Two weekends ago we were in Dallas for a wedding (which was beautiful, and SO. MUCH. FUN. to be a part of.) and after it was all over, we had an early breakfast with some of our dearest friends. We were catching up and talking about different scenarios we’d found ourselves in lately, and my husband mentioned something about an experience we’d had, walking into a setting where it seemed like everyone in the room had on his or her own mask, depicting who they wanted to be, or who someone else wanted them to be. My friend Megan said, “Oh Jules, you’d never make it there. You’re way too real for that!”
It’s probably one of the best compliments I’ve ever received. It’s one of my favorite things about myself. What you see is what you get. I know how to censor myself to be socially appropriate (usually 😉 ), but if you’ve spent more than five minutes with me at any given time, you have seen more deeply into my personality than you would in many other five minute conversations you will have with people. The word ‘superficial’ makes me cringe and I flee from those kinds of relationships. If we’re going to hang out, let’s be real, let’s be honest and skip the pleasantries. Tell me what’s really going on.
The flip side is that because I am sometimes painfully real about who I am, I often feel very out of place. Not that other people aren’t real or honest in much the same way, I have just always, always felt like I am on the outskirts . . . of everything. I can think back to so many different scenarios from childhood all the way to last week where I felt like the odd one out, like I didn’t fit in. I was never a crowd-follower, I pretty much always did my own thing, no matter what it cost me.
It’s taken me 31 years to really see “the cost.” In just about every social situation I find myself in, I am uncomfortable. There are a handful of places in the world that I feel like I am acceptable and that I can comfortably be myself. I’ve been experiencing some tension lately in my life, and I’ve been avoiding seeking the Father as to why. I’ve been avoiding actively listening to Him because I was afraid of what He would say. Afraid. I shake my head at myself often. I revert so quickly back to the slave mentality, that I am failing my Father and that He wants nothing but to verbally beat me up because of it. As I sat, finally with my ear tuned to Him this morning, I realized that for so long, freedom had been within arms reach, but instead of grasping it and being enveloped by it, rejoicing in it, I have retreated, hidden in a dark corner, nervously polishing my chains instead.
Today I am walking in the truth that I am not out of place. I was not created out of the scraps of other persons, the leftovers that God didn’t use on you. I was fashioned by His hand, created to be exactly who I am. Every moment was planned, dreamed and exclaimed over. Each situation and setting I’ve ever been in would be lacking without my presence in them. The Father didn’t say, “Well, I have no where else for her, so I guess I’ll put her with this family, in this school, etc (Yes, in my mind he would have said et cetera because it really didn’t matter. *sigh*).”
I was surprised when I saw how far back this mentality went. There were things that went on before I was born that the enemy used against me, to cause me to live under this lie for all these years. There were things that I didn’t understand that fed my belief that I was the random puzzle piece that didn’t match. It’s funny because in spite of living under that lie for 31 years, I have not conformed. I can not be fake. Okay, I can, but it makes me sick to my stomach. I would rather not speak to someone than to have to put on a front.
The truth is that wherever the Father puts me, is where I belong, and that is where I’ll stay. With Him.
When (hopefully this summer!) you read my book(s), you will see this come out. I think I’ve said before that I feel a responsibility not to hide from the reality of who my characters are in nature, even if it might be offensive. I have been incredibly nervous about putting my words out there for the world to judge because of this. Life is a box of chocolates, and sometimes the chocolates are nasty. I have been nervous about describing those nasty chocolates to you. Nervous about asking you to take a bite of them.
But I am a realist. When you see me, talk to me or hear me talk, you hear me. Not some false representation, not who I want to be, but who I am. This is me. This is my place in the world. Someone tell Michael W. Smith that I found it!