It has come to my attention that many of you, yes you, even if you don’t know who I am, have gone to other people to find out how I’m doing.
You can’t ask me yourself, so you have to ask my friends. Or my mom. Or I guess you could ask me, but I wouldn’t tell you.
You don’t actually want to know, do you? You just want to gossip. You want a spectacle. You want something/someone to point at and go ‘look at her life, it’s worse than mine.’ You want a story, to be entertained. That’s all you want, right? You don’t actually care about me. You’re not asking out of love. You’re not trying to honestly figure out how I’m doing because you care so why should you get to know? I won’t be your spectacle. I won’t be your gossip or your horror story.
But what I realized last night is maybe you actually do care. Maybe you actually do love me and you genuinely, honestly, want to know how I am.
If that’s the case, keep reading. If not, just stop now.
I’m scared of telling you how I’m doing because I still don’t fully trust that you should be allowed to know.
That’s my pride talking. That’s my fear voicing itself. And that’s not okay.
No, I’m not going to share my life story on the internet right now. I’m not going to go into detail about all my fears and struggles and issues. But I can answer the simple question, “How’s Mattie doing?”
My best friend is asked that question way too often. It actually kind of bothers me. Or bothered. Or still bothers but I’m telling myself it doesn’t bother me because it shouldn’t.
She’s asked that question because no one is getting the answer from me.
And then she has to answer with, “I honestly don’t know” because she doesn’t get the answer from me either.
I have this thing going for me. This ‘no one can know until I’m okay’ thing. I guarantee that 70% of the people reading this had the thought ‘oh, no, Mattie is going down a bad road. She doesn’t love Jesus anymore. She doesn’t love people.’ Or something along those lines.
I know that you guys talk like that. I know those worries.
So, for the longest time, I decided that something needed to be fixed and I needed to fix it.
I wasn’t going to change my political stances or my beliefs on certain subjects, because if that needs to change it will, but right now it doesn’t. If that’s why you’ve said the previously stated sentences, then I don’t care what you think. For all I care, you can assume I’m the worst person ever.
But if that’s not why you’re worried about me, then I promise you, I’ve been trying to stifle those worries because they bother me.
I don’t want people to worry about me (for legitimate reasons) so I decided to fix all my hurt, all my pain and fears, before I ever answered the question “How are you doing?” again. If I could honestly answer the question with “I’m doing great, thank you for asking,” then I would be successful.
But I haven’t been able to answer like that with a clear conscious.
And I learned last night that a negative answer is better than no answer.
How am I doing?
I hurt. I’m in pain. I constantly tear myself down. I tell myself that everything I stand for is sinful and wrong. I’m a bad person who doesn’t actually care about the people around me. I live in constant fear that everyone who sees me sees something ugly, on the inside and the out. Everyone who knows me knows that I’m not a good person. Everyone is judging me.
I go to church and I think, “Why is everyone staring at me? Will I always be a spectacle? Why are they all judging me?” and one time, while I was furiously scribbling these fears in my journal, God answers with a quiet, “you perceive them that way because that’s how you look at yourself.”
That punched me in the gut.
Will I ever look at myself and not want to hide in this box I’ve created? Will I ever be happy with who I am? Will I ever be able to answer, “How are you doing?” with “good. I’m good”? How many hours do I have to spend in prayer? How many friends do I have to listen to and help? How many politicians do I have to email with my grievances? How much change do I have to make before I’m satisfied?
I don’t have an answer to that, and that’s why I don’t have an answer to your question.
I live in a box I’ve built with my own two hands. I picked out the blackest, strongest materials to build the box so no one could see inside. I closed up the door and securely pulled the ceiling down on my box.
I spend my time in the box trying to fix myself. I try to do enough so I can leave the box feeling fulfilled and achieved. I would hide in the dark until it was safe to enter the light again.
Just me and God until I was okay.
I lived in this box until last night, when I found out my closed, black box was actually clear and wide open.
Everyone can see in.
They see my tears.
They see me frantically searching for answers.
They see my pain.
They see my fears.
They see me.
And that’s why they ask the question.
So it’s time I answer.
“How is Mattie doing?”
Not great. But I’m trying. Thanks for asking.