This weekend was the 4th of July Family Reunion with the in-laws. Riley’s immediate family and I stayed in a beautiful cabin at the east end of the San Juan mountain range. We saw people we hadn’t seen for years, the weather was beautiful, the fishing was bountiful, the food was fabulous; so much was great about the trip. However, for some reason there was a sense of hesitation that hindered me from enjoying the time in it’s fullest.
I am an extrovert – I get filled up by being in the presence of other people. It bring me joy to know others and their style of life.
You may think I would have had a blast with roughly 50 or more people at this reunion to get to know. Of these people, I only knew Riley’s immediate family and briefly had been acquainted with about 5 other family members from the first reunion about 4 months after Riley and I first got married – roughly 3 years ago.
Lots of conversation happened the first day. There was the typical, “What do you do?”, “Where are you from?”, etc. In the evening, more in depth conversation happened. Some relatives wanted to know how Riley and I met and got married along with our spiritual journey. Thus, we had the opportunity to ask about their spiritual journey and so on. I should have left the end of day overjoyed we were able to talk so personally with people. However, I felt hesitant for the next day’s conversations due to a sense of regret.
Like I said earlier, I reeeeally enjoy people; I do. So, why did I feel regret from that first day? Amazingly, I was the first one up the second day and had time to journal and meditate on my heart. I was determined to figure out why I felt hesitant for the coming day instead of what would naturally seem obvious – looking forward to meet people.
After much writing and thinking, I found a few things I was fearing after the conversations I had the day before:
The unknown if…
I say silly things sometimes. Thing that others might think, “Wow, how does she not know that?” Now, most people are kind enough that they don’t say the phrase out loud, but they may think it. So, the uncertainty of whether they thought that or not hangs over my head. What if they think I’m stupid?
We all know that praise is given to those that are intelligent; that can talk on many subjects; that have an expansive vocabulary; and so on. Truly, those things are worth praising and are worthy ambitions. However, the problem is the opposite is true too – as in, people can be critical of those who aren’t or can’t be or do those things.
What if I don’t know and I do need help understanding? It seems, in most conversations, little patience is given to those that can’t keep up with a conversation. It’s interesting that I feel this way as I’ve never been told I was stupid or that I shouldn’t be having this conversation while having it. Mostly I feel this way because I’ve watched people criticize and show disgust after they’ve had the conversation to someone else later on.
Is this criticism I speak of something that is likely to happen? Actually, I can’t know for sure, but given the many times I’ve seen it happen to other people, it is enough to make the question, “What if they criticize me?” linger in my mind.
Are these uncertain questions good reasons to not visit with others? At first is seemed so; yes. If the answers to the above questions are yes, then it’s possible I may lose respect and value from these people. We all desire respect and value from others.
These thoughts then led me to ask myself what exactly is the value and respect from others worth.
There is freedom to be had.
If I was to be concerned about what others may think, it could cost me my freedom to speak.
If I’m quiet because I may regret feeling stupid or lose respect is surely enslaving. Don’t I lose experiencing knowing someone more deeply if I don’t brave conversation? Won’t I live in regret because there can be no certainty in what others think after visiting with them? Ironically, won’t I miss out on learning if I don’t ask questions?
One thing I do know is, when I feel enslaved there is something wrong because truly, I am free. A while back in my life, I made a decision that my value is determined by my creator; believing that there is a God and that God is Jesus the Christ.
“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” – Galatians 5:1
Is it not the fear of man that I describe?
“The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is safe.” – Proverbs 29:25
No matter what someone else may criticize from my conversation with them, I will always have value in God. For all eternity, I’ll be loved unconditionally. For while I may stumble, he will have patience.
“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” – Romans 8:1-2
There is something to be said about watching your speech.
While I know now I have freedom from the slavery of condemnation and can speak freely, I do still need to be careful of what I may say.
“’I have the right to do anything,’ you say—but not everything is beneficial. ‘I have the right to do anything’—but not everything is constructive.” – 1 Corinthians 10:23
Instead of letting fear keep me silent, I can let the freedom of Christ make me wise. Without the stumbling block of losing value, I can speak.
You know what I mean, when you are nervous and afraid, it’s like you can’t think at all. You stumble over your words, you oddly hug instead of handshake, you can’t think of the right words, etc…
Now, in my speech, I can think clearly and simply be aware. It’s important to be aware that what I may say could be hard for others to hear or not beneficial for them to know.
A simple example is, say, if you friend just had a miscarriage, it’s probably not beneficial gushing over the fact that your sister just had her baby.
I wish I could say I didn’t stumble back into thinking my value lied among people, and I kept my faith that God is my ultimate judge of value. Here and there during conversation though, I felt fear creep in me and make me want to stop talking. Yet, because I had recognized the wrong in my fear, I was quick to remember my freedom.
Yes, I said silly things here and there. Yes, some people may have left the family reunion thinking that Riley’s wife was a goof.
But, what I left with was knowing that those things don’t matter. My freedom will allow for more conversation and better conversation and most beneficially, no regret!