I love this picture. Just love it. It was our last night being all together–celebrating Mom’s 60th. Time went by way too fast, as it always does, but we were all just very happy to have had it. Very happy. Those are two words I am incredibly thankful to have as adjectives to describe time spent with my mom and siblings. And while everyone is all over the nation, I’ve never had these people closer in my life…
Excuse my mind wandering to loud things in the house. If I waited for the perfect conditions, I would never be able to write. I’m sitting here with Max’s giant headphones over my ears trying to drown out the noise from the TV, the door is closed to our “office”, and the boys are engaged with Daddy in “America’s Got Talent”. I can still hear absolutely everything. They don’t make houses, doors, (or earphones) like they used to. But I’m so over perfect. No one can live their life waiting for perfect. So I’ll write on, because I have to tonight–or I may never speak up again…
Because there was something so scary about last time–about using that big voice on such a big platform– so loud, so real, so open. And I want to thank my husband for giving me the time and the strength to do so. I am a person who has always felt judged–and whether that feeling is self inflicted or not–it’s there. My sisters and I joke that we sometimes wish we had a manual to pass out at the beginning of relationships entitled “This is why I am the way I am…” (only it would be much too thick and no one would ever read it). Marty encouraged me to share and put little pieces of my life out there. “People are going to judge you no matter what. They are going to talk about you no matter what. Might as well have them talk about you and judge you for who you are.” And he gave me the day to bleed words and heal. What an incredible gift that is to a person. What an incredible gift he is to me.
I was tired of wondering if people could see it in me, sense it or feel it; the brokenness, the weirdness, the ‘otherness’ (as I call it) of not fitting in to what I deemed was “normal”. This is me–I own this. I’m completely okay with this, and every day is a new chance to be brave. And yes, I said brave–because that’s what it feels like to me–and I’ll own that too. Brave. Life, for this girl, takes a lot of brave. When we’re not running over people, through people, and around people–when we’re actually noticing each other–helping each other, giving empathy, support and kindness–yup, that takes brave. Because all of that? That takes real connection–and that? That scares the hell out of me. Because sometimes connection hurts. But love is always worth it, even when it breaks your heart. I’m always learning, and thanks to God’s grace and mercy, I always can. As one of my favorite people, Glennon, says, “God is forever tries”.
It was an all day and into the night process. My finger shook over that “publish” button at midnight — and after pushing it — I just cried. Not sad tears, just done and tired tears, and slipping into bed I whispered to Marty that I had finished it. He told me he was really, really sorry, but he was so tired–as I had woken him up–but promised he’d read it first thing in the morning… and he did (while I slept).
The next day was a roller coaster of emotion. I wasn’t expecting all of the compassion. All of the beautiful, brave, incredible people that shared their soul tattoos with me. Amazing. Hugs and love to all of you. I couldn’t stop crying and praising God and praying for you and smiling and saying ‘amen’ and praying some more–and I’m sorry that the only responses I could eek out were “thank you” and “love you too”. There are so many gorgeous people in this world, fighting the good fight every single day–so very bravely behind anonymous faces and smiles. You all made me want to be braver too. Thank you, lovely ones, thank you.
And I wasn’t expecting all of those people who wanted to save my soul. Because it is so very saved. Oh so very. As faith, well faith and my Jesus are my oxygen. And I found it interesting that the take away for some people was their concern about what I thought about Christianity–and I had to remind myself that these well intentioned people did not know me, and I was very sorry, and admittedly hurt, that they had missed my message entirely. And it became so very ironic and all at once awful to me, so I stopped trying to explain and just let it be.
And my mom and sisters, they cried and we loved, and it was good–it was more than good. Some things words just can not explain.
Moreover, I felt this indescribable new sense of freedom. The big, ugly weight was gone–that black, molasses like cloud that always seemed to hang over me had all but disappeared. I had, somehow, spoke it out of existence. Kind of like acknowledging an elephant in the room at a party. I wasn’t sure who did or didn’t see it, but pronouncing “look, elephant!” made the party much more habitable for me. I can stand here and breathe in your company.
I never felt true to my form. As if I was always denying myself in some sense. And to use yet another metaphor from creation, I felt as if the caterpillar had shed it’s chrysalis and the butterfly was free–still fragile–but oh so free–in true form–this is me, meeting you. So, no matter how scary it was to break through, to speak truth, to be so very ugly–it was so much scarier to live an unauthentic life. I guess that’s the funny thing about fear. You just have to be more afraid of something else to conquer it. I was losing me–someone I had fought so hard to save–and I was proud of her, not ashamed — I was proud of all of us. In fact, I think we’re one big giant miracle. A mixed bag of all kinds of flawed sparkles that glitter and shine like a miracle none the less.
And it also struck me that in all the noise in life, all the chaos, the crazy, the pain–Jesus has rarely, if ever, been loud with me. In reflection, his gentleness was so completely awesome. I’m sure he comes in revelation to some with lighting and thunder and cymbals or maybe God still does a burning bush or two, but he knows his daughter–and he knows I don’t respond well to the screaming and the yelling and lots of hoopla. I listen better to the stillness. I tend to lean into the quiet. In the calmness of my soul–when I am still enough to listen in meditation and prayer and time in his word–in the whispers of nature (all of his creation praises him really), the giggles of my children, practicing yoga, the gentle love of people–it’s in the quiet that he finds me and I him. The world may rage on. He is my peace. He has always been my peace.
And no, this peace isn’t always absolutely calm. And it isn’t always comfortable. But here’s the thing I’ve found. There’s a big difference between being comfortable and being at peace. And I can always have peace, even when I am terribly uncomfortable. And this girl, well–this girl is never going to be truly comfortable in this world–and that’s okay. I will survive, I’ll keep breathing, and I’ll be okay being uncomfortable. But I can be at peace. Peace doesn’t depend on what’s happening around me. Peace is what’s happening inside my soul. And that–well, that’s really good. This world just doesn’t happen to be a place where I will ever feel super at home–because it’s not my home. I feel a sense of home with people I love, but not here–not in this place–but this place isn’t meant to be my forever place–and my soul knows that. So comfort isn’t something I strive to achieve, but peace–now that’s something that is attainable.
And forgiveness. You have to learn to forgive. And not just say it, not just even do it by matter of principle, and not even just let go–although those are all really great and wonderful things–but in order to really find peace you have to completely wash the slate clean. I’m talking start the heck over, sparkling new forgiveness. The past is not changing. I know this. But I can get stuck there. In the injustice of it. The ‘what I could have beens’ of it. The whys, the how could you haves, the if only I was strongers. But you can not do that. It’s over and no amount of back thinking is going to change any of that. It’s only going to eat up the valuable and beautiful and very present now.
People say you have to move forward. Yes, you do. But sometimes you have to just start over as the new creation that you are. In order to start over, I needed one thing. I needed acknowledgement that it had happened. I really needed that first. I had done lots of healing and hard work on my own for many years, but that–that much I needed first. And then, let’s start over. Because what is the alternative? A lot of bitterness, anger, and a lot of emptiness–and that–that is prison and poison–and I already had enough of that.
And it doesn’t go perfectly. But it goes authentically. And that is beauty to this girl. Life is beautiful when we get over trying to be perfect and just be. Because who we were created to be is exactly who God intended us to be. Perfectly broken, perfectly flawed, perfectly perfect in our weakness–so that we can look to him for strength–and maybe–just maybe–so we can also look to each other.
And you also learn that words–big and small–hold so much power. And we are responsible for them–for the energy they bring, the energy they put forth. “For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.” Matthew 12:34.
And while there is grace and forgiveness, we must remember to be kind and to remember that we are all worthy stars shining here. The world is a dark enough place. Far be it for any of us to dim any one else’s light. The stars don’t try to outshine each other. They just shine. And, my God, it sure is beautiful…
Much peace and love to all of you,
and, as always,