Realness

It’s been a life-long struggle. A tug-of-war between what is seen as “acceptable” and that which is my authentic self. A blurring of the lines at the point where the person I am expected to be fights to hold down the person I am truly becoming. What is my identity?

I’ve always wanted to be an open and honest person, free from the weight of hiding things that happened to me and recognized as beautiful without the mask of perfection that was expected. I’ve never wanted to keep others’ secret darkness within myself, but I always felt the need to protect them from the judgement and wrath of the mostly-casual observer, whether or not they deserved it. I’ve often wondered if anyone would accept the realness of my struggles with things that no one should have to experience and know who I was behind all those scars.

Scars – another reality people find hard to face.

But to face yourself, to open those wounds so that they might heal into the scars no one wants to acknowledge, THAT is truly terrifying. There are moments of self-reflection that I don’t think I can make it through, times when memories are overwhelming and so suddenly present themselves as a current reality. The smallest thing can trigger a reaction that doesn’t seem appropriate. That little pat on the head, the sound I’ve heard or scent I’ve smelled before, a tone of voice and words spoken exactly so…

…or doing something I haven’t done in seven years.

A phrase I’ve often thought about these past few months is, “Just as the greatest wounds come through relationship with others, so does the greatest healing.” I have no idea where the words came from, if I read them in a book or heard someone say them, or put them together in my own mind somehow. But I know that when we are at our worst and someone loves and accepts us at that moment, just as when they celebrate with you in your most beautiful times, there is healing.

I have actual scars on my body, marring the smoothness of my skin and adding a depth of character to it that wouldn’t otherwise be there. The color is somewhat different, and a few are raised up where others cave in. But with each of them, there is a clear healing that took place. And under the healing, there’s a story of struggle and becoming. A tale of great battles fought and won!

They share about a young girl, wide-eyed and taking on the world in seemingly small ways, who learned that if she just kept getting back up she could live beyond the bad things that happen in life. They tell of a new mother, learning to cherish her young child and take in the sweetness of each moment as she looked into his eyes and found strength to heal. They bear witness to the greatness of God, and show how He is always in control when we don’t even realize something is wrong.

But there is an even deeper story to be told. A greater struggle as the emotional and mental wounds scab over. They won’t be visible, unless you look very carefully.
As the angry, red lines come together under stitches and staples, there is a growing peace under the rarely-missing smile. While they become softer shades of pink and the bandages are no longer needed, the anger slowly fades as well. When the itching begins to become less frequent, you may find that the busy schedule that hid the pain from others (and yourself) becomes more manageable.

Scars are forever present. Sometimes, with weather changes or fatigue, there is an ache that doesn’t make much sense. Occasionally, the annoying itch comes back or too much sun reddens the lines for a while. But with those in my life who are loving me no matter what state of mind I’m in, the moments can be seen for what they really are – Temporary. I recognize them as being only a tiny portion of who I am. I am not my pain. I am not my struggle. I am worth it, and I am wanted in every moment.

My authentic self? Way more than I can even begin to explain in a blog post!
Want to go for tea?

 

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Human Beings

Recently, a woman thanked me for allowing Lil Man to play with all the children in the play area of a fast food restaurant in town. I responded with surprise, and she informed me that the conversation was prompted by a man pulling his kids out of the room in an angry manner, simply because they were interacting with children who were of a different skin tone.

The elderly woman grew up in this city, and shared briefly about being mistreated often as a child because she was born the “wrong” color. She wanted me to know that she was proud, and hopeful, when she saw my young son unassumingly invite all the kids to join his game afterward, without noticing their differences.

But, he does. He sees the differences in people.
He says things like, “The girl with brown skin and red shirt? She helped me!” He drew an autistic child to himself, saying, “That kid isn’t so good with people, so I just sat and waited for him to be ready to play.”
He recognizes when their first language isn’t English, and works around it… “He doesn’t speak what we do, so we talked with our hands!”
He tells me he played with girl toys because that random stranger-child at the mall play area really liked them, so that way the other boy wouldn’t worry about it too much when everyone else thought it was weird. “Because toys are just toys, right? And people are important.”

He knows not everyone is like him. He isn’t immune to the fact that some people aren’t kind about what is different. But Lil Man very rarely lets these differences influence his choices nor does he allow them to define another’s value. He accepts them as fellow human beings. He meets people where they are and invites them into his world with very little hesitation.

As Christians, this is how we are called to be – this is how we are to love.

This has been on my mind for a little while now. All too often, I hesitate to move forward because of reasons involving safety. All too often, I worry about how others will react to me loving in the manner which Christ leads me to. All too often…I lose sight of Him and fail at the mission to connect in true relationship with Him and others because I get caught up within myself.

But we do not follow a God who is full of fear and cowardice. We do not bow down to One who is small or weak. He says, “Follow Me.” And He wants us to trust Him with the unknown. If I go forward when He tells me to, He will guard me. If I seek only His approval, He will grant my soul peace. If I keep my eyes on Him, my struggles will fade.

He is trustworthy. He is our fortress in battle. He alone is able.

Be still.
Know that He is God.
And find the freedom to love as He calls you to.

Peace and Quiet

I’ve recently decided to deactivate my Facebook account in order to calm some of the chaotic background noise that it seems to add to my life. Friends are a wonderful thing, and I’ve made many lasting connections with others through Facebook! But I can no longer stand the levels of negativity, falseness, and self-centered attitudes it fosters.

I do, however, want to maintain those connections which were uplifting and healthy. I realize that many of them are with others who live all over the world and meeting up for a chat over tea is pert-near impossible. Thus! I have created this lovely little corner in the realm of the internet and set up shop. It’s my very own tea room of sorts, where you may join me, should you so desire.

Sooo, whether you are family wishing to see photos of the boys and keep up with their latest antics, friends wanting to take a moment to browse the latest Biter news, or the merely curious who have no idea who I am and what I’m about – but suddenly want to find out more…

Welcome!! Let us begin a most wonderful journey together! May we take a time-out from the chaos, connect more deeply, and heal through relationship – regardless of the distance that seems to be between us.

Bethany

Tea