Post Grad Duck #14
It’s no wonder that when we’re driving there are speed limit signs placed every few yards, or that commercials repeat the name of their product more than once while they’re airing, or the command to love and rejoice is found in so many books of the Bible—we’re a forgetful people and need to be reminded of things often. It’s not exactly our fault, it’s a part of our human condition; however, since we are aware of this condition we are responsible for how we react to it.
I’m learning this lesson more and more. For some reason, I thought that when I left Boone and moved to State College I would suddenly achieve this certain sense of knowing. I thought that I learned enough about myself during my last two years of college that I would be able to just coast for a while. Even though I have found that my train of thought was 100% wrong, there is still a part of me that is waiting for the learning to stop. It’s not that I don’t want to learn, the end result is usually great, but it’s the getting there part that’s really hard.
If we’ve had the pleasure of meeting and talking for a few minutes, you probably noticed that I 1) typically have a lot of energy, 2) like to talk, 3) say what’s on my mind (sometimes without thinking through it), because I’m a verbal processor. Unfortunately, if we’ve had the pleasure of meeting within the past 2 months, you may not have picked up on these traits about me. It’s okay, it’s not your fault. No, you’re not unobservant and no, you’re not a bad listener. I just haven’t really been sharing all of my personality with people lately. So, really, how could you have any idea about what I’m like or how I typically interact with those around me, or the way that I think about things? You couldn’t. I haven’t given you any type of signal. No hints, no clues, not very much at all.
Earlier today, I was meeting with my campus minister (boss), like we do every Monday. We met at a local Starbucks, sat at our usual table, and sipped on our coffee. Right on cue he asked, “So, how are you?” In today’s culture, this question is typically a formality, but because of the nature of the relationship I have with my boss, he wasn’t just asking to be polite—he was asking because he wanted an answer, an honest answer, my answer. But truth be told, I didn’t really want to answer the question. I wanted to say, “Great! How are you?” but that would have been a lie. This past week was a rough one for me. Actually, being in Pennsylvania has been rough for me. I’ve mentioned that in blog posts before, but I think that I’ve tried to sugar coat it. No one wants to read about how miserable someone is (and I’m not going to write about how miserable I am, because that would also be a lie. I’m not miserable). Life is just…hard, and I’m just…learning.
I started to tell my boss about how I was doing. And of course, because I started talking, I couldn’t stop. I started babbling and expressing how I was feeling and giving life to what I was thinking because I was finally saying those thoughts out loud. In a word, I’m lonely. But the funny thing is, I really don’t need to be. Some of it is completely legitimate, but some of it is my own doing. Like I said before, I haven’t been signaling anyone. Mostly because I haven’t been really hanging out with anyone. Every now and again I’ll see friends, but not in a manner where I would say that the people around me actually know me. But again, it’s not their fault—I haven’t let them in; I haven’t really given them a chance to know me. And my campus minister totally called me out on that. In frustration, I was explaining to him about an activity I did on Saturday because I knew that it was good for me, but I followed with “but no one knows why it was good for me.” Ding, ding, ding! Of course no one knows, because I haven’t given anyone a reason/ chance to know.
My boss started to tell me things that I didn’t want to hear but was secretly hoping and praying he’d say. Did his words sting? Yes, but only because they were true. “Faithful are the wounds of a friend, profuse are the kisses of an enemy.” (Proverbs 27:6). There was a pause. I took a sip of my drink because I knew that if I were to say anything, I would probably start to cry. I could feel the tears forming behind my eyes and I noticed the tension welling in my throat. In reality, I probably did need to release a few tears, but I guess I’ve reserved them for another time. As the pause in our conversation came to a close, my boss began to tell me a story. He started explaining how he used get frustrated with drivers on the road that wouldn’t let him over. You know those moments when you’re on the highway and you really need to change lanes so you don’t miss your exit, but the guy in the Honda Civic next to you just won’t move? I was confused as to how this story had any relevance to what we had been talking about for the past hour or so, but then he said this: “I didn’t want to put on my blinkers.” He wasn’t giving any type of signal or notice to the drivers around him indicating that he wanted to change lanes. Humans aren’t mind readers. How would Mr. Honda Civic, or Ms. Mini Van, know to make room for my boss to get over if he didn’t let them know? They wouldn’t. And the same goes for relationships. “People aren’t going to know you, or what you need, if you don’t give them a signal,” he said.
He’s right. I have to allow people to know I’m here. It probably won’t be as easy as I want, and it may require more patience than I’d like to extend, but I think it’s more worth it than I can even realize. Deep down, I’ve known this, but it was good to be reminded.
[Dear Jesus, Thank You for the place I’m in, the people around me, and the words you allow me to hear.]