I am MORE (Poetry): Lessons in Vulnerability, part 2

I am more than my body,
More than my curves.
I am more than my smile,
My looks, my clothes.
I am not a trophy,
Or a symbol of your best.
I’m no prize or property,
No object to cherish.
FOR,
Underneath my clothes,
Underneath my skin,
Underneath my bones,
This is where my beauty lives.
Tell me,
Who has formed the depths of my soul?
Who has fashioned and woven my bones?
Who has touched with their hands
The passion in my veins,
Or seen grace strumming grace across my heart strings?
IF
You have eyes in your head,
You may want to look deep.
Or you will miss out on seeing,
The real beauty in me.

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In the wake of injustice…

I can’t even formulate the right words..all I can say is that I am truly heartbroken over the recent tragic events.I have tried to capture my feelings, to chase the argument of justice, but the words are elusive.
The heartache is deep….and because of that, all I can think of is one word.
 “Kindred.”
Are we not all flesh and blood, created by God? Are we not all brothers and sisters, worthy of love, justice and freedom?
I believe so.
Moving forward,
I have no cool meme or graphic to add.  Yet, I do have prayer ,and so do you. And prayer, which will last much longer than changing our profile pictures across social media and unite more powerfully than human hands, is transforming.
We NEED prayer.
We NEED prayer….to open our eyes, to empower us to do far more and abundantly more than we could ever imagine.
We NEED compassion. The essence of the cross is COMPASSION.
Sacrifice.
Mercy.
We never have and never will deserve mercy. Yet, still Jesus extends it. And, so should we.
God, help me to be an extender of your love and mercy and courageous enough to speak out in the face of injustice.
Lastly,
Dear, CHURCH, my fellow Jesus followers,
We must reach out our hurting LGBT brother and sisters and not IGNORE, be apathetic, judgmental or persecutive. We must do our part in healing wounds that we, ourselves, have allowed to be inflicted. We must be a safe-haven, a refuge…a SANCTUARY.
For, violence and hate are not in any part of our journey. Bigoted words and jokes are not in any part of our calling. IF they are part of your calling, then you are not following in Jesus’s footsteps.
 The light of the world, the lamp on the stand, the city on the hill – this is what Jesus asks of us.
Defender of the defenseless, advocator of the orphan and widow, mercy for the undeserving, grace for the adulterer, healing for the sick, freedom for the captive, forgiveness over and over and over and over and over and….THIS is Jesus, Whose compassion does not fail and Whose mercies are new every morning. 
Church,
If we say we are believers and followers of Jesus, than let us not hesitate to reach out.
In an event-heavy, busy, world, in our disconnected though social media states, we must endeavor to reach out, doing our parts in our every.day.average.routine-scheduled.day.
Let us do so with great intention.
I leave you with one of my favorite hymns, written by John Fawcettpub.1782
  1. Blest be the tie that binds, Our hearts in Christian love; The fellowship of kindred minds is like to that above.
  2. Before our Father’s throne, We pour our ardent prayers; Our fears, our hopes, our aims are one, Our comforts, and our cares.
  3. .We share our mutual woes, Our mutual burdens bear; And often for each other flows the sympathizing tear.
  4. When we asunder part, It gives us inward pain; But we shall still be joined in heart, and hope to meet again.
May we all allow the Sacred and Divine to intertwine through the whole of our lives SO that we can infuse God’s love and tender mercies in every interaction.
A.Stephens

Lessons in Vulnerability, part 1

I think I’ve lived most of my life feeling unworthy in some way.
Unworthy of belonging.
Unworthy of being loved.
Sure, I could probably list a lot more there, but they all boil down to those two:
Love and belonging.
Why?
How did I become a 35 year old woman, who is certainly loved by her family and friends, yet often feels so disconnected and alone?
How did I become a 35 year old woman who struggles with depression and discouragement, rather than a woman who has gratitude and joy for the victories in her life?
 I don’t know….but I do know this.

All my life, this woman has longed to be seen. 

NO, she has not longed to be seen as the visible “center of attention” seen; She has never desired to stand out in any crowd.
NO, she has longed to be deeply seen.  Deeply seen in the way that her passions, her fierceness, her loyalties, her needs, her worth, her imperfections, her fears, and EVERYTHING that makes up her spirit is somehow as visible as the clothes she wears, BUT…
Somehow, even at the age of 35, this woman is still very much like a child inside. She needs to be healed of the injustices she has experienced, reassured of her worth and held in arms of strength and tenderness that cultivate trust, confidence, and authenticity.
Perhaps…
Perhaps, healing is as easy as getting dressed in the morning. First, she would take off the veils of mystery. Than, one at a time, she would add elements of self-expression. Some are more necessary that the other, but all are intentionally chosen.
Would it be so easy?

What if she could get up and wear courage as easily as she wears her favorite skirt? What if confidence was her most flattering color?  What if belief in her worth was as striking as the width of her smile?

What if releasing who she thinks she should be was a real thing? Then, she could reach inside, grab those pointed, jabbing, fingers, and throw them in the garbage!

Would it be so easy?
You see, then she could  be who she is meant to be, without shame or question, without fear of not belonging, and without the scent of anxiety lurking.
And finally…I think she would know.
She would know.
She would know that THIS is the necessary part of life. Not clothes or sparkly things, or hardwood floors, or all white-kitchens, or open floor plans or brand new cars or cherished guitars or songs we sing or labels we’ve made…Not worrying or obsessing or restricting or dieting or hiding or panicking or analyzing…..
She would know life beyond the shadows and peace amidst the noise.
She would know.

She would know that THIS sense of worth, made possible by courage and worn with risk, is necessary and more beautiful than anything else; because unlike the perfect face or body, this sense of worth doesn’t fade over time and isn’t weakened by age’s hand.

She would know.

Well,
I want to know.
I want to try and wear this.
I want this for myself…
This sense of worth, this courage, this vulnerability that would allow me to be deeply SEEN.
I want to know;
I’m willing to know.
And, maybe….just maybe…that’s enough.
Today, I was getting ready to bring my daughter to the water park. I was wearing a bathing suit I normally only wear around my family because it is red, bright, and noticeable; and, I was also inwardly annoyed at myself for buying such a color. Then, all of a sudden,  my daughter excitedly barged in and shrieked,
“Ooooh mommy, you look so beautiful!”
“Thank you, Bels!” I said, when all of a sudden, it struck me…
True self-worth cannot be captured by unveiling the perfect body, belonging with the right crowd, having the perfect job, making lots of money, possessing what many covet or looking/eating/appearing a certain way.
True self-worth cannot be captured by chasing after the superficial.
It can, however, be captured in our willingness to accept our our beauty as others do; to celebrate our beauty as others do.
And, to believe it, too. 

May all of us women, who constantly jump over the battle lines of superficiality and authenticity, know that we are worthy and deserving of love.  – A. Stephens

THE.END.