I wasn’t going to blog this week, but then I read this post over at Micah J. Murray’s blog (if you don’t read him, you should), and the thoughts just tumbled out…
This summer, I was grieving.
Not just the alleged murder of my beloved Kindred Spirit, although that was a huge part of it.
No, I was grieving life.
You see, when I was sixteen (that was ten years ago, yeesh, where did time fly?), I was still innocent and romantic and naïve. I had all these dreams of falling in love and going on great adventures with the person I married and writing stories and maybe even having children and serving God passionately and having this extraordinary, perfect life surrounded by other warriors on fire for God who were going to CHANGE THE WORLD!
Okay, don’t laugh too hard at the above. I was a dreamer (I always will be, to some extent). I had these idealistic high hopes for life. I thought I had it all figured out, and if I just followed the simple instructions given to me by religion, everything would be all right.
But basically, over the last ten years, a lot of Really Bad Things happened.
The first time I truly ever fell in love with all the passion of a young person, the guy didn’t love me back (still one of the most painful experiences of my life). I suffered depression and anorexia and all sorts of horrible self-hating mentalities. I got Lyme’s Disease (which, depending on which useless doctor you talk to, doesn’t exist or should be treated with loads of antibiotics that can ruin your health and which you can’t even afford anyway because a lot of insurance companies won’t recognize Lyme’s Disease. Yes, I’m bitter). I had more bad guy experiences. My romantic heart got stabbed again and again by jerk guys until I hardly believed romance truly existed. I had good friends I really loved betray me—again and again and again—walking away when I needed them the most.
I can count on one hand the people who truly stuck around for me in Bible college when I was breaking, breaking, and all my faith seemed to unravel around me. (To be fair, I plastered on a Good Girl face and pretended I was fine, because that’s the only thing I thought I could do in an environment that worshiped Christian Success Stories and Pop Stars and not the reality of brokenness and suffering).
Then, to top it all off, my best friend and the one I looked up to and emulated was allegedly murdered by another trusted friend inside an abusive cult. Her husband turned about to be a psychopathic control-freak who thought he was going to be an End Times Apostle heralding the end of the world. Oh, and he was gay. But he still dated and married her because he needed a wife by his side to be an acceptable End Times warrior, and, you know, she was madly in love with him, and it’s totally okay to lie to and control a woman to achieve your own agenda all in the name of glorifying God– WHAT???????
That was the nail on the coffin for me.
Because the Real World was nothing like I’d dreamed. The Real World sucked. The Real World was full of pain and deception and grief and loneliness. Dreaming and loving was stupid and silly—for little teenage girls who hadn’t experienced the Real World yet.
So, this summer, it all suddenly hit me: The weight of my disillusionment over life that’s been growing quietly over the years, the grief that’s been building over years and years for life and all its misery. The bitterness and anger I was harboring because life hadn’t worked out at all as I’d hoped.
Innocence is lost.
I can’t just open my heart to anyone and everyone I meet because I know a lot of people can’t be trusted.
I can’t skip through life without thinking hard about theological matters because I know not thinking hard is costly.
I can’t view religion through rose-colored glasses because I know there are plenty of wolves in sheep’s clothing lurking about, using religion to control and dominate and stroke insatiable egos.
I can’t just “fall in love” with someone because love is tricky and messy, and it means earning another’s trust and really being with them through hard times and brokenness, and it isn’t pretty sometimes.
I can’t in good conscience flippantly desire to bring children into a world that is so, so painful and hard. Why should I ever force that on someone?
I probably won’t be a successful writer who lives in a cottage someday with her cats, dogs, horses, and a falcon (oh, maybe a hedgehog, too!) because writing is a hard market and most authors will never even make enough money to even financially sustain themselves.
Maybe this is part of growing up. The ideals and dreams you have as a child fade into the oftentimes disillusionment of reality. Life is made of blood, sweat, and tears. Life is made of early mornings and long work hours and stressful monetary situations and lots of loss and disillusionment. Life is hard. Period. Not many of us get to make the adjustment into adulthood without at least a few wounds along the way, causing us to walk with a limp.
So I walk with a limp now. As a child, I used to skip and run and plow through life. Now, adulthood brings a limp.
The limp of questions and doubt and wrestling with a God all too easily explained in tight theological boxes—but Who, you now realize, is a very, very complex and uncontrollable God (but full of love indescribable).
The limp of knowing a lot of people throughout life will let you down, and love is a hard battle, and goodness and truth and loyalty are often punished and laughed at.
The limp of knowing more loss will come, and death is inevitable, and pain is often lurking right around the corner.
The limp of knowing I’m a woman, and that I will forever be trying to prove myself to a world that seems made to constantly tear down, damage, and control women in violent, demeaning ways. (And a world that is often very hard for to men, too. I get that.)
I wish life wasn’t like this.
That’s what I’ve been grieving this summer.
(Also, I just want to say that I GET I have a very privileged, white, middle-class upbringing that is so much easier than so many other people’s lives. I get there are intense and brutal things happening all over the world, and that my small corner of pain is hardly comparable. I get that this post is probably a little narcissistic and self-absorbed. But I’m just being honest here.)
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