TO CELEBRATE THE OCTOBER RELEASE OF MY BOOK THRASHING ABOUT WITH GOD, AND TO EXPAND THE CONVERSATION BEYOND MYSELF, I HAVE ASKED 31 BRAVE PEOPLE TO SHARE A GUEST POST WITH THE THEME OF #IAMTHRASHING. THESE ARE PEOPLE I HAVE PERSONALLY DIALOGUED WITH, PEOPLE WHO I KNOW HAVE RISKED A LOT TO WRESTLE WITH THE HARD STUFF THAT COMES WITH SPIRITUALITY. OUR FAITH MAY NOT LOOK LIKE YOURS, BUT WE WELCOME YOU TO THE DISCUSSION.
Thrashing. Thrashing is almost not enough of a word. Some days it’s more like drowning. Not quite. Not lungs full with water, but just enough to torture. Still breathing.. technically. But feeling breathless. For weeks on end. That is thrashing.
Words find their way from my fingertips to this empty page like spilled coffee. Me. All over the page. And I’m not very pretty. Me is a relative term nowadays. Me is ever changing. Nothing is sure. Nothing is known in this patchy, torn up heart of mine.
I find myself remembering me. Versions of me from chapters before. There are so many. A new one almost every day. And some days I wish I could be a me that I was before. I wish I could be the one that thought she was sure. The one who had abundant peace because she depended on someone else to tell her who to be. Quite a few someone elses, in fact. She had a place to dump all her worries. And she believed. She believed it was real. She didn’t see the whole picture.
The me today has a few more pieces to the puzzle, but sometimes I wish I could give them back. Live foolishly, believing in things that aren’t real. It’s like when a child realizes that Santa Claus isn’t real. Or when little boys realize that superman can’t really fly. Or when little girls come to find that they aren’t really princesses and there are no prince charmings.
That is thrashing.
What I want to know is where is the breathing easy? Nothing about this yucky life is like breathing easy. I’m beginning to forget what it feels like. Am I a crazy person? Why can’t I control my emotions? Why can’t I get ahold of myself when I feel like it’s all falling apart? I feel helpless. I have to let it run its course and hope that peace finds me before I ruin something else. Why must I have so many feelings? Why is it all so hard? And why does it all go to waste? Every time I find myself loving something it gets taken away. I’m afraid. I’m afraid of losing another thing. I don’t think my soul can stand it. It might fall to pieces.
That is thrashing.
And I can’t find it in myself to believe anymore. I feel foolish to have ever done so. How silly of me to think that there is someone above, watching me and loving me like I can’t even fathom. How ridiculous to think that I could pray and there would be a voice or a feeling to give me an answer. How silly to imagine a being who carries peace, itself, and can shower it upon the earth when he feels fit to do so.
I understand people who can’t make it through life without believing. It is a perfect answer to all our problems. God will take care of me. He has a plan for my life. He will make the way for me. It would feel better, nine times out of ten, if I had that to fall back on. A place to dump all my worries. The reality for my heart today is that it's not real. It sounds nice. Like a vacation from life itself. But the truth is, no one is going to take care of me. I have to. There is no one to give me answers to problems. There is no plan. I make it up as I go along.
I could make plans, but so far they just fall apart. It’s one disappointment after the next. I can find joy easier and more often when I sit back and let life do what it will with me. There is no god. And if there is, I can’t find him. He’s left me, just like everyone else who would spit on the life I’ve chosen if they could. My feelings don’t matter to anyone. Because, as far as everyone else is concerned, I’m not able to have feelings that count for anything. I’m either too much or not enough, every where I go. Sure, people can take me in doses. They can care for a few days or weeks or months, but when I have a feeling they don’t understand or disagree with they watch me fall to the ground.
I sit in the bathtub until my whole body is pruney. I’m not allowed to have crazy moments where my insecurities spill out and leave my mouth in screaming fits. My insecurities don’t matter. They don’t hit a soft spot in anyone’s heart and cause them to want to hold me and reassure me. They’re nothing but a bother. A large pill to swallow. And it’s only a matter of time before each person I have ever loved spits me out and walks away, leaving me to dissolve on the pavement. I don’t trust anybody. After all the death and brokenness and abandonment in my life, why in hell would I?
That is thrashing.
And I don’t want to be this person. Bitter and angry. Just waiting for everything I’ve been pouring myself into to fall to the ground and break into a million pieces. This is no way to live life. Happiness comes in waves and leaves just as quickly as it came on. And I have things to be thankful for. I do, undoubtedly. But how could a heart like mine live like this and be happy? I want to be the me that dressed in my play wedding dress and wore it everywhere I went. I want to be the me that jumped on the trampoline just to get a glimpse of the biggest sunflowers I’d ever seen. I want to be the me that went to football games and planned for sleepovers. I want to be the me that found hope and joy in almost everything. I want to be the me that had butterflies in her tummy and looked forward to dates every Saturday. I want to be the me that felt beautiful and wanted. I don’t want things to change. I want to live there in my fairytale life, pretending that I don’t know that everything I believe in isn’t real. I want life to be easy like it used to be. I want to go back to the way it was before life happened. Real life.
That is thrashing.
And every day I’m waiting for her. The me to come. The one that sees real life as a challenge. An adventure. The one who is sure she can do it. All of it. The one that feels the craziness working its way to my mouth and the overflow to my eyes and has the power and the confidence to say, “Stop. You’ve got this. Stay strong. You don’t have to fall on your face anymore. You are enough. You are just enough. You are beautiful and wanted, and if by no one else, by me. You are perfect and powerful. You’re going to make it through this shit. And you’re going to come out at the end with something to be proud of. So swallow your pride. Hold your chin high. You are capable of figuring things out for yourself.”
I have days where I feel her. She’s brave. She’s becoming. She finds long lost peace. She finds it in the breeze just before it rains. She finds it in the fireflies in her backyard. She sees it in my hands making sweet potato biscuits.. She finds it in perfect days where she finds arms waiting to hold her and reassure her. She finds it in that man’s eyes, telling her he’s not leaving. Ever. She holds tight to his words. She dares to trust and hold a promise close to her heart. Maybe just one more try. Maybe this time. And she breaths in what she can. She does her best. Because that’s all she has.
That is thrashing.
And finally it will come. A deep, satisfying breath. Just one. But its enough to keep her going. Its enough to keep them all going. All of the me's inside me. I’d like to think there will be an end to the thrashing. But I’d like a good many things that I cant pretend are real anymore. Reality and I are hand in hand now. And I must face things for what they are.
Life is thrashing.
Sometimes the waves are more violent than others. Sometimes they are soft and soothing. And occasionally they cease and I can float peacefully and imagine myself with wings, flying. But the thrashing is always there, planning its next fit. Its stirring beneath the calm film at the surface of the water. And I knew I was made for water. I knew I should have been handed a scaly tail instead of these two awkward (but elegant) legs. I can’t live in the shallow. I need the deep water. I need to feel things. All things. And when you dwell here, in this enormous, miraculous body of deep water, you must welcome the thrashing. Maybe you must learn to thrash yourself. After all, we can’t all be calm and collected.
We were made for thrashing.
I am Beth. I am a 22 year old woman who works two jobs and is slowly, step by step, making my way through school. The rest is a mystery. Even to me. And you know? I think I love that.