I hung out at friends houses growing up: the Davis', the Eichenholtz's, the Briggs'. Somewhere early along the line, I built this fable in my head that if people saw the inside of my life, they wouldn't like me. It was safer to play in their worlds than invite them into mine. I could be at the Briggs' front door in six mins of peddling and home in only three because of the big hill on Centenary Ave. Even when my Mom cooked too much pork tenderloin and offered to feed a couple of my buddies I'd decline, imagining them pondering their escape back to what they really wanted to be doing. It wasn't as conscious as I describe here, but it was quite real and years later, one of my core fears is that I am not worthy of the friendship and praise and love I've been given.
Public speaking. Dancing. Shooting free-throws. Three things that cause my heart-rate to rise. In fourth grade, while reciting a stanza of the Tempest, my voice trembled and veered high off course. I'll never forget that sting. Neither will I forget the sweaty palms of standing on the sidelines at the Boot Scoot, the summer-camp country-themed dance night. And in hoops, I was great in the flow of play, but when 9 players pause and one is made the center, I shot a dismal 50%.
Unworthy. That is the name of the lie I built; the core memory to borrow a theory from Inside Out. In public speaking, the eyes of other people become a mirror in which I see my shrinking, pitiable self and am so obviously unworthy. Dancing is differently the same. Viewing myself through the nearness of one person, "Can she sense how unworthy I am?" And as the ref bounces me the ball at the free throw line and all eyes follow I think, "Everyone expects me to make this shot. If I was really any good, I'd be able to do it."
That was then. These days I'm a much better free-throw shooter and it's because I'm in love. I'm in love with Kate and in love with Christ. See the through-line between all those instances of judgment and shame is Me. An unpolluted focus on myself. It's not that I'm overwhelmed by the number of eyes in a crowd, but rather that I use the eyes of others to judge myself. Sometimes I am found worthy. This is my pride. Sometimes I am unworthy. This is shame.
But falling in love with Kate and with Christ has turned all that on its head. The first time Kate and I danced, it was a full song before I took my eyes off of hers. Only then did I realize I'd been dancing, not out of some cognitive performance, but out of love for another. When we walk into a restaurant now, I think not about what the room believes about me, but rather what looks good to eat. I've been nearly 3 years in discovering that I am most joyful and most myself when I am not the center of the universe.
I feel like all of that is the prequel to a story about my bachelor party, which was this February 17th and 18th. There's not much to say though it was one of my most favorite weekends ever. I got to enjoy the mix of old friends and new. We played paintball and got run off of pitch n putt. We swam in the creek and drank beer at Luckenbach. I even got to spin the wheel at 2 Bucks, a college bar I'll most likely never return to. I was at the center of the weekend sure, but it wasn't really about me. It was about friendship and fun and celebration of what is to come.
Kate and I are getting married in a mere 3 weeks. And as a kid, I used to fear my wedding. I used to fear it for all the egotistical reasons listed above. I'd imagine fumbling the rings at the alter, stomping the foot of my bride, and flubbing my lines with all eyes on me. But being with Kate has run off that fear. She has seen me up close. She has been inside my shadowy places. She has come over for dinner and yet still she calls me her Love. She tells me that I am worthy and that I am loved and that I don't have to be the center of the universe. I can simply enjoy my Savior as the center. Our wedding is going to be incredible because Kate is incredible; because marriage is a miracle, and because love has run off fear in my life. Boy I'm grateful for that.