I say we start at the very beginning – take a little look-see at what those whole “real truth” thing looks like. Here’s the real part:
I am a flawed woman. Woman. Is that what I am? I’m twenty-two. I guess that qualifies me, but I don’t feel like a woman. I’m just groping my way through life – stumbling and reaching and folding into a heap when nothing goes quite right. Is that what a woman does?
I am Southern. And I like it. Drippy accent, misconceptions, big hair, sweet community, sweet tea, bizarre family trees, too much butter, and cowboy boots. I proudly own them all.
I am follower of Jesus. I asked Him to be my friend forever when I was six, and I began walking with Him when I was twelve. I learned much of what I knew about Him in my head from my parents, my family, and my church until I went to college. Then I began to learn those same things about Him, but better because they began to move from my head to my heart.
I am a wife. To my high school sweetheart. We broke up eight-ish times between the ages of sixteen and nineteen. This is not a joke. We never could quite decide that we really liked each other, but then we couldn’t quite land on doing without each other, either. In the end, it stuck and we’ve been married now for eight years. We don’t break up anymore. I feel glad and annoyed about that in pretty equal parts.
I am disappointed. I was under the impression that, if I put in the leg work and made AB and C happen, life would pan out like XY and Z. Obviously – if I go to college and graduate with a degree, I’ll find some direction and do a thing with my life I feel excited about, a thing that matters to me. If I date a boy for six years and then marry him, we will have a lot of crazy, fun sex and travel and remodel our house together – and have more sex. Fighting will only be occasional; I won’t mind cleaning his man toilet; he won’t mind living with my shoe heap. We will have babies and an SUV. He’ll do a job, and I will be a mama. We will go to church and do things that matter to God. The details are a bit fuzzy, but mostly it’ll all be glorious.
My whole life I’ve been barrelling toward something – a goal, a dream, a boy. And now here I am at twenty-two, and it seems like maybe these aren’t the things I should’ve been moving towards because…
Twenty-two is hard. That was eight years ago for me now, but I remember it so vividly. I remember the wave of excitement as I entered the unknown, bright-eyed and hopeful – distinctly aware that I was a pretty big deal and could basically do anything I wanted. I grabbed the diploma, married the boy, and leapt into life without hesitation. I knew God, but we were not in a season of together. He was with me, obviously, but I refused to pay much attention to Him because I was really nervous He was going to ask me to do something that did not fit into the I’m a big deal life I had going on.
I got a job because it’s what came up. I was decent at it on some levels and deeply terrible on others. I wrestled and cried and hyperventilated my way through a year and a half of marriage and the real world. Looking back now, I can see that a large part of my problem was that I still thought I was a big deal – that life was about me – and that if I did what I was supposed to, things would go exactly as I asked them to. They were not and I was annoyed – nay, furious – at God for refusing to give me what I wanted.
Bless my heart.
And then the bottom fell out. Josh came in and stated he believed that after dabbing his toe in engineering and then teaching, God was calling him to be some sort of pastor – he wasn’t really clear on the details yet, either.
I’m sorry, what?
I hopped on board outwardly. I mean, I’m a good Christian girl – er – woman. I know I can’t ask him NOT to go into ministry, but…
I’m sorry, what?!
At this point we did not like each other all that much. We cared about each other and were committed to the relationship, but I gotta say, those two week break-ups looked mighty fine from where I was standing . Looking back now, the details of why are still a bit fuzzy but I’m pretty sure that it all boils down to the fact that we both still believed the lie. You know the one: I’m a big deal. There is no room for happy between two big deals.
I latched onto having a baby because nothing else was happening the way it was supposed to. I was cranky and unhappy and determined to find a way to get what I wanted. I wasn’t happy in my job. I wasn’t happy in my marriage. I wasn’t happy in my faith. Obviously the best thing to do was have a baby. My husband did not agree, which just added to the me being furious situation.
I now understand that this is a pattern in my life. I am desperate for control. If I feel it has been removed from me somehow, I lose all sense of normal, rational thinking and attach myself to the nearest possible thing I might transfer my control to, but we’ll get to that later.
I found myself sitting in church, listening to the people around me singing to the God I did not want to believe in and assuming their worship was fake because, seriously, no one living in this new version of the real world I was coming to understand is THAT joyful.
I wish I was kidding. I am not.
If I’m not a big deal, then what the heck am I?
Come back tomorrow for the answer to this questions – the truth that butts up against my real and lays peace upon it all.