I live with a ruffled swing dancer who celebrates my face just for being a face.
In my first post, I told you about my roommate Katie. God likes to come full circle, so yesterday was her birthday. He’s a clever storyteller. It’s annoying.
We made her a ridiculous four-layer embroidered cake with firecracker candles because that’s what Katie deserves. When she came home, I could feel myself wilting. Social anxiety is also a clever storyteller. Here is the story she told me that day.
You live with a ruffled swing dancer who celebrates your face, but you can’t celebrate her birth. No, you can’t celebrate anything. Because you don’t love well, Gabi. Even now, as she blows out the candles, you’ve left her party to attend a pity party in your mind. You wrote in her card, congratulations. Words are all you have and words don’t do jack.
I’ve always dealt with social anxiety, but the older I get, the more complicated it’s become. What used to be anxiety that no one loves me has turned into anxiety that I can’t love others. And as I fumble through how to deal with it, I only prove myself right.
Katie went dancing that night. I stayed home because dancing also gives me anxiety. And I watched a movie Derrick recommended at an Open Table a while back, Best Worst Thing That Ever Could Have Happened. I saw adults watch themselves as children audition for a musical. These kids had fire in their eyes. They had dreams, music, and Sondheim. But these adults watched these children not with joy but with sadness. Because they weren’t these kids anymore. They were adults. They had regret, shame, and memories.
Though they didn’t quite have that fire in their eyes anymore, they all still had a piano in their house. They all still had music.
David and I are still on the fritz, but what I learned from him has given me an empathy we have all began to feel. If David watched himself as a kid, the way the adults in this film did, he too would cry. He would cry because he would know he lost that kid somewhere. The youthful David with fire in his eyes. The David with dreams and music and God. He got lost in the melee of adulthood. The same melee I’m swimming through right now. The same melee that my friends have so graciously forgiven me for day after day.
And it is evident in the Psalms that through all of the pride and cowardice, through all the shame and greed, through all of adulthood. David still had music.
Derrick likes to say that “the world will keep asking more of us.” I tend to roll my eyes at that statement because it feels condescending toward the struggles of youth, but there’s truth in those words. The struggles of youth are real, so real that they start a fire in our eyes and cause us to stand defenseless in front of giants and Stephen Sondheim. Nothing but pain could lead us there. But these struggles betray us, and they stop the very fire they started. They leave us jaded and standing defenseless in front of our God, wondering how it went wrong.
But God is a clever storyteller who knows what happened to the fire. And he knows the subplots that you pay attention to that stray you away from what’s true. And she loves you unconditionally. And they continue to write.
As Maddy wrote in her post, God will not stop listening. The same God that gave you fire in your eyes will rekindle that fire and redeem your story. And this creative storyteller will forever make sure that whatever happens in your adulthood, whether you win or lose, your stormy soul will still have music.