Before you begin reading this post, it's important that you realize it's gonna be a long and ramble-y one. (Is that even a word?)
So. Hmmm. Where do I even start. It's been such a crazy long time since I posted anything here on the Path of the Carpenter. Not that I haven't wanted to, it's just been, well, life. I could blame being busy or working a lot or whatever (although those things are all true) but to be honest with you all, that hasn't been the real reason for my prolonged absence.
The truth is, I was getting a little depressed in my blogging life. Not just my blogging life, but my online (social media) life in general. You see, I'm a raw and real person. Unlike some, I don't try to "filter" my life to make it appear more rosy... I've always been pretty brutally honest about myself and my struggles, my dreams, my fears, my emotions. In person, I'm quiet and introverted, but online, I feel more comfortable sharing abut myself.
But as I'm sure you all know, when you put yourself out there on the internet, or anywhere really, it generally leads to attacks. Big ones.
So to be honest, I haven't been on here in a long while because I was tired. Tired of feeling like everything I posted was being criticized, picked-apart, over-analyzed, and over-reacted to. Tired of people praising my blogging one day and then slamming it the next. Tired of people calling me up saying, "Why did you post this, that didn't sound right, people are going to be offended by that, you're this, you're that, you're something else..."
To be honest, I considered shutting the Path of the Carpenter down. Far from being a sanctuary, a safe place for me to be myself, I felt like I had to post everything perfectly and live up to a certain number of expectations and be politically correct and please everyone... and ended up pleasing no one, least of all myself.
So, over the past year really, I haven't posted anything much about my personal life at all; on my Facebook page or here. I haven't posted anything political or controversial. I haven't shared my opinions on much of anything. I just stayed quiet and kept my mouth shut and let the emotions roll off me "like water on a duck's back."
And was I happy?
Not at all.
You know, when the first of January rolled around, I did some serious thinking. I've never really been one for making (or breaking) New Year's resolutions. But a group of people I've come to consider as my friends (all fellow Compassion sponsors like me) have a... well, a tradition, I guess you could call it. To pick one word to focus on for the year. (You can read more about One Word, One Year HERE)
Last year, my "Word for the Year" was "Joy." I was feeling a lot of stress when 2015 came in, and I wasn't feeling much joy... I'd lost my job, lost my grandmother to cancer, and underwent an extreme personal attack all in one month. Plus my Seasonal Affective Disorder was in full swing, and depression was rearing its ugly head again. So I really felt like it was time to go on a prolonged search for JOY in my life. It wasn't easy, but I did, eventually, begin to find a measure of joy in my life again.
So, when 2016 rolled around and my friends began posting their words for the year, I began to think seriously about mine. And it didn't take long for me to find it. Or perhaps I should say, my "word" found ME.
On January the first, I decided that it was time to make a decision. Am I going to live the rest of my life constantly suppressed by others' opinions and expectations of me, or am I going to be myself? Am I going to speak up when I don't feel something is right? Am I going to wear what I want to wear (I've been finding creative expression in hippie/boho/gypsy style lately) , sing what I want to sing, say what I want to say, post what I want to post, and generally follow the leading of the Spirit... or am I going to back into a corner and shut myself off from who I am, because some people don't like me for it?
I finally stood up and said, enough. I am who I am... I am who God created me to be. I am silly. I am strange. I am a fiercely protective sponsor mom/big sister. I am that crazy redhead who sings in a band and wears long flowing skirts and dangly jewelry.
I Am Free. Free to live, to laugh, to love.
The above song is one that I haven't been able to listen to for years. There are a lot of painful memories attached to this song for me... memories that made it impossible to hear it without wanting to weep... or break something (there's honesty for ya).
This year, I can listen to it and believe it. Because I choose to put those memories behind me and say that they do not define who I am... God does.
I am free to run. I am free to dance. I am free to live for Him.