To all you talented people out there,
Discouragement has been the consistent theme of many conversations I have had lately. Whether it's the upcoming election, seasons of singleness, difficult marriages, job dissatisfaction, world news...life is hard, and I don't write this to give you false hope – the harsh reality is, the Cubs haven't won the World Series in 108 years, golf is Peyton Manning's new sport of choice, Robert Redford is aging faster than my grandparents, and in all seriousness, life does not go the way we planned, most days.
we do not give up in the face of hopelessness, nor ignore the tough emotions that come with the difficulties.
My own BIG slice of humble pie has taken the form of newfound self-awareness. For most of my life, I've realized I have lacked grace for my own humanity – and consequently, I have withheld that same grace towards the people I love the most.
I took a personality test, The Enneagram, and learned I am a Type 3 - "The Achiever" and somehow, equally, a Type 2 - "The Helper". It literally says in the description, "At a young age, they got the message they were not allowed to have feelings and be themselves: they must, in effect, be someone else to be accepted." It's humbling really, to read these descriptions and accept the new, not so appealing, self-awareness.
I learned what is often true of ourselves, we unconsciously project on other people – that is what hurts the most.
That "someone else" I spent most of my life trying to become, turned out to be an unachievable standard; an unrealistic, perfect version of myself that had no room to be emotional, nor space to mess up. But, deep down, I just wanted someone to look me in the eyes and tell me, "Jennie, it's okay to mess up, it's okay to not be okay."
Instead, I lived in a secret prison of my own making and worked myself to the ground trying to "achieve" the life I assumed I should live.
The truth is, I do not understand why some people achieve things, while others try and try and fail. I do not understand why I get to paint for a living, while others work in a cubicle all day. I do not understand why some were born with talent to play sports, while others could spend their whole life training and never quite get there. I do not understand why some people have life handed to them on a silver platter, and others have to slave for one penny at a time.
But, maybe, instead of overanalyzing everything I do not have, it's okay to some days just accept ourselves and life as it is, and as we are. Maybe it is not what you expected it would be, or you are not who you hoped you would become...but that is okay.
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
2 Cor. 4:16-18
Let yourself grieve for the good things you long for, but don't sit in the ashes forever. Wake up tomorrow, take a deep breath and slowly, day by day, seek hope and you will find it.
It is not a matter of us being "good enough," or controlling the outcome, but it's about trusting God enough to say, "Okay, I trust you and who you have created me to be, as I am. I am not enough in and of myself, but I am enough because You are enough."
Your heart has longings too deep for words. God has equipped you with certain gifts and passions to share with the world and make His name known...as long as you keep them within yourself, they are not being shared with the world. Embrace your gifts. Live your passions, no one else can give the world what you have been given. As we are obedient to the core of who we were created to be, God will hold our hand. We may not know where he is leading us, but we can trust the One leading. Take a step and then another, little steps and that's all. Start small.
Daring to stay open to whatever will come to me today, tomorrow, two months from now or a year from now – that is hope. To go fearlessly into things without knowing how they will turn out, to keep on going, even when something does not work out the first time, to have trust in whatever you are doing – that is living with hope.
- Henri Nouwen