Indecision may or may not be my problem.
// Quick Update – even now, over a month after this was posted, I struggle to accept that it’s out there. I feel like I need to remove it, cover it up. Because that’s what I’ve done in the past. But I’m going to leave it up this time. I don’t want to paint the wrong picture. I don’t want to seem perfect. Because I’m not. Only He is. And many days, this doesn’t apply. But when it does, I’m learning that He is the only one who can restore me. But here you go, savor it, accept it, judge it, criticize it, embrace it, do whatever you please. //
I don’t have it all together. I’m not going to end this on a good note. I’m tired of adapting to expectations. I don’t want you to think I have it all together. Because I don’t. And neither do you. We, even I, tend to put role models on high pedestals, but they don’t belong there. We’re humans. We make mistakes.
I feel like we’re often afraid to admit that we’re not okay. I’ve learned to put on a mask. When I feel like I’m drowning, I reach out and make sure everyone else around me isn’t. When I feel alone, I try to be there for someone else. When I feel sad, I try to cheer someone up. While it might be beneficial to those around me, it’s dragging me down more than I’m pulling them up.
I feel like I have three main places that I go, with three groups of people. And in all of them, I need to be happy and bubbly. No. 1 is school. At school, I feel like I’m known for joyousness and hopefully a funny joke now and then. I’m a senior now. I’m not a freshman. I should be helping freshmen, not relying on others to help me. No. 2 is church. I’m there on Sundays usually from like 8:00 AM to 12:00 PM, and then again from 2:00 PM to 9:00 PM. It’s a long day. There, I am energized. I love the people. I love the environment. I love providing worship. I love everything. There, I am happiest. I’m the only senior girl, and I feel like I should be almost mentoring those below me. I had so many life-changing experiences this summer that I feel like I need to share. They expect me to know right answers, to pray with them when they have a bad day, and to provide worship. No. 3 is home. At home, I am given high expectations. At home, I don’t really have anyone to impress. I know my parents will still love me no matter what I do. But, at the same time, I want them to know that the sweet daughter they had freshman year still exists. That she’s happy. Because most of the time, I am. And I can be. But we all have breaking points. And right now, I don’t know where to break. I have three choices, but none of them seem right. I know there are people here for me, who would love to reach out, grab my hand, and pull me up from under the waters. In the back of my mind, I know they’re there. But I don’t feel safe. I put up walls. I put on a mask. I don’t let people in. Because I used to be joyful all the time. I used to not be stressed. I used to love unconditionally. I used to not be afraid.
Even here, I worry that you’ll read this and see me as weak. I say I’m not weak. I believe I’m not weak. But I am. I’m weak. I write it, but it still takes time for it to sink in. I want to be strong. I want to be strong in my faith. I want to have strong relationships. I want to do His will. That’s where my heart is, but my mind is elsewhere, wandering. So many options, so many choices. And I sit. Doing nothing about everything. I don’t allow myself to be helped. Wanna guess why? Yeah, because it makes me feel weak. I don’t know when I started having this mentality. I don’t know why I still do. I don’t know why I don’t feel safe. I don’t know why I can’t trust. I don’t know how to explain that nothings really wrong, but yet everything seems to be wrong.
I just wanted to let you know that I don’t have it all together. I don’t want to paint the wrong picture.
So, please remember that people aren’t perfect. And when you say they are, you provide unrealistic expectations. And if those people are anything like me, they’ll try to fill them. And use all their energy. Because they love you. Though they can love you, they can’t do it all. You can’t do it all. Only He can do it all.
This bus. This green and white bus. It belonged to a man named Nizzam. Nizzam drove this Nissan. Nizzam also drove a group of 20 white people throughout a small island named Trinidad. Through winding roads, through hills, through forests, through neighborhoods, through big cities. On that bus, memories were made, testimonies were shared, joy was spread, even tears were shed. This bus traveled everywhere – hospitals, orphanages, churches, schools, a beach, a camp, and to our apartment. This bus symbolized community. Community encompassed love, appreciation, vulnerability, transparency, and acceptance. This bus symbolized a journey. A journey empty, if it were without community. We went on the journey together.
I miss this community. I miss the laughs. I miss the stories. I miss the fellowship. I miss my friends. I miss the culture, the music, the food, the acceptance of differences. I miss the mangoes. I miss the church. I miss Trinidad.
A part of me stayed there. A part of me belongs there. A part of me wants to go back there.
Yet another part of me wonders why we can’t have that community here. Why is it not socially acceptable to appreciate differences? Why is it so hard to make time to visit a hospital to pray with people? What prevents us from visiting orphanages? Why?
Our lives are busy. I over-commit myself. I spend time doing pointless things. I’m too caught up within my own struggles.
Here, I have air conditioning. Here, I have school. Here, I have band. Here, I’m able to go on the internet. Here, I become self-centered. Here, I struggle to live my life differently that I have been for the past x amount of years. Here, time matters.
There, I take cold showers. There, I have hours to play cricket with beautiful humans. There, no schedule is needed. There, you appreciate what you are blessed with. There, you are filled with compassion. There, it’s easy to go out of your comfort zone. There, people matter.
Here, time matters more than people. There, people are valued more than time. People. Time. What order do they belong in? Personally, I believe people are more important than time, even grades. People have souls. People need love. People are beautiful. People are precious. People are wise. People have great potential.
We are so focused on schedules, on planning everything. A word that comes to mind is MARGIN.
Margin: “the space between our loads and our limits” according to Dr. Richard Swenson.
Leaving margin is basically leaving room. Leaving space. In Trinidad, we were almost forced to leave space. Space for the unexpected. Space to love, space to invest, space to spend time. And He did great things through it. Memories were made. Friendships were formed. Our focus was on people.
I went out to lunch today with a lovely human. She sings every week with clueless teenagers who try to sing and play music to a click. She went to the college I’m planning to go to. She sat with me outside almost a week ago, while I couldn’t seem to gather myself. She’s been patient, as I slowly let her into my life. She’s been encouraging, though I mess up while playing. She’s been merciful, giving me second chances. She’s been alert, giving me opportunities to play piano at local rallies and services. She’s been present, regardless if I chose to rely on her or not. Though she has a lot on her plate, she leaves time to invest in me, in all of us. She makes time to take you to a local, authentic Mexican restaurant and talk about trips, college, cats, and life. She values people.
We’ve actually been trying to go to lunch together for a while. I had never got the chance to tell her about what I did in Trinidad. As I reread my journals from Trinidad to refresh my memory, I realized how much I missed the culture. But, I also wondered what prevents me from trying to create that here. I want to focus on people. I want to focus on loving others. In John 15, it says “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” While He was here on this earth, He made an effort to love people. He let the children come to Him. He invested in His twelve disciples. He devoted Himself to loving the people around Him. He healed the sick, allowed the blind to see.
As I think about it, maybe we’re all a little blind. Our focus is in the wrong spot. I want to be intentional. I want to love. I want to value people. I want to embrace community. I want to go on a journey with others. I want to be present. I want to adjust my focus.
Last night was a stressful night. Or maybe it really wasn’t. But it was for me. Too many little things, too many problems, too many questions posed. It made my mind spin. I couldn’t concentrate. I couldn’t play piano correctly. I couldn’t think clearly. I couldn’t focus on the click. I messed up during rehearsal. Then got more nervous because of it. I saw people. I heard bits and pieces of multiple conversations. I was cold. It was too much. All of it at once. When this happens, I think in succinct phrases. I get a headache. I shake. It’s just too much, all at once.
I sat outside. Head in hands. Wishing it would stop. So much energy – nervous energy. With no way to escape. Except through time. But this has no place. He is bigger, He is better, He is stronger, He is peace, comforter, father, refuge. He is sovereign.
So when life is spinning. When you can’t write a complete sentence. When you can’t play one note. When you’re about to break. When things aren’t going right. When you don’t have a plan. When you’re about to give up. Go to Him, for He loves you, is with you, and wants you to rely on Him.
Mark 4:39b “‘Peace! Be still!’ And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.”
Matthew 11:28 “‘Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.'”
We can have true peace. In the moment, it seems impossible, it seems illogical, it seems like there is no way out. But there is.
As I was sitting outside last night, drinking water, watching the clouds, she came out and sat by me. Asked if I was okay. I melted in her arms. Completely. He built us for community. And sometimes, it’s true that we can’t do it anymore. We’re imperfect, sinful. We are going to mess up, going to be afraid, anxious, doubting; it’s going to happen. He loves us so much despite that. There’s nothing that can separate us from His love. Through it all, He is there. The highs, the lows, the times of joy, the times of mourning; through it all, He is sovereign. And He will also place people in our lives at certain times. Be intentional. Allow yourself to admit that you can’t do it alone.
On the flip side, we are placed in others’ lives intentionally too. So deliberately take time to love and invest in those around you. Sometimes, you need to go sit outside, with someone, in silence. Don’t pry. But be there. Be present. Be aware. Who can even fathom what He will do through you? Even your simple presence is beautiful. We were made for community; we were made to love, to serve, to be aware.
We are imperfect. And that’s how it’s going to remain for quite a while. Accept that, be willing to ask for help, be willing to help, and through it all, know He is sovereign.