You guys!! I’m excited. Tomorrow, I get to be around women who are my own age! Women who say words back and drink coffee and are mothers and wives and daughters of the Almighty too. I joined a small group book study in our church. They also have childcare. I’m not ready to use it, mind you, but the thought of it looms in the next few months. Grin. Grin with a slice of guilt for thinking that grin, but grin.
This isn’t a post about mommy guilt though. Or maybe it will turn out to be. I’m writing from the heart. I’m writing because sometimes I’m not sure what I think about something unless I’ve written it down. And I’ve been asked tomorrow to share my story. I’m to include: a few great and a few not-so-great moments from childhood, high school, and beyond and talk about them in light of our relationship with God, ourselves and others. In five minutes. Eeep!
So here goes.
I was raised by wolves. Kidding, kidding. But we did spend an amazing amount of hours in the wild. My parents, whose relationship I admire and whose love I am forever grateful for, instilled in me a love for being outside. Every Sunday from May-November, we were in the mountains, together. We’d rise, make pancakes from scratch, load up the car, and head for the hills. Days were spent looking for arrowheads, fishing in small mountain lakes, hiking among aspen trees, picking wild currants, and watching whatever wildlife we saw. It was beautiful. My mom always said she felt closer to God in the mountains than she did in a church. I am my mother’s daughter. When I really want to hear God, I go outside. I go alone. I come down from the mountains with a certain kind of ease and peace and wholeness that I had forgotten I had known.
My home life was full of love, was full of wonder, was full of wildness in imagination and spirit. School was a little different. I was a good student. Shy, creative, introverted, obedient, nerdy. I am 7 years older than my sister and 12 years older than my brother, and in ways felt a little like an only child. I spent a lot of time observing others, observing myself when I was around others, changing who I was to be what I thought others would like. I wanted to be liked. More than anything.
So when the little girls at the bus stop noticed our shadows of our feet that the morning sun made and exclaimed, Look we have little Cinderella feet; You have big, ugly step-sister feet! Ha ha! It stuck with me. I was big. I was ugly. And even then, in second grade, I began a long journey of trying to make myself small. My freshmen year of high school, it turned into anorexia. My freshmen year of college, I graduated to bulimia. I’ve spent more hours then I can count in the bathroom promising to God that I would never purge again. Never stuff down my emotions, never turn to food for comfort, never plummet into guilt and self-loathing, never throw up again.
I prayed for God to heal me and simultaneously believed that I was unworthy of God’s healing or God’s love. I believed I was unworthy of being loved by anyone. I wasn’t enough–pretty enough, popular enough, and most of all NORMAL enough. Probably, also, I didn’t want to be called out and lose my dysfunctional relationship with food. My true best friend. Food was always there. Food didn’t judge me. Food didn’t care that I was tall or ugly or strange or too intense. So I spent a lot of time alone. Kept friends at a safe distance, so as not to hurt more. In ways, I suppose I kept God at a distance too.
But God didn’t keep his distance from me. I don’t believe that God intervenes in our life because of our prayers all that often. I don’t believe in praying so I can get something, I don’t like thinking of God as some grown up version of Santa. Instead, I think that prayer should be used to understand, to change us, to transform. But there are events that have happened in my life, and I know these events are from God. Meeting my husband was one of them, but I didn’t know it then. I know it now–after the birth of our son, when all of my healing has been called into question in the most poignant and powerful way. It’s as if God has said to me lately, Are you sure? Are you really ready to feel the fullness of every emotion; are you really ready to let go of your old wound, your old story, are you really ready to heal? Being pregnant with my son was another. I was so scared to gain weight before I got pregnant. I gained 50 pounds. I’ve lost 47. I haven’t binged or purged once. Because the love I have for my son is greater than my fear or self-doubt. I don’t dwell in self-loathing anymore. Something shifted in me the moment I knew I was to become a mother. To spend time hating myself was time wasted, time I could spend loving my son, and knowing that his life depends on mine–this relationship gives me a reason to love myself.
And I think in ways, as we depend on God, He depends on us to realize His presence and to know Him. I also think my mom and Van Gogh were right. Yes, we might come to know God in church. But I have come to know Him in my son’s embrace, in the brokeness of my heart, in my wound, in the mountains, in my husband and in his wounds, in my family, in sunsets, in random strangers, on my yoga mat, on the bathroom floor, in classrooms, by the ocean, in the desert, everywhere under the stars. Anywhere love can be found is where God is.
All we have to do is look.
With Love from Colorado,