My Dear “Kindred Spirit,”
So I cried for two hours straight today.
And by “cried” I don’t mean a little weeping with a few tears escaping out of the corner of my eyes here and there. (If that’s the definition then I’ve been crying for nearly 9 hours straight at this point).
I’m talking about two solid hours of using up entire boxes of tissues trying to mop up the wetness constantly escaping from my eyes and nose.
I’m talking about getting to the point where I began to think I must be dehydrated simply because of the amount of liquid I had lost from various areas of my face.
I’m talking about flopping on the bed with those big hiccuping sobs that made me feel like I was 5 years old again, desperately trying to calm down and stop sobbing but I just. couldn’t. stop.
Yeah. I’m overflowing again just talking about it…
I’m blaming it on lack of sleep. (Just go with it, ok?). I had a rough night last night and ended up with only slightly more than 3 hours of sleep total. Few things wreck me as much emotionally as being sleep deprived, and it made a few other issues I’ve been struggling with lately just seem completely overwhelming all of a sudden.
One of the great – and kinda scary – things about staying with “the Ant” and uncle is that they’re big on communication (they’re also big on hugs. It’s very… different). So when I started dissolving across the kitchen counter from the Ant this morning, she came over and gave me a hug (I think she’s finally starting to learn to just give me the damn hug because I won’t ever actually come out and ask for a hug, and I will also consistently dodge the often asked “do you need a hug?” question). Then she ushered me out onto the front porch for a “talk.”
You may or may not remember, but a while back I did a post that talked a bit about affirmation. I have an ongoing struggle with this issue. I realized several months ago that I struggle a lot with believing my own worth. It has taken me a very long time (24 years of life…) to reach the point where I can even admit that God actually loves ME as an individual. That in his eyes, I am of value. I am worthwhile. I am desired and chosen by him. (Oh, gosh… more tears. It’s just that kind of day, I’m afraid).
So one of the things I’ve been struggling with that blew out of proportion this morning is a situation that’s been making me feel very worthless. Undesirable, undesired, and just… valueless.
The Ant’s “pep talk” began with her trying to remind me that in God’s eyes I am desired, beautiful, and of much value. This is fine and good and was a much needed reminder, but as I sat on that lawn chair with my box of tissues, mopping at my wet face and struggling to speak without sobbing out loud, I wasn’t hearing it. My mind was reeling with all the excuses I’ve used the past 24 years to convince myself that I really am as valueless as I feel.
Folks, let me tell you something. It takes strength to believe in God’s opinion. I need God’s help just to accept his love. I need his help to believe in my heart that what he says of me, that his opinion of me, is truth. I can’t even accept his love and grace unless he helps me accept it. I can’t bring myself to believe him without him helping me believe him.
You get extra points if you actually followed and understood that last paragraph…
So, between nose-blowing episodes, I attempted to convey to the Ant the fact that I understood what she was trying to tell me, and in my mind I believed it, but believing it in my heart, acting it out in real life, living in that truth was and is still a huge issue for me.
The Uncle entered the conversation partway through (do you have any idea how awkward/embarrassing it feels to be blubbering and bawling in front of your uncle? If not, consider yourself fortunate. It’s almost as bad as crying in front of your dad or brothers). He was filled in on the situation and conversation so far.
“So if you don’t feel as though you are of value or worth, then change!”
“What are some things you like about yourself?”
(Wow, that was quick! In real life it took a lot more conversation to get to that question, but I’m giving you the condensed version)
I sat there, scrubbing at my extremely moist face with an already-wet tissue. What do I like about myself??
“Uh… Well… I can play the organ.”
“Good. What else?”
Wait, I’m supposed to be making a list?! There’s supposed to be more than one item here??
“Umm… I can work.”
“Ok. What else?”
Good grief! I don’t know how many more of these I can come up with!
“I… uh… I… Well, I can kinda cook.”
We then launched into a discussion of my cooking abilities, and whether or not I can more than just “kinda” cook. When that discussion fizzled out and he started to ask for a 4th item I said that I thought 3 was a good number to stop at.
“Ok. So what do you not like about yourself?”
Oh, this I can do!
“Well, I’m short. My hair is all greasy and thin and not nearly long enough. I have a dreadful smile. I’m a horrible introvert most of the time, I’m pretty much socially crippled – no social skills whatsoever, I’m not skinny, I’m a pretty bad driver…” (He agreed a little too readily with that one).
“So, except for your height, I’m thinking you have the ability to change pretty much everything on that list.”
But, again. There I sit, 3 hours of sleep, all my hydration dripping out of my face, and what I’m hearing is “try harder.”
He didn’t mean it in that way (he’s probably gonna read this, so I need to clarify…)
But that’s what the voices in my head were saying. “Try harder! Suck it up, get your act together!”
People, I’ve tried. For 24 years “try harder” has been my approach to life. I’ve tried to be perfect. To get my act together. Now, you can say that I’m just whining and I haven’t tried hard enough or I’m lazy or whatever, but I’ve given up on trying harder. It don’t work. I can’t be perfect.
So my tired mind and wet, puffy face hears his words, thinks “try harder” and then immediately goes:
“Yeah. And what’s that gonna do?? So you’ll un-grease your hair. You’re still gonna find something to not like about it. You’ll lose weight. You still won’t think you’re pretty. You’ll learn some social skills. You’ll still feel like you’re faking it and not doing a good enough job. You’ll go learn how to drive. You could still get into an accident. Nothing you change about yourself will make you worthwhile or of value. Nothing you do differently will make you good enough. You still won’t be good enough!”
I was too waterlogged by then to effectively communicate these thoughts, and I exited the conversation shortly after.
But since then I’ve been thinking a little about it. Now, I’m still just operating on those 3 hours of sleep, and my eyes are definitely still puffy and swollen. So I could be completely off base here, but here I go anyway.
I’m not saying changing is bad. I’m not saying trying to do things differently and better yourself is unnecessary. I’m just saying that that’s not the root of the problem. That’s not the root of MY problem, anyway.
The root of my problem goes back to making the choice to believe.
God offers me affirmation. He tells me he loves me. He tells me he cherishes me. He shows me he sees worth and value and beauty in me. He reminds me I am desired, chosen and treasured by him. He speaks that truth to me every day.
But I have to choose to listen to him. I have to choose to believe him. I have to open my heart and take, believe, live, and dwell in that truth.
It seems like it should be so easy. All I have to do is believe him. God speaks truth to me and gives me as much affirmation and love as I need. All I have to do is believe him.
And yet how often do I ignore that truth? How many times do we all ignore that truth? How many times has our low opinion of ourselves, our harshly truthful analysis of our humanity, prevented us from listening to the affirmation of our very creator, the giver of life, as he tries to tell us just how much he loves, cherishes, values and treasures us?
*Raises hand.* Guilty!
Let’s start choosing to believe.
P.S. Please don’t feel too bad about my 9 hours of tissues and tears. I’m about to go put my pajamas on, get myself a big glass of raw milk, a few peanut butter brownies, and put on a chick flick. That, plus a long journal entry, a good night’s sleep (and of course making the choice to accept His affirmation and unconditional love…) ought to cure whatever’s ailing me!