2017: The Year of Sleeping Around

Over 20, just since June. 

Don’t be ridiculous. I am not talking about sleeping around as in having sex. I actually don’t have sex. Not anymore at least. Well, except for a handful of lonely, often alcohol-lubricated times. But that confession is a discussion for another time because it entails longing and heartbreak; and lots of Jesus, tissues and whiskey. 

My sleeping around is literally sleeping around at different places this year. I had planned to go to New York City to attend the Circle in the Square summer program in June. I immediately sublet my room for two months. After seeing that there was no way I could afford a no-financial-aid program, I had to stay in Los Angeles. Except now, I was without a place to sleep.

Whoops. I shared my stupidity with several friends. People offered up their couches, but I didn’t want to be a bother. I figured they didn’t really mean for me to take up their offer anyway. I also didn’t want people to think I was an irresponsible free loader who was living this stereotypical struggling-hustling artist life. What now?

A week before I was going to be without a home, a petsitting gig trickled in. Then another petsitting gig. Then my friends offered up their home because they were going to be in Italy for 3 weeks. The serendipitous and humbling offers kept coming and somehow I pieced together a summer of beds and new pet friendships. The requests overflowed into the rest of the year and into even more diverse sleeping arrangements. I slept on the train to Portland. I stayed with the maker of Beard Balm in Detroit. I nursed a constipated cat on the Upper East Side. I had never been more pumped and proud to see another’s poop. My tale of homes and homies have taught me 4 things:

Ask for help. 

I was honest that I was in need. It’s vulnerable to ask for help because it meant I couldn’t do things on my own. It teared at my self-reliance and grew my love for community. It made me sensitive to every blessing and provision that came by way. It helped me see the generosity of others. People want to help. “It is more blessed to give than receive,” Acts 20:35. But receiving grace is difficult.

Accept grace.

I want to work for the things I receive so I don’t owe anyone and I can say I did it on my own. Grace can’t be earned. It is uncomfortable. Grace tells us that we are worthy regardless of how much we contribute. Jesus is grace personified. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this is not for yourselves, it is a gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast,” Ephesians 2:8-9. He is a love and forgiveness so undeserving that puts you in the spotlight, gently brings you to your knees and embraces you with wholehearted acceptance exactly as you are right now. Being seen yet fully wanted seems far-fetched, especially when I have to battle the voices in my head.

Address your insecurities.

I am an actress/writer living month to month who shared a room and relies heavily on free food. I didn’t want people to think that I was scheming to save money because, well, I cared so much about what people think. I want people to see me as generous, not needy. I want people to see me as successful, not scrounging for change. I want people to see me as a planner, not a play-it-ear kind of hustler. Being in an situation that made me feel uncomfortable brought up a lot of my insecurities. I had to examine them, accept some of them, and work on others. Sometimes who I want people to see me as isn’t who I really am. I need to be sanctified and come back to a worth not determined by others. Look, people are going to think what they think. Sometimes we really suck like that. I just have to do me in the most generous and honest way. If I can live like that, then I am not run by people’s opinions of me, but led by the Spirit that is in me. That is the only way to live.

Attack life with radical faith.

Only by living a life led by the Spirit can I live radically because the “fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control,” Galatians 5:22-23. I want to be marked by these traits. I want to trust in the power of God. This year God provided from day to day. It was scary. I had to be more present to see how he was going to provide outside of the box, in ways I could not predict. My predictions are humanly drawn. His provisions are always heavenly colored. So trust in a perfect timing, with enduring patience. Be present at all times and look everyone in the eyes. No one is merely mortal. Dream projects that if done by human endeavors will fail, but with God all things are possible. Hope for the deepest kind of love that makes your knees tremble. Be exposed because that is the most beautiful you. Besides if people can’t take you with morning hair and bare faced, they don’t deserve you at eyelash extensions and NARS red lips. Life is scary and hard and out of our control, so why not jump and trust in the biggest?

2017, the world flipping on its head aside, I want to say thank you. I default to self-pity, preaching to myself that no one actually loves me, but when I recall the radical generosity I have experienced this year, I know I am loved. I tend to isolate. I think many things are fixed, that I will always struggle with the same thing and always default into anger and heartbreak. Things can change. 2017, you let me sleep around. I have experienced love. I have been humbled. I have become more fearless. God provided through people. More than ever I know that we are called to live in community, rely on community and heal in community. 

 

Nancy Ma2 Comments