“So, about that date this week...you couldn’t go even if you wanted to.”
Ouch, he was right.
As I looked at my calendar I realized every last night of my week was booked. I didn’t have a moment to spare that wasn’t consumed with obligations, events or commitments.
Jokingly I’ve admitted that I’m like a shark. If I stop moving I will surely die.
I’ve been so accomplished, so responsible, so adult lately. I’ve managed my time and made strides forward and even downloaded some new software. I’ve said yes to strangers and smiled and made small talk and committed to things I know I shouldn’t have. I’ve fallen asleep meeting deadlines just to wake up early and start all over again. I’ve even lied about what I can and can’t do just to feel more capable so that when I put my head on the pillow at night I’ll smile and remember just how needed I am.
But I knew something had to change because I was sprinting full speed ahead moving a hundred miles per hour and still felt like I was dying inside.
I’ve been so consumed with growing up that I’ve actually stopped growing as a person. I thought my literal laundry list of responsibilities would make me responsible and capable and needed which would therefore make me a good person. But the truth is projects don’t incite conflict and a character cannot grow without experiencing conflict.
But good people choose people, not projects.
Doing the dishes or working out actually come easy to me. They’re low risk, low reward. These activities won’t ask me tough questions or challenge me or tell me how much I’ve hurt them. All they require from me is what I’m willing to give them. In return I feel accomplished and worthy to take up a little bit of space on the planet.
People, on the other hand, are much harder.
Relationships are high risk, high reward. They require vulnerability and time and sacrifice. People can look you in the eyes and call you to a higher standard. They can tell you how you’ve hurt them or ask you to do something outside of your comfort zone. People will require more of you than you alone are able to provide.
It's easy to run towards responsibilities rather than relationships.
Or if you're really twisted like me you'll realize it's easy to turn pump relationships with responsibilities.
I don’t know if you do this, maybe I’m the only one, but even once I decide that I want to get better at relationships I make a checklist of requirements before I can even start. This makes me feel even better about myself than my other accomplishments because now not only am I good at getting things done but I’m also good at relationships, which feels like the ultimate prize.
So instead of actually spending time with people or God or other things that fill me up I feverishly throw myself into a series of do’s and don’ts so I can measure my success.
Cook dinner. Journal. Lead a small group. Buy presents. Don’t piss anyone off. Smile.
And that, my friends, is how I can feel lonely even in the most crowded of rooms. Somehow I’ve managed to turn even connection into a measure of productivity and worthiness and eventually, no matter how hard I try, I just won’t measure up. Because eventually I’ll forget a birthday or miss a dinner or make a mistake and then the entire jig is up. I’m exposed as the incapable fraud I’ve made myself to be.
It’s hard for you to tell because these are just words on a screen but I’m whispering these next words because I’m scared. I’m scared to put my heart out there because it feels so bruised and ugly but I hope you can hear me when I whisper what’s next:
I don’t want to be this person anymore.
Because at the end of the day what is a life to have lived if the laundry is all done but the people around you have come undone? What kind of legacy will I leave behind if my checklists are empty but so is my home? What kind of person will I become if I’m really good at showing off for the presentation but bad at showing up for the people around me?
My life will not be evaluated based on the projects I completed. My legacy will be based on the love I had to give.
Love, like all good things, requires time.
If I have no time to spare I will ultimately have no love to give. If people feel penciled in then they don’t feel like a priority. If I cannot do the brave work of disassembling my schedule so that I can welcome others in then it will all have been for nothing.
I’m tired and lonely and I’m wondering if maybe, just maybe, you are too.
I’m tired of having all hustle and no heart. I’m tired of being tired and using it as an excuse to hide from my relationships. I’m bored with a full calendar and yet empty conversations. I’m over being charming to a room of strangers if it means spending a night away from my people or offering them lesser parts of me.