Beginning Again

Here I am once more, at the start of something new, trying to find my way as I wrestle with all the things I think I should be doing, like eating perfectly, making less waste, spending more time in the Word, giving, giving, giving...

My life is a big collection of shoulds.

I've tried to start over so many times, tried to give myself grace and embrace the imperfection of a life spent being human, and inevitably I end up feeling discouraged because—once again—I failed to meet all my expectations.

I eat something with bread or too much sugar. Gasp!

My rosacea goes haywire again. Eff this.

I lose my patience with Lucy. Cue the tears.

My Bible gathers dust. Don't look at me like that.

Will there ever be a point in my life when I'm not striving? 

I suppose not. Maybe the sooner I come to terms with this truth, the better. Maybe it's the false rejection of the striving—especially while I'm actively doing it—that makes me feel so much...less than. Because pretending that I'm not always working towards something, that I'm not always dissatisfied, is more exhausting than the striving itself. It's the "Oh, isn't this lovely? Isn't life wonderful?" shtick that kills my joy faster than the realization that, sometimes, I'm barely keeping it together.

No, I don't want to settle for my flaws. I don't want to embrace them as God's best for my life. But I do want to accept them. They're not going anywhere this side of heaven, and as long as I'm trying to change every tiny detail in my life until it meets a standard that ain't nobody but ME is holding up as ideal, I'm gonna keep running into this brick wall, the wall that reads "When you get here, you'll finally be happy all the time."

Goodness gracious, who wants to be happy all the time?

Why are we so damn afraid of feeling something? I'm an introvert who thrives on melancholy and even I've fallen for this trick, hook, line, and sinker.

There is something to be said for pain and missing the mark. What is victory without loss? What is love without a broken heart? What is grace without the truth that I am constantly falling short...and celebrated anyway?

Who needs God when everything is as it should be? I would rather have years full of Jesus and whispered, urgent prayers than a life of soulless joy. As Jonathan Martin writes in his beautiful book, How To Survive A Shipwreck, "Repressing that which lives in the chaos beneath us is a perfectly good way to live an ordered life, but not a way to live a full one."

Give me the chaos of the monsters beneath the waves, not because they are especially lovely or good, but because they, too, are under the divine control of the One who created this life for me, and I can trust in His ability—and willingness—to keep them in their place.

Give me the fullness of a belly laughing to the rhythm of the tide as it carries all my efforts away.

Give me the cleansing of the water, refreshing and crisp, as it rushes over my wounds and heals them with its salt and sting.

Give me all that God has given, and let me give myself to Him.

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