I'm doing pretty good, how are you

I never really know what to say when the doctor walks in the room and says, “hi, how are you doing?”

Uhh, well, take a wild guess? Obviously not great?

So I especially never know what to say to the psychiatrist. Well, don’t wanna kill myself today but couldn’t get out of bed yesterday, so, you tell me maybe?

But today. Today I got to say, “I’m doing pretty good, how are you?” And I meant it, y’all. I’m doing pretty good. I’m doing well, but also, I’m doing good. When someone asks “how’s life?” I get to say “good.” It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to honestly and consistently answer that way. Every day isn’t great, but most days are good. I’m doing good days. I’m doing good. I’m doing good for myself. I’m taking medicine that’s good, that’s doing what it’s supposed to do, that’s doing good for my body and my brain.

I got to pet a dog while I told my psych that I’m good. What’s more good than that?

I’m marking today good, a victory, and hoping you are too.

back to the bible

One of my most frustrating qualities is that I have a tendency to quit. When I wasn’t the best at soccer or ballet, I wanted to quit. When a job gets difficult, I want to quit. When my marriage is hard, I want to give up. I mean just look back through this blog and you’ll see. How many times have I committed to some blogging theme and given up just a few weeks in? Before I even give something my best effort, if I feel like I’m not going to be the best or not live up to my expectations, I want to quit before I prove to myself that I’m not good enough or quit before I can fail. Every time I start typing a blog post, I over-analyze and quite often end up scrapping the whole thing. I wouldn’t even call myself a perfectionist, just spent. Worn out. Tired of putting in the energy. Avoiding having to deal with deeper issues, working through difficult realities, confronting other less than desirable qualities.

And quite often, this manifests itself in how I commune and abide with God. I think I speak for many when I say that the current culture, Christian or otherwise, lends itself to a lot of introspection and dismantling of what before we might have considered pillars in the lives we live. How frequently are we pulled back and forth to different sides of arguments revolving around the same idea- the faith we claim? Read the Bible this way. No wait, this way. But understand this first, but don’t listen to that guy about it. That lady is wrong too. You’re being led down a dangerous path. No you’re not, you’re being held back by antiquated ideas. Listen to me. No listen to me. Read with this context, but don’t rely on it too heavily.

I mean, really. My head fogs up every time I start trying to untangle the knot that the Bible looks like sometimes. And being true to myself, I just. want. to quit. I just want to rest my eyes and my brain and think about pretty things that don’t hurt or confuse me. I want to ask questions that have answers, not more questions. Because sometimes, that untangling causes unravelling. And that unravelling causes panic. And that panic, chaos.


For as long as I can remember, my mom was a woman of the Bible. Hers was never neatly tucked away in a corner, but always within arm’s reach. Well-worn, well-notated, well-loved. How easy, I thought, it must be to read and understand. How simple and full of answers it all must be. She drew so much confidence from that book. She studied it, taught from it, revered it. She greeted every day with it and a cup of coffee. I have never been very good at self-discipline, so this was, and is even more so now, amazing to me.

But then she died. Her Bible sat, pen sticking out one end, on her chair in the living room for awhile, then got tucked away in a cabinet. I began to resent it, the institution of it. The reverence for it. It took me awhile to pick mine back up again. I didn’t quit believing, but I quit studying. Maybe I did quit believing some of it. That could take a lifetime to unpack.

But when you lose someone you love and admire, you start wanting to take on their characteristics. You want to wear their clothes, their jewelry, to feel the closeness again, to think of them and not forget them. You want them to see you, to see him or herself in you, and smile. The most precious words someone could say over you become “they would be so proud of you.”

So eventually I picked up my Bible again. I started making notes and asking questions. I started writing my doubts on its pages. I started finding hope. I also found despair. I found healing. I found more broken parts of me. I found my mom. I found Jesus again. I learned how to find the Spirit again in those pages and in me.

This past year I’ve been attending a weekly Bible study like my mom always did while I was growing up. Every week I felt like I was making her proud. Studying, discussing, learning, loving, crying, questioning. I think I finally started to find what she found in those pages.

Since she died, a lot of people have told me about how she led them back to faith. And now, even though she’s not here, I can tell you how she helped me unquit the Bible. How she led me back too.

Balloons

This is one of those topics that sounds great in my head but inevitably feels so lame when I see it typed out. So Jesus-y and preachy.

I always imagined that when you’re hard pressed for money, God would magically write a check made out to you and zap it into your mailbox, something akin to the tooth fairy. How else would it happen? Maybe raining money, or simply finding an envelope full of ca$h somewhere. Is that so much to ask?

But instead, what I’ve found is that He sneaks it in by making you work for it. Ugh. Such a disappointment. (please don’t report me for blasphemy) You may know that over the last few years I’ve cobbled together a patchwork-like collection of jobs that mostly have very little to do with each other. I work for a church, I work for a stationery designer, I do a little designing of my own, I work for a couple of florists in town, I babysit, I worked at a biscuit place briefly, I worked at Paper Source, now I just teach lettering workshops there, I worked in a showroom as people bought thousands and thousands of dollars worth of beautiful homewares. I’m probably forgetting stuff. As you can imagine, it’s not a dream salary. So sometimes things get tight and I start panicking about money and finances. The bank account keeps getting lower and I am a bundle of anxiety bopping around like a balloon ready to pop if you hit it just the wrong way.

That’s usually when I get an email that goes something like, “Hey! I need some extra help this week, do you have time?” AND THEN I MAKE MONEY. The balloon slowly deflates to a more manageable size (because let’s be honest, we’re all anxiety balloons all the time to some degree) and bills get paid, the gifts get bought, the dinner doesn’t get cancelled, the tithe doesn’t empty the checking account. It took several of these well-timed employment adventures for me to realize that it wasn’t mere chance but a beautiful orchestration of care and teaching.

I care about your bills getting paid. I care about you being able to keep that coffee date with a friend. I care about your anxiety. I care about your balloon metaphor, that was cute, good job.

That’s God. He thinks my metaphor was cute.

But also, remember that I care about you. Remember that if you are that balloon, it’s for a good reason. I want you to learn to trust me. I want you to remember you can come to Me before you pop and I’ll make sure you don’t. I want you to learn that I’m here, waiting to hear your voice directed to Me.

God really likes this balloon thing. (Okay but really am I getting blasphemous? All in good fun, y’all. Pinky promise. I’ve got some embarrassing moments that prove He’s got a sense of humor.)

Weird self-praise aside, I really do believe these things. I pray a lot more now, and I reap the benefits, believe me. I never thought I’d be one to piece together several different jobs to try to make a whole one. I’m not great at it yet. It’s hard and exhausting. Establishing boundaries isn’t easy either. But little by little, job by job, one-off by one-off, I’m learning and trying new things and hoping that soon I’ll see why. But I at least have a piece of that big picture, even when I have to work for it.

Yeah but she has a great personality

I spent the majority of today taking personality tests. Although I do occasionally check in on that Myers-Briggs just to see if anything's changed, I was actually asked to do this by somebody else for an actual purpose. That's pretty irrelevant to the rest of this post though.

Becoming a student of myself has been tricky for me. Trying to observe my motivations, thoughts, feelings, actions, etc. is SO helpful in diagnosing problems-mentally, physically, emotionally- but can also, for my personality type, translate into self-absorption and wallowing. But at its best, answering those questions, rating my affinities toward different feelings and thoughts, following gut answers rather than taking an hour to overthink every decision, self-analysis can be really, really fascinating. Also a little insulting. At times inspiring. With little sprinkles of "oh great, there's no hope for me at all."

I MEAN. LOOK AT THIS. 

ENNEAGRAM TYPE 4. THE INDIVIDUALIST. The sensitive, introspective type: expressive, dramatic, self-absorbed, and temperamental.

It takes awhile to get to the positives. And I can't even argue that it's not accurate. 

I'm also INFJ. I don't know enough about it all to really expand beyond that.

But I had a great time reading these things! (Of course.) I also took one to determine my five greatest strengths but that feels a little braggy so I won't get into that. But reading about yourself, or at least a psychological label for yourself, can be really helpful. I know that I have trouble following through on things. I'm an initiator, not so much a finisher. But reading that description along with the things I am capable of gives a specific space and time to think about how to engage your strengths and challenge your weaknesses. You can accept something about yourself, but that doesn't mean you can use it as an excuse or indulge in it.

Anyway, as a type 4 INFJ with specific strengths (and weaknesses), I find it all fascinating. So leave a comment and tell me your type! I will read about it and judge you. No! But I do like to learn and know my people better.

Plus, I feel like I'm in good company. Apparently I share an enneagram type with the following: Chopin, Tchaikovsky, Jackie O, Edgar Allen Poe, Anne Frank, Isak Dinesen, Frida Kahlo, Diane Arbus, Martha Graham, Cindy Sherman, Cat Stevens, Cher, Prince, Feist (should I take on a single-name persona?), Florence Welch, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Leonard Cohen, Winona Ryder, Kate Winslet, Nicholas Cage (LOL), and others.

I'll take 'em.