"The sweetest thing in all my life has been the longing —
to reach the Mountain, to find the place where all the beauty came from —
my country, the place where I ought to have been born. Do you think it all meant nothing,
all the longing? The longing for home? For indeed it now feels not like going, but like going back."

~C.S. Lewis

Monday, August 26, 2013

When being a b---h is my true self

I lay curled up, head at the foot of my bed. Crying. And if that sounds melodramatic, I guess it's just one of those times life actually is like a soap opera.

“I hate being a woman.”

I wasn’t expecting that to pop into my head; maybe it was demonic, or maybe it was just me. It probably was just me. This was halfway through the month, which meant I could expect several days of tears, a short temper, depression, snappiness, and hatred of myself and aggravation with humanity in general. And in two weeks it’d happen again like clockwork; the height of my mood swings in my monthly hormonal cycle can be pretty spectacular.

Nothing was wrong, exactly. Except for the fact that the sky was blue. That was pretty annoying. And also that the month was August, which is a stupid month. And the dishwasher was making too much noise, and my nose was running and I didn’t have a Kleenex, and also I was broke and a failure and ugly and would obviously never amount to anything ever.

I’d been in tears all day, from sitting by myself on the porch eating Grape Nuts for dinner, to the floor of my room backed up knees-to-chest against my bed (how I got to that position from cleaning my room, I still don’t know), and now on my bed while my family watched a movie in the living room outside my shut door.

I didn’t dare go out. I wouldn’t be kind.

And my brain wouldn’t shut up. Fix yourself, pretend to be happy, others are worse off than you. You shouldn’t ever get married, who would want to be around such a mess? You need to get yourself together first. Also, you shouldn’t let your hormones control you—why are you so weak?—knock it off and fight to be holy. And you’re naive. And you’re wrong. Probably about everything. And if you loved Jesus, you wouldn’t be such a b---h, and if you tried harder, you wouldn’t be so sinful. Your fault. Your fault. Your fault.

I know they’re lies. No one needs to tell me that. I pray against them and talk to Jesus and it gets better, it always does.

I wish this weren’t me. But it is me. It is me when my hormones are waging World War III and I’m literally looking up convents to see how to join and never see another human again, and it’s me when I’m on such a Jesus high I wonder if He even forgot to give me a sin nature.

Stasi Eldredge put it beautifully in her book, Becoming Myself:

“You were born into a glorious mess, and we all have become something of a glorious mess ourselves… I would like to believe that this [pleasant] version of myself is the truest me, but I’ll still be me in three weeks when the party guests begin to arrive and I don’t want anyone coming over to my house anymore. It’s all me. The ups and downs and highs and lows—and it’s all you, too.”

There is a certain grace in this, in realizing it all is me, every beautiful act and every angry word. It is the grace of letting go, of holding myself lightly, of fully owning the fact that I am not perfect and can never create the veneer of that false self—and that trying to do so spells lies, deception, exhaustion and the death of the abundant life.

Jesus once said, love your neighbor as yourself. I can only take it that he meant my whole self, not the false perfect one I wish were me, but the broken self who Jesus came to set free.