Saturday, December 11, 2010

My word for 2010...

has been pilgrimage. Psalm 84:5 is part of a prayer that says "Blessed are those whose strength is in you, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage." 

My goal this year was to keep my heart, mind, and spirit on pilgrimage even when my body was anchored here at home.

It is very easy for me to let my mind wander - across the ocean, across the country, across the state. My mind visits five thousands ports of call every day, sometimes within a six hour period.

My soul tends to stay close. Wants to find shelter nearby. Within. In safe places. Quiet places. Like my study room in the morning before anyone else is awake. Like my minivan in the afternoon while waiting for the kids to do whatever it is they do at their varied destinations. Like in my bed in the evening before turning out the light for the night. My soul finds rest and recuperation in simplicity and quietness.

My heart, oh my achy-breaky heart. I'm handling it rather tenderly these days as it is cracking wide open. I'm reading The Gifts of Imperfection, and my heart is being both broken and mended on nearly every page. This wandering heart of mine is turning for home. Finally.

Until reading this book and pondering its wise words, I've always thought that having this wandering heart was a sign of strength and health and vigor and curiosity and intellectual voracity. And to a certain degree, that is true. But what I have come to realize over the past two days is that a significant part of my wandering has been an attempt on my part to find something "out there" that I already have within: worthiness and "enoughness."

I recognize now that I have spent too many years of my life looking for, pleading for, jumping up and down for, and crying out for attention and approval from others. If _____ loves me and _______ pays attention to me and ________ gives me gifts and __________ writes to me, then and only then will I be satisfied and happy and complete. If I travel to _________ and see ____________ and tell stories about having experienced ____________, then and only then will I fit in with ____________. If I drop enough names and show enough photos and write enough blogs and wear cool enough clothes and lose five more pounds and earn one more degree and have the right people's cell phone numbers on speed dial, then and only then will I be enough. And somehow, I allowed myself to believe that the truest and highest form of myself would be discovered or developed or deepened "somewhere over the rainbow" or across the sea.

I was clever at disguising my desperation - or I thought I was. I came across as self-assured and fearless. I came across as outgoing and strong. I came across as very religious and committed. And to some extent I was all of  those things. I still am. But the problem was that I equated doing those things and being those things and pretending to be and do all those things with my self-worth. If I obeyed and showed up and helped out and gave in and cooperated and had perfect kids and an enviable marriage and did as I was told and said all the right things at the right times in the right places, then at some point, the right people would turn to me and declare their undying love, their devotion, their loyalty to me. Sadly, even when I heard what I thought I needed and wanted to hear, I didn't believe it. When I saw clear evidence of love and support and encouragement, I didn't believe it. So I kept performing and pretending and going on pilgrimages in search of... I'm not quite sure what.

I was so wrong. So very wrong.
Recognizing how wrong I was is breaking my heart.
Recognizing how wrong I was is mending my heart too.

I feel myself cracking wide open. I see myself in a whole new light. I feel The Light shining into the dark corners of my wounded heart. Once again, I hear Jen Lemen's words: Something healing this way comes.

The truth is seeping in, running down and into the cracks around the foundation of my life -->
I am loved. I am accepted. I am worthy. I am forgiven. I am made new.
Every day. Every hour. Every moment.
Just as I am.
Right here.
Right now.

I no longer have to do what Brene Brown so aptly calls "hustling for approval and acceptance." I no longer need to please and appease and do "whatever it takes to make you like me." I no longer need to compete for friendship and attention. I no longer need to always have the correct answer, the most clever  segue or the most outrageous anecdote. I no longer need to prove that I am the most useful, worthy, reliable, docile, or dependable person in every crowd. I don't have to be the wittiest, smartest, funniest.  I don't have to downplay my sorrow and overinflate my joy. Nor do I need to overinflate my sorrow and downplay my joy. Nope. No more.

I have no plans to burn my passport and stop traveling.
I have no plans to radically alter my life - at least not at the moment.
My only plan at the moment is to keep reading this book, writing furiously in its margins.
Then I'm gonna go to bed and get some sleep. 
And in the morning, I will accept more of the gifts of my deep flaws and imperfections,
rejoice in the lessons I am learning along the way,
and walk on in this pilgrim journey.

I love the crazy shadows in this picture. A photo of me taking a photo of me. 
Oh, the shadows, the flaws, the wrong angles, 
Steve and Kristiana's feet in the background... 
My life, like this photo, is a mess - and I love it!

"Most of us use the terms fitting in and belonging interchangeably and like many of you, I'm really good at fitting in. We know exactly how to hustle for approval and acceptance. We know what to wear, what to talk about, how to make people happy, what not to mention - we know how to chameleon our way through the day.

One of the biggest surprises in this research was learning that fitting in and belonging are not the same thing, and, in fact, fitting in gets in the way of belonging. Fitting in is about assessing a situation and becoming who you need to be to be accepted. Belonging, on the other hand, doesn't require us to change who we are; 
it requires us to be who we are." 
(The Gifts of Imperfection - page 25)

My many years of desperately trying to fit in have been exhausting.
I'm going to rest from those hopeless attempts at an impossible goal.
Enough is enough.
I am enough.
Not perfect. Not even close.
No longer interested in perfection.
I am enough.

Recently, Kristiana and I went to see the musical, "Dreamgirls."
(Thanks again, GI, for the tickets!!)
Dinner: A peanut butter and jelly sandwich, a salted caramel brownie, and tea.
Pre-theater reading: On Pilgrimage - Outward and Inward


Louise said...

Amazing post. I don't know where to begin with my comment. Inspiring and brave. We do learn our behaviours in order to fit in and it never feels like belonging. I am struggling eith this so much at the moment. How much do we be ourselves and how much do we let our community or our faith evolve us into somebody different? But whatever is right, it's not about perfection or hiding. it's got to be about growing in the journey. So much here to think about. Thank you for sharing.

Michele said...

I loved this post! You echo so much where I and so many of my friends find ourselves right now. Is it because we are all growing older and wiser?? It is refreshing to my soul to see how you, and others, are expressing their walks. Thank you.