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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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Talk Is Cheap

The beginning of the school year is always a stressful time for me and I’m going to go ahead and assume it’s that way for most who work in my industry. This year however has proven to be especially rough, which I expected but somehow didn’t. Some things you simply cannot prepare for.

I’ve felt for the last few weeks like I’ve had the center seat in a dunking tank, you know the kind you see at Summer fairs where the target is pelted by worn leather baseballs that hit squarely on the bullseye and then drops the poor unfortunate soul on the seat into the water. Let me tell you this: Whoever is throwing the balls hitting the target not only has my number, but has aim and a strong arm and they’re not allowing me time to come up, grab a seat and catch my breath before the next go.

Damn them.

And through it, I may or may not have handled that stress well. I may have wielded a complaint or two about it, as in screaming not such sweet nothings into the air as I walk the dogs in the field behind my house. And while doing dishes. Talking to a friend. Sitting at my desk. In the end, venue doesn’t matter. Point being, I’ve morphed into a complainer and I know it.

And the thing about complaining is that it disguises itself. It makes you think you are releasing the weight of what you’ve been carrying, like it’s some sort of helper, but in actually reality, it’s not a helper at all. Complaining is a play ground bully and a instigator that tries to make problems seem bigger than solutions and I fell for it. Hook. Line. Sinker. In the end, I’ve become my own worst enemy…at least my continuous bouts of negativity have been.

The critical inner voice is the language of this enemy of mine and it’s universal. It is an internal dialogue that drives rumination, self-blame and self-loathing. It mocks us, shames us, scares us and lures us into self-limiting or self-destructive behavior. It tells us not to trust the people we love. It points fingers and places blame. It influences us to not try to reach a goal. It advises us and subdues us, keeping us seemingly safe inside a miserable, albeit familiar, shell.

As a result, the most important battle we may fight is the one going on inside ourselves – the real us versus our critical inner voice.

And I’ve allowed my critical inner voice to take charge.

How are you doing August?

Oh…let me tell you.”

And one day last week, I met my quota. I woke up and felt heavy and worn, not out but through. I realized I was tired, but not from my circumstances, but FROM how I’ve been responding TO my circumstances. I recognized that I’m a better responder than what I have been and an overall better person than what I’ve presented so I’ve decided to make a shift in my thinking and have *mostly* been keeping my mouth shut because when my mouth is shut during stressful times, the words inside my head lose their audience, get bored and find more constructive things to do.

This is a true story.

If you find yourself in a negative rut, stop digging. Stop whining, complaining and ranting. Stop breathing not so sweet nothings into the air for anyone or anything to hear. Once can be freeing, but doing so on a frequent basis becomes an addictive habit that just buries everyone and everything alive with your dirt.

Take it from me, talk is cheap. Some things aren’t worth being said.

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the invitation 

I sat down at the table a little nervous. I never really had a conversation with her past surface things and quick helios in passing and here I was, guaranteed a whole hour with my new friend.

And I just knew we would be friends.

She asked me how I was and I knew what the “right” answer should be. I’m “great” was on the verge of jumping off my tongue and out of my mouth but instead I said, “I’m ok. I know I should say I’m better and I am but…”

And my heart opened up from there and off we went.

At the end of our hour lunch, I felt like I had known her way longer than our sixty minute chat. I think that’s what being vulnerable does. Once you get past the point of feeling all naked and afraid, you reveal your raw and edgy heart and can actually begin relating to another human being that goes far beyond experiential.

Heart connections are real and they happen instantaneously. They don’t need worked for or kept up with. You just show up and fully engage the person before you, whatever…however.

Sometimes we go thorough life like we dodging bullets or gallopping through some obstacle course that we maneuver poorly. It’s during those times, and we all go through them, that it is somewhat comforting not being alone. Like fully. Wether they relate or not or been there done that…it is a breath of fresh air that sweeps through a white padded room to have a friend accompany you on your journey.

If you ever say yes to the coffee or the lunch, to the play date or the run, show up for more than what you are invited to. It’s more than a coffee or lunch date. It’s an opportunity to be your realest self. It’s an opportunity for you to make space for someone else to exhale and breathe in some fresh air their lungs desperately crave.

I learned a lot over a plate of food and I am so thankful I took a risk and showed up me. I didn’t show up messy or all broken nor did I show up all perfectly put together and slightly untouchable. I showed up right where I am and I am grateful that I did. I made a new friend and we moved beyond being mere acquaintances with a similar circle of friends.

Life’s Little Lesson: Show up. Be authentic, honest and real.

Do all the above afraid if need be.

Stop writing for everyone else. Start writing for yourself.

These are the words I heard echo through my Jeep as I pulled out of the parking lot.

Stop.

Start.

Always in motion.

So for whoever you are, wherever you sit on the other end of the screen reading these words of mine…that is exactly what I am going to do. Despite the opinions and fears of a select few, I am going to go after me. I am going to write FOR me. Because I am worthy and have value. I will not write for attention, as previously mentioned. I will not entertain that lie, but for healing, for if writing helps me heal, would it really matter how I processed?

I don’t think so.

But I always protect everyone else, everyone else but me.

Today was my third counseling session and I am so incredibly grateful for Wayne and Ruth. I sat smack dab in the middle of their overstuffed leather loveseat that is built for two and I’m grossly aware of the space that’s left around me. It doesn’t matter. I am there no matter how small I feel.

I will keep showing up honest and real.

Today was an exceptionally hard session so when I exited the parking lot, I turned left at the light. My thoughts instantly went to my friend. My beautiful friend…calm and sweet. My friend who thinks she is big, too large and on a scale of some to none…maybe she is. I don’t know. I think she is perfect as she is. All I know is that I want to drive my vehicle to her work so she can place her long arms, all comfy and soft, around me as I cry.

Because I want to cry. I want nothing more than to have a very good and long cry.

So I do. I pull in as she is pulling out and somehow she makes her way to my Jeep and opens my door and I fall into her arms. She doesn’t ask and I am thankful that I don’t have to tell and because I don’t even know what it is I would say if I did.

I hear Ruth’s words and I realize how true they were.

“I always throw myself under the bus.”

I am twenty-three and my father hits me just weeks before the wedding I don’t want him walking me down but I find myself on his left-hand side weeks later because that is what dutiful daughters do. They stay quiet. They soldier on and spend the next twenty plus years of their life secretly hating themselves for not standing up, for not speaking up.

I could go on. I thought about typing more, in fact I did. I started compiling my list like  some Power Point I could some day use in a presentation of what NOT to do, but since I am writing for me and not you, I’ll stop here. September 1997.

I am a young mother.

My young daughter is standing in the yard beside me and my mother and my father, full of his unpredictability and rage, reminded me once more just how small and truly insignificant I was.

 

 

 

 

 

Bruised not Broken

When I was little, every time I turned around, I had a broken arm. Bike accidents were my nemesis and to this day, my left elbow still sports two titanium pins that serve as a powerful reminder to wear shoes when pedaling a bike. I also broke my wrist once riding a three-wheeler just weeks before my wedding but for the most part, I’ve been injury free. But two and half weeks ago it snowed (it will be fun they said) and I took the dogs out in our yard for a run. Little did I know one of their leashes would wrap itself around my boot and I would be suddenly pulled to the ground.

That hurt.

And long story short, I left it go even though I could not lift my right arm above my head.

It’s bruised, not broken. It will heal.

Yes and No.

Several days later I ended going to Urgent Care just minutes before they closed at the promoting of some friends who saw my yellow and black bruising. X-Rays confirmed no injury so the doctor sent me home and told me to move it as much as I could so it wouldn’t become stiff. And then the next day, Radiology called.

“We are sorry. The X-Ray was misread. You have a fractured Humerus.”

So two orthopedic appointments later, my bruising is an ugly shade of gray and I can lift my right arm now slightly above my head with pain. I have more motion but everything hurts. In fact, I have a constant throb that sometimes Tylenol doesn’t take away. My doctor assures me from my X-Ray that this is normal and that my fracture is healing but it will just take time and I need to go a bit more easy. I’ve been told no more heavy lifting, no more trying to reach my arm above my head and no more extending my arm out like I would to open the door of a bus.

I am not in a sling or a cast so if you were to look at me, you would never know what was beneath my sweater. You would never see the ugly shade of gray beneath the skin on my right arm. I look normal. Things look good on the outside and so I want the inside to match and they don’t. This injury’s come at a time in my life when I want things fixed. I want life fixed. I want my ducks lined up neat, in a row and they are somewhat scattered.

Not everything in life is a life lesson but most things are. Right now I need a hands on lesson in the external to help me better understand the internal, or better yet, I need the natural to help me better understand the spiritual. Either or.

Both.

My doctor wants me to keep moving my shoulder because moving it will ultimately help heal it. BUT I am only to move it as my pain tolerance allows so in other words, I’m to push it but not too far. Then when I push too far I am to rest and then push far again.

External injuries, much like internal ones, take time to heal. Hurts to your heart are finicky. You cannot place your heart in a sling or a cast, it doesn’t work that way and most of us, not all of us, are walking around with a wound that no one knows about. Much like the bruising beneath my sweater, you can hide your pain beneath a smile or behind a happy post and no one will know differently.

No one really.

But He knows. He always knows and He is always one I can turn to when I need to rest because the pushing has hurt just a little too much.

Friends, if you are hurting…it is legit. Pain and injury are real. Pretending that they are not by wearing your game face so you can soldier on will ultimately do you know good. You just go underground. Your scabby hearts get all crusty and eventually gets all tough but not in the strong and healthy way so give yourself time to heal. Be honest with your bruise but don’t mistake your honesty for truth.

Just because you feel broken doesn’t mean that you ARE broken.

Living above your circumstances is hard. Your present situation, though very real and up in your face, can make you think and feel a lot of things. If you are not careful, if you are not diligent, what you see and hear will lie to you and entice you to believe a different reality than what you are to be living from. It will tell you you are more than just bruised, it will tell you you are broken! It will make you believe a different truth than His and any other belief system outside of Jesus will take work to maintain and we are called to rest.

IN HIM. 

You may have a very real and very present circumstance before you and as tempting as it is to believe the lie that is loud and forefront, don’t. Practice believing the very opposite, even if it sounds impossible. Even if it look improbable, believe. Have hope. Intentionally move in the opposite spirit.

Regardless of whether your circumstance changes, YOU will.

And if you change, the reality around you will be forced to contend WITH you.

I believe in the finished work of the cross, even if I don’t always walk from it. I believe I am whole, even if there are seasons, much like this one, where I feel like I’m in pieces and parts. I know this “injury” is affording me the opportunity to look a little closer, take it a little slower, be a little gentler. It tells me that this pain is real but it won’t last forever. With time and Truth, I will heal and heal properly, wholly…all the way through.

Lead me in Your truth and teach me,
For You are the God of my salvation;
For You I wait all the day.

Psalm 25:5

So I’m taking my real-life circumstances, my up-in-my-face realities, and smothering them with Jesus, my Healer. I need Him more than ever to remind me WHO I am. I need Truth to speak to every broken place, every place that is real and alive with pain. I need to believe in another reality than the one I am living in…

Most of us, not all of us, need to.

It is time to separate our circumstances from our identity. Our identity is to reign and rule over our circumstances. Not the other way around.
 

 

 

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 truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth 

I’ve been thinking a lot about honesty. About how most of the difficulties I have encountered in my lifetime have had honesty, or the lack thereof, attached.

Not fully sold out to WHO I was created to be.

Just not forthright.

Like almost, but not quite because I’ll tell you what I think you want to hear.

So when I asked my son a question and he gave me an answere that was a little bit more real than I’d like, he said, “Do you want me to be honest?” I hesitated of course and gulped long and hard, but answered…

“Yes.”

I often think of Jack Nicholson in the 1993 movie “A Few Good Men.” It’s where Jack’s character Colonel Nathan Jessup goes total Marine and screams, “You can’t handle the truth.”  Did you see the movie? If not, you should because it’s a classic and that scene will be etched on your brain for eternity as a good reminder…

We all want it. Truth. Honesty. But maybe he was on to something. Maybe we can’t handle it.

Like when I hesitated with my son, I must have conveyed…“Whoa. I’m not too sure about this. I don’t really know if I like where this conversation is going,” because he caught on and asked, in so many words, if he’d have to adjust…

“Do you W-A-N-T me to be honest?”

Because seriously, isn’t that what we do? Secretly and silently gauge on some scale if someone can handle it? If they can handle US?

Too much. Not enough.

Not being honest almost recently cost me one of my closets friendships. I felt it building but couldn’t quite figure out what IT was. IT was anger. I was angry and I thought it was with her, but it had nothing to do with her, it was of course…with me. I had somehow along the way, gotten into a rut with this particular friend of telling her the truth, the whole truth and sometimes…everything BUT the truth. I told her what I thought she wanted to hear vs. what was really on my heart because what was really was on my heart, was some days…not pretty. Over the years, I began to feel resentful and bitter towards MY actions.

She represented everyone I had every went halves with.

Intimidated my her forthrightness, I hid mine and never fully showed up the table present and whole, just in pieces and parts. I short-changed us both and after a while, you do get sick of your own shit. And that is exactly what it was…no other word for it my friends.

So word to the wise, don’t ask questions unless you are prepared to swallow your pride and give someone space to fully be themselves; space for their own thoughts, opinions, perspectives, feelings and experiences. In fact, do not open your mouth to answer if you can’t offer someone the same…the WHOLE you. The honest and truthful you. It is not up to you to gauge if they can handle WHO you are.

Honest truth.

What a concept.

One I am prepared in this leg of my journey to give. One I am prepared on this leg of my journey to receive.

the intervention

this was me for a bit today, standing alone in what felt like this massively wide space. one thing however that i’m learning is this: we are never as alone as we feel. god had other plans for me, plans to extend his hand and invite me out of my vast and deep forest, the very place i wanted to get lost in.

his plan for me was jen.

i was fuming at my desk and in the midst of the worst possible time, she calls. i look down at my phone and see that it is her, my dear and sweet college roommate who i know only means well but hasn’t a clue about the space i’m in. i quickly answered instead of sending it to voicemail and said hello. after that, the next words out of my mouth where along the lines of, “i answered just to let you know i can talk, but don’t really want to. i’m mad. in fact I’m…” and well, the conversation just went from there and my words were colorful and not nice. i thought for sure she would get the hint and say, “whoa. we’ll talk another day.” but she didn’t. SHE PERSISTED. before i knew it, i was a bundle full of words and tears.

she has been safe and compassionate and always in my corner for over 25 years.

and before i know it, she sees my blind spot and calls out what i cannot see.

“your people pleasing root is being pricked.”

for.the.love.

she is right. i couldn’t see for i was blinded by offense.

have you ever woken up and then shown up, like FULLY to the best of your ability? it’s not your desire or your intention to be graded or measured and you don’t care to “do” good and you understand that your efforts will produce mistakes and you are ok with that. as much as you have heard it said that “no one can make you feel a certain way”, you want to call it bullcrappery for the day. people actually CAN say and do things that TRY to tell you that you are either TOO much or NOT enough and before you know it, you are placed upon the scale and weighed.

now i have to choose to believe efforts are unintentional, but reality is, it often seems personal when i know that it’s not. i often liken it to one ginormous head game of chess.

i move my pawn here. you move your rook. i capture your queen.

i am done playing games.

i swear that is why god’s other plan for me called today. “i can’t talk right now because i am too over the top LOST in this DEEP whatever…”

“that’s fine” she says. “i’ll just sit here with you and we will have awkward phone silence.”

she tricked me you know. she was my secret intervention, unstaged of course. my heart was closing off, how could she know? it was growing cold and the hot embers were burning out. as much as i wanted her to make it about them, she flipped it all around, sat me in the middle of the room in love and turned the tables…

PEOPLE PLEASER

those two words. once i remembered that i am doing the best i can, i stepped down off the scale and realized that even though what people say or do may make me FEEL a certain way, it is ultimately up to me to decide how i am going to respond and if it’s truth. truth was, i AM doing the best that i can. even if i wasn’t, even if i was slacking off, i do not need to flitter through the continual fluid place of too much or not enough…

when i realized that’s what i was doing, it wasn’t at all about what i thought it was. it wasn’t about other people and what they have done or didn’t do or what I have done or didn’t do. everyone was left off the hook. it was about me not trying so hard to make everyone happy. it was about my people pleasing.

i feel continuously pulled to have the attitude that says “to hell with you” and “oh i am so sorry, let me fix.” yes my heart gets torn in how to balance the space in between and how hard or soft i should land when i come in…so for today, i have resolved thanks to me dear friend jen, that if i show up and do my best, HOWEVER THAT LOOKS, it is simply

enough.

 

 

 

 

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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