As I cross the threshold the smell of coffee beans curl around me and escort me further into the coziness of the coffee shop. As I inhale the goodness I scan the shop for my appointment, we make eye contact, she’s comfortably tucked away at a table in the back corner of the shop. With my calm smile I say, “I’ll be right there.” Then I return my attention to the menu, just to give my eyes something to do. I’ve been here a million times and hardly ever change my order.
“Shine I’m so glad we could meet today! How are things?”
I drop my bag at my feet and reluctantly settle into the worn cushion on my seat.
“Everything’s going pretty good. I’ve just been working and trying to enjoy the down times that I get. But you know me I’ll like to stay busy and want to be a part of everything.”
“Yes I do know that about you. You should really slow down and just stay home and focus on yourself for a change. You know forget about everyone else.”
“Yeah but that’s just not me. I want to be involved in the world not just wrapped up in myself all day. That can get lonely real quick.”
“Well, all I’m saying is that it’d be better for you to enjoy some isolation from the world so you can focus on the things you need to fix. Anyways have you made a decision? Are you going to stop resisting me on this?”
“I can’t just make a decision like that. Why can’t I just ride this out and see what happens before I decide to sell?”
“Come on, Shine. Let’s look at the facts. You’re not doing well. Right now you have more failures than successes and really what does your future hold? You don’t have any clue what you’re doing. It’s going to be better for you to just cut your losses and call it good.”
She stares intently at me while I teeter on the fence of my mind. As I exhale the deflation of my lungs matches my spirit and I feel the tears starting to well up.
“Yes what you say is true, and maybe you’re right but there has been some good too. I’ve made some progress, not perfectly, but progress none the less. It counts for something. Right? Oh and if I get help from a couple of my friends, I’m sure we can figure something out together.”
“Shine! You don’t want to drag other people into your mess, do you?” Her bold tone has invited a few sideways glances from strangers around us. “Just think of what kind of burden that you’ll be putting on them. What will they think of you? I’m telling you it’s time to just throw in the towel. Give it up will you? You’re not going to amount to anything at this rate and you need to just be honest with yourself.”
“Why do you always have to be so negative?” My heart is pounding and I really just want to agree so this argument can be over but something in me just cannot let it go. “This can’t be the end. I’m not going to give up, there has to be more. There has to be something we can do. Seriously let’s bring in a team and work this out. Let someone that knows what…”
“Ok just stop it! OK? Stop.” Everyone is staring now. “I’m just going to lay it out for you so there is no confusion. You’re done. No one is here with you and you’re a failure. You couldn’t make this work. You’re disappointment to your family and your friends. There is no coming back and everyone has their own problems, they don’t have time for yours. They don’t care about you and wouldn’t miss you if you were gone. You keep repeating the same mistakes. You’re not changing or growing in anyway. You haven’t moved in forever. Don’t you see you’re not good enough, not pretty enough, not talented enough…you’re just not enough.”
“Who do you think you are, saying those things to me?” the tears freely flowing.
“What?!” I stare at her in disbelief and start to recognize myself in her face. Stunned I looked to the strangers around us and I start to recognize the nodding faces of my parents, my dearest friends, and shame suffocates me. They heard everything and they agree. The emotions weigh down on me like someone is sitting on my chest and I can’t breathe. I shut my eyes tight and open them in panic.
It’s pitch black and I can’t focus on anything but I’m breathing wildly. I roll to my back and gradually my disorientation fades and I realize I was dreaming. As the air conditioner clicks on the raw emotions of rejection, discouragement, and disappointment continue to torment my heart in the darkness.
Silently and desperately I pray.
“Dear God…Thank you that I’m not alone. Thank you that I have you and nothing can separate me from you. Not even myself. I know that I am my own worst enemy. Thank God that in You, I always have hope – the fight inside of me that won’t ever give in or sell out to the lies that try to destroy my spirit. I pray that you would continue to strengthen the hope inside of me and quiet the doubts that I have about myself. Give me the strength to move in faith and trust the outcomes of my life to you. And thank you for the support of my family and friends. I wouldn’t be here without them. Thank you God for how you’ve blessed my life. Amen”
Now in the darkness, the silence is comforting, and the peace settles over me like a blanket and I drift back to sleep.
Through my experiences I’ve come to realize that hope is never lost. We always have a choice to rise and move forward. Imperfect progress is still progress. We are not alone and in our darkest of times all we need to do is reach out or cry out. We need to have a healthy mistrust for our self-talk and make sure to have a sounding board of close friends to sift out the lies and discouragements that will steal our joy and potential for the great things to come in our lives. We were meant to live and experience the world around us not self-destruct in isolation. Don’t ever give up, where ever you find yourself. The fight is worth it.