Becoming + Belonging

Melissa Bazzell
One of my earliest memories is of my Dad wrapping me in a rainbow-colored blanket each morning.  Fresh from my rumpled bed with crazy hair and sleep-crusted eyes, I would be carried burrito-style to the car and instantly fall back asleep until I reached my great-grandparents’ house.  It was there that I would spend many of my days until my parents got off of work.  

You know what I remember the most about this daily process?  The feeling of being absolutely safe and completely loved.  The feeling of unconditional belonging.  

You know what I’ve spent the rest of my life doing?  Chasing after that feeling.

Along the way I have made a lot of mistakes.  I’ve been hurt and hurt others in the process of finding my place in the world.  My heart has been broken so many times that I’m surprised it even still functions.  I’ve picked up and worn so many hats and fulfilled so many roles in an effort to carve out a niche for myself.  And time and time again, I’ve recited lies in my head and believed I was the problem.  If I could only be MORE but also LESS.  Some of y’all know exactly what I mean.  MORE attractive, MORE talented, MORE creative, MORE outgoing, MORE intelligent, MORE charismatic, MORE organized, MORE disciplined.  And of course be LESS annoying, LESS loud, LESS opinionated, LESS inappropriate, LESS dramatic, LESS scattered, LESS distractible, and for heaven’s sake LESS awkward.

All this shape-shifting and role-changing and expectation-carrying led to a deep self-hatred that I mostly kept hidden but that manifested itself time and time again through my thoughts, emotions and even physical body (through sickness and illness).  I think most people would describe me as joyful, outgoing and self-confident and while I am all of those to varying degrees, I have spent most of my life getting motion-sick from the pendulum swing between pride and shame.    

I used to love the phrasing “YOU ARE ENOUGH.”  I even hand-lettered it on journals, coffee mugs and wooden plaques during my Let’s Learn Calligraphy hobby phase.  But you know what?  I REALLY despise it now because it devalues the need we have for God in our lives.  I know it was never intended to be used that way...I, for one, never intended to suggest that I am okay without God.  But stating "YOU ARE ENOUGH" as a personal mantra changes our view from looking towards the perfection of our Creator to looking at the imperfections of humanness and calling it acceptable.  And here is the absolute truth--I will NEVER be acceptable or good enough on my own, NEVER.  Not because I haven’t tried (seriously, I’ve strived my guts out).  Not because I don’t care (I wear passion like a badge of honor).  Not because I have nothing to offer the world (I am created uniquely and so are you).  But because I was never created to be the solution to other people’s problems or fill up the holes in their lives or mine.  I’m just here to point them to the one that can.

Honestly, that truth gives me both relief and disappointment.  I am relieved to not feel the weight of constant expectation and performance impregnated into every moment of every day. BUT, I also really like being the hero of the story and saving the day.  However, if I’m not the hero that also means I don’t have to be the healer.  And when things don’t turn out the way I wish they would I don’t have to wear failure as my identity.  

Take some time and ask God who you are.  What makes you uniquely His?  What gifts, talents, abilities, stories, situations, and interests has He equipped you with?  Where are you in life?  What sets your heart on fire?  Who is close to you and what value do you add to their lives?

These are not easy questions and if you are anything like me you will want to casually read over the paragraph above and never actually answer them.  I can 100% relate.  I get that you want to be inspired and motivated and gain more knowledge.  I get that you want some quick tips that help you be the best version of yourself... like yesterday.  I get that you are busy and don't have the margin for extensive self-reflection or self-exploration (btw...these are all my actual excuses for not wanting to do “the work” of healing).  But, the difference between answering these questions and not is life-changing.  You can just read another blog post, save another inspirational quote, listen to another motivating podcast and check it off your to-do list OR you can have an experience that catapults you in a direction that breaks the cycles of unhealthy patterns that you have adopted and accepted as hopeless.  Don’t be the person who accepts hopelessness and lies.  DIG for the truth, there is nothing better.  

This is as close as I come to begging...God knows that I hate trying to convince anyone to do anything.  Probably because I have a rebel heart and I know that the harder you push, the harder some people will reject you and your ideas.  But I would be disobedient if I didn’t stress the importance of getting to a place of honesty and vulnerability with yourself and God.  It’s the foundation upon which healing is built.  It’s harder and easier than you think.

I’ve been praying for you and every person who will read these words and will continue to do so.  It doesn’t matter if I know your name or your specific situation.  I’m praying for everyone who reads this to be ignited with such a passion for healing that it overflows to everyone in which you come into contact. I’m also praying (WARNING:  you may not like this part) that the Holy Spirit will not leave you alone until you finish the work of surrendering your WHOLE self to God...#sorrynotsorry.

The Holy Spirit is persistent and can reveal truth in all the ways that humans fail.  You will never outrun God.  He cares about you too much to let you walk around broken and purposeless. You have too much to add to life on this side of eternity to remain in your comfort-zone watching Netflix and eating chips and salsa.  

But before you start--STOP.  Please don’t do anything else until you pray.  Don’t know what to pray?  Pray Ezekiel 36:25-26

25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.

Prayer of Response:
Oh God, that you would wash away the darkness that has clouded our judgement and filled us with apathy, discontent, anger and lack of purpose.  That you would remove everything that has stolen our focus, love, attention, money and time...everything that we have used to distract us from our pain.  Everything we have used to fill the holes in our lives that relieved our discomfort--no matter how temporary.  Have mercy on us.  Give us a new heart that is whole and untainted by disappointment, trauma, deferred hope, abuse, neglect and misuse.  We want fully alive, functioning, healthy hearts that beat passionately for your purposes and plans.  Have your way.  Amen.

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