My name is Jessie Childs and I am a recovering people pleaser. I have often struggled to voice my opinions and not get lost in the opinions of others. I love helping people and being what they need, and especially love helping them feel understood, but often struggle to be vulnerable in allowing others to be what I need.
I thought it best to just throw that all out in the beginning because in the midst of many many lessons God is teaching me, one of those is how to let my walls down and allow myself to need people in a real way.
This past year has been a crazy one, but in the past 6 months alone I have had to rely heavily on the people in my life. In doing so, I realized that needing people is a vulnerable place that I don’t particularly enjoy being in. Needing people for emotional needs is fairly comfortable, but outside of that realm is where it starts to feel more dicey. Relying on people to meet physical needs is the hardest place for me to let people help. This season has challenged me to push past the resistance within myself to not need people “too much”.
In July of this past year, my roommate (of seven years) and I found out that we’d have to move out of our apartment where we were working with an organization called Apartment Life serving the community. I was in the middle of considering a job move in a different state, which still had an unknown outcome, so starting a new lease together didn’t seem to make sense.
After much prayer about our next steps, it seemed clear God was wanting me to trust him and let go of living with Cadence. I moved in with a coworker’s family, which included her and her husband and three kids until I knew what was next. I was so set on not being an inconvenience that I brought many of my own things—my own pans, my own towels, and my own food (which seemed fair). This sweet family wasn’t asking anything of me—they didn’t want rent, or even babysitting. They were so set on blessing me and wanting me to be a part of the family and made it clear that being included required nothing from me.
As they saw the different things I brought with me, they went further to tell me that everything they had was mine as well. Every time they saw me buy food, they said “Jessie! Eat our food!”. I didn’t know what to do with this. I didn’t know how to receive this kind of love. It took me by surprise–not because I think they’re unloving but because I had never experienced love like this outside of my own family.
Living with this family was a lesson in learning to take up space and have needs that others can meet. As I faced my discomfort God reminded me of the verses that talk about being “Blessed to be a blessing” or how “It’s more blessed to give than receive”. Then it struck me… I enjoy blessing others and being there for them when they’re in need, but how could I do that if people weren’t receptive or open to allowing me to step into their lives in a vulnerable time? If every time I tried to care for someone, they closed up, said “I’m good!” with a pasted smile on their face, that would take all the joy out of trying to bless someone. In order to give, someone has to receive.
I have worked in ministry for a long, long time–truly my entire life. It’s a work that involves a lot of giving. I have experienced the deep joys and sorrows of loving people but somewhere along the way walls have been built around certain parts of my own life. I don’t always allow people to love me back–in a tangible way. I am more comfortable giving than receiving.
Now living in a new state and living without any roommates, I am more aware of how I need to push past my desire to figure out things on my own and need to invite people into the hard places. A few weeks ago, I was sitting at home in my apartment after church feeling a little sad. For the first time since moving I was really missing Cadence. The easy constant presence of a friend and roommate who’s always there is a sweet gift. She is someone I can be fully myself around without caring what she thinks about my silly antics or moods. She loves all of me.
Sitting there on my couch I knew I didn’t need to be alone, but I felt paralyzed as to what to do. I was so tired and didn’t have the energy to small talk or force myself to be outgoing, but I needed the presence of a friend. Though I was making a lot of friends, I knew it would take time for the relationships to get to that place. They weren’t there yet but I needed someone right then and there.
I called Cadence, crying a bucket of tears that had been filling up inside my heart. Losing the everyday presence of the person you built a life with for over seven years is a hard reality. I shared my feelings with her, and made it clear that I had no regrets about moving or the decisions I made to get here. I know that God is here and wants me here, this was just a hard moment. Sweet Cadence was so kind and gracious with my tender heart and encouraged me to let someone there know that I needed a friend.
I got off the phone and texted a friend. They had never hung out with me while I was in a sad place, but I hoped that I was right in thinking that they would be a safe person to be vulnerable with.
Here’s what I said: “Hey! If you’re free, would you be down to drive around, look at Christmas lights and listen to music tonight? I’m really needing a friend that I don’t need to be ‘on’ with, if you know what I mean.”
I reigned in my fear of rejection from trying to add disclaimers like “It’s totally okay if you can’t” or “don’t feel any pressure to say yes”, because I knew that I needed someone and that’s okay (or at least I am trying to feel okay about it).
Thankfully they answered pretty quickly and we made plans for an hour later. A few minutes into the car ride, they gently asked if I had had a hard day. I decided to be honest and share my inner world. They listened and were understanding, then we moved on and that was the end of that. By the end of the night, when I walked back into my home, I felt relief and peace fill the lonely parts of my heart. I needed a friend, was scared to need someone when I wasn’t my best and a friend was there.
A few weeks ago I stumbled across a verse that I found encouraging and convicting. In Proverbs 27:10 it says, “Do not forsake your friend and your father’s friend, and do not go to your brother’s house in the day of your calamity. Better is a neighbor who is near than a brother who is far away.”
I could easily call a different friend in Texas every day to fill up my time and share my heart with, but none of those friends can be physically present with me in the middle of life’s storms or joys. They can’t wrap me in their arms and say “It’s good to see you!” or “I know this is hard, but I’m here with you!”. It is better to choose to lean on the people in this new city, risking being rejected or misunderstood, so that we both can experience the beautiful and often hard realities of deepening friendships.
To me, living this verse out in my life looks like texting that friend to go on a drive, it looks like inviting people over and sometimes inviting myself over, it looks like asking someone to borrow something instead of buying that thing, it looks like walking into a room knowing that whether you were invited to be there or not you’re deeply loved by your Father in heaven so you can live from that place rather than fearing the rejection you might receive. It looks like ignoring the voice that tries to tell you that you’re the outsider and instead makes the moves necessary to build deeper relationships with those around you. It looks like not caring about being an initiator and inviting someone to the movies, or to coffee, or lunch. It’s not expecting everyone else to initiate just because I’m new, but being delighted and appreciative when they do.
All of those actions come with a little bit of fear and a whole lot of vulnerability and sometimes there is rejection, but friend can I tell you something? The failures and risk of rejection is worth it when you finally find someone to reciprocate. It’s one of life’s greatest gifts to know others and be known.
I hope this encourages you to take a risk and invite someone into the mess and joys of your heart. It’s hard, I get it, but I know there’s a bit of bravery in all of us. Happy New Year!
P.S. Here’s pictures below of some sweet new friends & the kind, awesome family I lived with before moving to Mississippi. There’s many more that I don’t have pictures with and I am thankful for them too!