You know what I love? Life.
You know what I don’t love about life? How hard it is.
You know what I don’t love about how hard it is? The notion that it’s supposed to be easy. That something is wrong with us if we admit that life is hard. That we have to have some big, justifying reason for why we feel worn down by life at times. That it’s not ok to just not be totally ok all the time.
You know what I think? I think there’s not a single one of us who feels totally ok ever. I’ve just got a hunch that if any of us were 100% real, first with ourselves, then with each other; we would realize that we are all just a little bit insecure. Just a little bit wounded. Just a little bit scared. Just a little bit less than “fine.”
But we aren’t allowed to say that. We aren’t allowed to just not be fine for no great reason.
And we somehow miss that it’s entirely possible to be simultaneously grateful and anxious. That we can feel both joy and sadness in the same place. That we can feel strong and inadequate at the same time.
We say it’s ok to be human. That it’s ok to fail and make mistakes and be less than perfect. But do we really mean that? Is it really ok?
I don’t think it is for most of us.
I think if we are honest there’s always a bit of shame that sits heavy on our chest when we don’t feel fine; and there’s always a bit of discomfort and disease when someone around us isn’t fine.
We feel like we have to fix it. Like we have to fix ourselves; and until we do, we should stay hidden. Hidden behind our smiles and protected by our armor. We feel like we have to keep it together because, “Look. They’ve all got it together, so I’m supposed to too;” and “I don’t even have a good reason for not having it together. They’ve got it way harder than I do, so what’s wrong with me?”
Secret is, they don’t have it all together either. But we all just walk around thinking we are the only one who’s screwed up or insecure or imbalanced or struggling. We feel like if they really knew how shaky we felt on the inside, all the walls might come crashing down.
So we exist in these little boxes.
These boxes of togetherness built with walls of, “I’m fine.”
I think if we got real, we’d realize that even when are totally fine, we’re not that fine. We all feel it. We all have those insecurities and those struggles. Sure they’re all different, but we all have something. Even if we don’t talk about them, they’re there.
I want to know what’s inside your box. What are you hiding in there? It might be the same thing I’m hiding in mine.
But if I’m honest, I don’t actually feel all the way safe letting you see inside my box. I show you pieces. I let most of the walls down. But hidden in the corner of my box is the lie that I have to be some perfect version of imperfection. That I’m allowed to struggle with these things, but not those things.
So then I don’t know what to do with those things. They don’t go away. They sit. Messing up my box and my ability to say “I’m fine” and mean it. And then that naggy feeling of shame comes and sits on my chest because I know I’m not being authentic with even myself.
The thing is, if we keep those things hidden in the corners of our boxes, they will continue to take up space meant for other things. Better things. Healthier things.
They will weigh us down and keep our hearts heavy and cluttered. Living with heavy, cluttered hearts leaves us no room to give to each other. No room to crawl into someone else’s box with them. No availability to the other things because we are still too consumed with worrying about those things.
Empty your box.
However you have to do it, empty it. And then stop there. Don’t fill it back up with anything else. Just let it be empty.
Even if you don’t feel like you can open all the way up, start with yourself.
I’m learning that sometimes peace and joy do not come from the absence of pain or angst or issues. They don’t come from the absence of emptiness. Peace and joy come when we learn how to be ok, just as we are, in the midst of pain and angst and issues. True peace and true joy come when we let go of the need to be fine, and the need to have a “good enough” reason to not be fine.
That’s easier said than done, of course. Everything is. But it’s so worth a shot, don’t you think?
Start with your own box. Open it up. Look inside it. And don’t freak out with whatever you see. Nothing in there is shocking to God, and I bet you it won’t be that shocking to anyone else either.
Open your heart- first to yourself, and then to everyone else.
Love is where it begins.