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Life's Little Lessons

"If you ask me what I came into this life to do, I will tell you: I came to live out loud." – Emile Zola

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authentic

Line in the Sand

I’m all for the gray areas of life because I believe that they exist. I also like to color outside the lines. I’m all for accommodations, adjustments, alterations and such but I’m not for compromising my heart and settling for less than I know I deserve. Less than what I know that I can give.

And I have.

Over.

And over.

And over again.

Because, what if I don’t and someone gets pissed and then doesn’t want anything to do with me at all? The loss of their approval, even their disapproval of the me they thought they knew, the me I thought they wanted me to give…would be heart breaking.

These are real thoughts.

But guess what?

I want something to do with me.

I want something to do with me a whole bunch. I actually DO believe I am worthy of simple things like:

Faithfulness.

Having someone’s whole heart.

And the problem has been I haven’t seen myself accordingly. I’ve been misaligned, like looking at myself in a mirror that has been distorted and cracked. I’ve compromised but not in a way where I’ve sat down and negotiated my value. I just kind of took what I got.

Even if it was crap.

I asked for more. And I’ve been told I’m unreasonable.

Demanding.

Like communication and having the ability to work all the way through to the other side is some sort of abnormality reserved for super humans.

The further side was a luxury I could not afford.

And now here we are and I wonder how we got here, how I did. The writing on the wall is as clear as the line that I’m finally drawing and I know.

I will no longer negotiate my identity.

I will no longer settle for anything other than faithfulness. Wholehearted and true.

I won’t take the back seat in someone’s heart when I know I belong in the front row.

I. Just. Won’t.

 

 

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Maybe

“Is there anything you want to talk about?” 

“No.”

And with that I go to bed.

OK.”

My daily communication attempts trying to delve past talk of kids and business fail. It is glaringly obvious, it is our only common ground. I long for deep and healing here in this place, this vast ocean that looks consuming and my continued asking feels like nagging and drudgery.

Maybe he is right. Maybe there is nothing more to talk about. Maybe this is as good as it gets. And with that, I walk up the stairs and step into the bath, delving below the surface of my life.

The water has become a drug to me. The heat is calming and soothing and numbs out my raw and achy parts.

I’m basing the whole of who I am and my happiness on this marriage. I forgave quickly. I thought I’d never mention our latest snag again. I immediately became a busy little bee who opened up her heart wide. I thought I’d work and he’d work and we would meet somewhere in the middle and this could potentially be THAT happy ending. The ending we all hope for and dream is possible and maybe for some it is, but it takes more than one to dream, maybe more than that to hope.

A mustard seed…and I had it.

But there needs to be communication and not just for a day. Not just for two. We need to cultivate intimacy and by default, I’ve been crowned conversation initiator and my initiator is tired and worn out.

I no longer volunteer as tribute.

My brain tells me all sorts of good and needed truths and I know I am full and overflowing with knowledge of WHO I am but my heart tells me another story. My heart tells me I don’t feel valued or loved, that I’m sitting around waiting for scraps and someone else’s left overs. My heart tells me if I was more important things would change and go another direction. My heart tells me a lot of things…

And if I stay here, stuck in a place that continually perpetuates these lies, that is exactly where I’ll stay.

An orphan.

Actions or lack thereof speak pretty loudly.

I’ve got to get myself healthy, for indeed I am sick. I hear the voice of my counselor in my head, “Your heart is broken. You need to heal,” and I know he is right. It is broken and I need to give it time and trying to help someone else mend who perhaps isn’t quite ready is not helping…me. I am pouring way more into this then he is and I’m beginning to feel the strain of my expenditures. I just don’t have it in me to ask one more time, “Is there anything you want to talk about?”

Because essentially my tired refusal comes from a deep and hidden heart cry, “Would someone please pour into me first. I am empty. I no longer want to fix.”

And under the covering of the hot water that fills the tub, it becomes obvious.

The last time I turned someone over to the Lord with such resolve, my oldest son was six years old and was about to be airlifted to Hershey Medical Center for a skid loader accident. I remember standing over him as he was screaming, a mother whose heart was torn between what she could and couldn’t do, realizing, “There is nothing here I can. My very best works won’t help. But Jesus, if you exist, if you are alive and real, I believe you can help. He is yours.”

So I say it again, just the same.

“He is yours.”

I refuse to settle for anything less than what I know is possible.

Make Room 

The perfect morning to me is a cup of coffee, the couch and a book and time void of hustle and rush. Slow. Slow makes it truly, truly perfect and as Chief Hopper says in the very first episode of Stranger Things

“MORNINGS ARE FOR COFFEE AND CONTEMPLATION.”

And this morning I found myself having it all. The coffee, the couch and book…with plenty of time to get lost in some thought or some conversation and they walk right past, stuck in their morning routine, just the same.

“Come sit with me for a bit,” I say and I make room on the couch. I want more than just the normal Sunday Morning. I want their presence.

I’ve been thinking a lot this week about PEOPLE. Isn’t that what we’re supposed to do? Isn’t that Christmas? I think of people in particular…their role in my life, my role in theirs and our influence on one another. I’ve been asking a lot of questions, gleaning a few answers and in between doing a lot of soul-searching.

There is more to life then living from here to there. There is a place in between.

In the past few days I’ve sat with people when it wasn’t convenient or easy and through it, I’ve realized once more how important it is to give each other our presence. We all want to be seen and heard and sometimes, most times, I liken all of humanity to the old stainless steel tea-pot that sits on my gas stove: We take time to warm up. We don’t want hurried along like we are an appointment on someone’s calendar or an errand they are running that can eventually be crossed off their list.

But sadly, most times, that is what we get.  Remnants of someone’s leftovers, their seconds, their hurry, their less than best.

Looking back now, I can see where that rush has caused more than a problem or two. Lack of presence places Constance where intact should be forged and before you know it, it’s easy to feel like distrusting strangers.

I think it’s the people in my every day crazy, when things aren’t calm and slow, that I’ve needed to pay closest attention to. The ones I’m most likely to whiz right by or take for granted have needed my solid and sturdy legs to remain strong yet bendy so I could ask simple and basic questions.

**Like**

“How are you?”

How many times do we dig our heels in and wade through the awkward silence for their answer? Their REAL answer.

Not many enough.

Conversely, last night as I was putting on my shoes, a random thought popped into my head. I thought of one person in particular, one I’ve been giving too much time and attention to though they havn’t been anywhere in my travels, no where in my circles but they indeed have been taking up space in the thoughts inside my head. As I laced up my last shoe, I didn’t think but more RESOLVED that they were a common denominator in too many of my here-and-now-life-problems. Too much of what I have rolling on the inside of me has their name attached and just like that… I made the decision to take them out of my equation.

And I realized I can do that.

Just. Like. That.

I’ve been giving them too much space through no fault of their own and in the big picture, it’s been frustrating. I’ve allowed their influence to tip some scale inside my life in a less than life-giving way and I refuse to carry them with me into the New Year.

I choose to no longer give them a seat on the couch that is housed in a room within my head. I stood tall after tying my shoes and within moments, showed them to the door. I don’t need to think about them or talk about them because to do so, places an unhealthy, unbalanced importance where it shouldn’t and afterwards, I’ve wondered WHY I’ve ever given away such a powerful choice.

And the sad but wonderful thing about this moment, in the midst of shoes and laces is this…

My resolve has nothing to do with an actual person as first assumed. Sure there’s a name but in the grand scheme of things, it could be a hundred names. They were merely just a representation of a festering wound and I think I needed someone, essentially anyone, to blame.

And since blaming does no good.

Here’s the door.

Be free.

What they represented to me has to go. I need to make room in my heart for vision and hope and joy and laughter and I don’t want to make time for the incessant chatter things past try to hold me to.

We need to free up space friends for real people. Not for the stupid things people do or our assumptions about them. Not for past hurts that keep replaying like a broken record. Not for our offenses or the sordid scenarios that we play and then rewind again and again in our head. Sometimes it IS as simple as refusing to give those thoughts an audience and if it means for a while that the name that’s attached goes unmentioned so you can quit your bad habit, then let it be so. Go cold turkey. Do whatever you can to think favorably again.

It’s not about cutting our losses. We need to look at the rooms within our homes and examine what is filling them. Sometimes it gets a little crowded with stuff and I don’t know about you, but if I’m going to have a full house, I’d rather have it packed with presence. People presence. Not poor thinking OF people presence because at the end of the day, negative attention is STILL attention and takes up space. An awful lot of it.

Friends I’m short on time and like you, I want to make my time count. I want my presence count. If I have any resolutions this year it is this:

want the person standing in front of me to walk away knowing they were heard and seen **THAT THEY WERE LOVED** and I want my thoughts to count.

I don’t have people to waste. I don’t have thoughts OF people to waste.

Neither do you.

the places I cannot afford to visit 

In my prior life, I was a sales representative  for a company that awarded its performance team with luxurious trips. I could sit here and name all the different countries I’ve traveled to and all the five-star resorts I’ve stayed at but I won’t. I will say this, they all have something in common:

On my own, they are not places I could afford to visit.

Fast forward to this life, not a lot has changed. I still travel but lately it’s been to military bases to see my kids and I rarely frequent airports and seldom hail cabs but one thing transfers from one life to the next and remains consistent and true: I still can’t afford to visit certain places.

Location is just about everything, ask any realtor. Location location location. Is it high traffic, high population…what is it’s draw that determines its value and worth? To each person, that answer may be different. What I am looking for may be different from what grabs your attention, that’s why it’s so important to ask yourself what’s important to you. If you don’t, you’ll end up somewhere that’s important to someone else and you’ll find yourself in a location that is miserable at best.

Ever been to the beach with someone who hates the sun and the sand? Miserable.

Our daughter called today from the Navy’s boot camp and it’s been over a month since I’ve seen her. As we all stood in the kitchen, gathered around my phone, I felt sadness taking up space within the room. I not only felt it within me, but I heard it in her voice. It’s Christmas. Her brother, who is a Marine, is Home for a short leave, and it’s her first Holiday Season away from us. The phone call was a happy one despite the underlying sadness but when the call was over, I turned to my husband and cried.

I felt sad for several hours afterwards and I realized my location wasn’t really the best. I was slipping, and my mood was beginning to match the weather…cold and dreary.

As a feeler, I often hole myself up in some shack, dodging bullets and trying to stay out of the enemy’s line of fire in the worst parts of town. I truly pick some of the worst locations to camp out in, within myself. These shacks have given me the illusion of safety even though the foundation was crumbly and I knew it. If safety’s my goal, I most certainly have found myself hiding out in some of the most unsafe locations.

My mind or my feelings left unchecked tend to wander and create scenarios that aren’t even accurate and I end up assuming the worst. I do not recommend this. AT ALL. It’s really not fair to you because it creates such heartache and agony and it most certainly is not fair to the other person. Want to talk judgement? Assume something, anything, about another and there you have it.

I’m recognizing the feeling I have are normal…it is more than ok to be sad. I AM allowed to miss my daughter. I AM allowed to be angry over situations. I AM allowed to not agree.

It’s when I choose to stay sad and angry. It’s when I choose to care more about being right than being in relationship that gets me into trouble.

Can I really afford to visit these locations?

No. The answer is vehemently no. I cannot afford to. Visiting leads to wanting to stay. There is comfort in old friends and sometimes, hanging around old friends leads to holding onto old habits…I have to choose the higher thought.

So yesterday, as much as I missed our daughter and as much as I FELT sad because she is not home, I chose to think of how proud I am of her. She recently passed all her physical fitness tests. She is strong in both mind and body. I focused on all the friends she’s making and how lucky they are becuase she is packed full of maturity and wisdom and loves havng new expereinces through people. I chose to think of any other thought except the sad ones and slowly but surely, my mood shifted.

I’ve been practicing this in every area of my life, not just with my children. I’ve been packing up my bags and (sometimes begrudgingly) putting my feet on another path even though my thoughts and feelings tell me it’s ok to stay in my shack because it’s justified. I recognize there are places within myself I want to go, but they are places…memories or thoughts, that elicit negative feelings and pretty much put me in a bad mood. I want to bring healing there. Why? Because I know Jesus does.

I absolutely believe He chooses the higher…

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” – Isaiah 55:8-9

I’ve often said that perspective is a superpower and it is. One of the greatest revelations of my life is: I can choose my thoughts and think things on purpose. What the hell? Did you know you are THAT powerful? In other words, I don’t have to just think about whatever falls into my mind. Just because I think it doesn’t mean it is true. This was a life-changing revelation for me because as Proverbs 23:7 says, As he [a man] thinks in his heart, so is he. SeriouslyWhere the mind goes, the man follows.

Friends, there ARE places you and I both cannot afford to visit. Quick jaunts here and there can be exciting and they can feel good and right but be careful about dwelling there too long, especially without proper perspective.

Merry Christmas! Choose to think the very best this Holiday Season of the people in your life. Choose to forgive and forget.

Choose to love…

You may not always want to but I think you’ll find if you don’t, you’ll find yourself in a place you ideally don’t want to be.

Set your minds and keep them set on what is above (the higher things… (Colossians 3:2 AMP).

 

 Upside Down

Rejection.

I think I’ve battled it since the womb and I’ve wondered if it’s the first thing people see when they looked at me. Has it been something I’ve hidden behind or has it been a shiny little pin I’ve worn on my lapel and I’ve used it as an excuse for the things I’ve done?

Probably both.

My parents dated in high school and my mother was a year older than my father which made him a Senior when she announced she was pregnant with me. He was honorable and gave her a little ring, which I store in a little wooden box in a chest in my room since their divorce, and I choose to believe they went in, full of hope, that a baby would save them.

But rejection was rooted deep in my family and everyone had their own baggage long before I was born. Unfortunately, as much as I love them both, their baggage became mine and sooner or later I had my own and before I knew it, everything was jumbled and it became very difficult to sort what was theirs, what was mine and what was ours.

I took it all.

Fast forward to my own marriage and here we are, all jumbled. Maybe we are normal. Maybe jumbling takes place in every marriage. Maybe every couple has their share of heart aches and breaks. Maybe it’s part of being human and being in human relationships. I am not really sure but one thing I am sure of is this:

I have continually allowed myself to feel rejected based off other people’s responses TO me. If it’s not what I had hoped for or what I had envisioned it would be…if their words did not match their actions and I found myself in the presence of a good talker rather than a good walker, I’d allow the perceived lack **of whatever** to pretty much obliterate my identity. I become worthless and not enough. Not valued. Not really liked or loved. I essentially allowed man to take the place of God and I’d worship the opinion and the approval of flesh and blood rather than The One who already says I am…

And I tell myself it’s easy. Too easy. “Anybody who has been through what I’ve been through within the span of my short life would be looking through the same clouded and muddled lens.” As soon as I have that thought, I realize I’m double-minded and rejection IS the shiny pin I wear on my lapel. I use it as an excuse. Rejection has been an old friend and as much as I loathe it, I don’t know how to live without it.

So over the last two weeks, I’ve been waking up each day choosing to intentionally posture myself to see how God sees.

How God sees me.

“Who am I?”

I need reminded because I’ve obviously forgotten.

I think of Jesus and I think of one of my favorite verses in scripture:

Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

This is WHO HE is. This is ME.

I read further and know I’ve been thinking like a child. I looked up the scripture “Do unto others and they do unto you,” and all I find is this: 

“Treat others the same way you want them to treat you.” Luke 6:31

Damn.

I think again of Jesus. My thoughts always go back to Him and I realize that deep within me, what I’m really longing for is to become Love. Not just a little bit here or there. Not just in pieces and parts or to have characteristics of but to BE…

So I give up my childish ways and I show up and it hurts. It hurts more than I thought it would.  It makes me feel naked and exposed. It feels all upside down. It sears my flesh and feels like salt on an open wound and it is not always reciprocated and as much as I want to adjust myself and alter WHO I AM based off of how someone responds to me, I do not. I choose to believe I’m worth someone’s time and attention because I know that I am and that knowing allows me to give freely without strings.

Until I stop reacting to my circumstances and start responding to the love of Jesus, my circumstances will not change.

And I know it.

Don’t stop showing up and being you based off of how people respond to you. How you love anything is how you love everything for love is a quality of relationship more than a statement about the worthiness or deservedness of the object loved. -Richard Rohr

All In or All Out 

In the moment when things feel BIG, I realize I play sides. I draw an imaginary line down the middle and choose. I’m either all in or all out, you cannot make me straddle.

My heart is one-hundred percent on board, all hands on deck and prepared to go down with the ship if necessary.

Or.

My heart’s not even going to wait around for a life boat because it has already bailed, as in already jumped overboard having believed it’s chances of survival are better left in unknown waters with man eating sharks than on aboard in dangerous territory.

Two extremes I know, but through a series of unfortunate events, I’ve come to this brutal and beautiful realization:

I feel safe or I don’t.

I feel hopeful or I don’t.

I tend to feel a lot of things. Which is great right? Not always.

I recently felt so unsafe in a recent situation that I unfriended my own husband on social media. Facebook friend, not having it. I feel very much like a child even typing these words but I will own it because I did it and there isn’t any sense in pretending I didn’t. If you want real life, here you go.

All in” means my heart feels safe with you and “all out” means my heart doesn’t and if it doesn’t, I don’t want you to have any access to me. None. Zero. Zip.

It’s very much like living in high school and re-enacting the drama that unfolds on a daily basis in the locker room or during third period math class. I can’t even believe I did it but in the heat of the moment, I felt I had every right and justification to bail. I jumped ship as a means to protect myself from my enemy. I have since apologized and friended him again, which he accepted, THANK GOD, and hopefully someday we will have a good laugh but in the meantime, it really showed me my heart.

Ouch. My hurting heart.

It showed me how majorly unprotected I felt and really, it’s no one else’s job to protect my heart but mine. After all, my life verse is: “Above all else, guard YOUR heart, for all of life flows from it.” – Proverbs 4:23

I’ve got work to do.

It showed me how majorly untrusting of the Lord I was in that moment. It showed me how I was looking at my husband as my enemy first and foremost instead of seeing him for who he is created to be in Jesus. It also showed me how much I tend to go by my feelings.

As a empath, I have the capacity to understand or feel what another person is experiencing from within the other person’s frame of reference which is wonderful. I have a lot of very deep and meaningful relationships and connections  because I am such a deep-hearted feeler but because my heart feels so deeply, I also find I only have two switches:

On and Off.

I know I need to sit and process this further but for now, IS there an in between? Is there a place for one’s heart to reside in the middle of some scale? Yes. I know there is because I have met a lot of lukewarm people but I am not one of them. I am an extremist. It seems really right when my heart is all the way on and open…

It feels like Jesus.

So word to the wise, let your feelings come and let your feelings go as you can. Allow the storm to settle before you quickly make rash and unwise plans to jump ship head first into waters that most likely will drown you based off of how you feel. Seriosuly, whoever wants to have a dinner conversation that starts of with, “Hey. How was your day? By the way, please pass the corn, when I was really mad at you the other day, I blocked you. We are still married but no longer “friends. Do we have bread?” Doing things like that may feel good and may seem right in the moment because protection can’t be wrong. Right?

The question should be; WHO are you protecting yourself from?

It might not be from who you think.

The Shortcut to Forgiveness 

I sat at the table and I wanted to…a lot of things. I wanted to continue to cry. I wanted to get up and walk out the door. I wanted to numb out and drown my sorrows in a cup of coffee mixed with rum.

I felt my mind roll all these possibilities around in my head like dice. What would it be when all was said and done? What exactly would I do?

Would I continuing crying? Would I get up and walk out the door? Would I drown my sorrow in my coffee mixed with rum?

I stared at the grain of wood that made up the table. As I ran my fingers nervously crossed it, it felt smooth. It felt effortless. I wanted my next step to feel the same but I felt stubborn and rough, and I could feel the splinter, pointy and ragged, bury deep within me.

I was angry and hurt and I didn’t know how to make it stop.

“I forgive you. I choose to forgive you.”

They were just words at first and I knew it and they left a taste in my mouth that said I was fake.

My attemp felt awkward as I sat at my friends table and it felt forced and I did not feel free but I said those words again, this time not out loud but within me.

“I forgive you. I choose to forgive you.”

I knew if I waited till I felt like it, I would be waiting a very long time. Maybe forever. No one was expecting me to or even hinted or eluded that it would be a positive step but I knew.

I knew if I didn’t I would continue crying while thinking about walking out the door and numbing myself out with a cup of coffee mixed with rum.

As I sat and stared them all in the face, everyone was hurting and I wanted to hope that things could be different. Better. Their eyes told me they hoped for the same. We all wanted this to go any other way than my continued crying led us all to believe and my soul wanted nothing more than to get relief. To be made well again, whole, even if only temporarily by speaking magic words.

“I forgive you. I choose to forgive you.”

And I softened just a bit. I softened enough to stare him in the face. I softened enough to hug everyone goodbye and thank them for their time. I softened enough to get into the Jeep and be hungry for lunch.

I realized it wasn’t so much saying magic words or doing what I knew was probably noble or right as it was me wanting to crawl out of a heartache that had been holding me captive before despair swallowed me whole. I was trapped inside my own heart trying hard to stay angry and hurt and I had every justiufucation for it but all I really wanted was to live and love and laugh.

To be happy again.

To care and to hope and to dream.

I could not do anything of those things hanging onto bitterness and anger. Choosing to not forgive was suffocating me and I needed to breathe.

For me.

Did I use forgiveness as a fix? Was I tired of hurting and wanted to stop the pain? I don’t know. I just know there is no short cut. Magic words won’t satisfy the hearts longing to love and be free but a open heart can. I just know the power of a hearts that open….

And I know it takes way more effort to hurt, to be hurt then to forgive. As I ran my finger across their table, I remembered my heart IS smooth, that I am. I am not rough around the edges and all jaggy, leaving splinters in my wake.

Forgiving was just as much about remembering WHO I am as it was about anything or anyone else.

It was a very good place to begin again.

 

“It’s OK”

I got online and placed the order. I then followed up with a phone call, just to verify. This is what one does when they don’t have much time and they have to drive to another state to pick up a gift. They make sure everything is taken care of on their end so life goes well and planned.

Easy peasy. 

But not really. Absolutely not reality. 

I arrived on time, fourty-five minutes from home on a work day. “I am sorry. Your ticket never printed so your order is not ready. Can you wait?”

I almost died.

“Yes.”

“I am sorry. I’m not sure what happened.”

It took a lot of effort, but I looked her in the eyes and smiled because there are worse things and I KNOW it. 

And I did NOT say it

I’ve come to realize through a series of unfortunate events that I’ve had the life long habit of saying “OK.”

“Don’t worry about it, it’s OK.”

“Yep. I’m OK.”

Every time I speak those words out loud, I discovered I’m not necessarily mouthing them FOR the other persons benefit, as one would think. I mean maybe sometimes in an attempt to people please or smooth things over so there’s not conflict but for the most part, my OK is a learned response so don’t think feel or think that things AREN’T

Becuase OUR perception becomes OUR reality for as a man thinks in his heart he is. 

If I think I’m OK than I am, right?


Because you shouldn’t think or feel any other way. You keep things looking nice. You stay happy. You keep your yard neatly mowed and your house clean so when guest arrive and cross over your threshold and have a seat at your tabke, they have NO IDEA that you are anything other than…

OK

And with thhat one, small word, the battle begins…

“Don’t feel that way.”

But I do.
“Don’t think those thoughts.”
But I am. 
And every time I contradict myself, I burn. I seethe in the fiery flames. But then there’s Jesus, in it with me saying, “OK. Now let me show you another way so you can move forward from here.”

He is Love, Mercy, Grace, Forgiveness and Truth and He inserts Himself into my hole till I no longer have to climb my way out. I just AM out.
Was it the end of the world that they botched my order causing me a thirty-three  minute delay with my day? NO. Did it kind of ruffle my feathers that I showed up having done MY part and they didn’t show up and do THEIRS? 
YES. 

So I DID NOT look her in the eyes when she apologized and say, “It’s OK.

I DID look her in face with all the willpower I could muster and smiled, even if slightly forced, and my heart remained opened becuase of it. In return, I didn’t think awful thoughts as I walked out of the door. Don’t get me wrong, lots of thoughts went through my head at warp speed but pretending I WASN’T having them was not going to do me any good and in return, her good. 

I gave myself PERMISSION to BE, just as I was which totally and completely freed me to be genuine and sincere with the rest of the world around me. If I had said that one, Small word…I most likely would have walked out the door angry and bitter towards THEM because of MY choice not to show up honest and real. 

WITH me. IN my moment. 

Some things in life friends are not OK

Wherever you are at today, be honest with yourself FIRST. I believe if you don’t try to quickly drag yourself out of some hole and just give yourself permission to be there for a moment or two so you can process it all through, you can remain at peace and walk unoffened. 

The Offering

We had a stack of books underneath a fish tank in our home of children’s stories and one of my favorites was The Emperor’s New Clothes. It’s a book written by Hans Christian Andersen, about two weavers who promise an emperor a new suit of clothes that they say is invisible to those who are unfit for their positions, stupid, or incompetent. When the Emperor parades before his subjects in his new clothes, no one dares to say that they don’t see any suit of clothes on him for fear that they will be seen as “unfit for their positions, stupid, or incompetent”. Finally, a child cries out, “But he isn’t wearing anything at all!”

The emperor is naked. N-A-K-E-D. I think that is why it was one of my favorites, the very thought made me giggle as a child. Now as an adult, it sticks with me. If you want to talk vulnerability, parade around your town like the emperor.

Have you ever opened up to someone or a group of people and were totally vulnerable and honest? You dug deep and stripped back your mask and revealed the raw and real truth, you spoke it out loud and laid yourself bare.

Have you ever?

I have and in the midst, it feels freeing. There have been times I have never been more alive and awake as in ME, but most times afterwards I am plagued with a greasy and sticky film: the feeling of regret. “I should not have just shared THAT because THAT (whatever it is) reveals that I am indeed much like the emperor.

Unfit for my position.

Stupid.

Incompetent.

Because surely if I wasn’t these things, I would HAVE NEVER…”

I somehow become incredibly conscious of the crowd. I become acutely aware. I read their minds. I hear the conversations whisper behind my back. I watch their heart turn from me…

Or at least I think I can.

I take what was a beautiful invitation to go beyond the surface and turn it into a chaotic parade where I end up on the cross and my spectators are laughing and pointing at me, throwing stones.Yes, I play out the very worst case scenarios in my head. Scenarios that rarely ever take place in the natural realm, but scenarios nonetheless that I think will help me self protect which further convinces me, for a brief period of time, “NEVER DO THAT AGAIN.”

And each time I show up and I cover up, the heavy clothes bog me down. They are so combersome that they take away my breath. They are ill fitted, scratchy and burdensome to wear. They are not me at all and I know it. I am left contending for a girl I once knew, a girl who once walked naked and free, a girl who is often TOO AFRAID of the crowd to fully show up and extend her hand as an invitation that says, “Come.”

Here is what I am learning: Showing up fully YOU, just as you are, is a gift. It is a good and perfect gift you give yourself every day of this life. Actually it is a gift that Jesus Himself has given you because you are no longer a prisoner chained in a dark and damp cell awaiting release.

Other people’s opinions no longer have control over you.

Worry and anxiousness cannot keep its thumb on you.

Fear can no longer hold you back.

Do the next thing” as Elizabeth Elliott says. Keep moving forward.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. –Galatians 5:1

Do not be burdened by the yoke of what others think; it’s none of your business anyway. Don’t be bothered if they point and laugh when you are parading your nakedness. Chances are, they aren’t even thinking those things. Chances are, you being fully you will inspire them to do the same. Remember, His burden is light which means your clothes are lighter.

Do not wear heavy things.

Not only do we shortchange ourselves when we hold back from being our “original” selves, we shortchange the person standing in front of us who is hungry for a taste of authenticity. In a world plagued by fast and fake food laced with counterfeit substitutions…hearts are longing for a real taste.  They are longing for HONEST. They are longing for ORIGINAL. They know when they have been left standing empty-handed, holding a plate and on it, little substance and we become exhausted when we continually shift our content; maneuvering boxes around in ourselves hoping no one sees through the windows of our soul that we have stuff.

I realize as I write this that if I show up with you fully ME, just as I am; in my good day or in my bad, in my vulnerability with my need, in my happiness or in my tears and I extend to you my hand and say, “Come. I invite you here, into this place…” it is really just that. My offering to you. The sweet-smelling fragrance of my original identity. Yes, showing up honest and true keeps me free because I AM. It truly is an invitation to a relationship.

Get to know ME. Invite me get to know YOU.

I’ll continue to place myself in the offering plate because I believe so very much in the power of vulnerability and authenticity. I believe very much in the power of simple presence and I’ll just let it at that. Even though there are days I feel as if my offering cost me everything, I know that’s not true, it’s only a win.

A gain for both of us if we allow.

Much Love,

August

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