I bumped into this post this morning, written in October 2014. The photo could be of anyone: the woman in your life who belittles you all the time, the person at work you find so difficult to love because everything about them is so irritating, the people who are in your life that frankly, you wish weren’t there! They treat you like you are invisible or worse, they criticize almost everything you or someone you love, does.
But I put the homeless person here to signify who YOU and I are at times…the emotional hermit. I like the post but was also convicted by it that I thought it would be a good rerun for today. Blessings!
I heard a new term this week: emotional hermit. An online friend used it. I don’t know her well, but when she used it and described it a bit, I knew it was me…naturally…without GOD working in me, for sure. It is my default setting.
I never used to think I was like this. I thought I loved people. However, I discovered when I was sick, over a period of a few years, my tolerance for intense emotions, especially negative ones, from other people was very low.
And when I look back over my life, I realize that this is not new. I just go into glaze if I can’t get away…or auto pilot and stay nice and remote so I don’t get hurt in the middle of it all. Then I go home and crawl into a little hole…either real or figurative.
My home has been my safe little hole to hide in
Our home has been a safe place, for the most part, for us. Ron could come there and be restored. Not always with words…they can wear him out, but with escape. With the children, they were usually an enjoyable distraction most of the time. But they have been gone a very long time now.
Home is quiet and peaceful most of the time. Home is where we can be hermits for awhile if we need to be…but we can get re-energized too.
It is very interesting. I alway thought I was re-energized by people. I often am. But with age and moving and soul pain that I can’t even describe well, I have felt a numbing that I can’t even describe. I don’t carry my feelings on my sleeve like I once did.
The pain of doing it has been more than I can say…to the degree that I once did it.
Shannon’s book review touched me in new places
So as I read the review Shannon wrote and in the very personal style she wrote it, I was touched. In reading the review, I learned more about Shannon as well as myself. Yes, she has suffered some of my pain…to a much greater degree!
She was talking about showing love to others. The author of the book struggled with anorexia and for her to show love to others, she needed to eat with them.
Then Shannon went on to say that for her, showing love to others meant that she needed to move toward them emotionally to show them love. I thought back over many difficult relationships in my life and realized that my initial response was always to pull back in fear and self-protection.
I had to learn to move toward others with a vulnerable love that could get hurt, if I was going to truly love them. I so get Shannon!
And that is what Shannon is talking about. To live a life of genuine love, I need to walk vulnerably, knowing the pain it can bring. I need to live just as vulnerably as the anorexic who learns to live a healthy life and start eating or the alcoholic who walks through each day, struggles to live a healthy life instead of drinking, or the overweight person struggles to live a healthy lifestyle instead of filling it with food…and on down the line.
It may sound easy. It isn’t nearly as easy as it sounds.
In the words of Jesus:
For whoever would save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life
for my sake and the gospel’s
will save it.
Taking up your cross or Walking to your execution!
It is like walking toward your death. Like walking toward the person or thing you think will kill you. Trying to move toward them feels like you are walking to the death chamber.
You don’t know how it will all work out. All you know is that it will be difficult at best. But realizing you are not alone helps. Then you jump. It is incredibly scary!
Sometimes they literally kill you, as happened in Charleston recently. And you fall literally into the arms of Jesus forever. Most often, it doesn’t work out that way.
No matter what the end result, Jesus hangs onto you.
Step by step, you get to know them…and see life from their viewpoint. Surprisingly, it helps…a lot!
As you get to know more and more people like this, you develop love for them…and compassion….and a relationship you never knew could exist! But along the way, there will be pain and difficulty from your perspective.
The very thing that makes it difficult for you to minister will be stepped on…whatever it is. But as you move toward the other person from obedience…even if only a glimmer. GOD changes you!
He opens your eyes to see a wonderful human being who loves GOD and others…but who comes at life from a different perspective.
Reach out in love to this person and others like him or her.
I don’t know what it costs for you to love another person.
You may have to pay the price by eating with them when you don’t want to eat.
The cost for you may be in not controlling them them when all you want is control…for their own good of course!
It may cost you in a lifestyle you need to change because it is one that makes you more comfortable and causes you to have to explain less to your friends.
It may cost you in emotional involvement in their life when all you want to do is run the other way!
But GOD’s call is to lose our lives for Him…and in doing that, we will actually find LIFE…abundant life!
Both you and I need to listen and obey, no matter what it looks like for us.
No matter what the pain! Because often it is the pain of healing.
Where is GOD’s call to you today to lose your life?
This post was originally written 10/15/14. Updated 5/22/15.