Vulnerability is a fleeting concept and one that some may even see as a weakness. Yet, I have spent so much of my life in a weird crossroad of being vulnerable and being stubborn. I think understanding that being vulnerable is a positive thing so long as there is recognition of one's current state can be not only beneficial to the individual, but those around him or her. It is the reason I write. I am not seeking pity or sorrow. Some people who read are going through the same struggles and feel they are alone. I only hope what I write is an encouragement that we are not alone in our struggle and it is okay to not always be okay. Vulnerability is not a sign we are throwing up the white flag nor is it a weakness by admitting we have things we are working on changing. That is all part of the process.
Last night, in my second class in graduate school, I realized something remotely terrifying: I don't know who I am. Perhaps that is an over exaggeration or simplification of how I am feeling as a whole; nonetheless, the concept of who I am has escaped me for the past few months.
As some of you know, the past year has been the hardest of my life. That is not to say I have not had great times, food, water, family, friends, a roof over my head, and love in my life. I recognize and have been thankful for all those things. But I have also battled depression, perfectionism, control, God, my faith, my understanding of right and wrong, and I have had to make tough decisions to help those around me. It has easily been the most challenging and thought-provoking time in my life as I attempt to discern where Christ is in everything I do.
For years I have placed my identity in sports, friends, school, relationships, and family. However, this year showed how placing my identity in those areas is ultimately fleeting. So much of what I had trusted to be a constant began to disappear. Baseball ended, friends moved, relationships changed, school ended, and family dynamics shifted. I feel like the past year has simply been a tornado, cutting through the middle of everything I identified with and scattered it throughout the valleys of my mind.
Everyone is getting married. Which is great. But shouldn't I be about ready? In terms of my age, probably. But I spent the past year wondering if I am at all capable of encouraging another human being to live for Christ, much less my spouse. People are getting jobs. Shouldn't I be working? I want to earn money and am thankful for the opportunity to earn money in graduate school, but that is still not a full-time job. And, to be honest, do I really want to settle for doing public relations at some company I could care less about? Friends are giving up on playing professional sports. Why? Are they smarter than me? I am still working out for one last chance to play. Am I foolish? I see problems in families that I had never recognized. How can one maintain a marriage? Is marriage a death sentence? How can anyone have such resentment for people they love?
Arguably the most fleeting question that makes me slam the table and put holes in the wall is this: What is right? Arguably the most difficult question I have to answer. For so long I have been so stubborn about my faith, but this year I was challenged to the point I gave up on fighting. What is the value of fighting for your faith when you have no idea what you are fighting for? I am grateful to have been challenged this year, but to be honest, it broke my mind into a million pieces. I feel like I am carrying a shattered puzzle known as my mind and I am hoping God will fix it. Yet, I would prefer He does not put it back together the same way it was constructed in the beginning. Because it would only lead to another disaster.
I have been adamant about not drinking or smoking. About lying. About cheating. And about having premarital sex. But does any of that matter when my backbone is as strong as a Twizzler? Should people even listen when I walk right up to the line of the listed sin and let the chalk brush my toes? How many people reading look at me as a hypocrite? As a wolf in sheep's clothing? I mean they are right. I am nothing more than a Sunday Christian. I say the right things, but when it comes down to doing them, I walk right up to the line and challenge God. How many people have looked to me for guidance and have walked away wondering how it is possible to be so hypocritical? They are right. All of them. I am the worst born-again Christian this world has seen.
Now I am left trying to understand what is right. Everything I have been so stubborn about I now challenge myself on each day. Because there is black and white. There has to be. We live in a world of so much gray that it is as if we have just tried to ignore right and wrong. It is why we try to convince ourselves we can be physical as long as we don't actually have sex. We try to convince ourselves that we aren't completely drunk so we should be fine. We try to convince ourselves that lying or cheating, so long as it is minimal, is okay so we do not have to deal with conflict. And the answer "because God says no" is not good enough. It is not for me either. Especially when I cannot outline the context or passage in which God said no!
Perhaps I am looking for finite answers for infinite questions. I likely am in many ways. But that doesn't bother me. If I am hated I hope it is for my faith and not my hypocrisy. Let not my spine be fragile Father, but let it be strengthed by You. At times "God says no" will be the only answer I have, but I hope it is not merely an excuse I make. Because the power to say no does not rest in me, it has to rest in knowing God's plan is infinitely better. I have not believed that which is why I have sought other devices in which I find an identity. However, the season of struggle is the season of power. Slowly I will emerge from my cocoon, understanding a new form and a new life. Growth hurts. So does sin. May my identity last in something I know will never fail.
"Yet, I will trust in the Lord for He is good. His plan endures forever."