Since May, every month has been surprising. Donning a different perspective, parading new hats around, some I like, some I don't. Post-graduate life has been a lot of vacillating. Watching the pendulum swing from quietness and contentedness, to anxiety and frustration, laced with beautiful conversations, baking and belly-laughs. It all seems normal. The hard is supposed to be this hard and the rest of it is supposed to be this normal.
The past few weeks have been more the anxious ones. A myriad of them too. Insecurity over my appearance, disappointment over my singleness, confusion at the general sense of newness in the relationships in my life, etc. These things are by no means debilitating, but just quiet themes I've always wrestled with that are rearing their heads, demanding my attention, amidst the unfamiliarity they are familiar. Unfortunately so. In the middle of Noodles and Company on Wednesday night this week, a new friend I distinctly admire posed a question to me regarding the insecurity I was admitting to.
"What are you afraid of?"
Usually I have an answer for everything. If not an answer, I can process through my thoughts and arrive at some sort of conclusive point to share. However I was dumbfounded. It was a pointed question that made me scrutinize my problem. My anxiety is in gaining a lot of weight. If I do gain a lot of weight, then what? Her question forced me to see to what degree of idolatry I was elevating my appearance. My great fears are symptoms of that which I am idolizing, good or bad. They definitively point to the cancerous cells of my mind that keep me from trusting God to take care of me.
And one doesn't simply stop thinking that way. C.S. Lewis talks about sin and progressing away from it this way, "We all want progress. But progress means getting nearer to the place where you want to be. And if you have taken a wrong turning, then to go forward does not get you any nearer. If you are on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; and in that case the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive man."
This season, this fun, independent, adulthood-laden, peculiar time of life, this is where I am attempting to be progressive. And in that progress, the hard questions, the frustrations and anxieties don't leave me feeling in despair as they used to in college, they leave me free. Free to grieve the ambiguity, free to find hope in the questions, free to lean into the hard things and know that the Father is transfiguring the hard into graces as Ann Voskamp talks about and free to laugh in the midst of all of it.
I haven't written for a couple of months because I feel constantly inconclusive. Three steps left and then catapulting northwest. There's no rhyme or reason to the direction of things, I am a victim of the new patterns set before me. On my toes, processing, stuttering, faltering and all the time beginning to process through the only consistency. The great mercy that all of this points to Jesus. My insufficiency to know what to do in new situations, my inability to fake-it-til-I-make-it, all of it forces me to fall into His rhythm.
Last Sunday at church, the question was posed "do you want to be made well?" I can see why the perpetually ill man had a hard time with that. While infirmity is uncomfortable, it is its own form of companionship. Misery loves company right? I fight this mentality a lot. Do I want to be made well? Do I want to trust the process? Will I believe that turning around really will lead me back to the right road? This is the crux of repentance for me. Belief. The action is such a minute part of it. I act based on my beliefs, based on the core fundamentals that are established within me. Relearning those, that is repentance. Asking Jesus to maneuver within me, helping me unlearn old habits, and to rinse and repeat with new grace. During the Noodles and Co. conversation, my friend also told me of something the CEO of my company told her back when her husband first started. Change is about quarter turn decisions. If we can just bring ourselves to make a slightly different decision than the last. The ant that ate the elephant. One bite at a time. Rather than sitting under the weight of the whole, decisively seeing how we can switch a little thing to point us a little closer to Due North.
Whether you commiserate with me, scoff at me, pity me or find some merit in my jumblings, may God grant you all peace as He only is capable of doing. And may His decisive will for your Good be a quiet hope for you today.