A Manifesto from Myself

I wrote this letter to myself a year ago. I’d completely forgotten it in an old mostly used up spiral notebook that still has notes in it from high school. I came across it a few days ago and it left me breathless and bolstered. If you need a little bolstering, this is for you, too. 

Oh, Hey Love.

A year from now you won’t recognize yourself. This year will be one of wild unencumberment. You are going to let go of so many things you never knew you didn’t need. You will learn how to stop praying and worry will disappear from your life. You will learn that you don’t need many material things to be happy. You just need people where mutual love is deep. You will let go of the god you have always known and dive into the deep unknown. You will learn how to stop treading water, float, and trust whatever current is carrying you. Because that which is beautiful is often trustworthy.

You will let go of your dreams for marriage and family and learn things about your own sexuality that make your whole life make sense. Don’t fight it. You know how fluid these dreams can be. Even if they leave, they may one day come back to you reimagined in beauty that takes your breath away.

You will watch your plans vanish and it will be the most freeing feeling. For the first time in your life you believe that you can go anywhere and do anything. You are surrounded by people who believe in you. They will make you know that you are worthy. Their love will give you wings to pursue your wildest dreams.

You will lose your hair. Not from stress this time. By choice, taken into your own hands and removed bit by bit. It will be a slow letting go of who you used to be and the dreams you used to have. Others will help you celebrate this transformation. In the absence of your lifelong security blanket you will grow secure in the fact that you are loved for who you are, not for any outward feature.

You will let go of your home, of the city you once called your own. You will know that the place that sheltered you for a time has edged you out of the nest. It will never feel the same again and you wouldn’t want it to. You’ve outgrown Baton Rouge, and it’s okay.

You will learn how to stand on your own but also how to reach out for help when you need it. You will need help. It’s okay. Reach your hand forward. But also reach it back and to either side for those friends who will need your support as much as you need theirs.

This year will be one of as many heartaches as triumphs, often precipitated by the same events. Lean in. Find the joy. Because it’s there. In abundant measures that will propel you forward.

You will become so much more yourself. And baby, you will shine.

GradSmile

The day that I graduated from Massage Therapy school

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Finding my Hinds Feet – The Shore of Decision

I am sitting at a writing desk right now in a little closet office adjoining the guest room I am occupying for nearly two weeks. I’ve been here for three nights already and it’s only just starting to feel real. So I am here to tell the story of how I got here. Because our God is too faithful not to document His goodness.

Writing Nook

Just over six weeks ago I was riding down I-10 with my sister at midnight, listening to the latest album from Jonathan David and Melissa Helser. At the beginning of “Cageless Birds” Melissa recites a poem that grabbed my heart and would not let go.

Standing on the shore of decision

looking into the face of adventure

desire to abandon all I know

what pushes me is rooted somewhere between misunderstanding and knowing

knowing that what I want to understand is not within my reach

so I ponder my escape

not knowing what lies ahead

adventure in theory is full of excitement and bleeds with passion for life

but adventure in reality is full of breathless moments

silent nights, and wounds that leave scars of memory on a heart

can I go the distance?

can I give all my mind to get what the messenger is saying?

can I surrender my knowing?

will I survive the humility of ignorance to obtain a treasure that earthly gold cannot buy?

will I ask the question honestly

even if the answer convicts my soul and sends me to the land of repentance?

All of these thoughts flood my mind…

as I stand on the shore of choosing

in the distance of my wondering I see with clear eyes a flock of wild, beautiful birds

swooping in my direction

as if they see me and are coming for me

how strange it is that their eyes are full of clarity…

Song birds wake up

you’re not in your cage anymore

bound by your shame anymore

the walls that held you in prison

the gate is flung wide open

start singing, start singing, start singing, start singing

cageless birds

I’ve felt for several months like I am in a state of transition, but I wasn’t sure of the exact direction I was to go. All the doors I pushed on seemed firmly shut. I wasn’t sure what to do next, but the restlessness in me was relentless. That night on I-10 a moment of clarity came swiftly. I decided to try to apply for the Helser’s 18 Inch Journey program even though they’d stopped accepting applications months before. My age will disqualify me to apply next year and I at least had to ask if there was any shadow of possibility that would allow me to attend.

Unfortunately, the answer was no, the 18 Inch Journey was not accepting applications. But that moment of clarity was not fruitless. Asking the question was a proving ground, a test to determine if I would seriously consider leaving behind my comfortable life for a period of time before stepping into the next stage of my life, site unseen. There were other options.

I’d read about L’Abri several years ago from a blogger who attended. Studying theology in the shadow of the Swiss Alps seemed too far fetched a dream for anyone without a trust fund. But I visited the site again and after a few quick calculations realized that spending a couple of months there wasn’t as far out of my reach as I assumed. It was comparable to what I was prepared to spend with the 18 Inch Journey. So, after just a week of thinking about it and talking it out with my sister, I sent off an inquiry to L’Abri, just to see if they had a spot available for the dates I was considering. I didn’t want to dream or plan any further until I knew if it was possible. I didn’t want to want it too much.

And this is where the story gets more interesting. To be continued

It’s Only Up to You

I’m not sure that anyone would describe me as a particularly ambitious person. I have a death-fear of disappointment so I tend to keep my goals and expectations low. I am exceptionally good at meeting the status-quo. Sure, I have a few broad life goals – fall in love, get married, have a few babies – but those are things I don’t have much control over. I can’t necessarily make them happen in a set time frame.

Last week after she rattled off a short-list of things she wants to do in the next couple of years, Jordan asked me, “Bekah, is there anything that you want to do?” I had to answer honestly. I’ve never thought about it. So I started to. And once I put some things on paper I realized that the things I want to do are not far out of my reach. The only thing standing in my way is me.

This song by Bronze Radio Return came on while I was doing my dreaming. I love these lyrics.

…The crowd stands still
No one’s moving they’d just rather stand and wait until
Someone starts to move
Someone starts to move

Shake, Shake, Shake
It’s all what you make of it, take what you will
You know, know, know your only mistake
Is if you stand still
So Shake, Shake, Shake,
It’s all what you make of it, break it until 
You know, know, know your only mistake 
Is if you stand still
It’s only up to you
It’s only up to you

Am I the only one who relates to that? It feels like I’ve been waiting for someone else to make the first move with my life! I’m a capable leader. But I prefer to follow. Forging my way ahead, alone scares the bejeezies out of me. I want to be brave. I want to change. So I will not stand still.

I wrote out a list of 30 things I want to do before I’m 30 years old. Some of them are things I’ve always wanted to do, and some of them made the list simply because I’m scared to do them. I know that following those conquered fears will be dozens of mini-epiphanies. But I want to share my list here so I’ll have some accountable – if only to myself – for actually doing it.

  1. Sing in public
  2. Own a pair of Chacos
  3. Live debt-free
  4. Take a photography or Photoshop class
  5. Visit Washington DC and see the Presidential Monuments and Holocaust Museum
  6. Go sledding (in SNOW!)
  7. Complete every page of at least one journal
  8. Study philosophy
  9. Explore a cave
  10. Be thoroughly kissed on the stroke of a New Year
  11. Order an actual drink at an actual bar
  12. Put my feet into the Pacific Ocean
  13. Go backpacking up a real mountain
  14. Join (and go to) a gym
  15. Learn to keep plants alive
  16. Save $3,000 (we’re working on a “3” theme here, so why not?)
  17. Have short hair
  18. Visit Europe (I couldn’t possibly pinpoint one place. This’ll hafta do.)
  19. Run a 5k
  20. Run a 10k
  21. Have my writing published
  22. Photograph a wedding
  23. Learn how to use fondant
  24. Live alone
  25. Become a mentor
  26. See a counselor
  27. Define my sense of style (Rock it.)
  28. Make a swing in the middle of the woods
  29. Learn to dance (lessons, anyone?)
  30. Buy an original piece of art that I adore

What about you? Is there anything holding you back from dreaming? Do you have a list of goals or dreams?

P.S. I will be coming back to this post periodically to cross off the items I’ve completed!