For years I have written in a journal. What I needed to say HAD to be put on the written page, not for someone else to read, but as an outlet for me because my emotions were so strong that I needed to get them out of my head. A lot of the time this was done when I could not sleep and needed to quiet my brain. Writing it all down helped stop all the crazy thoughts from spinning around and around in my mind. Late at night, these thoughts felt so profound, as if I was the only person on the planet who had ever felt this way. Now with the perspective that my seasoned number of years brings, I know that Solomon was right, “there is nothing new under the sun”. Maybe I was facing a different time, culture, or circumstance but the dilemmas that kept me awake late into the night were the same ones that many others were facing. Certainly the years have changed what my worries are about… How am I going to pass that test? How am I going to pay that bill? Why doesn’t my boyfriend, then later my husband, understand me? What is that rash on my son’s tummy, could it be a necrotizing fasciitis? (I’m a nurse so it was always something dire and no WebMD in those days!) What exactly did my friend mean by what she said? What should I have replied to that snarky comment made by a classmate, co-worker, or family member? Basically, these things were a recipe for restless nights made up of those pesky ingredients called feelings; a heaping bowl of love, a dash of hurt, a splash of fear, a pinch of jealousy, a pound of insecurity, and a dollop of anger, combined into a stew of emotion that often boiled over and would not let me rest or sleep.
Honestly, at times I’m still just a hot mess of thoughts spinning around like a blender full of chopped up worry and emotion. (Obviously there are going to be a lot of cooking and food metaphors in my musings.) I know I’m not the only one in the world with these late night wonderings. I cannot be the only one who sometimes lays awake counting the hours until I have to get up and pretend to face the day with confidence, when what I really feel is exhaustion and self-doubt. Doubt about how I’m going to keep the lid from flying off the blender of my mind and splattering the walls, the floor and yes, even the ceiling, because at times what I’m feeling is explosive. When I was younger, if writing it all down did not help, then I started cleaning, cooking, crafting, and decorating. This was such a common occurrence that we had a family rule that I could not vacuum or sew after 10 PM because it woke my husband up (more on that later). Now, I mostly PIN and read blogs about cleaning, crafting, cooking, and decorating because, let’s face it, Pinterest is quieter and the addition of 30 years and 50+ pounds have made me too tired to do the real thing. Now my journal entries are shorter, and often more of a written prayer because faith and time have taught me that His mercies really are new every morning and prayer is a better way to deal with stress than worry ever was. (Also medication and a good counselor have helped me stop making impossible TO DO lists in my head instead of sleeping.) Sometimes my journal even reads like I’ve got “it” figured out for a little while. Maybe every minute isn’t sunshine and roses, but for a while it’s definitely a time to eat, drink, and be merry.
But recently, for reasons I won’t get into here, I have been a bit bowled over by circumstances in my life that have me struggling with worry about the future and angst about the past (yes, I know this is worthless but it’s what I’m dealing with, AGAIN). So, I thought to read back over some previous journal entries to gain some perspective and it has been enlightening. I am sorry to say that I have realized I am NEVER, EVER going to get it ALL together. Oh don’t get me wrong, I have conquered some things in my past. But for every victory over youthful anxiety I’ve won, the next season of life has brought some new insecurity to replace it. And sadly, some of the things I’ve worked through MANY times creep back in at times of stress; things like self-doubt and feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness. Useless emotions, but oh so real in dark times of self-pity (cue the sad music and dark lighting). What did all those years of sleeplessness, late night journaling, and cleaning frenzies accomplish in the long run? I’ve been doing a Beth Moore Bible study recently and one of the things she talks about is that the younger women want to learn from the older women, and the older women want to learn from the even older ones (I’m paraphrasing greatly, sorry Beth). But is there any wisdom I’ve gained worth sharing? Why would I even WANT to share the messiness of my life? Is there any encouragement for others to be gleaned from my often meandering and sometimes painfully soul bearing collection of writings? Can I or should I be transparent enough about the struggles I’ve had to give real insight to others, especially since I’m still struggling to make sense of a lot of it myself? To be honest, I’m not sure. But here goes…
Hopefully what I have to say will encourage and inspire you along the way in this crazy adventure called life!
Therefore, if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from His love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interest of others. Philippians 2:1-4, NIV