Last night I posted this on my social media:
And there is so many more thoughts that are taking laps in my brain so I figured I’d give myself the space to expand in hopes that, this pouring, would maybe make clear that tension I felt, that you may be feeling.
I’m 30 now. Let me start off and say, I am a naturally pensive person. I like to look back, I like to reflect especially at big moments. I didn’t expect to feel the way I do for my 30th birthday though. I expected to feel exactly the same, as if no real change happened, like most other birthdays! (lol) But while looking for pictures to post on IG to summarize ten years of life, I thought, “Wow, I really poured myself out in my twenties.”
For some context, when I was super young, on the cusp of 20, probably 19, I was listening to Matt Chandler preach about relationships (because I was obsessed with getting, being in, and locking down one of those haha). He addressed single people and urged them not to hopelessly just pursue a relationship, he said (and I paraphrase), “If you are single you have the opportunity to do so much. Don’t waste your life just waiting for a husband or wife. Pour your life out for the ones who come after you in glad service to the Lord. They need you and more, they want you.” That idea, that my singleness was so valuable not only to me but to the people who were placed in my life, was perspective shifting. It changed me and resonated so deeply with who I was.
So fast forward to last week, while looking for pictures to post on this modern Xanga feed (iykyk lol), and the realization that I did it, I actually successfully poured myself out for others for ten years, I didn’t expect to feel so conflicted about it. Immediately after the realization of success in accomplishing a purpose, I thought, “But was it worth it?” And honestly my immediate answer was, “I don’t know.” Because as romantic and idealistic as the idea of pouring oneself out for the care of others for the glory of God sounded, the reality is that looking back I experienced so much pain.
Pouring is painful. It’s not like the satisfaction of completing a task, it doesn’t fill in nice neat boundaries. This act of continually pouring was dangerous and got everywhere. At the beginning of that commission I didn’t know how to shield myself from manipulative friends. I was taken advantage of and placed in the middle of situations I never should have been. I didn’t know how to set good boundaries, I was often exhausted and giving from an empty cup. I had to learn, on the fly how to set up those bounds, which usually meant I failed at both and adjusted as I went. And it wasn’t like a gradual growing that I finally perfected at 30, learning these things was just as difficult at 21 as it was at 29. There is still so much I have to learn.
I didn’t know this act of pouring would bring me to my limit of understanding. I didn’t know it would cost so much. I didn’t know it would make me cautious. I didn’t know the act of pouring would push me to be vulnerable. I didn’t know it would make me weak. I didn’t know it would bring me so much joy. I didn’t know it would deposit a deep unyielding love for the girls I mentored. I didn’t know it would give me the people I cherish most. I didn’t know it would stretch the span of my arms around the ones who were the most rejected. I didn’t know it would drive me to let go of ones I loved for their benefit. I didn’t know it would lead me to the Everlasting Fountain in my darkest moments. I didn’t know it would hurt. I couldn’t have known.
And so, it took me a while to truly know what my answer to my own question was. Was it worth it to continually pour myself out in service of others? I wanted to write a post to summarize the last ten years on my birthday but hesitated because this wasn’t a question I could even answer for myself. To be honest, up until yesterday, I was leaning towards no. No, it’s not worth it. It’s too much. Pouring is inexplicably hard. And at the time, I wish I could warn others about the pain as much as I possibly could. But when I sat down to put to language the deep emotions this question stirred, one question came to me that finally gave me clarity; what would I urge my girls to do?
If you don’t know, I’ve mentored a handful of girls for years and they completely have my heart and my love. And even though they aren’t six graders anymore, I still want to give them as much as I can to make their way a little bit easier. And so that question was more than just a thought. It was a divine realization that this feeling I was experiencing was true love, actual unyielding love. And I realized, if the way I love these girls and all the people I’ve cherished these past 10 years is only a fraction of how God loves me, then it’s worth it. I am currently experiencing the weight of love in its most imperfect, microscopic, human form and even though it is a grain of sand compared to the love Jesus has for me, for a moment I identified with him and understood Christ more. Love is not a one time action but long patience and obedience in the same direction. This act of pouring, it’s where I began to receive the one thing my heart craves, the unconditional love of a Savior.
What’s most daunting to me now, standing at the entrance of a new decade, is still choosing to be committed to pouring now that I know what it means. My first inclination is to shield myself as I walk forward. I don’t know if I will be successful for the next 10 years. But I pray for the same willing naivety that I had at 19. I pray that even in knowing all the pain that come from pouring, I would choose to pour anyway. To commit to the pouring out.
This is going to be interesting.