Maeryn inspired me to brew a pot of Earl Grey (from actual leaves, thanks to Miss Crystal) before I sat down to chat with you. Besides, it's just the cutest pic ever and I had to share it with you. Can you see that she's having tea with her mom's three American Girl dolls? It's just about more than I can handle! There's another reason for the inclusion of this photo, which I'll get to below.
I've been itching to get to this part -- YOUR RESPONSES TO THE LAST POST, so here we go:
* ABBIE -- coming back to the blog has brought her happiness and rest. We love having you back, Abbie. This is how the Body of Christ works. Yes! Joy IS the word.
* THERESE -- could there BE better news? It's like we're hearing from a different person: the REAL Therese. I'm just grinning.
* KATE -- she's waking up after turning off her feelings for so long to protect herself. Love your progress, Kate. Love. It. (I love Shane Claiborne too. He has saved a lot of people from giving up God when they gave up church) And, uh, Kate, I didn't see any gibberish in there at all. As for "behemoth" -- I LOVE that word!
*SASHA is trying to figure out who she is all over again. Yeah, it's scary, and today we're going to get into why that is.
* BULLETSOUL doesn't like how vulnerable this all makes her feel -- since it requires giving voice to those pushed-down emotions -- but she thinks this is where God wants her. I think you're right, my friend.
Several of you hit it right on the head when you said you're willing to be vulnerable with God and maybe here, but not with anybody else. It's one thing to get real with us and our Lord, but what about the rest of the world, which feels like it's ready to pounce on your real-ness the second you show it? Isn't it safer just to keep it hidden?
Depends what you mean by safer. It might keep you from getting bullied or ridiculed -- but it won't keep you safe from the false ideas that get in there and take you over. So what do you say we take a break from going in and venture out, to where the Image Distorters lurk.
READ: John 5:39-44 I used to read passages like this and think, "Yikes, Jesus -- could you be a little more harsh?" But as I got to know our Lord better, I realized that isn't the voice he's using at all. He never "scolds" or accuses those who love him, but he does get firm and intense because he loves US too. So as you read this, imagine Christ's tone as urgent, loving, warm -- and desperate for us to GET IT. Most important verse in there:
"How can you believe when you accept glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the one who alone is God?"
Yeah, these passages are hard, so --
PONDER: Who is the "one another" who we are allowing to become authorities over our lives? The ones who keep us from expressing our emotions and our convictions? Who set up such a standard of ridiculous perfection that we can't possibly live up to it so we start hating ourselves because we can't? Make a list of the Image Distorters who have the most influence on you or have in the past. I'm thinking about everything from magazines and TV ads to the powerful kids in your school -- and sometimes even the church. Make that list specific. Make it long.
MIGHT I SUGGEST: It may be helpful to you to do this:
(1) Highlight five Distorters on your list that, when you think about them, cause an actual physical reaction in you. I'm talking tightness in the chest, stomach ache, anxiety in your veins. I, for instance, feel it in my jaw; it's like somebody has a corkscrew in my ear.
(2) Next to each one, or on a different sheet, write down the messages those Distorters give you, which may have become voices in your own head (and we all have them, so don't be thinking you're crazy!) Do they say, "You don't have the body to ever be that thin so get used to being ugly all your life"? or "You don't know HOW to be cool so just . . . go home"?
(3) Remembering that God NEVER accuses us, NEVER shames us, NEVER tells us how heinous we are, aren't all those messages . . . lies? And yet we believe them instead of God who's only interested in us being who we were made to be? Maybe the first step is to go to him and say, "I am so sorry I ever believed any of that for a minute." NO guilt! Just a freeing unloading of stuff you've probably been carrying around for a long time.
It's all well and good to realize that -- but how in the WORLD are you supposed to put that into practice when you KNOW -- or you think you know -- how being you and not fitting into the expected mold is going to be received. That's coming up Tuesday, and I promise to have some very practical suggestions for you. I think this is enough for a few days' contemplation and work, don't you? After all, this is not fluff we're dealing with here.
SHARE WITH US: You are welcome to share your list or parts of your list. You know this is a safe place. If you want to share your frustraton at knowing it but not being able to live it yet, that's fien too but just remember that KNOWING it takes time. If you have already discovered ways to ignore, chase off, or kill off those false messages, by all means tell us about those.
Meanwhile, we'll totally be praying for MARLEE and KATIE as they head out for scholarship interviews this weekend. Watching you girls make your way out into the world is amazing -- but I know it can be scary so we've got your backs. Yes, ladies?
As for that picture -- use it as a reminder that while rites of passage will never again be as simple as being allowed to have a tea party with your mom's beloved dolls, they will ultimately bring you just as much of that joy ABBIE was talking about. I promise you that.