We yearn for connection. We are wired for belonging. We want to know we are not traveling this path alone. Right from the beginning, God spoke the words “it is not good for man to be alone” and ordained our hunger for community. We need each other.
Yet, at the same time, we hide from each other. We push each other away in the spaces we need each other most. The nagging voice of our inner critic whispers these words:
- You have nothing meaningful to offer.
- You aren’t as good as…
- You aren’t as smart as…
- You are not enough.
- If they really knew you, they wouldn’t love you.
So we pretend. We wear our shiny, happy masks and insist we are “fine.” We adamantly declare how very busy we are as our proof of worthiness. We compare and compete, hoping to catch up and earn entrance to an imaginary club for which there are no actual members, Club Perfect. We are convinced we just need to try harder so we won’t be the only one on the outside looking in.
In her book For the Love, Jen Hatmaker speaks to this struggle: “When I present a fabricated version of myself- the self who knows all, is ever certain, always steps strong- we all lose because I cannot keep up with that lie and neither can you…If we could believe we are deeply connected in the fragile places, we could drop the games.”
So perhaps we begin to experiment. We find a few people with whom we drop the act momentarily. We take a few risks and test the waters. We admit our struggles:
- Sometimes I wonder if I’m doing it all wrong
- Sometimes I wonder if God is listening to my prayers
- Sometimes being a parent/ child/ spouse/ friend is really, really hard
- Sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever get over my bad habit of…
- Sometimes I feel like a total failure
And then we hear those magical, beautiful, life-giving words…
We find we are not alone after all! We realize we are not the only one who wonders or the only one who doubts. We recognize our self in the stories others share and offer our own gift of “me too.” We discover our inner critics speak a similar language and we begin to suspect it is a language of lies. Perhaps, instead, the opposite is true:
- I am not the only one who struggles.
- I do have something to offer.
- We are all imperfect, growing, learning and changing.
- We are stronger when we stand together.
- I showed up, I allowed my authentic self to be seen and I was loved anyway.
Most of us don’t need others to fix our struggles, our worries, our doubts or our fears. We don’t need advice, platitudes or solutions. Often, we already know the answers or the path to find them. We simply need to know we are not alone in our struggles. We need to hear “Me too.”
Jesus came to help us find our way back to the Kingdom of Me Too. In the original garden, we lived in perfect connection and community with one another and with God. Before we listened to the lies, we were safe and we were known. No hiding, no pretending, no blaming, no rationalizations, no fig leaves to cover our shame. We started listening to the lies and we got separated from one another. And as we got further and further from each other, it became harder and harder to hear the voice of God.
Perhaps, as the quote from Ram Dass says, the answer lies in remembering “We are all just walking each other home.”
Perhaps this all sounds terribly pie-in-the-sky simplistic, the stuff of bumper stickers and self-help platitudes. However, this past weekend, our little band of adventurers at the Being Brave retreat courageously entered into this sacred space together. We challenged the lies that say we are stronger when we tough it out alone. We found the ways we are connected in the “fragile places” and we named each other brave. We said Me Too again and again, and with each time we said it, we began to hear God’s voice say “Welcome home, my beloveds.”
We need each other. Take a risk, let down your guard, speak your truth. Show up and let yourself be seen. Offer the gift of Me Too to your fellow strugglers. After all, perhaps we are all indeed just walking each other home.