A thousand miles of silence lay behind me as my shaking hands found the courage to reach out. Misunderstanding and unforgiveness had destroyed what was once relationship and, though nothing in me wanted it back, I longed for peace. I wanted it so deeply I was willing to risk my pride, once again. Willing to submit in the sheer hope that grace would come.
Caught between my head and my heart was the power of five little words: Would you meet for coffee?
It was simple and ridiculous; how could it feel like so much? Packaging up my whole heart, I wondered if I was leaving it on the driveway of someone who had hurt me just so they could run over it again. On purpose. It didn’t matter. I knew to Whom my obedience was for, and it wasn’t me. I hit send while I held my breath. Pretending to be busy while anxiously awaiting a response, deep down I had a sneaking suspicion I would be hurt again. But I knew of no other way.
For way too long I sought the opinions and approval of people I could never please. No matter how hard I tried or how high I jumped I could never meet their expectations or demands. I believed if they turned me away that I somehow deserved it, even if I couldn’t figure it out. Though I have weathered many friendships; I have never once turned my back on a friend, to this day. I couldn’t understand what could cause a rift so deep when I couldn’t even determine what happened. Surely there was some mistake.
For a few seconds I believed it was something about them. Then I decided it must be me.
Turns out I wasn’t all wrong. And it wasn’t so much something about me, it was mostly something IN me. Broken by my own particular suffering, a part of me kept searching for my worth in unattainable places. Trying to heal something broken by achieving the impossible: approval from people who would never give it. Not because they were mean or cruel, but for the simple fact that they didn’t know how. Turns out something was broken in them, too.
Something that made me plus them equal failure. Every single time.
Over the last decade, God reinforced this lesson and taught it to me over and over in countless ways. Failed relationships, critical voices and friendships that eroded away. Family that would never be perfect no matter how hard I tried to make it so. For too many years I chased after the losses. Giving all of myself for absolutely nothing in return, I was desperate to fix what I could never control. Willing to carry the whole worrisome load; I would bend and even break if it meant I could get them back. And for what? Until what end?
Eventually I found my end. I got tired. My mom always says: “When you get sick and tired of being sick and tired, you’ll do something about it.” It could be anything. This was my “it.” And my “something” was nothing. I stopped chasing.
A few years into sick and tired, on a very ordinary day, something clicked. Something countless people had told me but I couldn’t quite get to my heart: We don’t have to be friends with everybody. We don’t have to care what everyone thinks. We don’t have to twist ourselves into knots and turn ourselves inside out trying to fix something that demands to stay broken! Just because a relationship ends, doesn’t necessarily mean we did anything wrong and we don’t need to punish ourselves forever trying to figure it out. We are not in charge of the whole world and everyone in it…and it’s not our job to make everyone happy! Imagine my surprise.
And though a part of me had always known it; it took a very long time to believe it. If I’m honest sometimes I still have to remind myself what I know. Because it’s hard. When we love someone we give them a little piece of our heart, and the truth is we never get it all back. But when the world feels complicated, I’ve found the best answers are usually simple: We need to learn how to let go.
Then we need to do it.
Over and over again if we must. We’ve got to stop chasing and striving and proving and trying to be enough, to the people for whom nothing will ever be enough. The minute you find yourself fighting to prove your worth, is the exact moment you must walk away. We don’t get to control many things in this life, but we do get to decide who we allow access to influence us and tell us who we are. Turns out I already had the most incredible voices around me, I just wasn’t giving them the microphone. You probably do too.
There are few people you get to trust with your whole heart, but they’re worth waiting for. Truth is, they’re the ones you never really let go. You know them not only by how they live in public, but by how they love in private. So rare and precious there is only room for a handful. But the well is deep.
So after years of living my life to please the impossibles, listening only to the voices who called out for my fall, I simply decided to stop. And though it was awkward and clumsy and horribly imperfect, I stumbled my way through the decision to listen to the ones who loved me the most, and to let go of the rest. Not because they weren’t good enough for me; they just weren’t meant for me. My job was to finally set them, and myself, free.
I want to encourage you to find your few who encourage you to dream. The ones who build you up instead of tear you down. The ones who point out your strengths instead of whispering about your weaknesses. I remember hearing a quote one day that literally changed my life. It said: “You become like the five people you spend the most time with.” Let’s make it our intention to choose wisely.
***QUICK UPDATE: The survey responses are piling in and I’m already amazed! You guys are AWESOME! There was a little glitch in the system yesterday, so if you haven’t filled out the survey please click here or on the pretty box below! I’d love to get to know YOU so I can better serve you and we can make this place even more beautiful than it already is. I knew you guys were amazing….I just didn’t know how amazing! Thank you from the bottom of my heart for being here. You will never know how big a part you play in a beautiful redemption story in my life. You are so loved. xoxo