Chapter Three

I am not broken; I'm naturally not perfectly balanced, which is different and alright.

I know a lot of good people with flaws that don't stop me from loving them. When I accept that everyone is imperfect but there are many reasons I should love them anyway, I’m free to let go of unrealistic expectations of others.

I’m still learning to give the grace that’ll allow me to see myself through that same lens.

I used to worry so much about purpose. Depression made me feel robbed of it. Mania had me convinced I could have it all figured out.

There are things I want to do. I want a baby with tiny toes to rest in my arms, pressed up against my tattoo that says “to hold,” knowing that no matter how she grows, she'll always have a place there.

There are things I'm good at. Saving seats. Remembering birthdays. Asking questions. Recognizing people's strengths. Praying desperate prayers. Telling stories over and over. Understanding feelings that aren't my own. Saying goodbye.

And I know there are things I am meant to do. Although, I couldn't tell you what they are yet.

I didn't know a year ago where I would stand today. Every year since I turned 18 I have been a different person by the time my birthday rolled back around again. Is it possible to be born again and again and again?

I think it's ok to not have all the answers and to leave some endings untied.

Purpose, maybe, isn't some cosmic, mystery to unfold. Maybe it's the questions we ask ourselves as we rub our eyes open every morning.

"Will you give it a go? Will you try your best? Will you speak the truth? Will you stumble? Will you learn? Wake up.”

I hope you don't feel that you have to figure yourself out, figure the future out, or figure God out, but trust all three.

You should do the things you want to do and discover the things you're good at, but there is also a level of accomplishment that is yours because you are trying. You're still here. Pain has come at you and found you undefeated time and time again. You're the reigning champ of living your one, horrifying, mistake-ridden, lonely, patched-up, breathtaking, miraculous, fast and short life.

My mom says she had a dream once in which she asked God, "why am I here?"
He told her "to wrinkle.”

God, give me the laugh lines to know I chose to live.

- -

Sometimes I feel like everything I write is a lie because I still pray to get better. I know it’s a selfish thing to do. I still pray I’ll wake up one day and my skin won't hurt. I close my eyes and picture Jesus in front of me, and I pull on his clothes, like that woman in scripture. I won’t let go until he heals me. I corner him maybe, and I don’t let him walk away without acknowledging that he made me like this when I just want to be like everyone else.

The guilt starts seeping in when I remember the messages in my inbox, the way people tell me that they didn’t know who else to talk to, the way—for whatever reason—strangers trust my face and tell me secrets. I am a chasm of otherwise unspoken truth.

I think of Jesus in the garden sweating blood, praying “let this cup pass before me,” but knowing that the will of God is better.

I figure, God can heal me, and he wouldn’t leave me this way if he didn’t have a reason for it.

That, of course, doesn’t stop the pain. I still cry at night. I rise in the morning to the thought of you. I wake and walk and breathe thinking of my inbox friends, those like me, who need to know that having a heart too heavy for your body doesn’t have to leave you lonely.

When we lived next to the train station, there was a wall across from our home with the worst spray-painted graffiti I have ever seen, if you could even call it that. It only said “get better.” in black, in someone’s everyday handwriting. I saw it every day for a year probably, before someone covered it over. And I appreciated the way it sounded like a command. You don’t just get better one day. You get better every day. You work at it. You wait in it.

Jesus isn’t your fix-it man. He’s not the maintenance you call when the door handle breaks and you can’t move forward to the next thing. He’s not your three-wishes-in-a-bottle or your twelve step plan. He doesn’t come with a twenty day meal list, essential oils prescription, and a promise to cure your ailments.

He’s just a man who was God.

I don’t mean “just,” like it’s any small thing. I mean that he’s all you get.

Anything that promises you Jesus and something else in order to make you happy is a lie. It is Jesus, and everything else counts for nothing. If you don’t want to hear it from me, there’s a book I’ll send you written by a handful of other people who were broken and buried, and that would’ve been the end of their story without him.

- - 

One day, someone important to you is going to tell you that you are not enough for them to stay, that your efforts aren’t good enough, or that you aren’t the right fit. You might beg, and you might want to try again. You’ll think that you should change, and if you change, there could be another ending. Don’t.

You are not everyone’s cup of tea. You are sweet tea. You are an acquired taste. Do not water yourself down for a person who will never love you as you come. To many, you are a reminder of home—not an earthly home, either. You are a living, breathing reminder of what’s to come. You are a piece of heaven. You are deeply steeped in love—full, and warm, and comforting.

Hear me. We do not change for those who will not love us no matter how we contort our lives to try and make them room.

Welcome heartbreak like a friend before you begin to believe you were made improperly. You are wired for greatness. You are imprinted with purpose. Open your hands. What comes, comes. What goes, let go.

You’ll learn this lesson applies to friendships, churches, leaders, jobs and places. You’ll learn you won’t be prepared for a lot of goodbyes. They’ll catch you off guard. They’ll leave you buzzing.

But Jesus’ last words in the bible are “Surely, I am with you always, until the very end of time.”

And I think there’s a reason He leaves us with that. It isn’t “be good” or “aim for perfection” or “get better.”

He leaves us with “I won’t walk away.” He promises us all of time. He says he is our everlasting friend.

Resting in those words, that non-goodbye farewell, every other heart-wrenching end just pales. I need those words to speak any others.

- -

My most cherished moments are when, in saying, “I believe I'm inadequate,” I’ve realized I’m not alone.

The most comforting thing, through every panic attack and every irregularly dark night, has always been a hand to hold.

We can't fix each other.

I'm sorry, my dear friend; I cannot make you better.

But I won't leave you when the lights go out.