Behind these Eyes: Broken, Bruised, Restored, Redeemed
I recently had an experience that got me thinking about the need for vulnerability. And then I saw on Facebook a story written by Genevieve Georgete, which you can read here, about an extremely similar situation she faced in a coffee shop. I was so blown away at how much the story mirrored my own experience and how strongly her writing resonated with my own realization during a shopping trip to Kohl's, that I had to share my own version of what feels like the same story, using her layout as a guide to keep me on track.
So, here's my version of the same heart in slightly different circumstances...
The other day I went to Kohl's. After browsing at the selection, I grabbed a sweater for me and two shirts for Matt. As the cashier rang up my items she asked what I was shopping for. I wonder if she thought I had a weird style quirk for mens XL button down shirts. I mean, not that I'm opposed to them, by any means. I was actually was shopping for our engagement photo session this coming weekend. In response, I told her that without thinking much of it.
She asked me about our engagement and what my fiance does. I mentioned that he is working on playing professional football, but recently got a job in Indy (woohoo!) for the time being while he trains and that I'm so glad to have him around. She wished me the best of luck in our engagement and life together. "But," she said, "you don't really need luck -- your life is perfect already."
She was right in the sense that I don't need luck (I need Jesus!). But the second half of her comment struck me. I couldn't get over the fact that she really thought I had it all together. She really doesn't see the reality of my struggle bus in this quick encounter.
This gal saw me for just a few moments in a good mood, talking about the love of my life, the plans we had together, the beautiful new sweater I would wear to have our love so perfectly captured by a photographer's lens this weekend. This was all she knew about me.
If I would have been totally honest, she probably would have stopped after, "good luck with your fiance!" because she would have seen the true struggle bus that we are going to try to wrap up in a pretty little package of clothes and smiles for the camera.
If I were really honest, I would have had to say:
"Yes, we're getting engagement photos taken. Thankfully, too, after the whirlwind of an experience we've had...after the disappointment we've faced on draft day as we stared at a silent phone that refused to ring...after the long distance that strained our relationship to the point of tears and confusion...after changed decision after changed decision brought Matt back to Indiana jobless...after one job opportunity after another seemed to fall through...after I felt like a failure of a supporter as I watched him struggle through self-doubt and disappointment as my patience wore thin...after we questioned what we are even doing and if it was all worth it...after doubting the Lord's providence when it seemed as though we would never get an answer......after changing our wedding date THREE times through all the changes we could not have prepared for if we tried...after buying the oversize sweater you just rang up for this photo shoot because I'm self conscious that I've put on weight through all my worrying. So, yeah, capturing smiles and romantic, filtered, and flawless pictures at sunset against the fall leaves sounded like a good way to justify that we are a perfectly happy couple."
But of course, I wasn't going to tell her this. Because that would be weird.
Similar to Gen, this did got me thinking about the value of authenticity in our world today. Because if it were more valued, the girl waiting on me at Kohl's would have seen that I in no way have it all together.
If I had been open about my true struggles, she likely would not have assumed my life to be "perfect" and would have wished me even more luck!
Want to know why?
Because as a young girl I was picked on, accused of being a lesbian because I liked to wear sweatpants. I wore sweatpants because I was told that I had thunder thighs. To this day I hate my legs.
I struggle with body image, critiquing every imperfection, all the way down to my chubby toes. The summer before mysophomore year of college I was on the verge of an eating disorder, allowing myself only 1500 calories per day and running over 5 miles everyday, obsessing over every ounce. Yeah, that's a big one to admit.
My biggest challenge in life is letting go of things that are out of my control.
I feel as though I have failed as a partner to Matt, in all the times I've complained and worried about the uncertainty that his life path brings.
I worry too much about what other people think of me.
I still get acne breakouts. It's something I thought I would have solved in my teen years. Nope. Apparently not. Thanks, Proactive.
I wonder too often if my life has meaning to others.
I almost always worry that I care about everyone else more than they do about me.
I still wrestle with guilt from actions in the past, years ago. I question if I'm really worthy of grace.
I secretly hate Instagram when someone else's life seems too perfect. It makes me feel inadequate and I begin to compare.
I constantly question my choice to work on SoulScripts, comparing myself to peers with corporate jobs and other accomplishments.
I talk way too fast and constantly worry that people lose interest in what I say because they can't understand me.
I constantly beat myself up for how much I obsess over things that really do not matter.
I almost always second guess my decisions, worrying how things will turn out. I drive myself crazy when I get stuck in my own head.
All I really care about is sharing Jesus with people who don't know Him. But I so often fail because I feel inadequate.
I have such a patience problem. I snap when I shouldn't and let the littlest things fire me up. I let my emotions rather than Truth dictate my actions more than I should.
I'm uncoordinated and ungraceful. Big time. Don't ever give me anything fragile. I drop everything.
I struggle, every day, with believing I'm worth loving.
I wondered if she knew all of this, if she would still title my hot mess as a "perfect life". But, I know one thing is for sure. That even with all of my insecurities, imperfections and doubts, none of these things make my life any less worthy of grace.
And we've all got those bruises, bumps, and scars, even the cashier girl with the cat necklace. She's struggling somehow, too. So am I. And so are you.
So maybe it's not about creating perfection for the perceived reality we give the world online and those people we have brief friendly encounters with. Perhaps it's about the value we give to this world by living authentically, peeling back the layers for others to see that beneath all the new clothes and filters, we are just as broken as the next person, struggling along to trust in the truth Jesus tells us about our worth as His daughters.
Because faith requires perseverance, life requires vulnerability, and understanding our worth requires Jesus.
Vulnerability is freedom & it is made possible when we embrace the worth we have in Christ.
Jesus was covered in bumps, bruises, and scars, too. This ought to bring comfort, because these wounds allowed the glory of God to be manifested. Each one served a mighty purpose. The imperfections we see in ourselves are irrelevant compared to the glory that is manifested through each one. Through HIS bruises, ours have been restored. And through His healing and resurrection, we have been redeemed.
So, like Genevieve says, be proud of your scars. They declare that He is your Healer.
Embrace your bumps, love your bruises, and keep fighting the good fight. You're worth more than the bruises you bear, you are worth more than rubies.
And I'm right there with ya, strugglin' along, relying on grace.