This is not the blog post I intended to write, but it’s the one that came out. And it’s one I’ve been wrestling with for months now.
For those of you who know me, or who followed my Lenten blog blast 2016, you know that I have some trouble with emotions. Specifically, expressing them honestly. Not that I’m a total robot, I just prefer my days to be even keel rather than rollercoasters of joy and sadness. Yes it’s a problem. No I’m not oblivious to it.
One of my best friends got married this past winter. A few hours before her nuptials, she gave everyone in the bridal party individualized notes filled with memories and love. I’ll briefly preface this by saying we have had our ups and downs in our friendship. We’ve had periods when we were inseparable, and weeks when we have barely spoken. But real, true love always survives. The few months before her wedding had been, well, let’s say a “recovery period” for our friendship. We had been struggling to work through some things, but were slowly rebuilding what we’d had before.
In her note to me, she said plainly what I had been needing to hear from her, but that I hadn’t realized I needed. And all the pride and anger I had built around my heart shattered, and my heart broke. But not in the way we normally think. It broke open and I experienced a deep, full, joyful love I had not allowed myself to feel in months.
It was intense. It was overwhelming. I hated every minute of it. It still haunts me. And the worst part is the wedding photographer caught the moment on camera.
[Photo cred Wandering Heart Photography. Thanks a lot.]
There you see it. I’m squishing my nose in an attempt to force back the tears that flooded like a waterfall. No one wants to be the girl who ruins the bride’s perfect makeup thirty minutes before pictures but…oh well. She still looked perfect so it was fine.
Perhaps there was no way for me to escape that consequence. I know a big part of my personal struggle over the past year was continually thinking I had figured out where my life was going, only to be told “wait, hold on, just a minute, just wait a little longer,” over and over and over. Really, my emotions were the only thing I had control over. Well, those, and how much my cat eats. It was (and is still) so frustrating to have taken so much time to think, meditate, and decide what my future would look like, trying to balance working hard for that goal and approaching with “hands open to the Lord and His will,” and over a year later, still be waiting. To be stuck for almost a full year with zero control over the outcome of my hard work. To not feel like I am behind or failing because I crossed the bridge into my late twenties and still haven’t started my career while so many of my peers are approaching the 5 year mark in theirs. And in my attempt to keep an open mind about the outcome, I instead suppressed any emotions surrounding it for a full year. Inevitably, this spilled into suppressing emotions in most of my life as a whole.
But I’m sure that suppression has nothing to do with the uneasiness and imbalance I feel inside. Right? And it has nothing to do with the fact that seeing a newborn baby and his excited family overwhelms my soul, or that the soundtrack to “Beauty and the Beast” gets me all choked up.
It’s hard when you’re in a time of limbo and it seems like you can’t quite be joyful because of the uncertainty, but you also can’t quite be upset or joyless because you’re uncertain. It’s such an uncomfortable place to be and it can lead to a lot of self-pity, jealousy, and ruminations. And for me, every time someone asked me how I was, or if I knew anything, it just sent me deeper into the feeling of uncertainty edging towards despair. It’s hard to not feel resentments towards others and towards God about it, and I still haven’t quite figured out how to navigate it. People say, “Don’t be afraid to tell God how you really feel,” but I’m not. I tell Him all the time that I just want to be done waiting and that so many people around me have had their prayers answered in a minute, maybe two. Why has mine taken over a year? And still all I hear is a quiet, “Wait a little longer.”
Obviously God and I have differing interpretations of how long “a little longer” will take.
I have no misconceptions that God loves others more than me; that is something I worked through long ago. Now it is purely frustration that I thought I had all my ducks in a row, but something is still missing. It’s frustration at the waiting game. It’s jealousy that others have found their life calling, but all I’ve heard is, “wait wait wait wait wait.”
I haven’t found the answer to this, and I know I’ve written about it before, probably several times. All I can say is that several others have told me they feel the same way, so if you also feel like you can’t completely embrace joy or sorrow right now because your feet aren’t quite on even ground, don’t feel alone. There are so many of us trying to find a solid foundation to stand on. And sometimes, the promise of an eternal love isn’t what we need to hear when we face our own mortality and limited time on Earth. We want so badly to find our place in the world, to make a difference and give back, but all we can do is be here, relatively actionless.
Maybe all we can do is let tiny babies and Disney love songs overwhelm us. Little moments of love and beauty that can slowly bring us back to life. Maybe it’s okay to start small by simply embracing the overwhelming nature that joy has in seasons when despair is threatening to take over. Maybe being uncomfortable and joyful at the same time is the hallmark of a new transformation of character and life.