Things are quiet in my house, and in my heart, right now. I didn't know how badly I needed a season of stillness until we turned off the TV. Because - do you know what happens when you stop numbing? When the louder noises fade away the sounds of life start to rise. In the summer Phoenix is overflowing with cicadas. During the day, in my own house, I can't hear their loud, locust buzzing. I hear my air conditioner, my kids, and my music. But when we go on a walk, all I hear are cicadas. When I step away from the noise I can hear the much more subtle sounds that are always filling the world around me, even though I'm unaware.
The past week has been so revealing. The subtle buzz of little (and not so little) wounds are suddenly amplified. Friends, I've been so inundated with the tension of things I didn't know were still rooted in me. And God, in his great love for me, has allowed trigger after trigger. Everywhere I turn, there I am.
A few days ago I was adrift in my own ocean. I was facing down lies and fiercely trying to acknowledge that they WERE in fact lies. My heart was breaking under the weight of a great certainty that I could no longer run from the fear of insignificance. I couldn't keep letting relationships go when they started to drift. I couldn't keeping piling on pressure and blaming myself for anyone else's perspective. I'm not content on the fringes - I'm not fed there. I can't keep letting myself drift to the edges of life.
In all of this wild heartache I saw a glimmer of truth. Something I had never stopped to acknowledge in a way that would free me. I've always carried an expectation that I should be something. The Church, in her humanity, only fertilized that belief. I should be a loud leader. I should be energetic all the time. I should be quiet. I should be modest, but attractive. I should never misstep, or misspeak. I should ignore men. I should honor men. I should offend men with my righteous dignity to keep them in their place. I should be free, but not too free. I should wear baggy clothing, but take responsibility when a man is inappropriate with me. It was rare for me to feel valuable just as I was. The pressure, the tension, the constant watching was a firmly established declaration that, at the very core of me, my character was off. I was just always a little off-center of acceptable.
On some level, that wound has never healed. I'm not angry anymore, I'm not out to prove anyone wrong. But it sits in an otherwise vacant part of my soul and whispers beneath the noise of numbing. When friendships start to shift, or change, I can't wait for someone to tell me I'm not valuable. So I slowly release my fingers and let them slip away. If I sense that I can't measure up to an ideal, or desire, I step back and let that ideal crash. If I think someone is mad at me, I fade into the background and curl inward.
Truthfully, I have been so hurt by other human beings who love Jesus. Haven't you? In their own frailty, self-righteousness and insecurity they have crushed my soul a thousand times over. Not because they love Jesus, but because they are walking their own road; they are traveling as best they can, but sometimes leaving rubble in their wake.
My glimmer of truth though? Something connected for me for the first time. I'm not a true introvert, nor am I a true extrovert. I'm borderline, friends, and that's a tough place to be. Some days I absorb energy from other people and some days I can't function until I've been all alone for hours at a time. I guess that would be confusing for anyone who isn't also neither one nor the other. It makes sense that it would look a little confusing. Like I was withdrawing (and sometimes I was). Like I didn't like them (which I heard often - and never understood). Like I was inconsistent. Like I was a hot mess. I was so insecure as it was. I didn't know where to land and I was often being talked to or treated like I was doing something wrong by most church leaders.
A lot of words came back around to me. Someone saw me stepping over a pew in a skirt and thought my mom should be warned. I was acting inappropriately with a boy who I was really, truly only talking to - in public. I was doing "things" with boys behind the church (if smoking counts - then, yes, I was). I was a good leader. I was a bad leader. I was needy. I was aloof. I was a bitch. I was anorexic.
Now I see it. My insecurity translated into a problem. My sometimes quiet/sometimes energetic personality equalled a messy girl. No one understood me, few even tried to. But it wasn't because I was bad, or shameful, or somehow missing the mark. I was just me, in a body of people who didn't really understand how to invite everyone to the table. And that's why its so important to me. That's why I can't stand the thought of someone being left behind, excluded or unaware of the Great Love of Jesus. That mess, all of those little prickly hurts, produced something holy in me BECAUSE I've walked this road with Jesus. He is the melter of my bitterness, the redeemer of my broken heart, the repairer of my character. He speaks life over me and into my weariness every single day. I hear his whisper, even louder than the cicadas or my air conditioner. He. Is. My. Hope.
I say it all the time, and I think I'll say it for the rest of my life - this place here, with me, at The Little Way, is where you can be whoever you are. You can be a hot mess, misunderstood, upside down, or working out confusion and heartache. You can just be you. Even if I don't understand you, I'm for you. I don't live your life, or walk your road, but there is room for you at the table. There is space for you to be you.
If you have lived your life under the weight of the same fear - that you aren't valuable - I think you should know that Jesus has been climbing that desert mountain with you. He hasn't been passively watching, sideways glancing, as you struggle and weep. He has been matching you - hand for hand, foot for foot, skinned knee for skinned knee. Your road is His road - the one he chose to pave with Calvary.
Listen, friends. The stillness is not a quiet place. The stillness is where our oldest lies are unearthed, our deepest fears scream loudest and our Redeemer drowns them all out with a Roar of Freedom. Stillness stirs us up and Jesus calls us out.