Not the bad kind of sting, or the kind that leaves marks that a person can't recover from.
But you know, the kind of sting that wakes you up, reminds you of your humanness, makes you stand up a little straighter and slow down long enough to at least see the flowers you haven't been smelling. The kind that brings you to your knees, not because you're broken beyond repair, but because you're so overwhelmed with humility and gratitude that you can't quite stand up on your own. The kind of sting that makes your eyes well up, not because you're upset, but because you're so overwhelmed by the depth of God's love for you that there's nothing else to do but wipe away the sting behind your eyes and smile to yourself.
Today, reality stings a bit more than I remember.
As I prepare for Spring Break and the travels it holds for me, I've been running around like a chicken with her head cut off...for days. The packing part isn't what has stressed me out, or even the part where I have to leave Hadley with someone else for week. I'm worried about going through airport security or flying or any of the details of my trip (which I'm absolutely clueless about).
I've been stressed out about leaving work.
I have honestly sent out a zillion emails this week, all about things that need to be taken care of. I've left ridiculously (and annoyingly) detailed instructions for people in the office, and my volunteers, about how to conduct business while I'm away. I've spent extra time on the phone, and extra time making lists and leaving notes than what's probably necessary.
So this morning, after my wonderful boss told me I didn't need to come into the office and so that I had a chance to pack for my trip, guess what I did?
I came into the office. Late, but I came in nonetheless.
And as I sat in my desk chair, turned on my space heater, and opened up my email...**sting**
I had literally no emails to answer. No voice mails. No long lists of things to do.
Worst of all...things seemed to be going completely smoothly without me.
So I made up a couple more emails to send, like they were necessary, sat at my desk for a couple more minutes, and left.
Because I realized (again?!) that so much of my self-worth is wrapped up in what I do.
Look, I don't suffer from self-esteem issues. I've got confidence to spare (whether or not it's merited). But so much of my identity is rooted in how well I do my job, how compassionate and energetic and inspiring of a leader I am, how well people respond to my work. Could it be that my worth comes from other people needing me?
Lord, I hope not.
One of my biggest fears in life is that I'll fail the people who count on me. I'll let them down. I'm worried that for some reason the stability in their spiritual lives is tied to my successes, and that something going wrong on my end will be detrimental to their faith (seriously, Jenna, get it together. Ego, much?).
So I sit at my desk, with tears stinging my eyes, the depth of my love for my people stinging my heart, and the realization that God's ability to work in the world doesn't hinge on my presence or absence stinging my hands--these hands that have typed WAY too many emails this week and who somehow have come to believe that without them, people won't experience God's love.
Oh Jenna, you need to be reminded. It's not about you.
It's not about me. It sure makes leaving easier. It makes living easier. It makes life more meaningful and enjoyable to be reminded that my presence is not the condition for God's movement throughout the world. In fact, though it stings to be reminded, it's freeing to know that God is going to work in spite of me.
Being reminded that I'm not the end-all, be-all is oddly not that painful. It stings for a moment, but then...it's the most liberating feeling in the world. There's a twinge of sting, like I imagine it would feel to have shackles cut from one's wrists, but it only lasts for a moment as you realize your range of motion is exponentially wider, and your reach is farther.
Sometimes reality stings a little bit more than others, but today, I'm thankful for the sting that reminds me that the weight of the world isn't on my shoulders, that the Kingdom coming has very little to do with my lists and emails, and that God is already in the places I'm going and the places I'm leaving.
Over and out.