I had spent more time than usual that morning selecting the jewelry that would best offset my simple white shirt, not realizing how much I had hoped the ensemble would communicate more about me. Not until the barista made her comment:
“I really like your necklaces. The combination is delicate, yet bold.”
Her lucid remark reflected my mood; it said something about me and I felt curiously understood by a stranger pouring the robust drip I had ordered.
So often I long to feel known, but in my fast paced existence when I don’t experience deep relationship on a daily basis, I unconsciously search for ways to demonstrate myself in what I wear… in the way I decorate myself. Little did the barista know that her quick review of my jewelry created a connection with something true about what I was feeling inside, an emotion I wasn’t fully aware of until I heard her approval.
Why do I so often long for this kind of discovery? Why do I often feel like there is so much of me that remains rooted in dark, moist soil at the base of my midriff? It must be a universal ache because our society seems fixated on personalities, styles, an unwritten tenet that we should be able to define ourselves by the time we enter adulthood.
As I’ve pondered, I believe there are three reasons; two of them are my own fault, the third I can’t control:
1) Rebellion: I’ll be quite honest I don’t want to be defined. Even though I felt delicate, yet bold at the coffee shop that day, I’m also sensitive, kind, stubborn, authentic, some days carefree, others rigid. Conjuring up a concise category to place myself in feels a bit like a padded cell where there is no color or texture. When contestants on American Idol are judged for not knowing who they are as an artist I feel a sense of connection with their confused expression. So what if they want to be a country singer one week and pop star the next. William James says, “In every concrete individual, there is a uniqueness that defies formulation.” My rebellion asks why we continue to try?
2) Suspicion: As a Christian woman I should know (all the way down to that midriff) how God knows me better than I know myself, that He’s closer than a friend, that He loves and understands the remotest part of my heart. But because I feel so inadequate, because others reflect my weaknesses and ugliness, I have a hard time wrapping my mind around being completely seen and accepted at the same time. It’s as if the day will come when I’ll be found out and the response from God and the world will be rejection. So I keep that deep rooted place protected within the soil, even though I long for it to see the sun.
3) Bondage: Romans 8: 22-23 – “We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as (daughters), the redemption of our bodies.”
We will never be fully known until our bodies our liberated from the enslavement of this world. We are hindered by the shell we live in. I think individually we can get glimpses of our redeemed body, but then we mess the pure beauty of it once it reaches our lips. Things just don’t come out the way we felt it on the inside.
But be assured, understanding… glory… fullness… will be revealed in each of us and in the One we serve when we get to the other side! It leaves me breathless! Each and every one of us whole, complete and fully known! I can’t wait to see you and for you to see me.
In the mean time, I’ll fashion bangles around my neck, enjoying the moments when someone catches a glimpse of my delicate, yet bold personality (if it fits my mood that day).