I am a sponge.
I absorb the emotion around me.
Some people call it being "highly sensitive," and I certainly tick all the boxes on those lists.
I don't like to say "highly sensitive," though, because that seems to turn into the pejorative pretty easily: "Stop being so sensitive!"
And I've tried to stop being so sensitive, believe me.
Like so many sensitive creatures, I grew a shell.
Instead of sad and scared, I was mad.
Instead of needy, I was tough.
Instead of rest-filled, I was exhausted by trying so hard to do it right all the time.
We all know how that turned out. (I wrote a whole book about it.)
The thing I have realized lately is that no matter how much I've changed and grown over the past few years, I'm still a sponge.
I'm starting to I think it's my natural state. (So I'm slow on the uptake. Sponges are like that.)
On good days, I think maybe God made me this way on purpose, and it's not a design flaw.
On hard days, when I can't soak up one more thing, when I've been wrung out and thrown into a corner to dry, it's not quite as much awesomeness.
There's something alluring about being tough and competent and strong, and completely un-spongy. It calls to me all the time, that temptation to go back, to build a shell again, paint it pretty and sell tickets to the show.
Except I know how that turned out before. It was bad.
I've been reading Richard Rohr's Falling Upward this past week:
"Until we are led to the limits of our current game plan, and find it to be insufficient, we will not search out or find the real source, the deep well, or the constantly flowing stream."
My game plan for dealing with my spongy self is the shell, which, as we know, is insufficient.
Beyond insufficient. Catastrophic, in fact. A total disaster.
But beyond me, beyond what I understand and know and feel, there's a true source, a deep well, a constantly flowing stream.
If I could absorb THAT, wow.
Maybe that's what I'm really made for, in my sponginess.
"Further in and higher up," as The Last Battle says.
As mystical as all that sounds, I figure it's probably about right.
One more from Richard Rohr:
"By definition, authentic God experience is always 'too much'! It consoles the True Self only after it has devastated the false self."