Honesty is My Gift is a monthly letter for women who want a vulnerable take on the things that shape us—work, gender, faith, children, memes, and so forth (scroll to the bottom for a sample!).
I will not live Instagram my bikini wax (ht Brene Brown) but I will share an essay I wrote my very own self each month (probably short, because I aspire to pithiness and a certain weighty gravitas).
I try really, really hard to be funny but I'm no David Sedaris so don't get your hopes up.
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Honesty is My Gift, Vol 1.
June 1, 2019
I lost a couple of very close friends; the reasons are agonizing. By this I mean: the reasons suck and I have agonized over it all.
They were the kinds of friends for whom you tore out your beating heart to place it gently in their hands.
At first I was ok, and then I found myself hiding in the bathroom during social events because I couldn't handle being seen. I was taking great pains to avoid my turn at prayer during small group. I couldn’t handle micro rejections like unanswered text messages or unliked Instagram posts.
I discovered, as if for the first time, Hagar. The story of Hagar is one of the reasons I know the bible is true. It's why I still trust God with my beating heart. Hagar is a female slave with no recourse, no agency, no friends, no resources--nothing.
Hagar's master "marries" her, which should be a positive turn of events, but her subsequent abuse at the hands of her master's wife is so severe, Hagar escapes into the desert. Escape my ass--running to the desert was a death sentence.
But while Hagar lays dying under the sun, God finds her. She--destitute, a slave, a woman--is found by God. Her encounter is so significant to her that she calls God El Roi, the God Who Sees.
El is a root word in my daughter’s name. My daughters name is Eliannah; Eliannah is a Hebrew name that means “my God has answered." For the ancient Hebrews, El didn't just refer to the God--it referred to my God. The God I’ve personally encountered. My God saw me, said Hagar. El Roi.
If God can see Hagar, God can see me. If the divine can see through patriarchy and abuse and evil to encounter a woman at the end of her rope--the divine can see me. If her story—the one that shouldn’t have survived the years or the circumstances—could defy the odds and make it to me than surely I too can be seen.
Shortly after encountering El Roi, I read the Sacred Enneagram by Chris Heuertz and it changed my life. The Enneagram is an ancient spiritual discipline that helps us encounter and then find healing for our true selves. What I uncovered about myself was a warped theology about us.
Decades, perhaps, of sinning and morality-driven theology was laid to rest in an instant by a deeper revelation: I am a good gift to the world.
The truth has been hiding in plain site in my bible for all the years I’ve been studying it.
God planned me and fashioned my inner being before the foundations of the world were laid, and when this happened God looked to the future and saw a need for an honest woman and made me.
God created gifts in me the world would need—not just tolerate—but need.
I am part of the body of Christ, and the body needs me. The body is missing something when I'm not holding down my space. But to think this way about me and not we is so warped that I might as well not think any of it at all. Because we are a we. We are a single organism, us Christ-lovers.
There is a you-shaped void in my world when you aren’t there. Without you, I am missing something. We are so inextricably linked there’s no telling where you end and I begin. We are a single body; don’t you know this?
We are each facets of the same diamond, reflecting and splintering brilliant light.
We aren’t heirs of Adam anymore; we’re heirs of Christ. Christ is the complete Adam, and the garden—the kingdom—is our birthright. We don’t just belong, we own this thing.
Tell me again we don’t belong here, Satan. Tell me again I don’t belong.
This changes everything. It changes belonging. It changes friendship. It changes importance. I belong without your permission or validation. I’m important—I am vital—without your permission or validation. And you surelydon’t need mine.
Belonging is our divine right, bought and paid for. The judge’s gavel came down; here we be. Belonging.
Peter—Peter! Betrayer of Jesus, minority person living under occupation, writing to refugees—Peter points out that Jesus was rejected by men but chosen by God and this truth has become precious. In the face of rejection, we are yet chosen by God.
What God chooses cannot be unchosen.
I cannot think of a more powerful truth for women to get down in our souls--this thing about belonging and importance. Friendship has been excruciating for me, and I know I’m not alone. Is this attack?
Already, as women, we live and move unwelcome and disenfranchised and unheard through this world (some of us more so, some less so). And the more unwelcome and displaced we feel, the more disenfranchised and disconnected we become, and the more isolated, vulnerable, and powerless we are.
The diamond has lost its faces and can no longer reflect the manifold glory of God when we are missing.
In short, when we do not belong to each other, we are without our gifts.
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