It's Friday night at 10:52 pm and I napped a lot today, so I'm not really tired.
But I keep feeling the urge to write.
More often that not these days, I'm not really sure what I'm writing about. Or I don't know what to say.
But I feel something move in my heart -- the Spirit of God hovering over the face of the waters, pointing to the wind and the breeze and the way the light shines quietly on the edge of sight and moving my body to fall in with the rhythm of the indescribable thing I can't quite pinpoint.
I am not sure what to say.
But tonight I feel a marveling sense of having an uncovered face and beholding the glory of the Lord and saying to everyone around me Look at what God has done.
My story is one of someone who's been trying to prove herself for her entire life.
When I was twelve, I did it by answering every question in class, so much so that the other mothers complained to my mom.
When I got to college, I had to show them that I was both beautiful and talented.
I've always wanted to be the best there was. Is.
I have been afraid of food for far too long. Afraid of what will happen if I don't practice.
Dedicated? Yes. Passionate? Yes. Terrified? Oh, yes.
My life has been filled with ways to show people that I'm worthy of esteem, of notice, of praise, of love.
This past year, I auditioned for graduate school. I didn't get into any of the programs I thought I would get into. Any of the programs I wanted. And so the way I had intended to prove myself was torn from underneath my feet, and I went sprawling on my face.
I sobbed and yelled and closed myself off to the world. I told God, "You may have a plan, but I don't care: I think this is crap." He heard me in sacred silence.
The silence, oddly enough, was what I most needed.
And in it, I heard the Spirit of God, hovering over the face of the waters, saying two things to me:
The first: I know. And with that, the God Who made the universe sat with me in my pain. He held me in His everlasting arms and rocked me back and forth while I cried angry tears and beat my tiny fists against His strong chest. I could feel Him weeping with me, because He saw my raw and wounded heart, beating red and furious against my ribs.
The second thing He said to me: Sara.
I love you.
God has seen the way I tried to prove myself. It's like He says to us, I see you... and I raise you.
And we find that it is not enough.
It didn't work.
The ways I was trying so hard to show that I was good enough have all flown back in my face, and I am left squirming on the ground, naked and afraid of being seen for who I really am.
I think that in some ways, I'm afraid of who I really am. I live in the land of who I want to be, afraid to face the person in the mirror.
But God told me He loved me even as I am.
Even when I didn't get into graduate school.
Even when I look at my body and hate it.
He sees all the deep, dark places of my heart and soul.
And guess what.
He calls me darling.
He tells me that He loves me.
And the question comes back to me: Do I believe it?
I did not intend to write all this when I sat down.
I did not know I was going to say these things. I am afraid of them.
But I have learned that God has given me my story to give away. It does not belong to me.
It is what He has given me, and I do not have the luxury of silence.
What I meant to write was this second part.
I looked up one day, and discovered that I was not only loved by God, but by the people around me.
It was like blinking awake to the tune of sunshine and pianos.
This sounds really silly, but I remember saying to a close friend, "Oh my gosh: people like me!"
I didn't think they could see past the failure. I thought they would look at me and see that I was not what I had pretended.
Instead, the friends that clustered around me, seemingly materializing out of thin air, taught me two things.
One: I wasn't pretending.
Two: I didn't have to.
They've seen me angry and they've seen me act like probably the most obnoxious human on the planet but they have loved me anyway.
They have taught me a little bit about the grace of God, because when I am utterly despicable, they do not despise me.
The love that surrounds me is palpable, so thick I think it's clustered in the air I breathe.
I want to be worthy of it, but I know that I am not.
Instead, I think the best response to it is to be vulnerable.
To say, This is who I am, without trying to be someone else.
To not hide behind the jumping around and crying out with my body language for people to notice me, but begging them in my secret heart of hearts not to look too deep and see the part of myself I would rather keep secret.
They probably know about it anyway, if I'm being honest with myself.
The deepest human desire is to be seen and known and loved, but we are afraid that the first two things preclude the third.
That if we are seen and known -- for real -- that we will not be loved.
But the miracle of God is that He does see, and He does know, and He does love.
And this love.
It colors all our days.
It makes us new.
It shoots silver and gold into the fibers of our lives, like threads of sunshine and starlight shining in our hair and along our lashes as we gaze at the horizon.
It forms around us and is so palpable we can reach out and touch it.
Because it's real.
We have not imagined it.
Everything we always wanted in our hearts but were too afraid to admit -- it's true.
So clap your hands and leap and weep for joy and come out of hiding, because we are loved -- and so we are free to be seen and known.
The meaning sinks into my heart like a stone.
If this is true, I can no longer cling to the things that have protected me.
As I write this, I feel exposed. Vulnerable.
And didn't I just write about that? Like, in this very essay?
To be honest, it feels like a death knell.
It feels like loss.
But I sense that if I trust it -- trust the invitation -- trust the God Who made me and wants me to be free --
If I trust it --
It will mean a whole new life.
May I have courage in You, Father.
May I have Your strength so that I can take tiny steps to this thing that You have given me, and which I can no longer ignore.
Once the Great One has called us, how can we look back?
How can we refuse?
We are pulled inexorably toward destiny and calling and freedom and space.
Be careful what you pray for, y'all.
I have prayed for Adventure, and I got it, but that doesn't mean it wasn't the worst when it was happening to me.
I have craved soul space, and that is what God is offering to me, but it comes at a price: I may no longer use props. Crutches. Cloaks to hide behind.
If I walk forward, it must be with my body unarmored. To do otherwise is to retreat.
And I am a warrior maiden, and I will not retreat.
So breathe deep.
Beg for grace. You'll get it.
Recall that you are loved. Inhale the air around you that is thick with the perfume of adoration.
And step out.
Title photo by George Cole.