I've been thinking a lot about motives lately. It is one of the most important things in a murder mystery, which happens to be one my favorite genres. But an Agatha Christie mindset is not what has this circling around my cerebelum. No, I afraid that my own motives have far more selfish. Why did so-and-so not talk to me at church? Why hasn't so-and-so called? Why did so-and-so say that to me? This isn't a new thing for me. I dare say it isn't a new thing for many women. It is a very old thing. I used to gauge how well I was doing by how people reacted to me. A symptom of many actors. So much of what is kept and changed in a production is based on how well it was received by the audience. I have gone through most of my life as if my worth depended on the reaction of my audience. What I was too young to realize in the chaos of my early years, came into sharp focus over the last few weeks.
I ran into a friend at a local coffee shop. His usual greeting was reserved. In fact, he seemed downright preoccupied. The little actor inside of me jumped up and began pacing. Why didn't he ask how I am? As I stood and my actor paced, he told me about a trial he's been going through. Ah, ha! I began to realize something but my actor only stomped her foot. One of my college roommates had a favorite, well-worn t-shirt. It read, "Why, yes! The world really does revolve around me!" There it was, the truth. The ego-bruising realization smacked my little actor in the head. She begrudgingly sat down. The t-shirt lied, but we want so to believe it.
I know intellectually that other people have problems. I try to share their burdens. My heart hurts when I see someone else hurting. However, there are times that it is too busy licking its own wounds, real or perceived, to see anything beyond. My head knows. It tries to come up with some sort of help while my heart is otherwise preoccupied. I don't think I am alone in this. The Bible mentions that we should "Love the Lord [our] God with all [our] heart, and with all [our] soul, and with all [our] mind." We have different pieces and unlike the cogs in a Swiss watch, they don't always work together.
Often, I feel I am the last to know of other people's struggles lately. It makes it hard to feel connected. It makes it easier to believe that everyone else really is my audience alone. Theatre is a heady experience for the actor. There is an intimacy with the audience in a theatre production that the actors in a movie do not find. The audience laughs with you, cries with you, and is made merry when truth triumphs. The actor can feel the energy in that space of time. But the sharing is really only from the stage outward. At the close, the audience claps their level of approval and goes on to their lives. The illusion of community is over. The little actor searches for a new audience, more approval.
My deepest longing has been to be taken as I am. It is not there by accident. God put it there. So as to make me turn my eyes heavenward. It really is too bad that I have searched the length and breadth of this world before I looked to him for this fully. Since I was small, I found it easier to do what I knew would be well received. Afterall, those around me were my elders and I was to respect them. Too late did I learn they were wounded too. I also learned to hang in the wings to avoid failure. Not even the wise words of Dr. Townsend on the subject of Boundaries wedged this attitude out. You see even if I am not responsible for the audiences reaction, I still ended up judging myself by it.
I have come to the conclusion that I am responsible for my actions and reactions. Nothing more and nothing less. As long as I endevour to live according to God's word, Jesus' example, and the Holy Spirit within me, I have no reason to hang my head in shame. And where I faulter, I expect a loving reprimand. I do want to clarify that my little actor and my theatre analogy do not mean that reactions and actions are ingenuine or practiced. But I do try to save face more often than I should. Ah, that little actor is hard to settle down sometimes.
Given all of this, I have been pondering my capacity to fall back again. The answer came in the form of a timely book. I began this particular post in a notebook a couple of weeks ago. Something kept me from posting it at first. It has been a year since my husband actually left. I have had a rough time of it. I think that is why my little actor has been making such a fuss. I mean what could possibly be worse than my problems, right. Oh yeah, the eathquake and tsunami in Japan or the tornadoes that just ripped through the south. There are others that demand my compassion beyond these disasters. The world doesn't revolve around me.
Back to the timely book. It was So Long, Insecurity by Beth Moore. I knew I had issues with insecurity and with good reason. But I hadn't been able to get beyond that point. "Hi, I'm Fancey and I'm insecure." Any rehabilitive program begins with recognition of the problem. It doesn't end there. I devoured the book in a couple of days. So I am still digesting a good portion of it. And you'll probably see things cropping up from it in future posts. But the concept that relates here, the one that had escaped me in counseling, stress management class, and the other books I read was that I decided to let go of my security.
Yes, I had very valid issues that had the potential to shake my security. But they didn't takeit, I gave it to them. Everytime I listened to the little actor, I let the audience have it. Even with good boundaries, I got hurt. Here's the trick. Just because I got hurt doesn't mean that person or circumstance gets to have my security too. I think the walls just fell! I don't know about you but that was a revelation of monumentous proportions to me. I thank God that He gave Beth Moore the desire and ability to write that book. Otherwise, I still would be wandering around the ocean of my emotions with a only a latern for light. Now, I see the light house and I am headed for the safe harbor. Whether my little actor likes it or not, she's along for the ride. She's got a lot to learn but she'll get there.