perfectionist

Why write?

A mishmash of thoughts shuffle left, then right.

I've been sitting behind this laptop for too many hours, pressing the delete key too many times. I want, so badly, to tell you about life as of now. Yet unlike Noah's animals in the ark, it seems neither thoughts nor words can find their match. Blaming cognitive impairment would be easy, but illness is not at fault for everything. Maybe it's my addiction to perfection? Honest paragraphs tumble out and—delete, delete, delete.

Life in real-time is a rough draft; conclusions are few and mistakes are abundant. I'm not ready to show this. So I press save on two sentences and return to my reading.

Friday night I finished a biography on Amy Carmichael, a beloved missionary in India. I saw how she was utterly committed to God, steadfast in her convictions, and often misunderstood because of it. When it came to truth-telling, Amy Carmichael was unswerving. She wrote, "We are so afraid to offend, so afraid of stark truth, that we write delicately, not honestly." I scribbled the quote by lamplight and thought, this is me.

I am afraid. 

As you might've noticed, my writing here is not frequent. I come with summaries not because it's what I enjoy, but because it's easier. I've carefully considered not only my words but your possible opinion of me for so long.

Please hear me, I'm not advocating sloppiness or haphazard writing. I take great responsibility for what I say. Everything could be shared, but not everything should be. And for that reason, there have been times (especially in the last year) where I stepped back to sort through emotions and events privately. 

But, this blog was never meant to be a heavily-edited publication or a museum. It's not a holding place for shiny thoughts and polished words.

My aim here is to give something that is true, meaningful, and in real-time—like the letters or care packages I send friends. Think smaller, simpler narratives. I want to share resources with you, write updates on health, jot thoughts on life lately, talk about uncomfortable topics, and chronicle the challenges (and joys) of staying put or one day, if God wills, my going elsewhere.

I don't know that those are the best reasons to show up and write. But as you see my weakness and know my humanness, I hope, somehow, these thoughts and words might point you towards God. Always, towards Him—the One whose ways are perfect and promises true.

Why write?

Behind-the-scenes of a perfectionist writer.

I am allowing myself an hour to write before I hit publish.

Only a handful of people know the following confession: it takes me three hours to write one paragraph on here. My desire for superiority irks me.

I've never attempted to write a book aside from "Esther's Extraordinary Life" in 4th grade, but I imagine if I did, then perhaps 180 minutes per paragraph would be acceptable.

But I'm not writing a book, and even if I was, I would hope to not make every sentence a rigorous case for perfection. If that happened, there would be no joy in writing and I might as well quit the task altogether.

And I'm not ready to quit.

From an early age, I have tried to make life look as effortless as possible.

Being in the arts industry, it was second nature to me—this performing and masking. As a ballet dancer, the goal is to move with such grace, ease, and strength that the long-rehearsed steps would appear painless and simple to an audience. The more we practiced, the easier they could be convinced. Sadly, this belief did not just remain in the realm of ballet for me.

My last performance onstage was in 2010, but the critiquing and rehearsing on some studio version of myself has not ceased.

I learned a lot about determination, craft, and team work in those years, but one thing I wish to unlearn is the fear of being myself.

If you know me, hopefully you know I am an advocate for honesty, truth, confession, and repentance. I don't set out to hide who I am—but I do need direction on how to be myself, unabashedly.

We all want to be ourselves.

We want to know those selves will be accepted, loved, and welcomed in. 

Our lives are not painless or simple. They are complex, profound, painstakingly beautiful, and worth something good.

They will not fit into 90 minutes of choreography or be illumined with soundtracks and bouquets and applause. As long as we are here on earth, these lives will not be devoid of glitches. Sin, hurt, and brokenness have been part of the deal since Genesis 3. At some point, we have got to get honest with ourselves, our people, and most importantly, God.

We cannot make it our goal to prove how our practicing finally attained perfection.

We'll never achieve it.

I don't know about you, but I am so tired, friend. I am tired of carefully curating struggles, tweaking and editing words, withholding thoughts and opinions due to fear, and being ashamed with what goes on behind-the-scenes.

During that final 2010 performance, I was in intense amounts of pain. I sobbed backstage and skipped warm-up because of the injuries. Once the music began and I got to the stage, I put on a smile and played the part.

Isn't it so easy to do that in our lives? We play the part, because that's what we believe is both expected and accepted.

Writing and sharing about living with sickness is not difficult for me. It seems brave, and I like that feeling. But it's not.

The day I get brave is the day I confront my unhealthy attachment to food. My struggles with body image and weight. The crippling fears I have of loved ones taking their lives or being sexually abused. My thoughts on the church or theology. My desperate pleas for the world. Or that "d" word called depression.

I still desire perfection. I don't like mistakes.

There are certain sins, insecurities, and lies I am tempted to make you think I never wrestle with. But here's the thing—I am not always going to get it right. I cannot hold a pose forever.

As the Holy Spirit guides and exposes, I am taking stock of wrong belief systems, thought patterns, and heart idols. I am going to believe, every day, that although God could have made someone else, it's us that He chose.  

My "hour" finished up awhile ago, so I will finish here.

I want to walk away from this staged way of living, and live well behind-the-scenes. If that means brokenness, questions, or doing the hard things, so be it.

I want to be myself. I want to be bent and spent for the glory of God.

Will you join me there?