This is the fourth post of a four part series: Confessions As I Anticipate Grief.
“As long as the people don’t fear the truth, there is hope. For once they fear it, the one who tells it doesn’t stand a chance. And today, truth is still beautiful… but so frightening.”
I don’t want to admit this, but I feel alone sometimes. In the sea of people in my home everyday, I feel alone. Not right now, because I am writing this alone, but when I am with people I feel alone. And knowing I can’t do it alone makes me feel like a failure. I know I am not, but I feel like I am. We can’t let feelings trump truth, can we? The truth is, I sound like a four year old when I say, “I can do it all by myself.”
In the same moment, I feel gratitude. I wouldn’t want it to be any other way. I can’t do it alone. We weren’t designed to do it alone. Jayden and Brooklyn teach me. Dependance isn’t a weakness. Pride is.
It is here, lonely and thankful coexist.
I also love that I can tell you all this without you trying to fix it. Without band-aiding it with cliches and casseroles. It just is. Holy and broken. Because The One who fixes is working just fine. Everything is working out just the way He wants it.
I want to tell you I am ashamed and stuck. I left my job in January to be with my kids and write. I had really cool connections and awesome opportunities to write, but I got writer’s block – bad. How can I tell our story honestly, creatively, so people lean in instead of looking away?
I regret whispering my dreams out into the world. Because a terrifying thing happens when you do. People ask you about them. And when it’s hard and you feel defeated in the creative process, the last thing you want is curiosity. It makes me feel like a failure. When the truth is, I am not. I am not a failure. I show up almost everyday and write. I write vulnerable, scared, exciting, deep truth. I just don’t share all of it.
I want to tell you I feel like walking away from all of it. Walking away from writing. Walking away from the constant doubt and fear of not being good enough. Whatever good enough means.
But, it’s you I write for. I write because I believe words matter. That our words, when given a voice, can change people. I write because I am so thankful for those that write for me. Voices like Anne Lamott, Bob Goff, Glennon Doyle Melton, Shauna Niequist, C.S. Lewis, Joni Eareckson Tada, and so many others.
I wish God could have asked me to stay comfortable and continue to work at the church, but He didn’t. I wish I didn’t have to sit in my made up basement office next to my daughter’s and put my feelings into sentences. But I have to. It’s becoming my air. And many days, I fear I can’t breathe. By not sharing, I’m failing us.
Maybe I am not the only one who feels like they’re failing all the time.
I gauge my success on shares and likes, numbers and comments. My “platform” they call it. Isn’t that silly? But it’s the only way I know how my writing affects people. Feedback. When you tell me. Why write publicly if my words only matter to me? A journal seems like a better option many days. If a tree falls in a forest, does it make a sound?
If readers share my posts, I feel like our heart’s heard the same thing. Which is why I try to write things that encourage and inspire you. But that is a really dangerous place to write because if I’m not careful, I end up losing my voice. At its core, writing is about confessing truth, wrapping words around wordless emotions, even if they are only owned by a few. And that’s a good enough reason to write, too.
I also want to tell you all the searching and wrestling is paying off. I am winning the fight even though I am weary. I am broken, but stronger at the broken places. I am weak, but God is stronger than ever. I am sad, but I am hopeful in Christ alone. I want to give up, but I can’t.
“Oh death, where is your victory? Where is your sting!?”
Sure as hell not in me. No, death will not defeat me. Nor will the anticipation of it. It just makes me more dependent on the Man who conquered the grave. I am starting to believe the most dangerous person in the world is the one who doesn’t fear death. The one who lives saying, “to live is Christ, to die is gain.”
I want to tell you my thoughts about the world. I want to tell you that there’s way more good than bad. I want to tell you Christ is still on the throne and victory is still ours even when it doesn’t feel like it. But I have to whisper those things as I observe exits and plan “what-if-a-gunmen-came-in-here” routes out of Starbucks. Gone are the days one could be safe and blissfully unaware.
There are days I am scared I wouldn’t be able to protect my children. I am terrified I would have to make a choice who I would save and I wake up with nightmares that my fear came true. They want us scared, you guys. They want us to be afraid to go do fun things. But the problem isn’t them, it’s us. It’s on our soil. It’s in our hearts. It’s in our own brokenness, our own narcissism, and our own evil ways.
It’s in the way we avoid our lives, our pain, and our truth. We numb ourselves to it because we believe if we acknowledge it, pain will win. But fear wins in darkness. Freedom wins in the light.
There are more babies dying from diarrhea, water borne illnesses, and malnutrition than terrorist attacks and racially charged shootings. But because they aren’t our kids or our country, or violent enough to get our attention, their innocent deaths don’t make us fear for our own lives-we continue to do nothing about it.
I do nothing about it.
I don’t want to do nothing about it anymore.
And I don’t want to be afraid or closed anymore. But I know I will. I know I will be afraid and want to hide because the world wants me afraid and chasing comfortable. If I am afraid then I give others around me permission to do likewise. I know the dismantlement of fear is a daily process. So everyday, I will have to open God’s Word and align myself to it. I will need to read, “be not afraid,” because that’s the only way I know how to be unafraid. Fear is our default preset.
May we all reset to “be not afraid.”
I want to tell you that my bathroom mirror is covered in words I need to read everyday. “You are loved.” “Comparison is the thief of joy.” “Be strong and courageous.” Because even at 35, I forget. Every day I forget.
I want to tell you all these things, but I don’t. So I did it, anyway.
And it all exists, the good and the bad, the beauty and pain, the rising and the falling…like leaves blowing, swirling. Struggling to hold on, wiggling for freedom. Dancing off trees, landing haphazardly on the ground. Layering over one another in no particular manner. Each as true and beautiful and needed as the next.
Most of all, I want to tell the truth and not leave any leaf unturned. I want to name it, examine it, and lay it down at my Father’s feet and offer it to the world.
This is the only way I know.
“But there was no need to be ashamed of tears, for tears bore witness that a man had the greatest of courage, the courage to suffer.”
― Viktor E. Frankl-
Read previous Confessions As I Anticipate Grief posts: