Sunday, July 20, 2014

She Went Wahoo

Catherine Boyd: You took Albert Einstein for a ride on that thing?
Ed Walters: Sure.
Catherine Boyd: Well, don't ever do that again!
Ed Walters: Come on. He loved it. He went Wahoo.
Catherine Boyd: Wahoo?
Ed Walters: When's the last time he said Wahoo?
Catherine Boyd: Well, I'm sure I don't know.
Ed Walters: When's the last time *you* said Wahoo?
Catherine Boyd: Well, I'm *sure* I don't know.
                                          -I.Q. movie

Earlier this year we traded in my beloved SUV that was dying for a car. I have been a little unsure about this car. (I was unsure about the SUV at first too. I don’t like change, people!) We chose this kind car for the safety. I have to take large hills to work and this has AWD to get me where I need to go.

Beyond the practical, I admit it’s fun to drive. It has lots of gadgets, seat warmers, and a sunroof. Beside our home, it might be the loveliest thing we own.

But it’s hard for me to think of owning nice things. Isn’t being excited about tangible things a sin? Most days, when I get in the car, this is where my mind goes: It’s just a car, Becca. It takes you where you need to go.  Don’t be happy about it in any way.

Something happened to me last Friday though. I was coming home after working from Panera Bread, and I decided to open the sunroof all the way. I turned up the music and started singing at the top of my lungs. I was inches away from sticking my hand straight out of the sunroof at a stoplight. I sounded ridiculous, and I looked ridiculous (at least as it goes in my book).

The light turned green, and I hit the gas pedal. The engine revved, and I felt my heart swell. I heard the Voice. My God saying, “Drink deeply of the joy, my child.” Even now, thinking of that moment leaves me breathless.

I don't drink deeply.

I let fear, pride, and confusion wrestle joy out of me over and over. I don’t ever use the word happy. Ever. But some moments just lend themselves to happiness. It’s not meant to last forever but just. Enjoy. The moment.

Tell God "thank you." Kiss your loved ones. Throw your hands in the air and say, “Wahoo!” Sing Weezer’s “Pork and Beans” song at the top of your lungs. Move your hips side to side if you want to. That’s what Kyla did at two years old, when she heard a Weezer song.

God is not absent in these moments. He’s there too. Why can’t we picture Him smiling with us? He might even be singing along too. We know that He sings over us. Revel in His delight in your delight over His gifts and His presence.

This is all part of the abundant life. And it’s really not about the things. But it is about our acknowledgement that every good and perfect gift, whether it’s a need fulfilled or something just plain for the fun, is from God. It’s not earned. It’s given. We are beckoned to take and receive and rejoice.

A few months ago my brother posted a link about common wrong views people have about God. I said something under the article about how freeing the article is. Well, a woman who is an acquaintance of mine got on there and CAP LOCK YELLED at me. She hollered about how all we talk about is God’s love and what about His wrath and His justice? To which I replied that she was accusing us of focusing on a couple of God’s attributes while she was doing the same, and that of course God is so much more than that. The article wasn’t meant to be exhaustive related to who God is. More CAP LOCK YELLING ensued to the point where I was informed that God’s favor came upon Jesus at His baptism because of what He did when He was a child, not who He is as the Son.

I ended my side of the conversation then. And….commence closing laptop now.

Nope. God doesn’t gift us because of what we have done. He gives freely with no prerequisite and no expectation afterward. But when we see who He is, what He has done, we can’t help but worship and respond to Him out of those things. We even learn more about who we are and where He is working in our lives. He does all of this for us.

When He said, “Drink deeply” that morning, He loosed the chains on my heart. He set right the lies I believed. He brought the gift of joy and His truth to replace wrong beliefs. He put me at ease.

He has and is doing this in many other ways in my life. In broken places I never thought could be put back together this side of eternity. In ways I never, ever thought could happen.

Yet, here He is speaking. Loving, reveling in me and with me.

Our (parent church) pastor’s wife asks over and over, “Who gets to live like this?” She’s not asking this because her life is rosy. She’s asking because God has awakened her to His presence and His gifts in the midst of difficulties. I happen to know some of her difficulties. It’s not all sunshine and roses. But it is God giving joy and hope in dark, scary places.

This is the good news, friends. Eternal life—true, abundant life—is a gift and it starts now. Not when Jesus shows up again and “rewards” people for what they have (or have not) done. That is in the Bible but that’s not all we have. It’s not all we cling to in the day to day. We don’t have some day, some later time when we’re allowed to be happy. He’s not telling us to wait until the end of this age to actually enjoy something.

He’s giving us moments at stoplights. He’s giving us little baby giggles that piece my heart back together after loss. He’s giving us ooey-gooey, fat-filled s’mores, drives into the mountains, and moments of throwing our head back in an all-out belly laugh. (I once got shushed for laughing like that on a camping trip. Apparently, it wasn’t refined behavior for a godly woman.)

I’m going “wahoo.” I’m throwing my hands up and letting the Wind—the Spirit—blow past me on the open road.

When was the last time you went “wahoo?” Have you ever?

This is your permission. As a child of the One who gives “wahoos,” I want you to know you can take and drink deeply of His joy today. Who gets to live like this? We do.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Wear I Am

"Children raised in cults do not have any identity to return to when they leave. 'Trying on' different hair-dos, colors, and clothing is normal." -Elizabeth Esther

I turn left. Then right.

The door is less than an arms length away. I want to escape but the growing lump in my throat keeps me in my place. Maybe the emotions caught just below my chin will go away.

One more glance in the mirror and then a quick lift up of my heels.

I ask myself, Hmmm…with a cardigan?

A shake of my head and I look at the growing pile of rejections.

I trudge to the salesperson. Throat lump still there, I mutter, “These didn’t work.” I hold out the handful of hangers as walk to the door, eyeing the selection of shoes before escaping again.

I come home and set a bag from Ross and one from Target onto the kitchen floor.

“You found clothes?!” Jeff asks.

“I’m taking them all back except for a shirt,” I snap.

His face falls. “Okay. Why?”

My eyes fill with tears.

“I just don’t know how to dress.”

This same scenario has been happening for years.

I don’t know how to dress because I have been dressing like someone more than twice my age for two decades.

A quick glance of my old photo albums and you will spot a girl who dressed in long sleeves at summer camp.

You will see me in knee-length shorts that look like men’s dress shorts and a men’s large sized t-shirt. My favorite dress as a fifteen year old was denim, wide at the waist with gathers that helps it flare away from my body, not toward it. In truth, it looked like a maternity dress.

(Click photo to enlarge) Here I am at summer camp (on right). Similar style to my denim dress, only this one is head to toe floral. I look like a garden threw up on me. Also, I'm wearing pantihose under that dress. (Summer 1996)

Capris and Bermuda shorts weren’t in style in the 90s. If one of us happened to spot a knee-length set of shorts that looked even half-way cute, we all bought a pair. One summer it was a wide-legged set of overall shorts from Mervyn's. These were acceptable for camp, mission trips, and leading VBS. I was extra popular that summer because I spotted them first and let the other girls knew where to find them.

This is what I was taught is right. This is what I know.

It’s still my main mode. Over the years I‘ve been told I dress frumpy, plain, and boring. I have to work extra hard when I go shopping for clothes to find what is an expression of me that also fits my body shape. Most importantly, I have to tell myself over and over that it’s okay to even ask those questions. It’s enough to induce tears in the dressing room and a quick flee from the store.

My husband has been so good to me in this particular part of my journey. In fact I have a decent wardrobe now with enough things to put together. Only trouble is I can’t wear about half of them due to the arrival of our sweet baby boy this last year.

And with only half a wardrobe, I’m faced with the prospect of going back to those questions about what fits my (new) body shape and finding more items to express myself.

I begin again.

It’s enough to paralyze me.

In truth, I am a pretty practical lady. I do know that much about me. My favorite outfit of all outfits is a white shirt, jeans, brown shoes (sandals or boots, depending on the season). I have a cardigan obsession, which I’m pretty sure is a result of wanting to emulate the timeless look of fictional bookshop owner Kathleen Kelly. I also love scarves and hats.

As I think on these accessories, I wonder if they are not just practical but my attempts at trying convey myself within the confines of what I know is acceptable.

More layers? Yes, please. Are layers my choice of “armor” designed to protect me somehow? Probably.

But I don’t know any other way.

Adding to my confusion is the fact that I work in a creative environment. I can wear a t-shirt and jeans but I do like to dress up. I like to show what I’m capable of doing for the company by what I put on in the morning. I want to exude the confidence I have in my calling by what I wear when I walk through the doors.

I never thought I would be faced with all of this confusion in my thirties but it’s a pretty crazy mixture at this point. For all the soul-searching I’ve done since escaping fundamentalism and the strong beliefs I have about courage, this area of how to dress pierces me and weakens my confidence in no time.

Turn left. Turn right. Which way is me? I don’t know.

I’m stepping out again this summer. Trying not to run for the exit too soon. Sometime this month, I’m taking a friend with me to go shopping. She’s going to help me. I showed her my “Fashionista” board on Pinterest and she seems to think I do have a particular style.

We’re going to try to find it in a store.

I’m not going to give up. It just may help to have someone with me to block the dressing room door and say, “Try again, Becca. Try again. It’s okay.”