because I want to be okay

If I could ask God to give me one thing every day, one thing he could tell me every day, it would be

“You’re okay, Alyssa. You’re okay”

I told this to my roommate one night as we were sitting on the porch. Maybe it sounds to you like a weird request, maybe it sounds pathetic – in the midst of all the questions and requests that we could give to God, why would anyone ask for something as dumb as that?

Let me explain.

If I could request anything of God that he would for sure answer with “yes!”, I of course would have a long list. On the top of the list would be fixing the major world problems of poverty, hunger, sex trafficking, healing for sick loved ones, an end to pain…and I would ask for Donald Trump to find a different job, somewhere in a tiny town in the middle of nowhere, working on a farm where he can stick to talking to rocks. But I digress — the point is, I’m not unaware of the major problems in our world and I if God could answer those immediately I would beg for that.

But somewhere over the past few years, during and after finishing college, starting a full-time job, going to counseling, reading books, talking with friends, I’ve realized there is a deep fear that resides within me: the fear of not being okay, of not being or doing enough.

You could blame it on my type-A personality, the fact that I’m a first-born, that one of my top-five strengths according to StrengthsFinder is achiever (which means I love getting stuff done!), or that I grew up in a family where my parents had high (but in a good way) expectations of their children. Maybe it’s all or none of the above. What I do know is that I crave, in the deepest part of my being, a sense, a word of affirmation.

I sat in church a few weeks ago, thinking about all of this longing for affirmation and a sense of calm about who I am and what I am doing. Our pastor opened the time of communion in the Free Methodist spirit: the communion table is open to anyone who is wanting to draw closer to God. Before Jesus was crucified, he had dinner with his disciples and he broke bread and shared wine with them and said “this is my body, given for you, this is my blood shed for you…” He asked us to do this until he returns, in order that we remember his gift and what his life and death mean.

I sat in the pew on Sunday and realized, yet again, that this cracker and this juice, what it represents and what it means, is what makes me okay. This partaking of communion is the outpouring of God’s generosity, the forgiveness of wrongs, the invitation to newness. In partaking of communion, I am partaking of wholeness. Wholeness doesn’t give room for lacking, it doesn’t include insecurity.

I’m not okay because of how well I perform, or how graciously I love others or how effectively I use my gifts. I am okay because of this specific outpouring of love, extension of generosity, the gift of Jesus and his invitation to me. I eat the cracker and drink the juice, and I accept the love and the invitation, and how it defines me and makes me belong. The belonging isn’t based on achievement, or my own metrics of success.

I don’t believe this truth every day. Truth be told, some days I’m terrified of living into it. I often live in a way where my sense of “okay” is based off of achievement and success and other kinds of markers that I create as I go, running from one activity to the next. That’s easier to believe, easier to categorize and organize, and feel “efficient.”

So I write as a way to remind myself of the truth. A reminder of belonging and affirmation — and where this comes from. A reminder that I’m not affirmed in an categorized, check-list way, but affirmed instead by communion with Christ, represented by this cracker and juice.

I pray that my longing for the words “you’re okay, Alyssa” would keep me close to the source of the affirmation I seek daily.

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