Because it’s the weekend (blog reading is low on the weekends) I am going to do a little unconventional blog post.
I just browsed through some old snippets of my journal writing from several years back. It surprised me to read my own words and have them seem so unfamiliar to me. Some of it is unattractive, some of it’s hopeful, and all of it is part of my ever-unfolding story.
Tonight I’m going to just give some verbal snapshots from different points on my journey of self- and God-discovery over the past few years. I have bolded my favorite lines in each year’s entry (shout-out to the Skipper).
This post is like a warm-up for my next post which will be about Self-Complexity versus Authenticity.
What if I pass through this life as an ecclesiastical vapor with nothing to show for it? That scares me a lot because I am a very ambitious person. To focus all my efforts towards trusting that you truly exist, and to determine within myself that I will live a humble life in service to you and others because it is wise and true…well, this would entail defying a lot of my own impulses in life. Creatures do not often deny the gratification of their impulses and instincts. Typically these instincts are hard-wired into animals to follow towards survival. Humans are given a conscience—a mind and soul— that must be factored into the process of living. Humans try to lay aside desires when they have a reason that super cedes them. To do this, to set aside my own will to gratify my own pleasure, success, and glory would be to admit true belief in your existence. To live a life that is reflective of your love and your character takes a lot of faith.
I hate gender roles that confine me to being “nice.” I am tired of [expletive] nice. I don’t like it that a pretty girl has better odds at being successful in this world than an ugly one. I hate biological determinism and stereotypes. I just don’t like to be put in a box and labeled “feminine by nature.” You know what it is? Culture. Culture varies from place to place. I don’t have the guts to confront things that I think are wrong. I wish that I had more ability and drive to have a healthier “expletive you, then” kind of attitude. I am always so [expletive] self monitoring, waiting to see what people want and then like a dancing little doll, giving it to them. I am left with the overwhelming feeling that most people who think they know me, don’t. They know a shell of me. They know the projected me. The stage-me.
My legs are bruised and aching. My joints are stiff and swollen. My toenails are constantly molting. I have gained 8 pounds since this journey began. It’s not glamorous like I thought it would be. I thought that if I was running between 30 and 40 miles a week that I would be skinny. Or at least, I thought I would be at my personal thinnest. Not so. I have gained weight. That’s a bit of a demoralizing fact, but I am in this to run a marathon. If being as skinny as possible was my goal, I’m sure that I could find a much easier weight loss plan.
We went to Kenya in May. There was a lot that we got done, but it was only the surface. There is SO much more to do. There is so much need. There is so much opportunity. Is that where we would be most useful to you, God? I just don’t know.
I want to always strive to be the best version of me that I can be. I can’t do that alone. I need the people in my life who know me and love me. I need God, and my faith that somehow things do resolve to some final end. I am fortunate enough to know that there are people who love me unconditionally. I can construct a set of goals and challenges and measures of success and achieve throughout my whole life. There often isn’t–if ever while we are alive–a single moment or decision that can ruin our life if we are truly trying to do well with what we have. This journey through life is what matters. It’s in the journey that I find my answers. It’s in my relationships that I find my sense of place in this universe. It’s in my faith in God that I have the strength to continue to keep trying, even when my efforts feel or look pathetic.
I really wanted to belong, but not enough to compromise the values that I believe are true. I don’t want to ignore the fact that I strongly believe that men and women operate better when they don’t limit each other to stereotypes based on cultural norms. I can’t just throw this stuff aside, and I can’t just pretend that it doesn’t bother me. I know it’s not just inside the church—[a particular professor] has proven that—but I really hate that it is so permeated in this region’s Christianity. I just want to be free to love you, free to know you, free to believe without the prerequisites. I just want to belong, and feel a sense of belonging, but sometimes I think that being an authentic person and belonging are mutually exclusive.