This is a weird post to write. The past two months have seen such a change and revelation in so much of who I am. God, that sounds so dramatic. Well, this season has been pretty dramatic, so I guess it’s okay. Let’s talk.
A little over a year ago, I wrote a series of blog posts called I’m A Fearful Man (and i need to get over it). In them, I talked about some of the subtle currents of fear at work in my heart; I talked of their source, their outworking, and how they led to great anxiety, insecurity, and non-communication in my life.
Throughout the series, I received great encouragement and comments from others and there seemed to be an excitement building as I wrote each post. People saw much of themselves in my story and baggage and were looking forward to the conclusion of this story to see how I was going to address these issues.
And what was my grand conclusion after unpacking so much of my brokenness and sin? It was that I was going to be more forward and bold in my blog writing. (Yeah, even I thought it was a bit anti-climactic at the time.)
I feel like the past couple of months have been the actual culmination of the process began by that blog series. At the time, I didn’t see how deep the rabbit hole went; I didn’t see just how deeply-woven these things were in my heart.
In short, I’ve seen how much of my life has been driven by a strong current of performance.
I know, I know: everybody deals with that! I have only just realized, though, the extent and reach of this within me.
My whole life, there have been people of great discernment (they tend to be my roommates, haha. And my mother and brother) that have this ability to see right through me and have this abiding sense that I’m full of BS in most things I say. It’s not even that these things said are not true or right or genuine. It’s simply that these people are tapping into something I’ve only now begun to see.
They sense that there is an extra level of “processing” that my words go through before they actually come out of my mouth. My mind is so often racing ahead of my words, tailoring them for whatever situation/person/conversation I find myself engaging with. It is very rare when I feel myself “in the moment”, “present”, or actually giving an “unfiltered Paul” to the world. I’ve spent much of my life with this feeling that there is almost like a sheet of paper between me and the rest of the world; that I’m not fully “here”; that I’m merely rehearsing.
And one of the most tangible ways this has been pointed out to me is on this blog. Often times, the posts I’ve considered my favorites–the ones I’ve spent hours pouring over and “crafting”–are precisely the ones that don’t get much reading, feedback, nor comments. It’s usually the ones that I write much more “in the moment”, without the “filters”, and with much more “purity” that tend to genuinely help people and make them want to share it.
So, what now?
My first response was to become very gun-shy about blogging and putting myself out there again. This is why there was a such a dramatic drop-off in my posts. Fears and insecurities have been running through my head. How do I know I’m not giving “performance Paul”? Can I be intentional about a post and not fill it with disingenuous BS? How do I even go about starting to do that?
In the meantime, I’ve been talking to others, praying, journaling, and trying breathing techniques (I have found I can’t really pay attention to my breath or senses without being fully present in a given moment). I have been learning what it “feels” like when I slip into “performance Paul” mode and am becoming much better and quicker at seeing him and turning it off. I’ve been confessing this to friends. I’ve been relating to my Father through his imagery as Rock, Shelter, Fortress, and Strength, and He has met me in this.
As I’ve done all this I’ve been experiencing the ever-so-subtle, ever-so-quiet, and ever-so-slight loosening of these things on my heart (even my brother and mother have noticed it!). Is it done? Hell no. I will spend the rest of my life slaying these dragons and I pray to have people closest to me that can see these things, graciously point them out to me, and love me through them.
And either way, now I’m back to the blog. I finally feel the freedom to do so and I’m trying to write these things much more “honestly”. We’ll see. I’ve had so many tastes of a freedom, peace, rest, and quieting of the anxiety in my head these past couple of months. I have seen that even I, in all my faults and failings, am not disqualified nor beyond this blessing of God, however infrequent it may seem to be. I pray I taste it more and more, with increasing frequency and intensity, in the days and years to come.