I made a conscious choice to enter into a relationship with a man who told me in the same day that he wanted to date me that he was gay. This relationship became my teacher. I learned how to communicate difficult truths. I learned about an internal struggle for which I only had assumptions. I learned to place my hope in the character of Jesus and I learned the importance of having others in it with me as I sought to be in this relationship and care for myself in the process. This is the truth about which I’ll talk today.
Life is not meant to be lived alone. But I have had so much pride around the need to not be needy, that I had become entirely independent. I could talk myself out of difficult situations. I learned to be competent in every area I could. I sought Jesus alone. I was the strong one. I was the one who had to hold the weight of the world for others and I was the one who could, alone with Jesus decide what was right and wrong for my life. But this particular relationship was different. I had to invite others into it. Knowing I am stubbornly loyal and believe the best of others I knew I needed others to help me think about how to care for me and not simply make decisions for the ease of the other.
This turned out to be important. The lessons I learned during this season continue to be my teacher.
In life it is so easy to isolate. It is easy to have people around when we are comfortable and put together. It is easy to be vulnerable after the mess has passed and the plan or lesson is seen. It is very difficult to invite people into uncertainty, pain, questions and truth. In much of this dating relationship I kept my side of the story inside. I didn’t think he could handle my truth. I felt if he knew how difficult it was for me that he’d leave or that it would add shame to him. I felt I could handle the pain and questions alone. Friend’s didn’t allow for this. Those who walked with me in this relationship met me in the mess and listened, asked questions and challenged me. They hoped with me, believed with me and surrounded me. Though I didn’t ever invite Matthew into my difficulty, I did not walk alone. And, not inviting Matthew in, and seeing what happened to me as a result enabled me to behave differently in the future when I found myself wanting to hold back my truth, thinking I was saving or helping another.
It amazes me how I often think, “it’s okay I can handle it and I don’t want to burden anyone with my truth.” Or how in relationship I think that speaking the truth might make things too real. My fear of being needy actually kept me from relationship. I’d hold myself back, not giving my authentic self and I’d rob me of the opportunity to be met in my truth and robbed others of holding my truth with me.
Life is messy, this is the reality of being in a broken world. There is pain. There is sorrow. There is joy and laughter. All are a part of the human experience and all are a part of relationship with Jesus and it is a beautiful reality to share in the good found in declaring truth of both. As I navigated this relationship I learned that honesty was important. I learned that speaking my truth, even when it was uncomfortable it was necessary. I learned that with holding my truth had more to do with selfishness and pride than it did care.
Life is not meant to be experienced in the isolation of self care. It is meant to be shared. We are meant to rejoice and mourn with others and when we, when I with hold the truth of my story I actually create the loneliness I’m trying to avoid by with holding the reality of my story.
I am thankful for this lesson and I am thankful that it continues to be my teacher all these years later.