I’ve been a bit of a hypocrite.
I lead people toward sharing and openness, challenge my friends to be vulnerable, and invite others to be authentic. I thrive on connecting with others in their darker, cracked and broken spots, and that can only happen by the invitation that comes with daring greatly with your story. I quote Brene Brown a lot and am enthralled by learning the power and benefit of living life whole-heartedly and with unabashed truth, and yet I’m sorry to say I haven’t been walking my talk.
You see, with most things I’m an open book, BUT I’ve been trying really hard to conceal a deep-rooted scary secret–cue the shrieking sounds–I want to be in a relationship. Now I don’t know if I’ve been hiding it as well as I hoped I had, but I’ve definitely tried my damnedest to prove that I am completely fine with my singleness. I brush off the tinge of disappointment after first dates that clearly won’t turn into second or third ones. When my friends fall in love, get engaged or get married, I conceal the slight reminding ache that comes and talk myself into only being happy for them. This is not about you. You’re thrilled for (insert name here), remember? He/She is such a great guy/girl, and I’m so glad that (insert same name) found someone that treats them so well and makes them so happy. The joy and excitement is true and authentic, but denying the reminder and other less enjoyable emotions is not.
Why do I do it then? Because I have a terrible relationship with the idea of being weak. I’m an oldest child who grew up with brothers, and strength was just something that came with it. No one told me to be strong, and this isn’t a blame-the-parents type of thing but when I conquered something or faced a trial head on, I was encouraged, praised, and complimented by those closest to me. It was good to push through it. After 25 years, I’m pretty sure I’ve internalized being “the strong one” and so revolt against anything that would make me seem “weak”.
Recently, I’ve been faced with the fact that I associate desiring a relationship with weakness and more specifically, with this awful whiny, dejected stereotype. Anyone who has seen He’s Just Not That Into You knows the one I mean, the girl who only talks about her relationship status, who runs around falling for guy after guy after guy thinking he’s “the one” every time, whose one goal in life is to have her rom-com fairytale wedding plans realized but just needs the groom. Ugh it’s the worst! That’s not only pathetic but really really weak, and the polar opposite of me, well except for the desire to be in a committed loving relationship. Damn…
Okay, so now that I see my tension, I should just get out there and find a nice guy, right? Not so much. You see, I’m not an online dater. I enjoy a good drink, but I’m not a bar hopper. I like talking, but think Tinder is the worst (after the girl from HJNTIY), and I have resigned to the fact that I can’t just date to date. Sometimes, sure, it would just be easier to have someone who fits well enough with me that the reminders and aches of momentary loneliness dull, but I don’t want “easier” or the path of least resistance. Though it works just fine for others and sometimes grows into true love, for me, allowing those small twinges to get to me, that would be really weak. I would rather welcome those moments gladly and the growth that comes from them, than settle on someone who is just nice or just tall or loves Jesus and happens to be a musician. (Side note: I’m really glad my taste in guys has matured as I’ve gotten older. I hope you can understand where I’m coming from, and that this isn’t just bashing those good ones I’ve dated. They’re awesome, but we weren’t right for any longer than we were.)
Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness. – Brene Brown
If I’m honest with myself, I probably won’t meet anyone anytime soon and even if I did, he’d probably have to make himself and his intentions explicitly known, since I also tend to be utterly oblivious to those things (I’m really doing well, I know 🙂 ). But more than that, if I’m really really honest, I want to meet someone I can share my life and ministry work with, and that’s not weak. It’s honest, and I’m tired of living in any way that isn’t just that. So I’ll start there.
Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light. – Brene Brown
Gosh, Brene is so good though!
The Square Peg