When I was little, my family called me Mae Mae.
I was adopted into a Dallas suburb family with loving parents — who I like to call Dear Tim and Sweet Denise — and an older brother, Braden. Three years later, we were joined by my baby brother Nathan.”Mei mei” means little sister in Chinese. It was this super adorable nickname because let’s be honest, I was a super adorable little girl.
As I grew older, I outgrew that nickname and my family started to call me Maelyn. Every now and then, Dear Tim will still call me this as a term of endearment. I flash back to my glory days of running around the neighborhood barefoot and falling off my bike.
Maelyn was a shy, driven teenager.
I had a group of core friends at church and I was on the youth ministry leadership team, yet I lived in a perpetual state of timidity and deeply struggled with striking conversations with strangers.
My hobbies included writing and playing music — which still remain today — but I was too insecure to share my thoughts and feelings with others. I isolated myself in many ways when I was at home and sometimes even on the weekends from my friends.
Honestly, looking back, I’m not sure why I was so scared — I lived in fear others would judge me, I hated the idea of being disliked. I did my best to be approved by everyone — man over God.
Then I attended Baylor University and everything changed.
Plugging into a sorority, a church and many student organizations brought me out of my shy shell. I learned to be bold and to address strangers with love and acceptance. I branched out and made friends who were unalike my childhood ones — theywere quite different but stretched me in the best of ways.
I worked at various internships and developed my PR skills — which involved interacting with clients and working hard, but learning it’s OK to make mistakes.
My junior summer, I studied abroad in Florence, Italy for half of the summer. It was there I truly realized God goes with me wherever I wander — physically and spiritually. He seeks us out in the most radical way, meeting us wherever we may find ourselves on the planet and in our faith.
Italy further pushed me to address strangers and locals in broken Italian, I learned to be alone — not in an isolated way, but in a self-accepting and self-assuring way. It was this amazing experience that I will never forget, and it changed me in the best of ways.
When I was diagnosed with bipolar, my world shattered.
Everything I knew changed — my family, my friends, my jobs, my home, my church. I can no longer be an average twenty-something, but must constantly evaluate my mood, energy and sleep. I need to live a holistically healthy lifestyle: regular exercise, healthy eating, daily prayer.
But since then, I like to be called Mae. It’s this simple name for a simple life — don’t get me wrong, it’s difficult and challenging to live with this disorder — and it encapsulates the transformation I under went (and still do) since diagnosed. It tells the world, “I used to be Maelyn, but now I’m Mae. God wrecked me and changed me and loves me still.”
Moving back to Dallas from a life I loved in Nashville was the most humbling, stretching thing. I never planned to return to Dallas (largely due to a lack of growth and stunted faith). I wanted to branch out and establish a new name for myself at a new place, and I was doing just that before my manic phase.
Everyday I wrestle with longing to be in Nashville, craving to return to Italy. I often ask God, “Please, open up new doors in my future to move away and make a new life. Please don’t call me to stay here forever.”
Yet, God says, “Mae, be.”
He tells me to be present, to invest in people and places right here in my hometown. He tells me to rest in His word and to seek Spirit and Truth. He tells me He will call me to wherever and whoever and whatever in time, and it could very well be to stay here at my new job and my new church and my new, old life.
It isn’t easy. I get restless and I become impatient to see Him produce fruit and to hold up to His promises. I regularly feel bitter about my disorder and He allowed this to happen to me. I long for a life of normalcy and regularity just like my friends’.
But I’m learning to “be.” I’m learning to accept the seed God plants, to nourish it and grow it, to trust it will flourish in faith and reflect God’s goodness.
I am His. He is mine. And I’m Mae, be.