Every time I sit down to write for Moolily something strange happens. I shut down. I retreat into myself. I don’t know why this is such a struggle. I’m shocked by it, honestly. I’ve never found it difficult to convey what I’m thinking in a way that I’m happy with.
Words are like, my jam.
But it’s 1am in the morning and I couldn’t sleep so I decided to try to get out this Important Thing that the Lord has been talking to me about and I want to share with the Moolilians and SNAP, I’m shut down like a clam and all that comes out are little snippet sentences that don’t even SOUND like me.
What is so paralyzing about writing for Moolily?
What makes me freeze? What silences my voice and, at the worst, causes me to spit out information from a distance?
I’m asking Jesus. I’ve been asking Him. His eyes are always very kind, you know? My minor inconveniences and giant heartaches are not trite to Him. He sees me clearer than I see myself.
So, what I hear Him saying is that I am struggling with vulnerability.
I always have. (So, duh.)
I’m human so, like all of us, I’ve experienced deep rejections and big huge ouches when vulnerability went badly. My closest friend would emphatically say that my default setting is to be “extremely guarded.” Yeah yeah yeah, ok.
I’ll be transparent all day long, folks, but not vulnerable; totally different rodeos, hombres.
What’s behind this for me? Fear?
Fear of being misunderstood, of not being heard or seen clearly. Fear of being misconstrued. Fear of that paralyzing pain when I am misunderstood or misconstrued which, by the way, happened today in an utterly shocking way and, let me tell you, it’s gonna be days before my panties untwist from that doozy.
It feels weak to let my heart be in a place that, when I am in a position where criticism or critique or comment may come, I’ll be affected by it.
OF COURSE I AM GOING TO BE AFFECTED BY IT!
Who am I kidding?! I can not build a wall high enough to not be affected!
I am not impervious to the commentary of others. I am not unmoved by the offhand judgement of a friend’s friend’s who doesn’t even KNOW ME! I am not unhurt by the evaluation of a person who believes something about me because of another broken human's narrative!
That stuff hurts. It stings. It digs down real deep to crazy painful places where I’ve been rejected by the people who should have loved me well…but didn’t.
And on top of all that it’s January!
Listen, y’all, January does strange things to me, terrible things. And every year I magically forget about it by May and kind of just “do life” for a few more months and then Christmas Day ENDS and I can feel the panic rising, I can feel the horrible summoning of the coming month, daring me to look at it like a scene from a thriller and I desperately want to look away but I can’t!
I CAN’T LOOK AWAY!
A New Year is upon me and with it the cultural expectation of making Resolutions, but making Resolutions is what gives January it’s witching power that manifests in a pressing, urgent, all-consuming need to evaluate every single part of myself and my life, which inevitably leads to a deep sense of disappointment and frustration and hopeless despair.
To make it worse, I was BORN in January! I’m another year older!
WHAT AM I DOING WITH MY LIFE?
My mind kicks into major analytical mode and I start whipping through the last twelve months, scrutinizing everything; the questions start pouring out of my heart...
Did I love well? Did I learn new things? Did my relationships grow? Did I nurture secure attachments with my kids? Did I parent them well? Did I meet goals? WHAT THE HECK DID I DO WITH MY YEAR? Am I wiser, kinder, more tender? Did I accomplish things? Did my skills grow? Do I have that intangible mysterious thing we call “fruit”? Do I have bunches of fruit?
Do I have anything at all to show for all of my efforts?
So….how many hours did I waste watching TV? Could I have learned a new language in those hours? Could I be fluent on the piano or guitar again? Could I have freaking FINISHED a book by now?!
And then I really get cranking and 500 conversations and scenarios start to replay in my head…the bad ones. ONLY THE BAD ONES. The ones where I messed up, where I missed the mark, where I froze (which is rare enough for me that I obsess about it all flipping year when I do.)
I fixate on embarrassing moments like I'm Rainman.
I fixate on awkward moments. Ones when I said super dumb things. Really bad parenting moments with my kids. I vividly replay all of this in my mind….all of my expectations for myself, all of my hopes and dreams, all of the places where I think I had the potential to DO something…and then, disappointment falls hard on my heart.
Because, when I look at what I expect of myself and where I actually land, I always fall insanely short.
(Hmm…could that be, no, is it…perfectionism? SHUT THE FRONT DOOR!)
My thoughts shift from evaluation to LONGING for what seems impossible because, this isn’t where I want my marriage to be! This isn’t what I want my family culture to look like. I want to throw off immaturity like an old pair of clothes. I want to submerge myself in some kind of healing spiritual mud bath and come up utterly wound-free and able to be myself at all times.
I want to forgive easily and repent quicker.
I want to wake up with gladness and go to bed with peace. I want to wake up early and go about my day with purpose and intentionality and check things off of lists and knock out projects left and right and respond with patience to my kids and intimacy to my husband and absolutely nail EVERYTHING that I ever put my hand to and everyone who EVER meets me will see me clearly and say, wow, I like that kid. (As if we can control other people's responses to us...oy vey.)
And right in the midst of that crazy little immature heart-cry Jesus said two things:
1. Grieve and mourn for what you wanted but don’t have.
Because it actually is a loss, a heartache, when a dream/plan/goal you made doesn’t happen. And when you don’t appropriately grieve that stuff it has a way of turning into poisonous bitterness.
AND THEN THE DOOZY….
2. You absolutely cannot evaluate the success or failure of your life.
WE CAN NOT EVALUATE OURSELVES ACCURATELY! WE CAN'T!
We judge ourselves by laws and rules and expectations that He never has for us. We base our worth and merit on things that He does not. We use language and scales and measuring diagrams that ARE NOT the overflow of God’s heart. We obsess over our “failures,” which are actually the very real and tangible steps of our growth!
After Peter utterly, miserably, wretchedly failed the Lord, what did Jesus talk about when He saw Peter for the first time after the resurrection? Can you imagine what was going through Peter’s mind?
“I betrayed my friend! I betrayed God! I am a pathetic, worthless, horrible excuse for a human being! I’m proud and arrogant and foolish and…”
And right into the middle of that Jesus directs His gaze like a laser and DOESN’T EVEN TALK ABOUT IT. Jesus NEVER talks about Peter’s failure. I mean, what?!
Friends, if Jesus isn’t talking about our failure, why are we?
Here I am, in the midst of a massive evaluation of my last year saying, “Lord, I suck at five hundred different things.” And the Lord is saying, “Am I talking about it? No? So, why are you?”
It’s 2am. It’s still January. But I’m not going to do this anymore. I’m not. I feel the beckoning of His heart. I am choosing to lay down self-evaluation and maybe you should, too. I am choosing to look at HIM and not at myself. Holy heck it’s hard; there’s pride involved, self-protection, self-righteousness, and the monster of perfectionism.
And all kinds of other stuff but this is already long enough and no one wants Laurisa to roll her eyes at me one more time for writing an essay that could belong in a scientific journal.
Friends, choose surrender.
If He’s been asking you to let go of something, be it bitterness or an unrealistic expectation for greatness, do it. His grace is sufficient. In our weakness He is made strong. Let Him be God. Let Him love you. Let Him work the cross in your life. He is unfathomably, relentlessly tender and faithful. He won’t leave you hanging. He won’t leave it unfinished. He never does ANYTHING just to “build your character.” You are His BELOVED. You are His cherished one. His delight is in you. He won’t let go. He is absolutely attentive to you and His every thought towards you is GOOD.
Let 2017 be a year of walking in freedom cause guess what, freedom comes with surrender.
Love to you all!