The dreaded day has come. Tomorrow is Valentines Day. We’ve barely made it out of Christmas and the societal pressure of overspending on gifts in an attempt to make everyone around us happy with new toys. Now, less than 2 months later, we are supposed to celebrate love in much the same way. The way to do that of course is by spending again. Overpriced flowers, pre-easter chocolate, the pressure to showcase your love for that special someone. If you aren’t going to spend, you better be very creative. It doesn’t matter how truly loving you’ve been all year, if you miss out on this day you risk being pegged as cold and unloving. If you aren’t loving throughout the year now is your chance to redeem yourself, right? Get some flowers and a special gift or a special night out and tada, you’re magical.
Don’t get me wrong, contrary to what the previous paragraph might indicate, I’m not against Valentines day but I don’t think it adds much value to anything. Perhaps it’s simply because I prefer spontaneity over scheduled love. Maybe the reason why it is such a popular day is that it provides some sort of reprieve from depth while allowing us to enjoy the fluffy side of love.
Anyways, this isn’t a post about Valentines Day. It’s a post about being seen, known and loved. Not loved as a concept but in the very real and raw part of it. Wanting but also fearing to be loved. Worst, the fear of not being loved. Aware of it or not, in our deep desire to be known and loved, we are constantly putting forward a version of ourselves we think will be lovable or a version we use to try and avoid love all together. Being loved requires an investment. That investment is you. Not the things you do to gain, purchase or merit love, but the person you are when the mask is taken off and you can be vulnerable. You. As you are. It’s a high risk, high reward type of investment. Perhaps you’ve tried this before and came out on the wrong side of the risk and you gave up trying because it hurts so much. While there is a sort of pain and numbness we feel when we keep our true self hidden, it still seems better than the pain of putting ourselves out there and being rejected. Perhaps you are rejecting yourself before anyone else has an opportunity to do so?
Incarnation is the process of becoming seen. To be seen is to allow yourself to be known. To be known is to risk being loved … or not.SCOTT ERICKSON – HONEST ADVENT, CHAPTER 12, PAGE 96
Love does hurt. But it’s a good and necessary hurt. It hurts to let ourselves be seen as we are. But being seen, known and loved as we are brings healing. Are you incarnating? Are you in the process of being seen and known so that you can experience what it is to be loved and loved truly?
I remember my friend Taylor saying to me one time, “I don’t want God to love me. I just want God to tell me what to do. Because if I let God love me, He will love me the way I am. And if I let God love me the way I am, I will have to see the way I am. And I don’t want to see the way I am. So I’d rather God just tell me what to do.”Scott erickson – HOnest advent, chapter 12, page 96
Whether your are a person of faith or not, you can replace “God” and insert the name of a person or community from whom you might be withholding who you are in fear of not being loved. You would rather just present what you know is “acceptable”. I think one of the reasons so many of us today quickly lose ourselves in our work is because we like to take on the identity of what we do. Especially when we know we are good at it. We think this has more value than who we are in the first place. How often have you been asked “Who are you?” only to answer with something along the lines of what you do for a living. “I am a financial advisor or a nurse or this person’s partner, this persons parent.”
Try a little exercise if you will. It might be difficult but I suggest you give it a try. Give yourself some space, put down your phone and shut down this screen when you are ready to start.
Be silent. Try to focus inward and ask yourself, “Who am I?” …. what comes to mind, where does your mind go. What are your first thoughts in answer to that question. Are they focused on what you do? Do you find it difficult to answer the question without it being about what you do?
Keep trying. Think silently and breathe. Who am I? What is my story? Do I allow myself to be seen and known?