My skin’s pretty thin.
Which is why I’m not a writer. Which is why I’m not much of anything, right now. I grew up in this rough and tumble family that is sarcastic and loud and somehow I never got calluses in the right places. I know that about myself.
Which is why the conversations hit me the way they did. Which is why finals week absolutely tore me into pieces. It doesn’t take a lot of words to hurt me. Just the right ones. Just ones from the right person. It rang in my ears over and over and over and over. When you screw up, sometimes you have to move on. I don’t always do a good job of that.
I’m working on it. I’m praying about it. But I’m still a massively insecure fourteen year old on the inside a lot of the time. And so it happened that I was awake at four in the morning thinking about a meeting and why I wasn’t going. Only a lunatic goes to an interview for a ministry program in the state I’ve been in. And my blog URL was on the application so it’s not like I can pretend to be sane, yeah?
I went. Mostly because my inner fourteen year old still lives in absolute terror of Jennifer. If we are a wolfpack she is the alpha and I am the quivering mass of mess. Don’t ask me how this happened. I’m just weird sometimes (and had I not gone to this interview out of fear and insecurity her rage would have been very warranted and very real).
So I walk in with my backpack on, still dressed in finals week grunge. The snow is melting, and my shoes are sopping wet. My bangs are all stuck together on one side. But I try to act confident. I sit across the from the two of them, and promptly fail to make eye contact for the next hour. This is who I am: I’m a mess. I’m a mess who has no business being a part of this program.
And they have my application printed out, and I notice she has written all over it in blue. Underlined, circled, starred, the whole spiel. Through my nerves, I can tell that she’s talking about Becky. About being on the phone with Becky. Her voice warms, and I can tell she liked her. I guess it is in that moment that I decide to be honest. Because I cannot possibly stonewall someone who appreciates the value of Becky.
I am doing very well at explaining about Jesus. And about ICM. I talk for longer than either of them probably want about ICM. Probably they don’t care who braids Mesha and Kayla’s hair, but I tell them anyway. This is why you shouldn’t ask me open ended questions. I hear myself talking about Charles, kind of like I’m not the actual one talking. I notice, still distantly, that my voice is cracking just a little. But on the whole I don’t sound crazy yet.
It is at this point in the conversation that she asks about my family. She tells me I don’t have to answer. I consider that. But they were so nice about the ICM kids. And they liked Becky. I think my voice breaks the first time at the word seizure, which is further than I generally make it, actually. It falls apart quickly, though (at this point there is a distinct probability that I sound crazy).
So I’m sobbing in a conference room. That’s where I’m at. I’m talking about God and reconciliation and loneliness and seizures and Kelly Clarkson and all of it is gaspy and teary.
Oh well. Doesn’t matter. Tunnel vision. (except I really did want to do this. I really did.)
She is kind of smiling at me. She turns to the guy and asks if he has questions. He says something like “I do, but not important ones.” To me “you’ve got a great heart. I see that. This, right here. This is where change happens. It’s about families and trying and crying and all that. I think you’ll be great.”
Hey. You reading this: Love somebody like that today, okay? Like you’re not afraid of their mess. Because it makes a huge difference. Good grief.
Surprisingly enough it doesn’t make me cry more. I sit there, a little dazed. I realize that I have just seen two people love me so thoroughly that I am somehow more solid than I was before.
Hey, I just met you, and this is crazy but…please let me stay here. Let me learn how to love people like that.
And so it is that I am doing a semester long missional training program called SHARP. It is run by this dandy group of folks called The Spero Project (http://www.thesperoproject.com/ and please please please go look at how cool they are. so cool. ohmygosh. i love people who aren’t afraid of brokenness.) And despite some initial fear of not being ready, I am beginning to be ridiculously excited about learning to love my neighbors from people who seem to do that really, really well.
I will start in January. I’m a mixture of terrified and totally stoked. God uses crooked sticks to make straight lines.
prayers wouldn’t be…like…the worst thing. It’s gonna be something, y’all.