“Just do it! Come on you can do this! Just do it!”
I was in my office trying to write. My window was open and I could see two boys across the street and it was their loud conversation I was hearing. Without a thought for why, I felt compelled to go and “ask”.
It had rained all day and when my socked feet crossed the sidewalk I could feel wetness against my soles. Undeterred I set myself at the edge of the sidewalk to look across the street to begin a conversation I didn’t feel equipped for.
“Hey dudes, I can hear you from my office and I want to know what it is you are discussing because as a writer, I’m curious?”
The older of the two boys stunned me with what he shared back. He said he was trying to encourage his younger friend to “overcome his fears” by just speaking with his voice. I looked at the younger boy and asked his name but he didn’t answer. The older friend told me his name was “Eric”.
I shared with the younger boy a truth about his bravery but he still did not respond. Being a stranger to him I didn’t feel insulted by his silence. Looking at the older boy, I asked his name which he shared to be Pedro. Clearly this young man was an encourager and inspiration. He wanted his friend to be all he could be.
Returning to my office I could only shake my head for the lessons to be had even through our children.
Social angst is predominant in our culture. I can’t go anywhere without being confronted by its insidious influence. Are we ever good enough, cool enough, pretty enough, rich enough, young/old enough or accepted enough? What would it take for us to be comfortable in our skin, in our circumstances?
I have to say I actually have been given the answer but it’s so simple, most of society has rejected it out of hand. The answer is “identity!” Without knowing who we really are, we will continue to search for ourselves in superficial aspects. Outwardly we may be noticed, but we will never allow ourselves to be seen inwardly.
A definition of social anxiety is the fear and anxiety of being judged and evaluated negatively by other people, leading to feelings of inadequacy, embarrassment, humiliation, and depression. Love is the only identity we really need. It’s the only way we will ever “know and be known”. Love releases us from the false expectations of others. Love releases all to be ourselves. Love is the identity to crush the lie of social anxiety.
1Jn 4:7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.
Cresting the small hill just at the turn of the trail I looked down at the evergreens and drew in my breath with surprise. Some smaller trees looked to be aflame. Their leaves were red, orange and yellow, making them stand out amongst the darker greens. I gazed at them for a few minutes and moved on up the slope. Reaching a plateau, I sought out a sun bleached bench to sit for a while and enjoy the view.
A steeper incline led to a radio tower and I could see a man and woman readying to make the trek together. Looking away I reset my Ipod to hear more about the Song of Solomon. I longed to absorb every word until I would know it by heart; to live it.
Glancing upward toward the steeper trail, the sun’s rays begin to clear the high point. I could see the couple once more. They walked side by side, but very near the top of the hill, one of them stepped behind the other. From the angle I was watching, it was as if they had become one! The sun silhouetted their form beautifully and when they finally reached the peak, they again became two walking side by side.
My thoughts were a jumble trying to understand what I was privileged to see. My heart raced a bit more knowing it was no accident. Inwardly, I knew it was me I had seen walking to the top of the hill, with Jesus beside me, within me.
Isolation. My friend. My enemy.
Isolate – means to set or place apart; detach or separate so as to be alone.
When isolation is my friend, it means I have found a quiet place to be cut off from the noise, anguish and distraction of society. When isolation is my enemy, it means I am cut off from those who love and care for me; where I drown in the noise, anguish and distraction of loneliness, even amongst society.
I stand upon another high point feeling the air rush around me. Titling my head back, I look into oak leaves of the tree I’m under to see patches of blue sky. All I want to do is breathe in deeper. I need more oxygen, purer oxygen and I know it. Science says this can damage my brain, but I’m not interested in the science. I’m interested in the altitudes where one can actually breathe pure oxygen.
I say YES to the invitation to “come up here”!
A teardrop fell onto the page but I didn’t wipe it away. I let it smear the ink some before being absorbed into my paper. One tear to draw my attention. The depth of life can be found in a single teardrop. All emotion lies in this treasure. Love, hurt, anger, joy, comfort, sorrow. A tear to express what words can never say. Words can lie for us but tears share the truth.