By Rachel Dowda
Last summer I spent way too much time on Instagram. It's all too easy to get sucked into this realm where everyone chooses what they want you to see, and before you know it, you start to believe that everyone is living this perfectly dressed, breakfast in bed life; filled with handsome lovers and airstreams and endless art supplies. It's especially easy to get sucked into this world when you don’t want to get up in the morning.
Within seconds I started to put pressure on myself, to buy nicer clothes, to lose weight, and somehow meet someone who might fall in love with me so I wouldn’t have to be so damn lonely. And the kicker--I began to put pressure on myself to find adventure. I needed it, I craved it. I used to have a pretty out of the box life, but circumstances last summer sent me home to my least favorite state in the world, and I honestly felt afraid that I’d somehow get too comfortable, or maybe even too poor to ever leave. I feared that I’d die working a 9-5, never able to do the wild things I craved deep inside my bones. I honestly laid in bed at night, crying that I’d be stuck here forever.
I have a lot of irrational fears. They parade themselves through my mind; taking turns leading the lineup. A myriad of belly dancers, hairy men, and contortionists; terrifying, but you find yourself unable to look away. Sometimes the bearded lady carried a sign that said, “RACHEL WILL NEVER FIND ADVENTURE AGAIN. SHE LOST HER CHANCE. SHE IS DESTINED FOR AN AVERAGE LIFE”. I believed her. Because now that I was living at home with my parents, working an average job and trying to pay all my bills, it was so easy to believe that my dreams were foolish, and who was I kidding? There were more talented people doing the things that I wish I could do.
But sometimes, just sometimes, I remembered. And little hints of grace showed up, like fireflies in the night, carrying messages that reminded me:
I am worth being known
To know me is to love me
I am necessary and full of purpose
I am not forgotten, even if circumstances tell me otherwise
I am enjoyable. likable. interesting.
My personality is stunning
I’m wild and it's contagious
I’m not being selfish when I share my heart
It's okay to be human
It's okay to say no.
I am a necessary part
I am sharing love, humility, and wisdom
I am plunging into life
I am in process
I am full
Life is only getting more interesting
I am valued
My words carry weight
There are only good things ahead
Life is growing inside of me
I create beautiful things
I am a safe
I am loved
That winter season was a season where all the leaves and flowers went missing, so I could clearly see through the trees. I could see far ahead. I just needed to open my eyes to see how beautiful things were.
Sometimes, these fireflies of grace reminded me of words people had spoken to me. Words that affirmed my identity as a child, chosen, fully loved, and delighted in. Words that reminded me to push through the parade of fears and into the wild lands of fireflies and wildflowers, calling me to go deeper and higher into the wilderness of the Father's heart towards me.
Last summer I prayed that as I’m here I would see the adventure in my day to day, that I would speak words from my Father, that I would believe truth and have it built deeply inside of me, instead of escaping my current situation through things like Instagram. I prayed that I'd be able to get out of bed each morning with a child-like expectancy.
I have reason to believe that in a few days or months or (hopefully not) years, I'll look back and see that season as the most precious of them all, that my tree rings were multiplying despite the trauma the wood showed. And now, a year later, I can speak confidently that it was the sweetest season. I am a part of a forest, surrounded by trees cheering for me, willing my limbs to grow longer, healing me by placing their palms on my bark, causing my tree rings to multiply.