Sunday, March 1, 2009

Who Is the Real Me?

When the alarm rang this morning for church, I did not want to get up. I had gone to bed much too late and this alarm seemed much too early. Nevertheless, knowing I would regret not going, I got up, showered, washed my hair and came back to my room to dress. What should I wear? I had no energy to think. Something easy. Okay, my jeans (I dress down for church because of the street people there). I sat on the side of my bed to put on my socks but even that task seemed daunting.

I can’t do this! Should I stay home?

The question I’ve been asking myself lately is, Who am I? Who am I apart from Tom, apart from friends, apart from all the things that influence me in my desperation to please others? I lay down and pondered. What does the real Debbie want? Who is the real Debbie in this debate?

Three scenes from my past came to mind. One actually happened and two were in dreams but all were very real. In the first, I lived alone in a single room on the second floor of a rooming house. I shared a bathroom and a kitchen sink with other tenants and had lost my motivation to do much. Last month’s garbage and dirty dishes piled high into a plastic bin of rotting water were sending a foul reek into the cluttered space. If I didn’t take care of them soon, the bugs would arrive. I remembered a movie about that. I also remembered the newspaper article I clipped and hid at the back of my Bible about a woman who had lived the same way. Her home was condemned by the health board and she was admitted to psychiatric hospital. Did this scene describe the real me?

In the second scene, my husband, small kids and I were visiting a relative for a few days but something happened between us. In anger, I stormed out of the house, hitchhiked to the city and began to live on the streets. A couple of years past. One day I was walking down the back lane behind our house. My kids had changed. So had I. They were in the back yard playing and as I stood to watch them, they didn’t know me. I walked away. Did this scene describe the real me?

In the third scene I had also run away from my husband. This time I took the children with me and found refuge in the home of a friend. As I shared all I was feeling, my despair, grief and pain, she embraced me. This is what good friends do when one is hurting. But the embrace changed. It became a hug that was hungry, grasping, pushing for much more. Scared, I grabbed my kids and ran. I stood outside on the dark and empty street, my children clustered around me. Where could I go? There was nowhere. Did this scene describe the real me?

Yes! Yes! Yes! Each scene shows who I have been or could be when/if I allowed myself to slide—to take the meaningless, easy route of doing nothing. This is the me who would stay home from church and hide in bed. Is this the me I want to be? Is this the true me? It is the me without Jesus, the me of hopelessness and despair, the me at the bottom of a barrel filled with vomit.

No, this is not the me I want to be. I want to be the me that I would be with Jesus, the me that walks with God, who listens to him and shapes her life around him. Yes, this is who I want to be.

The decision made, I sat up and faced my clothes again. The effort to dress still felt monumental but slowly I pulled myself together and prepared for church. I missed the pre-service prayer meeting I usually attend, but I made it to church and I’m glad I did. It was an awesome morning.

As I stood through our time of singing at church, it came to me. When I’m in a situation like this morning, debating about what I want to do, I can ask myself, Why? What is my reasoning? Who am I? Which choice reflects who I really want to be? Which choice leads to the bottom of the barrel and which invites God to walk with me?


Samantha said...

A friend of mine asked me once how I stay motivated to run. I told her when I don't run, I spend the day wishing I had, wanting the increased energy and clarity of thought that comes because I stay physically fit. But when I run, there is never a moment in the day that I regret it. I sort of feel the same way about church. If I stay home I wonder what I missed, but when I go--even when I'd rather rest or relax at home--I never regret it for a moment.

I'm glad you were able to find the strength to attend. And I'm glad the experience was a wonderful one.

Debbie Haughland Chan said...

Thanks, Sam! I hope to write about church tomorrow. I ran out of steam today. I like your comparison to running and you stated it so well--you never regret doing it when you do do it. I'm going to have to remember that--for more than just early mornings like church and running (I do not run).