I've been in that place before-- the place where everything feels hopeless. That place where the reality of my imperfections weigh heavily on my shoulders; the place where it becomes exquisitely clear that there is very little I can do about it. Suddenly, my efforts seem infinitesimal-- I feel infinitesimal-- and in despair, I wonder why I even try. It will never be enough. I will never be enough.
"You're missing the point" I wanted to say, "Your worth doesn't hinge on how close you come to achieving perfection. It doesn't even hinge on whether I love you or not."
But words couldn't penetrate the fog of despondency J was lost in, and while I knew it wasn't my job to rescue, I was filled with compassion for him. I decided that if he couldn't figure out a happy ending for his fairy tale, then I would.
For two days, I stayed up late with paper, brushes and paints spread across the kitchen table. I drew from every half-finished screenplay he'd ever written, every misunderstood coming-of-age character, every tale of tragedy-turned-redemption.
And as I sketched, painted, wrote and bound, I was struck by how much I loved J. I loved him fiercely and completely, in a way that was unfettered and true. Unlike trust, my love was not something that he had to earn. I loved him simply for being.
How could I explain to him that there was value in fighting his battle regardless of vanquishment, because the effort alone made it safe enough for me to join him in it?
As that thought settled within me, my eyes filled with tears-- and I knew with sudden clarity that we are all loved by our Father in Heaven this way.
That I have value simply because I am His.
That I cannot fill my void with praise or money or addiction or love. It will never be enough.
That I cannot save myself through perfect effort. I will never be enough.
That the simple act of turning to Him and acknowledging my own inability makes it possible for Him to join me in the fight.
And that trying is not about achieving happiness or avoiding pain. It's an expression of love for the One who does fill my void and does make me complete.
I finished J's hand-illustrated, personalized fairy tale and wrapped it with care. I had no idea if it would touch him in any way, but making it had been a turning point for me. I felt more hopeful for our future together than I had felt in a long time. As I waited for him to arrive for our Friday night date, I couldn't stop grinning.