Thursday, April 8, 2010

Just Once

Just once, I want to feel like I fit in somewhere, like I belong. It is yet another battle of worth, one I am all too often losing. And no, I’m not under any delusions that I’ll ever be normal, but isn’t there some place that won’t cast me out?

It’s hard to concentrate on the outside, on the bottom, from the back. It’s hard to set my mind on anything but what’s in front of me, the stuff standing between me and my heart’s desire. Oh, how I long to enter the mix and find a place, an Aidan-shaped hole to fill! But I am so unworthy.

It is a condition of my heart, a place where I have not accepted what Christ longs to give me. Others used to force me to a place at the bottom, in the back, but now, it is where I hold myself. Habit? Fear? A little of both? Mostly, it is my sense of unworthiness.

Christ has changed so much in me the more I have encountered Him. I wouldn’t say I’ve been the prodigal, though that is certainly in my history. More, I’ve been the displaced daughter. Dislocated.

A dislocated shoulder hurts right away, then the pain subsides so long as you don’t try to use it. The more you try to use it, to move it, to put strength into it, the more it hurts, reminding you it is dislocated. And I guess that’s where I’m at – stuck in this place that maybe doesn’t hurt so much in and of itself, but trying to move into the world and make a statement, trying to make myself available for Christ to use me, trying to gain strength…I am more aware than ever of my dislocation.

And I’m one good *pop* away from being in place.

That pop comes when I let go of my self-imposed burden and cling to redemption. It’s a tough call.

When I was a kid, I used to practice the piano every chance I got, hoping that one day, I’d be out shopping in the mall or the grocery store, and there would be an impromptu talent show. I obsessed over being ready for that eventuality, knowing that if I sat and played and anyone heard me, maybe they would affirm my worth.

I made time to be around certain people who would always give me a hug, not because I felt love from them, but because – let’s face it – a life with hugs is better than a life without them. I longed for physical contact just to remind me I was alive.

I sat around, vacant, doing nothing but looking for individuals who would say hello to me. Especially if they would keep talking, keep asking questions, keep listening. It didn’t matter if we talked about the weather, my sweat pants, or my buck teeth. If someone would just talk to me, then I would know I was relevant. In some way, shape or form.

Funny thing is – I don’t seek that out any more. I run from it. God shows up fully in my heart and says, “You are worthy. You are worth it. You are alive. You are vibrant. You are relevant and talented and wonderful. And to boot, you’re beautiful.”

I don’t know how to be any of those things. If it is as I suspect, they are just a release away. It’s not so much about actively being any of these; it is about NOT being their opposites. It is about not being unworthy. It is about not being dead. It is about not hindering myself. It is about not putting myself on the outskirts. It is about not being ugly.

That is tougher than it sounds.

This reality, it overwhelms me. There’s not a day that goes by now that I don’t cry, honest tears, over this. I don’t even know why. It just blows my mind to think I could ever be any of these (or more).

How…how does even God…take a girl, broken and humiliated, from a life where she is monitored by surveillance cameras, starved, yelled at, beaten, raped, neglected, abandoned, dirty, berated…wandering around starved and thirsty and bloody and steeled in mock strength…and open the fullness of His glory to her, complete with more food and drink and love than she could ever imagine? How is a girl ever to accept that or live like it’s really happening?

The more healing He grants me, the starker the contrast between my past and my future, all muddled somewhere here in the present. I am blown away by where I’ve come from; I am flabbergasted by God’s invitation.

But I just don’t know what to do. I want God close, but just close enough that I know He’s still there. I’m afraid to be what He’s said I am. I am unworthy of that gift. I absolutely hate, though, being what I was. If that makes any sense.

Who knows anything different, though? Who would expect anything more of me?

There are so many talents hidden in me. I see them. And I disappear into a timeless vortex when I engage in any one. Hours pass, and I don’t even notice, nor mind, because I’m letting this something just flow out of me without thought. I can’t help but giggle when I catch a glimpse of myself passing in the mirror. Whoever thought I could be beautiful? After all these months of His healing, it still catches me off guard. I laugh when I feel my feet moving to music I can’t even hear. Or when my eyes dance in wonder at something I never noticed before.

So it pains me to know that the world never thinks of me. It’s not an ego-thing, not in the sense that I think I’m highly important and that everyone should notice that. It’s more…I wish I had a place to belong, where people share more with me than a casual hello, where I matter and make a difference. A job, sure. But also community. Friends. I want to be the kind of reliable, fun-loving, free-spirited, trustworthy person that draws out the best in the world. That’s how I want the world to think of me.

Inside myself, I’m getting there. I’d be lying if I said I was there already. There is more work to do…work that involves God’s toughest command to me: “stay.”

Stay is hard for someone who has spent her life running scared. It’s hard for a woman who loses her worth to the voices in her head, even though she knows they are lying to her. It’s always been my trick to stay for a moment, then run. Run not to anything, but away from. Away from anyone or anything who might expose my secret. That includes myself. Away from the chance to blow it again, to ruin something good. That’s my problem: when something good happens, I’m programmed to run away from it before I spoil it. It’s that nagging, lying little voice that says, “You stupid whore. You ruin everything. Run, before the world knows any different.”

God says “Stay.” He says, “You are beautiful, innocent, redeemed, and special. You are talented, wise, quiet, and soft. You are worthy, and you have every reason to be right where you are. My goodness does not go away; My promises do not fail. Give yourself a break…and just stay.”

It is in that simple word that fear takes hold. As I stay, He holds me. He wraps me in His warm, strong embrace. I tingle. Chills run up my spine as I know I am melting into His promises. Beauty. Talent. Grace. Mercy. Wisdom. Purpose. Strength (which comes in weakness, which is another story for another day). These are scary. These are not my life, not what I know. They are…my redemption?

What am I if I let go of that little girl whose mistrust of the world keeps her an outsider? What am I if I embrace these gifts? What am I if I no longer have the past to fall back on, to use as an excuse for not fulfilling my potential? What am I if I learn to love…and to accept love…even through tears?

I am God’s.

I might never stop crying. Tears, they just keep coming as God overwhelms my heart. The more steps I take forward, the more trust I put in Him, the more I follow the tingling in my heart and refuse to run away, the more in awe I am at His power. The smaller my past grows in the rearview mirror, the more speechless I am at the difference. How did I get here….from there?

By the grace of God. And that thought just makes the tears come once more.

I think I’m ready to pop this dislocated shoulder back into place, to nestle softly into the niche carved especially for me, and to work in the body of Christ without pain. It’s a tough switch. In my head, it’s the same switch that frees a person of inhibitions enough to sing karaoke in public. Sure, you can get on the stage and make noise, but you can also feel that moment when you let go, when you give up on what everyone else might think of you or what you might think of yourself, and just get into the experience. It is that switch that is coming next in my life. It’s happening now, even as I write this. Maybe…maybe…one day soon, I will find that place where I belong, where I fit in with the world and fill a special hole.

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