You may be reading this page in anticipation that I am about to talk about something that has been on a lot of peoples’ minds (and newsfeeds) for the past few days, but I’m not.
I’m going to talk about something much bigger than that, bigger than me, my values, my beliefs, my loved ones, bigger than every single one of us.
But to start things off, I’m going to talk about what’s been on my mind and heart the past couple of days. (Yes, after building up your expectations to something bigger than myself, I am starting with myself. Such is life, or at least my life…)
Lately, I have felt stretched, tired, and confused, a wandering spirit not quite sure where to wander next. I stumble through my days without prayer or meditation or focus. I work through my days to make it to the next project, next work place, next person to talk to, next this, next that, without remembering why I do what it is I do. I go through motions in my relationships, in my personal care, in my spiritual life, in my work and volunteering, to the point that I can’t remember what it was that brought me to these places in the first place.
I hang out with friends so I can feel like I’m making up for my poor social life. I’m not as engaged as I should be, but it’s something I can check off of my to do list. I go to church to be with my community, but again, it’s another check off the to do list. I make plans for mentoring and show up for work when my shift starts and leave after it’s over, another list of things checked off so I have enough money for rent.
And yet I haven’t stopped to say, “Why?” I haven’t stopped to wonder, “What is this asking of me? Am I receiving love? Am I giving what I don’t have to give? Am I wearing myself too thin? Why am I not completely present?”
“And who am I anyways?”
I’m wannabe-activist/homebody/family girl/crazy-girlfriend/constantly-anxious/sometimes-politically-incorrect-and-vulgar/always-needs-to- be-the-center-of-attention/leader/follower woman named Lindsay Davis. I am all of this and so much more, and the more I try to limit myself to only one of these labels, the more confused and overwhelmed I become.
Because I’m the woman who coordinates Sister2Sister mentoring, the Inshop worker at Jimmy John’s, the Customer Service girl at Bed Bath and Beyond, the Gleaning coordinator, the one you see at worship on Sunday, and a member of the Core Team. Because I’m the daughter of Elizabeth Barnette and Amer Mustafa, the sister of Layan, Razan, and Sami Mustafa, the granddaughter of June and Bill Davis, the niece and cousin to countless others, the girlfriend of Bryce Cowett, the friend of many others, and the co-worker of many places of employment. And because I’m an alumni of three public Winchester schools and Bridgewater College.
All of these labels are part of me and make me who I am. And I try to limit myself to just one of them? I can’t do that.
And to be honest, I’m frustrated with myself. I feel like I’m not going “big” enough or “doing” enough or “being myself” enough to make everyone happy. I base my identity off of the supposed opinions of others without taking the time to define myself, and it exhausts me. And on weeks like this one, I especially feel this way. I’m not advocating or speaking enough, or standing up or making everyone happy. I’m not doing all I can do.
But when I look around and see people changing their profile pictures, people making conversations that need to be had, people from different sides of so many spectrums talking in loving, not hateful, ways, and people hoping for love to triumph over everything else, I begin to realize something important.
I am no longer just one of my labels or even all of my labels at once. I am no longer under pressure to be who I think everyone wants me to be or even who I want me to be. I am no longer stuck at a crossroads in which I must decide to conform or be an individual, whatever that may look like. I am no longer one confused girl in a sea of confident, self-assured, purpose-driven humanity.
No. Instead, I am another Person walking with you. I am stumbling through life, in all of its triumphs and pitfalls and joys and despairs, and I am walking with you, through rough terrain and steady valleys. I am walking with you through small talk, deep conversations, political discussions, and heart-wrenching yet hopeful stories. I am walking with you in love, knowing I need you as much as you need me. I am walking with you knowing that I cannot live this life alone. I am walking with you knowing that life is not all about me; it is about the fact that I did not walk alone, and that made all the difference in the world.
I am walking with you because alone, I can do nothing. I am walking with you not because you are better than me, but because we’re humans in need of traveling companions.
I am walking with you because if I stay in my own head for too long, things get downright ugly.
And I am walking with you because for some reason, I think I may be able to offer something you wouldn’t have without me. And I am walking with you because for some reason, I think you may be able to offer me something I wouldn’t have without you.
So friends, as time continues, and the issues we discuss and debate change, and as we grow into the people we are to be, remember that we will always need each other. We will need those with whom we see eye to eye on almost everything just as much as we need those with whom we completely disagree. We will need our friends and our “enemies,” those who are “in” and those who are “out,” because we cannot look at the world through our eyes alone. If we did that, we would miss so many beautiful colors that we cannot live without having seen.
And somehow I know that in the end, doing this journey with together, on equal ground, not putting each other on pedestals below or beneath us, will be worth it all before the end. Yes, it will be worth it all at the very end, but before we reach our final destinations (wherever they may be), I hope we realize the beauty in having walked together.
Friends, let’s walk together. Let’s fail, struggle, laugh, cry, rejoice, live, and love together.
Because without each other, what else do we have?