Hi. I'm an introvert, and I'm confused. By people. By me. By life.
Please note that this post has little to do with being introverted. It's just that I'm an introvert, and I'm confessing. So it's confessions of an introvert. Cool? Okay, good. Moving on.
I don't let my feelings show. I'll tell you what I think, of course: Long talks about philosophy? Sure! Discussions of the moral values of movies? Of course! Theology? Definitely! Emotio--NO. NONONO! NEVAH!
Did you notice how violent that was? Needlessly so? Yes. Yes, so did I.
This time, the epiphany came at 3:30 a.m. in the laundry room, while I was filling my water bottle after watching two movies (Princess Bride and Jumper -- such fun on both counts). It was yet another case of "Dude, that was an awesome day! So... what's wrong? Because something's definitely wrong."
And it occurred to me, as I drank my water in the middle of the night, that people don't know me. Lots of people know who I am. Most people probably know some things about me better than I do. They know how I come across. They know my demeanor, while I don't really. But they don't know me. They don't know what things mean the most to me, or why. They don't understand how I think or how I feel. And how would they? I won't let them in. If I don't tell people things, they don't know. (Life is surprisingly logical at times.)
I am loved. I don't know why, but there are so, so many people who care about me, who reach out to me, who check up on me and help me and encourage me and bear with me and just give me superfluous love because they're awesome like that. It's not like I'm lacking there. But sometimes, I wish they understood me. I wish they saw through me. I wish they could read me even when I'm trying to be unreadable, like my friend back home who once called me up to ask what was bothering me after a rushed, ten-second conversation conducted in public during which I was trying to act as normal as possible.
What is wrong with me? I fight myself so hard. Here again, I'm wanting to not get what I want. I work hard concealing my emotions, and it saddens me when it works. I shut people out, put on an "I'm fine" exterior, and feel both triumph and pain when it proves convincing.
Maybe I lock people out of my feelings because I want to know if anyone will go to the effort of trying to get past that, trying to see through my words. But surprise, surprise! They believe me! If I say I'm fine, they take me at my word! What are they used to? Honesty or something?
There are enough barriers between people anyway. It isn't as if I need to go around setting up more by being so reserved, throwing up hurdles to see if my friends will jump them. And no, that's not what I think I'm doing. I think I'm protecting them by holding them at arm's reach. I think I'm putting myself in a position to give and give and get nothing in return. But what's really happening is that I'm laying another burden on them, making myself a harder friend rather than an easier one, because no matter how strong I want to be, I'm weak, and I get tired, and I want friends who know me. And then I'm frustrated, because there are none, and it's my fault. I can't put that burden on them, even if it never bothers them because they don't know I'm doing it. I can't expect them to put all their effort into breaking down my walls.
But that's not the only reason. I'm proud, you know, and I operate on quite the double-standard. In addition to setting up barriers to test people's willingness to break through them, I also want to be stronger than everyone else. I want to be the one who's always there for everyone else, but who never actually needs anyone. Who would be fine on her own, while everyone else would fall apart without her. The one who lives for others because she doesn't need to live for herself. I will never trust people the way I want them to trust me. I will never allow them to be for me what I want to be for them. Because I want to be needed, but I don't want to need them back.
Yep. There's something off in my thinking there.
The pride must go. All of it. Whether I decide I ought to admit it or not, I need to be willing to admit, "No, I'm not fine. Yes, I do have pain. Yes, that pain hurts. Yes, I'm human. Yes, I mess up. Yes, I'm needy. No, I'm not strong. No, I'm not chill. I'm freaking out inside. And sometimes I want to cry. I just don't. And no, I can't tell you why I'm freaking out, why I want to cry. I can't tell you because I hardly know myself."
I don't want to throw out the determination that I will be there for people who may never be there for me, that I will give and give regardless of whether I get anything in return, that I will be poured out as a drink offering, running myself dry for others... only not dry, because God's grace is sufficient. Very sufficient. This mindset I keep. But the motivation has to be for God and for others, not for pride, and I have to remember that my strength isn't coming from myself or from my friends.
And if I'm not fine, if I am freaking out inside, being reserved about it while expecting someone to notice isn't going to do anyone any good. Maybe there are times when I ought to let someone share my burdens. But in any case, I can't expect people to understand me like that. The God-shaped hole in my heart cannot be filled by people. Granted, there are beautiful times when people show off some aspect of God, times when they are the hands and feet of Christ to me. But the obvious reaction to that should be to go to the source, not to the mirror. To turn to Christ, with a thankful heart for my friends, and with a greater understanding of how He is all I need.
So it's okay. Whether anyone understands me or not, it'll be okay. Because God knows me, God understands me like I can never know or understand myself. He sees through me. He jumps every hurdle I throw up. He breaks every barrier I set. He can read me better than I can read myself. His is the love that pursues, the love that is relentless, the love that will not let me go, the most beautiful love. And that, my friends, is more than enough. It will always be more than enough. I don't need to be understood. I don't need to be known. And when I am filled with that, when I walk into a room full of people, not hoping that somehow they can fill the need I feel, but knowing that I have all I need, then I can be a vessel, a conduit for the love that never fails.