When I was in Mexico, I wanted to be home. I felt out of place and scared and like I had less to offer than anyone else. And how I felt didn’t matter because I wasn’t there for me. It wasn’t about me. I had to suck it up. I didn’t have another option.
I tried to fight, to stand my ground and refuse, but I’d get called out. And like a small child afraid of getting in trouble, I’d cave. I’d do the scary thing. And often I’d do it poorly. And I’d feel embarrassed.
More than once in Mexico, I went to my room and put in headphones and lied on my bed and covered my head with a blanket. It was too hot to cover my body, but I’d cover my head because at least then I had the privacy to make “not okay” faces and attempt to cry tears that never, ever come anymore. And I lay there and I’d want to go home. I listened to Heaven Song on repeat. I wanted to go Home.
I had a plan for when I got back. But sometime between my arrival in Mexico and the time the plane touched down in Seattle, I realized I wasn’t unloved. And I realized that, even if I’m no one’s wife or mother or daughter or sister, I’m still a person whose life is interlinked with other lives, and my not being here would matter. I don’t matter the way I want to matter. But I can no longer hide behind the lie that I don’t matter at all.
Pauline said my life is like a puzzle piece.
I’m quiet and gentle and sensitive and a nurturer. I’m not the one to make people laugh. I’m not the one everyone wants to have around, the life of the party. And maybe when I *am* around, no one notices. But they notice if I’m missing. You don’t notice a piece of the sky or the clouds in a puzzle, but you notice if it’s missing.
That seems like an awfully hard way to do life. To be the one who is overlooked but still somehow necessary to complete the puzzle. It would be easier if I had the opportunity to be the nurturer. If I had a baby to cuddle. If I had someone to cuddle me. But I’m living a life right now of social interactions, in which my strengths aren’t required and my weaknesses are magnified. I am a puzzle piece. I might feel like I should have all the freedom in the world to do whatever I want to with my life, but my decisions affect others. There’s just no escaping that.
I want to bury my face in Jesus’ chest. I want to feel His arms around me. I want to be able to cry. To ugly cry.
I want to cry all of my pain out and have someone witness it and cry with me. I want it to matter, my pain, my longing for a Jesus who can’t hold me, my disbelief that anything will ever be okay this side of heaven.
Someday, maybe, I’ll have a good story to tell. A story about how God lifted me from this pit. This place of being done trying, fighting, pressing in. This place of being completely okay with giving up, going Home, being a daughter again.
Maybe I’ll be able to tell people that I stopped faking it. I stopped pretending to be okay in order to keep people from getting uncomfortable. I’ll be able to tell how I gave social norms the finger and stopped trying to maintain appearances, and how that was the best decision I ever made for myself. I’ll be able to tell them that I stopped trying without giving up, because giving up and giving in are different things. I’ll be able to tell how I got help, how there’s no shame in getting help. How life is hard for us puzzle piece people, for us gentle souls and nurturers. Especially when we’re no one’s anything. I’m a friend, yes, but friends are replaceable. It’s hard to feel replaceable.
Maybe someday I’ll be able to be a voice for those who are holding it together in public, but going home at night and counting pills or studying the blue veins of their wrists or drinking until they can’t feel anything and it doesn’t matter. Until what they contain within themselves matters as little to them as it does to the rest of the world.
Maybe someday I’ll be able to tell people, “Don’t let the world, with its backwards priorities, convince you to stay quiet. Don’t let Satan lie to you about fear and shame and hope and what your options are.”
Maybe. Maybe someday I’ll be able to say it was worth it. That I’m glad that the people in my life who love me made it so hard for me to give up. Maybe I’ll be able to say that nothing matters as much as our lives, that there is a reason to live, that there is joy on the other side of depression, that there will come a day when they can say with their whole hearts, “I am so glad I lived.”
Maybe someday I’ll be able to say, “Stop faking it. There are people who will love you through this. Stop faking it. Let them carry you. Trust that they will.” Maybe I’ll be able to say that we belong to each other and that it’s okay to need each other and that when someone loves you, they don’t walk out. They love you when you’re quick to laugh and when you’re unable to get out of bed. They love you for who you are, not because they’re obligated to. They love you because you’re embedded in their hearts, and Jesus is there too, so love flows from them naturally and effortlessly, and you don’t have to apologize for being hard to love because that’s not how they see you. Not when they love you. Not when you’re their family. Not when you’re more than a puzzle piece to them. Not when they see you and choose you. Not when you’re irreplaceable.
And if that’s how anyone sees you, anyone at all, then you can’t give up.
And sometimes you don’t know. You feel invisible, just a piece of sky or grass that no one would notice. So you have to ask. You have to say, “Tell me you love me. That you love me special. That you love me for who I am. That you love me forever. That I can’t be replaced.” And maybe someday I’ll be able to tell people that it’s okay to ask those questions, it’s okay to sound like a four-year-old, because somewhere within all of us is a four-year-old and we don’t let her talk nearly as often as we should. And also, I’ll say, all that matters when you are ready to go home, to quit, is that you don’t. Be four, I’ll say. Be three. Be two. Be thirteen. Just don’t quit.
I’ll be able to say, “Don’t let well-meaning people tell you that you should try harder. I know how hard you’ve been trying. I know you didn’t wake up one day and decide you didn’t want to live anymore. I know you got to this place because you’ve tried and tried and you’re so tired of trying. You don’t have any fight left in you. You are brave and strong and you’re not broken or weak. You’re not a bad Christian for feeling this way. You are still alive. You are still here. And that deserves applause. A huge hug. I am SO proud of you. I am so, so proud. And so is Jesus.”
“You don’t need to try harder,” I’ll say. “Maybe what you need is the opposite- to try less. To let your guard down. To stop trying, to stop fighting. To get help. To rest.”
And maybe I’ll be able to say how God is real. Really, really, really real. Touched by an Angel real. Hallmark Christmas movie real. With us constantly, orchestrating things, sending us angels and visions and kissing our foreheads real.
And I’ll banish condemnation, the belief that they’re doing something wrong if they want to die, if they want to bypass this life and run straight to Jesus’ arms. “You aren’t the problem,” I’ll say.
I’ll be able to say they aren’t doing anything wrong if God feels far away because it’s not ever up to us to feel Him or sense Him or hear from Him. All we have to do is show up. And keep showing up. And trust that He knows what to do with us when we come to Him.
And someday, maybe, I’ll be able to say, “I know you want heaven, you want your Jesus to hold you because no one else will and this life feels like torture. I know how acutely aware you are of the fact that this world isn’t our home. I know. But this world isn’t hell either. This life is soaked, saturated with the goodness of God. His love and His presence. And I know you can’t see that right now, but it’s worth sticking around for. I promise, it’s worth it. And I promise He isn’t as far away as He feels right now. Be still. Listen to the sound of Him singing over you. Just be still.”
And maybe when I say those things, someday, I’ll believe them.