Waking up this morning, I felt broken, sad, and incredibly discouraged. Again, very common human emotions, ones that so many of us share. Thinking back to Sunday, to Easter, and to conversations I've had with my closest clergy friend, Paige, I couldn't help but remember how many conversations we've had about the Incarnation, about the reality of Jesus joining us in our fleshly experience. The act of God putting skin on is one of joining, of empathy in its truest form...
...we might experience illness and the symptoms that come with it, but we are not our illnesses. We are not depression, anxiety, cancer, tumors, amputated limbs, developmental delays, or any other clinical diagnosis. Yet for many who cope with the reality of illness, mental illness in particular (I'm biased here and I will fully own that), the line between diagnosis and identity is blurred verging on nonexistent. I think there's something wrong with that picture.
...Every person is attractive to somebody. You are. I am. Jim Bob over there is, too. Every person is probably ugly to somebody, too. You are. I am. Jim Bob over there is, too. Don’t take it personally.
And, we all need to do ourselves a favor. We need to believe people when they tell us we’re beautiful, handsome, sexy, attractive, hot, or hunkalicious, especially when that someone is somebody that we think is beautiful, handsome, sexy, attractive, hot, or babealicious...
YOU WILL LOSE SOMEONE YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT,AND YOUR HEART WILL BE BADLY BROKEN, AND THE BAD NEWS IS THAT YOU NEVER COMPLETELY GET OVER THE LOSS OF YOUR BELOVED. BUT THIS IS ALSO THE GOOD NEWS. THEY LIVE FOREVER IN YOUR BROKEN HEART THAT DOESN’T SEAL BACK UP. AND YOU COME THROUGH. IT’S LIKE HAVING A BROKEN LEG THAT NEVER HEALS PERFECTLY—THAT STILL HURTS WHEN THE WEATHER GETS COLD, BUT YOU LEARN TO DANCE WITH THE LIMP. — ANNE LAMOTT
...I wish I were good at being alone, at feeling comfortable only in my own presence. But that is when the void of my loneliness, inadequacy, and insecurity is most present, tangible, palpable. I feel more and more like the authentic me, and it's hard to celebrate the goodness there when my mind sees the cracks, the flaws, the shame and the pain.
In admitting my fear of the ordinary, I hope to re-understand the ordinary, mundane, banal, plan and simple in a new light, with grace and welcome. I hope to let my needs be more simple and plausible rather than these grandiose, larger-than-life, unattainable apexes of impossibility. I hope to let myself languish in the love already given me instead of having a truly insatiable appetite for attention that leaves me feeling actually rather unseen and unheard.
I knew of a friend who is what some call a pain top, or as many in the general culture might say, a dom. We’ll call him Pan. We were acquaintances but not very close when I reached out and asked, “How would you feel about beating me?” almost as casually as I might ask a neighbor for a cup of sugar. It was one of those moments where I internally thought, “Am I really doing this?” Going over to his apartment the first time, he began — very intensely. I had to interject, asking for a “warm-up.” I also realized I probably should give him some more info about why I wanted to be beaten, to experience deliberate physical pain in the form of floggers, canes, and other such tools of the trade.
I think about God resting God's hand on those parts of my body that I hate. I imagine the look on God's face while touching me, and I envision God having this sweet, subtle smile, one that says, "I am yours and you are mine. You bring me pleasure, and I love you just as you are." God sees the tears that come into my eyes as I let this message sink in. It may not be solidified. God might have to say it several dozen times more before I wholeheartedly believe it. But in that instant, it is the only truth I need.
Perhaps true contentment happens not before or after the storm but at its epicenter, at the eye of the hurricane. In the midst of tumultuous winds and rain and hail and lightning and thunder, maybe, just maybe, that is where we are able to find stillness, find the place where we are settled and grounded and rooted in what it is that makes us who we are.
One professor, one I trust as a friend and mentor, noticed this and decided that I needed something different. I needed space: space in which to experience respite from fighting against something. He felt that, in all my efforts of fighting against, I'd been afforded little time to discover what it was I've been fighting for, or more importantly, what I've been standing on.