This year has been a long, hard year. I’ve picked up and dropped and picked up and dropped many values and convictions and sins. I can honestly say that I have never struggled more than I have struggled this year. But I have to remember that struggle is good; I mean, surrender is good too, but struggling is also good. At least I hope it is. Jacob struggled right – he wrestled with God. And David and Joseph and Noah and Jonah and Jesus – struggle isn’t sin. I mean, sometimes in struggle we sin, but the struggle isn’t sin. Struggle makes us stronger, right? It eventually leads us to surrender (which is different than apathy), and surrender is beautiful and peaceful. I think it would be less beautiful and less peaceful if you didn’t have to struggle to get there.
Anyways, I’ve been thinking a lot about the lessons I’ve been learning a lot lately; I feel like things just clicked – like really clicked – a few days ago, and now everything seems clear. I mean, I’m still afraid, and I’m really worried that my courage will fail me like it has in the past, but I’m hoping upon hope that it doesn’t. But lessons – yes lessons – I was going to tell you about the lessons I am learning, as I fearfully enter into what I am praying is a new season of life.
- Lesson 1: Sweetness is not the same thing as kindness. I wish I had learned this before like 2 days ago. A person, a man, can be sweet without being kind. Sweet is bringing you flowers; sweet is opening the car door; sweet is texting you hearts and smiley-kissy faces. And I’m shocked at how often I look for sweetness from a man. But kind is so different. Kind is genuine and honest. Kind is talking – really talking – without expectation of anything. Kind is following-through on promises no matter how incredibly small they may be. Kind is not putting you in a compromising or uncomfortable situation. Sweetness is fast and it feels good, but it ultimately leaves you empty. We, I, am so used to sweet. But kind – being truly kind – does not leave you questioning and empty and confused. No a kind person fills you up and holds you up and makes you feel more confident and more secure. A few weeks ago I told my BFFs that I was “sick of game,” but what I think I’m really sick of is “sweet” because “sweet” is so often confused with “kind,” and they’re just not the same thing. I want kindness – not sweetness.
- Lesson 2: You don’t have to be desperate. I have a major confession: I have felt desperate. The truth is my heart still – still – STILL – gets sad about past relationships that didn’t pan out. And when my heart feels sad, the emotion that immediately follows is desperation. But what I am having to learn is that singleness and loneliness are not the same thing. Because I am single, it does not mean I have to be lonely. You see, desperation comes from this place in my heart that is afraid of being alone – physically, emotionally, spiritually, all of the -allys. But I am not alone. I have to remind myself of that a million times every single day. I have to remind myself that I have the Spirit living inside of me; I have to remind myself that I have friends in Memphis so close that they are now my family; I have to remind myself that Kela and Rachel and Christian and Emily and Cullen and Matt have all driven out of their way to my house to bring me Gatorade or Tylenol or soup or whatever on more than one occasion, and that all of them would do it again. I do not need to feel alone because I am not alone – not really. So, I do not need to fear to being alone. So when that spot in my heart called “Desperate” begins to grow, all I have to say to it is, “You’re not alone, so you can go away now.” And I might have to do that a million billion times an hour all day long, but I know if I keep doing that, “Desperate” will eventually begin to go away for good because I’ll finally realize that I do not need her anymore.
- Lesson 3: Screwing up a million times does not mean that you have to screw up a million and one times. I have this sin problem – like one sin in particular – that I just keep doing. First of all, I recognize that this recurrent problem is a symptom sin, not the root sin. Well, I’ve tried killing the symptom (hint: it does not work), and I have failed at it. I’m praying for strength to overcome the root; it’s rather difficult to destroy the root, just sayin’. Anyways, I was encouraged today actually with this word that even though I have screwed up about a kabajillion times, it’s still not too late – I never have to do that sin again.
- Lesson 4: I am wrong – a lot. Oh boy, oh boy, this is a big one. I have had the same conversation about the same thing several times in the past few weeks, and I am pretty sure that I chose the “wrong” side of the argument. Sometimes, I am too relative and too post-modern and too much of an English major to pick the hard side of an argument. In fact, I don’t normally pick a side. I am registered “unaffiliated.” I pretend that I don’t read about current events. I voted for Roseanne Barr, y’all. This.Is.Serious. And my lackadaisical attitude makes me wrong. For real. Now, there are times when I need to a) keep silent, or b) play the devil’s advocate, or c) pull the “I’m an English major and I don’t really care that much” card. I believe that some conversations are highly unproductive, even harmful at times, and thus are not worth engaging. However, there are many moments in which I need to take the awkward road and argue the awkward point and get compared to Mandy Moore’s character in Saved (not because that’s how I act, but because she is the stereotypical Christian girl that I got compared to one time when I was in fact an overly-judgmental high school student… or it is Mother Teresa? If it’s Mother Teresa, I’m okay with that. Go ahead – compare me to her) OR, in other circles, compared to, oh I don’t know, a famous drug-addicted liberal hippie woman from the 60s.. there are so many… but I think I’ll go with Janis Joplin because I think she was beautiful, and I just love her soulful voice (Oh, oh, oh, take it. Take another little piece of my heart now baby.) Anyways, I’m hoping you’re getting my point… sometimes I’m going to have to say things that will piss people off.
In conclusion, (and all my fellow English-teacher friends cringe) I’m moving forward. I think that’s a gospel song that I am going to look for after I finish typing this paragraph. It’s a good thing – moving forward. It is much much much better than moving backwards – trust me.