It’s really tough to be happy all of the time, and to always put on a smile. It isn’t easy to try to please everyone, especially not when the circumstances are oh so difficult. To feel the fear, and to sit with it is not an easy thing; to be a full time student and to lead other people, and also to make recovery a priority, and at the same time try to remember and figure out who you are without an eating disorder; it is a whole lot to ask of one girl, especially this one.
Pile on top of that the shame of mental illnesses, a desire for perfectionism, and a fear of failure in even the littlest, and it all begins to weigh down. I don’t really know how to turn my brain off, it’s been a long time since I just allowed myself to play and be without guilt, truly I don’t know how to be motivated without that guilt that drives me. This is really scary because I don’t know what that means about my abilities to have the life that I want; the pinterest perfect mother and wife, with whose husband we can create the aloof and perfect life, whatever that means.
This week has been a lot of wrestling and questioning what I am good at. A whole lot of sulking at the time recovery will take and my lack of ability to concentrate, and my feeling not so smart as an education major. It has been a lot of uncertainty and scary-ness of a low paying job and leaving behind the comfortable for what God is calling me too. Being in my big home in Virginia makes me want to linger and lavish the time here, and fills me with gratitude and sadness for the life I am afraid to no longer be able to have. Bills and responsibilities that will become my own, and the all or nothing mentality seeps into my mind.
The other day at a meeting, I was feeling particularly low. I asked my friend pitifully if she would give me food if she saw me homeless on the streets. I couldn’t bear the thought of being forgotten and unwanted, not cared for. What she said was assuring, that even she could be homeless, too, because it can happen to anyone. And truly, who am I to believe that any of my accomplishments are on my own. Without God, nothing can happen, even if I falsely believe it to be me. With God, anything is possible and my circumstances don’t change who He is or how much He loves; it makes me think about what I truly love in this life.
I think there is a root to this pity, deeper fears that are stemming up and surfacing in this way. The fear of being forgotten and not cared for; do I trust that God will remember me and take care of me? The fear of not being enough; for who, the question beckons, for what standard. Do I trust that God has given me a purpose and that even if and just because it is not as prestigious of a calling as I want it to be, doesn’t mean that it is not worthy and oh so very good, and that He will delight in me doing His purposes.
God has never left or forsaken us, he says; is that promise enough for me even if that looks a little or even a whole lot different than the comfortable and safe dreams I have conjured up in my head.
Fear creeps in at this because I am not sure what I want to do with my major, or even which major to pursue. Will it ever be enough, I often wonder? But may I take in those fears, and sit with them, and bring them to the Lord, trusting that He will be enough for me, no matter the circumstances as I follow Him.
And what if the life that God wants for me is not the perfect ideal that I have in my head, one that is amorphous and without true happiness. What if it is oh so much more than that, one of great grace lavished upon others and myself. A life filled with both messy and clean, spontaneity and adventure, and of a greater love for Jesus than could ever come from the perfection of my own mind. A life made for dancing and laughter, because love is messy and grace isn’t found in perfection, but in the broken and the ordinary moments of a life written by my Jesus, and may that be more than enough for me.
The other day, a quote from a character in one of my favorite television shows resonated with me. She has been in a big home and in the streets, she knows what it is to have and to not have, and she says:
“Isn’t it weird how everyone goes to sleep at night? Like everyone in the whole planet. All these people, people I’ll never know. Some are poor, some are rich, some sleep in beds, some sleep on the floor. But at the end of the day everyone sleeps. And, I guess, if you think about it hard, there’s other stuff everyone’s got too: Things that hurt them, things that make them feel better.” ~ Deja from This is Us
And how much more beautifully can it be said. It would be absolutely okay to be homeless, because everybody has things that are hard for them and make them happy or sad, and having those is abundantly more than enough. This is not to say that it would be a good thing to aim for, no, but to remove the shame from that because those are God’s people, too. When I can let go of those misplaced fears, then I can look into the faces of the homeless women and men on the streets, seeing their needs and staying. Instead of fearing that it will become me, I can be filled with hope of the knowledge of our shared humanity, and the truth that we all have stories and things that make us happy and sad, and see in their eyes a reflection that is also seen within me as image bearers of God. Neither cursed nor afflicted, but similarly filled with hope, joy, lasting things and stories to share. Jesus was without a home for some time on earth here, too, and I’d like to be a whole lot more like him. Maybe it is not so much about the circumstances, but the hope. The thing I fear the most is really hopelessness, to live without grace, joy, and all those words that are infused with hope and are felt independent of circumstances. And that makes me think that maybe a better thing to spend my days doing is cultivating more hope, deep and certain, of the good that is to come.