he tears filled up my eyes to the top, teasing me with the evidence of my fear and worry. I fought like mad to keep them down, and I did okay – until she looked at me. When she saw my face, hers softened with concern. She moved slightly into my space and questioned me with her eyes, Are you okay?
We rose up from our seats in the middle of the conference room, writers and speakers milling about, preparing for the evening session. None of them noticed my face. But I couldn’t hide from her. She noticed, she saw, she found me behind my wanna-be-strong. And in the finding, there was a connection. I convinced myself in my hiding that I didn’t want to be found.
But we always want to be found, don’t we?
I cry easy. I laugh loud. I am less laid-back than I wish. My emotions swing from high to low and back again. I am an emotional girl. There may be a lot that comes to mind when you hear that word – emotional. There is moody-emotional, feel-good emotional, touchy-feely and moved-with-compassion. There is fear-emotion and anger-emotion and euphoric love. There is Jesus in the Garden so overcome with emotion that he sweat blood drops and asked for the Father’s will to be other than what it was. He felt fully and completely. He did not try to change how he felt.
I have spent a lot of good girl days trying to change how I feel about things. I know there are things about my emotional self that I believe, things that are woven deep and hang on tight, things that aren’t true. I haven’t figured all those lies out yet. Perhaps that’s the problem: I try to figure out my emotions rather than give myself permission to simply feel them, then let them fade.
That evening at the writing conference, Kendra gave me the permission I wouldn’t give myself. She invited me to feel. She looked at me, and I let her see. She listened, she offered a word of support, she made me laugh. And in the seeing, in the feeling, the fear and the worry spilled out and lost their hold. That is the power of community.
I convince myself that I want to be the strong girl, the easy friend, the happy supporter. That is why I am uncomfortable when I am persnickety or hurt or tired from the weary world, the pressure, and the dishes. It is those times when we most want to hide, to be invisible, to figure out the source of the discontent on our own. But in the hiding, we miss out on the relief of being found. We miss out on the opportunity to experience love and support. We exchange connection for control. And community is lost, or never even found to begin with.
I am an emotional girl, and so are you. Are you waiting to be found? Are you running from community because of fear or worry or all your what-will-they-think-of-me’s? Let me encourage you to risk love and embrace connection. Seek out your community, look them in the eye, and let them see you.
By Emily Freeman, Chatting at the Sky