When I was little, I couldn’t stand to watch Gomer Pyle. Sooner or later, in spite of his good-natured intentions, Gomer got himself in a mess. I just couldn’t stay and watch that. I had to flee to another room until the situation was resolved.
I’ve never been able to stomach failure and weakness. Through the years I’ve grown a lot, but it’s still a huge monkey on my back.
So this past Sunday Ken and I were discussing grace, and why people like me need teachings on it more than people like Ken do. And it all came down to an admission of this: Ken believes at a gut level that he has value to God, and I don’t. I know in my head that I have self worth, and I can sometimes feel it in my heart, but it doesn’t come naturally.
Because there are times I don’t like my true self. I don’t think people would like my true self. If I ever just let go, what would come out? Ambition and selfishness, someone who is inconsiderate and has to be at the center of everything. Who would want to be around that?
But as I was thinking this, my husband told me, “When I look at you, I see so many things that are great about you.”
It’s funny, because later on Sunday we went to the movies and watched “Divergent.” At the end, the female lead, Tris, says, “I don’t know who I am anymore.” And her romantic partner, Four, says with certainty and love, “I know you you are.”
It was the same thing my husband said to me. I can’t argue with this. My husband sees me at my best and my worst. After being married for 33 years, he knows the real me.
So how do I open my eyes to my worth? I found something I wrote a few years ago to describe myself:
I am someone who loves poetry, music, the majesty of God, truth, creativity, intellectual stimulation, celebrating life, and the infinite importance of each individual person. I am someone who dreams and believes that there is hope.
Once I was reminded of this, I began to feel better. I do have things about myself that I can like. I need to read this every day!
But it leaves one problem. How do I not run from Gomer? I still have that “ugly” side of myself. How can I be real with people and not worry that they won’t like me anymore? How do I reconcile my imperfections?
In God’s perfecting timing, Jake reminded Ken and I this weekend of the Ted talk on “The Power of Vulnerability” by Brene’ Brown. I listened to it again today. I was utterly challenged.
Basically, Brown says research has shown that being vulnerable and exposing your true self actually facilitates better connections between people. Could it be that the very thing I thought would push people away from me is the thing that will draw them closer?
For me, it’s a scary experiment to try. I expose bits of myself in these blogs, and often think later, “Why did I do that to myself? Everyone is going to think I’m an egotistical weirdo. Can I just crawl somewhere and hide?”
But I have to be okay with being a weirdo. I have to be honest about the extent of my battle with SELF.
As Brown said, I need to learn to be compassionate with myself. I need to be authentic. To some extent, I need to let go of who I think I should be, and embrace who I am.
“Woe to those who quarrel with their Maker . . . Does the clay say to the potter, ‘What are you making?'” (Isa 45:9)
I am Gomer. I look foolish and make mistakes. I am imperfect. But I am also worthy of love and belonging.