I was Facebook messaging a friend this past week when the topic of the two of us having millennial long conversations, when I get back to Seattle, came up. See, this particular friend is quite special in that she and I have (more than once) spent most of the night talking about nothing, and after a year – there will be a lot more than a little something to talk about upon my arrival back in Seattle.
But, as we were messaging, I had a thought that I really hadn’t considered before: When was the last time I had talked to someone?
You know, like not a “hello” or talking about work, or being afraid you’re keeping someone up due to the time difference, or being told that one of the kids might be sick so watch out for vomit when you pick him up from school – but actually TALKED to someone.
You know, like sit down and talk about how you’re actually doing, opening up and fully “talking.”
I realized it had been a while.
Don’t get me wrong, I have awesome friends in France (and duh, we talk), but the reality is that I’ve spent more time alone over the past 7 months than I ever have before. I know, I know, all of you extroverts are yelling at the top of your cyber lungs that I need to go out and party more, MEET PEOPLE! And all of you introverts are thinking, “Wow, I could use some of that. Alone time sounds blissful.”
But I don’t think it’s as easy (or fair) to chalk this occupational hazard/perk to strictly being a “bad” or a “good” thing. There are both benefits and detriments to having so much time with myself. For one thing, me and myself know each other quite well, now (please read that in as sane a context as possible).
The reason being that when you have a lot of time to yourself, you have to face your good and your bad, your greatest accomplishments and your biggest fears. In those times of silence you have to find balance with yourself because there is no one else to help you. And you have to make real actual decisions, rather than burying holes to “deal with them later.” In short, you have to get to know yourself.
And let me tell you, it’s not always comfortable.
But facing your fears, anxieties and inhibitions never is – and, of course, it’s something we all must (or, at least, should do at one point or another. So whilst I’ve away in France, I figure, now is as good a time as any to get some of these insecurities out of the way.
I remember writing a post a while back about how I “couldn’t draw” (the reason being that I never felt that I could be good enough to even try, since my older brother is the superior artist in the family).
Well I’m facing that demon, and I’ve been forcing myself to draw every day for the past (almost) month. And you know what? I’ve discovered something that I never never never never thought I would: I really like drawing.
I’ve also discovered that being committed to doing something every day doesn’t mean you won’t feel so nervous you’re shaking, when you start a project, or that you won’t feel like throwing up when you show people the finished product – convinced they’ll spot every flaw your own eye is magnifying x1000.
But I’ve always liked to think that an artist isn’t someone who is somehow superior in the arts to the rest of humanity, but just someone who has learned to push past those specific demons and create despite their taunting inner voices.
Because, when it comes down to it, I think some of the biggest battles we face in the journey to creating ourselves, are the seemingly invisible and silent ones trapped within our own minds. And over these past months, I’ve begun to learn what it means to challenge the things that I‘ve had holding me back.
In the silence I’ve found strength.
These past 7 months have proved to be a time of more battles than I ever thought I could face. Now, looking back to the person who stepped on the plane to France, I feel like I was a hundred years younger; again, a good and bad thing.
But, if I had to assign one word to the past months, it wouldn’t be a negative one (compared to a couple months ago, since my life literally felt like it was going up in flames). But, instead, one that I’ve felt like God has been whispering over my life the past few weeks, specifically: Surrender.
Now don’t get this wrong – surrendering, in this case, does not mean giving up on a mission. It doesn’t mean stepping away from the cause, or breaking down.
If anything, it means the exact opposite.
It means realizing that I have something to fight for that is bigger than myself; and that I have people around me to help me along the way. It’s completely out of my nature (and SO hard) to admit that I ever need help. Help has always equated to weakness in my past.
But it has been such a journey the past months to see how weakness is not what has been shown through the actions of others, but how incredibly strong I am because of the people who have held me up in my times of need. And beyond that, a heavenly Father who hasn’t left me at any point along the way.
Life has not turned out as I expected. Things have not gone the way that I wanted them to, or that I planned them to. But that’s okay. And realizing that has been a journey of its own. But I know there’s a greater purpose for the fire that refines us.
And even though it’s not always the easiest or the most convenient, sometimes the thing we need to hear the most, in the silence, is the whisper of our Creator to take courage, and to keep moving forward.