My mind flits backwards and stops again on a moment in my life as a 12 year old. Probably because it illustrates who I was, in contrast to who I thought I have now become.
Once again, I am 12 years old and I stand in the kitchen holding a pan of brownies that somehow went dreadfully wrong. I am irrationally crushed. So much of my identity is tied up in this area of my life. For this, I am praised and I gather that praise almost greedily, trying hard to fill an empty spot deep inside and to make sense of my life.
I held that pan, devastated because I had failed. I looked at the clock as it ticked quietly on the wall and I calculated.
Yes, I could do it, and I would!
I dumped the entire pan in the trash, covered it up well and started over.
No one would know, it would be 30, maybe even 45 min. before anyone arrived and my tragedy would be unknown, my face saved.
It worked that time, things went smoothly, perfect glossy brownies with a crackled surface were coming out of the oven at just the right time. They were all that I hoped, and they didn't come from a box!
But I carried a secret, I wasn't as perfect, as I pretended. It haunted me. My imperfection, my secret, my mascaraed.
This little insignificant incident became important. Over the next years this story would repeat itself in many different situations, until I began to joke that somehow I had spent my teen years believing that the best course of action is
"If at first you don't succeed, remove all evidence that you tried."
It bound me up tight inside. I feared trying things where I thought I might fail. I was shattered if I failed or even felt like I failed. I tried to stick close to the things I did well. I spent inordinate amounts of time internally mastering everything before attempting anything.
I married a man who knows how to laugh at himself and does so frequently. He is comfortable winging it on his own, and goes for help later, IF things don't work out.
He tells other people his crazy moves, his mistakes, and missteps. He Laughs about them.
I envied that! Slowly I started to be more daring, to take myself less seriously, to embrace failure as a good learning tool and not a catastrophic event.
I still get scared, I still get choked up with fear of failure when I am pushed out of my comfort zone before I think I am ready.
I still hate failing, looking stupid, and messing up.
But......I thought............ I really thought I had come a very, long way.
I thought I had learned something about what it means to embrace my own imperfections, my humanity and to understand at a deep heart level that perfect isn't were things are at. That's a God job, and I will never, never make that level in a million years.
But now I'm twelve again and I am standing by the counter, and everything in my wants to erase, cover up, runaway, forget, pretend and start over.
I don't want to feel this pain.
I don't want to feel this anger.
I don't want to think about what it means.
I don't want to ask the hard questions, and I don't even know if I want the answers.
Really, I just want a clean paper, I want to remove the evidence that I tried. And God knows, I have tried harder at this then anything in my entire life.
It still wasn't enough, it still didn't work, not even part way. I don't know how to make peace with that right now.
My head and my heart don't say the same thing. I know "the right answers". I can quote the liturgy as well as the next well-churched girl. But those little cliches and nice pat answers aren't going to cut it.
This is like the brownies, I am irrationally crushed. It is an identity issue, and it's hitting me in deep, dark hidden places.
But I know deep inside that I have changed because even though it is excruciating I am and will make an effort not to hide, not to erase.
I will hold this in my hand, when I really want to bury it and run away.
I will face the hurt, the anger,the imperfection, the disappointment, the brokenness and healing will come, eventually.
Tear Soup isn't made overnight, and that is what I am making right now. Even though I would rather be making something else. I hadn't planned on this, I haven't studied for this, I don't know how to do this....but I am un-clenching my hand.
“When life is sweet, say thank you and celebrate. And when life is bitter, say thank you and grow.” ― Shauna Niequist, Bittersweet