Thirteen days. That’s how long I’ve been sick. I’m tired of being sick. Sick and tired.
Thirteen days of coughing. Thirteen days of blowing my nose until it’s raw. Thirteen days of decongestants, Vaporub, cough drops, and Advil. Thirteen days of steamy showers and propped-up pillows. Thirteen days of walking in a fog.
I’ve self-diagnosed a bad cold or some kind of respiratory virus because that’s what everyone else around me has contracted, and I’ve never developed a fever. I haven’t seen a doctor because I don’t want to pay $150 to hear him say, “Drink plenty of fluids and rest.”
As I tick off the days of feeling so crappy, my mood sinks. My outlook on life sucks. Everyone hates me. Nobody loves me. I’m going to take my toys and go home. Meaningless, meaningless, everything is meaningless. I’m pretty sure Solomon had the same virus when he wrote Ecclesiastes.
So this is probably not the best time to make any decision more important than which can of soup to heat. Deciding to quit writing ranks slightly higher than lunch.
I voiced my complaints and my contemplation to the circle of Facebook friends, who promptly assured me that I had inhaled a little too much Vaporub. Get well first, they said. Don’t make any decisions now. And, they added, please don’t quit.
I breathed in their assurances and backed away from the cliff. Then I scanned the names of commenters.
Cancer survivor. Cancer survivor. Buried her father. Buried his son.
Single mom. Single dad. Autistic son. Carnival Triumph passenger (yes, that one).
God. I hate myself.
My little virus does not deserve such drama. I am fine. I am not “overwhelmingly discouraged by life,” as I so eloquently complained. I have a cold.
Fair warning: here is the section of this post that gets a little whiney and pathetic. Feel free to close this window now and go back to Pinterest.
Still here? Okay.
I’ve been writing since I was an obnoxious, attention-grabbing kid. I wrote stories (badly) and essays, and I had a few teachers who encouraged me and identified the gift God had invested in me. I majored in English with a writing specialization, and I did very well. My professors continued the line of affirmation. I worked at a publishing company answering phones, dabbling in some copy editing and writing “shorts” on travel gear and vacation ideas. My boss, the Antichrist, told me I was good at my job.
I fled the Antichrist and worked at a dental school, editing syllabi and designing the department website. My boss, the anti-Antichrist, loved me.
Then I became a mom, and writing stepped aside to make room for feeding schedules, playgroups, milestones, tantrums — and I had no idea what I was doing.
Years later when I joined MOPS, I was asked to write a bimonthly column for our group’s newsletter, and from that, this blog was born. Once again, I gratefully received the pats on the back I so desperately craved. Writing with honesty and authenticity fed you, and it fed me.
Writing, like any form of art, involves naked vulnerability. The creator digs out the most tender places of her heart, dresses them up, and displays them to the world. Then she waits for the world’s response.
It is terrifying.
And sometimes, the world doesn’t respond. All she sees are blank stares, all she hears is silence. So she crawls back into herself, questioning her gift, reevaluating her calling. The art inside her won’t stand to be confined, so she lets it out again, hoping this time the world will applaud.
When I was around twelve or thirteen years old, I looked in the mirror and voiced the fear of every twelve or thirteen year old girl in the history of girlkind: “I’m ugly.”
My dad, not breaking his gaze from the six o’clock news, replied, “Quit fishing for compliments.” From that, I learned that my insecurities don’t really matter, so shut up and deal with it alone. Stop being so self-absorbed. Stop whining.
I’m not sure I still believe that. Our insecurities — our scariest parts that cage us with fear — need to be set free, exposed. Only then can they be squelched by the army of those who see us differently, who know the truth.
So I don’t want to cast my line and reel in false praise. But here’s the conclusion I’ve reached:
I need you.
I need you to comment. Often. I need you to tell me that what I do matters to you. I need you to assure me that I’m not crazy, that you can relate. I need you to laugh with me, to disagree with me, to shake your head with me, perplexed at the world around us. I need to know that God is working and breathing and that something I said moved you a little closer to Him.
I’ve been publishing posts on this blog for six years. And for six years, the bottom of my posts have informed me: 1 comment, 2 comments, 1 comment, No comments. And each time, the silence pulls a thread and a small part of me unravels. And I can’t understand why many of the blogs I read mock me with 31 comments, 68 comments, 238 comments. I know they market themselves better than I do. I know they work harder. I know their words are more skillfully crafted. I know. I know. I know.
But my small audience still matters to me. Most of you are my IRL friends. At least one of you changed my diapers. You knew me as a loud, insecure teenager. You met me for lunch at the college cafeteria. You’ve stood next to me in worship services, playgrounds, classrooms.
And some of you, scattered across the map, I have never met. But I know you’re there, and you matter to me, too. Your opinions matter. Your stories matter. And I want to hear your voices in the chorus.
We all need each other. We all need to know that we are not invisible, that we are not alone. We all need to know that what we do has purpose, is important, makes a difference to someone. The waitress, the cashier, the teacher — all need to be affirmed in the place where they landed.
So thank you. Thank you for reading. Thank you for letting me know that you are there and I am here and we are together. Thank you for sticking with me through my rants and ridiculousness and introspection. Thank you for opening my eyes and my airways and allowing me to breathe out the life within. Thank you for speaking truth over my insecurities.
Thank you for being my Vaporub.