Tag Archives: Identity

Bullying: It Never Stops

26 Jul

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Once upon a time—in the late 90’s—I was sitting in math class at my Christian high school.  We had some free time so I was working on homework when a student in the back of the room began harassing me.  “You’re a lesbian, you know that?” he taunted.

One of his smirking friends joined in pointing out that I must be a lesbian because I didn’t have a boyfriend.  At least they didn’t call me ugly or fat—that day.

Finally, unable to stand it anymore, fighting back tears I told them to stop, which just encouraged them to continue their torment.  My teacher was standing at the front of the classroom, no more than 15 feet from where I was being verbally abused.  I looked straight at him and asked, “Aren’t you going to do anything about this?”

I’ll never forget his response.  It’s one I’ve heard used by educators, parents, and adults everywhere when they talk about bullying.  Dismissively, he said, “If you ignore them, they’ll stop.”

If you ignore them, they won’t stop. 

I know because I tried that, too.  The bullies only jeered more loudly.  Other joined in or laughed, while a few girls sometimes giving me pitying glances.

Back in those days I didn’t cry nearly as much as I do now.  I would hold it in knowing that they could never see you cry.  You can never let them see that they got to you.  I knew I would come home and drag a razor across my wrist or thighs or stomach and somehow that would release my pent up rage.  No one called it “cutting” or “self-injury” back then, just para-suicidal behavior.

Sometimes during middle school and high school, I imagined I would stand up and give an impassioned speech, which would change everything, like I was staring in some sort of Hollywood blockbuster.  I would tell them how much it hurt to be called names, to be pushed into my locker, and to be left out.  They would finally understand, apologize, and we’d all become best friends like on “Saved By the Bell” episode where Zack dated the fat chick.

I couldn’t wait to grow up because I thought there wouldn’t be bullies anymore, or at least I wouldn’t have to go to school with them every day.  When I became an adult or at least went to college everything, I assured myself that everything would be OK.

When I went to college, everything was OK.  I met and befriended real lesbians on campus and wondered what those immature high school boys would say about that.  I excelled in my classes, like I usually did, and felt secure in my environment of friends who accepted me.  Finally, I was part of the “in” crowd or maybe just in a crowd.

They (whoever “they” are) say that bullying is just one of those things kids do and the victims will survive.  Students just need to toughen up, educators say, because kids will be kids.

I wish I could say it still didn’t hurt.  I wish I could say the kid who made fun of my voice every single say in sixth grade science class hasn’t affected why I sometimes feel awkward when my voice is amplified over a microphone.  So many of these lies still rattle around in my brain and the lies have become my truth.  It is something God and me are working on together. 

The truth of the matter is that words do hurt.  The far reach of social media has made bullying even worse.  I recently watched a documentary called The Bully Project and I cried through much of it.  I couldn’t even watch the entire thing.  Emotions I thought long dead resurged.

Finally, it occurred to me that no matter where you are, what age you are, or what you do, there will always be bullies.  Work bullies, neighborhood association bullies, church bullies (who do it in the name of God), road rage bullies, mommy group bullies—and you know what?  Ain’t nobody got time for that!

Frankly, I’m sick of bullies.  They’ve taken too much from me and I’ve let them.  I don’t have any deep answers on how to solve the bullying epidemic.  I don’t know how to make teens stop sending stupid text messages or posting ridiculous nonsense on Instagram or Snapchat.  All I know to do is to tell them over and over again the effects of bullying. I can’t change them, but I can change me.  I can stop giving their words meaning and move past the hurt they inflicted.

I refuse to be like my math teacher, who incorrectly told me they would stop.  They never stop.  Instead, I work with students as they deal with conflicts and teach them about who they are in Christ so the truth can overcome the lies, so the light of God can overcome the darkness

In this work, I have found redemption for my own middle and high school years eaten by the locusts.  There is healing in ministry—something that makes the scars bring forth His light. 

My junior year of high school was more than half a lifetime ago and I still remember the words of the students and my teacher.  I still feel the sting because I am human.  But I don’t let it consume me because I am redeemed.

Really God

24 Aug

This morning I was checking out my women’s ministry’s private Facebook group and one prayer request stuck out.  After a long time of waiting, a friend’s family hit a snafu.  Just when it seemed like God had finally responded, that the trial was finally over, there came to a bump in the road.  Normally, it would be a minor-to-somewhat major inconvenience, but after what this family has endured, it seems like one more detour, one more thing to offer up to God’s throne with shaking hands.

And, yes, it will be OK.  God will work all this out in His timing.  Everyone knows this and finds great comfort in the all-embracing loving arms of God.

Yet there’s this part of me that just says, “But really, God?!  Are you kidding me with this?”  Because I’ve been there, done that, and know the frustration these “minor” things can bring.

Just when it seems like you’re leaving Egypt after generations of slavery, there’s a snag—oh, it’s the Red Sea!  I guess we Israelites, God’s chosen people, are going to be slaughtered right here by the Egyptian army, even though Pharoah pinky swore with Moses to let us go.

But really, God?!

Or you FINALLY get that son that God promised you, even though you’re 100 and your wife is 80!  It’s about time You made good on that promise God, because Sarah and I aren’t getting any younger.  Now You want me to sacrifice my only son?!  The one you blessed me with in my old age? 

Are you kidding me, God?

Maybe you’ve been bleeding for a dozen years, which is, well, embarrassing to say the least.  Thank goodness for those BOGO 50% off female product sales at CVS because you’ve spent all your money seeing one specialist after another.  Your family is tired of hearing about it, and frankly, you smell.  So you take a chance, just one chance, to touch the hem of Jesus’ garment because you’re desperate.  To be found “unclean” among this crowd of religious folks could mean death, but you need healing…and you get it.  You hear a voice rise above the others, “Who touched me?  I know someone touched me.  Who was it?”

Umm, it was me? (All the while giving yourself a mental beating; you’ve been found out and you will probably die.)

Jesus seemed like a safe choice, until now.  But then He looks at you with those eyes of compassion and He listens to your story, which you tell through sobs.  Jesus takes His own hand and wipes the tears from your eyes.  Then He does something you didn’t expect; He forgives your sins, too. 

Really God. 

You’re a little more quiet this time.  Your voice takes on a sense of awe.  Because the Red Sea has parted, so you cross on dry ground (you didn’t even have to muddy up your sandals).  There’s a ram in the bushes to offer as a sacrifice to the Lord, instead of your precious baby boy, for He always provides.  You feel silly, foolish, and relieved that this wasn’t the one thing that broke your faith.  He’s been good, very good, but sometimes you forget because it’s hard to remember what He’s done when you’re in the midst of chaos, or even at the tail end of a long trial.

This is a lesson for me today, for my heart, which is weary and trampled upon from a week of “Really, God’s?!”  I know in this, as in all things, I’ll have that jaw-dropping moment of realization when I see how He uses these bad circumstances for the greater good.   He’s really God and He is in control of all things, including the “little” moments that splinter my resolve.

He is fully, divinely, amazingly, always and forever really God.

What’s your “But really, God?!” moment?  How did you come to see God as really God?  How can I pray for you in the midst of these momentary troubles? (I am not making light of your plight, just trying to look at things with the view of eternity in mind.)

Book Review:: You’re Already Amazing by Holley Gerth

15 Mar

Since Holley Gerth writes for DaySpring cards (and co-founded (in)courage) it seems cliché to say that her book, You’re Already Amazing, is like receiving an unexpected greeting card saturated with wisdom and thoughtfulness only a dear friend could write. But that’s exactly what reading You’re Already Amazing is like!  Gerth engaged me with her girlfriend language, stunning insights into the heart of God, and helpful exercises that encouraged me to learn more about who I am and what I mean to my Creator.

What I appreciated most about You’re Already Amazing were the exercises that Gerth, also a trained counselor, included at the end of each chapter.  Instead of just telling me how great I am because I was created by God and proving her point with Scripture, Gerth’s tools helped me discover my strengths (and weaknesses) and how I can best use them for the glory of God!  Not only am I already amazing, I am also already uniquely gifted!  It’s nice to get a pep talk, but even better to take that encouraging energy to the next level—to actually live it out.

In some ways this book is similar to Captivating by John and Stasi Eldredge, but Holley Gerth’s work is more reader-friendly, and her charm is enticing, page-turning, and life-changing.  This is a book for the weak and the strong, the lost and the found, the hopeless and the hopeful.  Really, You’re Already Amazing is a book for every woman in every walk, on every journey to discover who she is, what she was created to be, and how she is desperately loved by her Father.  Stop striving to be “enough” and discover how amazing you really are to the One who loves you more than you can fathom.

*Thanks to Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, for providing me a review copy of this book.*

A Ringing Reminder

13 Dec

Oh, Kohl’s, how I adore thee!  How I love your bargains, your “Night Owl/Early Bird” deals and the tantalizng deals on your website.  I even appreciate your in-store music, which includes Owl City, Joshua Radin, and, uh, Justin Bieber (I’m sorry, tweenagers for thinking that “Baby, Baby” was sung by a chick.   Kohl’s introduced me to the pubescent vocals of the Biebs).

Yes, Kohl’s is one of the only places I can find QUALITY clothes for big, beautiful woman and $45 pillows on sale for $14.  Without a doubt, I’d have to say that Kohl’s is my favorite department store (especially because they don’t sell much fancy schmancy make-up and expensive designer fragrances.  Sadly, there isn’t much nail polish either.  But at least I don’t feel bad about what I can’t afford.)  At Kohl’s, I find the same prices as Target, but with a higher quality accessory/home décor section.  There are obvious differences between the two stores (like, for example, you can actually BUY Justin Bieber’s album at Target.  Or more preferably Owl City!)

While stalking the Kohl’s website today after receiving an email about another BIG SALE (there’s always a sale at Kohl’s), I checked out the citrine stack rings.  Again.  A couple of months ago, I decided that my “aura” had a color and that color was a darkish yellowish orangey color. (And by aura, I’m not suggesting some bizarre metaphysical concept.  To me, the concept of “aura” revolves around one’s personality and how he or she relates to the world, the “energy” thrown out into the world through interpersonal and social interactions.  Jesus said, “Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.”  I think of my aura as the overflow of my heart…and how I show God to the world though my very existence.)The closest gemstone to my aura’s color seems to be citrine.  I considered yellow diamonds, which are rare and precious, but the yellow was too light for the melancholy aspects of my personality.  Fake yellow stones were too yellow and sparkly.  And though I love moonstone, I’m not as milky and mysterious and blanched as the beautiful stone would suggest.

So citrine it is.  Slightly moody, yet hopeful, a bit sparkly, without overwhelming.  Sometimes it’s a dark orange, while other times a light yellow.  I am a citrine, at least in appearance.  I want to be a citrine—real and raw, shining with the love of God, but honest about my experiences with mental illness and other circumstances.

When I saw this citrine stack ring (picture above), I knew it was THE ONE for me.  I like to carry little reminders with me about who I am and who God created me to be.  I wear a Tree of Life necklace (this is actually the pin version of my pendant), a precious gift from BFF Sarah, that reminds me that I was not created to live here forever, and future glory is coming.  I will eat from the Tree of Life and be awestruck by the light radiating from God’s throne. 

I wear a friendship bracelet freely given to me in a special place and time.  Threads of black, blue, yellow, red, white, and green remind not only of where I was when I received this gift, but also bring to mind those salvation bracelets I used to wear.  Black, red, white, green, blue, yellow.  My bracelet would be a sorry excuse for the salvation message, as the colors aren’t in the “proper order.”  While there are various versions of the color order, my bracelet definitely is definitely disordered. Of course, the girl who gave me this gift was very confused about God, so I run my finger over the knotted threads and pray for her and all those like her.  I ask God to help me be an encouragement to these hurting souls.  I also remember how I hurt and how far God has brought me.

My mother gave me a butterfly ring to celebrate one year free from self-injury, how through the hurts God is twisting me, shaping me, molding me into a new creation.  And it’s painful, but I am promised suffering in this world, yet God is always with me, that He will never leave me.

There are other symbols I hold dear—birds, for Emily Dickinson said that “hope is a thing with feathers.” I especially like hawks, silent sentries keeping tabs on the traffic as I go to and fro, I see hawks and remember that God is always watching me, that He nestles me protectively under His wings.  I am deeply sentimental and like to keep these affirmations of God’s love (and the love of those who have given me these precious pieces) close to me. Each day, I choose my jewelry intentionally for what I need to remember or celebrate.

And that’s why I want a citrine ring—so that I can remember to “choose joy” and reflect my identity in God to all those around me.  To continue to find strength in who God created me, to be reminded of who I am.

I know that seems like a tall order for a ring with intermingling citrine stones and silver studs, but it is only a token reminder of things to come.  It is temporary and it will pass away.  Yet a little glimmer of hope, a little flicker of beauty from my ring finger reminds me (and the world) Whose I am. 

That makes a $50 ring priceless to me.

Do you wear or have anything (like a tattoo) that is special to you?  If so, what is it and what does it meant to you?  If you go along with my “aura theory,” then what color is your aura?  Do you shop at Kohl’s?  Where is your favorite place to shop?

To make my joy complete

8 Nov

For a couple of weeks now, I yearned to write a blog post, yet I was afraid that it wouldn’t be as elegant as I envisioned, that my writing was somehow lacking in my sabbatical.  Oh, the messy scribbles in my journal were good enough for God and still I wanted to present something “better,” more polished to my blog readers.

There was something faulty in my thinking.  I thought, “God always invites me to come to Him as I am, but shouldn’t I present my very best to the Creator of all things?”  And then it struck me—those messy scribbles are my truest words, for they are the yearnings of my soul, a heart crying out to the living God.  Perhaps my journals contain my most precious writings. 

Therefore, what I write for you, dear readers, is what is leftover.  Since these “leftovers” come from the outpouring of my heart, they are not sloppy seconds, rather the first fruits of a heart yielded in obedience to God.  I believe that even at the inception of Backseat Writer I failed you by giving you only what was left of me, by not filling up with God’s Word, by not trusting the Holy Spirit to guide my words.  Simply put, I was running on empty, putting on airs to impress you with my garbled speech, and trying to prove to the world and myself that I was a decent writer.  Thankfully, God in His mercy used my words anyway. 

“[i] write this to make my joy complete.’ 1 john 1:4

While tiptoeing through the New Testament, I found a verse in I John that defined my true desire as a writer.  John says, “[I] write this to make my joy complete.” (I John 1:4)  When I read that my soul leapt, for I had found my purpose, a life verse of sorts, for the thing I love to do most.  I will not write to please people or publicists or musicians or anyone else.  Instead, I choose to write to make my joy complete, and that joy, of course, comes from God. 

Like the tear-stained scribbles in my journal, I hope my joyful ramblings will edify you as well.  Even if my words are foolishness to the world, I suppose that is all right, for I want to find my wholeness in God, not in man.  Of course, this is not something I have yet achieved because I still look at myself in the mirror with a critical eye and I not-so secretly wonder if this post will make a difference in anyone’s life. 

As humans, I think we all long to connect with others, to know that our words can and do make a difference.  My problem has been that I wrote chiefly for the accolades (not always, but often) and not to make my joy complete, not primarily for the glory of God.  I failed to realize that writing FOR the glory of God is how I can make my joy complete.  So, above all, I choose God and I choose joy and I write to make my joy complete in God.

{I caught downhere’s show with Jason Gray and Aaron Shust this past weekend.  Their song “Let Me Rediscover You” from On the Altar of Love hit me straight in the heart, so I thought I’d post the video.}

Coming up: Even though I do write to make my joy complete, I’d like to share my joy with y’all, so I thought I’d give you some tasty tidbits of what’s coming up here at Backseat Writer. 

*My thoughts on Elisabeth Eliot’s book, The Path of Loneliness, which is an excellent book that rubbed my soul raw. (Psst!  There will be a giveaway!)

*A very lengthy and thorough review of A Way to See in the Dark, the latest album from singer/songwriter Jason Gray.  As I’ve mentioned before, this album has been a soothing balm for me.  I had the opportunity to meet Jason at the show.  I may have purchased an autographed copy of A Way to See in the Dark to give away to one lucky reader.  I guess we’ll just see. (I’m terrible at keeping secrets!  I bought two CDs, which Jason graciously autographed—one for me and one to give away!  I’m trying to figure out what I didn’t buy the special edition for myself. Duh!)

*Why “Choose Joy” is my new mantra and the woman who inspired the slogan…and why I didn’t read her blog earlier.  (Hint: It has something to do with my anxiety disorder!)

*A guest post by Wes Pickering on his new song, “Open My Heart,” complete with music video and lyrics!

*Whatever else crosses my mind…possibly a “Friday Faves” is on the horizon?  Photo essay?  We’ll see.

Dear, dear friends, what is going on in your world?  What are you reading, watching, listening to?  Dish it in the comments sections!

Cutting//Emo//Hope//God

6 Apr

Apparently this is supposed to be comical; I think it's sickening. Yet it's less offensive that a picture of an actual kid cutting herself and less heart-breaking.

This is actually a post I’m pulling over from my now defunct personal blog. It’s a couple of years old, but the message is still as true as the day I wrote it.

I was perusing the Internet to see what hip new resources are out there for “kids” who cut. There were a lot of superficial one-pagers on health sites offering “advice” for questions that kids who cut ask like, how do I stop cutting? Why do I cut? Where do I get help? and so on.

As a recovering cutter (we’re always recovering–it’s a long-life battle), I was a bit dismayed. There wasn’t a lot of great info out there for those who desperately need to know there’s hope–that, yes, you don’t have to use the razor tonight, feel ashamed when you wake up tomorrow, and feel that familiar sting as you clean the dried blood off your arms with antiseptic. Maybe you thought this was the time you cut so deep you wouldn’t wake up (or hoped you wouldn’t) or you wonder if a staph infection will set in and kill you outright. If you’re a cutter, recovering or active, know that there is hope tonight.

You can be His, bought with His blood, healed because of His wounds, and loved because He Is Love. He desperately wants to show you how beautiful you are, to care for you, and to heal you from this habit that’s taken over your life. All you have to do is ask. Let Him takes these crimson ashes of shame and trade them for a crown of beauty.

That being said, there are also a lot of mean people out there who think that cutting is some sort of hilarious joke. I’m 31 and started this deplorable practice when I was 14. I spent over half my life battling this demon that wants to tell me I’m not good enough, pretty enough, worthy enough–that I’m just not enough. There’s nothing amusing or “emo” about it, at least not for me.

True, cutting is sort of “trendy” these days, but back when I was in high school; it didn’t even have a name and no one knew how to treat it. Being one of the most difficult disorders to treat because cutting is the symptom of a deeper, darker issue, it’s a practice I wish teens would give up entirely. Don’t do it because your friends do it or to be emo or to write bloody poetry. When you turn 28, you’ll look at your scars with shame, wishing you could be that 14 year-old kid again–this time I’d throw the pink Lady Bic into the trash, and go on my merry way. But I realized that four years too late, and have wrestled with it since. I suppose if people want to mock, they can mock. I just hoped to enlighten their ignorance.

Another “trendy” thing for cutters to do is ban together and support one another by posting pictures and being “proud” of their cutting. In fact, I found one site that has a “cutting challenge” each week. You can post pictures. I moved right along to another sad, slightly sadder, where people would announce that they cut, the extent of the injuries, and that they were sad. Others would offer *hugs* and what not. Then a few days later, the same person would post the same comment and it would happen over and over and over again. A cycle of cutting, gratification, and cutting.

I don’t know who you are, why you cut, or how you wandered upon this post, but I am praying for you right now. I am praying that you fight the urge, find the strength, and maybe change the course of your life. Hope is just around the corner and love is right here waiting for you in a God who loves you and wants to heal ALL your wounds, not just the ones on the outside.

If you want to know God personally, here’s a link to help you get started. Or please feel free to e-mail me with any questions. Vulgar e-mails/comments will be ignored and deleted. I’ve also written a bit on this topic, including resources for parents and youth workers. Please e-mail me if you’re interested in any of these materials. Also, To Write Love On Her Arms (twloha.com) is a great place to find help and support.

April Music Review Wrap-Up

30 Apr

I get a lot of great pre-releases each and every month, but being a one-woman operation makes it difficult to do reviews and “Take 5’s” with all these great artists.  So at the end of each month, I’m going to try to do a wrap-up on what’s been released.

Last Tuesday (April 21), Jars of Clay released their umpteenth album, The Long Fall Back to Earth (Gray Matters/Essential).  Of course, the album is wonderful, progressive, thoughtful, and genius.  Since I received the album I’ve been trying to think of a creative way to articulate its brilliance, but there are other writers who have done a much better job than I could.  Look, just buy the album; it’s really good.

Newcomer Sarah Reeves also released a 7-song EP Sweet, Sweet Sound (Sparrow) on April 21.  The 19 year-old is cute as a button with flaming red hair to boot, but don’t let her looks fool you.  This girl has stand-out vocals.  She has an airy Leigh Nash quality with a little more oomph, yet doesn’t overpower her songs.  The result are simply beautiful songs that are contemporary and worshipful, but within the pop-rock genre.  Sarah Reeves is one of the best female singers to debut so far this year.

Robert Pierre released his sophomore album Identity (Integrity) April 28 and it’s a pop punk festival of fun.  Having never listened to his first album, I was pretty skeptical about the kid.  I mean, he’s only 16, how good could he be?  Frankly, I was pleasantly surprised.  While he’s a bit too bubblegum pop for me, I can see ‘tweens really digging him.

Oh Snap! (EMI) Philmont did it again.  The album was first released digitally last summer and then was re-released in album format with a new song (“The Ascension”) on April 21.  The band has an early Relient K feel and the band delivers an energy-packed first album.

And…that’s a wrap (up)!

Big can be beautiful? Really?

17 Jul

Until I saw this news article, I had no idea that Mia Tyler existed. Captivated by the title of a plus-sized model who wanted to commit suicide, I decided to give the article a looksy. Apparently Aerosmith’s Steve Tyler has another little girl besides actress Liv Tyler (who is one of my favorite actresses) and she’s coming out with a book called Creating Myself: How I Learned That Beauty Comes in All Shapes, Sizes, and Packages, Including Me. I’m sort of bummed that it doesn’t come out until August 26 because it’s on my must-read list.

Mia with her dad, Aerosmith’s front man Steve Tyler

Mia and I have a lot in common–we’re both models, daughters of famous rock stars, plus-sized, blue-eyed, writers, think Liv Tyler is cool, and former self-injurers. OK, so I’m not really a model or the daughter of a famous rock star, but the other stuff is true. When I look at photographs of this woman, I can’t believe that she would see herself as anything but beautiful. Yet I know her struggle all too well.

I remember staring at my fat bulges in hatred as I willfully cut myself, scarring my body forever. Like Mia, I remember thinking I would be better off dead because no one could love this ugly girl. Unlike Mia, my hope didn’t (and doesn’t) come from a phone call from MTV asking me to be a VJ (although being a MTV VJ would be pretty fly), it comes from God.

I’ve mentioned before that I thought God hated me for being fat, and defiling this temple I carry around planet earth. It’s OK if other people do things to defile their temples like smoke or drink or clog their arteries or whatever, but not me. I am completely devoid of grace on this one. Or so I thought. If I’m honest, I still wrestle with it in my mind. I’m working through it.

Mia and I have one more thing in common–we’re both beautiful. Really.

Does this swimsuit make me look fat?

23 Jun

I’ve probably never looked this good in a suit, but you get the idea….

I love swimming, especially the first moment when I get into the water. It feels cool (sometimes cold) and refreshing. There’s an instant where I wonder–should I do it now? The colder the water, the longer it takes. But eventually, a thrill of anticipation rises within me and I plunge my body underwater. Seconds later, I emerge drenched with the chlorinated water of my local pool dribbling down my head. Ever since I was little, taking that first dunk under the water was magical.

As I got older, the first dunk became a little harder to achieve. Like many women, I feel horribly self-conscious in a bathing suit (and mine even has little shorts attached). Despite the clingy water-friendly fabric covering my body, it’s like I’m exposed to the whole world…and they all know the truth…I’m fat. It’s not like it’s a secret under my normal every day attire. It’s just more evident when you’re wearing a swimsuit.

Some people at the pool like to sit out in their bikinis or Speedos (I could do without the Speedos!), reading and tanning watching their kids splash around in the pool. Not me. After I shove earplugs in my ears (I’m prone to ear infections) and store my glasses in my bag, I look around me to make sure no one is watching (which is really tricky since I usually take my glasses off first. It would seem silly to put them back on to make sure I wasn’t being gawked at though). Once I’m satisfied that I’m being relatively ignored, I throw off my ugly purple “beach” dress and make a mad dash into the pool.

Just like taking the first dive, I have to psych myself up for this moment, except it’s not enthralling; it’s humiliating. Sometimes it even changes the interactions I have with people in and around the pool. When the lifeguard signs me in, I’m secretly wondering if she is staring at me and hoping that I don’t start to drown because she wouldn’t be able to haul me out of the pool. Or if the kids laughing at the shallow end are laughing at me. I’m not sure if the lady in the bikini has sun in her eyes or if she’s glaring at me wondering how I could have “let myself go” like this. And the interesting single guy reading American short stories (ah, English teacher?), forget about it. He’s probably looking at me with disgust, repulsed by my unattractive female figure.

All this has made me realize something startling; I don’t think this just when I’m at the pool. The very idea has permeated my life–how I see myself and how I believe others see me. I’ve pointed out my observations of ugliness (and ugliness equaling unworthiness) to others, and those who’ve heard my theories have been absolutely floored that I could think such things about myself. “I don’t want to see myself this way,” I argue. “I just do.” I don’t want to see myself this way; I’m just battling it right now. And I won’t always see myself this way. In fact, I won’t always be this way…it’s just how I am today.

Sometimes I wonder where that chubby little kid in her pink leopard print bathing suit hangs out these days, because she certainly isn’t here. That girl jumped off the diving board, swam in the deep end, and drank deeply from the riches of summer. This girl stares at the mirror when wearing tank tops wondering why summer has to be so hot and why her arms are so disgusting. Yet both girls still love that first plunge underwater and can swim happily for hours on end. I’m starting to think the world is my ocean (also a fun place to swim), I just need to be willing to dive in, even if the water is chilling.

If I wasn’t a writer, I would be…

17 Jun

If I lived 200 years ago, I could be the woman writing with the quill in this painting.

I was trying to think of some whimsical, light-hearted topic to share with the world, or maybe something insightful or amusing. Perhaps I’d go for a topic about God or the Bible to encourage everyone out there. Unfortunately, I’ve got nothing…not really.

But I thought, well, maybe I should blog anyway. Although the basis of writing a blog post is to actually say something, what if I say nothing of substance? While some may argue that none of my blog posts have substance, I can assure those of you in that camp that this post will lack more substance and focus than usual.

See, I like to have my thoughts well-ordered and organized before I present a topic to the world. Using keen words and stunning adjectives, I want to wow the world with my command of the English language or just my writing ability. It’s sad that sometimes the only thing I think I can do correctly is write, and even then, I still kick myself for the typos.

I’ve always been a writer and a storyteller. It’s as much a part of my identity as my freckles or my life as an only child. After I write an article, I get this feeling in my stomach, a sort of nausea, and this thought it in my head–“What if you never write anything after this? What if this is your opus?”

I’m not looking for compliments or assurances about my writing. I’m just sharing an irrational thought that swims through my brain. At times, it really scares me because if I’m not a writer, then what am I? If I can’t hide behind my skill, then I would have to be something else besides…a writer.

I wish I could say that I would be sustained by my identity in Christ; unfortunately, I can’t promise that. As much as I would like it to be true, I think my main struggle in life can be tied back to this simple truth–I struggle to know who I am in Christ and how God views me. It seems so much more important what single Christian guys or random strangers think about me than the King of the Universe…and I don’t know why that is. Rationally, I know God’s opinion is the one that matters, yet even as I type on this blog I wonder what some of you out there think of me. Not what I write, what you think of ME.

This is an area of my life I am praying about and asking God to change in me. Of course, He can’t just zap me with self-confidence (enough assurance to be confident, but not too much to be cocky. A shot of appropriately humble will do), but He actually takes me through experiences in which I come face-to-face with situations that stretch, mold, and bend me.

More than ever, I see my life as a construction zone. I want to tell people I meet now to come back in six months because you’re just seeing the framework of who I could be…I’ll be much more fantastic and interesting then…and then you’ll want to stay. Really, I am changing, but at the same time I’m still afraid that people will leave because I’m not enough. If I’m forthright about the process, does that mean I get a extension on your opinion of me?

I realize how stupid that sounds, but stupidity loves company. Almost every person has struggled with issues of identity, purpose, and spirituality. I guess I want to be real about my current battles because it helps keep things in perspective for me, may help someone else, and because I’m a writer and that’s what we writers do. We write about stuff that (hopefully) matters.

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