(some more thoughts following on from my earlier rambling)
the desire to feel accepted sometimes leads us to pretence – say there’s a bunch of people who seem to value intelligence, and you want these people to like you, so you might pretend to be smarter than you really are. or say they all like a particular type of music, you might pretend to absolutely love that music just so that you can belong in that group.
and so you end up being accepted but knowing very well that you were accepted based on false pretences, so you are going to be forever waiting in fear of being found out and rejected.
a bit like not daring to tell people you’re gay, pretending to be in a straight relationship and thus gaining temporary acceptance from people around you, and never knowing how many of them will stand by you if the truth comes out – never knowing who your true friends are. because you’ve never given people the opportunity to become your true friends – you haven’t shown them who the real you is.
that’s why when I met the man I’m now married to, I made a point of getting all the skeletons out of my cupboard very early on – if he was going to reject me because of things in my past, I preferred that to happen early on, before I’d invested too much in the relationship. And I did not want to spend my whole married life in fear of what he might one day find out about me – what if we bump into someone who knew me back when…
that’s why I put something clear about my faith in my profile both here and on fb – if one of my relatives sees it and decides they don’t want to know me, fine, let that happen sooner rather than later.
the more honest and open I am about who I am, the more chance I have of forming real friendships of lasting value. the more I hide, the more I will have to fear – being found out is scary only if you have secrets that you don’t want people to know about. in my early army days I was chucked out of a course because of security issues, because they found out that I was bisexual – and the IDF policy is (or at least was) to treat that as a danger to security because, according to their logic, it means someone could blackmail you into providing them with military secrets. The ridiculous irony in my case, as I tried in vain to explain to them, was that the army was the only place where I’d tried to hide it – once they knew, that was it, there was no danger of blackmail…
when I first came to England I went through a pretend marriage in order to get a visa so that I could stay here. I had to keep that going for a year so that I could get a permanent visa – they gave me a one-year visa to start with, and then me and that guy had to go to the Home Office and say we were still married. and so for a year I pretended at work to be married to this guy, and had to keep remembering my intricate web of lies in all sorts of conversations. it was a huge relief to stop playing that game when the year was over.
but most of the time our deceits are less drastic than these. most of the time it’s stuff like pretending to see what the joke is when everyone’s laughing; pretending to think something is rubbish because that’s what everyone else thinks; pretending to absolutely love something because everyone else does; pretending to know more than you do, to impress everyone; pretending to know less than you do, so that the others won’t feel threatened by you; etc etc. small deceptions. all because we long to feel accepted.
the truth is there’s only one place where we can get total unconditional acceptance, and that’s from God – he is the one who knows each of us exactly as we are, he knows even the bits we hide from ourselves, and he still loves us. Psalm 139 says it so well.