I am a bit of a hypochondriac and so I don't mean this to be offensive in any way, but over the past several years I have often thought if people had been as easily diagnosed when I was younger as they are in today's society with being somewhere on the autism spectrum, then I might have been put on there. I don't know why it is, but I struggle so much with social anxiety and feeling comfortable knowing how to interact with people. I want friends. I want a community. But at the same time I find it to be the very thing that scares me. Instead of running to it, I run from it. Instead of relaxing in it, I tense up. I could be talking to my best friend of ten years and feel so stressed about what to say or how to act....and that scares me.
However, if I were really honest with myself, I would know that my problem isn't a lack of social skills or a missing piece in my make up....really what's wrong is this self-centered desire in myself to be accepted and loved and to matter to others. I worry and stress about what to say and how to act not because I can't clearly think of what to do, but rather because I want to be sure to say and do all the right things that will get others to like me. I'm afraid that if I don't agree with people, if I disappoint them, if I hurt them...they will reject me...and that will only validate the little voice in my head that always tells me that I'm not good enough. So I stress myself out...over analyzing every situation and word....trying not to do the wrong thing but only tripping myself up in the process.
The reality is though that...I'm NOT good enough. I never will be. And seeking to get other people to tell me that I am is a losing battle. Instead I should be spending my time seeking God. He's the only person that has ever looked at my life...all my non-sense and missteps and intentional miss-givings...and still says "I love you. I accept you. You matter to me". God knows I am not perfect and He loves me anyway. I don't have to put on a show for Him and worry about taking the one wrong step that will get me kicked out of His kingdom. I am fully and completely loved by God....right here...right now....as I am! I think if I fully understood that then I would be a lot freer in life. Instead of worrying about being accepted, I could just accept people. Instead of striving to be forgiven, I could just offer forgiveness. Instead of desiring to be loved, I could just love. All because I know I am all of those things in Christ!
There is a prayer by St Francis that goes like this...
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.
....That is the prayer of my life. That I would find myself so secure in God that I could sow love, offer forgiveness, stand in faith, show hope, bring light, spread joy, console others and understand. That my life would no longer be self centered...but rather God centered and others focused. That I would be lost in Him and found to be His hands and feet in this world. Amen.