“Conversations can get you into weird spaces.” –Judah Smith
A while ago I joined a new Facebook group, which shall remain nameless. I’ll just say this: many old friends were a part of it and it was fun, initially, to reminisce about the past and talk about the old trouble we got into.
But that’s when I got weird.
I don’t know how to explain it, except to say that this group became like a séance—the channeling chant of a clairvoyant—and from somewhere buried deep within the remains of my soul, my fifteen-year-old self was summoned. Girlfriend pounced like a jack-in-the-box.
It was as if the past twenty years in which I’ve married and mothered, ministered and matured, no longer mattered. The resurrected teenager in me desperately wanted the approval of this group. So I began “liking” almost every comment on the page, even if I didn’t necessarily agree with it or find it amusing. I joined in with the others’ venting about life. (Some of which I meant, but wisdom usually keeps me from ever doing that online.) I was literally living the adult version of If all of your friends jumped off a bridge, would you?
Evidently I would.
After a few days of this, I finally attempted to regain some of that aforementioned wisdom. I went back through the conversational threads and deleted most of my comments, at least the flippant ones, and un-liked posts and memes I had previously liked. But then that action made me feel insecure—What if people think I’m wishy washy?—so I’d repost or relike all over again.
Like I said, I got weird. Apparently when my teenage inadequacy and shame show up, they do so with flair. After a few days of this fickle behavior, I became angry. Even though I should be well beyond teenage drama, there remains a part of me that still needs the endorsement of certain crowds. I hate that those longings tend to impede my freedom and confidence in Christ—the freedom I have just to be who he created me to be.
Eventually, after enlisting my husband and friends to pray for me, I removed myself from the group. Which, admittedly, threw me into another round of anxiety: what will they think of me now that I’ve left? Not that anyone is paying that much attention. No one is thinking about me as much as I am.
I’m a few years away from turning forty, and have lived nearly four decades as a follower of Jesus. I know that if we’re not careful, our tendency is to create God in our image, and I never want to do that. But I’d be lying if I said there aren’t days when, even if it’s just for a little while, I need God not to be Great. Not to be Almighty. Not to be Immeasurable. Sometimes I need God to be my high school boyfriend. I need him to ride up to me on his skateboard, grab my hand, carry my backpack, and walk me home. I need him to tell me that he knows the real me.
I need him to hang out with me until dark and then talk with me under the stars for a while; rearrange them so they spell out something secret, something only the two of us understand. Something that reminds me, “This insecure version of you that remains—I will never stop loving her. I’m overcoming her shame too. So don’t you give up on her.”
I want to rest there, not forever, but just a bit. Under the stars, hand in hand with God and the fifteen-year-old in me that still needs some tender attending to now and then.