So I like free time, but not a month of it. I leave on my Belize trip a week from today and I’ve decided to stop thinking of all the things to be afraid of (barracudas, cave swimming, water I can’t see the bottom of) and just be excited already! But, in light of that, I still have a week of no obligations/schedule/routine/work to do.
I’ve been doing a lot of reading, cooking, and running. And thinking, and listening to rap music, and checking my e-mail 19 times every hour to see if Wake has e-mailed me about an interview. I’m sort of caught in this paradox of dreaming about the future, or kind of “between the now and the not yet” kind of deal. My dream for next year is being in Winston-Salem going to grad school and leading YL with people I know there, and while I have a couple of back-up plans, it’s been a #strugglebus to not put all my eggs in the Wake Forest basket. I’ve been looking at real estate and dogs up for adoption. Oops. If you know me, that’s not surprising. This whole process of applying to grad school has obviously forced me to reflect on the last four years of my life, which has been painful in some ways and refreshing in others. Probably more painful and uncomfortable than anything else, because there are a couple of sections and seasons that I’d like to take a marker and put a big ‘X’ through and forget about them forever. And then of course in all the reading I’ve been going through, I’ve found so much new perspective about that, namely that if I’m really going to embrace a life ruled by grace, then I need to accept the black marks of my story just as much as the triumphant and even mundane parts. They’re all important, and if I’ve learned anything in the last year or so, it’s that it all matters. The good days, the bad days, the mindless Tuesday afternoons.
But that, for some reason as I’m sitting here in my cube (where I’ve been since like…noon…somebody bust me out of here)…that all just doesn’t feel good enough. It’s not satisfying, if I’m being honest. That sentiment, it doesn’t really make the painful parts of my life less painful, and it certainly doesn’t pacify my current struggle with identity and purpose — it reopens wounds, it leaves question marks as they are. When I say I’m struggling with identity, it’s not so much the standard “I have to go be in the real world soon, woe is me” senior year deal. It’s more of…I’ve been waiting, for a couple of years now, for some very defined and grandiose moment to occur in which I finally “get better” — whatever that looks like. I’ve been waiting for something to click, or for somebody to say something really profound about life or me or God oranything that snaps me out of the funk I’ve been in, or to be able to at least find the doorway back to who I used to be, before depression and the big black ‘X’ moments and the medicine and the therapy. Because, if I’m being honest again, the medicine and the therapy have been sort of a letdown and I’m starting to realize that they’re more of a crutch than my solution. I didn’t feel that way three months in, but after three years I’m just now starting to realize that I’ve been clinging to those things to fix me when they’re just not able to address the part of me that needs rejuvenating. And that part of me is my spirit, my heart or soul or whatever part of my being that worships and feels alive when I sense the presence of God, and so I’ve been sitting in my room for three days reading Spurgeon and Henri Nouwen and liturgy and my last three prayer journals because I want, more than anything, to feel like a 9 or 10 instead of a 6 on my therapist’s “Feelings Scale” and I believe, more than anything, that the only vehicle to get me there is Christ and Christ only. It feels like a step I’ve been skipping or taking this for granted for all this time.
Rewinding a little bit to when I said I want to go back to who I used to be…that’s not entirely true. I do want to feel “normal” or “better” — however people feel when they don’t struggle with depression — but I don’t really want to go backwards. If I really do think that he’s just as present in the big black ‘X’ parts as he is in the moments that make sense, if I really do want to honor the healing process, as I believe he’s calling me to do, I have to reconcile within myself that every breath of my life was and is purposeful. And whether those breaths meant gains or losses, there’s no question that I learned more from what I have lost, what has hurt badly, what I had to suffer for in order to see. I’ve gotta stop going off of feelings and start remembering that whether or not it feels good enough, there’s a plan for all of it, and I just can’t see it from where I’m standing. God promises us that. Promises. That takes care of a lot of my fear.
And now that I’ve slowed down enough to stop hyperventilating about whether or not I’ve wrecked the whole plan, which would be giving myself way too much credit, things are much brighter and I’m able to breathe deeply and say to myself and know in my gut that I’m going to be alright. I may have to keep waiting to find out where I’m gonna be next year, and my real life probably won’t match up with the dream life I’ve sketched out with my house and my dog and my dinner parties, and I might get attacked by a barracuda in Belize (I have to mentally prepare myself for the possibility), and I might not be going to medical school like I thought I was four years ago, but I believe that I’ll still be alright because there’s this plan, and it’s a good one, and it’s kept me safe thus far even though safe doesn’t mean unscathed. I’ve got some bruises, but I can tell you a story about each one of them, and why I’m glad the story happened, and how I’m glad for all the lost things, but that so many greater things have been unearthed in their place. And looking at the bruises, reflecting on them, doesn’t make me want to cover them up or pretend they don’t exist. It makes me smile and say, “I know you’re up there. I know you’re good, and I know I can make it. I know it.”