I crawled back under the covers as the first of a waterfall of tears spilled out of my eyes and onto my face. I had woken up several hours earlier unready, unwilling, to face the day, but the kids were awake and moving throughout the house and sometimes they just need a little supervision to keep the fighting at bay, so I had gotten out of bed, made coffee, eaten breakfast and now here I was back in bed before it was time to walk to the bus stop.
The night before, I’d cried a bucket of tears, releasing all the feelings I’d invited to a party I didn’t know I was hosting. For several days, I’d felt everything, or close to everything, a person can feel: anxious, afraid, jealous, disconnected, insecure, unwanted, unloved, incapable, frustrated and well, all of it. That night, I just had to let it out and the next morning, I needed a moment to keep letting those feelings out.
“God,” I whispered through the tears. “I can’t do this. I can’t get out of this pit by myself. I need help. I need You.”
(I’ve never been diagnosed with depression or anxiety, partly because doctors’ offices bring out the liar in me and mostly because neither are frequent or debilitating. Diagnosed or not, I think we all deal with these in mild form in some way or another, but I believe medication can help some people and I believe others don’t need it. I’d group myself in the latter.)
I pray this way sometimes. God, get me out of this mess. God, help me change. God, I can’t do it. And sometimes I expect a quick change and it doesn’t come and other times I expect nothing to change immediately except that I’ll have had a good cry and voiced my needs and can stumble through the rest of my day.
That morning, I didn’t know what to expect. Aside from getting my daughter to the bus and my husband to work, I had no plans, so I could wallow in my mood all day if I wanted. But when the words and tears came out, I felt the sadness leave, too. At the same time, my mind began composing words and thoughts, some of which you’re reading now. I was writing in my mind–I’m almost always writing even when I’m not parked at the computer–and I was being soothed in the process.
I got out of bed, dressed and completed the morning’s errands.
Where my mind had been clouded before, there was now clarity. And peace. And though the circumstances that brought on the anxiety and depression hadn’t changed, I had changed. I still carried a lingering sadness but it wasn’t overwhelming.
This is what it’s like inside my head some days.
Why do I tell you this?
To be honest, I have no idea, except that I don’t want you to think that what I write here is the work of someone who has it “all together.” I would hate for you to read these posts and think that I’ve arrived or that I’m better than you or that I can’t relate to your struggles.
I don’t know if that happens when you read this blog, but I know it happens when I read other people’s blogs and books.
Which is why I was deeply moved by this series on the Momastery blog recently. The Sacred Scared invited a handful of people who are speakers, bloggers, writers, and kingdom builders to share their fears to prove that no one has to be perfect to show up and do the important work. Many of the women who shared are writers I admire. And all of them–all.of.them–shared a fear that I can relate to. Insecurity, body image, social settings, how ministry will affect my kids. And in the sharing, they are no less inspiring.
Through them, I see that God is not waiting for the “perfect” or “all together” or “right” people to do the work. He wants what I’ve got. Even if it’s a mess.
If you walked in my house today, the smells of last night’s homemade cheeseburger mac would greet you. Our back door, the door we always use, opens into the kitchen and I’m never caught up on dishes. By the time dinner is over, I have no more energy to clean so I always leave the dishes till the next day. (Our dishwasher’s name is Lisa and she easily tires of housework.)
If you made it past the toys scattering the floor into the dining room, you’d likely step over more toys the kids had pulled out in the 15 minutes a day they’re together to play. (Seriously, how does it happen so fast?) You’d see unpacked boxes (we moved here in July) and random papers strewn across the coffee table. You might crunch a fish-shaped cracker or notice crumbs in the carpet.
Look too closely and you’ll find dust in the corners and on the electronics. If you came today, the bathroom might still be clean from a recent scrubbing. But I wouldn’t let you in to either bedroom for the piles of laundry that might greet you.
It’s safe to tell you this on the Internet because you can’t see it or smell it for yourself. And all of that mess is one reason I’m reluctant to have people over.
I’m embarrassed that my house isn’t clean, that my dishes are dirty, that we’re not completely unpacked from a move that happened more than six months ago.
But I’m beginning to wonder if being embarrassed by the internal state of my house says less about me and more about what I think of other people.
Do I think they’re going to judge me? Or not want to come over? Or be disgusted by it? Do I worry that I’ll look like I don’t have it all together? Will they think me lazy because I can’t spend hours every day cleaning my house? Will they think I’m a bad parent?
I do not judge a friend by the state of their house. At least I don’t think I do. Chances are if I come over, they’ve cleaned ahead of time. I know how this works. In the 10 or 15 minutes prior to arrival, there is a mad scurry of cleaning that accomplishes more than a day’s worth of housework. Never do I “drop in” on someone’s everyday mess because I know how I would feel if that happened to me.
And yet. We want our house to be a place where people can come. We want to have people over. And we have neglected this vital part of our life because … I don’t even know anymore.
So, maybe if I let you see the mess inside my head, I can let you see the mess inside my house. The truth is: life is messy. And sometimes I think I’m a mess, too.
But as the Momastery founder once shared: “You are not a mess. You are a feeling person in a messy world.”
That changes everything for me.
I have a lot of feelings. And life is messy.
And it’s messy for all of us.
And I need to let you in.