I’ve always been the kind of person that gets teased a lot. And I know that the teasing is affectionate, at least most of the time. But there was a dark period in my life when I was in my teens, when my inner world was tumbling around me, and during that time, the laughter and teasing made me wonder if all I was good for was the amusement of others.
Usually, I have no problem dishing it back to friends who tease me, and most of the time, I really don’t mind the laughter and teasing. But on occasion, it isn’t so easy to laugh along. And I begin to reflect – what’s the difference between the times I can join in the laughter easily and the times when it doesn’t feel quite so funny?
My husband suggested that I ponder whether or not it is because of the person who does the teasing. Perhaps, if it is someone whose opinion matters a lot to me, I find it harder to be laughed at by him. This morning, when I was making my bed and talking to God (and God quite often responds when I’m making my bed in the morning!), what He said made me realize the root of the problem.
It is true that who it is who teases me sometimes matters, but that isn’t the main issue. For the person whose opinion matters the most to me is my husband, and he laughs at me A LOT. Most of the time I’m very ok with it, and I even relish it because I know how much love and affection go into his teasing. But sometimes, his laughter cuts too. So what’s the problem?
It’s because I still can’t fully accept and love myself AS GOD MADE ME. When the subject of teasing happens to be something that I find difficult to accept in myself, the joke isn’t funny to me, because I’m immediately vulnerable.
For instance, I’m a talker. Over the last few years, and especially in the last few months, I have been desiring solitude and silence more and more. I have also grown comfortable in silence, and in my ability to actually listen and hear others during conversation instead of jumping in with my opinions at every opportunity. I have also been growing in the ability to protect my own sacred space and time – that is, setting aside time and space that nobody can touch (unless I truly feel it is meant for me to give that time away – willingly). This is sacred time and sacred space for me to rest and recuperate – to do whatever I feel like doing. (We do this as a couple too.)
So, recently, when on a few occasions I was teased regarding my talkativeness and my speed and openness in sharing about my life – by someone I take seriously – I felt rather afflicted. Not offended – nor was I very upset, but *something* was bothering me. My pride was wounded that my self-considered ‘amazing’ growth in inner silence and privacy was not being affirmed by these jokes.
So just now, when I was making my bed, my darling Lord (for darling He truly is for so wonderful and kind and loving He is!) said to me, “Why are you upset, my child? Do you feel misunderstood? But nobody can see into your heart and all of your actions like I can. I know you wish for affirmation from me. But can you believe that I am pleased with you even when I do not affirm you?”
I thought to myself, “True. I am reminded again that I am still attached to how others see me, and to consolations from God.”
God continued, “You and I both know that I made you a talker. Your growth in inner silence and solitude is not so that you lose the nature I have given you – but so that you can speak more truly for me. Grace never destroys nature – but perfects it.”
I am reminded about what Mother Teresa said about silence of the tongue – it doesn’t mean not talking. But do the words I speak bring life and light, or do my words increase the darkness? Learning to be silent is learning to speak from a purified heart, a consecrated heart. Learning to be silent is learning to be still enough to listen with peace and see what God reveals to me through the words and actions of others. Listening in love often reveals the person who speaks to me as a beloved child of God, and I begin to hear his vulnerability, his passion, his hurts as well as his joys.
Silence helps me to listen and to hear God’s voice – not only in time set aside for prayer and reflection – but in every person I encounter. Slowly I am experiencing what it means that our entire life is prayer… for prayer is being aware of God’s presence in everything.
Thank you, Lord, for instructing me so lovingly. Please continue to give me grace to always find your will wherever I am, and to rejoice in abandoning myself to it!