So it's no secret that popularity has never been my strong suite. As an adult, I like to think that I have begun to learn the art of managing healthy relationships inside of odd large group dynamics. And, that I am now immune to auditioning for love and acceptance. But to be honest, I'm still a work in progress. Drawing the line between authenticity and acceptance is not an easy thing to do.
When I was younger I had always imagined it much like a line graph. With ultimate hubris, assuming that it was my responsibility to find acceptance with everyone while somehow managing to stay authentic to who I am right now in the moment. Impossible really.
Especially, when you consider that we are all constantly changing, growing, facing new challenges and meeting new opportunities. As I have gotten older I have become less and less interested in relationships that require me to be less honest about who I am and where I am in my life. Don't get me wrong. I am all for social grace. I think it's important part of our social system. But only to the extent that we do not have to deny ourselves ... ourselves. Life changes constantly sometimes in small ways and other times in enormous ones. Not to long ago I underwent several fairly painful procedures that required I lie very still, very awake, and very quite for a not to insignificant amount of time. No big deal, right?
Day 1: My head raced with all things on my to do list that really needed to get done. (i.e. *Need to get the cell phone fixed, *Dr. Appts for the Littles, *School Planning, *Dinner Planning ect.) Believe me that list goes on and on and on. My heart raced. I felt like runner who had just been stopped cold at the starting gate.
Day 2: I committed to dusting off the prayer meditation skills I picked up at a church conference some years ago. Every time, one of those things I couldn't change right now popped into my head, I imagined it was a book. I closed the book and put it on shelf in my mind. Not forever, just for right now. I refocused myself on the stillness I needed to accomplish. I spent the whole time closing books.
Day 3: Those books were much easier to close and I found myself focusing on the stillness. I was listening to nothing, not the sounds the machine was making, not even my own breathe just experiencing the stillness. And I sobbed ... the whole time.
Day 4: I went in feeling every inch of the disconnection that was occurring in my life at large. My own inability for the moment to be and do all the things I wanted to be for myself, for my friends, my community. As I laid there, I did my best to pack it all away ... it took while. Then the radio in my head started play "A Beautiful History" by Plumb ... just the chorus over and over again.
"I am here
I’m holding you
You’ll make it through this
I am here
I am here"
I didn't try and pack it away ... I just listened.
Since that moment I have challenged myself to view the journey of acceptance and authenticity less like a line and more like this ....
I have also shifted my focus away from other people and right back to me. I have challenged myself to accept myself, unconditionally right now as I am. See that yellow dot ... my intention is for that to be me. That is I exactly how love my children, my husband, my family. What I pray will help me stay there is knowing not just who I am but whose I am, knowing that indeed I am never truly alone. The number of other people, friends, family that may be in cross-section of authenticity and acceptance will without doubt change with the seasons, but the truth that I am already loved enough will remain. I know it sounds simple and small but it's quite epic for me.
Everyday, things do their best to creep in. It can be hard to learn to let go of the unreturned phone call. It stings to be left out of play dates that you surely would have invited your friends too. Or my personal favorite when I forget the one product that I went to the store for in the first place! But none of that really matters. Because we already have love enough for the journey. It would be simply untrue to say I am heading into this week fearlessly. But it is undeniably true that I am heading into this week fearfully and wonderfully made.