Having been out of work for almost a month now, I’ve had a bit of time to reflect and review my life, and my heart. I quit my job because it wasn’t good for me. Being overwhelmed with feelings of frustration, discontent, and being trapped became a normality that I didn’t handle very well.
I don’t think any one thing is to blame - I have been blessed abundantly, and I know that grace and mercy have followed me - yet my heart has been unsettled for years. What I know and what I feel have been habitually in contradiction, and those around me could not let me go on as I was. I’m not sure that those around have been aware of the extent of my feelings, I believe only God truly knows my grief.
I grew up going to church, reading Bible stories, attending Christian camp. When I became old enough I taught Sunday school, had intense studies with fellow Christians, and even taught at the Christian summer camp that clearly influenced my youth. I have learned a lot about God and who he is, how infinitely loving and powerful he is, yet somehow I still don’t feel right. There’s something inside me that clutches to my consciousness and convinces me that I am weak. I am afraid. I worry about everything. I doubt myself. I am worthless. I am alone.
Some days are great. On those days I feel like the beautiful person people have told me I am, but other days I feel as if the world would do itself a favour if it would open under me and swallow me up. Sometimes I feel as if it’s already in the process of doing just that. I have a wonderful husband who believes I am the best person on the planet, but sometimes I don’t believe him. I have a MA degree that I studied for four years (and worked my butt off as a barista) to get, but sometimes I feel dumb, unworthy, and just plain stupid - too stupid to do anything of use in the world. I’ve been in my share of unfortunate situations - with friends, family, and work, and at some point have convinced myself that it was my fault, that I was the problem, even though I knew that wasn’t true. Sometimes I change clothes five times before heading out the door because suddenly everything I own makes me feel fat and ugly.
I don’t believe I have a ‘good’ reason for being self-deprecating. When it happens, I’m usually not aware of it until it becomes an uncontrollable seed of thought, and when that happens it can grow in the back of my mind for days or even weeks. Being conscious of ‘thinking crazy’ brings me down to earth - and then the guilt sets in. What did I say? Did she see that meltdown? Was I mean - he was only trying to help? Does he still love me, even though I said that? Why should I be being so pitiful - I have SO MUCH to be thankful for?!
The more I analyse what then just happened, the more self-conscious I become and I remember to pause and evaluate before reacting. This leads to good days. On good days, I can brush off the little negative naggings that insist “she aimed that look at you” and “he said that sarcastically - what did he really mean?” On good days I still don’t believe I’m the best person alive but I do know that I’ll be ok. I know that I’m just trying to make it through, like everyone else.
I used to believe that staying strong meant that you could never let things get to you. Now I know that for me, it is impossible to be infallible. I understand that I am on a journey learning my limits, and I no longer believe limits to be a bad thing. I actually think it’s very healthy to know them, to be aware of how much I can take before I need to rejuvenate and evaluate if and when I step back into the ring. We must communicate our feelings so we don’t exceed our limits in silent tears. I know too well how to cry so that no one sees.
I have decided that I have been through enough of feeling alone - because I know that I am not. I have known for years that God can change hearts, but maybe now I need to learn to let him change mine.
I may still sometimes feel inadequate, unworthy, and anxious, but I have been reminded that I am on God’s side - and he is awesome enough for the both of us to tackle it.
I will remember:
“The Lord is my strength and my shield”, therefore I am not weak. (Psalm 28:7)
God says “do not fear, for I am with you”, so who am I to be afraid? (Isaiah 41:10)
God says “do not be anxious about anything” (Phil 4:6) and how can I be, when he has assured me that “peace is what I leave you. It is my own peace that I give you.” (John 14:27)
When I doubt myself, I can instead “humble [my]self, under God’s mighty hand.” (1 Peter 5:6)
When I begin to believe that I am not enough, I will remember that “the Lord is my light and my salvation - so whom shall I fear?” (Psalm 27:1)
“The Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you or forsake you”, therefore I am not alone. (Deut 31:6)