She leaned over and patted my knee like we were sister-friends affirming and enjoying one another, talking about the things that matter to us as women. Last Friday I met up with Nicole Johnson, author of Fresh Brewed Life, and the Dramatist behind some of the most powerful moments on the Women of Faith tour. We talked about creativity in the midst of motherhood, we talked about marriage, and we talked about being still. At one point I told her that I've always wanted to use my acting as a means to display Christ's redemptive work in my life, and again she leaned over and patted my knee, smiling, her eyes narrowing like she was thinking through each of my words as well as her own.
On my drive home that afternoon I was so full of feeling that it just sort of spilled over in the form of tears. Driving and crying I thought to ask myself, "Why are you crying?" And a deep-down core part of me whispered back, "I just feel so known."
I hope you have the chance to sit with someone today, or in the days ahead, who listens with their whole self, the way Nicole listened to me. And I hope this person speaks from their heart and with their wisdom, the way my friend spoke into my life.
"If I can't do social media authentically,
I can't do social media." - Nicole Johnson
We were talking about social media, but I listened with broader ears and a heart wide-open to application.
These past few days I've been asking myself, "Is there anything I am doing unauthentically? Because if there is, I can't keep doing it."
Searching my heart for pretense, falsehood and impure motives, I thought through my commitments and my friendships, my goals and my priorities. I recounted words that I have recently spoken and those I have written down, weighing each syllable. And a few things, a few words, a few conversations stirred uncomfortably in my heart.
No, that email didn't need to be sent, those words didn't need to be said, that post didn't need to be... posted. It wasn't so much that I needed to repent, just learn... and to recommit to purity, which is, in a way, authenticity. It takes courage to do this thing, this life, content to be just as we are. Purely as we are. Not chasing likes; not on the cul de sac, not online, not at church, not at the kids' school. It takes courage to be okay with where we are and who we are today. It takes courage to live authentically - comfortable in our own skin - comfortable with where the boundary lines lie.
I remember my mom's words when she met Amy. My friend had brought me a vanilla steamer and a pumpkin scone from Starbucks a few days after I birthed my third baby. Refusing to come deep into our home, not wanting to interrupt the sanctity of our family time, Amy stood at the open door. With blond hair backlit by the sun, there was a sort of shekinah radiance to her presence.
I brought the baby close and Amy laughed, mouth full open, because Amy does that. Then she was gone.
Closing the door I saw my mom smiling from the kitchen. "She may have one of the most authentic laughs I've ever heard. It's just so real it bubbles up and out of her."
I want to laugh like that. No, more than that, I want to live like that.
Social media, sure why not, but I'm talking about like. Life wide open like a conduit of real. Wide open like Amy's laughter and the gifts she brings.
This week I've been real - really busy - and really unable to write. Sure, I could have pushed some words out and made them stick together... but it would not have been authentic because my time and affections called me in other directions. Likewise, there were friends I wanted to call, but the call of motherhood rang clearer and nearer, and so I leaned in close to my child with the leg cramps and rubbed him from his knee to his toes late into the night. I didn't call my friends and I didn't write a blog post. And my husband waited up for me, because meeting up with him authentically is also the life I lead.
That is where I've been. Trying to live fully present right where I am.
It's not always laughing, with mouth open and head thrown back, but it is open and real and courageous, this moment by moment life. Embracing life, embracing kids, embracing emotions, embracing each moment authentically.
There was a song I sang as a child. I sing it to myself now like a conversation with the Lord:
"All I ever have to be is what you've made me.
Any more of less would be a step out of Your plan.
As you daily recreate me, help me always keep in mind,
that I only have to do what I can find.
All I ever have to be is what You've made me." - Amy Grant
Today is a new day, a new day for more of this courage and more of this commitment to live, humbly and happily, doing just what I can find. Join me in the journey?
Time to Pray:
Help us each to abide in You, exactly where you have us.
Your boundary lines fall for us in pleasant places,
help us to believe that is true.
We want to cease from striving,
ever-striving for life outside of your will,
for the clamor of more, the allure of better,
the seduction of lies...
We want to live right where you have us today,
because living in your plans and purposes,
is living authentically. - Amen to that!