One of the hardest things we ever do is try to be something more than we ever were. It’s a process I find playing out in my life over and over again…and you probably do, too. We are none of us as we should be, but it is still a tough pill to swallow.
It’s a painful experience. Humbling. It really takes a chip out of me and makes me just stop and say “whoa!” for what seems like forever. It is a question without a lot of answers because, as I am finding, becoming something more than you ever were is not a hungry pursuit. It is rather…a fast.
That is to say, I don’t find myself running toward anything in particular. Instead, I am quietly (though inwardly tumultuously) aware of being something less. I am aware of what I am that I should not be, and the process of changing that is not so much replacing it with something greater as it is simply giving up what should never take hold in my heart. I mentioned that last week with a status update when I said that often we cultivate best what God is growing in us simply by pulling the weeds. I don’t know where God is leading me or exactly what He is trying to call out of me. I have hints and enough to only make me thirstier to see it come to fruition, but He’s not telling me all of the details right now. All I know is that I am falling way short. Over…and over…and over again.
I’m finding it every day as my life, and the way I live it, runs right up against that nagging, gnawing knowing in my heart that this is not how it is meant to be. It is watching my life unfold and knowing there is a deeper, truer, story in my heart but recognizing plainly that it is not being shown anywhere that anyone else could ever see it. It is tucked away in the midst of all of these indescribable little things – a million little things – that God keeps doing in me that wouldn’t mean a hill of beans to anyone but means the world to me.
I’m still talking, telling stories. And they are true stories, but even as I speak words these days, I know that even in truth they are not Truth. There is something bigger going on, and I feel like I betray it every time I try to fill the void with something else. Void is hard. Emptiness is draining. But trying to fill it up with something less than what God has for me in this place is worse. It is dishonoring to Him, degrading to me, and a heavy burden that my heart is crushing under the weight of.
I hate myself for it. If I let it get the better of me, I even curse myself. That only increases the burden. When all feels as it should, with its due weight and worthy of the contemplation, quiet, and even grief…it is still a heavy burden but God takes away the hate. Somehow. He replaces it with stillness and a loss for words that has PLAGUED me for months as I have wrestled around in this. It still does, actually. This? This is just rambling. A heart pouring out because it has nowhere to go being both filled to overflowing and empty all at the same time.
It really is a beautiful place.
But it’s also a place where it’s tempting to be pissed. Yes, I said it. I look around and see so many familiar things and know that I don’t relate to them the same way, but I haven’t figured out how that’s changed yet. I mean, I don’t know what to do with things. Emptiness and wandering. Or lostness. It is not the content of my life that has changed – it is the content of my heart. That’s a tough pole to wrap around when your days are pretty much the same.
It’s easy to think there’s a problem with the world. If it knew what was going on in me, it would change somehow. If it knew the content of my heart, it would be different. It's that wanting to run away and be somewhere different so you can just start over. As it is, I see myself stuck in this place in-between. Where I am not what I used to be, but not sure what I’m going to be and hoping that I can find something to be in the meantime but understanding that the world still expects the same of me. The world wants what it wants, and it interprets everything I do with one eye toward the past. The world runs me ragged trying to convince me to catch up to my past. What a phrase! Catch up…by going back. By returning like a dog to its vomit. That’s no way to live, and I refuse to turn back.
And there are relationships, too. Oh, how I long for the coming day when my relationships change. When I can be seen for what is in me and not what darkened my soul for so long. It is human nature to judge a person’s words by what you know of them, and that is why two people can say exactly the same thing and be taken two different ways. It is why I am watching my words lately; I know they will be held to my past though they come from somewhere foreign to all that.
It’s always been this way. This is nothing new. It is tough to overcome a former reputation. I’ve been in this situation before. I grew up a liar and a manipulator. For good reason, probably, but the closer my heart draws to God, the more I wonder how things would have turned out if there had been more Truth and less fear. That’s neither here nor there at this point. The story is that this is how I was known – by family, by friends, by peers, by teachers, by acquaintances, by professionals. Everyone took what I said with a grain of salt, knowing it might or might not be some version of the truth.
I haven’t been a liar or a manipulator in many years. God has been working hard on the part of my heart that was so wounded by the vulnerability of truth, and He has done wonders. This pissed me off then, too – waiting for the world to see that I was honest, that I could be trusted, that the words out of my mouth were more than a means to an end. It was many, many years in coming and in a few holdouts, still a day to wait for. But lately, I have seen how people’s reactions have finally changed toward me. How I have the credibility and the reputation for honesty that I have been seeking since this change started taking hold.
I’m not pissed anymore; I am humbled.
So I’m waiting on the current situation to humble me because there are a lot of stories out there that have been told through my life for many years that I’m waiting to get out from underneath. In my heart, they have no hold (or perhaps only a little one because it still comes close to pissing me off); but the world still sees them in play. The world wants to still judge by that, wants to keep me running to catch up to my past. I can’t do it. I won’t do it. But it sucks being stuck in the middle and wanting to be so angry with everyone and everything for not seeing this beautiful, dramatic, and yet quieting shift that is going on.
Then, just when it is all about to break and I could either lash out or fall into self-hatred, never expecting better of myself…I find that the fault is in me. The new story, the one taking hold and taking shape in my heart, the one that runs so counter to what I never should have been but too often was, is disappearing under the old story that I continue to tell out of…habit? Intimidation? Both. It is looking at my life and saying, “That’s not what’s in my heart” and in the same breath looking at my heart and saying, “That’s not what’s in my life.”
Habit of course, is hard to break. So is intimidation. And this emptiness is intimidating. It is hard. It is heavy. It requires a strength and courage that I would not have were God not constantly here giving it to me. To shrug my shoulders and say, “I just don’t know” (Yes, ME! Not knowing!) but to have such a clear and heavy, too, understanding in the depth of my heart. To be thirsting and crying out for whatever it is God is calling me to but knowing only what to never turn back to. What to never be again. And grieving that ever it was.
For many years, I have prayed and cried and yearned to figure out what it is that has been missing from life. From my life. God has shown me – it has been authenticity. That is what has changed in me that has set this work in motion. That is what He has called me to and cried out. But it’s nothing I gain by waking up one morning and deciding to be authentic.
It is about pulling weeds. Waiting patiently. Responding to the new story. Embracing the emptiness. Trusting in His plan. Raising a hand in worship. Letting tears fall – both of grief and of joy. Humbling myself. Simply being.
I simply am. Humbled. Broken. On the verge of being pissed. Lost. Wandering. Empty. Quiet. Stilled. Filled to overflowing. Deeply grateful, honored even by it all. Intimidated. Scared. Anxious for what lies ahead. Confident that it’s going to be awesome.
I simply am.