I want to write.
But sometimes, I’m afraid.
I have a lot of thoughts always running through my mind and when they stay there, they are somewhat safe. Safe from the judgment of others, safe from the self-inflicted shame I feel from pretending I know what people will think and say. Safe from the discouraging comments that I might get.
And so lately, I let those thoughts that I’m afraid to write stay somewhat safe.
But tonight, I’m fighting the urge to keep them far away from a page that anyone could read. Tonight, I have a spark of courage.
I recently moved from the city to a little house just outside the hustle and bustle of Toronto, in what some may call the countryside. I grew up in the country, like the real country, with cows and the constant smell of manure, and having long bus rides because the closest school is a few towns away. So this little house doesn’t really feel too much like the country I grew up in, but it certainly is a far cry from being downtown. I named my new home Rose Cottage and it’s everything my heart could dream of for a first home. I’m utterly undeserving of such a gift but my heart has never been so grateful to my Father who gives good gifts.
I will say though that I never imagined I’d be here. Living in a cute little house, learning to cook and garden and how to fill a hole with dry wall plaster. How did I get here? It has dawned on me how God moves you from one place to another to another and somehow the thing before prepared you for the thing you’re in now, and you never saw it coming.
It seems to be that the art of adulting is really just about realizing that life rarely goes as planned and it’s easier to jump on board than to fight it. All this to say, I’ve become pretty good at fighting it. It’s easy to have a brave face in public but I can’t escape the mirror when I come home. I look into it and so often I feel broken. And in those moments of discouragement, I hear every negative thing that was ever said to me. I hear the lies I’ve come to believe about myself repeated over and over again until my heart feels like it’s been stabbed repeatedly. I fall into bed exhausted from the tears, from the weight of the fight, from the lies I’ve tattooed all over my being that have left scars.
Sometimes being alone does this.
In the quiet, I hear “NOT GOOD ENOUGH”. Not pretty enough. Not smart enough. Not skinny enough. Not spiritual enough. Not brave enough. Not enough. Not Enough. Not Enough.
I wonder how many others carry these scars with them? Our shame keeps us silent.
Writing about it feels dark and heavy. I don’t want to stay in this place and yet in certain seasons, the fight feels too big to let go of, it’s easier to hold tightly onto discouragement and comparison and blame.
GOD…. Do you know how this feels? Do you see me in my weakest moments? Why them, why not me? When will it be my turn? Why can’t my life look like that? What’s wrong with me that I’m here, stuck in this place and not there, thriving in that place?
But what if they are asking the same questions that I am?
What if the big secret is that deep down, we all don’t feel like we’re enough. And we put on brave faces to pretend that we aren’t struggling right now.
But what if the struggle is what is making us deeper? What if the struggle is the gift? What if I can’t see the whole picture? If I saw the struggle as a gift, would it change how I live? Would it change how I think about God? Would it change how I approach my everyday life?
I was driving somewhere a while ago and I can’t remember exactly what had happened but I had just heard about a situation that evoked a profound response of empathy in me. I started to tear up and then tried to figure out why a situation which I wasn’t really that close to was causing such a stir in my soul. And in that moment, I was aware that the pain of my own struggle was making me deeper, more empathetic, more compassionate and more aware of the people around me. God was changing my heart in ways that only a temporary sense of pain and hurt could accomplish. And in those moments, I was thankful.
I’m a feeler – I feel things deeply, which is a blessing and a curse. There are moments in my life where I’m overwhelmed with joy and thankfulness and it’s so easy for me to see that life is good and beautiful and full. But there are also moments where discouragement clouds my vision and I feel the sting of unfulfilled longings and the tension and fear of trusting an unknown future to a known God.
The struggle is part of my story and likely yours too. And maybe it’s time to realize that all good stories involve some kind of struggle and pain and disappointment. But we can’t stay there in those dark places forever. We have to let them move us to the next thing. We have to let them make us deeper human beings – more compassionate, more loving, more generous, more aware of the people around us.
It’s time to believe and embrace that God has more of life for us and that how things are today might not be how they are tomorrow.
After all, it’s all just a gift. So may we take a hold of this gift, in our good days and in our dark days, and remember that the best stories come from both the good and the bad.