I have been so loved. I'm thinking of college, specifically, though this being loved thing is definitely an unusual trend of my life's trajectory. It's one of those crazy illustrious blessings. [Though, I'm hearing Francis Chan in my head: blessings are for outpouring, not parroting thank yous.] Anyway, at college I have been shown much mercy. It's so very painful. Being a commuter. When I feel like pitying myself I think of how I have no friends there, mostly because I'm awkward and antisocial.
I'm not, though. I made friends with the security guard just fine today, I had a nice chat with the girl next to me in linguistics class; it's not strangers I have a problem with, it's acquaintances.
I have been loved at college, though. People, strangers, non-Christians have reached out to me, and I have remained stand-offish from uncertainty. I just have to repeat to myself, "They're people, Hayley. Treat them like people." I put so much pressure on these interactions. Like, oh no, he's going to think I'm hitting on him, or, she's going to think I'm too clingy and desperate for a friend. I analyze each encounter's potential to develop in friendship, and hold my breath until I feel as though I can let the relationship alone, as though once built it requires no maintenance.
I treat relationships like they're minefields and one false step is going to blow everything up. So to protect everything, I do nothing. Which is much, much worse. I find myself unable to respond to acts of mercy. Investing in my coworkers. Smiling at classmates. Hanging out. I'm really bad at that, hanging up. Too much TV, I think. See, I've always had a problem with initiation, but now I've regressed in reciprocation as well. I am content to soak up attention, but slow to give it. Because I am selfish and scared.
I know you have felt much more love than you've shown.
This is the battle! How can I love as much as I have been loved?
Simply to the cross I cling . . .