I went for many many years not opening myself up to others. The only person I really confided in was my husband. I didn't have the gaggle of girlfriends that I watched people having around me. I didn't have that one amazing girlfriend I could tell anything to or talk to for hours. That stems from decades of self-doubt, but to me, letting people in was what would make me most vulnerable.
I was right.
I've come to learn, though, in the past several years that despite what I have told myself nearly my entire life, being vulnerable is actually okay. There is no way that we can be loved as deeply as we want to love others if we don't put ourselves out there a little bit. And friends, I get it. I truly get that that can be such a terrifying idea that you freeze up when you think about it. Making new friends has NOT been my comfort zone at all. Making small talk is not my comfort zone, either. But you know, if you really think about it....most of life's magic doesn't happen in that silly little comfort zone.
I'm an introvert by nature. I never really knew what that meant until the past 5 years or so. That means I lived 35 years on this planet before I realized how to not make myself crazy in social situations, which I totally still do sometimes, but still. Although I'm introverted, that doesn't mean I don't love people. I do. Well, now I do. In a comfortable setting, I can be the life of the party. It's just that for a day or so after I need to be alone to recharge and regroup.
I've learned, that by letting people in (seriously, at first it was just one at a time), I can love others with more of who I am. I can accept offers of help. I can delight in a compliment. I can brighten the days of others.
I haven't really told you guys this, but I have an amazing church family. AH-MAZ-ING. With a capita A. And our women's ministry is......seriously.......awe-inspiring. And where I am in my life right now, I have so many lovely friends from church. These are women who share the same values as I do. We share our struggles and our triumphs with each other. We help each other when a helping hand is needed. We encourage each other. We stand along side each other in our walks of faith. THIS is the gaggle of girlfriends I thought I would never have. THIS is my tribe of women who love me despite my flaws and stupidity. They paint with me, they drink coffee with me, they study God's word with me, they laugh and cry with me. They take me on new adventures and follow sports with me. They hug me when I need one (and folks, I ALWAYS need a hug). They check in on me when I'm sick, or just feeling down.
Had I not learned to put myself out on that ledge a little, my life would not be as rich and colorful as it is now. I would have been missing out so much on what this life has to offer.