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If I’m honest, sometimes engaging in relationships comes hard to me.
All summer, I’ve watched them flit from tree branch to tree branch. And throughout the summer, I’ve sighed because I couldn’t grab my phone and open the camera setting before they flew to hide in some tree branch.
These little yellow-breasted birds fascinate me! As I prepared to have my time with Jesus on our deck recently, one of these birds landed on a nearby bird feeder. By the time I lifted my camera it disappeared.
Again I sighed and asked God why He couldn’t have let it stay a few more seconds.
I opened my Bible, but I kept peeking at that post . . . hoping.
I listened as birds trilled their various songs while breezes ruffled through the leaves of neighboring trees. Small spider webs sparkled in the early morning sun.
And the thought came to me. As much as I love snapping photos of God’s creation, sometimes He just wants me to take it in, to breathe in His beauty. To savor the wonder of His creativity. Cameras are wonderful things, but they can be a distraction, a hiding place.
I am the woman who’s hidden behind the camera and taken photos of others. The one who volunteered to press the button so I wouldn’t have to be in that picture. The one who hides behind life’s lenses because it feels safer than putting myself out there and engaging in relationships. Sometimes, it feels easier to hide than to risk being vulnerable.
Truths about engaging in relationships
Though God probably smiles when we delight in His creation, He doesn’t want us to spend all our time posed behind the lens. As amazing as it is to capture a snapshot of His beauty, if we’re always behind the camera—if we’re hiding—we can’t participate in the middle of life. We keep ourselves separate.
For much of my life, I’ve chosen the fringes, trying to protect my heart from pain. The thing is—fulfillment comes when we’re engaging in relationships and in life. Sometimes God allows us to view life from the fringes, but He knows intimacy, satisfaction, and joy only come when we engage with others.
We’re all human, and it’s a kind of a given we will hurt each other. Most of the time it’s not on purpose. But part of becoming more like Jesus means learning both how to change when we hurt someone and how to forgive when we’ve been hurt. This is part of what makes engaging in relationships feel risky.
We can try to avoid the pain in life, but in doing this we also miss out on the joy. To experience the depth of joy that comes from really living, we must risk being hurt. We must choose vulnerability. We must brave engaging with others.
As satisfying as it is to capture an amazing photograph of something or someone, this pales in comparison to the fulfillment that comes when we engage in relationships and choose intimacy with others.
God created us with a need to intertwine our lives . . . both with Him and with others. When we withhold ourselves from others because we’re afraid of being hurt, we deny ourselves a deeper experience of life. When we’re engaging in relationship with others, that need is sated.
I never did capture a photo of that yellow-breasted beauty that morning. Instead, I came away with a poignant reminder that life is meant to be lived in front of the lens, not behind it.
What about you? What have you hidden behind to protect yourself from being hurt? What helps you engage in relationships with others?
Click to Tweet: Part of becoming more like Jesus is learning both how to change when we hurt someone and how to forgive when we’ve been hurt.
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Jeanne, your new website is beautiful. I love the picture of you on the home page … it goes along perfectly with what you’ve said here about not hiding behind the lens (although you do take amazing photos too). I’m with you about sharing deeply and being vulnerable … what’s the point, otherwise? Hugs, friend.
Thanks so much for your kind words, Lois. I completely agree . . . when we’re vulnerable, we invite people into deeper sharing.
Jeanne, I LOVED your video … it felt like meeting you in person! Congrats on creating such a lovely, welcoming space again. I admire your bravery and courage in doing so as I am quite technically challenged.
You KNOW I’ll be visiting often, friend.
Again, best to you!
Linda, thank you. 🙂 And thanks for your kind words about my new online home. 🙂 It’s been fun to create, but I’ll confess I’ve needed a lot of help on the back end of things. 🙂
I definitely relate to this, Jeanne! I have spent a lot of time hiding, but I have gradually realised that it is worth the risk to learn to be vulnerable and open up to people. Your new website looks lovely!
Lesley, I love that you, too, have come to the realization that risking and learning to be vulnerable adds depth to life. Thanks for checking out my new site. 🙂
I saw your link on the purposeful faith link-up. This is such a great reminder, especially in this day when it’s so easy to stay behind the lens or the phone or a number of other distractions. Thank you for the insight to engage, be present, and breathe gratitude.
Marielle! I’m so glad you visited! Between this pandemic and our culture it’s easy to find hiding places behind various distractions, isn’t it? Thank you for your encouraging words!
It is so easy to hide, to not be vulnerable. To not share. When a child I hid behind shyness and fear. Sometimes now I hide behind humor. I am trying to push myself more. To not hide. To be vulnerable. Which helps my relationships. Deepening them. I think if I get rejected now I take it less personally. I too would love to get pictures of birds, but I am never quick enough.
Theresa, it is easy to hide and not be vulnerable. Thank you for the reminder that we can hide behind what others consider positive character traits, like humor. Humor is good, but you’re right. It can also be a hiding place. And yes, choosing to be vulnerable in relationships deepens them. I love your thoughts here, friend. Thanks for visiting!
I have many heartaches over this lifetime. Age 12 was my first recollection of a hard one…and they came again and again, yet I have had much joy too. I hid behind Mom’s skirts when young, behind timidity and trying to fit in, both of which seemed to last until I aged and came to know Christ in my mid-40s. During this pandemic, I seem to be hiding behind my door more than anything, although not really wanting that. I just am in that age bracket where I choose to take extra precautions. BUT…I am not hiding at Being Woven, nor as I write notes to the home and bed bound, nor to phone callers. I can easily be a recluse so need to be careful! Thanks for the reminders.
Linda, I too hid behind timidity and trying to fit in. Neither is a very wide or secure hiding place, are they? Especially during this pandemic, there’s a difference between hiding behind your door and being intentional about your health and well-being. I LOVE that you are not hiding at Being Woven. Thank you for sharing examples of how you are intentionally reaching out to those who probably most need a touch of humanity and kindness. I am so grateful you stopped by!
On ten seconds’ reflection,
I think I see God’s plan;
I make no deep connexion
for I’m a shallow man.
If at Starbucks we should meet,
your letdown will be great,
for I tip precarious in my seat
and call a latte ‘late’,
and then fall backwards with a crash
and feet up in the air;
all around will coffee splash,
as I laugh without a care
for I am always having fun,
and get to die forever young.
Andrew, you made me smile with this one. My sons love to tip back in their chairs . . . Being able to laugh in the midst of embarrassing or painful circumstances can be a gift. I know your pain is beyond what almost anyone else is dealing with. The fact you can bring laughter to my day speaks volumes for your character and not-so-shallowness.
I’m praying for you and Barb, my friend.
I think we had a couple nests of goldfinches in the trees in front of our house. The birds are mere flashes of yellow disappearing into the deep green of the leaves–there’s no way to count how many or find the nests. They are like the hairs on my head–God counts, and I’m in awe.
Wow, Shirlee. The goldfinches sound like fascinating birds. How fun that you had nests nearby to be able to see them. They are fast. I love your reminder that, though we don’t know how many there are around us (or the numbers of hairs on our heads), God does. 🙂 I’m in awe too. 🙂
I might need to hide behind anything to prevent myself from being hurt. Relationships mean too much to me to hide. Vulnerability is where it’s at for me. Deeply connecting with others makes my world go round. What helps me connect most deeply with others is my deep desire to connect deeply. I put myself out there and make space for others to feel safe when connecting with me. Listening to understand with a caring heart helps. I’m a super empath so that comes easy for me. Asking questions for deeper understanding is also helpful. It shows I care. Encouraging is also a great way to deeply connect with others.
I love this, Yvonne. It’s taken me years to come to the place you’re describing here. I still struggle sometimes with being vulnerable, but God’s helping me get better at this. And yes, I agree that deeply connecting with others makes a life so much better. Encouragement is huge in building deeper relationships. Thanks so much for sharing your wisdom here.