3. “We all want to get close without getting hurt. We meet neighbors, talk with coworkers, go on dates, and join church groups. We try to stay away from particularly prickly people. But the problem is not just them. It’s us. I’m someone’s porcupine. And so are you.” – Brandon Vogt, Dance of the Porcupines
So yes, despite the fact that we were made to love and be loved, we’re really afraid of intimacy, of revealing ourselves to others, because we’re afraid that if people really knew us, they wouldn’t love us anymore. As Brandon Vogt reminds us in his article (linked above), this is also true for everyone we meet, which makes this “love and be loved” business even more challenging!
The tricky thing about fear is that it generally evokes one of two responses: fight, or flight. We either hide as has been discussed, or like porcupines we pop out our quills and try to sting someone away: we might do this with sarcasm, or arrogance, or contempt, or self-righteousness, or jealousy, or selfishness, or pointed, piercing words. Sometimes we label and dismiss the people we encounter in order to convince ourselves that knowing and being known by the individual, in other words, loving him/her, is not really worth our time. However, this aggressiveness, though its forms may be deeply ingrained in us and we can easily unsheathe them for battle, is really just another form of hiding. These forms are not a fundamental part of who we are but rather are an arsenal we build up in our weakness, our sinfulness, and fears.
But despite our deepest fear, that if we reveal ourselves we will no longer be loved, we desperately long for love: we still want to get close, but without getting hurt. We want this because this is who God made us to be, to love and be loved! So how do we deal with this conflict: the fear of rejection versus our created purpose of loving and being loved?
There are two choices: you can continue to hide, cut yourself off from others, and lose yourself in loneliness. Or you can chose to rise from the tomb, and as Mr. Vogt suggests, learn to pull your quills in, take off your mask, and ask if you may have this dance. Because it’s not just other people’s quills that are the problem: our quills are also the problem.
Yes, to pull our quills in is to possibly risk getting stung. But could you also just imagine how beautifully we could dance to God’s music? I think that this image is part of what the Resurrection promises us: living as an Easter people and learning to dance with each other in this life is a foretaste of the big dance of Heaven 🙂