Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Headline: I Am Psycho

So this is the entry. The one that's like hitting the side of a ship with a bottle of champagne to send it off on its journey. Do they use champagne? I really don't know. I already don't know what I'm talking about.

Well, I hope the way this entry feels when anyone reads it is like a nice, delicious, fancy champagne rolling down their throats.

That sounded gross. Back to business.

This summer has been odd. Neither good nor bad, at least at this point of retrospection; I guess there's time left for some definitive event to force me to categorize it one way or another. Regardless, it has been weird, and I think I know why: I've had a lot more time to think than I usually have.

The recipe for this nonstop thinking begins with me not being able to have a job. That was pretty much the one thing I was looking forward to when school got out, since my ambition to go to South Africa on a Campus Crusade Summer Project was shot down by my parents. (I'm working on releasing that resentment still... I'll let you know when I'm done getting fed up with my parents. Which may be never, as any normal child can probably attest.) I always feel like I need to maximize my time so that I can get a bigger job, or a better internship, or a greater title at some point down the line. Which makes me look better, working or sitting around at home all day for the months I have off from school? Consequently, not only do I feel valueless, but I also have myriad time to devote to trying my best to make up for that time. I need to plan. I need to analyze. I must figure out ways to make up for that lost time.

Funny, because I end up wasting more time thinking about doing things instead of -- gasp! -- don't things. It's just so much easier when someone else is telling me what to do, right? My self-motivation is next to nothing. If I can employ someone else to hang a grade or responsibility or deadline over my head, I will dance like a dog under my master's hand holding a piece of bacon. (Hahahaha. I like that mental image.) Basically, if there's an easy way to make myself look better, such as following someone else's instructions, then by all means I will take that way.

Wow. So I've laid out the backdrop pretty well. The issue that seems to come up every time I open my mouth or type a paragraph is the idea that I need to look good. I mean, this self-centeredness problem surely is not exclusive to me, but it sure feels like I am the queen. Now, I play this overconfidence off in a cool way when I'm around other people. I use cockiness for comic effect. The goal is to make people think that I do believe in myself, but that I'm down-to-earth enough to be sarcastic about thinking I am a goddess -- mocking myself, being fun to hang out with, etc.

The weirdest part of being like this is that I use self-depracation to form another image of myself so that I'll look good. I will be someone people want to be around. I will garner admiration and friendship and whatnot. By making fun of myself, I will look the best. So much for really trying to jump off a pedestal. It seems like whether I'm being serious or not when I talk about myself, one thing never changes: I AM STILL THE CENTER OF THE SENTENCE. Is it really that hard to focus on something or someone else? Apparently, it is, or I wouldn't be devising ways to become this persona that I imagine to be the best possible one. But let's get at the truth.

Hi, my name is Lara, and I'm addicted to myself.

If I'm right, I want people to know it. If I'm wrong, I want to play it off like I don't care so that no one can look bigger than me. If I'm busy, I want everyone to see how in-demand I am. If I'm having a slow week, I want it to look like I want it that way so I can't be rejected. I don't like when I don't look smart, attractive, funny, strong, whatever the appropriate adjective is for the moment. My day-to-day goal is to use any means necessary to be as perfect a human being as possible, at least to the outside spectator.

This pursuit is a lot like fixing a house. I am painting the outside, decorating the garden, sweeping the porch, little things that make it look beautiful. No one on the sidewalk can see how termites are eating away at the inside, where the carpet is rotting, the wallpaper is peeling, the ceilings are stained, and the lights are broken. Pretty curtains shut out all the ruin inside the house. Fixing the whole thing is too big a job for one person, so why not just make it look like everything is okay?

Having a nice outside doesn't make living inside any easier, though. I'm going to be honest, the inside of my mind is a scary place to be. I don't really think that I am any of the great things that I let other people believe that I think.

I let my intelligence be judged by grades, acceptance letters, recommendations, scores, you name it. I feel that if I don't graduate top of the class and get a job as the editor of the New York Times, that I've failed. I discredit my own brain if I don't have an answer for someone else. I'm not smart.

I let my attractiveness be judged by compliments, looks, invitations, angles. I obsess over calories and skip meals just to think that I won't get any fatter than I already am. I let myself think that I am the ugliest person on this earth for never having been in a relationship, as if that's what would prove my worth. I'm not beautiful.

I'm still talking about myself, as always, but at least I'm acknowledging the truth: the inside of this house is bleak, because my mind is warped and twisted by this world. It's so messed up that I can't help but keep working on the outside of the house and then sit inside and bemoan how ugly the inside is.

The solution to the problem, however, isn't working on the inside of the house; it's getting completely out of the house. Going somewhere more important. Seeing the world. Doing something bigger than fix my own space.

In the quietest hours, where I am on the floor, broken, insane, crazy, confused, there is a gentle but audible knock at the door. When I finally choose to answer, there he is.

"I knew this house was not as solid as it looks from the outside."

He sees the decay and the dirt, and how I am just wallowing in it. I got tired of fixing the outside for today and decided to retreat indoors, where I curl up and rock back and forth, trying to get comfortable in a mess like this. He looks me in the eyes with a gaze that gets me.

This isn't the first time he's seen something like this before.

"I have a proposition for you. Get out of this house. There is a big world out there. I'll fix things up back here while you go out there. I'll tell you what to do, and I'll make sure everything is sturdy when times get rough. You won't have to worry about holding down the fort by yourself anymore. I can free you from caring about that. Let me take over here."

It sounds easy enough, and desirable too -- I'm so tired of trying to take control of everything. It's seriously wearing me out. I'm not so good at the things that I try to do. He told me he's a carpenter, and his hands look like they've done a lot of work, and endured a lot as well. If he can handle nails being put through them, he can handle a lot more hard work fixing things up than I can. He proves himself trustworthy every step of the way.

Yet I keep running back to check on him, pulling the tools out of his hands, trying to take over again, as if he isn't the man for this job. He doesn't leave when I do this, even for weeks at a time as I labor over fixing my own life, but just stands by and watches, and holds his hands open for me to put the tools back. He isn't going to pull power back until I'm ready to let him. He says he loves me. His plans aren't to hurt me. He won't fight me on this, but tells me that I won't do anything better myself. I'm being silly when I ignore him. When I slump over and hand him back the control, he doesn't gloat or rub it in my face, and he doesn't scold me and punish me for breaking my end of the deal. He just gets back to work.

This will happen millions of times until I die, because I'm a psycho and I forget that I will never be perfect on my own. No matter how I make myself look to the world, on the inside, I'm as broken up as anyone else unless someone more capable has taken the reins.

Guys, this whole story of my life can't be just about me anymore. Someone else has stepped into the picture. A while back, that part of the script finally arrived where it said Enter: Jesus.

(Did I mention I love metaphors, even corny ones?)

I've finally met someone that can fix me if I let him. His power to heal and repair is beyond anything that I can imagine with my feeble human brain. This is all one big testament to the power and glory of the Messiah, the one who came to redeem humankind in all its glorious failure by sacrificing himself, only to raise from the dead and go back into heaven to prepare a place to take the children that sign into his family.

I'm adopted. I have a Father. Fathers pave the way for their children so that they can live the fullest, richest life possible, because they love their kids. Plain and simple. He said He has the power to walk me through life so that I can reach my destination at last: home. Heaven. An eternity in my Father's house. With the great things He's done in my life so far, it overwhelms me even to try to picture what it must be like to sit in His presence forever.

This is getting long, so I'll cut it out for now. The point of all that is to say that I am a dirty liar for pretending to be someone I'm not, and even caring about myself to the point that it consumes my mind. The happiest I've ever been was when I was thinking about the majesty of YHWH.

The ship has left the dock, folks! It doesn't need to come back to shore anymore. All the goods are supplied other ways. This is a segue to the verse that has been sustaining me:

"All eyes look to You, and You give them their food in due time. You open Your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing." -- Psalm 145:16

I'm sure I'll be back here plenty of times to be more insecure, more confused, more obnoxious about other things in the future. Stay tuned.