Alone yet surrounded by people I laugh but to protect what cries inside. I smile through a broken heart; I hug but no warmth returns. If only you could feel what I am inside you would show me, then tell me, you’re happy I’m with you.
Outer behavior is often a mask for an internal struggle. Some people smile at others, hoping for affection and acceptance in return. Some people laugh with their peers to avoid rejection. Some people are controlling and domineering to hide their vulnerability. No one is as he or she appears, for behind the convincing façade exists a personal history – just like yours and mine – of abuse, neglect and unjust behavior by others. The personal history that we each carry hurts us, and you and I will at all cost, avoid allowing anyone to repeat those same offenses against us. At the slightest perceived threat – real or imagined – we try to make it go away, immediately, even it means rejecting someone with the same behavior by which others offend us.
What if instead of automatically throwing up walls and hurling rejection over the side, we choose to remain in the uncomfortable zone and befriend the wounded person that lies behind the façade. Instead of rejecting the person that appears odd or different, what if we chose to ask where his or her interests lie, and invite our potential friend to explain why those interests are personally meaningful. You will see him – you will see her – transform before your very eyes with joy and excitement, and visibly show appreciation for your genuine interest in his or her worth. The personal interest we choose to take in others is our bridge to fellowship and togetherness; it is the path away from re-experiencing the debilitating effects of our personal history. It is our means to live and grow beyond our past and into a life that requires less and less walls for protection. It is our means to at last build freedom alongside the person we once rejected.