It’s been an emotionally trying week to be honest. I had volunteered on Tuesday night and three people collectively snapped at me within 20 minutes of me getting there. Normally stuff like that genuinely doesn’t bother me but for some reason it got to me that night. Maybe it was because that is one of my happy places and I’ve never really been confronted in that way there? Maybe it was because I didn’t know why did everyone else in my volunteer group were all around but weren’t yelled at like I was? Why was I being picked on? It felt embarrassing to be spoken to that way when I didn’t even know these people or do anything wrong and unfortunately my reaction to it was not as graceful as I would have liked. It was the kind of reaction where I know I didn’t say or do anything rude but I instantly felt defensive. When I tell you I can’t remember anything I said to them because I was that instantly angry/embarrassed.. I’m dead serious. I have no idea what I said back.
It bothered me the rest of the night, it’s like I couldn’t shake it off, and it bothered me that I let it get to me that much. This was not my normal personality and yet here it was. It also bothered me the next day when a co-worker in my office reamed me in front of her department because she was frustrated that I asked for paperwork that she has been forgetting to get to me. She literally accused me of trying to make her look bad and “who did I think I was?” I had to go for a walk for an hour after that. And yet again I was left wondering why I felt so ashamed and deliberately selected out of everyone to be verbally spewed on. What was happening this week and why was it getting to me?
I’m not sure what to attribute this week’s events to. People are people all the time and it’s not really surprising when you catch someone in a bad mood or on an off day. Maybe the enemy knows I’ve been tired..and is catching me with raw nerves. But I’m trying to look at my reactions and see what they really mean. The only thing I could really come up with is that there’s something in me that still feels rejected. I can’t really tell if it’s as a result of one specific thing or if it’s just the culmination of small wounds that still haven’t fully healed. For example I remember posing as a 5 year old in the backyard of my Kindergarten class for a class photo album. The teacher was taking us out one by one to pose near the jungle gym. I vividly remember being ashamed back then and thinking my legs were too chubby in my dress and that I didn’t want to take a picture. How weird is that honestly? What child thinks that way right? And yet I’m 26 years old and I still remember that. I still feel like that sometimes when I’m in a picture. That’s just a small example of what I’m talking about. Between my young perception back then of what I looked like or how I felt about myself and through time having good and bad experiences in life, you collect all sorts of feelings about your life and yourself. In many ways I’m proud of who I’m becoming and things that used to bother me, or things I struggled with are not always things I think about anymore because I no longer carry them. However, there are times where you are brought back to those feelings and memories and you’re almost shocked that they are still there inside of you.
I think emotionally we are all still in transition from painful things that have happened to us. I know sometimes if I’m honest I’m still recovering from unhealthy relationships, or bad experiences with friends, or what have you. And so while they aren’t things you actively think about, your reaction to things that pop up are bound to have more depth than what is going on at face value.
Some of my negative thinking/works in progress still include the following most days: I don’t feel beautiful enough, I don’t feel particularly obvious in my talents i.e. an artist is obviously talented, a musician is obviously talented–these are things that are able to be noticed or quantified, I don’t always feel included in things and I know at the moment that I am not someone’s “best friend”,and I feel unappreciated at my job and I don’t understand why things aren’t improving even though I strive to always do the right things. Granted a lot of these things are outward: appearance, talents, occupation, and social life but I also feel like even within the church these are still things that are discussed all the time. Especially being in NYC it’s not easy to always feel like you measure up.
During this difficult season in my life I’ve been digging my heels in deeper and deeper when it comes to my relationship with God and my church. In so many ways I see improvements and blessings, and yet it’s hard not to be dissatisfied with what has not yet come or what you still feel like you need to improve on. When I was in High School and College I was definitely way worse when it came to my perfectionist tendencies but I think the drive to be that way is something I will always struggle with. I could be better looking, I could have more friends, I could be more talented, I could have a better job, I could make less mistakes, I could I could I could. I’m realizing more and more how badly I just want to stop striving for things that will make me feel like I won’t measure up and continue to focus on what God thinks of me and sees in me more than anything else. I still find it hard to fully understand or feel like God loves me. Collectively God’s love for his children fine, but loving me even if I was the only one? It’s still hard for me to really accept. It’s not like I’m so ashamed of my past mistakes or current shortcomings but for whatever reason I sense there being some reservation at times. Like 100% I believe, 100% I love God, but it’s still sometimes a matter of moving that head knowledge to your heart and feeling it there:
Like the father in Jesus’ parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32), God never stops loving us. Insulted and rejected by his son, who left home and wasted his inheritance money in wild living, Father still loved his son. In fact, he missed him so terribly that day after day for months he looked to see if his son was coming home yet. When finally he saw Prodigal way off in the distance he didn’t wait for his son to get to him. He ran out to greet him – huffing, puffing, sweating, robe flying open and exposing his undergarments, he ran and ran as fast as he could – unconcerned that the town gawked at a man of distinction making a spectacle of himself. Then he embraced his dirty, disheveled, and swine-smelling son to his heart and kissed him again and again. He gave his son gifts of grace: a robe to cover his tattered clothes so he could lift his head high, sandals to welcome him home as a son and not a slave, his signet ring to give him a second chance to manage the family property, and a great party to honor him in the community. This is our Heavenly Father. He takes initiative to show his love. He is generous, overwhelming us with his love and his gifts of grace that we didn’t earn. – http://www.newhopenow.org/ask/gods_love.html
I remember at the church I went to during college one of the pastors wanting to talk to me. We just talked about stuff going on at home, things at church, all sorts of things. I still remember him bringing up the story of the Prodigal Son to show how much God can’t wait to see me, spend time with me, how much he loves me and he compared it to how that’s not at all what I’ve experienced with my earthly Father. I still remember the picture he painted of me coming over the hill and God so excited to see me that his sandals flew off. It reminded me exactly of this article I posted above. But back then in the middle of a hotel lobby where that pastor and I were talking, and people were checking in for their vacations, and couples were sitting down for a drink in the bar, I cried instantly like a total fool. Total ugly cry. Total meltdown.
I think to our own eyes we often see our unworthiness, personality flaws, or that we have bad skin or crooked teeth, and you can drive yourself crazy with how you pick yourself apart. And yet in total rom-com style the male lead, Jesus, chooses the unlikely, us, to fall in love with.
I pray for myself of course, but I also pray for us all that we learn to continually show ourselves grace. It’s easy to be dismayed in a world advertising self-improvement to feel like you can never be accepted the way you are and that you need to aim to bring yourself to the next level all the time. Never resting, never peaceful, always striving. I want to continue to rest not only the Truth of God’s word and his promises to me but to be satisfied in my soul that I am loved. Nothing I believe about myself, nothing that happens to me or will happen, nothing of status or of circumstance could change my mind about my relationship and security. That is my hope.