Where the spirit meets the bone 

(Typing this on the train) 

I was reading an article on the No Sidebar blog, about ‘The Grace We Have Always Wanted.’ There was a sentence which stood out to me ‘Have you ever felt like you’re winning and losing at the same time?’

I know that I’m in a good place in my life right now, a lot of things have improved in the last two years. My health is still far from good, but at least it doesn’t prevent me from socializing and it allows me to empathise with other people with chronic illnesses. I can understand the frustration, the feeling of inability and powerlessness to do anything about the situation. I can understand the isolation and the mental pressure, especially when you are still expected to function at a high level at work or in school. I can understand the stigma and the feelings of shame- especially with ezcema, hating my own body, then slowly progressing to self love, but not quite. 

Work wise, I can see the clear career progression that I can expect in the future, I can see how I am contributing to the work of clients and most importantly, in just two months, I have built relationships with people not just from my department, but also other units- recreation club, cell group, the other advisory units. I don’t know how the whole organisation comes together but I know who I can trust and ask for help when I need help. As I often do. 

And in the past three months, I’ve stabilised my contribution to children’s church, recommitted to bible study and have been participating whenever I can in activities. Including friends. Two dinners this week, and then an much needed escape to Indonesia for the weekend with the DG where I’m NOT GOING TO CHECK MY EMAILS. I have been trying but also kind of struggling on some days to just maintain a sort of aliveness because I am so tired. So those are all my ‘wins’ in the past few months.

My losses come whenever I get anxiety related symptoms, and whenever I feel like whatever I did- it was not valued, I did the wrong thing, it didn’t have the impact that I wanted. It is a constant internal battle- hoping to contribute and hug that kid who’s crying because Ethan took his toy truck and his toy pear and his toy cashier machine, but knowing that the kid isn’t familiar with me, and I don’t want to make Ethan cry either. That and relationships- being unable to reciprocate the feelings of some people, and feeling uncomfortable when I can’t do it. 

It doesn’t matter how well my work went when the anxiety/stomach pains start, and it doesn’t matter how many good things my boss hears about me when I can’t help a kid who keeps pointing to the door and crying for mom, with all his snot dripping from his nose and I can’t cross the room to get tissue because the floor has a troop of toddlers walking/lying around and he thinks you’re going to kidnap him forever if you leave the area near the door. It sucks when a toddler thinks he got left behind and is really wondering if mommy will come back because it always reminds me of my brothers when we have to put them with their biological mother in the waiting room for the weekly visit.  

 It’s also kind of funny when toddlers start sidling towards the door and taking their tiny shoes off the rack, hoping to make an escape. Or when they make a beeline for the cheerios corner halfway through the lesson, saying ‘mommom’ and you’re not sure if they are referring to food or their parent. At the end of the class when their mom picks them up they run to their moms like ‘oh, salvation is here, I’m saved!!!’ Even though all we do in toddlers is to sing/dance/arts and craft/tell stories with finger puppets etc. Not all kids are clingy, maybe 3-4 in a class of 25. But that’s one adult needed to take care of each little one. 

When inspiration has become hidden, when we feel ready to give up, this is the time when healing can be found in the tenderness of pain itself… In the midst of loneliness, in the midst of fear, in the middle of feeling misunderstood and rejected is the heartbeat of all things.


I guess the past two weeks it opened my eyes to how it feels like to be really vulnerable and receptive to feedback, even when it means humbling myself and not always feeling that the scolding was rightfully directed at me. Or when I am amending things on the spot and I keep getting it wrong and the voice comes ‘jess.’ With a full stop. And I think, ‘I know, I know!!‘ Or doing small things that other people are too busy to do, or feeling that I’m not good enough for this project. I am not sure if I am winning or losing myself sometimes. Not sure at all.