This Lonely Road (If You Thought It Was Over, It Isn’t)

Compromise happened. Of course.

I guess you could call it a victory, because I don’t have to deal with the thing very much (if at all), but the game is still very much afoot. I can’t blame the parties concerned. I don’t have much power beyond personal refusal in this situation, and the good of the many outweigh the scruples of the (judgmental, emotionally unstable, list my negative attributes here) few.

(If only those words didn’t read in my head as bitter as I know they’re going to read in yours, dear readers.)

Right now I’m angry. I’m not angry at the people who’ve set the project into motion. Please believe me when I say, very very honestly, that I understand why it has to happen. No, I’m angry at…well…who am I usually angry at lately?

*sigh*

I’m angry at God. And the world too, really. I’m basically mad at everyone. This is one of those self-pity moments that I’m none too proud of but that I feel, somehow, is important for whoever you are to see if it manages to demolish, at least a little bit, the stereotype that we Christians have to be absolutely perfect.

We aren’t. At least, I’m not. Instead, right now, I’m incredibly lonely.

I should be working right now. I have a ton of projects that need to be completed and soon, but my mind is such a mess that I can’t think straight enough to be a strategist. I want to talk to someone–tried to, a little bit–but there’s no one around who will get this tension, who will not write half of it off as (at best) political incorrectness or (at worst) fundamentalist intolerance. Talking about God is not a popular activity, but right now, sitting at my desk at past-eight PM, staring at a to-do list that does not do anything to break down the giants I’m trying to slay, it’s the only thing I want to do. I want to talk to someone who will remind me that God is my victory, that He is with me, that I don’t have to feel lonely because I’m not alone…even if I feel that way.

(Didn’t I just say I was mad at God? Meh.)

The Bible says to stand firm on God’s promises. One of the little-known (or, at least, rarely put on inspirational posters) promises is John 16:33, which goes, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”  The sentiment sounds nice at first, but then you realize it’s basically Jesus sandwich-methoding his bad news. Smack dab in the middle of having peace and him overcoming the world is the sentiment “You will have trouble.”  And later on, or in another Gospel (I forget), he fleshes out what that “trouble” would be: “You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.” (I looked it up; it’s Matthew 10:22.)

For someone who hasn’t even fully forgiven her gradeschool/highschool classmates for ostracizing her for ten long years (yep, still bitter, sadly), and still weeps over the long list of ex-friends she accumulated in college (Yeesh. I sound like a sociopath. Which might not be that far from the truth.), You will be hated by everyone!” isn’t the best news. It isn’t a stretch to say that I’ve spent my entire life wanting to fit in. Heck, the whole being able to tell dirty jokes and make double entendres–my single social coping hat-trick, though it was a good one–developed because of that.

Except I can’t do it anymore. The toll it took on me to lead that double life was too great, resulting in many public breakdowns and an extremely emo blog post (which I will not have the good sense to be ashamed of: you can read it here). I’m tired of being known as the girl with the dirtiest mind, who can turn any statement into something sexual. I don’t think I’ll ever be as shy about my body (in a clinical sense) as other people might expect a “good Christian girl” to be–I don’t freak out when a girl accidentally sees me naked, for example; and when it comes to talking about hospital matters I’m remarkably not squeamish–but I’ve resented that label for years even as I embraced it in order to feel like an accepted part of a friend group.

Now that I can’t do it anymore, though…I realize how isolating the niche I carved out for myself was. Objectively, what my friends are okay with–pre-marital sex, casual hook-ups, Fifty Shades of what have you–are wrong, but they’re my friends and I know for sure that I’m not “better than them” because of that. If you haven’t been able to tell yet from the 800+ words above, I am pretty messed up and have no right to claim ascendancy over anybody. But I can shout that from the rooftops as much as I am able and still be branded a freaking hypocrite the moment I slip and express the slightest discomfort in the things that I used to laugh along with.

There are really good friends who have stuck by me, regardless of this sea change. I’m grateful for them, but they’re not with me 24/7, and even then I’m hesitant to test out their tolerance by being more vocal about my fears and failures. Chalk it up to a me that was never good at letting down her walls–I’m afraid people will stop liking me once they see the real me. And this is the real me. This is. I’ve been the “good English speaker” (still haven’t forgiven my classmates for reducing me to that insipid, anti-intellectual stereotype), “writer/journalist,” “loud theater girl,” “girl who does a lot of sidelines,” “happy intern,” “emo intern,” “weird strat girl,” “slightly more competent strat girl”…and in the end all those labels eventually wore out. But Christian, that stays. That I can’t let go of, even if sometimes (being REALLY REALLY HONEST here) I wish I could.

I think I’ve said this in the last two of what’s turning out to be my “emo Christian life” series, but I can’t let go of God, even if I wanted. I know what my life was like without Him, and I don’t want that life, even if this one seems to be costing me more than a few social points.

One comfort though. My bandmates and I nearly got into a disagreement a few weeks ago because I had to refuse something because of my faith. I was scared they’d stay mad, but instead, Jian messaged me something along the lines of “We asked you to be part of this band. And that includes, well…you.”

Not “your dirty mind” or “your emotional fragility” but “…you.” A catchall term that was meant to refer to my faith, identified for the first time not as something that I could just put on or take off–yet another label–but an integral part of who I am. In a world where gender is now seen as fluid and there are increasingly fewer absolutes, the fact I was a Christian and that could not be changed–could not be negotiated around (and Jian is a master negotiator)–was being accepted. No questions (okay, maybe a few questions?) asked. And that…that helped.

Thank you all so much for listening to me, you good people of the internet. I’m still feeling incredibly lonely, and tired, and stressed, and overwhelmed. But I don’t want to end this all on a bad note. I know these blogs are about the unvarnished truth of how Christian people can be incredibly messed up individuals, but in the midst of that mess…there are moments like that. Moments where your faith is validated and accepted. Moments where you can feel that you’re really running the race instead of making cursory attempts at walking the path. Moments where you know that you’re doing the right thing, even if the world makes you doubt.

Moments where you know you belong, and that somehow makes up for all the loneliness.

May you all find those moments. And, well, if it’s worth anything, know that if you’re struggling and need another human being to say something…I accept you. You aren’t in this alone.

~aRT~

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