the other side of something

This video circled through my facebook friends several months ago. I’m not so much a Youtube person, but it’s a worthwhile two minutes. Please go watch it?

If you only had two minutes for me but not two minutes for Ira Glass, I will catch you up outline-style. You should totally skip below the brackets if you watched the video.

Premise 1: People get into creative work because they love good creative work and know what that is – they have good taste.
Premise 2: When people first start doing creative work, it’s never really that good.
Premise 3: Because they have good taste, they recognize this.
Premise 4: This happens to everyone.
Conclusion: The gap between your taste and the quality of your work shouldn’t discourage you when you start out. It should encourage you to keep doing more work so you’ll get better.

[That was much more boring than the video. You should’ve watched the video.]

Lately I have not much liked myself. Even that last post makes me cringe a little. Because I know the person I want to be; she is faithful and trusting, a person who can rest and give rest to others. She has the kind of confidence that is more concerned about how others feel than how she looks. Her prayers are at least a little more full of thanksgivings than complaints. ButI am most certainly not her. I can imagine being her. I can think of ways toactlike her. I spend time with people who are like her. But those particular descriptors do not fit me.

However, I see this in my younger self, too, and in some of the younger people around me, this desire to be something you just can’t be yet. I remember knowing there were answers to things but I simply could not find them at that moment. I remember making decisions that I knew were bad decisions, but some fear or weakness or desire drew me on. And I recognize in some of my freshman friends a vision of the person they absolutely know they will be in a year or two, on the other side of… something. But I did find some of the answers, and I would be able now to resist those decisions, and I am sometimes better now than I was.

I guess the something that was and is between us and the good life, between us and our potential selves, between us and (dare I say) holiness, is just time. Work, yes, and intentional growth and doing things that are too hard for us, but also… just time. For a while, a long time even, at my best moments I will remember the person I want to be and do what she would do; but I will only really be her after a thousand repetitions and failures at that practice. But still, I think, the important thing is to know where you’re going and not stop going there. There are just too many directionless people around, people who honestly don’t care what they are becoming, know they don’t care, and don’t care that they don’t care. They gave up at some point. I don’t have to give up.

I will probably keep berating myself and wishing to accelerate into the “real person”* I think I’m becoming, but I also know that I’m already on the other side of something. The real trick is in the showing up, the slow going, the helpless prayers that won’t be answered til the morning, and meanwhile, a lack of grace for oneself is just an insidious form of heart-hardening pride. The self-made man and the overnight success are lies; the truth is 40 years in the desert, the truth is David screwed up too, the truth is Jesus “grew in stature and wisdom and favor with men” because there’s something worth doing in the trying and learning and waiting that precede perfection.

But, as Ira Glass says, it’s going to take a while. Just like I sit in this stupid chair and drag more posts out of myself, just for the sake of writing more posts, some days I’ll just be finishing one more day for the sake of having lived more days, because you can’t always see how the small not-good-enoughs will connect to something you’re proud of. But they will. You have to know they will.

It’s just going to take a while.

*actual sample of commonly repeated internal dialogue:
– Lyndsey, stop being a child. Be a real person.
— Wait, children are real people.
[I think my brain can’t bring itself to say “adult”.]

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