I wrote this first with many abstractions and generalities, but then realized that I should add some juicy self-disclosures. I hope you enjoy them.
Thought #1: The pain of walking toward community is the pain of self-revelation. We can maintain an illusion of ourselves and our ability to love so long as we remain distant. Jean Vanier says “While we are alone, we could believe that we loved everyone.” This is the pain of moving from an ideal to reality. It is so easy to speak of the type of person and community that we desire to be when we are not living the reality. I speak far too easily about these things. To actually have those qualities forged in us is not as easy. The desire to love is followed by a process whereby we learn that we suck at loving. Part of the pain is having to be honest with ourselves and honest with others. This is so scary because we discover that we are not who we thought we could be to others. We are not who we thought we had to be in order to be loved by others, and neither are others as we had imagined them to be. I wonder if this movement from the interaction of images to the interaction of textured real people comes with some initial let downs. We have to let go our images, our superficial perfection. But I wonder also if there is a deeper joy found in reality than dreamy ideals.
Thought #2: So often I think that we come together and parade around our best qualities, trying to earn an identity, trying to establish ourselves as worthy and desirable. Yet we compete for people’s praise and affection as if only a few worthy individuals at the top of the social ladder will attain it. I am so guilty of this. So often insecurity drives me to measure my strengths against others weakness. I, for instance, am a better person because I am just so caring, never assert my own needs, and am polite to strangers. But then I see others who are passionate, energetic, and soulful and I am completely intimidated. When they succeed at winning friends and affection, I, in my so called maturity, call their energy superficial, wait for a need that I can nurture, and then I am reestablished as a valuable commodity in the world of identities. This is all really a terrible game. This competition for value brings up in me so many embarrassing internal reactions, so many questions about whether or not I will be loved. It takes away my ability to celebrate those who are beautiful around me.
I really want to internalize the truth that this value and worth that we are fighting over are not scarce resources. I would love to move together to a point where we can expose our monsters and be known because we no longer have to buy value through the presentation of our best qualities. We can finally rest with one another. All of us broken and all of us loved. How refreshing would this be in a culture of idolatry! People who have learned that they are more glorious as human beings full of strength and weakness, full of energy and limitation, than they are as distant images of perfection.