Be Known. It was the slogan at George Fox University when my youngest son attended there. It sounded wonderful because who wants to be invisible?
Seriously. I’m an introvert and most of the time I’m happy to fly under the radar and go unnoticed.
Except for when I want a friend to hang out with. Or someone to go to the mall with. Or want to enjoy a walk on a sunny afternoon and wouldn’t it be nice not to go alone?
Introverts prefer to have a one-to-one interaction. That’s why I’m fine if only three people at church talk to me. In fact, if the entire group crowds around, I start to feel a bit claustrophobic and start talking fast and plotting an escape route.
God made us to be seen and loved. And sometimes, I’m thinking I’ll forfeit being loved if I can also be invisible.
It’s Not About Shame for Me
Chapter nine of Allen’s book GET OUT OF YOUR HEAD was one where I struggled to connect with her naming of the emotion.
She said shame is the emotion that keeps us isolated. That we hold people at arm’s length and that makes us feel isolated which feeds into our insecurity that we truly aren’t lovable.
I feel isolated a LOT, and I know it’s because I keep people at a distance. Some of that is because I’ve been hurt before, and I don’t want to go through that again. None of it is because I’m afraid that if people knew the real me they’d run in the other direction.
That’s what shame thinks. So for me, this isolation is mostly because I’ve held myself apart.
I’m going to call this the loneliness spiral. Loneliness can lead to self-pity which is something Allen uses in a later chapter on gratitude. (Don’t worry, I’ll get to that one in November—the official month of gratitude around this place.)
I’m going to share her spirals. But I want to do it with a caveat here, just because the initial emotion might be different for you, the process is the same.
When you’re lonely or feeling left out, you might decide you don’t need anyone. That’s where this negative spiral leads.
But I’m going to encourage you to think of it backward. If you’re feeling lonely and isolated (which she shows as the OUTCOME of this spiral), it’s time to make the choice to be known instead.
Being Known by God is Enough
I don’t have to have dozens of friends to feel connected to a community. In fact, having just my sister at my church was plenty of interaction for me during the season of child-rearing.
Yes, I had other friends. But the truth remains: only she stuck by me no matter what. And no one knows me better. Our shared history is a comfort and keeps me feeling easy about letting all my ugliness hang out rather than trying to be someone I’m not around her.
You know who else knows everything about me? God.
Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee Jeremiah 1:5a KJV
Did you catch that? Before I was formed inside my mother, God knew me. The verse goes on to talk about how God created my purpose at that same time.
“Jesus loves me this I know,” is the opening phrase of a popular children’s song. Let it sink in.
Jesus loves us. He knows all of our bad thoughts and failures, but he loves us. He sees when we choose to do wrong and he loves us.
There is nothing that can ever separate us from his love (Romans 8:35).
Being known by God should be enough to help us build bridges and stay connected. We don’t have to have dozens of friends or be engaged in high-profile service to be important to our community.
If you’re lonely, what emotion do you believe is the source of that feeling?