Our family just wrapped up our third birthday celebration in three months. The first of the three was mine. Then an art party for my oldest. Then a ?Frozen? party for my middle.
Until I realized how exhausting it could be, I thought it was so clever to have our birthdays in a row: March, April, May, June. I wanted so badly to finish it with a February or July.
Instead we got August.
And after almost three years, like Elsa, I should just ?Let it go, let it go?.?
But it?s still a source of contention for me. I could blame it on a Type-A personality and leave it at that. Zero self-analysis is much easier than digging in. But the easy out just doesn?t cut it for me anymore.
I started 2015 with a single word as my resolution. I picked ?restore.? Since then, it?s gained a title, ?Project: RESTORE.? Yes, with all-caps. It?s THAT important.
This particular project started with all these ?things??this incident over here, that injustice over there, the current circumstance I wanted to escape. But in this process of deep self-examination, I?ve realized it?s all connected.
All the inadequacy, self-doubt, fear, feeling unloved and unwanted…it all started with a deep scar that happened when I was young. Whoever said children are resilient got it all wrong in my case. And I am guessing I?m not alone.
When my biological father left when I was a toddler, he left all those lies?inadequacy, self-doubt, fear, feeling unloved and unwanted?with me. And I?ve carried it around as a weighty truth.
Until Project: RESTORE.
I always thought the death of my brother was the start of all this unhealthy self-talk. But really, that accident brought everything to the surface and paralyzed me.
Until Project: RESTORE, I?ve masked everything (most of the time, at least) with a tough-as-nails approach. I was always known as ?the strong one.? In fact, people have given me the ?you?re so strong? cliche as a compliment! And I will admit, I?ve played that part well.
It?s much easier for me to come across as strong than have others pity me. But appearing strong is much different than being strong. And as I?ve started processing my life and the difficult circumstances I?ve experienced, I?ve become acutely aware of the difference.
Acting strong is pulling away from others and treading water so hard that taking a breath is difficult, but you do because determination is all you have left.
Being strong is pulling people in and being honest because there?s healing in bringing ?stuff? to the light.
Acting strong is hiding behind a smile.
Being strong is taking the necessary steps to uncover a genuine source for joyful living.
Acting strong is sugar-coating emotions.
Being strong is admitting that I have struggled with and stuffed with my emotions since I was a child.
Acting strong is being stuck.
Being strong is facing fears, turning determination to survive into determination to thrive and finally grasping the hope that always seemed illusive.
As a Christian, I have been embarrassed of my low cycles. I mean, that hope is always supposed to BE there, right?
I have spent time feeling angry that my life has been hard. I have spent time comparing my testimony to others and feeling jealous?yes, jealous?of a seeming ?walk in the park.?
I have spent time berating myself. I have spent time in denial. I have spent time in silence.
Because to me, depression is ugly and painful. Depression is selfish. And I don?t want to be any of those things.
But if I refuse to admit where I?ve been, God?s restoration of my heart and my life doesn?t show His transforming glory.
Still, that admission is hard for me, especially in a public place like this. I hope that people will read this and know my heart. That I?m doing my best, giving my all and obeying God?s call on my life to be open and transparent.
But still I worry. Even though I?m working my way out of this place, I wonder:
What will people think of me?
Can I still hold my head high?
I hope the answer is yes.
I?m stepping out in faith that sharing is the right thing. And that by me doing so, someone else who feels alone, inadequate, unwanted?or any other variable?can start stepping toward healing.
We can let it go together.
Among her many duties, Malinda Just is a proofreader for the Free Press. She can be reached at email@example.com.