a follow up :)

Isn’t it wild to look back on our lives and see the hand of God? He really does write the best stories.

I realized that what I wrote last week could have come across a little holier-than-thou — unfortunately, I’m great at doing that.

When I was a freshman in college I kept notes of people’s Instagram names on my phone so I could look them up and try to be like them.

I
am
not
kidding

Instagram makes it easy to spend time scrolling through curated accounts, and I remember finding the accounts of these perfect girls, Christian and in a sorority at a school like Arkansas or Ole Miss and probably Young Life leaders, and I had this visceral desire to be them.

The parts of our lives we choose to share can be so aspirational, meant to create desire or longing in other people for a life as exciting and busy and never-boring as ours. Or what we share can just regular snippets of a life lived, stumbled through, and appreciated – but because of my strong, strong desire to be somewhere other than my own life, what was shared left me feeling empty nonetheless.

I remember ghost-following (I obviously couldn’t follow her because she didn’t know me, but I needed to check in every often for the next part of my life to curate) a girl who I had mutual friends with through camp: probably a few years older than I am, a Chi Omega at some Southern school and Young Life leader and she was so good at lettering – I mean this good.

She seemed to have this infectious joy and loved God and the people in her life with a huge smile and posted so many pictures of her creative pursuits – the sweetest little colorful drawings of happy phrases like throw kindness around like confetti, bind my wandering heart to Thee, great is Thy faithfulness, and the like.

During high school and the beginning of college, I really liked lettering too and was good enough at it that I sometimes liked what I made. But I can’t really say whether I liked it because I actually liked it, or because I liked the person I promised myself I could become if I created this beautiful, perfect, show-off-able life all around me just like I perceived hers to be.

(As a huge disclaimer – I’ve never met this girl, and I’m sure she’s an incredible person. I think God used her talent and love for life to reveal to me some of my own sin, and in that she helped me change.)

I remember vividly seeing that she had posted of a drawing-in-progress from a plane ride, felt-tip pens scattered on that rickety little tray table. I made a mental note that I should probably post a similar picture because it was so cute and would show people how cute and creative I was, even on a dull plane ride.

I remember, too, thinking of how I would distinguish myself and pretend I didn’t know who this girl even was in case my lettering ever got big, in case I ever started a little Etsy shop or a real business.

Do you know what thought patterns all that came from?

Fear, captivity, scarcity.

So, so scary.

When I was a freshman in college, I was scared of who I was and who I wasn’t simultaneously. I wrote about this a little bit in January, through the lens of mental health on college campuses: I’m scared that I’m not likeable enough and I‘m scared that I’m too strange for anyone to want to spend time with me. I’m scared of how likeable everyone else seems to be and I don’t know how to figure out who I am in all of the noise.

I don’t really draw anymore and I don’t really miss it. But I write a lot and miss it when I don’t. I might have explained to you the feeling I get when I know I need to write that day: like an extended thought is trying to make its way outside of me and onto paper, or onto the keys.

What I have realized from writing here for more than three (!!) years is that in writing (and reading in bookstores, and walking around new neighborhoods, and standing to sing one more song in church, but mostly in writing) I find myself, and I am a bit more free than I was before.

Isn’t it wild to look back on our lives and see the hand of God? He really does write the best stories.

Thanks for reading and for your graciousness when I am less-than so.

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