So you go somewhere as a casual observer (or even as what one might call a professional observer / journalist / helper / art groupie and cross-cultural aficionado) and you get drawn in personally because that is actually the point. This conference isn’t just for Cross-Cultural Workers (CCWs) or artists … it’s for me, too.
I’ve written about various core desires, which I’ve seen in others. But I have my own core desires, and here’s my chance to be a little bit vulnerable.
I want to grab the mic. I’m supposed to be this great listener kind of guy, but I’m sorry, I want to be the center of attention. I’m primarily a writer in terms of how I express my creativity, but at heart there’s a performer wanting to escape.
I want to be known. I want to connect, to be heard and to be understood. I identified all this stuff about myself quickly last night as I sat off by myself feeling bad, because I have some tools along that I use for helping coach other people and I used them on myself.
Feeling bad isn’t too descriptive. It goes a bit deeper. Feeling left out, ugly and rejected, these feelings surfaced, and then I realized that they were pushing me to withdraw. From there I felt apathetic and eventually wanted to shut down. I stopped working… at that point I realized this is why I did not post a blog on Monday (or, maybe I did, but it was all visual stuff, just the photojournalism side of my job.) I needed some space to reflect on that.
My dad used to say I was “exhibiting attention getting behavior” (or AGB) whenever I acted wild and crazy. I see it in my son Benjamin, too. Yesterday we Skyped home and asked him what his successes were. Benjamin said, “Well, I rode my bike down the stairs, and then I convinced my butler to punch himself in the face.” Funny. And attention-grabbing. The legitimate desire To Be Known is often twisted into a grab for attention, and this is a paradox I’ll likely fight with to some degree all my life because I’m a performer at heart.
There’s that desire to grab the mic from people instead of getting my desire to be known met in the form of receiving attention from God. But God makes these desires, places them within us, and God is the best at filling them, too.
It was good. I spent some time, had some conversation with the Creator. Rather than wallowing a lot in how painful some of my childhood experiences were when I was left out and rejected, I just asked Jesus some stuff about how He knows me. I felt some powerful response to that; some specific things that I sensed the Creator knows about me and likes about me; I heard Him saying “You’re a great guy, and I think you’re funny. I like your sense of humor.”
There will be times to perform, and times to watch from the back of the audience. A time to kill and a time to heal, a time to sow, a time to reap, and so on. In all that, being Known and Knowing You is something the Creator is really good at.
I’ll read a few poems at open mic. I am open to being vulnerable with people, and reading your poetry is definitely that. And that’s a way that you can be known to other people, which is certainly not a bad thing. It’s only pathological when it’s the only place you’re seeking to be known.
You, too, can be fully known by the Creator (and already are). That’s something you can be hungry to know in detail. Being heard and understood is an antidote to the effects of being left out or rejected. Stand up, try once more, take one more stab at connecting. If you’re hungry to be known too, ask, “Creator, what do you know about me, and what do you like about it?”