Just Be About It
I used to be fairly quiet when I was younger. I’m 32 now, and I love being around people. It makes me come alive. Every person is a new opportunity, possibly even an adventure! But, growing up people were kinda scary. I made them exist that way. Mostly because I assumed they were as skeptical of me as I was of them. Surely they are scrutinizing my every move and quirk. Jeremy, don’t laugh at the corny joke! Jeremy, don’t be your goofy self in public. People will think you’re weird and not want to talk to you! This led me to be labeled as “shy,” “timid,” “quiet.” I was so quiet that I was once asked by a church youth leader if I had “problems at home.” I remember looking up at him from the lawn chair I was sitting in responding “No. Why do you think that?” “Well, you just don’t say much.” Ah, his heart leaned in the right direction but his praxis was a bit off. My home life was actually awesome. But I had adopted an interesting way of living; don’t risk your reputation, you won’t lose your reputation.
Well, what I lost was connection.
It wasn’t until my sophomore year in high school that I met a friend who taught me to simply be myself. His name is Rich. His dad was a travelling evangelist and had just moved his family to the humble town of Abilene, Texas where my family and I lived at the time. He taught me something about myself, though. He taught me…well, me. He let me see myself in public spaces. We were such good friends that I remember spending 30–45 minutes in my parent’s’ living room just plopped on the couch staring at the floor. TV off. No music. Only the whirring sound of those stinkin’ fans my mom likes to keep going like jet turbines. And finally, we would look up at each other and one of us would crack, “Eh. Let’s do something else.” Looking back at how awesome Rich and I’s hangouts were, I realize that the best friends I’ve had are the ones that I could simply just BE with. It didn’t matter what we DID. I’ve seen friends come and go, and it was fun because we did stuff together and all that. But, man, my best buds have been those that I could simply just be present with.
Geez, if we could all learn to simply BE. I wish more people would create spaces for others to just be themselves. Yes, bring your quirks, your sins, your crude language, your naughty jokes, your laughable stories, and bring your hurts too.
We, the people, don’t just need all of you. We want all of you.
So many of us are so pro at changing languages throughout the week. We have our “at the office” dialect, our family time rhyme, and of course the most disciplined language of all… our church rhetoric (I can only use “hell” if I’m talking about a theological concept, right?). Wow, we’re good dancers! We can portray ourselves to be anyone to anyone.
Okay. Let’s unbutton the second shirt button. You know, that button that shows almost too much (or not enough?) chest. I swear that button drives me crazy! Ok, if I don’t unbutton it I look stiff. If I do unbutton it, I look like an extra from Miami Vice. Oh, screw it! Unbutton it! Let’s just take the whole shirt off then! So much energy is spent on how we think we will be perceived. Just be. Sit awhile. For once, let’s think how can I assure the next person that they are awesome? How can I defy someone else’s insecurity and tell them they’re beautiful? They are desired? They are the craftsmanship of God?!
And maybe then we can just plop down in the same living room. With nothing to say and nothing to do. But, everything to be.
Celebrate. This is freedom. This is you.