"Writing and reading decrease our sense of isolation. They deepen and widen and expand our sense of life: they feed the soul. When writers make us shake our heads with the exactness of their prose and their truths, and even make us laugh about ourselves or life, our buoyancy is restored. We are given a shot at dancing with, or at least clapping along with, the absurdity of life, instead of being squashed by it over and over again. It's like singing on a boat during a terrible storm at sea. You can't stop the raging storm, but singing can change the hearts and spirits of the people who are together on that ship." Anne Lamott (italics mine)
I wholeheartedly agree. And as I've been impacted by the honest and earthy writings of folks like Anne Lamott and Donald Miller it has provoked me to not just write but also to live more honestly and authentically than I have in the past. I certainly haven't arrived and lots of times I'm a chicken shit and like to hide "the me that stinks". But I feel enough gratitude to these other honest/authentic truth tellers who have made me say, "Whew, I'm not the only one!" that most of the time I want to join them on the limb they've climbed out on. I want to maybe, in a small way, help other people know they are not alone and restore some buoyancy to the lives they live.
Here's the catch. That takes a whole lot of courage! With a capital C! Because you run the risk of being judged. Who are we kidding? You will be judged. We live in a time and place where "success" is often defined by the shiny magazines that show off perfect bodies, perfect houses that are perfectly decorated, perfect vacation spots, even perfect blogs... you get the idea. Living with authenticity would be easy if my life looked like that but it doesn't! My life is more like a ratty old magazine that you find in a thrift store. It's a little out of date, pages are missing and it smells a bit off.
Most days I'm okay with that. (Great line from the Veggie Tale movie, Jonah, "I am a caterpillar. Well, that's not entirely true. My mother was a caterpillar, my father was a worm, but I'm okay with that now.") Then there are the "green eyed monster days" where I'm not. My heart is fearful and petty and small and jealous and downright stinky. And so I do stupid things like hide. Hide from others, hide from myself, and from Jesus.
I commit myself to living a quasi-life. Not really living, just existing. Ken often says the quote, "If you're not living on the edge, you're taking up too much space." And it's funny, here we are on this glorious adventure that many might say, "Wow, look at them, those wild and crazy Symanskis!", but when you get into the guts of the adventure it's more normal than you ever realized it would be. The setting is different but the actors haven't changed. I'm still me, my family is still my family, and our challenge with figuring out our way through family life without losing the plot is still our challenge.
So hooray for adventures of all kinds but today I'm faced with whether I'm willing to live the adventure of living outside of the fears and insecurities of the realities of my less than perfect, somewhat "thrift store", life. Am I willing to come out of hiding and let myself be known wherever and whoever I am? Am I willing to let Jesus open up places inside me that need His help? Am I willing to stop hiding from myself and beating myself up with forced isolation? Hmmm.... deep thoughts....
I love and am inspired by this true little anecdote.
Never having embraced thrift store shopping as a child, it took me a while to warm up to the idea as I moved into adulthood. Generally my generation snubbed second hand clothes as "beneath" us. And personally I hated the smell. You know, that musty smell of used clothes and furniture that hangs in the air like the stores all had the same brand of aerosol, "Second Hand Smells". However, in the last ten to fifteen years I've noticed that not only has it become acceptable to shop at "Value Village" and the "Sally Ann", but the items found there are often worn like badges of honour! And I have been converted. I have my favourite thrift shops in Winnipeg and rarely does a trip into Whitehorse go by without a stop at the Sally Ann there.
And Brenna LOVES it. If I come home with a second hand piece of clothing she is thrilled and the lower the price the better! Last week while we were in Whitehorse we stopped at the Sally Ann and as we walked in the door she looked up at me with grin on her face and said, "I just love the smell of this place." I inwardly clicked my heels.
And here's the lesson and inspiration in that for me. Just as I've been making the effort to living authentically, honestly and out of hiding, can I get to the place that I love the smell of it? Can I get to the place where I value the scent of my own life with its own "Second Hand Smells" like Brenna does the smell of the thrift store? Can I get to the place where I wear my own life not necessarily as a badge of honour but as an example of a life that like a perfectly fine old pair of jeans rescued from the landfill, is redeemed and worthy of celebrating? Oh, that sounds just yummy and true and right. I want that.
Thanks for rescuing me, redeeming me. I celebrate you and the life you've given me. You smell good.
'til next time,