I don’t know how to make sense of it all.
I don’t know how to say words that will be received with empathy and understanding, and not used against me as evidence that I am mentally unwell.
I’ve put so much effort into trying to handle things well. How is it that, in spite of my best efforts, I am coming off looking so bad? How am I smack dab in the middle of a situation that should never have included me in the first place.
And whenever I try to advocate for myself, it gets to twisted. I’m told I’m mind-reading or not thinking clearly or that my past and trauma are blinding me. And how do I respond to that? How do I argue with that? I can’t. Anything I say will just be used as fuel to support their argument that I’m irrational and unstable and need professional help. And it hurts. It really, really hurts.
Guys, I am an INFJ. We are intuitive. Do I think that sometimes I let my trauma and past experience influence how I perceive things? Sure. But sometimes I think what people call mind-reading is actually me being able to perceive things. And it’s infuriating. It’s so, so maddening to just KNOW something and have people look at me like I’m crazy and impossible to reason with.
I don’t understand.
How can one day feel so full of love, and the next so full of conversations about all the ways I am not living up to people’s expectations?
So much feels fragile. So based on my performance. So “I will withdraw if you don’t do x, y, z…”
I feel like, no matter what I do, that possibility hangs heavy in the air. It’s like a sword in the holster on their hip that can be withdrawn it at any moment.
I am working so hard to seek God’s heart and thoughts and will for my life through all this- putting my own emotions aside.
And the every single day takes incredible energy and requires intense spiritual warfare. How can anyone say, “I disagree. I don’t think you are trying that hard.”
I’m alive. How does that not count for anything?
I cut unhealthy ties with my family this year. I lost my nieces and nephew.
I lost other people too. Lots of them. They walked away from me. They didn’t tell me happy birthday, clearly conveying to me that my life doesn’t matter to them anymore, these people who once professed to love me unconditionally and forever.
I’m alone in so many ways. Tamara, Party Of One.
BUT I’M HERE.
I am here. And daily, even on my hardest days, I catch myself laughing and thanking God for the good.
I am here and I am grieving, but I am not stuck. I don’t feel sorry for myself. I am determined to keep moving forward, eyes on Jesus.
I don’t expect people to understand. It’s lonely to feel misunderstood, but I can’t expect my heart to always make sense to others.
I know that God has built me this way. And it isn’t a flaw. Some of it is trauma, and some of it is the softness and desires He’s woven into my heart.
And I won’t hold tight to the ache within me and demand it be filled the way I see fit, “or I don’t want anything at all!”
Trusting means accepting the today and surrendering to the future God has for me, however it looks. And knowing the future is good. Even when it doesn’t’ always feel good, it is. I don’t have to look forward with fear or sorrow. I can look forward with joy and hope.
And yet, I know God understands my grieving, the screaming ache of my heart. And I know He says, “Yes, child. It’s right to hurt over this.”
I can look at someone’s actions and say, “That hurts.” But I have to be careful not to follow that destructive rabbit trail.
I can know it hurts, but I can’t know that it means they don’t care or that they don’t love me or that I’m not important to them.
I can know what I know, but I have to be careful not to assign meaning to it.
I am tired of suffering. I am tired.
But He woke me this morning for a reason. My eyes are open, my heart beating, my lungs taking in breath.
And it’s not a mistake.
I am not being propelled forward by my body- my heart, ticking along until it tires and I go home. My body isn’t calling the shots. I am not here, passing time without meaning or purpose.
My body isn’t the boss- my God is.
It is He who sustains my beating heart, it is not the internal clock within me, set to expire at a certain date and time determined at the time my cells all came together to form a living, breathing person.
I am here, in this time, in this place, for a reason.
And I will believe that.
I will trust Him.
“Get therapy,” they say.
That isn’t helpful. I know enough to monitor my heart and mind and ask God if I am okay (or okay enough) right now or not, if it’s time to jump back into therapy or time to sit back and soak up His presence and let Him do the hard work in me that I know He’s doing.
But they say I need therapy.
And what I need them to say is, “What you’re feeling is exactly what you should be feeling. Let me stand beside you while you grieve. You are not broken. You are not ill. You are okay and you are going to be okay and I am here.”
I will hold on to Him. His promises. His kind eyes. His loving touch. His gentle smile.
I will hold on even when I close my eyes and I can’t see, even when the only one wrapping their arms around me is me.
I will hold on even when words and promises and hope and truth feels slippery and elusive and maybe even mythical. Because–thank God–His promises and truths don’t change, regardless of what I feel.
And so I won’t spend time in my brain, trying to untangle the mess of it all so that I can feed my heart with words that hurt less.
I won’t write my own story in my head, putting periods and “the ends” where God would say, “Shhh, child. I’m the author. And this isn’t the end.”
He’s in the middle of a sentence. He’s scripting a comma followed by “and then”, but I’m taking out my red pen and scribbling periods in places where He never intended there to be a period.
He’s patient with me, though. My red pen doesn’t call the shots any more than my beating heart does.
I feel like the losses haven’t stopped in years. I hope and I praise Him for the good and then it fades away like smoke, or crumbles like stone, or stands tall and proud while I crumble from its neglect or abandonment or rejection.
And always, I end up standing alone.
But I keep showing up. I keep hoping. I keep finding things to love about this life I’ve been gifted.
I am ALWAYS doing the hard thing, the scary thing.
How could someone accuse me of not trying?
Not being obedient to God isn’t an option. I have to obey because where can I find life apart from Him?
But I won’t give up.
I won’t isolate. I won’t stop smiling at people and making conversations and showing up.
I won’t grow angry. I won’t harbor judgment or criticism or think I have it all figured out. I won’t condemn people’s hearts or try to jump into their brains.
I won’t shut my heart down. I won’t label myself as unloved. I won’t say they don’t love me.
I won’t give up on the screaming ache within me for family and belonging.
I need Him. I need Him fiercely. I need Him to hold me and I need Him to act. And my shutting my heart down will only make His job harder. So I will keep it open. I will breathe and trust and hope and believe. I will not deaden my emotions. I will pray, “Lord, I will stand. I will choose to be fully alive.”
I will cry. I will grieve.
And I will believe it won’t last forever. Somehow. Somehow joy is coming.
And regardless–in both the mourning and rejoicing, the desert and the mountaintop, the darkness of night and the brilliance of day–I will follow hard after Him.
I am under no illusion that He alone is the air I breathe, the One who sustains me, the ultimate comforter and counselor and lover of my heart.
And if I could choose between Him–an experience with Him as real as anything I’ve ever known in this life–and everything else my heart is screaming for, I’d choose Him. Instantly. Without hesitation.
But He designed us to need each other too. Right?
And maybe He isn’t asking me to choose.
Maybe what He has for me really IS better than anything I could ever imagine. I mean, if scripture says it, it has to be true, right? There is no “maybe” about it. And so I’ll let go of what exactly that looks like, but I will smile because IT IS GOING TO BE GOOD.
Give me eyes to see, sweet Jesus. Give me ears to hear. Give me a heart that’s open and soft.
Even when it all looks like loss, destruction, devastation, help me to know that You are creating something good.
You don’t tear down and strip away unless there is a greater good in store.
There is something being built.
There is cause to rejoice even in the suffering.
There’s always more than one way to tell a story.
How would I tell it if I could see more clearly? If I could set my heart aside and look at the facts alone?
There’s always more than one way to tell a story.
I could tell about how no one said they loved me.
About the grief that I can’t shake.
The exhaustion and heavy eyelids and sluggish brain.
About how work today has been incredibly slow and very few things have gone my way.
I could tell about mysteriously sore shoulder and mysteriously itchy chest.
I could tell about loss.
About belonging and being precious and being held- and their opposites.
Or I could tell about the blue sky.
Time spent getting lost in a book.
The homemade bread gifted to me from a coworker.
The words flowing from within me, relieving some of the overwhelming pressure.
The cats and bunny who are going to be happy to see me when I get home, and the turtle who will crane his neck to watch me as I go about my evening.
The Starbucks employee who smiled at me.
The people I showed kindness to, and how amazing it is that God wired us–even in our heartache–to feel glimmers of life and comfort as we try to reflect Him to those around us.
I could tell about the clients who like me.
The sparkly green fingernails that, each time I catch a glimpse of them, remind me of one of the Disney’s princess’ (Ariel’s?) dresses.
I could talk about the hope of being loved in return, even when I don’t feel it or see it.
I could talk about the forever, steady presence of my Creator- even when I don’t feel it or see it.
I could talk about all that threatens to pull me down, makes me want to give up, sob endlessly, all alone, as the sun goes down and the night stretches before me, daunting and empty, and it’s just my tears and breath and my sorrow filling up the air around me.
Or I could talk about what sustains me. The hope that is always present, the good that God promises to be doing, the light that darkness cannot drown out. The nearness of the One who gives breath and tears and oxygen and has set me here with intention, not by accident.
I cry. I grieve.
But I refuse to give up hope. I refuse to give in to fear.
He has a plan.
Hold me. Abba, hold me tight.
I can’t drown if I’m holding Your hand.