All I need I have in Christ
Each heart knows its own bitterness, and no one else can fully share its joy. Proverbs 14 vs 10
‘For I know the thoughts that I think towards you,’ says the Lord, ‘thoughts of peace and not evil, to give you a future and a hope.’ Jeremiah 29 vs 11
I read my Proverbs reading for the 14th late on Sunday, just I was about to sleep. I would usually have read it earlier in the day but I am kind of glad I read it at the end of my day. This is because I went through some emotions during the day that made a certain verse stand out to me more than if I had read my Proverbs earlier.
Now I need to give a disclaimer that the meaning I got from the verse might not be what it truly means, but what I am about to share is how I understood it and what I am seeing when looking at this verse. The verse says each heart knows its own bitterness, and no one else can fully share its joy, this the NLT version, the MSG version reads really different but I am not going to be looking at that one. All the others are almost pretty similar though.
I mentioned in my last blog that I left work to pursue my passions, those passions being writing and also to take some Art lessons and just get the creativity flowing back into my life. Now I had other things happening on the mental and emotional end of things that I was dealing with and I felt that taking this time away from non-creative environments and just diving into the creative world might help me get a better perspective of life. Of course my idea was to remove everything that causes me anxiety and to be able to concentrate on things I love and to be able to have a better view of life and myself but it seems God is not so approving of that plan and has been challenging how I want to do things a lot along the way.
However, I feel like my biggest challenge has been the people around me. Obviously leaving work and refusing to look for another job and taking time to work on things I love, and to also work on me has not been an acceptable idea to a lot of people. For a long time in my life I have been a little bit of a people pleaser, or maybe the better explanation is that I wanted to be but I was never good at it. I hate confrontation and I hate disappointing people, well, not everyone, just a select few. And I have also spent most of life seeking approval from others and never feeling like I was receiving any. I think the best way to explain it is that I can be a little attention seeking among select people, and I wanted those people to be on board with me and understand what I wanted to do. Or at least for them to try and understand.
Obviously, I was dreaming because, to be honest, that was never going to happen, unless by a miracle from God, but yeah, in the natural, it was a pipe dream. I can almost hear people saying,’well duh, what were you thinking, leaving work when you are in an environment where others are crying for any opportunity they could find.’ I know and understand what people are saying about not just the job market but the economy in general, but my mind was made up. And it still is. I wanted to get a chance to do what I love whilst I was still young and before I settle down and have a family. This was my chance as a young single woman to try things out before I had any responsibilities that would prevent me from giving it a shot. Plus I was only asking for half a year, with the promise that after that if I had not gotten any sort of creative job I would take whatever job I could get, no questions asked.
I still wasn’t met with any sort of understanding and as you can imagine, I have had a few tense conversations with the people around me. It’s not just the economic situation they are worried about, it’s also the fact that I was picking a career path that was not lucrative. I have heard the stories since I was a child if I had to be a writer I needed another job that would make me money and then I can work on whatever I want part-time. I accepted what they were saying and understood where they were coming from, but here was the problem with that logic, I wasn’t making any progress. I was working sure but my dreams were being left unattended. I was constantly exhausted, both physically and emotionally and I wasn’t happy or enjoying being alive in the least bit. I know some people would say happiness is overrated but I was also constantly stressed out I got to the point that if I didn’t have a headache, it was a shock because they were my constant companion.
And I was just done, I couldn’t take it anymore. Plus the instant gratification monkey in my brain, as Tim Urban calls it, wasn’t about to waste time working on something that had no real deadline or at least no outside consequences if nothing was done. It didn’t care about the future and long-term unhappiness as long at it got to try out something that could distract us from the miserable world around us. It did not help that as a teenager, I had developed a coping mechanism that prevents any sort of productivity happening in my life unless there were immediate consequences that I could not ignore. In looking for ways to stop myself from thinking and feeling the pain, I had created a cage for myself that has been hard to break out of. You might think a lot about me but I don’t think a lot of myself…and I don’t have the capacity to both work in a lucrative job and work on my dreams.
So when I finally made the decision that I was going to go after dreams for a little bit and also work on my emotional and mental well being (this basically means spending a lot of time with Jesus), I wanted to have a few people support me on this venture. My friends supported me but the ‘grown-ups’ in my life, not so much. People feel that being 26, I am not a child anymore and I should stop acting childish and get a job and earn some money. Okay, yes, that’s true, I am not a child anymore, and maybe you don’t want to have to take care of me while I go chasing fantasies but is it so bad that I just want to grab a little bit of happiness? Again, I hear people saying happiness is not a priority I need to work first, why should people have to be taking care of me at 26? Okay, got it. What if I say I have a little bit of money saved up and I won’t ask you for anything?
And guess what, they still refuse to understand. In fact, they don’t want me to move out, to begin with. So here is the situation, they don’t want me to do anything I want to do unless it fits into their plans. They refuse to understand my dream nor do they think I can make it in any way or form (but I got Jesus and He makes me prosper in all things) and they don’t even want to give me a chance to try. Of course, I am being stubborn and doing what I want anyway but a part of me still wanted that approval. For people to grudgingly tell me that I can do what I want with my life and yet you can still clearly tell they don’t care for it is not what I wanted. I wanted for them to support me, no matter how crazy they think I am. I wanted to be genuinely given the chance to try so I may have kept trying to explain, to no avail.
However, when I read that verse on Sunday, I felt a burden lift off my shoulders. I wasn’t just that my dream was crazy, but maybe it’s just the fact that no one really understands what is in another’s heart, whether its the pain or the joy. No one is ever going to truly understand how much I have been suffocating in my own mind or how much I often hate myself for being me. Why couldn’t I just be productive and have been able to work and invest time in my dreams? Why did I have to abandon my love for Art when I was a teenager in a temper tantrum? Why did I have to be so freaking lazy all the time? And why was I so impatient that I couldn’t put in the work required to finally learn how to draw again, even as a grown up?
And I honestly, I feel I have no one to blame but myself for the roller coaster that is my life. I wish I could blame it on someone else and then maybe my thoughts towards myself would have been less…demeaning? I can’t even think of a word to describe it. I don’t know how many promises I have made to myself that I never kept, how many plans I wrote down or just thought about but never followed. And with each failure, I just got more miserable. I would fall into an emotional wormhole until Christ pulled me out of it but then I would condemn myself for falling in the first place. How many times was I going to fail to keep my eyes on Him before I got the memo? And you know, I am still asking myself that question. There are so many other things I feel or think or that I have gone through but I wouldn’t even know how to explain them.
I also don’t know how to explain the love I have for stories and storytelling, or the satisfaction I get from staring at pretty colors or admiring other people’s Artwork all day long. The only problem with that comes when I remember I could also have my own books or my own pretty artwork if I wasn’t so lazy and unproductive. As I grew older, this feeling got worse. I, unfortunately, used my birthday as the baseline to check my progress and not the new year. And with every birthday came the disappointment in myself and promises to get my act together by my next birthday. I would make new plans that I never accomplished and anticipation for failure was also added to the list of feelings I got around my birthday. I don’t remember ever getting excited about my birthday since maybe my sixteenth birthday, which I think was also the birthday where I made the first promise to myself that I never kept.
This year my birthday was somewhat different, not just because I had made the decision to follow after what I wanted no matter what or who, but also because of the word I received from God seven days before my birthday. It felt like a hug from God saying, “I got you, I know the plans I have towards you and while you can’t carry out your own, I can carry out mine, this time it will be different.” And so seven days later, I didn’t make myself any promises, I just remembered that God has me on a journey already and whatever He has for me, will be the best future filled with peace.
Now I realize that He could tell me that writing and drawing aren’t for me and I am okay with that because I do trust that He knows what is best for me and He already has it planned. And while no man can understand whatever bitterness or pain may be in my heart or the joy it will come to experience, He does. He knows my heart even more than I do. He understands what I am going through and what I have gone through even more than I ever could. He knew me before I was even formed in my mother’s womb. And now I get to say, search me oh God and know my anxious thoughts, see if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting. ( Psalm 139 vs 23-24) He knows the way that is everlasting, not me, and definitely not the people I have been trying to get on my side.
It feels amazing to know I already have all the approval I need, I have all the acceptance and understanding I could ever need, I’ve got Jesus. And His plans from me are not of harm or evil, but they are plans to prosper me and give me a hope and a future. His plans for me, whatever they are, are plans to give me peace…which let me tell you, I could use a lot of. And so with this revelation, I am going to go on this new adventure knowing that I do not need anyone else’s approval. God could make them look at me and where ever He is leading me favorably, or He could teach me to depend on Him more and not be too worried about what other people are saying but either way, I’m good, cause He’s got me.
As per usual I would just like to end this by reminding myself that He is my righteousness, I am I AM’s and He’s got me.