Show Up Anyways
I recently went on a trip with a large group of girlfriends from my parish. It was the first group trip I'd been on in a long time. Though I've done a lot of traveling by myself all around the world, it never ceases to amaze me how difficult it is to travel with others. Even if you're with friends and people you like– the reality of sharing an experience and doing life with others requires compromise and surrender of will.
Another added layer of the trip was the ratio of Spaniards to Americans, was obviously much greater. Though I moved to Spain on my own accord and will be building my life and family here, the differences in culture are aways present. Time preferences for meals, the amount of activities to fit in a day, what constitutes a meal, how fast to walk; there's a lot of little things that don't seem like a big deal and in and of themselves are not. However, with so many little things to consider, I cannot function on autopilot. My mind is constantly activated and engaged, anticipating all the things I need to adjust and accommodate to.
Some days, I receive those differences with ease and delight. I am relatively phlegmatic, I like change, I prefer spontaneity. Yet in this season of life, where I am preparing for marriage and having to share life in a new way, I'm finding myself more emotional when things don't go my way. It sounds childish. Even as I type these words I feel self-conscious and small. Yet simultaneously it's quite delightful, the process of the two becoming one. With all the growing pains and constant learning– God is teaching me how to not resist it all. His grace is assuring me I can simply take my hands off the wheel and allow things to unfold.
All that being said, I'm noticing in other areas of my life, I don't have as much patience. I'm having to work so hard in other relationships and areas; my tank feels empty when I'm around my friends. During this trip in particular, I was shocked to see myself not handle well changes in plans and disorganization of the trip. It was sort of an out of body experience. In the moment, I could see the triggers. Logically I could understand what was happening, yet my heart was not having it. I lost my patience, I raised my voice, I got quiet, and even moody.
While all this was happening, I felt so ashamed. I wanted to hide myself away in the hotel. I felt like a little kid at a sleepover birthday party who calls their mom to pick them up and take them home early because they're scared of the dark.
As we walked through various museums, I remained quiet and to myself. Afraid I might step out of line again, I tried to stay away without drawing too much attention to myself.
Unsurprisingly, because I have the best friends, but surprisingly because in this moment the last thing I expected to receive was kindness, my friends engaged me. It wasn't what was said or a debrief of my emotional well being. It was simply walking together. Admiring the light coming through stained glass windows in magnificent cathedrals. Laughing at random little kids splashing in puddles and chasing bubbles in the park. Simply being with one another in a moment where I didn't feel like I deserved it.
My years of playing competitive soccer taught me that you either perform and play, or you get out of the game. I realized many years ago I applied this way of thinking with my relationship with God. The last few seasons of life have been centered around addressing this lie so that when I mess up, I don't take myself out of relationship with God. In this current season, I'm seeing God built upon that lesson as I engage more deeply in community and prepare for holy Matrimony.
The humbling experience of not getting it right, but knowing there is grace readily available to catch me is healing beyond words and a blogpost. When there is security and safety in relationship, there is space for the soul to be able to stretch and grow. Though it's uncomfortable at times, and alarming to realize the depths of my pride, I am very grateful for the ability to continue to be a part of the group. There's no getting cast out over a bad day or a poor reaction. I'm still invited to the table. In fact, it's through staying in my seat that I am receiving the nourishment I need to let go of my disordered ways of being. The more that I settle in, the more I am able to express my needs and trust that I will be cared for.
Even in my brokenness– I can be loved, I can be seen, I can show up anyways.