It’s Friday again! And it’s time for another installment of For Girls Only.
Gentlemen, if you feel a need to stay, please know that sensitive For-Girls-Only topics will be shared here. This may not be suitable material for you. You’ve been warned!
I’ve always been a rule-follower. I suppose that’s because I grew up in a world that seemed to be filled with rules. There always seemed to be someone around to tell me that I should talk more quietly or act more ladylike or be a little less or do a little more or just be quiet and stay out of the way. And sure, for the most part, they meant well. And for the most part, I listened and obeyed. I sat with my ankles crossed (because nice little girls do) and kept my elbows off the table (because that’s mannerly) and put my fork down between each bite (because you know you eat less when you do it that way).
In the beginning the rules were good. They taught me manners and grace and poise. How to be a good little girl. A good preacher’s daughter. And I thought that if I followed the rules—if I sat straight enough and smiled sweetly enough and said yes enough—that it made me a good Christian.
The big problem with living by rules is that when someone changed the game, I didn’t know how to play anymore. But by that time, there was no way out of the game for me. When two older boys from the neighborhood took me to an abandoned house and started taking my clothes off, there was nothing that I had been taught that would help me out of that situation. And just like that, a lid was slammed down on my life.
I can’t tell you for sure, but I think that’s when I started gaining weight. After that day in that abandoned house, when I stood clinging for dear life to a dirty curtain to hide myself, I took every opportunity to use anything I could to cover my shame from the world. But that backfired too.
My evangelist friend, Ken Helser, once told me that ”the walls we build to protect us, imprison us.” The seven or eight or nine- year-old me didn’t understand that. But the thirty-two-year-old me does. All of these years have passed and every time I sit face to face with my Jesus, He has to take another layer of shame and guilt and self-hatred off of me, just to get me to be real with Him.
You know, if there’s anybody I should be able to be real with, it’s my Jesus. When I asked Him today what I should write to all of you about for tomorrow, He said, “Tell them they’re My girls.”
Did you hear that? We’re His girls. Now and then and forever.
And tonight, as I sat down, knee to knee with Jesus and asked Him to speak to me, He asked me to get up and dance with Him.
Me. The scared and humiliated eight-year-old girl, wrapped in a dirty curtain with my dignity and self-esteem tossed into a corner, on the floor.
Me. The scared and insecure thirty-two-year-old woman, still hiding from the world behind smiles and sarcasm and words.
And I did. And the song that played while we danced was Watermark’s Arise and Be Comforted.
Arise and be comforted
For the Lord, He is good to the weary.
Even the young hart will tire and fall
But He knows them all.
For the Lord, He will renew their strength
They will soar on wings as eagles.
They will run and never grow weary.
They will walk and not grow faint.
For the Lord, He is good.
Lift up your eyes to the Heavens
For the Creator is living in you.
Come surrender as you are
And know that you never stray too far—
Let His power within you heal your heart.
Lift your eyes to spacious skies,
Let Him chart your way to fly.
Spread your wings and fly!
And I did. I flew to His arms and I let Him take another layer of hurt and shame and self-loathing and wash me under His blood.
Are you ready to fly? Because He’s ready to take the lid off!
When I was in college, I took a required poetry class and in that class, I wrote the most honest thing I’ve ever written. Everyone I read it to (my class, my church friends) jumped to the conclusion that I was talking about a fictional man. Some Prince Charming that I was waiting for to come sweep me off my feet. And because I couldn’t really explain it, I let them believe that. But I wrote this about my relationship with Jesus and it just might be my favorite poem I ever wrote, though maybe not the best.
The Dream Dancer
Alone on the porch
breathing the frozen salted air
of the North Carolina shore
I watch a myriad of diamonds sparkle–
ripple into the horizon
as my mind is flooded–
I am mesmerized by sea and stars.
The moon guards me–
witnessing my dreams
as she shines her silver down
onto the watery dance floor.
I watch my own dreams
in which a dream dancer twirls and glides
across the moon-bathed surface of the sea–
spinning into the arms of her dark partner.
I am the dream dancer.
My partner takes me into his arms
and we dance together on the sea–
illuminated by the moonlight
and the gentle brilliance of the stars
which silently watch and then winking, applaud.
Sisters, are you ready to dance with Jesus? You are His bride and He is so ready to take you in His arms!