behind

I’ve spent too much time scrolling, staring at a screen, drowning in a sea of pretty faces and happy announcements and perfectly arranged stacks of books and skincare and clothes, asking me to buy.

I, as I do every year, committed to do yoga for the entire month of January, following along with an online community. Today, I am only just now considering beginning. The world is on day 22 and I am just now getting started.

Following the momentum of sharing publicly my relationship with writing, I committed to a 5-day, online writing challenging. It was simple: write a post following a daily prompt and share to Instagram. I spent the entire first day reading others’ posts, convinced myself I had nothing to add, and gave up. Never shared a thing.

I spent hours yesterday evening with a good book beside me and instead watched hair tutorials and “transformations” online and convinced myself I need to chop my hair off and get bangs and dye it a completely different color.

I read reviews on different hair and skincare products, all of which declaring some variation of the same, “I get SOOOO many compliments on my hair now!” and I wonder when was the last time someone complimented my hair, my outfit, my makeup, and it made me realize I need to completely redo my hair and skincare routines, get better makeup, and buy prettier clothes.

I feel behind. I feel undistinguished. I feel stuck in some cosmic way, stuck inside a smallness that feels detrimental to the overall health of my life.

And yet –

Outside my window, a small sycamore sheds her leaves and spreads her roots in my front yard. She’s larger now than she was when I first bought the home, but it is a growth only noticeable in stillness, in reflection, in the comparison of images. She’s been growing right outside my bedroom window for years and I am only now stopping to notice her progress.

A few nights ago, I read in the book the word verdant and it stuck out to me in a profound way, leading me to spend the next few minutes looking up “verdant landscape” on Google images. I soaked it in like water, those deep flushes of green – alive, flourishing.

This time of year, that sweet, growing sycamore is anything but verdant.

Do I confuse being alive with fruit? Do I confuse growth with the richness of leaves, the depth of color?

Why do I get so settled into the trap of finding my inherent value in having the right clothes, being pretty, having a great haircut, making heads turn, making more money than my peers, being better, getting ahead?

When all along, my true desire, deepest thing, is to simply move forward. Not to get ahead.

At the beginning of this month, praying for this year, I felt the word “fruition.”

Perhaps my looking online for ways to be prettier and more successful and better is my ego’s way of telling me how to make it happen, reminding me of all the ways I could mess it up.

And, perhaps, my looking out windows to admire trees’ growth and leaning into the word verdant is my soul’s way of longing for this promised fruition, perhaps even preparing for it.

I turn back to the sycamore out my window, ponder her slow and steady growth. I mediate also on the soil where she buries her roots and, in turn, the soil where I bury mine.

At the encouragement of a friend, I read Ephesians 3 in the Passion Translation. My spirit stopped and sang at verse 17:

“Then, by constantly using your faith, the life of Christ will be released deep inside you, and the resting place of his love will become the very source and root of your life.”

I recall a sermon from Malcolm Smith, speaking on the infinite love of our Creator, saying, “I have found my ‘rootage’ in the love of Christ.”

So be it for me.

Whether I get a haircut or not, whether I make more money or not, whether I meet the world’s standards of beauty or not, whether I ever see a tangible marker of verdant in my life, I know:

I find my “rootage” in his love.

And, abiding in him, am I ever behind?

If I had to write a story

Of the greatest love in time

I would have to sing of you

How I’m this branch and you’re the vine

And the romance that we have

It’s easy by design

“I Am Yours” – NEEDTOBREATHE

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