Friday, January 15, 2010


I'm occasionally afraid of people. Because I'm self-centered. Every time I meet a new person, I am desperate to make a good impression, to be charming and pleasant and likable. I want to be liked. Actually, I tell myself I want to be a blessing and a positive impact, but my wish for their well-being is probably more of a wish for their admiration that I would wish such a thing. So maybe in a way it's better that I am more often socially awkward than the "blessing" I strive to be.

Anyway. Some of the time I'm awkward around people. I'm too self-aware, too loud and obnoxious, too forced in my attempts to be sincere. [Irony.] And so, when I say I'm afraid of people, I'm really afraid of failure. Of feeling foolish. Of not being the blessing I'm supposed to be.

But this is only some of the time. Other times I am enraptured with humanity. Other times it's easy. Effortless. I meet new people and we get along just swell. The encounter ends and I feel blessed. And content. And, centered? Balanced. At peace. I find myself happy at having successfully engaged in communion, even if the interaction was limited to our team owning on Mario Kart or a conversation on the merits of certain primetime network television shows.

And the difference between these two poles of interaction is God. It feels wrong to say it with such certainty, but that's what it is. Certainly. The closer I am to God, the more effortless it is for me to be closer to people. Or in more sacrilegious terms, the closer I am to God, the better my social skills. You say, obviously. I am amused by how slow-witted I am. Constantly relearning the same lessons over and over again.

But I mention all this not to talk about the nature of community, but to provide an example of another fundamental "duh" lesson.

I got this tee-shirt when I was in Vermont this summer, which, you know, is a big deal. Because I never buy tee-shirts, not even for a good cause, which this happened to be! It's my favorite tee-shirt, even though my mom mentioned the design kind of looks like bird poop. It says "MOVE: for in Him we live and move and breathe." I have a special place in my heart for Acts 17:28. This is why it's my favorite tee-shirt.

Existence outside of dependency on the Spirit of God is laborious. It is hard. It makes me do things I hate doing: speaking sharply at my sister, working lazily at my to-do list, seeping in self-centeredness, and inhibiting any ability to connect with a person. It is so difficult and unpleasant and socially awkward to live that way. But when I get lost in dependency on Him [this strange thing, this abiding], I am able to actually live, and move, and breathe. I am able to work diligently at my to-do list, I am able to be patient with my sister, I am able to lose sight of myself for a split second, and I am able love people beyond my awkward social graces. In Him. "God did this so men would seek Him and reach out for Him and find Him."

It's just so much easier that way. And I don't mean to say, "Abide in Jesus and things will go your way." Because the prosperity gospel is a lie that's destroying the church. But I do mean that He is all and He is everything. That which you lack is easily accessed in Him. It's okay that I don't have enough wisdom or love or patience, because He has enough, and when I live&move&breath in Him this burden is truly easy. How can I frame this familiar thought in the same fresh way it fell on me?

Self-sufficiency is a lie. Dependency is so much easier.


Caitriona aka Catherine said...

Thank you Hayley for your transparency. Instead of going to bed, I went to my readers which by the way is mostly populated with young writers like yourself.
Dependency....I was lacking at the end of my time this afternoon while I was working at the store. Even though I have never read Jabber Crow (it may be time to do it), Grace has said that I am a Jabber Crow in Dedham and now in Wellesley (MA). So, I don't see myself as simply minding or working at the store, I see myself as being a part of these two communities. Today, I was in Wellesley and as I started to say at the end of my time, I just was ready to get out of there. Some of the Regulars can be very draining. One of the most draining had only left an hour before, I felt spent and a little beat up. (I think that I would rather be physically beaten than verbally beaten any day) This woman came in about 45 minutes before I had to leave. She came up to the counter and looked me straight in the eye and asked kindly if I minded if she went through the trash.
(this is the point where my comment is becoming a post...sorry, but you inspired me)
She explained to me what she was looking for and I gave her the OK - she went to it. She wanted to talk to me but I was reading when she came in. I didn't want to talk. I went back to my book. The radio was going and she started humming. I wanted her to go away. Pretending to ignore her I went on with my reading. A few more paying customers came in and I took care of them. She read the newspaper, she walked around the store and then on her way out as if only talking to herself but loud enough for me to hear her, she said time for church and walked out the door.
This woman was lonely, looking for companionship and I wouldn't give it to her. The whole time she was in the store I was aware of her presence, I felt haunted by her longing. It is best to give of ourselves and when I am dependent upon GOD it is not a problem. May the LORD forgive me and I think he will probably give me another chance.
Thanks again Hayley.
From one who is still learning.

The Adolescent Critic (queenoflillyflowers) said...

This was good, Hayley

Art said...

I wanna get my mind and heart around it, and apply the truth to my life. I want to understand, to think how I can learn what you learn... I read this and got the recollection that I know I've thought about them before, and I nod in agreement...

I really love your posts recently, Hayley... I'm not sure why, but it feels like you're helping me know and understand things that you haven't felt the need to say before. openness is a freaky strange wonderful mindboggling thing.

Kay said...

Hayley, this is wonderfully encouraging. Thank you [seriously] for taking the time to post. :)