Dying Under the Radar

by - August 29, 2018

I've been tossing around this phrase "dying under the radar" for a few weeks now, and since having kids, I've towed the line of wanting to "fly under the radar" in all things - church, work, pottery, blogging, PTA and school volunteering-wise, and socially. The idea is that if I'm not seen, then there will be no expectations - no expectations by which I disappoint others, none to exceed that would raise new expectations of me, and nothing for which to be disappointed in others.

I write that, and I'm not sure if that is truly my motivation, but I suspect somewhere on the journey I've felt too exposed and in turn have wanted to draw it all back in. I highly value vulnerability and find that I am more free with my thoughts and emotions with friends (and even strangers) than they are with theirs. In effect, people think they know me well. Often have heard "You are so real" or "You say what I was was feeling but couldn't put words to". Yet I don't feel the same connection because I have not been let in to their lives in equal measure. Being seen is not necessarily the same as being known and loved. It's not as though I want to be emoted on, but I don't mind witnessing the struggle. I don't mind sitting in the darkness and waiting for the light. I just want honesty. However, if honesty and light don't bring transcendence or overcoming the struggle, I'm highly disappointed. 

Sometimes I can make people uncomfortable in the way I dig to the core of their motivations and try to see them honestly, and this is often more honestly than they see or want to see themselves. I don't do this with a desire to humiliate them but to show and bring acceptance. More than once I've gotten the message that I was poking where I wasn't welcome, and I've tried to kindly step off and move along. I can't understand why anyone wouldn't jump at the chance to know why they do what they do and feel what they feel so that they can usher in truth and love to those areas and be freed from those driving forces that bring pain and fear. Dear God, please cut me open over and over until what's left is truly me and your work in me. As I've been learning more about how we all see the world in very different lights (thanks to podcasts and books on the Enneagram), I now see that friends may be giving me all the vulnerability they have to give and that still others see vulnerability as weakness. And most of the time, it's none of my business unless I've been invited in.

In this disconnection with others, there is a fair measure of  perceived rejection and fear of rejection. Many times I've pulled myself back or cut off relationships sensing that I was about to be cut off or not wanting to be weighty to them. I want my "real" to be life-givng, not repulsive. So I reject before being rejected. Sometimes in my own darkness I may even use my "vulnerability" like shiny bait to draw in the fish, and then I catch and release... draw in... push away. Anyhow, it's not fair to long for depth, love and respect and yet hold out the straight arm to keep people and life at bay.

I probably fear my own expectations - expectations of emotional depth in relationships, expectations of success, transcendence, and purpose. Again, in even writing this post, I feel like I'm walking down the school halls wearing nothing but a t-shirt and panties, which was often the subject of my childhood nightmares. Thus in trying to not be too much, I've become too little - I've donned an emotional snow bib when I was meant to run free in panties.  So here it goes... yes, I'm thinking the Enneagram type 4 is my type. I'm just dropping that link and moving along, and I'm cringing because I've already worn out talking about the Enneagram or at least feel like I have. However, I have a couple awesome friends who are digging in super deep to their own souls at the moment and can go there with me. But I'm also desperately trying to not wear out friends's ears while sharing what I'm learning. My sister suggested I "do that thing" with the family on our upcoming beach trip, and my response was "Hell, no." Just because I want to seeeeee doesn't mean other people want to see themselves through this lens. So this means I'm instead doing a lot of listening.

At the beginning of the summer, I had racked up Audible credits, so I blew through the following books while driving, doing yard work and sometimes hiding in the bathtub. I'm not going to give a review of these, but if you see me in person and want to chat about any of them, I'd love to. Of those books, the hardest to hear but the one I learned the most from, and the one that broke my heart, was "Between the World and Me" by Ta-Nehisi Coates. The common thread among all of these is that they utilized personal narrative to relate truths core to their being. It didn't escape my notice that one author espoused never accepting "No" as an answer and one suggested that "No" could be God's protection. Again, different lenses through which we view the world can drastically shape how we move through it. It probably would have been good to add some fiction into the mix, but that is what I'm currently watching "Midsomer Murders" on Netflix for. 

In trying to grow a little, I did a few brave things this summer.

  • I traveled out west
  • I sent my oldest away to a week-long sleep-over camp
  • I went to a professional conference in Asheville
These may seem like small things, but to me, they were big. I used to love to travel but have become a homebody. Traveling was like ripping down cobwebs. Sending my oldest to camp was allowing him the chance to change and grow and connect away and apart from me. Going to a professional conference was saying, "I'm still here." 

At the heart of my "type 4", there is a desire to be seen and understood, so flying under the radar is like fighting against myself and part of what makes me beautiful. It's becoming un-me. I think I've warped these efforts in such a way that I have viewed them as a misguided spiritual discipline. What's the phrase, "Make yourself less so that Jesus becomes more?" I hate how I desire attention and praise, but does that imply I shouldn't do anything that would draw attention and praise? I hate being the only vulnerable one in the room, but does that mean I shut down my desire for connection? I swear some days I have added so many animals to our house just so I can give them love and snuggles knowing that I won't be too much for them, and also so they won't demand too much from me; however, Jesus poured himself out, not in. I don't think humility is found being not ourselves or in finding lesser uses for our gifts but in accepting our lot and letting God use us to His glory.

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