It started out as me editing an essay for my blog and getting frustrated, but something about that exasperation broke me. You would think that I would be feeling great right now—over the past few days, I’ve found out that a cousin’s friend reads my blog (and he just randomly stumbled upon it), I’ve had a fantastic lunch with friends who shared their story and encouraged me greatly (and discovered that they read what I write), I’ve started writing a book, and the list keeps going. After a few months of feeling like I’m writing to the air, I’ve discovered that I’m being read, and in some cases, looked up to. This should make me feel good, right?
Instead, it ends up making me melancholy and I don’t even know why. My girlfriend knows something is amiss and asks what she can do to help, but I don’t know what’s wrong. I can’t lift my face up because of the weight of it all bearing down on my soul. I meekly request that she hold me; it feels weird to ask for that, but it’s what I need.
I’m curled up on the floor, wrapped in her loving arms, and held like the sad little child that I am would be held by a comforting mother.
Slowly, the wretchedness begins to form words and I bleed my soul out:
“I’m just a kid with a keyboard who thinks too much. I’m not a writer or a teacher or this author who knows what he’d doing or saying. I’m just Michael—I’m just me.”
She presses me close and tries to comfort me. She whispers that I’m being used to help others, that I am a writer, that I’m loved, and that I spread truth, but this doesn’t help, for that is what I’m afraid of.
I’m afraid that perhaps people do listen to me, the kid with a keyboard who thinks too much. I’m afraid that as I pour myself onto paper I might lose myself. That MichaelTM will replace the real Michael. I don’t want to be a brand or an instructor. I just want to be me. But I can’t be me and not write, and therein lays the struggle.
I want to share my thoughts and questions and answers with others; I get an enjoyment out of writing and sharing experiences that I can’t get anywhere else. But there is more to me than just my thoughts, and without the whole me, my words and thoughts can easily lose their context or relevance, I fear.
As I write this, my thigh begins to itch, and I’ve been absentmindedly scratching it for the better part of ten minutes. I look down, and there are flecks of blood from where I scratched open a mosquito bite, and my skin is red and irritated from my scratching. With my skin glowing like this, it highlights the scars I left behind years ago, scars that I thought had faded but now show. Last time there was blood on this thigh, there were fewer scars there.
That’s part of who I am as well—my history. My past. But it is not all of me. I’m whole now, where I was hollow then. I’ve let people in, the select few that I encountered who I could help by sharing my experiences, but for the most part, I’ve kept my past covered up to the public eye—afraid of casting a bad light on my family (who is amazing and loving and supportive) and of being treated differently.
But I can’t only put one side of me on display to the world and hide another—I can’t do that. How can I encourage others to be real and authentic if I hide part of what made me who I am today? Cannot I be used better by God if I’m willing to let all parts of me be used? Will not the lessons I’ve learned from the bad times in my life not be able to help others all the better if they are delivered in context?
I’m not afraid of what others think of me, but I am afraid of hurting others. I’ve made peace with my past, and it’s been forgiven and I’ve been wiped clean—but it has helped shaped me. Much of my life I was a chameleon, changing my identity to fit in with those who were around me, and I don’t want to have those masks again. I don’t want to have Michael: the brand, Michael: the writer, or Michael: the musician. I just want to have Michael.
Who am I?
I’m just a kid with a keyboard who thinks too much, and these are some of my thoughts. I hope they inspire you to learn more about God and this world we live in. I hope they cause you to rethink why we do things and what our lives should look like. I hope you laugh and cry. I hope you take these thoughts for what they are—just thoughts of a 20-something guy who’s learning about God and life, and writing it down as he goes.