"I'm sorry," I say as I try to wipe my face, hold my phone, and drive all at the same time.
When I called him that night, I knew that I would probably cry at some point. It had been a hard night, and my heart was heavy and confused. I even mention it to him several times in the conversation that I might cry, just to warn him.
I didn't know that I would end up sobbing.
"Don't apologize. You're totally fine," he says sweetly. I can hear in his voice that he wishes he could jump through the phone and be there with me.
I continue sobbing as I head down Highway 50 and try to find the words to explain what he has just done for me.
All my life, I've been extroverted. Enthusiastic. An external processor. Emotional. I go through many highs and lows emotionally. I've been on the mountaintop, I've been in the valley - sometimes in the same week. I even walked through a season of depression a few years ago, though I didn't even realize it until recently. I just feel things very deeply. I've always been sensitive, but I've always seen that as a weakness, mostly because of the way people would respond to my sensitivity: uncalled for, overreacting, unnecessary - too much.
That being said, ever since I was a little girl, I've been characterized by enthusiasm and joy. I'm bubbly and outgoing. I love people and stories and beauty. I love being able to connect with people and their journeys. I don't like small talk - I'd rather have a real conversation with someone. I love to laugh, long and loud. I'm the first person to jump up and do the Cha Cha Slide at a wedding reception. I love being silly, and for other people to feel safe being silly with me. I don't like being serious all the time. I hashtag out loud in everyday conversations with people. I have a new catch phrase every month. But as I went along in my life, I found that there were people out there who treated my enthusiasm for life and fun like a weakness, too: too loud, immature, lacks propriety - too much.
I'm also a huge external processor. I need other people to process. I just do. Sometimes I don't know what my opinion is until I speak it out loud. I need to ask questions and seek advice. In general, the more people I talk with about something, the better I feel. I'm not a "think about it for three weeks and then share it with someone" kind of person. If it's on my heart, I need to talk about it with someone, stat. But over the years as I became more aware of how huge a part of my personality this is, I found that it was hard to think positively about it. Like everything else, it was a weakness: tiresome, burdensome, draining, time-consuming - too much.
I couldn't really see it, but it was true: every major part of my personality had come under attack. There was little about myself that I didn't see as a weakness. They weren't personality traits. They were character flaws. And you know what? Feeling like there's more stuff about you that needs to change than stuff that doesn't - it's exhausting. And it hurts. You are too loud. You are too emotional. You talk too much. You don't think before you speak. You aren't spiritual enough. You aren't serious enough. You are fearful. You are tiring. You are annoying. You are a problem that needs to be fixed. You are not enough. You are too much.
For years I have quietly believed that I would just need to spend the rest of my life apologizing for my heart. I would just have to get used to being sorry for what I'm like - for who I am.
And then, the kindest man I know speaks words that he doesn't even know will have the impact that they do, and my heart cracks. The floodgates open, and I'm sobbing on the other side of the phone. His words completely lay me bare.
Could it be? Could it be that someone I love so much and want so badly to think I'm not all of these things actually likes these things about me and is grateful for them?
Could what he's saying be true? How this part of me, my openness, my honesty, my willingness to invite him in and share my heart with him, has changed him?
My heart bursts, and I'm overwhelmed. I find myself trying to make a joke of it, saying, "Well NOW I'm crying." There I am - still apologizing for this thing that he has just told me is beautiful and valuable and necessary and good.
I'm quiet for a minute, my babbling capabilities disarmed, because it's becoming harder to breathe and the tears are falling hard and fast. It's hitting me what this actually means, and I can hardly believe it: I don't have to apologize for my heart anymore. Not with him. I'm bursting, trying to explain the utter relief that I feel, while still trying to wrap my head around it. I tell him, "No one has ever said that to me before." I can barely get the words out. I try to catch my breath and choke out, "You have no idea how much this means to me."
Oh sweet reader, whoever you are, hear this today: You are enough. You are never too much. God loves you so much and made you just right. Your heart? You don't need to apologize for it. In fact, your heart and it's deep, deep beauty? It's changing people. And it's so, so good. Don't let anybody tell you differently.