Learn To Walk Again

I don’t remember what it was like to learn how to walk. I don’t recall the crawling, falling, tears, or tumbles.

There are many things we forget, in life. Unimportant, unnecessary, needless, little, things, as we say. Memories that would be impossible to remember.

And other memories we push away, toss to the side, try to remove the hurt. Forget. Forget. Forget.

 

I started university last fall, signed up for a Theatre major. I thought I knew. I thought I’d be ‘safe.’ Safe from memories, hurt, too much thinking, and tears. I figured I’d be happy, doing what I love, and that I knew what it’d be about because I knew what theatre was.

But theatre, I learned is an exploration. An exploration of others, of course, but also, of yourself. And that exploration can be scary and strange — a lot like learning how to walk for the very first time.

 

One day, my professor told us to lie on the ground on our backs, feet and legs and arms and hands spread out. And she told us to learn how to walk again.

It was hard and a little strange. But I made myself fall and I got back up and fell again and tumbled to the ground. And I remembered so many things.

You see, we can forget things in our mind, but the body remembers. There are certain things, programmed it would seem for eternity. Your mind may forget, but your body will not.

The body remembers its scars and scrapes and bruises. It remembers each tumble and fall. The body recalls what you’ve done and said to it, the ways you’ve abused it, the times you’ve felt shame, the people who hurt you. It knows how you cried from the nasty words and the blood that you shed and the heart that was broken. And you tried to forget. You tried so hard. But the body remembers what the mind does not.

 

As Christians, sometimes I find there is this stigma attached to our bodies. We’re constantly finding fault with the flesh. They’re impure, passing figures, after all, liable to grevious sins, we’ve been told from the pulpits and in Christian books.

Yet if we truly believe that the Father created us, we know that our bodies are His good and perfect creations.

And if we admit with our tongues that He sent His only son, in flesh and bone, through the body of a woman, we cannot deny that our bodies must be for His glory.

 

So learn to walk again. Today, tomorrow, this week, this year. Learn to love yourself, to know yourself, and the body you’ve been given. Learn to be whole and know that God made you. And He made all of you.

For this is what I learned from going back and learning to walk again, tumbling a bit and getting up.

When The Ground Falls Beneath You

We spend our lives building ourselves. Subconsciously, we add a thousand pieces of life to our identity. Who we are is rooted in countless places and people.

The family we’re from or the friends that we have.The straight A’s in school. A boyfriend or a girlfriend. A hair style, a skinny body, or a tall figure. Designer clothes, achievement in sports, or the lead role in every play. The church that we go to, the Bible verses we know or even our entire faith.

And one day, all of that can fall apart and everything is gone. The ground falls beneath you and you’re the only one left. You. Just you. You’re naked, hunted down, ravished, alone.

I say this because it has happened to me. Maybe to you, too.

Until this week, I never knew how much I put my identity in things that would fade away. Relationships, who I was in high school, even dreams that I had that I knew would never come true, school, theatre, and my faith. I built them all up. I allowed them to fulfill me in ways they never could. But recently, as the weeks have gone by, one by one, each precious jewel has been taken from me. Torn. Ripped from my soul. Until now, in which I feel as though there is nothing left but me. Naked, empty, struggling, searching me. Alone and undone without all of those things that I thought made me who I was.

I used to think that faith was a good thing to root yourself in. Turns out that I was wrong.

I used to say, ”most of all, build your identity on your faith because you can’t trust anything or anyone else completely.”

I used to know that everything would be alright as long as I just had faith.

That is, until it all fell. Until I heard things I’d never heard before from someone I didn’t think would tell me these things in a place I never expected to hear them. Until I started to question, doubt, wonder things I’d never questioned, doubted, or wondered. Until everything around me was falling but I knew that I’d be fine and safe with my faith but then that went, too. Until it was all, all gone.

When the ground fell beneath me and I wound up in the pit. Naked, empty, alone. Identity-less.

I lost everything superficial about who I was. No, those things weren’t ”bad” particularly, but I’d let them define me and that was wrong. And of course, at one point they got the better of me and fell. Even my faith.

So now I’m building again. Crawling out of the hole and back up onto my faith. Building a new identity, a new faith. Trying to leave all of those old ideas of who I was behind. Trying not to do the same thing again.

This time, I’m putting my identity in God. Not faith.

Free Like The Wind

Last weekend, I walked home from a conference. The sun was out and shining at last and the sky was beautiful. The wind was out that day, too. It brushed my long hair out-of-place and the loose, black shirt I was wearing flew behind me. And suddenly, I felt free.

I stopped at the park and settled on one of the swings. I rocked back and forth and the wind whipped my hair off my back. I closed my eyes and breathed it all in…the stillness, wind, and sun. I realized that everything that had held me down didn’t matter. I didn’t have to care about what other people thought. The mistakes I’d made had been forgiven. There was no condemnation. I was free.

For months, I’ve felt like a prisoner. I’ve been locked in by the stress and worries of life. The sorrow sweeps me up into a flurry of despair and I feel like I can never be happy. The gossip, the looks, and what I know people would say if they knew, traps me in fear. I’ve felt condemned and have yearned for freedom time and time again.

That day at the park, I felt like I had it for once. I’d had a better-than-normal week. There were difficulties, of course, but I’d gotten through them. I had overcome some fear I’d hidden inside. And that day I’d learned, that I really, truly could be free because there is no condemnation when you have Jesus.

The wind continued to blow and the sun shone brightly. The rocks crunched under my feet as I slowed the swing down. I picked up my Bible and read the passage that had set me free that morning again.

This verse wasn’t just written for me! You can have this freedom, too. Jesus bought you at a price. He paid for your sins. If you are in Him, there is no condemnation for you, no matter what you do. He has freed you.

Not Made Cheaply

Sometimes, I think humans forget how much they are worth.

I walk down the street, and I see it. Girls wearing trashy clothes, and baring lots of skin. Frowns are on their faces, and I can’t see their eyes because of all the black liner and blue shadow. If only you knew how much you are worth.

I hear about girls, and read about them all the time. They starve, excercise, and make themselves throw up just to be thin. Others eat too much without thinking. They believe it doesn’t matter because they don’t matter. If only you knew how much you are worth.

Some girls will do anything just for love, or what they think is love. They’ll dress up, paint, and starve and more just to get what they think they need. And when they get the boy they’ll do whatever he wants them to do. If only you knew how much you are worth.

It’s a tragedy, it really is…how many girls, how many humans strive for these cheap desires and goals. We’re worth more. We deserve more. We weren’t made cheaply.

But it continues because this world is a haven of lies and destruction. People don’t tell us what we are worth or even that we are worth anything beyond their desires for us. They don’t want us to know. They won’t let us know. But we are worth more.

Why? Because there is a God in heaven who calls us by name, and counts the numbers of hairs on our head. Because He sent His one and only son to die so that we could live. Because He listens to our prayers, and answers when we call. Because we were fearfully and wonderfully made by Him and bought at a price. No, we were not made cheaply but with extreme love and care.

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honour God with your body.

1 Corinthians 5: 19-20

Remember this as you go about your daily life from eating and speaking to getting dressed and looking in the mirror. Remember that you were bought at a price and you are worth much more than you could imagine. Do not conform to anything less than what your Heavenly Father would desire for you!

Note: I realize that this is not just a “girl issue” but a “human issue.” However, I felt the need to focus on the “girl issue” today.

What Is Beautiful?

Time and time again, I’ve asked myself: “Does this look good?” I’m constantly questioning my looks, changing my mind about how I should appear, and laughing at what I used to look like and how bad that was. It makes me wonder what is beautiful?

Throughout history, styles have changed: hair has gone up and down, and long and short, chest sizes have expanded and decreased, and the “ideal figure” has gone from plump to hourglass, to curvy, to slender to I don’t even know what. People have valued pale skin and others have created paint to make it just the opposite. At one time women spent hours before bed rolling their hair in rags and praying for curls…now they wake early to flatten any bit of wave  and hope that it will stay straight through the day. It makes me wonder what is beautiful?

Too many times, we are unhappy with how we look. Black tears roll down a female face, smearing the foundation that covers what she considers a disgrace. A girl lowers her eyes as she passes the mirror, not wanting to see the figure that she thinks is too fat and the complexion that is too red.  Another won’t go out unless her face is covered with a mask of make up. Still, the saddest of all stares at a rack of bones that she considers too fat and refuses to eat. It makes me wonder what is beautiful?

Because it’s certainly not these distortions I’m seeing.

Does beauty bring discontentment, sadness, and anger? Is it really about a certain measurement or colour of hair or skin? Why would beauty be different today than it was last year? Why should being beautiful be subjective?  How can true beauty be destructive? What is beautiful?

It doesn’t make sense to me. If it is always changing, than what is the point of beauty? If it is that subjective, how do you decide what is beautiful and what is not? If it is that destructive, then beauty is not really beautiful like we thought. Please tell me, what is beautiful?

The smile that is bright and the eyes that shine.

The ears that listen and the tongue that is gentle.

The hands that work hard and the hair that is messy from play.

The legs that walk with purpose and the neck that holds a wise head.

The back and the arms that carry children.

A woman who fears the Lord and a heart that is loving.

Beauty is you and  beauty is me.

Beauty is love and beauty is God.

Part 9: Because Love Is Beautiful

This is the last part of a series about my travels in Mexico last summer, a trip that God used to teach me many lessons in love, humility, beauty, and wealth. If you missed the first eight parts, click here

There was one word that came to my mind and lips throughout my journeys in Mexico. There is one word to describe it all, the heart ache and pain, the joy and the smiles. From the moment  our van went through the Mexican border, past the waving guards and into the mountainous, dry land strewn with garbage and ragged houses; through the hours of tears and pain and emptiness and into the light and joy of the Father; during the time spent laughing and playing, painting and eating with children who had crooked teeth and wore hammey downs with holes, uneducated women and men who spent their savings on alcohol and right on to my tears and memories of that place where it all happened, all I can say is this “It Is Beautiful.”

Yes, beauty, it is the one word to describe it all.  I was right when I told Coolio “Mexico es muy bonito.” I wasn’t just trying to make the woman with the toothless smile or Cadira with her crooked teeth and dirty shirt happy by telling them “Su es bonita.” I wasn’t lying when I told people back home that the Mexican culture is beautiful. Because it is just that. My experience was beautiful, the people are beautiful, the place is beautiful. Even the tears and even the pain, the imperfections and the garbage too. Yes, it is beautiful.

Why is it beautiful?  The streets are covered with garbage, the houses are small and often without roofs but the earth is just indescribably pretty, and the buildings are colourful. The people may not be able to afford braces or fancy clothes but they sure know how to smile and make a person feel loved. It’s beautiful because the Mexican landscape is dry and rich, and people wear smiles and welcome you to their country. It is beautiful because God is beautiful and Love is Beautiful.

Yes, if I were to pin point one thing, one action, one picture that made it so attractive I would say that it was love. Colour and richness make objects beautiful and that is what the Mexican land had. Open arms and big smiles make a person beautiful and that is what the Mexicans have. They are beautiful because Love is Beautiful.

When Coolio told me that he loved me, I was awed by his beauty. So few times in life do we ever tell others that we love them. I think that I can count on my fingers the number of people who have told me that they loved me and the same goes for myself. Often when I do say it, I say it with trepidation and fear. I always debate writing the word after a card or email, because the fear of love haunts me again. But why are we fearful? Why don’t we say it more? Love is Beautiful! And you know what, Mexicans know that because they told me that, not just in words but in their actions, from everything that they did and said throughout my trip.

Mexico may never reach the top three in world wealth, but it is rich in my mind. The government may have problems, the drug wars may prevent some people from visiting but I shall only identify Mexico with peace. The Mexicans that I met might not have had perfect smiles or designer clothes but the fact is, they did smile and they wore them with love and therefore, they are the most attractive people in the world. Why? They are beautiful because of love which is Beautiful.

In The Clear Glass

I cannot tell of the hours I have spent nor express the sadness I have felt over this one thing, small in some eyes but large in others, ever-changing throughout the ages but always present in each era, a trait with the power to dismiss and accept, love and hate, do good and evil. This subjective thing that I long for and worry about is being beautiful.

It’s never been enough for me and I doubt it ever will be, to leave the house with just a smile and not worry about the rest of me. There is always something more that I must do: a stroke of brush against my hair, a bracelet that I must add, a belt that I should wear, a paint of blush that I must put across my cheek. And even when I have these things, it’s never good enough.

I cry and I die a thousand deaths for the sake of just one thing. I try and I buy a million things for this look that I hope to achieve. But I’m always wanting, always looking, always trying for more. I am never satisfied. I am never happy. I want a thing that I’ve never seen. I want it so much but I never get it. And the more I try and the more that I cry, I wonder what do I want?

Is it whitened teeth and full, pink lips?

A tall figure with the finest build?

A perfect complexion and splendid cheekbones?

Hair that is smooth and beautiful?

Clothes that flatter my figure and make my eyes stand out?

What is it that I want?

What is it that I desire?

What is it that I try to achieve?

With my make up and clothes and efforts and tears…

I want all of this and more.

But I can never have it.

I cannot be beautiful.

The thought is depressing and for a while I believe it. The urge to change presses on against my heart, the lies that I am ugly crush my being and make me want to hide. The glass is foggy, it isn’t clear because Satan has become my mirror and tells me that what I see is fat, imperfect, and not beautiful.

And then, out of nowhere it seems, a voice from Heaven calls my name. He erases the lies, and wipes away the tears. He kicks Satan out, wipes the blurriness that the devil made and becomes the mirror. The glass is clear now and He tells me that I am all of the things that the blurry one told me that I was not: that I am beautiful just the way I am because this Clear Glass that is talking to me is beautiful and He created me and He can only make beauty.

And now I know what I want, what the beauty that I desire looks like. It is God, the one who created me. I want Him to rule my life more and more, to cleanse my heart and clear my smile and make me more beautiful. It is the Clear Glass that I desire and that I must look through to find my true self and my real beauty.

Note: This post has been on my mind for a long time and comes from a place deep within my heart. It was difficult for me to get up the courage to write this and share some of my insecurities with you but I felt God telling me that it was time that I wrote this and shared what He has been teaching me in this area.