I’ve been in love with people for as long as I can remember. It’s more than being a people-person. I think humans are extraordinary. Anyone who knows me also knows my love for travel and discovering the natural wonders of new places. But people? They move me more than any beauty I’ve witnessed on this earth. Icelandic waterfalls are nothing in comparison to their stories. The ruins of Rome pale in comparison to their resilience. The radiant rolling hills of Ireland have nothing on their hearts. People move me.
That feeling you get when you stand at the top of a mountain and breathe in what feels like the deepest breath of your life, when you watch the sunset paint the sky colors you’ve never seen, or when you witness the Northern Lights dance through the dark for the very first time. That feeling of utter awe at the sight of something so extraordinary - that’s what I feel when I behold another person.
When I gaze upon someone, I am moved by their majesty. Undone by their uniqueness. Captivated by their capacity to love and hurt and heal and carry on. When I hear someone's story, I feel like I’m witnessing a natural wonder of the world. When a person allows me to see their soul, I’m convinced I’ve caught a glimpse of the most glorious treasure on earth. People are extraordinary.
I’ve always loved people, but recently it’s humanity I’m falling for. Not the mass of people that occupy this planet, or the human race we all belong to, but humanity - the quality or state of being human.
I think humanity gets a bad rap because it encompasses all the pieces of who we are that we try to brush under the rug. The things that make us human, or more importantly, the things that remind us we are human, tend to turn us off. They’re usually qualities we’re ashamed of and experiences we deny. Think about how it feels to need. To hurt. To bleed. Does that feeling make you want to run and hide? Are you tempted to escape it? Quick to lie about it’s familiarity?
No matter how extraordinarily strong and capable we may be, at the end of the day, we're human - living organisms with basic needs. Regardless of how they make us feel, our needs don’t make us weak. They make us human. And our humanity? That’s the most extraordinary thing of all.
I find it ironic that we desperately seek to separate ourselves from the very things Jesus was so drawn to. Jesus adored the needy. He loved to be with the broken. And yet, so many of us are striving to prove our self-sufficiency and strength. Longing to appear superhuman. But here’s what’s so extraordinary about these human things we deny and try to make disappear:
Because we need, we get to receive. Because we break, we get to rebuild. Because we hurt, we get to heal. Because we bleed, we know we're alive.
I think our neediness and brokenness are the most exquisite parts of our humanity. Things to be in awe of, not ashamed of. Traits to be attracted to, not repelled by. Qualities to love, not despise.
What would happen if we just gave up all pretense and offered ourselves permission to be human?
I think we’d finally find rest in settling into our humanity and peace in making it home. I think we’d find freedom in choosing to love our neediness and strength in accepting our brokenness. I think we’d find life in honoring our humanity. I think we’d offer other weary souls permission to be human, too.
Our humanity is extraordinary. There is no wonder like it on earth. It’s something to own and to share. It’s something to marvel at. But how do we start living like that’s true? How do we learn to embrace our humanity when we’re so used to evading it?
I think the first step is becoming mindful of the ways we hide our humanity. What triggers your shame and disgust? Notice the things about yourself that you're tempted to cover up. What is it about those things that repels you? Notice all the critical and condemning thoughts that emerge in your most human moments. What do they sound like? Where do they come from? What lies are they rooted in? We can’t dismantle them until we recognize them.
My guess is somewhere along the line we learned to be ashamed of being human. But that’s good news, because anything learnable is unlearnable, too.
I want to offer myself permission to be human. I want to love myself in every moment I’m needy or broken or weak. I want to consider my humanity as stunning as yours. Because at the end of the day, the human things about you that leave me in awe I haven’t quite learned to marvel at in myself.
I want to destroy every ounce of shame that has attached itself to my humanity. I want to tear down every lie that has kept me from being free in my human skin. I want to fall in love with my neediness. I want to enjoy being with myself in my brokenness. I want to stare at my weakness in total adoration.
I don’t want to pretend to be superhuman anymore. I just want to be at home in my humanity.
I don't want to be extraordinary - I want to be extraordinarily human.