This is the third blog post in a series: How I got here.
You don’t have to be sick to be sick of yourself.
That line keeps haunting me from my last post. I’ve been writing about coming to terms, and I talked about circumstances in the last entry because it’s been a tough few years with my health issues — more on that later. Now I want to talk about coming to terms with how I’m wired — how you’re wired. And not even just coming to terms, but respecting and celebrating who we are at our cores. Because it’s so beautiful.
We all have moments or seasons where we are immersed in thoughts of inadequacy and we wish to be anyone but ourselves. We want all the qualities, except the ones we already possess. Is that a little too dramatic? That’s okay, I think a few of you resonate.
When I returned from my bike trip, my hometown felt foreign. There was distance between my friends and I, my mom moved to New Zealand, and there were strangers living in my childhood home. I had rent to pay for the first time ever, and I had to stay put after seeing a new town almost every day for 12 weeks. All I wanted to do was ride my bike or run. I wanted to go, and feel that sensation again. The one that comes when you’re on the road, and you hit the upswing so often you swear you can fly. I had so many experiences in those 12 weeks, from the high of reaching the top of Independence Pass to drinking a disgusting vodka & redbull in a Boise bar, to sitting at the front of the boat while it glided on an Alabama lake the day after Christina got hit by the car. There were the ordinary moments mixed in with once-in-a-lifetime moments; the genuinely beautiful experiences and the so ugly you wanted to curl up and sleep it off ones. All of the people who knew those experiences were scattered across the country, and I was back home in Sacramento, sick with mono. Two people came right along side me, friends in the dead of night: Sarah Marie and Marcos.
Sarah Marie was my roommate, and is still one of the best people I know. I remember spending a couple of evenings on our front porch with our favorite beers during those first few weeks I was home. She asked me questions about my trip, the kind that make you answer in detail. She asked me tough ones about my relationship with Marcos and reminded me of truth, of who Jesus is. She listened as I spilled emotions all over our front yard, and continued to do this over frozen yogurt the rest of the time we lived together. She was the friend I broke my calorie count with, the one who interrupted my studying with chipmunks singing pop hits, and the one who opened her arms to whoever I was in that season, no strings attached. I hadn’t yet come to terms with who I was, but Sarah Marie was happy to help me get there.
You see, when I returned from Bike & Build, I didn’t know what to do with all those moments stuffed into the 12 week trip. All of the moments that shifted and shaped who I was. What was I supposed to do with all my questions? All of the things bubbling up inside of me? Did I really have to process those things? Yes. Most definitely, yes. And as I processed, I was undeniably becoming a different person. I was growing, which inevitably means growing out of the things that made sense to me before.
All of the hard moments that came with that summer, or that sprouted from it, brought me closer to understanding myself. My heart was raw and I had no energy, so I could only offer my truest self to those around me. All broken and bitter. I felt like I was carrying a sign around that said, “I’d like the complicated version” because nothing seemed to come easy. Sarah Marie didn’t flinch, and I didn’t realize then how truly beautiful that was. How much she resembled Jesus, and how she was one of the buckets of grace I was yearning for in that season. The friendships I had with Sarah Marie and Marcos helped me to know I wasn’t completely lost, and I definitely wasn’t forgotten — redemption, grace, and rejuvenation were still a part of my story.
And so the year continued, and Marcos showed up at my doorstep enough to know this was for keeps. I spent so much time wanting to be someone different, someone healthy — a dreamer who hustled through the night to do good things. Marcos didn’t spend any time wishing I was someone different, and he never made me feel like I was inadequate. I think I wrote in my journal a thousand times: “thank you for a man who shows me how You love me, God.” This love took my fragile heart and carried it through a tough season of work, last semester of school, preparing for a wedding, and struggling with health issues. You see, I wrestled with the change that happened over the course of those two years until I was spent. I was like a toddler throwing a tantrum, shaking and crying, until there was nothing left to give. No more guts in my fight.
I wanted it to be simple and easy. I wanted to have the same dreams I had before I left for my bike trip, and I wanted the people I knew then to want to spend time with me now — I wanted to be able to talk like there wasn’t a chasm between us. I wanted to fit right in where I left the spring of 2011.
This person I was becoming, the person I am now, feels so right and it sounds silly when I read what I just wrote. But man, how true it was. I wanted to go back because the years after the bike trip were hard, and the life I lived before that summer was pretty easy. But both of them were rich in different ways.
The last three years, Jesus has used His word, special moments (even the simplest ones), my creativity, and people in my life to bring me closer to Him. And in the middle of that relationship, I’ve found my heart. I see the wires of my soul and mind, and I’m beginning to understand how I work best. It’s not a science, but it sure does make a difference to understand and be mindful of who I am. I look back on that really tough season and I see so much grace. I see moments when I struggled so hard for control and I didn’t need it.
Even as I read this, I am battling thoughts in my head that are telling me I should be out on the town in Auckland instead of writing this blog post. That other 20-somethings would be seizing the day, so why am I eating strawberries and looking forward to watching Parenthood tonight in a foreign land? Because for me, seizing the day means making the most of your moments. And making the most of my moments tonight means resting so that I am not an emotional mess tomorrow. Plus, these strawberries are delicious.
Cheers from New Zealand, where the humanity runs through the towns like it does everywhere else and the coffee always tastes good.