It’s me, just squeaking this month’s post in under the wire again. Kind of like how I completed all of my writing assignments in college LOL. It’s not that I haven’t been writing, it’s more that everything I come up with just feels a little…off. Sometimes if I plan too much, I end up overthinking everything and then it all just feels like crap to me. But if I word dump like a crazy person and rip that bandaid off at the last minute, then I can’t control it anymore because I’ve got a deadline to meet goshdarnit, and it ends up being better in the long run. Maybe not better writing, per se. But better for me, personally.
This is all you get for the month of May, internet. So deal with it.
And what an interesting month it’s been. I’ve seen more movies in the theater and read more books this month than I have in a long time. I’ve been more emotional this month than I have in a long time. I’ve texted less and been on social media less than I have since before I was granted access to all of those things. I tried to be good about skincare and flossing my teeth before I go to sleep, but I fell off the wagon a couple of times.
While there are a lot of reasons why I don’t want to hit publish on this post, one of the big ones is because I feel that what I have to say doesn’t want to be read. Or rather, it’s not worthy of being read. What flows out of my fingers into the keyboard and onto this screen is a disappointing reflection of my heart and I’ve been having a hard time lately with the realization that maybe what’s in my heart isn’t what I thought it was. I really didn’t want to publish last month’s post either. It felt fake to me and while everything in it was the honest truth at the time that I wrote it, I felt like it ceased to be true because I didn’t FEEL it to be true anymore once it was time to click the button. Does that make sense?
I would love nothing more than to be sunshine and roses and unicorns in this space, but that’s just not always the case. And honestly, I don’t think anyone who knows me well would associate those things with me anyway. Maybe coffee and autobiographies and ticket stubs and staying up too late, but certainly not unicorns. I can blame the gloomy atmosphere on period hormones or being tired from work all I want, but the truth is that it’s stuck around a little too long and overstayed its welcome. But as I stated in my first post of the year, I’m not here to inspire and excite. I’m here to be honest about me and how I’m doing in the moment. It’s my version of vulnerability for today. It’s as much as I can do right now. I’m trying to use it as a growing tool, as a way to do something that might scare me but will also make me better in the long run.
I learned something really interesting about myself last week. I took the official Enneagram test and learned that I’m a Type 1. Shocker. But then I started reading articles and listening to as many podcasts as I could find about the Enneagram test and the Types and I came up with something interesting. After each one I listened to in which other Ones shared their stories and glimpses into how their brains worked, all I could think was: Wow. This is me.
Ones are marked by a severe inner critic and a desperate need to always be doing the right thing. They are always thinking about how they could have done better, could be better, in order to make the inner critic’s voice a little less constant and loud. And boy do I ever struggle with this. I think it’s why I feel the need to justify my less than positive words when I write them. (See above for examples of said justification.) Why I feel like I have to apologize for being less than what everybody needs. Why I feel like it’s my personal responsibility to be the glue that holds all things together, when I will never be able to fulfill that. And when I fail at these things, I get angry and defensive and disappointed. The resulting prickliness doesn’t make the critic any quieter, it just makes me feel like more of a failure.
Just like it’s difficult for people who aren’t Ones or have One-like tendencies to understand how my brain functions, I have a hard time understanding how grace is supposed to play a part in all of this mess. If it doesn’t come naturally to me, forget about it. Somebody else can try to give me grace, but I can’t give it to myself because I’m too busy trying to not feel like I messed up somehow. In one of the podcasts I listened to, the host said, “I definitely think that Ones are the hardest Type to live with, not that other people can’t live with them, but that they have a hard time living with themselves.” Wow thanks, man. That definitely makes me feel better. *finger guns* But honestly, he’s right.
Even through the fog of the inner critic, I somehow still thought I was impervious to the outside world. I thought that everything that affected me was the result of MY own faults, of MY own actions, of MY own inability to do whatever it was I thought I needed to do. But then I got blindsided by the fact that sometimes other people do hurt you — not just yourself. I was so used to feeling the disappointment that stemmed from inside my head that I didn’t know what to do when it switched directions and came from the outside instead. One of my greatest fears as a One is of being called out for playing the victim card because it makes you look weak. Because the world seems a little easier to handle if the only one who can make you a victim is yourself. Handling hurt is a bit harder than I thought, so I’ve come to find out.
But hey, if I know one thing, it’s that having this knowledge about how I react to pain and disappointment is only going to make me deal with it better and in a healthier way in the future. I’ve only been on this earth a quarter of a century and unfortunately, I’ve got a lot more hurt ahead of me. The longer I observe and study what’s around me (as Ones do), the more I come to accept the fact that no one is immune and there IS, in fact, room for grace in everything. The world has room for evil, but it has even more room for mercy.
I’ve been reading “Everybody Always” by Bob Goff and I read a chapter of it last night that WRECKED ME. (It was Chapter 10, in case you’re wondering.) It wrecked me so much that after I had read it twice and highlighted all but a few sentences in bright yellow, I had to put it down and walk away. It tore me wide open because I’ve been trying to figure out how to navigate the aftermath of hurt and it felt like the whole chapter was written for me. In Chapter 10, he talks about being driven by love as the simplest and strongest reason for everything we do. And in the process of becoming love, we have to go through the uncomfortable because it makes us better. Just like fighter pilots intentionally fly through the valleys and mountain ranges because it sharpens their skills and makes them better pilots, God also uses the uncomfortable hard times to help us look more like love – like the people we were designed to be all along, without shackles that look deceivingly like Enneagram Type definitions and boxes that we put ourselves in because we’re too scared of what’s on the outside. In his book, Bob writes:
“People who are becoming love understand God guides us into uncomfortable places because he knows most of us are too afraid to seek them out ourselves… He uses these circumstances to shape our hearts. He knows difficulties and hardship and ambiguity are what cause us to grow because we are reminded of our absolute dependence on Him.”
And wow. He’s absolutely right. In all of this weirdness that I feel the need to justify, I might just be becoming love. It’s love with a shaky takeoff and some storm clouds and a little bit of turbulence and a whole lot of lightning at the moment, but it’s love all the same. And maybe it’s just me, but I feel like love might not be the biggest fan of people who pretend that their lives are all sunshine and roses and unicorns and aren’t honest about what they’re working through. Authenticity and vulnerability doesn’t only make room for the good stuff, but for the messy stuff too.
The truth is that for all of my striving after certainty and desire for affirmation that I’m doing the right thing and that I’m on the right path, I’ve only been “certain” maybe 3 times. That’s a whole lot more uncertainty than certainty and I wouldn’t bet anything on those odds. Bob also wrote in Chapter 10, “God is less concerned about the people who admit their doubts than the ones who pretend they’re certain.” If I put words on this page that didn’t line up with how I felt, even if how I felt wasn’t great, I would only be validating my perceived counterfeit life, not proving it wrong.
Every single day I have to remind myself that even though I might disappoint ME, I never disappoint God. He knew what He was getting into before I even appeared on this earth and He loves me just the same. He’s not surprised with how frequently I try to solve things without His help or with how fiercely I feel the need to fight for other people’s problems when it’s not my life to fix. And if that’s the only amount of grace and mercy that I ever get my little pea-sized Type One brain to accept, then that is enough because He says it is.
This sounds really selfish to my ears, but I think my favorite part of heaven will be that my brain won’t feel the need to self sabotage anymore. I won’t be afraid to say or do anything, I won’t be hindered by the rights and wrongs. No more fighting against myself and no more desire to strive for unattainable things. It will just be me, unfettered by my human issues and completely given over to the worship of my Creator without any thought to how unworthy I am. That dream won’t be fully realized here and now because I live in a world that made room for sin, but at least I can live with the hope of that future. And I can get in some good practice time for when that day comes.