Monday evening, a few hours after dinner, I finally gave up on the thing I’d be working on on my laptop and went to find Rasmus, who was reading and drinking ouzo (as you do). He put aside his e-reader and I climbed into the armchair with him and sighed.
I’d been working all day on something and it just hadn’t gone quite as well as I’d have liked. I started out all excited but the idea in my head just didn’t make its way successfully out onto paper in the way I imagined. And I was looking back on a day where there was just not much to show for my work.
And I’m sure it’s normal, sure it’s part of the creative process. Some days it will just mostly suck, rather than being the energising success I wanted. And that’s ok. I guess.
But it rarely just stops there for me. I start to question everything. One bad day? Well it must be because I’ve taken the wrong path in life and this is a sign, no really, I mean it, and why did I even think I could do this? I’m too mixed up, too unemployable, jump into too many projects that I have no business being in. Why didn’t someone stop me sooner before I made such a fool of myself?
And all this will spill out of me while I’m curled up, sort of awkwardly, on my husband’s lap in the beautiful leather armchair we bought in Belgium. And he will look at me and sigh in that way that says I love you sweetie, but you’re being a complete idiot.
Because two days earlier I was sitting on the balcony with him on an unbelievably warm afternoon, drinking tea and talking about where we saw ourselves in five years. And I was realising that yes, I have goals, I have places I want to get to, I don’t want to still be in this exact spot. But those goals are mostly related to what I’m already doing.
I’m sowing seeds for the life I hope to have in five years, ten, twenty. Those seeds look like learning and trying and practising and saving up and investing in myself. They look like putting myself out there and being a little bit braver every day. They look like trying things I’m not a hundred percent confident in, and learning from the failures. They look like testing and pushing doors and accepting opportunities, and figuring out what I’m really good at.
The difficulty for me comes in not letting the smallness of those seeds, the weakness and vulnerability of them make me feel they’re not worth anything. On the days when success feels far off and I’m wondering whether I picked the right varieties to plant, it’s too easy for me to start questioning myself, because so much of my identity is tied up in what I do, how I spend my days, what I have to show for them. And as I am inching closer the end of my 20s, it can become a looking back at a decade and wondering whether I should have done more by now.
My default is to do. I am a doer. I like being useful. I like knowing I made a difference. Someone once described it in me as a “need to be needed”. I’m not sure they really meant it as a compliment at the time but I recognised that the description fit, and I wasn’t too offended by it. Because I think the deep root of that need is a Godly desire to create, in the way our Heavenly Father creates – create something good, create something of meaning and significance, create something lasting.
But when what I do starts to become my whole identity, my total definition of who I am, my days will too often end with me curling up next to my husband wondering whether I am good enough.
The truth is I am good enough. Already. There’s nothing more I need to do to be good. Because Jesus came and proclaimed in his life and his death that I am good, I am loved and I am lovely, I am valuable, my worth is that of a stunning pearl of great price that a man would sell all he owned to have.
I realise that everything I am striving anxiously to become – I already am.
And let me be honest and say I’m not good at remembering this. I’m not good at making this my core, the unshakeable rock I can stand on, even when my legs are weak. But I know, if I centre my day here, with the Spirit’s strength and love a deep well within me, it means I can start my day saying I am already enough.
And that exhalation, that deep weight lifted from my shoulders of needing to prove myself today, allows me to then say, Now I will get up and go plant some seeds, create a life that can be lived in all its fullness.
I’m linking up with Emily Wierenga for her Imperfect Prose on Thursday. She gathers writers together each week to tell stories of brokenness and redemption. This is my contribution, and you can click through to read the many other wise and beautiful offerings.