I was catching up with a long time friend of mine the other day. It’s one of those friendships where you just pick up right where you left off. My favorite kind. I asked her how her winter break was going. I’m not going to deny it, I was expecting a simple “it’s good,” or something along those lines. But she went on to telling me how she’s been feeling exhausted emotionally and mentally and in every way. And how she’s worn out and her thoughts are wearing her down. She went through it all, not leaving any details out and in that instant, I was reminded how small talk is truly overrated. I sighed and thought, that is the most relatable thing I’ve heard in a while. It’s true. I’m tired. Life can be so tiring. We’re trying to do so much and get it all done as quickly as possible. We keep trying to manage ourselves and make ourselves what we think we ought to be.
The world is hard, and maybe what we need is more asking “how are you really doing?”. So I asked another friend that recently. “I’m trying” was her response. I would have never guessed that to be her response. She always looks 100% put together and ready to conquer the world every time I see her. The truth is, I’m also trying and I’m also tired. One of the things that got me thinking about all of this is something I read at the train station the other day. “Maybe we’re all a how are you away from not feeling so alone in all of this today” was written on a wall. We crave someone to ask us how we’re doing. Isn’t it true? I know I, for one, crave those relationships where I can just be my true self and let it all out. And actually, what I’ve been seeing and learning over these past couple of years is that that’s when we learn to love each other best – when we sit in the mess together. When we show up at each others’ houses and call each other up on the phone, saying I have no idea what I’m doing and this is hard and it kind of hurts sometimes. When we sit around a table together, laughing and crying about the reality of this thing called life. One of the greatest feelings, in my opinion, is when someone asks you how you’re doing. And when they’re ready to listen. I think it’s one of the top ways we can show someone we care about them. When given the opportunity to be heard in that way, it’s like a weight is lifted off our shoulders. And not only that, but in that moment we’re also reminded that we’re not alone and how we’re all a work in progress.
I put on my make up in the morning and attempt to do my hair in some way and try to put together an outfit that will be pleasing and then I sprint on off to my fashion job. And I walk through the doors with a smile on my face. But at the same time, I’m missing home. I miss the summer days of sitting around the fire by the lake with my family while my dad’s playlist of all the hits from the ’70s plays on repeat over and over and over again. We tell dumb stories and laugh without a worry in the world because in that moment we were all together and there was no worry or pressure. I’m having a hard time being content these days. And there are parts of my heart that are still aching from things that feel like they’re way past their time. That those scars shouldn’t be there any longer. But for some reason, they still creep up every now and then. And the feelings come back far too well, and I so easily believe they’re feelings I thought I’d forgotten.
So that’s when I find myself sitting on the floor in the middle of the mess…missing the comfort of everything familiar and feeling the aches of things that have hurt me before. But also that seems to be where I can hear God the clearest. When I let it all out and admit that I can’t do it alone. It’s easy for us to meet people when we’re at our highs…when we’re reaching success. But when we’re completely undone…that’s the hard part. But what I’m seeing is that the Lord shows me time and time again that it’s okay. It’s okay that I’m a work in progress. Because I’m His work in progress. And that’s what makes me a little more confident to go and ask people how they’re doing. Because I’m ready to sit with them in the mess, because a loving God showed me that that is the ultimate way to show one another we care.
words by Megan Sauers and photo by Sarah Mohan