Thursday, April 28, 2016

The Haunted Home of my Heart

"to love me is to love a haunted house. it's fun to visit once a year, but no one wants to live there." - brenna twohy. 

Loneliness is a haunting thing. It creeps in like a spider, gently weaving its web around the beating parts of my heart. Slowly and surely it coils and it tightens, taking with it the love that is left. And lately my heart feels like a house so full of cobwebs, I can't tell if the lights are on, or if anyone is home. And I feel like it's time to clean this haunted house, but the webs are thick, and it's hard to breathe, and I don't even know where to begin.

I had a dream the other night. It was a strange sensation, waking up with a tear streaked face and sweat drenched sheets.

I'm standing at the door of a church, knocking, when before my eyes the church begins to shape itself into an ark. It's this massive boat and I'm knocking at the door, that has now become a ramp, and no one is answering. No one is letting me aboard. Panic sets in as my chest begins to feel extremely heavy. My breath is labored, my mind racing as I turn from the church and look out into the trees. From the trees come hoards of couples. holding hands, laughing, love in there eyes. And I'm being pushed and shoved further and further away from the ark. I can see the ramp has been lowered and these couples are racing up and into the church. I am running and it seems the harder I run the further away the church becomes. 

When I finally reach the ramp, the doors are shut that lead into the boat. I'm standing at the end of this ramp, waving my arms, crying, screaming, "Please, Please, let me in. I can't take this loneliness. Please, don't leave me out here alone." And the millions of couples are looking over the edge at me, eyes full of pity, lips turned into a frown, shaking there heads at me as I scream. And then the rain starts to fall. 

This dream has been haunting me for the past three weeks. It sneaks into my thoughts on occasion, when I'm out running, eating dinner, or simply sitting on the couch reading. Most times while I lay awake at night, willing my mind to just shut off so I can get a decent nights sleep. But for some reason my mind keeps going back to this specific dream and the thoughts that have appeared more recently with it.

So where to begin, on a topic that too often weighs heavily on my heart, like the way snowfall weighs on branches, with any more weight it threatens to break, i am ready to break. Sometimes it feels like I'm just trudging through the trenches of this life all alone, and when i get to the end of the day and lay my head on the pillow all I can do is breathe deep and wonder if there has to be more to life than this.

You see I have read countless blogs and books and post about singleness and dating and everything in between. Heck I've even written about it and have spoken about it multiple times. But writing it and speaking it is a lot easier than living it. And if you are like me, you're probably more than irritated with the discussion of singleness, but how can I not discuss it, how can I not think about it, when it's something that so many people use to define me, or to make snap judgments about what could possibly be wrong with the woman I am.

The theme seems to be that "your dream person will find you once you stop looking." or "when you are focused solely on God then He will put that person in your life." But not once, not one time have I seen anything written about the scary truth, about the question in the back of my mind. "What if "the one" never shows up?"

I guess what my frightening dream is showing me, is a lot about how I feel. Like the church is some sort of Noah's ark. Everyone entering two by two, paired off male and female, and here i am standing at the end of the ramp staring into the boat wondering if they're going to let me board with out a partner. And if I look at the two men I have "dated" or allowed into my heart in the short 25 years of life, they are now both with someone else, and I'm still feeling this loneliness. One after a long relationship when we were just too young to even understand what a relationship was, and the other after a whirlwind of feelings and him maybe not being ready to be in a relationship. But in the back of my mind it just felt like he was saying he just wasn't ready for me. That I wasn't enough, that the whole essence of me in his life was worse than him being alone. And that. Well that just stings.

You see I don't have it all together. I don't have it figured out. As more and more of my friends get engaged or married, as I watch my siblings go on dates and are hopeful about relationships. I sit staring at the mirror trying not to hate on who I am. On the person that men seem to full stop and turn around at. On the person men seem to use as a stepping stone to someone else, someone better. How can one not wonder? How can one not question, when it feels like the whole world is falling in love, and I'm just falling.

And I don't like that everyone assumes that my singleness factors into my being, that when someone learns that I am single, the first question that escapes through muttered lips is "why?" or "is there something wrong with you." As if being alone means that I'm some sort of untouchable, that no man wants anything to do with. but I feel like that. constantly i feel like that.

because it's easy for me to outwardly laugh at myself, while inside I'm cringing at everything I am. It's easy to outwardly say the singleness catch phrases "I am content in my singleness." or "I am just not satisfied with God enough yet." These little phrases that have been impressed upon me since the first time I ever heard someone talk about singleness from a Christian perspective. But inwardly, in the haunted places of my heart, I know I may never be fully satisfied in God, it doesn't seem possible for me to be satisfied in a God who I am constantly discovering. And I don't think I will ever be content or comfortable in being single. It's hardwired into who we are as human beings to desire deep and meaningful relationships, and I crave a romantic love. I crave the toughness of living with and loving another human being.

The problem with me is that I feel like I'm always waiting. That I am constantly stuck in this waiting. And what if I'll be waiting my entire life? Waiting on something that will never happen or waiting on someone who will never come. Just waiting. Waiting for nothing. Because honestly more and more each day my heart feels like a train station, full of strangers always trying to get somewhere else. It 's not a final destination for anyone.

I wish that every thing would just come together. But things don't arrange themselves like a bouquet of flowers. Life is much too messy for anything like that. I wish I didn't have to feel so haunted. Haunted by the idea that when and only when or if and only if someone happens to finally see me. See all of me and actually decided to stick around I'm gonna somehow mess that up too.

And I'm struggling through this. Struggling to understand that I don't have answers to give or a simple equation to solve this feeling. And I just want to stop apologizing for the space I fill up. I just want to not have to write reminders on the mirror to love myself. To wake up one morning and finally feel the weight of not being good enough for him is finally lifted. To gather up the pieces of my shattered heart without cutting my hands.

But most importantly I want to be able to unashamedly be free in who I am. To run up that ramp and into the boat screaming love. Love for myself. Love for others. and Love through the loneliness.

I guess what I'm trying to learn is that maybe romantic love isn't the only type of love I should strive for. And maybe in learning that, I can find that I'm not really lonely. And I'm just going over and over these words in my head. that maybe, just maybe no other person on this planet was made for me, but in fact were made for themselves. And that maybe love is all about choices. that no one is going to be perfect for me and that we, as a people, as a church, need to stop raising everyone on the belief that someone is out there, just one other person in the whole world, "made for them" because it isn't true. That no one is made for me, besides me. and that other people belong to themselves.

And that there isn't just "one other person" out there waiting for me. That I can love multiple people over my lifetime. I can have more than one soulmate, or none. Or more importantly i can be my own soulmate.

I need to learn that I'm not missing some "other half" but that I am a whole person by myself. And if by some miracle or chance I do find someone to love, to remember and understand that they are a whole person too, not my "other half."

So often though it feels like Christian culture says that we need to be attached to a significant other and we'll finally be adults, we'll finally be living, we'll finally be making a difference in the Kingdom (trust me I went to a Christian College). And it feels like as a single person I am alienated, or kicked off the metaphorical ark. The Church is not made for single people. I feel it every time I'm there. I feel it in the messages, in the couples holding hands while they worship. In the "single groups" and the "have you met this guy, he's a single christian man..." blah blah blah. I feel it deep in the haunted parts of my heart.

I don't really know where to go from here. Because I'm still struggling, still fighting through these feelings of unworthiness. I don't think it's just something you "get over." And I am single because I'm single, but that doesn't mean it makes me feel any better. It doesn't mean I don't question myself constantly. That I don't look at my life, through high school and college and after college and wonder what was so ugly about me, what was so wrong with me that kept a man from even asking me to coffee.

Am I too much to love? Am I not enough to love? the questions bounce and float through the gray matter in my brain. I want my joy back. I want to feel like the girl I left behind 8000 miles across the ocean. Who fearlessly walked into the darkness, with faith and trust in God and everything she was. But I can't seem to find her. So I guess I just have to keep searching for answers. To continue to keep trying to find myself in Christ, but sometimes He is hard to find.

I am leaning in.
Chest cut open.
Haunted heart laid bare.
Asking. Seeking.
Teach me how to love myself.
Teach me how to love You more.

Sweep out the cobwebs, turn on the lights. So that I might find myself again.
So that I might find myself in Him.

HIS and yours,