Joy & Sorrow.

I have been debating for some time about writing this particular post. I wasn’t sure if anyone would read it or if it was even necessary. In the last two weeks, however, I have had two dear friends make a comment in passing that I “always look so happy on Facebook.” It is true in part. I am happy…and I’ve never thought that social media was really the appropriate place to air our woes. But I would like to dispel the myth that life is a breeze. If I’m going to be really honest and do real life and I want others to do the same with me, then I have to be honest about this: my joy goes hand in hand with my sorrow. And frankly, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I would not be as well-equipped to bear the burdens of others if I did not know pain.

For starters, I am a Baptist/Wesleyan girl. And I’m 34, educated, and single. And I live in the South. My church doesn’t even have a singles group with my age group because the vast majority of them are married. So I stick out. And people say ugly things about my singleness sometimes. As though it is a lack and not an opportunity to do things I wouldn’t be able to do if I were married. I want to be married and have babies, but I’ve simply not met a good man yet. And I’m not rushing about to do it, either.

I am a Southern Baptist who also has tattoos as memorial stones to her life. I like the occasional sip of whiskey, but never drunkenness. Sometimes I curse in anger. I really love Jesus and try to seek after and serve this God that loves me and has redeemed so much of my life. I decided 20 years ago that I wanted to save my body for my husband. I loathe bars and church greeting times both. I’m too shocking for the good little church girls and too much of a prude for everyone else. So I walk this really fine line and fit in nowhere.

I try really, really hard to do right by everyone. This usually ends in abject failure. Mostly because it’s impossible. Even when I think I am doing the right thing and love the people, it blows up in my face. Words get twisted. Accusations get flung. People get hurt. It is second nature to me to walk away. Because that’s what I know to do. I’m not saying it’s right. It’s just what I do. So then I gain this reputation of being some sort of holier-than-thou aloof woman when nothing could be further from the truth. I’m actually just really sad and my heart is hurting and I’m trying to figure out how it could all go so terribly wrong. I lose a lot of friends this way.

I am a child of divorce. A really nasty, messy divorce. Adultery, drugs, and my mom losing all her parental rights kind of divorce. I became an adult at 14 during my freshman year of high school in ways I wish I didn’t know. So I don’t have a lot of patience for nonsense. Those experiences made me old before my time, hardened me for awhile, and then made me compassionate for others who know pain. I still have nightmares and fears. I hate the dark and sleeping alone and not having my back to a wall and people grabbing my shoulders from behind.

I know what it is to be mired down in the pit of depression. Now I lean more towards anxiety at times. Not always and not with any discernible trigger, but I get stupid scared when I am called out publicly and I hate attention. I despise yelling and slamming doors. I am thankful for good physicians and good friends and a good God who have seen me through all of this.

I used to be an athlete, but then I let an individual have so much control over me that I gave it up and lived in overwhelming fear and currently reside in a body that doesn’t feel like my own. I am long past all that now and slowly getting my life together and restoring what was lost. I’ll always have the scars, but it’s my body and my story and it counts for something.

I was 5 when I was saved from the pit of death and 23 when I was saved from the pit that had become my life. I see my life divided very neatly into two halves: the first, a sunset where my life dipped slowly but gradually down and down into dark; the second, a sunrise on my 23rd birthday, during which I discovered anew the love of my good God and which has dictated every day since. These days feel like a given gift because I lived the first 23 years feeling like life itself was a burden.

I care too much and have too-thin skin and a too-big heart. People tell me I shouldn’t feel so much or love everyone. I often respond that I am grateful for the feeling because there was a time in my life that I was quite numb and it was there that I learned there are things far worse than death. I make no apologies for feeling. I am who I am. Sweeping it all under the rug serves no one well. Shutting myself off isn’t kind or good. Engaging in some self-discipline, however, goes a long way. So if I talk a lot, I am really passionate about the subject and I trust you enough to share my words with you. And I will hug you a whole lot. If I don’t, I’m just not feeling it or you. If I talk, thanks for listening. I’m thankful I finally found my voice. I’m working on “finding some grace to go with my boldness,” as a dear fellow introvert friend put it the other day. I’m not there yet, but I’m trying.

Life has been really, really hard at times. And so dreadfully painful. Yet it is all beautiful and it is all gift. Of this, I am absolutely convinced.