Sunday, January 22, 2012

Comfortable in Our Own Skin

I close my eyes and wonder what it would be like if we were comfortable in our own skin, my family and I. The pictures of us together are few and far between because the process of standing and smiling and making it look carefree and natural is painful. Save for a few pleasant surprises, the snap of the camera finds us frozen and stiff. Our discomfort is frozen in time for all posterity.

I tell myself that the color coordinated pictures other families pose for with abandon are only artful cover stories. That behind the white shirts and blue jeans and away from the sandy beach where their smiles gleam like polished pearls, they are as itchy in their own skin as are we. I sit in the dark while the tears slip down my cheeks. I wait for God to show up and tell me why. Why can't we be comfortable in our own skin like those picture perfect people?

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative
If emotional work made itself known in the way of physical labor, I'd have bloody fingers and calloused hands from the arduousness of the effort. I look at my hands and imagine my heart as ragged and bruised as it feels. I put on my mask and smile and pretend we are one of those families on the beach, smiling back at you making you wish you were me. If only you knew the truth I am hiding.

The night is quiet and dark, and morning is on a relentless march towards me. Still I wait. “God. Are you there? Are you here in this lonely brokenness? Will you bring joy in the morning after the tears of this long night? Do you remember my name?”

Where has he been as my heart has broken in prayer? Has he heard my unselfish prayers crying out for the faith to keep believing and to keep reassuring my family even in the darkest of times? I have not asked for wealth or fame. I have asked for faith. I have asked for eyes to see when my heart is too weary to recognize reality. I have asked that my children have faith even stronger than mine. Still, I wait. I do the next thing and wait for God to show up.

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative
This week. This week has ground along with bone crunching agony. Waves of despair swept one of us away. In the heat of battle, despair over-washed us all. The very reassurance for which I have prayed mocks me. It flees from me as quickly as the dark from the dawn.

I have given chase until I feel as tho' I am chasing a fairy tale Gingerbread Man who will never be caught. All around me are reasons to give up. If I give up, how will we go on? What will become of us? Even tho' I don't want to, I move again. Doing the next thing because it must be done.

I am fighting to overcome 13 years of chaos. Chaos has consumed us for more than half of my children's lives. One grew to adulthood while we waited for normal again. In reality, chaos stalked us even when I did not know it was there. He hid in our lives like a suicide bomber waiting to make chaos even more chaotic at any given moment. How did we survive? How much longer can we survive?

It feels as if we will never escape. It feels too late. It feels as if chaos swallowed us up and spit us out again. The place we landed is so foreign and remote that we will never find our way back to where we should have been. I shake my head and clear the image. We will survive intact. We will find a way to thrive. Even if it kills me. We will.
2006 - A New Beginning

It has been 6 years now since I looked the monster in the eyes. I did not know all I would come to know. I knew enough. I staked my claim. I drew my boundaries. The room grew deathly quiet. The eyes looked back at me, unflinching, as if a 2nd pair of reptilian eyelids precluded the need to blink. The stiller the frame the greater the need for fear. I knew that truth without being told. Still I forged on.

My breath was measured, deliberate. My heart pounded as if at the command of a drum major in a marching band. I straightened my back and locked eyes. “I am not afraid of you. I may be the only person who will look you in the eye and tell you that. I am not. I do not know how we will escape this situation. As God as my witness, we will. We will move past this chaos. We will put our life and our family back together. I don't know how or when. We will. If it is the last thing I do.”

Six years later, life has returned to much of what it was before it disappeared all those years ago. Strangers passing on the street have no clue we are the walking wounded. But, we are different. Wounded. Faltering. Unsure. Uncomfortable in our own skin as individuals and as a family. A shell of what I had hoped we'd be or what we might have been.

I am weary of the war. I want to see my sons laugh with abandon and move thru life with a sense of well-earned ease. I want them to move forward without always checking over a shoulder to see if disaster is again waiting to pounce. I want them to have a sense of roots and community which was torn away from them because chaos was always at the door. I want God to lean close and whisper, “Welcome home. Take a deep breath. It is ok to be comfortable in your own skin.”

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative
Hello, fraidy cat. I do not know what your chaos is...only that you do not have to explain it to me. You are both safe and welcome here. One must not be a super hero of the faith to belong. We live in a fraidy cat world where everyone needs a safe place to call home. I hope you will find this a warm and comforting haven as you journey through your days. Come again often and bring a friend. Love you long and strong. See you soon? 

Courtesy B. Creasy
Hebrews 11: 1(ESV)
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. 
Hebrews 10: 39 (NIV)
But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.


  1. Ever notice how often we're told, "fear not!"? We often feel like. The Lone Ranger. That is a lie of the evil one.

  2. Oh, Don, you couldn't have hit the nail on the head any harder! How we fought the battle yesterday regarding that very issue: perceived isolation and the fear it brings. You are wise, Grasshopper! Or..Obiwan? Let my age slip there, didn't I?