Thursday, May 16, 2013

Being Liked

I am an extrovert. I thrive off of getting to know people, investing in relationships, and spending time together. One reason the idea of career "ministry" sounds fun to me is because that kind of work usually involves people; who wouldn't want their job to be meeting people for coffee or lunch, going to kids' baseball games and choir concerts, having people over for dinner, and walking with them through life's journey? Well, I'm learning that lots of people wouldn't-- people who are gifted in ways that I am not-- people who probably think, "Who wouldn't want their job to be undisturbed hours in a lab, a library, or an office?" But, here I am, and here's the path I'm on, and I love it. 

Except when I don't love it. And that's because of this other thing that I'm learning about myself: I want to be liked. I mean, I desperately need to be liked and if I'm not, I crumble. Our day-to-day activities include visiting people in their homes, planning and hosting events for them, and helping to foster community in our building. (Think "dorm parent" for grown-ups.) And most of the time, I love it. But this morning, I heard some less-than-affirming words, and it was like a sucker punch. In short, a person I had been investing in, seeking to get to know, wanting to spend time with, had said something to the effect of, "her personality isn't my favorite," and I heard about it. 

Suddenly, life didn't seem worth living. I wanted to crawl under the rug and never come out. I didn't want to knock on anyone's door, I didn't want to go be friendly at our event, and I definitely didn't want to see this person. Or rather, it's not that I didn't want to do any of those things, but that I felt unable to. How can I make myself vulnerable when I just got rejected? How can I open up and give of myself when someone virtually just said, "no thanks?" How can I continue to put my energy into someone who doesn't like me? 

After a few hours of sniffling and feeling sorry for myself (OK, and eating chocolate chip muffins), I realized: it's OK to want to be liked, but it's not OK to let that be my primary motivation in caring for others. Either I care for them regardless of how they feel about me, or I'm using them to feel good about myself. I thought about Jesus, and how He cared for people who put Him on a cross. He knew rejection more than I ever will; and yet He still chose to give of Himself in the fullest, most painful way. 

I think it's OK for me to feel sad that this person doesn't like me as much as I had hoped. But I'm also learning that the call to do "ministry" means to seek his good one way or another. And if I'm really considering making this kind of thing my career, I'm sure this won't be the last person who doesn't care for my personality, or who won't be thankful for my friendship, or who won't like me. And I have to decide, where does my energy to invest in others come from? Does it come from being liked? Because that's not a given. Or, does it come from the fact that God likes these people, regardless of how they feel about me? 

1 comment:

Lauren Winstead said...

You are so wise - neat to see/read about the different things God is teaching you! It is definitely inspiring :)