London, I'm coming for you.
Sometimes I feel like a human dichotomy. A division into two opposing categories of myself, which might be why I struggle with personality tests. My answers are generally found somewhere in the middle.
Either and neither. Torn between two versions of this person I know to be myself.
Paul understood the struggle when he said, "For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do." Romans 7:15. And I read it and sigh with understanding. Me too Paul.
One part a homebody and settled in the city I grew up in, where I know the shortcuts and the best restaurants and the street my best friend grew up on. Another part of me that longs to see every inch of this vast world. Every small town with slow rhythms and room to breathe and fiction novel sounding names. To see every densely populated city with creative energy and street musicians and marks of progression.
There is one part of me that is confident with good posture and shoulders back and eyes forward. Evidence of a woman who has lived through some trials and was made stronger through them. And there is another part that is insecure, picking at my nails and staying silent when I want to speak up, like that thirteen-year-old version of myself walking into that school cafeteria again.
One part fearless and motivated by risk and leaps of faith. Another part afraid of most everything that could fail or threatens to hurt.
An introvert who loves to speak publicly. A lover of music who also craves silence. A lover of people with an oversized need for personal space.
Who is this person looking back at me in the mirror?
We are complex beings. Multi-layered and faceted. And brilliant when held in the right light. I don't know why we would expect anything less when we are made in the image of a complex God.
A God that we cannot comprehend, but yet knows us fully.
A God who speaks galaxies into existence and creates daffodils and the softness of a newborn's skin. Who commands the wind that brushes against my skin and drew a line in the sand for the ocean not to cross. The God who created the gift of a smile that can be seen in a person's eyes.
We are fully known. All parts laid bare. And deep down, it's what we all crave and yet fear that once we are, we will not be fully loved. Like maybe some parts of us are acceptable and other parts, not so much. Like those parts we've deemed as unacceptable might also make us unlovable.
I watched an exchange recently between my husband and a man whose present reality is one of homelessness and the struggling road to recovery from drug addiction. They stood on the sidewalk in the cold night air as cars drove by, their headlights shedding moments of light into the darkness. His head hung low in shame from a recent relapse after weeks of sobriety and the brief taste of a better life. I heard my husband tell him to look up. To look him in the eye. He told him that he was not ashamed of him. And then he said something worth its weight in gold. The kind of thing you write about. The sort of thing that puts a lump in your own throat. Wrecking and transformative if allowed to sink in and settle into the heart.
"Even if you walk down the street and choose to stick a needle in your arm again, God will not love you any less."
Hence the lump in the throat. Even if. At my best and at my worst. Any good that I am capable of aside. Any bad that I am capable of uncovered and even still, loved. Deeply and wholly and unwavering.
"For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known." 1 Corinth 13:12
I know it's counter-cultural to everything you've ever heard, been taught, or believed to be true in this works based society we inhabit. But what I'm learning is that I don't have to strive to be loved. And when I posture my heart in the light of that perfect love, it naturally bends my heart towards what is right.