I’ve been wanting to write lately. I’ve been opening up WordPress and Word Documents and even a good ol’ fashioned notebook with the best of intentions, half-hearted hopes, and no follow through. I just haven’t been feeling very inspired lately, you know? Life is nice but how do you write a whole blog post about how awesome it is that the new arrangement of your bedroom furniture really allows the fan to suck in the cool night air? How do you write a whole blog post about how a really bright student wrote “2+4=F” today and your whole class just lost it in laughter, sharing something fun together? I can’t make a whole blog post about writing lesson plans while listening to Harry Potter audio books and how those are two of my favorite things. There just isn’t enough material in a fresh new haircut for a whole blog post.
So today I went to dinner with a lovely, lovely friend. I feel like lovely is often used to describe something in a narrowing, patronizing way. She’s a lovely girl but she’s just not right for you, or something of the sort. I’m not using it in that way. I’m using it in a lovely way. A love-receiving, love-giving, love-gushing, lovely way. She’s a lovely girl, no buts. This friend asks real questions about who I am and how I’m growing and learning and how I’ve grown and learned in the past – real questions that necessitate stories and paragraphs and hand gestures for answers.
Can I just say that I adore being asked those kinds of questions? As often as I figure things out by typing them out, there are at least ten more times that I’ve figured something out by talking it out. Plus I love talking about myself. Bless those sounding boards.
So I was answering her questions today, telling stories, tying it together, pointing to the Cross and I realized that I really like telling my stories. In these stories of mine, in this life of mine, there is truth and failure and forgiveness and laughter and growth. In these stories there is me and Jesus and you and them and us and more Jesus. I always have something to write about. I have 24 years of stories inside of me, stories that have taught me something about who I am, who God is, and who He is making me into. Or at the very least stories that feature adorable cats.
Today I talked about YouthWorks, as I often do, and my YW Brooklyn Family who changed my life. (Really and truly they did.) I talked about how once upon a time two years ago I found myself surrounded by really awesome people. Skinny, attractive people who liked sports and did things like play the guitar and ride motorcycles for goodness sake. These people were really cool and I thought there was no way they were going to like me. I mean, they were going to like me because I’m generally entertaining and responsible and we were going to be working together so it’d be much more work not to like me, but were they really going to like me?
I wasn’t so sure. I thought that the me I was offering up needed to be presented with apologies.
I thought, for years, that I had to apologize for not being skinny, for not liking sports, for not wearing make-up, for not really caring that much about clothes or shoes, for not wanting to go out on a Friday night, for wanting seconds, for wanting to go to bed early, for not knowing something, for not having super clear skin, for really enjoying TV shows, and for one hundred other tiny things that I thought I was supposed to be but wasn’t. I thought that my very self was something to apologize for.
What a terrible thing to feel.
You see, in my life there are more than enough things that I genuinely do have to apologize for. Like how loudly I can yell at my students when I’m frustrated and impatient. And how quickly I think of myself and my own comfort without a thought for another person. And how hard my words can bite. But for not being skinny? For not liking sports? Those things I do not have to apologize for.
And during that summer in Brooklyn surrounded by really cool people who were skinny and liked sports, I found myself living life as myself without apologizing. I found myself in relationship with people who genuinely liked me even after they knew I couldn’t lift myself over a four-foot brick wall. They loved me even! They loved me when I hadn’t showered in days and when I had eaten two giant pieces of pizza and cheese fries. They loved me even when I did have actual real things to apologize for.
They set me free. Them and Jesus. Or Jesus through them. Or Jesus first and then them. Whatever the combination, I was set free from feeling unsatisfied as myself. The truth is, I am fearfully and wonderfully made. The truth is, I am made in God’s image. The truth is, I am a Beloved Daughter of the King, bought with Holy and precious blood. The truth is, the God of the Universe couldn’t love me more. And it was through the unconditional, unapologetic love of humans that I really learned all those truths way deep down in my bones and soul. The truth is, I like who I am. And for that I will not apologize.