Stories connect to other stories and suddenly there's an afghan-length of thread to sort through with the beginning knit so tightly with all the others that it's unrecognizable. Such is the way with how to navigate where the journey began for me to discover the simplicity, breadth and depth of love.
For a long time I tried to be a fixer -- of situations, of circumstances, of hearts, of people. I lived a lot of my first 35 years as an anxious person who tried to control every single thing, including people.
The truth is, no matter how hard I try there's quite possibly someone I won't please, or something that I've overlooked, or a better way. Still, I expended an inordinate amount of energy on a highly unlikely outcome of perfection; it was a bit like insanity.
Eventually I realized how completely exhausting it is to constantly be on the lookout for brokenness. I sat there with all that wasn't whole and considered what it might mean to simply and fully loose all that I grasped with my hands.
Like a bird set free, my unfurled fingers gave permission for dreams and wants and visions to fly away . . . for me and even for others.
This unfurling made space for new things to find their way in my hand and new people to find their way into my heart; things and people I hadn't anticipated or even considered.
In the loosing, I went through a period of grief in which my tendencies were shaken. Muscles were learning a new way of being, no longer constantly constricted. I learned to be patient with myself as I navigated this new way of living. Still, I found myself afraid of the openness that became of the new-found space in my hand and was tempted to grip those fingers tight again. The joy I felt was almost too much to bear.
The restful state I was living in was almost dream-like and I feared waking up from a slumber that resembled a fantasy-like world because, surely, I thought, the bottom would eventually fall out. I was afraid of living happy-clappy and not being prepared enough for the hard times, so I tried to brace myself and quickly realized that it was the reverting back to a constricted way of living.
Slowly, I discovered that there are people surrounding me who actually love me as I am; I don't have to do anything or be anyone differently.
There are people who see something in my brokenness that is more beautiful than I'll ever see.
People who think that I am perfectly imperfect. People who accept me and adore me. Period.
I had slammed the windows shut and bolted the door tight so many of those people would stop looking at me and talking to me and thinking of me. Because I imagined I was a nuisance and a pest, a hypocrite who wanted to change and who couldn't. And then one day I thought about how lonely it feels to always be by myself, running from here to there and making it a sport. So, I chose to open the windows and let in the cool breeze. I opened the door and let in all the people. It was one of those moments when I decided to test God and see if I really would be okay.
And it felt like nakedness, I tell you.
Letting people in made me want to scream: Hand-me-a-bathrobe-please! Because it's scary to be standing there all red in the face and raw from the tight-grip life. It's vulnerable and incredibly uncomfortable. Yet, those people knew all of that about me before I did. And they stayed. I didn't need to send out invitations to welcome people back in, they were just there -- smiling and cheering for me the whole time.
I used to not want to be seen anywhere I went.
I'd wear a baseball cap and flit my eyes around people to the "others" I presumed were more important. I avoided fitness centers and churches and coffee shops and parades. I wanted to be among but to actually be incognito. Secretly, I wanted to be seen and known, and deep inside I begrudged the people who just didn't try hard enough to see through my tough-girl image. I had created a story in which I made myself the victim and everyone else the villain.
I realized a lot as I considered all the people who remained in my life even though I tried to hide. Though I cannot control the future, I can choose how I react to today. I can hold my hand open and my fingers loose for whatever might find a new perch with me, or let what needs to fly away simply go, all the while living in a state of rest. I can trust God with me, as I am, and with my life, as it is. I learned that love looks at a person with empathy and says, "I get you more than you realize" and "I've been there, too".
Love allows us to hope even when we fear.
Love bolsters us in the midst of fear in a way that doesn't hide the truth of potential reality
. . . and love reminds us that it is safe to celebrate joy, as it is.
Love knows that no one is better than another.
Love knows that we all have something about us that makes us needy and needed.
I started letting my face show and my voice be heard, and you know what? I didn't die. My worst fears didn't come true.
I was most surprised at the head nods and me-too's that I heard, affirming that I belong and I matter.
As it turns out, that feeling of nakedness is actually quite freeing (though I promise you that I won't be making it habit to streak bare-butted across my neighborhood.)
Nowadays I like the girl I see in the mirror; I love her, in fact. I accept her and treasure her, as. she. is.
And nowadays, though I honestly still struggle with grasping for control and find that my muscles twitch in a restless-like way as they continue to learn how to rest and simply let things (and especially people) be, as they are, I am passionate about encouraging others to loose their tightly gripped fists and to simply accept their lives, as. it. is.
When we decide not to fix the brokenness and simply be, we reflect that we trust that the One who created us designed us with deliberate intention.
And when we embrace ourselves as we are, our lives reflect a living worship; the real kind that says, "I receive your love. You are enough for me."
Might we embrace our stories as they are.
Might we seek to know God and find peace.
Might we redefine strong and bravely live naked, trusting Him -- as we are.
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Slowly, passion and joy for this God-sized dream unfurled.
Birthed today, this here is a collection of hearts who have chosen to embrace life, as it is --
. . . this is C'est La Vie: The Magazine: