I’ve been reading again. Thomas Merton this time. And this passage caught my imagination:
[W]e are even called to share with God the work of creating the truth of our identity. We can evade this responsibility by playing with masks, and this pleases us because it can appear at times to be a free and creative way of living. It is quite easy, it seems, to please everyone. But in the long run the cost and the sorrow come very high. To work out our own identity in God, which the Bible calls “working out our salvation,” is a labor that requires sacrifice and anguish, risk and many tears. It demands close attention to reality at every moment, and great fidelity to God as He reveals Himself, obscurely, in the mystery of each new situation.
Book of Hours, p. 99
It caught my imagination because masks and pleasing others are what my life is about. I am gifted at mirroring others’ writing and conversational styles; writing on this site, or in prayer, are the only times I voice my own.
I am unsure of the validity of my emotions; am still often told that I should (or shouldn’t) feel a certain way. More often, unsure what I am feeling. Or – overwhelmed with emotional intensity but knowing that expressing it is not okay. I sit in church, in mental health appointments, clenched fists and clenched heart, desperately clinging on to – masking – what I feel, so I don’t upset anyone around me. I am happiest when I know you are happy. My delight is in pleasing you.
I have no idea who I am, or who I am supposed to be. And trying to stick with my boundaries, to say “no” to people, makes me feel horrid, and heartless, and hopeless. I tried to stop my father from staying with me. And hated it when he did.
My job, the job-hunting, the assessments are draining. Another unsuccessful interview this week. For a job that should have fitted well to my CV. Told today. I feel nothing. And I guess these things mean that that job wasn’t the one God has in mind for me – but I don’t know what is; which path I should be going down; where I should focus my efforts. I’ve been jobless before. I’ve been mentally unwell before. I’ve struggled with demands from people at church before. But in each case, for different reasons and in different ways to the ones I’m now facing.
And God has not revealed God-self in any of these new situations. None of them feels close to being resolved. All that I can see ahead is more pain, more anguish, more tears. Is God always revealed in the mystery? Am I not paying enough attention? When will there be sense again?