A few months ago, I wrote a post about how I was in the middle of a rich and good and abundant season in life. I wrote about the ways I was wrestling to keep my head above the blessings, about how I was struggling with feeling like I wasn’t grabbing enough of it, about how at the same time, I didn’t want to have a white-knuckle-grip on even a single molecule, for fear of it getting ripped away or evaporating into the atmosphere.
My cup was overflowing and I kind of didn’t know how to handle it.
For lack of any sort of flowery or poetic or verbose way of saying it: Life was so good that it almost felt too good.
Not even a month later, I was wrecked with anxiety.
But the thing was, life was still really, really good.
The week before making a this-has-been-planned-for-three-months trip home to New York with my boyfriend for Christmas, I could barely function. I remember inviting my friends over a night or two before Tyler and I were set to roll out of Charlotte and make the 12 hour drive up the coast. What was supposed to be a jovial send-off turned into a I-am-trying-so-hard-to-keep-my-mascara-on-my-eyelashes confession. I was actually supposed to make them dinner but instead, about an hour before they showed up, I asked them if it was okay if I didn’t cook. Naturally (and gracefully), they agreed to forego dinner plans and just come over for a little girls night.
Three girls in their mid-twenties basically eating wine for dinner on a big grey couch in a small grey living room. The conversation has a natural and expected flow: One says something funny, the other two giggle. One says something sad, the other two shed sympathy-drops. (For those of you who don’t know, sympathy-drops are not real tears, but instead, invisible ones females sometimes expel when a close friend shares a particular emotional story. Again, you can’t see them, but you know they’re there when a female dabs her tear ducts or delicately wipes the thin skin under her eyes with a single finger.)
And then, one girl, visibly distraught; a fidget factory with a face so contorted it looks like she might have a bowel movement at any time, moves the conversation to a more serious place (yes, very far away from bathroom humor). She confesses that she’s fighting hard to keep her head above the marker that says, “Paralyzed by Anxiety.” She effectively wards off the meltdown that most of us refer to as the “ugly cry,” but only narrowly escapes its grip as she dives into the, “I just don’t know what is wrong with me,” part of the confession and expresses her deepest frustration that she can’t help but be consumed by inexplicable worry. All the time, lately. Worry.
She goes on to refer to her inability to eat real meals when anxiety grips her in this way. She talks about the chest tightness, the difficulty sleeping, the inability to focus on her tasks at work. All of the textbook symptoms of anxiety, in a way that kind of feels sterile.
When all that’s left to say is said, the two non-emotional-breakdown-having girls do all they know to do: they pray. Together, they go before their big, big God and they ask Him to break down these pesky and persistent walls. They lift their friend – weak and burdened and discouraged and ravaged – up before the Lord and they ask Him to floor her heart with His all-consuming peace.
In an instant, the posture of the room changes and instead of looking in at the state of the heart and the mind, the deepest parts of their beings were focused on His unending goodness.
And friends, I am sorry that this is the first time you’ve heard this. The truth is, I have this habit of writing from the edges – not the middle.
I am sorry that I waited until I was on the other side of that season of anxiety to write about the battle.
I am sorry that for every time I’ve preached honesty and vulnerability, I’ve shyed away from writing from the thick of a struggle.
I am sorry for the times I’ve screamed from the mountains and said, “I am not perfect!” but did it with a heart that said, “Hey everyone! Come see how good I look!”
The point is: I want this space to be my big grey couch in my small grey living room. I want to share my struggles with you in a way that invites you to be just as vulnerable and just as okay with those of your own. I say this not to breed complacency or apathy, but to cultivate community. My goal is always to create a deep, thriving, honest, open and grace-filled community and I believe that that can only come from the rawness that is our mess. I want to look alongside you and you alongside me.
Today and always, I vow to write from the middle.
As an act of commitment to vulnerability and an act of obedience to community life, I promise you – right here and right now – to stop waiting to have my act together before I sit down and write about something. I commit to write before I am delivered from the desert and to tell you real-life stories of His richness even in my wandering.
How can you vow to live life from the middle?
How can you aim to create authentic community in your life and in your relationships?
Photo: Creative Commons via Trekking Rinjani