It is unbelievably difficult for me to let others in.
I can tell perfect strangers about everywhere I’ve ever been – but I can’t tell my best friends where I am, or what I really want for my birthday, or how I was really feeling yesterday when I changed outfits four times in 20 minutes.
I don’t quite know why I’m so afraid of letting others in. I’m just learning that I am. I’m also learning that when you don’t let others get to know you, you don’t really ever get what you need from them – and believe me, we need each other.
We were never designed to do this life thing on our own.
I was introduced to Shauna Niequist in Romania in September of 2011. Every morning and I’d roll over to find my roommate (and new teammate, who would be traveling with me for the following 11 months) indulging in three things: coffee, her Bible, and the book Cold Tangerines.
Frequently, she’d mention something she’d read that morning followed by some version of the statement, “you guys have to read it, it’s so good.”
For our yearlong mission trip, during which we lived out of a backpack, this girl had brought hard copies of both Cold Tangerines and Bittersweet, Shauna’s first two books.
Both are beautiful, and full of snippets of quote-worthy wisdom. Eventually I read both of them so my friend would quit asking, but I read them both very quickly. They were fantastic, but I just didn’t have time to soak them in while I was traveling the way I was.
Then I got home, and I read that Shauna had written another – Bread and Wine: a love letter to life around the table.
I had a conversation with a friend last week. She’s about to turn 21 and finish college, and her biggest struggle right now in life is this: all of her friends are getting married and having babies, and she isn’t.
As she went on talking about how empty and hollow it is to be a single female adult, all I wanted to do was scream.
I didn’t, though, because I’ve been her. Tomorrow I may be her again. I bet a lot of us have been her, and I’m sure we all know her.
And…you know, it’s easy to be her.
It’s easy, but it’s wrong.
I don’t have any epic wisdom or all-time solutions, just some observations and the wild belief that maybe we have it way better than we can sometimes see.
I didn’t finish college. Then I left a job that I was good at, in a field I could grow in, where I made…well, plenty of money – and I circumvented the globe, came back to America, and chose to fundraise 1/2 of my below-the-poverty-line salary. I know that series of decisions doesn’t make sense to most people, but if you’ll allow me, I’d like to try to explain why I do what I do.
I remember in my interview for the World Race being asked what I hoped to experience on my trip. It was maybe the only question I really knew the answer to during that whole interview:
I wanted to know what about my Christianity was really just American, and what about my Christianity was Christ.
When I got home from the World Race, I really wanted to be finished. I wanted to be polished up and pretty and ready to be put on display. I wanted to be cleaned out, refilled, and ready to pour out. I wanted to never be struggling, never to be in transition, and never to be in need of grace.
I know that seems absurd, but I had just spent 11 months circumventing the globe and living in tents, spider and snake infested church basements, tropics and deserts and Hungarian villages. I went through it and I grew; and then I was ready to be done growing, because growing is painful.
I wanted to be finished with pain. I wanted to walk into new seasons of life boisterously proclaiming that I had, indeed, arrived.
But…what if we don’t ever actually arrive?
Few things make me feel classier than mimosas on a Saturday morning with my girlfriends, or a glass of white wine with a seafood dinner.
Few things are more fun to me than the combination of beer, burgers, and football. I just like it. I like to drink red wine while I watch the Food Network snuggled in my PJ’s. I’ve never been totally against alcohol.
I don’t abuse it, I’m not hindered by it…but there came a time during those nasty weeks in November and December where I realized that nothing good happened when I drank.
This wasn’t easy to write. I hit a pretty deep season of depression (or something) and I was out of commission emotionally and spiritually for a while. I hate that I felt bored with God, isolated, angry, and had no idea how to revive myself – but I’m sure that I’m not the only person who sometimes feels that way, so I’m sharing what I learned through it:
Empty. Angry. Full without eating, tired no matter how much I slept. Irritated often. Satisfied by nothing. Lonely. Missing laughter, wholeness, romance.
Missing Jesus. You know what I mean.
“That story I just heard you tell – it’s expired. You told me facts, but you didn’t tell me your story.”
I sat and stared, fully aware that he was right and not at all sure how to fix it.
I have a bit of a context problem. I feel the need to divulge the entire backstory whenever I’m explaining something to make sure whomever is listening arrives at my point with the same perspective I have. Especially if I’m talking about me.
I think it’s because sometimes I’m not sure that who I am (though far removed from who I was) is enough.
It’s been raining for a while now, and I need to go sit somewhere beautiful and cozy.
People keep asking me how I’m doing, and the answer is that I’m doing great.
The only trouble is that, while I know I’m doing well, when people ask me how I’m doing and I answer honestly…it just doesn’t seem very convincing, and I don’t know what to do about that.
I’m fine. I’m great. My life is really, really sweet. I just can’t seem to communicate that in a believable manner to anyone around me. I say, “I’m doing great!” and they just stare at me quizzically until I clarify that I’m telling the truth.
Maybe it’s the rain. Maybe it’s routine. It’s something, for sure. Something that seeps into every day life and coats the majestic with a matte finish – robbing daily happenings of their sparkle and vivacity…
I started something new this year – a lot of people make resolutions about new years, so it’s not that big of a deal.
But instead of making resolutions to make good things happen, I just resolved to record when they do.
What if the woman who reached out in the street to grasp Jesus’ cloak,
and was healed by her faith, went on from that day and never, ever changed the way she lived or felt about herself?
No longer sick, gaining strength physically, having gazed upon the face of God…
What if she’d just kept living like a social pariah, kept feeling badly about herself, kept suffering – even though Jesus said: “take heart, daughter, your faith has healed you” …