So… relationships can be hard for me. It takes me a long time to warm up to people, and really let them in. I will let pretty much anyone know facts about my life, but to see the real emotion and vulnerability behind those facts, that takes time. Time measured in months and years, not minutes. This is not something I particularly like about my personality, but I don’t know how to change it.
I’ve been hurt by friends over the years, and it has caused me to develop a coping mechanism I call ‘flipping the switch.’ If I perceive that a friend is checking out of the relationship, or that I am bothering them, I’m gone. I emotionally flip the switch. I’m still nice, present, pleasant… the friend may not even notice the difference. But I do. I’m out. This is NOT how Christ calls me to live. I think about Judas, at the Last Supper, in the days and months before that. Jesus still allows him to be one of his circle. He still invites him to the table. Judas hears the same words, feels the same blessing as the others, even though Jesus knows what he will do. Let’s be honest, no slight or hurt from my friends can compare to being sent to your death on the testimony of on of your best buddies.
Flipping the switch may keep me safe, but it also keeps me alone. I am not practicing hospitality, not investing in community, when I intentionally hold myself back from a friendship. I have noticed another thing too- if I know a relationship is time limited, I never even consider investing in it. If I know a friend is moving away, leaving my bubble, or in my life for just a season, I don’t want to let them into my inner world. I don’t want to risk the inevitable hurt and heartache of goodbye. So instead, I cheat myself out of a chance to be known, to truly know someone else. All because I am afraid of the goodbye. This, I am certain, is not what God wants. This is my hidden sin. Because here is the truth: we cannot be held accountable unless we allow people to see us. See the real us, our hearts, our hopes, and our faults.
A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need Proverbs 17:17
I think that when God calls us to live a life of hospitality, he is asking us to let people in, not only to our homes and our lives, but to our hearts. For our good, and for theirs. We must risk pain, risk rejection, risk loss, in order to gain the companionship and the accountability we need. When I feel the knee jerk impulse to check out of a friendship, I need to notice. To examine the situation. To fight it, and to lean in deeper.
But how do you do that? How do you keep the switch from flipping?