For 20 years I lived in shame, covering a secret, hiding behind walls. Knowing rejection would soon follow, I avoided relationships with all but a few. Those who ventured closer, I pulled aside for the “big talk,” the one where I shared my story to make sure they had a chance to evaluate me fully before deciding to really be friends. I have worked extra hard to show I am not the person the label portrays, I am worthy of a chance. Last fall, Pastor Pat told me to stop it. Stop asking everyone I meet to reject me. He said everyone has stuff. “But mine’s bigger,” I said. “No, Lisa, stop it,” was his message back.
What if, I wondered, what if i just acted like others and began with a smile instead of a rap sheet? What if I asked about them instead of worrying they were judging me? What if I stopped wondering if they knew, what they knew? Crazier still, what if I just told my story out loud, one last “big talk” and then never again. What if indeed.
My walls have crumbled, I feel scarily exposed many days, yet with each encounter I keep finding grace. Huge grace, sweet grace. Even when I try to erect some barriers, I am surrounded by people who won’t accept them. Once my greatest strength, now my building permit has been revoked, I cannot seem to add even one brick on top of another. People I want to know but worry won’t reciprocate seek me out. They come with gentle eyes, they come with soft smiles, they come to me.
Pastor Pat told me there are no guarantees that I won’t be hurt again but did I want to stay hidden away just in case? How much of life was I willing to miss just in case? Such a wise man, I am so blessed to have been in the chair opposite of him, seeking my way, letting him guide me.
We all have stuff. We all have been hurt by those who judge us. We all need a fresh start, sometimes each day. My stuff is out there, the old stuff. I am not that label, I am me, now, covered in the grace of beautiful new friends. I have finally accepted that I too am worthy. What a glorious life, out of the shadows, into the light.