I have a friend who often says, “You are an amazing person, Sarah.”
I often reply, “Well that’s nice, but it’s not quite the whole story.”
Then he will list what he thinks is amazing about me. Like how I am very girly, but my hands are rough from pushing my wheelchair and cooking and doing dishes so much. He thinks I am amazing because I cook and eat so many vegetables. He notices and thinks it’s amazing I keep my house so clean. And how I light candles and make truffle popcorn while we watch TV, because these little things create a cozy atmosphere. I like hearing this list and I like feeling amazing for a minute. I am all for positive thinking and affirmations. Focus on the good parts and allow them to grow and all of that stuff. I am a big fan of and, constantly, practice building myself up and feeling worthy. I am also a big fan of building up others and making them feel worthy. I am all for the amazing.
However, I also feel pretty unamazing, sometimes. I do pretty unamazing things, too. I cuss like a sailor. So much so, Ashlea warns me not to drop certain words as she drives through preschool car line. I am sad, a lot. Like, really, really sad. I am happy to eat salt and vinegar chips and truffle popcorn for dinner, even though I know it is not healthy and is a pretty unamazing dinner. My depression can take over and make me feel withdrawn and lonely and disposable and abandoned and I find solace in too much TV. I can have an incredible and spectacularly unamazing emotional breakdown that involves gut-wrenching cries and a wrath of anger so unamazing I struggle to forgive the moment. And in that moment, I can say words I don’t mean. Words that tear down and make others feel unworthy. I feel pretty unamazing and like a failure in these moments. And all I can muster up to say is, what is wrong with me?
Nothing. Nothing is really wrong with me. I am a person. A person who struggles. A person who gets it right sometimes. A person who is both, amazing and unamazing. And just as much as I celebrate and water the amazing parts, I can work to take tender care of and forgive the not so amazing parts - except the bad words, I lost the use of my legs, I get bad words. Most of these unamazing parts are our wounds. These are the parts that need just as much care and nurturing as the other parts. Anger isn’t as much as an attack, as it is a cry for help. Even Jesus got a little angry. Feeling lonely or depressed or abandoned aren’t unlovable qualities - they are symptoms of our hurt and places where we need more understanding and compassion. This is the crux of this whole love thing. We must forgive what is worst in us, and in another, to truly love. We don’t have to love the bad stuff, we just have to forgive it, and love anyway, in addition to, and because the wounds even exist.
No one is amazing all of the time. We each possess a true story that lives inside of us. This recognition that the truth - the amazing and unamazing - is the best version of the story is scary to face. It’s hard to recognize that the hurt is still there, yet choose to keep living and healing anyway. We must understand this balance of, hurt yet still living, can get out of whack sometimes. It takes time to see the hurt and mistakes and transform them into moments of forgiveness and calls for more love. This kind of understanding is hard to offer a friend, but it is hardest to offer to ourselves. But, we can’t give away what we don’t have.