There are certain aspects of my personality that I was born with and then there are other parts that are a result of my living experience. All my life I have been an introvert...preferring to energize or motivate from within. I like people and their company but I am as or more comfortable in my own company. I know people who cannot stand to be by themselves. I was never bothered by that and frankly I preferred it. I love people and really enjoy them but it's just that I would rather meet and socialize with them on my own terms.
As I grew older and my alcoholism/addiction manifested itself more and more, I isolated myself to an extreme and came to really mistrust others...just about everyone. I was particularly alienated from people who tended to hang out or participate in groups like church or other religious and political organizations.
I considered them "mindless" people who prefer instead the safety one finds in numbers...just like SHEEP do. I believed in a creator but I thought this daily reliance...even dependence on daily prayer and fellowship a terrible weakness. To me church people basically just stood together in false piety to pass judgement on others and justify their own arrogant idea of life, politics and living.
That is why no one was more stunned and surprised at my acceptance of God and Jesus as my Savior then I was. I began to find that to a certain extent I also enjoyed the company of other Christians & going to church and began to feel remorse & guilt at being so harsh & judgmental of others in the past.
But as of late I have started to feel uncomfortable again in the presence of my fellow Christians...even some of the members of the church I attend. I have always been open minded about the choices other folks make for themselves and really believe that people can and should live their lives the way they choose. But I started to feel the evil eye of judgement again along with noting a great deal of hypocritical behavior and gossip in the ranks of people I thought cared about me and whom I had begun to trust. my natural reaction to this was to feel like an idiot for ever letting my guard down and trusting people again.
I am a very open and honest person when it comes to discussing my personal life , it's challenges and failures. I feel like GOD has really demanded that I share my life's details openly with others in the hope that they might find comfort and solace in knowing someone else has walked in their shoes. So that is what I have tried to do even going as far as creating and writing this very blog to achieve that openness and share myself with others...no holds barred, warts & all. It is not easy to share my failures, weaknesses and shortcomings with the entire world but it is something I truly feel compelled to do.
I also work hard at listening to people and being available to them anytime, not just Physically but Emotionally, Psychologically and Spiritually to help them in any way I possibly can. It has become the most important "work" I have ever been involved in and I relish the challenge. It is truly a holy endeavor for me and one I take really seriously. But I am as far from perfect as a human being can get and I make mistakes. I have feelings that can be hurt and aren't always totally rational...especially when it comes to my relationships with other people.
I do not understand and will admit I am less then tolerant of people who proclaim to live their life according to the principles Jesus taught yet in reality do not....they live indulgent, self-oriented lives. And you know what...I have absolutely no problem if that is the life they choose...they work hard at what they do and are entitled to do what they want with their lives. What troubles me is they say they live differently then they do. They pretend to care, to want to help but it is immediately evident that they are horribly uncomfortable in that role. And that is fine...stop pretending that you are something you're not, simple as that.
In the end...what really matters to me is honesty, integrity and sincerity. What I see lately is typical of many I meet these days. Folks will say one thing about themselves then act in a manner contrary to what they say. I know it is difficult at times being that honest with yourself but the reality of life is we are what we are and unless we take drastic measures to adjust and change that...people already know the true nature of who we are. People can spot a phony a million miles away.
One reason I am so terribly bothered by this scenario isn't because I am perfect and think I am better at this then others....No it certainly is not that! It's that I have spent years living that VERY SAME LIE! I was a PHONY...always trying to be someone I wasn't. What I have learned after years of living in recovery, becoming a Christian and doing my best to live by spiritual principles is that I need to be authentic, true to who and what I am and stop pretending I am something I am not. Hence my feelings of mistrust when I realized there are people who claim to be a friend yet they actions to not jive with their intentions.
Honestly....I have never felt so alone in all my life as I have when I was hurt this past winter and then became very sick with various infections after suffering series of significant injuries and set-backs. People will ask me how I am doing but it has become obvious that they truly didn't want to know the truth...heaven for bid I ask them for help!
And to a certain extent I understand....I really do, I get that...because I've been there. I made a great living before Addiction/Alcoholism literally brought me to my knees and I lost everything materially, nearly killing myself in the process. And there were people who took advantage of our friendship and demanded material help. Several times I purchased cars for people or co-signed loans for people who were down on their luck. The result in many cases was they only wanted more then more and more. Yet there were a couple cases where that was not the case and I ended up realizing that I had really helped someone who needed my help. I never regretted that. That was LOOOOONG before I became a Christian. I discovered GIVING truly was better then receiving.
Because of that experience I now think differently about how I treat others, God has changed me through hard experience & adversity...I chose to come and live with my parents to take care of them in their old age when the obviously could not take care of themselves...it is difficult and not my first choice...trust me. But it is rewarding in ways that I never imagined. Same with the illness and serious injury I have faced this year. This isn't fun....racking up over $120,000 in medical expenses...now over $13,000 out of pocket is not only not fun but the pressure and demands have contributed to the most painful and chaotic, pressure packed period (financially anyway) of my entire life.
Knowing God is with me is a great comfort but I am still responsible and liable for those medical expenses....hence the pressure, the worry and the feelings of helplessness...and it changes a person. Hence I no longer am a new naive Christian. I realize there really are folks who really do not care about me or what happens to me. Initially that realization really hurt but I can live with it. This also makes me realize and appreciate those who truly do care even more.
I have to live my life the way I have to live it. God speaks to me in a language I understand and I know now that he will NOT accept half measures from me. That includes the writing of this post. I realize I have friends who I really care about who may think I am writing about them. But I feel compelled to document my experience, my feelings and how this has affected me...I am not responsible for the feelings of others just as they cannot make me do or feel anything I do not want to feel or do.
It is not easy nor enjoyable. There are always some who will judge my actions harshly and turn away from me...so be it, in reality they were never really there for me so nothing has been lost except the illusion of trust and friendship.
I am hoping that this will prove to be the catalyst for change and growth...first and foremost within me. I know that I cannot truly effect change in others...only they...and GOD can do that.
Picture by Kathy Tomson