I'm writing this on my deck, because it's potentially the last day it will be warm enough to do so. The problem is I'm staring out at the overgrown weedy mess that is my backyard and I am overcome with guilt and despair. But for you, dear readers, I will soldier on. Such courage is needed to willfully ignore one's homeownership duties.
Isn't it funny that I want to write about Responsibility?
Last month when I was experiencing a spot of anxiety (thank God, just a spot), I asked a friend to pray for me. She said, "I have this picture of you and God. You're holding a big sack full of papers, important papers. And you're reluctantly handing them over to God, slowly, one by one. He's ripping up each important paper and you... YOU DON'T LIKE IT."
This is, you'll agree, a depressing vision to receive about oneself. What sort of person, upon being invited to turn over her lifetime and future of sin to a loving and gracious God for incineration and forgiveness, IS DISPLEASED?
But I haven't gone to eons of therapy for nothing. I am well aware of my attachment to my sins and mistakes and my unwillingness to stop punishing myself, ever. I've talked to God about this. I know I'm supposed to hand it all over and let go, even if I'm not quire sure HOW, and he has (so far) been content to let me wrestle with that, providing depressing pictures to my friends in prayer when requested.
This time, though, I didn't just say, "yeah yeah yeah" and go on with my day. This time I really asked him about it. This time I wanted to know. WTF IS WRONG WITH ME, GOD?
Which is when he started teaching me about Responsibility, and the role it has played in my life. A starring role, actually, billed as "Idol".
He brought me back to being a little girl, even though I have a seriously dreadful memory. The litany of "what a responsible kid!" comments from charmed adults, the giant stack of "so mature for her age!" squees, the "role model" mentions, the trust and knowing looks and confidence I knew grown ups had in me. He showed me how Responsible Young Lady became my IDENTITY. How ingrained it was in me in high school and how mortifying, painful, and shameful it was when I chose to be irresponsible (those three or four times) and someone chastised me. He reminded me of decisions - vows, really - I made after an adult was disappointed in me, to never disappoint them (or myself) again.
Then he reminded me of my early 20s, when I had to take a conscious step back from the ways I was taking responsibility for my siblings - when they didn't need or want me to. He showed me the role of responsibility in some of my anxiety episodes. He began revealing how my identity of responsibility is playing out in working with my sister and the bakery. He highlighted my marriage and how I am taking responsibility for things that aren't mine.
The "taking responsibility" wasn't new to me. The "I can't let things go because I feel so responsible for them" mentality is not new to me. What was drastically heartbreakingly new was seeing how I worship responsibility. I don't like God ripping up my sins because I am not done beating myself up for them, but I also don't like it - and perhaps this is a deeper realer reason - because in God ripping up my sins, it means that maybe Responsible is not the truest, best, realest thing about me. God ripping up my sins means the thing I'd made most important about my own self, since I was very small, was wrong. .
No wonder I couldn't (can't!) receive a wiped-clean-slate from my Father. How could I do so knowing that I am in charge of so much? That so many bucks stop with me? That I carry so many things that I am not meant to carry? Again, I've KNOWN this about myself. You can't go through your entire life being lauded and appreciated for your maturity and reliability without having a clue. But that I owned it so completely that I became it, that I worshipped it, that taking responsibility was more important than receiving God's love. That's crazytalk.
So here I am, a few weeks into this, attempting to live in a new world where everything does not depend on me, and where I do not find my identity in being the person to keep things upright. It's weird. It feels wrong. It feels FREE.
Which doesn't mean this is going to be easy to get rid of. We ARE talking my entire life/identity. And I feel like God is giving me a grace period right now, in which to just sort of sit and marvel at the revelation, before anything comes down the chute that I actually have to deal with. The next time Phillip has a rough week at work, say, and I want to mitigate life for him, or when we have to make choices about the bakery, or even Christmastime coming up and, being the oldest sister, I naturally take charge of certain things. But I want to. Because in the last handful of years, my identity as someone who says YES to God has grown and grown and grown, to the point where that part of me is overcoming the Responsible part of me. And I say YES, God, I will tear down this idol. Somehow. (Help.)