If life is really a highway (an ode to Tom Cochrane), I imagine myself broke down on the side of the road right about now…
I imagine my ’98 Toyota Camry parked in a highway ditch with busted tired and smoke coming up from the engine, and I imagine that I am unable to flag down any help from those driving by because I’m just not worth their time. Even if I stuck out my exposed leg like some silly and sultry cartoon character, the current state of my soul is too messy to draw anyone’s attention or care.
(Good grief, McKee. Lay off the morbid pills, will ya?)
Here’s the breakdown of my soul lately:
- Ended relationships. “Ouch!”
- Distressing work/school schedules. “Ouch!”
- Loneliness for my family and friends in Florida. “Ouch!”
- Poor Decisions and Regret. “Ouch!”
- Rejection and Disrespect. “Ouch!”
- Anger and Bitterness and Unforgiveness brewing in my heart. “Ouch!”
Prior to this past week, I hadn’t really cried for almost a couple months. (Not normal or healthy for me.) Instead, my soul just kept voicing one word over and over, a word I remember my Aunt Melba taught me as a young girl to say out loud whenever I got hurt to make me feel better. “OUCH!”
But, this past week was a whole different story… I literally went through three pairs of contacts because I had choked back tears so many times. I cycled through sadness to outrage to shame with little variation of emotions in between. I was hardly functional and not at all attractive or inspiring in this state of mind.
Forget a sense of pride or dignity. Broke Down Jesus Girl on the side of the road — that’s where I am at these days.
Why am I so broken down by sins and hurts if I’m a Jesus Girl, you ask? Well, figuratively speaking, it’s like I’ve not recognized that my “spiritual vehicle” needed an oil change until it began to break down other parts of me. I’ve avoided God’s word during this time and I’ve yet to decide on a church community to serve as my accountability and source of counsel.
By the way, if you’re looking for a church in the Bryan-College Station area, I’m the girl to ask. Lord knows I’ve attended at least six or seven different churches since I moved to Aggieland last August. I’ve been to churches made entirely up of college students, churches with a rich blend of diversity in age and ethnicities, churches with nothing but white folks, churches that have concert-style worship services, churches that are led to worship by a single guitarist, churches that meet in school buildings, churches that meet in multiple buildings, churches that preach prosperity gospel like there’s no tomorrow, churches that preach the Bible page-by-page, paragraph by paragraph, churches that number in the thousands, and churches that have less than 100 people to boast.
(I’d like to think I’m a connoisseur of churches because I’m the daughter of a pastor/church-planter, but really I’m probably just a Broke Down Jesus Girl disguised as a bad church critic.)
So, in honor of my mother’s request to “please find a church and get plugged in,” I returned on Mother’s Day (by myself of course) to the first church I visited when I moved here. Upon finding my seat in the back of the auditorium and on the edge of a row where I wouldn’t have to be asked to move or sit by more than one stranger, I was confronted by a girl who had also come by herself and decided to sit on my row of solitude. Presley, a young twenty-something with long, brown hair, distinctively almond-shaped green eyes, and a petite figure, introduced herself and quietly sat down a chair away from me. After “sizing-up” Presley’s pretty features compared to my own ugliness and then scanning the room for who else had arrived to worship, I was reminded of a reason why I had not stuck with this church in the first place.
“These Christians are just too pretty.”
Beautiful faces and people were everywhere I turned. Young, bright-eyed college students dancing and moving to the worship music with no cares of who saw or judged them filled the room. A few lovely families, most likely mothers of these precious, God-loving college freshman who came to visit their babies’ church on Mother’s Day, were scattered around the room as well. Even the row across from me was made up of three gorgeous young couples, each toting and doting on their own beautiful baby.
This particular row of new mommies made my heart ache the most. Lately, I’ve struggled (yet again) with my purpose in Aggieland, my recent singleness and reality-check that I’m probably no where close to getting married or starting a family any time soon, my loneliness for godly friends who can relate to my struggles, and my sense of self-worth and joy.
I envied these young mothers and their beautiful glow. I envied their lives with their husbands and babies and happiness. I envied their friendship with one another and that they can share in their struggles because they are all in a similar place in life.
As the worship began and the lights went dim, I found myself slightly distracted. Distracted by all the pretty Christians. Distracted by my own soul’s ugliness and current aches. Distracted by my recent mistakes in relationships. Distracted by how dead and sad and broken down I felt inside, all the while mouthing lyrics to worship songs I knew by heart but couldn’t feel.
“There’s no way I would fit in here. I am not pretty enough to hang with this crowd. No one would accept me. I am too weird, too different, too sad, too serious to make friends here. I bet I’m practically unnoticeable at this church other than to dear, sweet, beautiful Presley. And that’s just because she wanted to sit in my row.”
I found my eyes once again wondering to the direction of the three beautiful young mothers and their families. I watched as the mother in the middle of the row handed off her baby to her husband and then proceeded to make her way to the center aisle between us. Before I could even realize what she was doing, Kate was inches from my face with her phone in one hand and her other hand on my shoulder. She said God had prompted her to come to me and share a passage of scripture.