Tuesday, January 3, 2012

This Tastes Bitter: The Taste of Self-Preservation

Those pithy sayings about the difficulties of life making us better not bitter are not meant for us bitter people, I think.  They may be meant for potentially bitter people, but more likely they’re meant for better people—to feel even better about themselves.  But I may just be bitter. 

I’d really like to be one of the better people, but in reality I think I often prefer to wallow in my misery.  Just for a while.  Just until I’m sick of myself...  I’m sick of myself. 

Perhaps my bitterness comes from a tendency to take myself too seriously instead of seeing the lighter side of disappointments with life.  Maybe I should change the tone of this whole blog and find my voice as a witty humorist who is almost 35, with no babies, no dates, no real job, no prospects and more student loan debt than I care to mention.  But somehow when I try, it comes off sounding desperate and pathetic.  Maybe that’s because I hear other voices—the ones of my contented single friends, or discontented married friends, or the better people telling me I shouldn’t be honest bitter.  Though maybe it’s just my own self-preserving voice.

I suspect self-preservation will be my downfall.  Or the reason I never quite get off the ground.  It is the reason why I’ve removed my last several blog posts, the reason I’m scared to risk, the reason I don’t love fully, and maybe even the reason I’m bitter instead of better.  It’s safer.  It’s the reason I am satisfied with a superficial self rather than my true self.  I wonder what would happen just in one year if I could live my life without self-preservation.

I can’t.  We can’t.  Not fully. We all wear fig leaves of some sort.  But I imagine.  I imagine who I could be if I didn’t hide from God and man.  Mark Sayers says this is true holiness.  “Holiness is not about pointless and impossible perfectionism.  It is about becoming the people we are meant to be.  It is the ultimate discovery of our true selves.  Each step toward holiness brings us closer to becoming who we really are.”

Being sick of myself is often the thing that makes me want to trade in some self-preservation for a taste of holiness, a taste of God’s work of restoration in me and in the world.  But then, if I did that, I might forget why I’m bitter.