This is a very loaded question. There are some people who will never like you. No matter what you do they just won’t. But that has to do with them and who they are, not you. But even the “It’s not you, it’s me.” line can leave any of us with the feeling that who we are is not enough, or even unworthy of love. Especially if the person who has rejected us is someone we care for deeply. As a way to protect ourselves we build personas. We hide who we really are and share a version of ourselves. It is a lot safer if we don’t just “put ourselves out there.” As a result there is a very good chance that some people don’t like the real you, simply, because you have stopped giving them a chance to. They don’t know who YOU are. I mean REALLY know who you are. You may not even know who you are anymore. This isn’t your fault, it’s just human nature getting in the way. We want people to like us. Some of us try really, really hard to get others to like us. And that is where the problem begins. The pain and/or fear of rejection has blocked, aside from Jesus of course, the most precious gift God ever gave us, YOU.
God created YOU because He loves YOU! He doesn’t look at the people around you and think, “Why can’t you be more like them?” Yet so many of us do it all day long.
But if a person got to know us then they may not like us. And this is too much of a risk. So like a skilled artist laying brush to canvas we create those personas . Day in and day out we create this masterpiece of what we think others will like. We paint over the blemishes. The depression. The anxiety. The loneliness. Stuffing the thoughts that run rampant through our brains, down as deep as we can muster, so no one can get a real look at what is inside of us. We feel ashamed as if we are the only ones in the world who struggle. We assume that if someone knew that we were in need of support, that we didn’t have it all together, that somehow this made us less worthy of love. But this is just not reality. We ALL have something that is holding us back from being everything that God has called us to be. Not one of us has been perfected. We can all grow. This is the idea behind recovery. It is not about just getting an addict sober or getting a codependent to stop relying on others for their value. It is about becoming more and more like our true selves as God created us; a unique reflection of Jesus. Some Christians use a fancy word for this that sounds a little safer than recovery, they call it sanctification. But make no mistake about it; the recovery that we talk about in Celebrate Recovery is the process of sanctification; looking more and more like Jesus.
So think about how many people know you. I mean actually KNOW you. Not the “you” that you want other people to see, but rather the real you. For a good deal of the population that number is actually very small. But why is that an issue? Because recovery is not done alone. We are created to exist in the context of community. We are all meant to work together and in the process God uses each other as an instrument for making others better. So show someone you trust who you really are. No faking, no denial of reality, no mask, just you.
I can’t even count how many times I have had someone say some variation of, “Nate, if you only knew who I really am you wouldn’t want to be around me.” This phrase breaks my heart. It breaks my heart because it is the real you that I do want to be around. It is the real you that is the most beautiful. I have had people tell me some of their darkest secrets, thoughts that are morbid or violent. Thoughts that are disturbing and shameful. And I am yet to have someone tell me these things for me to then run away. And here is why. Because I understand that you are more than the thoughts that bother you. And when you share those thoughts, I am hearing you say that you trust me. I am seeing you show a courage that most don’t have. I feel your desire to be the you that God created and not settle for the version that comes from living in a broken world.
It is in our brokenness that God works. He makes beautiful mosaics out of the pieces that have fallen apart. When I see you, when I see the real you, I don’t see ugliness. I see a beautiful image. The image of someone who was created in the image of God. When we hide who we are, to be who we think others want us to be, we are denying the world of something beautiful. Let the world see who you are. Be you. Sure there are some things that are going to be personal. I don’t expect someone to share everything with everyone but in your vulnerability you exude strength. The strength to stand up and show that you are not perfect and that you struggle. And that lets me know that I am not alone. Because I struggle. I have ugly thoughts. I am broken. And when you share I feel a peace that comes with knowing that my struggle does not define me. My Creator does.
Start small. Start with just one person. Ask someone to join you in the process of discovering who you are. This process won’t be easy. This process has potential to bring pain. This process also has the potential to bring you closer to the people in your life. This process has the potential to discover a person inside of you that you will appreciate and grow to love. A you that is more fulfilled. A you that is more at peace. A you that is not alone, because the two most powerful words in recovery, are “me too.”
So thank you. Thank you for sharing.
National Director of Mental Health for Celebrate Recovery