While I was home over Christmas this year, I purchased a 5 Year 'Just a Few Lines' journal. I had spent a good deal of my vacation going through old documents at my parents' house, and I was feeling a sense of dissatisfaction around how my life was being charted. Because so much happens online, and it's curated, and usually the 'best parts', I felt like I needed a pen/paper way to jot down everyday, run-of-the-mill, and/or difficult, challenging things. The stuff I don't usually work through online.
I have been feeling very centred so far in keeping this journal, but I've also continued to work on pieces for public consumption. I logged in to edit one such piece, and was confronted with the one below. It turns out, I had written and scheduled a piece on this day last year to be published this year. It automatically posted today.
For reference, I was not in a great place last year. This would have been right at the end of a year at home, a year off, with spotty employment, weak social/spiritual connections, and few answers. I was just about to move back to Edmonton, and (as you'll see) I was basically 50/50 on whether I'd be in a better place when that happened.
It was uncomfortable to put myself back in this frame of mind, but oddly encouraging when I finished reading. So instead of going with my new piece, I'm going to respond to this one. I hope you take something away from this - maybe you'll want to drop yourself a line, too.
2016 was a sit-out year for me.
Whew. Settle in.
I helped Jesse, but really I just opted out of doing much of anything. Except makeup, I guess.
Yeah, as creative/calming as this was and is, it was NOT a good way to spend money or deal with bigger stress.
Seriously. I barely remember anything. It started with my moving home and now it’s been almost a whole year and I have nothing to show for it. Or rather, even less than usual.
Ok. This was a long year, and I remember the weariness.
Now I’m feeling worried that I won’t be able to pick up a regular rhythm again.
Spoiler: You did. God gave you the job you used to love, but better. I know.
Almost every evening I have a moment of Oh No, what have I forgotten for tomorrow, then a rush of relief when I realize no one is expecting me and I don’t even need to leave the house if I don’t want to. It’s a guilty sort of relief, though.
I've learned that this is what happens when I don't have enough to do. I need to commit to things that make me feel productive, but not over- or underwhelmed.
At the same time, I feel useless and unproductive and directionless. It’s one thing to take time off when you know the road you’re resting by is the right one. I don’t even know that much. All roads look equally promising and foreboding, and this rest is a rejection of impossible decisions more than anything else. I have all these intangible dreams that are specific enough that I bemoan my hesitancy in reaching them, but vague enough that I can see too many ways of getting there.
Ooof. This was absolutely a point where I needed to just make a first step and trust that the rest would appear. I didn't have enough constraints to rule out options, and that paralyzed me.
There are so many possible paths, and I simultaneously like and hate the person I see myself becoming on each of them. Like, oh, that me saves lives but lives in fear every second, or that me works in a secluded cubicle but has no one to talk to. Maybe one me makes lots of money but can’t get time off for time with family, or still another one has impressive status but has to compromise their expression or gender or sexuality to appease those in power. Most of these me’s fail to voice their deep thoughts or speak for those in need or impact the world in meaningful ways.
I had forgotten this line of thought entirely, but rereading it emphasizes that I am someone who wants to 'make sense'. That is, I want my values and actions to be in sync in whatever future arises. When I'm down, it's easy to despair in that, and point to how complicated values/actions can be. But when I'm up, I can recognize that, while I might never be perfect at it, that pull reminds me that each decision is meaningful. And I'm thankful for that.
Here’s the thing. I’m really selfish. I think about other people sometimes but it’s so overwhelmed by my own wishes for myself that it seems negligible. I want to be impressive and mobile, interesting and focused, not tied to anyone or anything (except my God and my values). Is that wrong? Is it a defense mechanism in the face of a life that would likely be spent alone even if I wished it would not? Am I running from what feels like mediocrity or just waiting for the day that my inner spirit gives in and says that’s okay? Do I want people and purpose or solitude and subsistence? Some days, I just don’t know.
This might be the realest thing I've posted online. I wrestle with these things often.
All of this is further complicated by my murky relationship with God and the church. Like everything else, it feels like too much work to invest in something fake or short-term – and so far, that’s all I seem to come by. Having strong gut instincts used to be a good thing, but it’s starting to feed a cynicism I don’t want to be my co-pilot.
While I am back with my LGBTQ church group, Haven, and that is a wonderful growing, service-oriented community for me, I still long for a regular church family to feed and equip me for that ministry. I won't lie, I'm not yet in a place where I can give evangelical churches the benefit of the doubt. But I want to get there someday.
How do I make a move when my feet feel bound with expectations and fear? How can I know who I’m stepping on, who I’m walking with, or who I’m leaving behind? Does it even matter if no one else is worrying about it?
I can know nothing except that the One who knows everything knows me. That includes my worries, my insecurities, and my fears, but also my potential and my heart. I don't need to exhaust myself explaining or pleading. I can be because You are.