I sat in my car for about 20 minutes and tried to think of all the best excuses I could. And all of the ones that I thought up would’ve worked really well on everyone involved except for me and I knew it and I knew that’s why I would suck it up and do it. Because if there’s one thing that’s gonna drive me somewhere I really don’t want to go, it’s the voice in my head saying “You really can’t hack this? You’re really that fragile?”

Tonight I had to go straight from a counseling appointment to an interview for an article I’m writing. This means I had to go directly from a room filled with one person, that person being a woman who I’m pretty much 100% comfortable being cut right open in front of, to a room full of strangers. A room full of male strangers. A room full of married, adult, dress-sock-wearing, home-owning, male strangers.

I knew I’d be on edge, distracted, and not at my best. I was even those things in my counseling appointment—jittery and all over the place. Way more interested in hopping subjects and getting through my mental things-to-talk-about checklist so I could check off counseling for the day and then hop in my car and ideally check off about 17 other things before bed.

One of those things being this interview, which I now veryveryvery much did not want to do anymore. I had a lot to chew on and this wasn’t likely to be conducive to me doing what my counselor advised me to do that night. She looked me in the eye, which she has to know I don’t care much for, and pretty much said point blank that if I’m going to be so unwilling to let other people care for me, I should figure out a way to at least care better for myself.

Eye. Roll. I’m being smart. Wayyy smarter than you dum-dums relying on other humans and taking breaks and slowing down. You wanna roll the dice? Go for it. Not me over here.

My interview was supposed to be about a really specific thing, heck I can show you the questions I prepared ahead of time that were about the really specific thing. I was prepped. Distracted? Definitely. Unwilling to be there? Oh, absolutely. But I was prepped ’cause I am me and I show up prepped.

Meet with some dudes. Ask them some questions. Onto the next thing. Keep moving, keep going, keep doing everything you gotta do.

I gotta stop right here because, while not audible, God is so clearly saying to me right now “I had to do something. You weren’t listening to anyone else, were you?”

Tonight I sat in a room full of married, adult, dress-sock-wearing, home-owing, incredibly vulnerable and honest male strangers that have no interest in being self-reliant when they can lean on each other. Who talked about how sharing their struggles, their passions, their worries have shaped each of them. How they may not always be on the exact same page, but when they see God up to something in one of their lives, they rally. They show up and they look for lost dogs and they help each other move. And while it’s their willingness to serve that will be the subject of my article, it’s their willingness to ask to be served that’s gonna linger with me.

I want to be breezy so badly y’all. I want to be low-maintenance and effortless to be around. But I’m not always that. I think sometimes I may be, but not always and not lately. Sometimes I’m carefree, but sometimes I’m very much drowning in a sea of my own making. And I usually refuse to say that, and I definitely refuse to ask for or accept lifeboats, because, well c’mon, breezy people don’t drown and they don’t need help. They’re too busy being cool and just like going with it to find themselves overwhelmed. I want to be thought of as independent in a highly functional way. I don’t want to be perceived as stressed because that would imply I’m not what I’m trying to convince everyone I am.

(If you’ll allow me, I’m gonna preach to myself real quick but under the guise of addressing you, the reader. And by “if you’ll allow me” I mean I’m going to type whatever I want and you can hit that x at your own free will. I gotta hear this stuff right now and maybe you do too.)

Your vulnerabilities and your complexities and your insecurities and your fears are not weaknesses. They don’t make you seem nearly as repulsive as you think they do. There’s a chance that your willingness to articulate the things that keep you up at night allows others to see themselves in you. That’s a comfort. That’s not being alone. That’s being a reminder to others that the mercies they desperately need each morning on account of their brokenness can find a match in someone else.

I need that reminder often, and yet every time I pitch this idea that I’ve got it together, I’m depriving those in my life of that reminder. I’m robbing them of the opportunity to think to themselves “that Katie Schmidt girl, though helpful and intelligent and funny and energetic, sometimes she gets too snarky and seems off her game and looks exhausted. I wonder if she’s a human too?”

I am. And I’m a mess of one.

The absolute truth is that I have never come close to having it all together and that I’m so grateful Jesus came because he knew I never would. We can keep trying and working and losing our minds to get everything done in an effort to save ourselves, but what Jesus did on the cross is already done. I can stop rolling my eyes and breaking my back and sigh with relief. It’s good news that I have a savior and better news that it’s not me.

Tonight I sat in a room full of strangers. And when they talked about their shortcomings and their itches to do better than they are and finding it difficult and tiresome to do so, I didn’t see strangers. I saw myself. And it was as absurd as it was stunning.

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