OH LOOK. I AM BACK.
So the "inherent in our identities" thing. I cannot shake this.
The last handful of months haven't been my most stellar. When I think about the, ah, overlying THEME of the last several months, the word I keep snagging is "failed". This isn't the most accurate word, but it's the easiest one, the one I reach first.
I won't make a big list of Failures, but just to show you that that isn't the right word, I'll tell you that first on my list is Emma's birth. I KNOW. How can that be a failure? The not-failure is sitting right next to me slurping on her hand.
The lie I believe about my identity isn't that I'm a failure... no, that's too easy. It's that I didn't measure up. I could have done it better. If I'd worked harder, been smarter, prepared better, I would have done it better.
Which is also a lie.
The scripture my friend studied was Jesus' temptation in the desert. My friend told me she never paid much attention to those verses. She thought they were just a power struggle, blah blah blah. (I didn't tell her that I never paid attention to those verses because I don't pay attention, really, to ANY verses and don't know which end of the Bible is up.) (She knows this already.) (SIGH.)
Jesus is tempted three times. The first time the devil says, "If you are the Son of God, turn these stones into bread." The second time he says, "If you are the Son of God, throw yourself off this cliff and prove that the angels will rescue you." The third time he says, "Bow down before me and I will give you the world."
And as my friend is helling me about this scripture study, it became clear, at least in that moment, that we weren't talking about performing miracles and proving your invincibility and kingship - we were talking about who Jesus really is. Look at yourself! You are tired and hungry and destined to die. Why hasn't your Father taken care of you? Why does your Father treat you this way? You can't really be the Son of God...
The lie I hear is: look at yourself. Look how poorly you performed. You did such a bad, embarrassing job. Can people really love you? Can GOD love you?
My list of poor performances is mortifying. Not because of the performance, but because of what I thought was important. My CHRISTMAS PARTY makes the list. Like the Christmas party even MATTERS. I am EMBARRASSED to tell people how down I was when it looked like no one was partaking of the hot chocolate bar I spent weeks dreaming over and stocking and preparing. This hot chocolate bar, it was going to be the thing that catapulted me into Martha Stewart territory. The thing that would make everyone thrilled to come back next year. The thing that made THIS party better than the LAST.
Except I didn't see anyone DRINKING the hot chocolate. And I was humiliated. Totally bummed out. Crushed. I felt like an idiot. Everyone must think my hot chocolate bar is so stupid. No one sees how cute it is, how much work it was to arrange it just so. No one would spend this much time on a HOT CHOCOLATE BAR. How stupid of me. No one sees my hot chocolate bar and thinks, "Gosh, that Maggie has such neat ideas [in my fantasies, Pinterest does not exist, these ideas sprout fully formed from my own imagination] and this is why we're friends."
Because it's not ME who is awesome, it's what I DO.
Then the next morning I went around picking up cup after sludgey bottomed cup. Clearly I just hadn't SEEN anyone drinking the hot chocolate. I felt foolish all over again.
Because I know! I know how stupid this is! I AM WELL AWARE! I have been attempting to manage and corral this specific neurosis for YEEEEARS!
But, like I told God recently, managing your own neuroses is totally exhausting.
I told him this after telling him that my neuroses were keeping me from being with him. I was not good enough. I had not done well enough. I wasn't even doing well enough at dealing with my issues with not doing well! Why would he want to be around me? Someone who can't even give BIRTH without feeling like she could have done it better! (What my impossible standard is here, I'm not sure. That maybe I would have screamed a little less?)
What I've been feeling, though, these past couple of days is not pressure to get it right or to figure it out or to diagnose myself into the presence of Christ. What I feel is a gentle nudge, a tilting of my heart, so that my stuff, all my stupid little human stuff, pours from the crevices of my confused human heart and spills into his hands where it disappears. It vanishes. I don't have to think about it anymore. And in that second I am just me in front of God. Just me. Just my simple human self and my heart's desire for a rockin' Christmas party and I hear the truth: You are my daughter. I made you, I know you, and I love you. I love who you are, not what you accomplish. My love is not a reward. My love is not impressed. My love is complete and full and free. My love is unconditional. And also, I thought your hot chocolate bar was kick ass.