She doesn’t cross the threshold with a cultivated greeting, or polished small talk. She doesn’t politely cross her legs while perching in an armchair across from me as my other friends do. She bounces through my door and plops down on the ottoman where my leg is propped. Just close enough to rest her arm on my foot, she leans in to meet my eyes. “You’re SO tough, friend!”
I need to rewind…
My other posts have taken a year or so to cultivate in my mind. This one is recent. Last December I injured my knee. I injured it the day before we signed papers on the home we unexpectedly purchased in Kansas after we sold the two we owned in Illinois, and completely purged to live full time in our RV. Those are all stories for another day. Injured, and staring down a 30-day home renovation, a brand new full-time ministry venture, and a fresh community I couldn’t wait to connect with. I stumbled around for 7 months searching for answers that only led to confusion and more pain. In the 8th month, I found a specialist who could help, had surgery, and finally began my 3+ month recovery. I’m still learning to walk again. I’m recovering…indefinitely.
“You’re SO tough, friend!”
“Tough” is really important to her. It is high praise, and I smile deeply as her next stream of words fill me with strength and hope. She knows how to inspire, motivate, and rally a discouraged soul. Then she catches me off guard. She leans back and searches my face as I respond, with an honest heart, to her encouragement. Her face furrows with concern, nods with understanding, and then blurts in realization,
“You’ve lost your adjectives!”
Her words echo in my soul. I’ve spent a lifetime cultivating my adjectives. I like to be in charge of how you define me. I strive to hear you say that I am strong. I am motivated. I get things done. I help. I care for you. I matter. I am determined. I am ready. I am fun. I am active. I am dependable. I stack adjectives, brick by brick, on my tower of “good enough”. With each brick, I show you I am valuable, my life contribution is noble, I am worthy of your love.
I’m not tough.
I am stuck. I struggle to care for myself and my own family. I am dependent. I’ve lost my swagger and much of my confidence. I am in pain. I am broken. I am discouraged. I am sitting on the couch. I am quiet. In the stillness comes the whisper.
I am loved.
This tower I’ve stacked is crumbling. The dust still hangs thick in the air. Through it, I’m getting a glimpse of what those bricks have been blocking. I can sense security in a love that is given, not earned. I’m squinting at a ray of worth that has nothing to do with my contribution. Under the rubble is a foundation that doesn’t crumble along with my adjectives. I’m asking how to build with bricks I can’t lift on my own. I’m nervous. I’m vulnerable. I’m weak. I hear that there is strength that can only emerge in weakness. I’m finding it.
I am loved. I’m learning what that means. I will never be the same.