“We all change, when you think about it. We’re all different people all through our lives. And that’s OK, that’s good, you gotta keep moving, so long as you remember all the people that you used to be.”―
When I first heard these words, I disagreed. I'm not a different person throughout my life, I'm the same person that I've always been. Sure, you change a little, but different person? That's a big statement.
But the recurring thought that rings through my head now is, I miss the person I used to be. I miss feeling vibrant and alive. I miss feeling competent and successful. I miss making an impact, filling in where needed, working as a team, rising to the occasion, planning big events. I miss teaching God's word to those who have barely heard it. I miss being capable of taking care of big things. I miss being capable of sitting down and listening to small hurts. I miss being the person I had become in Chicago -- which, in retrospect, was actually quite the different person than I was before that. That quiet, introverted bookworm could never have imagined leading a club of 60 rowdy Jr. High students!
I miss living a big life and having an impact on the lives of many. But I grew so very weary of such a big life - trying to meet the needs, hopes, and expectations of all those around me.
Did you catch that, dear reader? The subtle lie disguising itself in "goodness"? It seems so very good, so Christ-like, to try to meet others' needs, to put others above yourself, to think little of yourself. It seems so very good to want others to be well, to be happy, to feel loved, to feel supported. But the lie that twists these not-wrong things into soul-crushing wrongness is, "I am responsible." I am responsible to make sure everyone around me is well, happy, loved, supported. I am responsible to fill each need that I see. I am responsible to meet the hopes and expectations of those around me.
Because try as I might to meet all the needs, fix all the problems, be all that is needed to all people, I found myself coming up short. Feeling frayed at the edges, spread too thin, not enough.
My counselor outright laughed at me when I described this drive. "Do you think you are Jesus?" I laughed, too, shocked that somehow, deep down, I actually thought I was capable of being Jesus to those around me. Not in the, "Christ in me," "ambassador for Christ" type of way, but actually to be the one who meets the needs and satisfies the soul. I was beating myself up for having limitations, for not being able to be all things to all people.
Bill Thrasher describes the freedom of replacing the impossible-to-fulfill belief that "It is my responsibility to make this person happy," with "It is my responsibility to be a channel of God's love to this person." Somewhere along the way, I had conflated the two.
We're all different people, all throughout our lives.
I was a doing person. In high school, I was involved in church in every way possible, and helped out in my parents' ministry as needed. In Bible school I worked so hard at my job in food service I got tendinitis, studied hard to graduate with honors, volunteered at ministries beyond the requirements. I was a doing person.
Now, by necessity, I am taking a few years as a being person. It's taken while to realize that my husband won't judge me or love me less if I don't do a lot, if every day isn't productive in some way. I'm often surprised at how supportive people at church are upon hearing my "season of rest" explanation to "What do you do?" It takes practice, to just be in this busy world. It takes practice to stop evaluating myself by productivity and accomplishments.
My life now is beautiful and sweet. Quiet days alone, evenings with my incredibly understanding, loving husband. But it often feels strange. I feel like a different person now. A person who still dreams of big things but is currently capable of little. My life is small, and though I longed for a small life I am not satisfied with it. I want to do big things for God, but the "doing" part in me is broken.
I'm still the person who loves a good book, who gets excited at seeing turkeys and opossums, (I've been a city girl for the past 15 years, wildlife other than rats and pigeons is pretty cool). But now I'm the person who can't do it all. Who can't volunteer in the local school or soup kitchen, in children's church or youth group. Who ignores texts and phone calls until I have the emotional energy to communicate with another human being. Who sees the needs around her and has to say, I can't right now.
Things that I thought were immovable actually are. Things that I thought had to happen actually don't.
And while I soak in this rare, quiet season of life, I can't help but wonder,
Who will I be next?