Here I am on the precipice of a half century of living — one year to go. It was my birthday yesterday. The years have brought with them some semblance of maturity… marriage, holding a steady job, owning a home, and living responsibly for the most part.
Let’s not mention the wrinkles, aching joints, and being in bed by 9 p.m. each night.
I’ve even had some people tell me I’m an inspiration. I usually offer a sincerely grateful, if not sheepish thank you in response. Maybe they’ve read my book or heard me speak. Perhaps they recall the days of my music ministry or received one of the emails I sent when I used to provide online counseling for young teenagers.
I’ve lived a full life and hope to make the second half of my centennial more impactful than the first.
On the outside, they see someone who looks “put together” for the most part. They see a “mature” Christian woman, an avid gardener, or a published author who bravely told her story of overcoming adversity, using words like redemptive, life-changing, encouraging, vibrant, transparent, and beautiful to describe my book. They see the woman who put into words what they’ve been longing to say for years, and maybe even brought a little hope into their world. I’ve actually had people tell me that.
Again — sincerely grateful.
Again — sincerely grateful.
I can write it. I can say it. But I struggle to live it.
Truth be told, I still feel like an awkward and lost 14-year-old girl most of the time.
The insecurities and doubts about who I am continue to plague me. I wonder if I’m good enough, pretty enough, or smart enough. I question if people like me and wonder if that “look” they gave me was a sign of disapproval and disdain, or merely the result of some gastrointestinal episode I would rather not know about.
If people only knew what a poser I feel like most days. A phony. A fraud. A hypocrite.
If people only knew that inside I loathe my judgmental and fault-finding attitude, and how easily I get sucked into negativity, hopelessness, and discontent. If only they saw the short-tempered way I sometimes treat my beloved mother, or the frustrated fits I have when my husband doesn’t telepathically read my thoughts and respond in ways I want him to. If someone discovered how disconnected I feel sometimes — to them, to my family, to my God — what would they really think?
If people only knew… they’d never listen to a word I say.
But here’s the thing… people do know. And they still listen. In fact, they tell me they want more — more of my writing, more of my music, more of my presence, more of me. That’s what baffles me. The more I willingly reveal who I truly am with all my soul's wretchedness, the more I’m accepted. Loved. Cherished.
Such an irony.
Because our natural instinct is to hide. When I was younger, I did everything in my power to conceal my faults and never let anyone see my weaknesses, or know my secret thoughts and insecurities. I believed deep down that if others knew the real me and saw all those faults, they’d reject me and run for the hills.
Somehow I believed that grace, acceptance, and forgiveness weren’t for me, only judgment. Perhaps it’s the result of those toxic voices that plague me from my upbringing or the lingering taunts of schoolyard bullies that convinced me I was a failure and that I wasn't worthy of love or friendship. Whatever it is, I chose to hide behind a shiny veneer and built a fortress of stone around my heart.
But I’m slowly chiseling away and seeing that wall crumble, brick by brick, stone by stone.
Occasionally, one of those stones will tumble to the ground and a beam of redemptive light will shine through the opening and expose the true me. It's then that I need to fight the temptation to mix up some mortar to patch it back up again. Instead, I need to let the walls come tumbling down.
I’m learning that vulnerability, transparency, and revealing my heart with all its weakness — yes, even boasting about it — is more powerful than the lies of my past. More powerful than pretense. More powerful than pretending.
And I’m learning that grace is all I need. It’s all you need. Grace is enough.
“God’s grace is sufficient for you, for his power is made perfect in weakness… Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about it.” 2 Corinthians 12:9