By Lindsay Hall
In fourth grade, I was voted “Most Outgoing.” I was honored, humbled and encouraged…and then I went home and asked my mom what “outgoing” meant. At that point in life, I was not aware that the way that I acted didn’t exactly come naturally for some people. I thought everyone loved the process of making new friends and meeting new people.
So, while it is true that I have always enjoyed getting to know people, another thing that I have just recently discovered to be true in my life is that I don’t always allow people to get to know me in the process. I would gladly sit with you all day long and ask you question after question about your passions, desires, dreams, struggles, hurts…and the list goes on. If you turned that around on me, though, I would act like I am the most boring person you could ever ask about.
Short, concise answers; sharing just enough to get by without coming across as unfriendly, but not enough to really let you get to know the deepest parts of me. Thus, communicating to you the message from the picture above, “WELCOME!, but ‘No Trespassing’, please!”
Possibly a better representation is to bring back the good ol' illustration of the “Circle of Trust.” You know the one:
I talk a lot about the Circle of Trust. Inviting people in, but “jokingly” putting much of the same stipulations on MY circle as Jack Byrnes did on the “Byrnes Family Circle of Trust” in Meet the Parents. Stipulations that confuse people and, quite honestly, probably leave them wondering why they were attempting to get to know me in the first place! Do this, and you will be accepted to the inside of the “Lindsay Hall Circle of Trust.” Do that, though, and you’re out. And “once you’re out, you’re out. There’s no coming back.”
I enjoyed getting to know you, but had fears that I would not really be accepted by you if you knew certain parts of me, fears that I would be betrayed by you, fears that you just simply didn’t find me interesting enough to really care to know me…the list goes on.
What a SAD way to live! Entering into community with people who have expectations of being authentic and vulnerable with one another has revealed this recurring theme in my life and called it what it is: selfishness, fear and pride.
Selfishness and self-preservation consumed me. Lindsay Hall Circle of Trust: Member 1 (me).
For so long I was afraid of being shunned, shamed, abandoned, talked about, and judged when, in reality, the greatest acceptance I have ever received has been through making myself vulnerable and being authentic with my community of people around me.
Sin and lies fester and grow in darkness, but as “children of light,” we are to “have nothing more to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them” (Ephesians 5:8 & 11). Great freedom is found once things we have harbored in shame are exposed into the light!
For so long, I had been confined and chained by keeping things hidden, and I am grateful that the Lord has brought me to a place of recognizing that allowing myself to be vulnerable with others brings liberty.
Scripture tells us that the Lord uses people in our lives to increase our love and understanding of our need for Him (Hebrews 10:24-25; Galatians 6:2; Proverbs 27:17; James 5:16), and it also gives us warnings against living in isolation (Proverbs 18:1, Proverbs 28:26, Proverbs 11:14).
A (Twitter) friend, Brandon Hatmaker, once said (tweeted): “Community is not the mission. The GOSPEL is the mission. Community is the conduit for the mission.” I love that. I'm so thankful that the Lord chooses to use people in our lives to edify, strengthen and encourage us—ultimately bringing us to know Him more!
So, will you join me as I continue to attempt to strike out fear and take captive my selfish thoughts that say I can do it best on my own? That “outgoing” and “friendly” would not be the goal, but rather that we would really seek to live in authenticity with others, inviting them in—into our lives, into the "Circle of Trust"—for the sake of the gospel and the good news that there is freedom from our shame, pride, and selfishness found in community with Christ and with others!
Photo at top courtesy of Creative Commons: http://www.flickr.com/photos/spike55151/2791252842/