I sat across from a friend at my favorite coffee shop and enjoyed her smile. We sat and she talked and I laughed and she laughed. After a while she got up to go to an appointment and we said goodbye, see you next time, and she left.
And I cried. That ugly, “I wish I wasn’t sitting here in public… but maybe if I don’t move I won’t draw attention to myself… so I’ll just stay right here and let tears fall all over me” kind of crying.
I realized that I’d spent a whole hour with one of my best friends and never actually showed up. I’d been so busy feeling inadequate about something in my own life that I’d left my self at the door and said Self, just sit there, shut up, and I’ll deal with you later.
Problem is, when we leave ourselves out of interaction for the sake of not being messy with people, we may as well just tell them at the start that we’re not coming to the meeting and they can go home now and do something real with their time.
I decided that next time I would probably do that.
But then I did something that surprised me: I texted her. I told her I was sorry for hiding—for denying her my heart. I wasn’t there, I was scared of being real. Vulnerability is hard because of some of the things in my past that I’m working through now that I’m forty and not in the mood to be a walking wreck in those areas anymore. Fortunately, she knows about my issues, so there wasn’t much to go into there.
I told her she could call me on my crap next time I was not saying much, or if I was doing any of my “I have it all together” behaviors that she, again fortunately, knows I do.
And then I did something that’s anathema to a girl who makes her career out of putting other people’s needs first: I asked her to come back for a do-over. To take a moment from the rest of her day to return to the coffee shop where I’d been writing and crying so I could give her a real hug and a smile and maybe spend a few more minutes being present instead of emotionally blending into the vinyl booth.
That was a risk, right? To ask someone to go out of their way so we could connect for real. She could have said no and I’d have understood. We both have lives to live, after all.
But she didn’t say no. She texted me back “I’m on my way” and showed up for that hug.
I stopped hiding and risked asking. She loved big and came back. That’s relationship, friend.
This time? When I greeted her, the words came with an embrace full of every ounce of my heart and soul. Because love is worth investing all of who we are.
And because this is what it means to truly live as Jesus asks: to take up our cross and follow Him. To do the opposite of our fears and human limitations to relate, love and tend to the ones for whom He lived, loved, died and rose again.
If Jesus could do it, I can do it. I can stop hiding, take the risk to ask for a do-over, and love with everything in me. We both can, friend.
For you: Are you a relational hider too? What small way might you step out of hiding?