A few months ago, an old college roommate asked me to do a reading at her wedding. “And if it’s not too much trouble,” she said, “I’d really love for you to choose the piece you want to read.” I was honored and excited to be asked to be part of my friend’s special day, but also a bit bewildered as to what I ought to read.
In thinking of her specific journey, the thing that immediately came to mind (and has continued to do so) is Shakespeare’s sonnet number 116.
Though I’ve really made an effort the last few years to follow my gut instinct, something about this just didn’t seem ‘good enough.’ It seemed too easy. So for the past 3 months I have actively searched for alternate choices. Yesterday I actually tried to start writing an original piece, but didn’t come up with much. So why am I doubting the validity and simple power of the thing sitting right in front of me? Why don’t I think its good enough?
The one clear and valuable thought I managed to come up with in thinking about all this was that a wedding is an expression of belief. And this idea of belief (or lack thereof) seems to be an overarching theme in my life right now.
Last year I fought quite a bit with the idea of fear and how many decisions I’d made throughout my life based on fear. Only now as I sit here writing am I starting to understand how belief and fear co-exist together. Whatever I believe (or don’t) informs that fear, and that fear informs my actions.
This has led to much larger discussions over the past 8 weeks and brought up those really BIG questions that seem to come up every few years.
What am I doing with my life?
What do I WANT to do with my life?
Am I really doing the most that I can with what I’ve been given?
While having lunch with my friend Mark on an especially hard day, he made a few observations that really helped shape and give a name to the things I’ve been struggling with during this season. And some things I’ve fought against my whole life.
Generally speaking, I am a very responsible, if not slightly (or very) obsessive person when it comes to managing my life and goals. If you are reading this, then you probably know me, and this shouldn’t come as any kind of surprise.
What DID surprise me though is what Mark said about the way that I carry this responsibility. “You carry too much,” he said gently. “You’re carrying around a lot of broken things because you feel like you need to fix them. But some broken things, you just can’t fix. And you’re not supposed to fix them. You’re just supposed to put them down and walk away.”
This really shook me up. In a good way. But it was also incredibly hard to hear because it showed me something that I DO believe about myself. I believe that I need to fix things that are broken. But some things you just can’t fix. Trying to rack your brain and understand why people die or get sick or get hit by cars. There isn’t really any justifiable reason for those things. They just happen. And trying to figure out the whys doesn’t bring any sort of satisfaction or peace. It only makes you feel crazy and burdened. Not good things.
I don’t generally make analogies using visual pictures, but this one really helped me out. I told Mark I felt like I’d been pushing a boulder up a hill. But I kept thinking that it would be hard to let go—dangerous to move, or tricky to get away from. Mark said, “You don’t have to DO anything. You’re pushing it uphill. All you have to do is step out of the way and let the boulder roll away. That’s it.” Wow Mark. You’re a smart cookie. And I’m really REALLY dense.
I’m still trying to convince myself that it’s truly that easy. Because there is another deeply rooted belief I have that sometimes makes my life more complicated than it needs to be. I believe that life is hard. I’m learning though. I’m trying to accept the truth that life doesn’t always NEED to be hard. Sometimes it’s supposed to be fun.
I was telling Alice this story on Sunday and she just laughed at me. “You mean God is telling you to go have fun, and you’re saying, ‘No, that’s really ok. I’d rather not.’” Yeah, that does sound kind of silly. So I’m gonna take one for the team Alice. I will go have fun. Or at least figure out what that means.
What good things do you believe?
What not so good things do you believe?
What would you LIKE to believe (that is actually true)?
How do those beliefs inform the way you live your life?