This time last week I was crying in the bathroom at work.
The day started out normal. I got up, went to work. Everything was fine. I was thinking about an event I was hosting that night and was working on the relaunch of this blog, so I was a little anxious about the outcome of both those things, but not overly so. And then I got a text. Asking me something about the election. This election that might not completely destroy our country, but has definitely deep-sixed many a Facebook friendship. And the question was coming from a huge influence in my life, someone I love and respect very much, but who I also had to strike a “Let’s-just-agree-to-disagree-and-leave-it-alone” deal with over the summer. Because I can talk politics and I can talk religion, but when religion and politics start getting overly enmeshed, my soul starts trying to leave my body via my sweat ducts. So when I got that text, as politely as I could, I declined to continue the conversation. And the text that I got back (message version, paraphrase) said that my answer confirmed why they had heard a certain word over my life when they were praying for me. And that word was “barrenness“.
Now listen, I wouldn’t say I’m wildly insecure. But I am wildly sensitive. I always have been. So to cope in the real world, I’ve learned to mask a lot of it and deal with it on my own time; so it’s rare that I encounter a sting that I can’t pocket for later. But that was not a sting. That was a shrapnel bomb direct hit to my face. Everything external went mute and it felt like I had actually been physically struck. And I can usually have civilized conversations with my emotions where we can agree to meet up later, but not in that moment. My emotions were like “We out here. And we doing this. NOW.” So I picked up as many pieces of myself as I could and dragged them to the bathroom.
And I cried. And cried. Because damn. Barrenness?? To be barren is to be unproductive. Unfruitful. Sterile. And the first and most obvious association has to do with children, and more specifically, the lack thereof. To say that to any single, 3o-something is probably not the best idea, but for me personally, I won’t lie – it’s a sore spot. And to have someone close to me throw that in my face — it was devastating. Not just mean, it was overkill. And it was actually the overkill-ness of it that helped me start to rally. Because it was just too much.
So it was in a bathroom stall at my workplace that I realized how far I’ve actually come on this journey. Because within minutes (and after desperate”please pray for me!” texts to a few friends), I felt the truth rising up in me and I just said “No. I reject that.” And I stopped crying. Because my life is not barren. If my life is an orchard and all the different hopes, dreams and desires are trees, the marriage and children one might not seem to be doing anything at the moment, but it’s not the only tree that I have!
And it can’t be the only one you have.
I don’t know what my life looks like from the outside. Different people see different parts of my orchard depending on where they’re standing, but I have actually spent a strange amount of time the past 3 weeks being consistently verklempt just thinking about how strangely blessed I am. To see friends who I’ve prayed for finding their feet and progressing on their journeys. To remember little conversations and random moments from YEARS ago and see what shape they’ve taken in 2016. Even just the fact that in the middle of crying, I had friends to pray for me! To be in that state and know who to call for backup – that’s fruit of a growing tree. It’s all fruit. So I left that bathroom stall and went straight back to doing what I was doing the moment that bomb was dropped – working on this blog.
Because that’s the whole point of this thing. Our lives ARE NOT and CANNOT be defined by this one area. Our self-esteem and self-worth cannot be based on it. It’s too much pressure to put on one tree. Especially since I don’t think marriage and children are a tree… I think they’re fruit. Fruit that could sprout any day from any tree in your orchard. I think way too many of us have spent way too much time staring at the ground waiting for this one thing to spring up when there are so many other things we could (and should!) be tending to right now.
Listen, the life I live today is not the dream life I would have described to you if you asked me 20 years ago, 10 years ago or even 5 years ago. But if you described my current life to those past versions of me, I’d think they’d actually be pleased. To hear that in the future they’ll have great friends, that they’ll be a stronger writer, that they’ll be generous and empathetic. That they’ll be funny and working on some great projects. That they’ll have been behind some pretty cool changes in some pretty cool places. That they’ll be happy. And hopeful. And looking forward to what’s next. And when they’d ask “But am I married? Do I have kids?” I wouldn’t tell them.
And if no one told you – how would you feel about your life today? If your life today, stripped of it’s marital status, was described to you. What would you think? What do you think? Is your life fruitful? Are you who you want to be or at least on your way to becoming her? Because if not, changing your marital status won’t fix that. And if so, your current marital status shouldn’t break you. Don’t let this one area trick you into thinking it’s the only one that matters. It’s not. And if you take a look around, I bet you’ll find that your life is bearing more fruit than you think.
You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit– fruit that will last– and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.
So ::note to self:: stop crying in the bathroom.