(in)RL 2014 – Sharing your Story

 

We are part of a broken, imperfect, perfectly redeemed sisterhood.

 

It is only in the past several years that I have known what this idea of sisterhood looks like. Growing up I had some friends that were girls, but didn’t always resonate with where they were coming from. Guys were okay hanging out with me if I acted like ‘one of the guys’ and so since they never really found me attractive, I thought that I would be able to have the connection I needed this way. For many years I was blessed with some good guy friends,w ho were dear brothers to me. They were those who didn’t treat me like one of the guys, and built me up in who I was created to be in Christ. But over those same years, there were those with whom I craved approval, and so I became someone else to fit into their group.

This fitting in slowly killed me. Because more often then not hanging out with these guys and becoming like them meant that I wasn’t all that kind to my sisters and more judgmental and dismissive then I would have preferred to be. Letting any girl near our group would mean a change in the dynamic and I wasn’t about to let a good thing go. Things always changed when girly girls entered the group because that meant there was interest, and then while I was still part of the group, it was weird to try to relate to this girl who was always around as a female.

It took me awhile to realize that this fitting in also made an already precarious sense of self further diminished.  I knew what these guys were looking for in girls, and it wasn’t me. In fact so many times I assimilated so deeply, that they didn’t even treat me as a female sometimes. And my soul was shriveling up, because I was denying a very part of who I was and am.

Some of it was also the culture I was in those few years. Young guys (early 20’s) figuring out life, not alot of cares in the world, no need to think about settling down but instead a whole ‘field’ ahead of them for the playing. And so in that sense, perhaps I should have picked my friends better. But I was dating Mike at that time. I had given up on Christian guys, they didn’t’ seem any different then the guys I saw around me, so why bother making the distinction. And so any need to see women in a respectful way wasn’t really something that showed up on their radar. They were all about drinking, boating, water-skiing, wake-boarding, beer and hottubbing and finding some hot girls to spend the weekend with.

I have been removed from this culture for several years now. I still find myself struggling to see where I fit. But I do see (in hindsight of course) how detrimental this ‘fitting in’ had on what I think of myself, and my inability to see anything beautiful that God has created in me. I wonder sometimes if having my hair short is part of my refusal to identify with my femininity. I love bright colors, and glitter…and sometimes I enjoy getting dressed up. But it just feels like an act to me sometimes. The first time I got my hair all cut off, I went to the drug store and bought over $100 of makeup. I desperately wanted to look like a girl…or what I imagined a girl looked like, when so much of who a girl is, is her hair and looks setting her apart.

And so it is, that I have come to terms with my short hair. It annoys me when it gets longer then a couple inches and while I’ve tried to grow it back to something ‘girly’ I can’t for the life of me live through the growing out without giving up and going to the hairdresser and saying ‘trim this crazy stuff back’. And sometimes I have wild dreams of going Britney Spears one night and cutting it all off in desperation…thinking I’m sending out a message of freedom and rebellion, when in reality it just reflects the screams in my heart, and no other way to send an outward sign that i’m drowning in angst. But vanity keeps me from doing this, because as much as I know and believe hair grows back, that seems a bit extreme even for me. Who knows what my head looks like under all this hair…i’m sure its not a pretty picture.

And so all of this to say, that its only been in the last few years that God has allowed some amazing, strong and beautiful women of God to come into my life, to love on me, to accept me as who I am (which is completely beyond my understanding) but I’m so thankful for the healing that they have bestowed time and again. And as I get to know these women, and am open to listening to their stories and hearing their hearts, I see and hear time and again that I’m not the only one.

that there is brokenness, that there is heartbreak, that there is pain…

but there is also healing, wholeness, redemption, forgiveness.

And so knowing that community isn’t comprised of perfection but rather a building together of souls, make me resonate with the idea of shared story that was repeated throughout this past (in)RL. I am so thankful for the many things gleaned and look forward to continuing to unpack my wounded places, and find HIS healing with my sisters standing strong beside me.

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