I hear that a lot. “You’re such an inspiration”. Every time a big question mark appears over head. How is my life inspiring to anyone? Immediately followed by a big dollar sign. I wish I could figure out how to get paid to be an inspiration.

In that same moment I am completely humbled that others are inspired by me.

But tonight I feel the weight of being an inspiration. I am hurting. I am lonely. I am broke. How, exactly, is that inspiring to people?

No, I don’t post an update saying I scrounged  up enough money to feed my kids tonight. Or buy a dress my daughter needed for a band concert. From the outside, those kinds of struggles are hidden. It’s not this bad all the time. Just usually one week during the month when my lack of budgeting catches up to me.

And the truth is, I spend money I shouldn’t to get life experiences… like Friday night when I spent $25 I really didn’t have for an acroyoga class. But I wouldn’t trade those experiences for anything. Yes, I’ll miss a meal for a new and exciting experience… that somehow other people find inspiring.

I spend more time and tears wondering why, after 6 years, I am still single. Is it something wrong with me? Does God really hate me that much that he’s doomed my life to loneliness. It has to be the most difficult feeling to reconcile. I am strong. I am independent. I am happy. I love life. I have a lot of friends. I experience a lot in life. But every night I come home alone. I have thoughts, joys, fears, and love… And no one to share any of that with.

I have been hurt by friends, family, and men. All who left me feeling like I wasn’t good enough to spend time with, to commit to, to love.

But I close my eyes and let me mind replay things: I am on a sailboat. The wind catching in the sheets and pulling me through the water. It is powerful. And healing. I am in a kayak on the river on an Easter Sunday morning. Not a soul around me. Just me and nature. I am on paddleboarding in the middle of the Mississippi in the midst of a torrential downpour and through white capped waves. And then on my board in the middle of the lake watching the sunset. The sky and water changing colors. And it fills me up. I am driving home with the top down and the wind whipping through my long hair.

And God reminds me that I have connected with Him in a way few people ever do. I have connected with his wild side. Oh yes, God does have a wild side. And it is powerful and undeniable. And while I am far from perfect, I am loved and I have experienced perfect love… And in a way that is beyond the ability of words to describe. And with all of that tumbling around in my head, I am inspired. The hurt and loneliness fade for a moment. The tears stop and I find my smile. Maybe that’s what is truly inspiring… that in spite of deep pain and struggle I have a reason to smile?