Story soundtrack: “Vertigo” by Khalid.
I’m really not sure where to start… which is a bit of a first for me.
My whole life I’ve had this gift for expressing myself through writing. It’s my favorite form of communication. My thoughts flow so much easier onto a page than they do out of my mouth. It feels weird to be blocked up for the first time in a long time. Maybe ever.
Where to begin… where to begin…
Okay, here goes.
For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to be someone important. That can mean different things to different people, but to me, it meant money, respect and status. I figured if I made a lot of money doing something super high-speed, I’d finally feel important.
I made my entire life indirectly about these things, pursuing them in one way or another, whether or not I ever readily admitted that’s what I was doing. In college, I majored in Business because it seemed like a good foundation for earning a lot of money someday. In graduate school, I studied conflict resolution because I envisioned myself a high-powered mediator.
When neither of these choices panned out, I ditched these pursuits altogether and tried another gig: motherhood. Maybe if I threw myself into that, I wouldn’t focus so much on how extremely hard I was failing at becoming important. This plan didn’t really work out either, because being a full-time mom… well… it isn’t really my bag. And kids definitely don’t make you feel important.
So, I tried on the entrepreneurial hat. I don’t consider myself the smartest cookie in the jar, but surely I’m smart enough to come up with a business idea that utilizes my skills and earns a hefty paycheck… right? Meh. Turns out I’m excellent at the day-to-day of running a business, but I found myself not particularly motivated to do all the things you’re supposed to do to grow and get those dollars – things like create online teaching modules, write a book or guide, develop a resource or process for which people will gladly hand over their hard-earned money. These things require you to position yourself as an expert and, unfortunately, I’ve never been terribly comfortable with that title.
During all of these vocational pursuits, I was also doing other crazy shit. Things like having a second baby waaay to soon (but we love you, Junie!) and attempting to relocate to a third world country. In reality, I’m a solid, organized, dependable individual. But on paper, I’m a bit flighty and irresponsible – at least, I wouldn’t blame anyone for thinking that.
All throughout my journey of the last decade or so, I’ve said that I have no idea why I’m so “flighty,” why I keep trying on different things, why I can’t seem to sit still. But I know exactly why: I’m looking for purpose. It’s that all-too-familiar desire to feel important, and I’m trying to find that feeling through everything in the world except where it actually lives.
The truth is, I know exactly where to find purpose and feel important, fulfilled. I’ve known this whole damned time. I just really, really, reeeeeeally didn’t want to accept it. Why? Well, I’ll just tell you…
Because it’s God.
Okay. There. I said it. Now you’re all rolling your eyes and exiting out of this browser window. I get it. I feel the exact same way. Seriously. Probably more than you do, because I’ve got first-hand experience with this shit and it frustrates the hell out of me.
I grew up going to church, believing in God, trying to live out my faith as best as a young adult can. I led at youth group, went to a Christian high school and then a Christian college. I ate that shit up. But at some point, I started to feel choked. And tired… of living the way I was “supposed” to and never really trying new things or experiencing anything. I was fed up with faith as I knew it. I was also pretty embarrassed of the shit I’d done in the name of my so-called faith – things like leaving behind some really wonderful friends because I judged them less worthy and God-loving than myself.
I was just doing what I thought I was “supposed” to. I didn’t like where it led me.
So, I peaced out. About a decade ago, I started leaning out of the whole mess. I still considered myself a “believer,” because I still believed God was up there, but I wasn’t a fan of going to church or Christians in general. Truthfully, I never felt as though I fit in with that crowd. I was always the oddball with humor that was a bit too dry and dark, or a perspective that wasn’t quite acceptable.
A lot of great things happened in the next 10 years. I married a stellar guy, started a family, moved to Montana, traveled a lot. I got my eyes lasered, a nice house with a big yard, two impressively smart and sassy children. I also made a lot of incredible friends, and even mended things with friends I’d lost years ago due to my Christian convictions.
But I never really found anything that made me feel whole.
About a year ago, desperate to find some sense of purpose, I started going back to church. I didn’t know what else to do, where else to look. I hated every minute of being there, but I met a few people who got me thinking that maaaybe Christians weren’t ALL bad. Kind people. Generous people. Forgiving people. I started to wonder if maybe I’d thrown out the baby with the bathwater, so to speak…
But we were about to leave on our big voyage to Costa Rica, so I tried hard not to forge any real connections. I stayed guarded. I wasn’t ready to really let any of it in.
When the Costa Rica idea went bust, leaving us no choice but to turn tail for the states, we settled at my parents’ house and I believed I’d officially hit bottom. I mean, what 32-year-old lives with their parents and feels good about it? Feeling confused, disappointed and not-a-little-bit isolated, I started to think it might be time to try something new. Well, old and new.
I wanted to find out, once and for all, whether or not I believed God – believed who He was, what He was up to or that He even existed at all. I wanted to read the Bible for myself, to see for myself who Jesus and God were, without input from the Christian peanut gallery. I didn’t know where to begin, so I just started reading a chapter of the New Testament every morning. Just one chapter. And not every morning – anyone with kids knows there are days when you’re lucky to get even your one cup of coffee.
I started in Matthew. I’m currently in James. I’m not speaking in tongues or laying hands on people. I still can’t even bring myself to say “God bless you” or shit like that. But something is happening. I can’t totally put my finger on it, but something inside me is shifting. For the first time in my life, I’m coming to my own conclusions about who Jesus was and who God is, and what I’m finding is vastly different from the information I’d been spoon fed.
In the midst of this whole spirit-centered circus, I planned to start a new venture – a website dedicated to finding purpose through one’s vocation. I planned to interview all of the amazing entrepreneurial women I know who are doing seriously incredible things, to find out how exactly they managed to make their passion profitable and find their purpose in the world.
I was so excited about this new direction, but now I don’t know whether I can see it through. Because I know now, without a doubt, that God is where we find purpose – not work, not family, not anywhere else. We might feel connected to those things, but they won’t be able to fulfill us. Not really. Not fully. We’ll always be trying to fill a hole inside of us that we can’t quite identify. And I don’t know if I can move forward with trying to stuff one more misdirected thing into my hole. (That’s what she said).
So, where does this leave me? Well, feeling embarrassed, for one. My whole adult life, I’ve tried extremely hard to never identify any part of myself with Christianity, because I believed it was synonymous with exclusion and judgment. I’m not that person. At least, not anymore. Also, I don’t want to be considered an idiot. There are a lot of intellectuals out there (some that I know personally) who view Christians as weak-minded and foolish. I definitely don’t want to be seen that way.
But, I also can’t keep lying anymore. I believe I was given the gift of writing for a reason. I also believe I was given the gift of bareknuckle honesty for a reason – this weird, kind of uncomfortable obsession with baring all of my experiential truth to everyone all the time. It’s why I started blogging. It’s also why I believe that God has a sense of humor, because when you grow up in a family full of secrets, honesty shouldn’t come so naturally.
I’ve felt for a really long time that these gifts were given to me for a reason, that in some way they are the key to my greater purpose (whatever the hell that is). I tried to make that reason about ANYTHING else besides my faith. A Christian blogger… double yuck. I don’t even know if that’s what I’ll become. I really hope not. But I do know that, for now, I need to start letting my experience with God start filtering into my posts more frequently.
It’s probably going to feel really shitty. For me and for you. And if you wanna peace out at this juncture, I’m a-okay with that. I would’ve done the same thing not too long ago. But I feel like I’m at a distinct fork in the road where I can either choose to continue pursuing a path that I hope will lead me toward success and shiny things, or I can take this awkward, super uncomfortable road that leads me toward what just might become the greatest adventure of my life.
As you’ve gathered, I’m a little bit of a restless spirit, so I don’t think I can resist the adventure any longer. I invite you to come along with me, even if it’s just out of morbid curiosity and the hope that you’ll get to see this shit show implode.
All I know is that I tried running from God. I tried hiding and forgetting and leaving Him behind. But He found me anyway. I can’t help but feel like I might be making the biggest mistake of my life and starting down a road that deprives me of everything I wanted – money, fame, lunch with Oprah, a house on the California coast. But if there’s even the slightest chance that I might find The Thing I’ve always been looking for and finally (fucking finally!!!) feel like I’m where, when and who I’m meant to be, I’ve gotta take this shot.
(And maybe a shot or two of tequila while I’m at it – this is gonna be painful to publish).