It’s about quarter to eleven, at the top of the blog post. In spite of the two and a half hour nap I took, I’m ready for bed. It has been a good day, though. I have paused to reflect several times, and at other moments there is simply a gentle stroke, a caress on the shoulder, a reminder that speak so plainly. I am here. So as I allow the minutes to tick by and unwind for the night, I have a warm mug of strong but sweet coffee and a grateful heart.
Just as the summer was ending, I heard an interesting story from someone I vaguely knew. Her face was familiar but her name was not, though we had talked a time or two. She was leaving the young adult community at the church back home, moving out into the greater congregation–one of the bittersweet parts of growing up. She was talking about one of the things that had helped her grow spiritually, and had selected a form of meditation that she had adopted. Solitude and silence were routines that she found necessary to practice, so when she could quiet herself away, she would focus on three simple thoughts. I am here. You are here. We are here together. She said that learning to simply exist in the presence of God was something that she would always cherish learning, that she sticks to the practice as often as she can.
This story hasn’t left me. In fact, I have employed the practice a time or two on my own. Why? Because there are some things that are simply so overwhelming that they cannot be spoken, but only described. Yet even mere description falls vastly short;paradoxically, there are hundreds, thousands, millions of ways to put words, to try to get as close as you can. There is an infinite depth of it to explore. And what is it? Well, that’s just the point. But an example–sometimes during church, I do not sing with everyone else. Not because I think I’m better, or too much worse. Not because I am shy or resentful or bored. No, I keep my silence because the rest of me is too much occupied by wonder, by awe, by amazement. Hear our voices, our praises, our joys and our sorrows, rising as one. Hear us plead and thank and repent and confess and rejoice. Hear this gathered group, singing to the God of those from ages and places past. He is their God, and mine too–Our God.
I marveled at My God today, because He allowed me a glimpse. Just a peak at what my Great Father Almighty has been doing. He has put people in my life who have taught me, reminded me, and helped me to love myself. In a time when I will need to love myself and be comfortable, at home in my own skin when I have nowhere else, he has provided every means for me to do just that. I was delighted by this fact in a small way a few weeks ago. I told my friend, sweet angel that she is, that now hat I have accepted who I am and how I’ve been made, the things I need to stay safe and healthy and the confidence to take care of myself, I have never felt more free, more loved, more supported. If you knew the details, then you would see the irony that lies within that statement.
But, truth be told, I am more myself now than I have ever been before. My growth will show through, maybe slowly to some and maybe to others all at once. I am stretching my proverbial wings. But, I don’t have wings. I am not an angel so much as a tree. An angel-friend of mine has taken to calling me Redwood. Due to time zones and schedules and the bustle of life, I don’t get to talk to him as much as I would like. But what he once said, I quote here:
I see a woman that has been through the school of hard knocks. You’ve been hurt more than many others, but you have learned to let go. You too are stitched together by the Master Surgeon. You sometimes wonder if the stitches will hold, but you stand tall anyway. If I can borrow a picture from nature, you are a redwood that has been struck down by lightning, but you are growing back. Soon enough, you will give shade to the whole forest. That’s how I see you. Yes, I called you a redwood for a reason. Of every tree, they are the least likely to be destroyed by infection, lightning, or fire. They grow slowly, but they never stop until they have reached their full height. Plus, their wood is highly prized.
I was floored by his words at the time. I thanked him–not for seeing the strength, but for recognizing the damage underneath, for seeing the fault lines carved on my skin and in my soul. He told me we are all damaged. It is true. But I’ve discovered that, what’s more–we all can heal. We can be healed and we can heal each other–by listening, by loving, by living with one another. I don’t think I could have seen it then. I don’t think I was meant or supposed to. But I see it now. I see that I have been healed, and am continuing to heal, while also extending help and healing to others. I see that I have been hurt, betrayed, in deep and terrible ways, but it has not taken anything away from my core. I see that I indeed do have worth, have value, and am loved.
I am, in my own created way, perfect–not because I’ve done nothing wrong, but because my wrongs are drowned out in Grace and Mercy. Faith triumphs over fear. Love trumps legalism and law. I am called Beloved. I am called Victorious. I am called Heroine. All these things, I was created to be. I did not choose them for myself, but I do accept and embrace the life that has been given me. Whatever triumphs, whatever tragedies, whatever times that may lie ahead, let them come. I am not alone.