I recently finished reading Daring Greatly by Brene Brown. I read this book entirely too fast. I tend to do this when I find something especially compelling. Instant gratification is an issue for me, I like shiny, I like new and different. Brown is a shame and vulnerability researcher and her book is all about just that: shame and vulnerability and how everyone has experienced these emotions to varying degrees.
It was the aftermath of the read that started to churn some things up in my life; going back over some of the ideas I had missed in the rush to finish the first time. I began to really grasp what Brown was saying and realized how profoundly short I had fallen and how off base I am currently.
I could go on and on about the theories and I could list quote after quote where I found myself saying ‘that’s me!’ How did she know?!
One idea in particular has been turning over in my head and it keeps coming up in conversation… the idea of ‘wholehearted living’ and ‘worthiness.’ It’s the idea that there are people in this world who are able to live their lives fully present, fully content with their current circumstances. They are aware and confident and secure in knowing that they are enough, they belong. They are worthy of love.
Brown interviewed people who she perceived as ‘wholehearted.’ Because I’m an obsessive comparison junkie, I obviously thought to myself – would I be one of the people Brene Brown would have interviewed?
My pride says yes, but I know that the answer is a resounding no. Here’s why:
I am one of the most self-criticizing people I know. I can’t give myself a break, I’m a perfectionist, and I’m terrified of actually being loved or appreciated because I know I will inevitably let people down. I don’t think I can’t be trusted. I have two sides: worthy Rachel and unworthy Rachel. It’s a constant push and pull between the two and sometimes I think to myself: this is never going to end. I’m never going to figure this out. I’m going to be stuck in my never enough-self-absorbed-over-emotional skin for the rest of my life. I don’t think anyone can lead me well, there’s too much going on. I will inevitably self-sabotage and ruin everything in my path.
Freedom is impossible.
Anyone else? Do you ever feel like you know who you want to be but you have no idea how to become that person? Kind of like your brain knows what to do but you can’t actually make yourself do what you want to do?
[I love the reminder in Romans 7:15-20 where Paul explains his experience of this very thing]
Do these comments sound like someone who is living wholeheartedly, who knows they are enough? No.
I write that with tears in my eyes because I know how true it is.
I don’t think I’m worthy, I don’t live wholeheartedly, and the constant push and pull between my two warring sides makes me so shaky and nervous that I can barely function. Ups and downs, as I said in my last post, dictate my life these days.
I thought that by 25, I’d have things more figured out. I’ve found myself on my knees almost daily, apologizing to God for not living a worthy life. I’m just so sorry. I want to serve God with my whole heart, but I get in the way. I tear myself down. I block myself from the blessings of God because I don’t think I deserve anything good.
I hate this, I hate articulating these things, but it’s true.
So, where to go from here? I’m at rock bottom – again.
I remember when I first started following Jesus. I was a sophomore in college. I had gotten myself in to a bad situation and the result caused me to fall in to a deep place of unworthiness. I didn’t feel worthy of my friends and the disconnection from the small handful of people I actually did hurt was so painful that I couldn’t act normal around the people that really did love me – my family, my closest friends, etc. It was the epitome of unworthiness. In the end, it was the disconnection that was the most painful, not the regret for my actions.
I found myself at church one weekend because, what else am I going to do?
Cue Jesus. I don’t remember a lot from that season of life, honestly, I just remember thinking that the only truly safe place I have is Jesus. I knew that my God didn’t judge me; I knew I was forgiven, and I started down a path towards worthiness.
What God revealed to me this week is that I’m right back in that place I was in when I was a sophomore in college. I’m lonely and I feel isolated as a result of my own actions. The perceived disconnection I’ve been feeling from those around me is enough to make me want to scream.
I got one tiny little whisper from God today, as I was journaling:
I think there are seasons of life that just knock you on your ass. If following Jesus is like being in a race, I’ve fallen. I’m on the ground and I’ve got some wounds, and those wounds are going to take time to heal but I know I have a high tolerance for pain. I can still run with fresh wounds, but it might be more painful than I’m used to for a while.
Just because we go through downright painful and utterly shameful seasons of life as a result of the sin in our lives, that does mean we aren’t still in the race and it doesn’t mean we can’t keep going. I feel like stopping right now, I really do. I’ve been having regular crying meltdowns in my car – the ugly kind. But what I got from God today (and it doesn’t make me feel better yet) is so simple… keep moving. Stop, stopping and melting down. Keep going. I’m still here. I’m still with you. You’re going to be okay. It might be slow going, it might be painful but you’ve got to get up.
I’m not there yet, I’m not living a worthy life, I’m not wholehearted but I’m going to keep moving. I’m going to push through the shame and I’m going to be strong because that’s who I am.
I don’t feel worthy today, but tomorrow is a new day and I’m going to drag myself up, I’m going to get back in the race.