a great wrap up point here, but I had to get my thoughts on the blog this morning. I've sent an email to two different people discussing this same topic because I was so on fire about it when I first read it this morning.
What is it that you are afraid of? What is it that's keeping you from fulfilling what God has called you to do and to be?
You are created in the image of God gifted with His love and desire to use you. Do you wear that proudly or have you stuffed it in a drawer in favor of something you think is better?