Preach, J.Law. Preach.
I'm pretty sure Jennifer Lawrence is my soul sister. I've been convinced, along with the rest of America, of this fact for quite some time now. Maybe it's her hilarious gesticulations. Maybe it's her raspy voice that gives me hope for my own labored vocal chords. Maybe it's the depths of her awkwardness that seem to permeate nearly everything she does.
Or maybe it's because she's crazy.
I mean homegirl is legitimately off her rocker. And I absolutely love it. I salute you, J. Law, for being a complete hot mess. The messiness you exude frees the rest of us up to be the giant, sloppy, disasters that we truly are. So now please join me and raise a glass to our generation's own treasured misfit: Jennifer Lawrence.
But in all seriousness, that line about being sloppy and dirty is pure fire. Very few times, if ever, does a movie line resonate so deeply within me. Silver Linings Playbook debuted years ago and that line still strikes me to my core. Whenever I watch the film I anxiously anticipate as J. Law flawlessly delivers such a powerful mini-monologue about brokenness.
Truth be told I wish I wasn't so sloppy and dirty.
For the longest time I tried to sweep the sloppiness under the rug. I wanted to manage the broken parts of myself. I kept trying to pick up the pieces but they would spill out of my arms and I would furiously gather them together again, all the while hoping no one noticed. Little shards of me were broken off and bouncing around. When I tried to scoop up my brokenness I would cut myself on the sharper pieces I found. I ended up more injured and messier than I started.
Because at the end of the day I was angry, furious even. I was so devastated and upset but rather than allowing myself to outwardly express my emotions I bottled them up inside. I kept sweeping them under the rug even though they would fall out from time to time. We have emotions regardless of whether we express them or not. It's what makes us human.
But if we don't embrace those emotions they'll bounce around inside of us- the anger turns into self-loathing, the sadness into self-pity, etc.
I spent quite some time pushing my brokenness and my "negative" emotions aside. No one necessarily wants to be sad or angry. There simply isn't time or space for those kind of feelings. But the emotions are there and if we don't express them in healthy ways they'll manifest themselves and attack us. If we don't embrace our sadness then the sadness has to go somewhere. We'll turn it back onto ourselves as self-pity. If we aren't willing to admit to our anger then it'll come back in the form of self-loathing.
Or even worse, we'll make other people feel for us.
Rather than sitting in our mess we will project our mess onto others. It's as though I don't want to be sad, so I'll make you be sad for me and pity me. I don't want to be angry, so I would prefer for you to be angry for me and get protective. Again, those emotions have to go somewhere. We'll either let them tear us apart or tear up the people around us.
The truth is, we've got to be able to forgive ourselves. We have to learn that it's okay to feel what we feel. It's okay to make messes and be sloppy. It's okay for little pieces of us to spill out from time to time. In fact, the only way people can connect with us is if we're willing to be vulnerable enough to forgive ourselves.
Because the sloppiest parts about me are the places I’m least likely to forgive. They’re the parts in me that I have a hard time facing in the mirror. In fact, I would much rather not forgive myself, because if I’m honest I’m terrified to know what I’m really capable of.
People ask why I write. I write to forgive myself.
A long time ago I did a terrible thing. I was hurting and I did what I do best when I’m hurting- I spoke. I processed out loud. I lashed out of anger, sadness, confusion, and a whole other host of emotions and said awful things.
I told my dad he wasn’t a dad anymore. I told him that if it were up to me I would rather be without him. And then he died. It was, and on my worst days continues to be, the hardest and sloppiest thing about me. If only I could’ve know, if only I would’ve been more patient or kind. Maybe you’ve said something you regretted too. Maybe I’m not alone in this.
So ever since then I’ve been scrambling to forgive myself. Since my dad died I’ve been processing out loud and with every word I write I feel the healing process wash over me. On my worst days I could continue to use my words for evil. But on my best days I’m convinced that these words I write and I speak can be my apology. An apology is simply asking for forgiveness. All an apology says is, “I’m so sorry. I don’t have all the answers. Can you help me? Can I help you? Can we help each other to be better?”
What if our guilt is the path to glory?
I believe our biggest failures are the places inside of us that will produce the most faithfulness. I’m convinced that the sloppiest parts about us might actually be the most holy. If I’m willing to accept and extend forgiveness to the worst parts about me they could actually be used for the greatest good. It’s not that I’m on some hamster wheel trying to prove my worth. No, that wouldn’t be very life giving at all. But I am on the path to forgiveness.
Because if anything I am convinced that I have a God who refuses to let the dead parts in me stay dead. He’s willing to reach into the muck and the mire and wash me clean again. Sloppiness is just sanctification in disguise.
So can you forgive? Can you start to embrace the sloppiness and the dirtiness and the messes you’ve made? What if that guilt puts you on the path to glory?
There are parts of me that are very sloppy, very broken, and very much in need of redemption. But I’m starting to be okay with it. I’m writing to forgive. In slow pieces I watch my words get redeemed on this page.
Maybe it's time we apologize to ourselves. So can you forgive mother f***er? Can you?
I sure hope so. I know I would at least like to try. And I hope you can too. I need you to forgive yourself and let your glory shine through.