Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Stepping into Real life

Silk is soft and smooth, hand-pressed shirts crisp and wrinkle-free.

I remember the iron out every evening, the next day's clothes thoughtfully selected and prepared.

Practically everything in the house was an ornate antique of the Victorian era. It was a homestead handed down through generations. The walls reflected beauty and strength inside a brick facade that masked obligation.

I connect with the strong of the brick and the hot steam of the iron that hand-presses the wrinkles out.

Raised as a good girl, I followed the house rules: be polite . . . behave. I was seen and not heard. I didn't run in the house to keep the walls quiet and the precious dishes from rattling. I knew what it took to make my parents happy with me. And so when I found myself pregnant 11 days before my 18th birthday I had one thought: This wasn't supposed to happen to me.

Seated at the kitchen table with a heart full of heavy, my face would give way to the burden I carried. I was expected to find a way to iron it out smooth and I couldn't find the right starch to get the wrinkles out. I couldn't solve this problem, I didn't have a plan. A solution was presented to me and there would be no discussion. Though I stuttered and stammered in disgust, I wasn't courageous enough to choose life.

It was the threat of disconnection that weakened my strength. And the overwhelming concern for what my parents thought of me. I needed them and so the thought of losing them because of a choice I preferred not make was suffocating. I finally surrendered to what appeared as better for me when every bit of me raged with a knowing it surely wasn't right.

I made an appointment for the day after my 18th birthday, to get it done and over with and to make home life happy. This was never to be spoken about and having it taken care of outside of our town would all be to "protect" me; from what exactly I'm not sure, though I suppose perhaps the thought was shame.

I'd cry in my room for weeks, learning how to iron a regret smooth and tuck it away. It took awhile for me to learn how to fold that secret up tight. I'd try and wrestle it to the ground until eventually I ran out of fight. Ultimately, it would be shame that would find me and haunt me and scavenge my very life.

Always have a plan. That's what that moment in my story taught me. Because if I don't, someone else might have one for me. So I spent my days incessantly focused on the calendar, make-believing that planning creates a life. Shame was heavy and led me to a perfection-seeking way of life: always doing what I should, literally sucking what life remained in me right out of me.

Chasing a fabricated life would ultimately become so incredibly and overwhelmingly exhausting. Real would tug at my shirt sleeve and grab a hold of my leg. I'd feel itchy and get all squirmy as Grace whispered in my ear:

     It isn't natural to be all tight-lipped and wrinkle-free. Just Be.

I literally ached to get out of the straight-laced, buttoned-up, suffocated habit of a life that I'd created.

Today marks 16 years since that life inside of me was ended, the day after the one that marks when my very own began nearly three and a half decades ago. I think of how I have feared mistake-making all these years, how I've endlessly planned, ironed my days lifeless.

My story isn't pretty bow-tied -- I'm still in process. But I'm learning to appreciate the messy . . . the wrinkles . . . and to hold my plans loosely. I am learning to trust that every bit of my story has purpose, as I begin to unfold and let me Be. And, be flawed.

I'm learning to step into {Real} . . . into life.

And that this is my worship.



Share your heart . . . add a comment below.


  1. Oh Amy, thank you for sharing out of the depths of your heart. May You feel the breath of His glory for Your Daddy delights in you. He understands you down to the depths, and you are completely forgiven - no more shame. Praying God brings complete healing to you as you share such a tender place in your heart and may you know that you are loved. Your heart is beautiful, Amy! Happy birthday, too! I'm very glad God made you & crossed our paths. You know I relate so much and you encourage me so much! Keepin' it Real - that's LIVIN'

  2. brave, courageous and filled with grace. Grace comes wrapped in all kinds of packages friend. and this story. your story. HIS story wraps us all in grace. Thank you for sharing this. I love you.

  3. Such a touching and personal story, a perfect example of God taking our brokeness and making us whole. Redeeming love in real time. Thank you for sharing your heart...

  4. Amy. Amy. Amy. You had my heart breaking into tears by the end of the last drop of words you poured onto the page of this post. You are real. You are loved. And this is your worship. Your life is worship. Your story. I feel so incredibly honored that you shared this post in the Faith Jam. This is tremendous and powerful. Now, I feel at home with you, because you are at home with the you who is loved and cherished and remembered. So grateful for you.