Category Archives: Returning to Innocence

I Blame Eden…

FullSizeRenderThis is one of the most thought provoking pictures I’ve seen this year. If I could have personally painted a picture of the evil spirit that abused my femininity since childhood, this would be the most illustrative of its influence upon my innocence. However, I no longer blame culture for our relentless pursuits for beauty. I blame Eden…

I believe our culture is simply echoing an original longing: to return to Eden. I wish men knew, the glory of the perfected female frame they can’t stop looking at, is the same glory we have a divine desire to return to. Working in the beauty industry I learned there were women I too couldn’t stop staring at. The only difference was men wanted to consume their kind of beauty and I wanted to be their kind of beauty. It made me to see there is mutual longing in the human heart for beauty. Our attraction is to encounter perfection, which only existed in Eden but now promised to be restored in Christ. After Eden our executions to encounter beauty has mostly been found enslaving, self-pleasing, and mutually abusive.

At the Fall God told Eve her desire would be for her husband. It’s traditionally taught this means it would be in her nature to want to manipulate, control, or own a “man’s place” of leadership. I disagree. Where was her desire before the Fall? It was to receive from God. It would no longer be in Eve’s nature to look to God for love and acceptance but it would become her desire to look to a man instead…

What men today would dare to partner with God in the beautifying work of undoing her secret shame and watch her deformities actually restored to her original design? No more striving. What women today would dare to partner with God in the liberating work of undoing his secret shame and watch his cravings actually restored to his original design? No more fighting. Oh that we could look upon each others ugliness convinced that’s not who they really are and join with God in returning one another to innocence and rest!

It’s just too easy to be disgusted, search for blame, and rest in our rejections as though their deformities and addictions are neither our fault nor our responsibility. What if we put down our “scissors” of repulsion and lifted our eyes in faith to fight for each others original glory? How much of Heaven would come down? There is so much more to know about love than what the eyes allow us to see. Where is true love proven if there are not impossibilities? We all are not yet who we were originally meant to be

I know, I know, impossible. You say I’m a dreamer. But it’s my blog, so I can.

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We Are the 1%: Choosing Life After Rape

“A person is a person no matter how small.” Dr, Seuss

It was Easter morning, 1991, in Memphis, Tennessee.  An unusual snowfall had been forecast for the morning; the first one in seven years.  I was waking up to a great sense of bewilderment.  I couldn’t quite get my bearings.  I felt weak.  My head was pounding.  My insides quivered as though some sort of trauma was settling in on me.  Slowly the fog in my head began to clear as I glanced at the stranger I had acquainted the night before.  He was face down fast asleep on the other side of the bed.  And the events of the previous evening started to rush over me like a torrent of devastating reality: I had just been raped.

Carefully pushing the covers aside, I tried using my toes to shuffle off the torn pantyhose now gathered at my ankles.  I remember staring at the tears in the nylon wondering what on earth has just happened to me?  What has just happened to my life?

I Remember Saying No

I remember saying no. I remember being puzzled at the loss of every bit of my strength.  I remember the dizziness, the extreme lethargy, and the nausea.  I remember pushing back his every advance and slowly becoming weighted down with an unidentifiable helplessness. I remember turning my face away from his and vomiting off to the side and thinking, “Surely he would stop now? Right?”

I remember returning to my hotel room that morning and feeling a deep grief over a new and ugly truth:  I had just been raped of the virginity I had finally resolved to hold back for love.  I remember feeling my heart wanting to harden.  I also remember praying.  Riding home, resting in the passenger seat of my dear friend’s car, with my pounding feverish head pressed onto the ice-cold car window, beneath my shallow breath I prayed one simple prayer over and over again. “Please God, don’t let me hate men.”

For the next few weeks I walked through my ordinary days in bewilderment.  It was like a default mode for me to drift off into places of detachment.  I would have to startle myself in order to check back in and be present again.  I was hoping that if I kept acting like nothing happened, eventually it would feel that way too.  Pieces of the puzzlement eventually came together and I was able to conclude I had been victimized with a date rape drug.  It would be one month later when I would discover one of my faint and drifting concerns would soon become a demanding reality; I was pregnant.  Not only had my virginity been stolen.  It appeared as though my future was next.

I Just Want My Life Back

Before I told my mom about the rape and the pregnancy, I had already made an appointment with an abortion clinic.  Growing up within a Catholic tradition, I was never an advocate for abortion.  However, like a frightened animal that gnaws its own leg off after being trapped, an abortion in the face of rape seemed the most justified choice.

The day that followed breaking the news to my mom, I came home from work to my dad standing on the front steps waiting for me with great anguish and tears staining his face.  After fracturing my father’s heart further with the details, my mom and I told him we saw no other way out of this unjust consequence but to abort.  With great clarity and conviction he spoke the one truth that, surprisingly, set me free: “Abortion is murder.”  I had no idea what we would do next, but it was the first time in a month I felt free to be at peace with the consequences.  That one single statement gave me a new freedom to make a different choice.

Needless to say, after such violation, I wanted nothing more than to just get my life back to the way it was.  Together we figured the next best choice for me and this innocent little life was an adoption.  With my newly-found freedom came a new determination to do what was right and to do my best with what I had been dealt.  We worked the exhausting task of reviewing adoption profiles and interviewing potential parents.  Every profile read like a Hallmark card, every couple appeared deserving, and every interview was terribly awkward.  How exactly does one give away a life anyway?  By the seventh month we chose a sweet yet childless couple from the north for my first baby to be their first baby.

After my nine months were up, I gave birth to the one of the most beautiful baby girls ever to grace this earth.  Her pretty little face was framed by a full head of deep black hair that wisped into soft lil wings from every adorable angle.  Her big, dark, doe-like eyes had no greater purpose than to enchant every onlooker.  Her long delicate frame and long fingers sang of her great potential.  She was perfectly cuddly, perfectly precious, and at one glance perfectly worth the choice.

She was clearly worth my first choice for life and my second choice for adoption.  But she has been more than worth my third choice: to be my own.  Yes, my final choice was to be her mother.  I can’t say the circumstances of my life at that time were the ideal for parenthood, but I can say my life recovered in full the heart felt peace that had been shattered 400 miles back.  It would be my mom who would offer up her own personal freedom to care for my daughter as I worked full-time to provide.  My daughter was not her last grandchild but she was the only grandchild she got the chance to love on before cancer cut her life too short.

 Love Came In

At 26 choosing to parent as a single was a good choice for me, it saved my life and gave me a future I had yet to dream.  Choosing to parent positioned me to cling to a Man who I would later learn had been waiting in the background a long time to love me as His very own.  He was the only Man who actually wanted to take responsibility for us and never gave a thought to what it might cost Him.  This Man brought us both into His family, healed my brokenness, restored my loss, provided for our home, made us believe we were worth love, and encouraged us to dream in the face of so many impossibilities.

This Man just happened to be the very Son of God Himself, Jesus the Christ.  He looked upon our helplessness and without any merit to speak of considered us worthy of His unending love and attention.  Parenthood made me cling to Him and clinging to Him proved to me He was a Man of His word and safe for us to love in return.

It is important for me to note here: for those of us who have made other choices I want to encourage you, He waits for you too.  He waits to love on you in all of the deep and personal ways your heart needs to heal and to free you up in all the ways your life needs so you can live free of shame and instead live your life to the fullest in honor of your loss.

We Are The 1%

We are the 1%.  We are the 1% that demands the right to have a choice to abort in the case of rape and incest.  Yes, we are that 1%.  I exercised my right to choose, and I chose life.  Even more so, I chose life with my baby.

Fourteen years later a young man called to interview me for his high school term paper on abortion.  He asked what I would tell a young girl today who was caught in the same situation?  With so much to consider I managed to narrow it down to this one thing: Choosing life is hard, but choosing life is right.  It’s not just hard to make the choice, it is equally hard to live with your choice–whether it be abortion, adoption, or parenthood.  However, the two choices for life, adoption and parenthood, are the only choices that lead to more life for everyone involved.  Bye the way God is pro-choice and in His great kindness His tests are always open book: “I have set before you life and death, the blessings and the curses; therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live.”  Duet 30:19

In cases of rape and incest there is flag of justice that rises to demand a right to self-preserve.  It boasts: “I didn’t ask for this!” “I don’t deserve this!” “I shouldn’t have to suffer for this!”  At the same time, there is another life even less deserving of the injustice than our own–it’s the new life thriving inside of you.

God Had A Dream

Although God does not plan the violations, He does foresee them along with our redemption in mind.  The beautiful innocence growing in you is a dream God dreamed and intricately formed and fashioned a life around.  This new life is the fulfillment of a desire God burns with and has destined to be an answer to a need in this world.  The life growing in you is a life that has been planned to lead you to a reconciliation–first with God, second with your future, and finally, everywhere else it would be needed. When you resolve to choose to heal from the violation, you will be enabled by God to embrace the child independent of it.  You will also be able to embrace the redemption already planned with the two of you in mind.

I am absolutely convinced it is impossible to heal from such a traumatic injustice without Jesus.  I know first-hand that it is impossible to live out your choice without Jesus inspiring and empowering you over and over again.  From the start, every troubling statistic stared me in the face as I dared parenthood as a single woman with a biracial daughter.  I am humbled and grateful to say 20 years later she shows no lack, she has defied all the odds, and she proudly calls herself my trophy daughter.

She was never intended to be a burdensome consequence of that snowy morning in Memphis.  She was always intended to be my joy.

We are the 1%, and we have to tell you that all things are possible for you with God.  There is a longing in every human heart; it is the longing for greatness.  Deep in the recesses of our hearts we really want to be someone’s hero even if it’s it for a minute.  We want to be that certain someone who makes an unbelievable life defining sacrifice that ends up saving a nation, or a city, or a family, or at least one single person no matter how small.  An unexpected pregnancy may not be your choice for heroism.  But it is your chance.

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Kimberly and her “trophy daughter” Andee currently reside in Decatur, IL.  Kimberly is an aspiring writer and speaker.  You can learn more about her and find contact information at Kimberlinez.com

This was a guest blog originally posted by Kimberly Cavanaugh for Britta Menzel at Career Mommy on 6/18/12


Miss’n My Fruit

Miss'n my fruit

Where does a 4 year-old go to get good?

I was watching a young family pass by my counter over the holidays. Christmas was in the air and this Lands-End-sport’n foursome was on their way to find some treasure. The eldest of the two children was a boy around the age of four. At the moment they caught my eye the little boy had his white knuckled fists pushed deep into his pockets as he was throwing back a little attitude to his folks. The zero tolerance came right back at him and he was told that he had better be good or Santa would not be coming to his house this Christmas.

You could see it as much as you could imagine it. Every objection in him stifled. His shoulders locked. His lips pursed. His coal-black curls tightened around the band of his bright red ball cap as he furrowed his brow. Where does a 4 year-old go to get good?

You know the feeling. You’re a little person with wants and thoughts and absolutely no patience whatsoever. It’s Christmas, you are all knotted up on the inside with anxious wishes for your dreams to come true. Doesn’t anyone know how hard it is to wait 25 days? Doesn’t anyone know how hard it’s been to be good for the last 20? With five more days of being good standing between you and the Christmas wish you are dying for, where does a 4 year-old go to get good?

After all, you’ve only been on the planet for the last four years. The first two years you were incapacitated by poor communication skills, the lack of mobility, and uncontrollable bodily fluids. By the third year all of the above is improving and you’ve become quite entertaining. You’ve also discovered that some behaviors lead to smiles and laughter while others lead to frowns and timeouts. By the fourth year the expectations on your growing intelligence become a little more demanding. Your parents seem to think you have a choice; you can be good or you can be bad. Where does a 4 year-old go to get good?

It has become painfully clear in recent months that I am a nub. My Facebook status keeps asking me, “What’s on your mind?”  The only reply I can come up with is “I am a nub.”  I have been thoroughly and deeply pruned over the last couple of years. I have experienced some brutal losses and most of them undetectable to the human eye. If I were to speak of it in its honesty you may run the risk of losing your religion, so for now I will spare you the intimate details. However, this one thing I can tell you: you can never really know the extent of your dependencies on God until He prunes you into nub. Where does a 40-something go to get good?

Note to self: God rewards our fruitfulness with pruning. It’s only when He fulfills His promise to prune us fruitless can we re-encounter the truth of our own soulish bankruptcies. Apart from Him we can do nothing worth anything, and I mean NOTHING.

On those days I’m miss’n my fruit I’ll wonder in the wilderness of my mind and remember the hunt that little boy was sent on to go find good. I wonder if he found it? I wonder if he found self-determination instead only to discover it doesn’t last very long. I wonder if he found how to work the manipulations of charm to only make himself appear good? Unfortunately the emptiness of that skill won’t be felt for years to come. I wonder if he gave up and resolved to a low self-esteem or worse yet, rebellion? Where does a 4 year-old go to find good?

If and when I ever get the chance to mother another child, to steward the innocence of a young life, I would so cherish those moments when I got to point to good. Only God is good. He stands on the porch of our hearts waiting for our attentions to return Him, declare our bankruptcy, and ask Him to come farther in and be good through us. Such sympathy pressures my heart to wish I had a chance to tuck those precious curls behind that guy’s little ear and whisper, “Baby, go to God. He has all the good you will ever need.”


The Vibrations of Beauty … who can deny?

I can paint faces and these are my brushes...

I posted these questions a few weeks ago on Facebook, “If you knew that your beauty was given in order to be the visible evidence of God’s splendor on the earth, what would you do different? How much more would you tend to it’s care? How much more would you guard it from exploitation? There were no replies.

I’ve been disturbed in recent months at my own attraction to beauty. I’m not talking about an attraction to the beauty of nature or beautiful things. I am disturbed more than ever by my attraction to beautiful people. I get caught up in the flawlessness, the symmetry, and the brightness of a face or a frame.

Why disturbed? After all, attraction to beauty is human nature right? Yes, I agree that it is. However, when you are one who grew up in the fat-lane, beauty becomes a terrorizing voice of condemnation. Beauty was my biggest bully growing up. So why, after all these years do I find myself attracted to my archenemy?

If the victims of beauty were to protest there would be two sides: one side would hold up signs saying, “Flaunt it if you got!” and the other side would say, “It’s what’s on the inside the counts!” Both sides, if they were honest, would have to point back to a moment of violation where the ideals of beauty raped them of their worth. I remember mine. Do you remember yours?

The greater truth is that every encounter with beauty was originally intended to point people to the very essence of our God. Flawless skin, unrivaled symmetry, and the brilliance of light combine to equal perfection. Beauty is perfection. We are attracted to perfection and shouldn’t we be? Jesus Christ is coming back for a bride who is without spot or wrinkle. He called us to be perfect as His Father in Heaven is perfect. What is wrong with being attracted to perfection? I might want to suggest it just maybe a holy attraction but we’ve stopped way short of its fulfillment.

If it is true that within every human heart there is a secret nerve that answers to the vibrations of beauty and beauty was given in order to be the visible evidence of God’s splendor on the earth then why do we cheat ourselves? Why do we stop short of what was intended to be holy and instead feast upon its shadow: the flesh? We either lust after beauty by spending every resource to possess it or we hate it and make up every imaginable excuse to keep ourselves from shining. Either way we have fallen into the trap of trusting in our beauty to get us what we want or to excuse us from the potential and dreams we actually fear.

The pursuit of beauty in its origin was Holy. Is this why the satisfactions we enjoy in porn, as well as extremes in fitness and cosmetics are so fleeting? Is this why our self-abasement and our self-righteousness never seem to keep the loneliness at bay? While we are chasing it or hating it I believe we are all together missing it.

I dare you the next time your chasing it or your hating it to admit that you want it, and ask the Creator of all things beautiful to show you more than this world has offered you. Let’s stop being satisfied with lesser pleasures and look past them to a realm of beauty so good to be true that takes faith to believe it.


Your Beautiful Moments …

"Souvenir from Redding" Photo Credit: My iPhone

Have you ever known to be “set-up” by God? Just this last week as I topped off the Wired series God pulled back the curtains on my next writing assignment. While reading Estee Lauder – A Success Story I was struck by one line that immediately gave me a rear-view mirror perspective on a story that God has been weaving into the background of my life for decades.

I am going to take the challenge to disclose the “set-up” in a book. I am going to take advantage of this blog to think out-loud with you as part of my research and my challenge to think outside the box of my own experiences. Beauty may at first seem like a subject for women only but it will not be balanced without the male voice. I believe restoring the purity and integrity of beauty on the earth also restores the image of God on the earth. Restoring the image of God on the earth belongs to both men and women. Please gentlemen, do not hesitate to add the width and breathe missing from the unfolding conversation.

So for “blog” starters …

I was attending a Fall Seminar for Estee Lauder last month. My co-worker and I were seated at a far back table with four other beauty advisors. The presenter began to tell a story of when she felt beautiful. She then gave a most terrifying assignment, “At your table take turns sharing about your first beautiful moment.”

You could feel the terror of insecurity race through the room. So many women frantically searching their memory banks for that “moment”, that one validating moment where they first sincerely felt beautiful. I am sure most of them could recall several occasions where someone told them they were beautiful. However, being told your beautiful does not always translate into feeling beautiful. Oh, and to make the challenge even greater, birthing babies and wedding days didn’t count.

Well, I was one of the women frantically searching for my “moment”. I never dated in high school. I didn’t have a prom or homecoming to brag about. Any opportunities for a beautiful moment as a young adult were clouded with frequent intoxication and self-hate. My “you’re so beautiful” wedding day moment is yet to come. Giving birth to the most beautiful daughter in the world moment was overshadowed with its less than ideal circumstances. Then, right before I was about to divert my sad truth for a beautifully sarcastic response, it came to me. My first beautiful moment was not your typical glamor shot moment, it happened to be a daring moment.

I was 29. I was a single mom and two years out from a meager financial independence that would give us the chance to finally move out of my parents home. I worked full-time. I had never completed a college education. I had grown up in the “fat-lane” where the shades of shame pull down and bury deep a girl’s esteem. I don’t know what had gotten into me that year. I had never been one for an audience but I dared to play a very small role in a Christmas play at our church. My only appearance came at the climatic end as angles and songs of glory flooded the final scene. Yes, I was a singing angel and no that was not my first beautiful moment. My first beautiful moment came afterwards when my dad approached me full of pride, looked me in the eye, and said in so many words, “You are beautiful.” That was a first for us.

Beautiful Moments

I shared my moment with the other ladies at the table. My co-worker’s moment was a heroic one. When she was wrecked from chemotherapy and hairless, her father, impressed with her strength, told her she was beautiful. The young woman to my right said that her first beautiful moment was the “ah-ha” moment she had from her first Estee Lauder make-over. She had not realized her beauty potential before that moment. The next two young women were what the rest of us would consider the most photogenic, cosmetically artistic, and attracting with their beauty. With regret deeper than they would reveal they bravely confessed they could not retrieve one single beautiful moment. The two most “beautiful” women at the table were still waiting for their beautiful moment.

Beautiful Feedback

Ladies and Gentlemen, here is where the conversation begins: It has been my experience that regardless of the physical beauty one may or may not possess, no one “feels” they are beautiful until they “feel” their worth … Yes? No? Maybe? Add your thoughts, share the moment you first felt your worth, your beauty…


Beautiful Like Humility

After church this morning I escorted my dad to the back of the sanctuary to introduce him to my daughter’s boyfriend’s mom. As the introductions were exchanged, I was tagged from behind to turn and see a friend I don’t see nearly enough. We are wired with a similar level of intensity—which means we don’t waist much time on pleasantries. So, in typically intense fashion, she was quick to catch me up on what she is learning in relationship to God. God has been spending time showing her what humility looks like. I grinned real big and said, “It’s beautiful, isn’t it?” She agreed and then challenged me, “So, what does humility look like?”

I was so hoping she would ask. I’ve been waiting for the opportunity to share this story. Humility has been taking a walk by my beauty counter for months now.

Humility Walks the Mall

My counter is positioned front-and-center in the department store’s mall entrance. Every morning the shopping mall turns into a fitness track for countless walkers. Every age, shape, and fitness level is represented. Some are finding therapy, while others are finding friends. There is on occasion a peculiar threesome that passes by and never ceases to strike my heart with a precious picture of humility.

Of this threesome there is one elderly woman who smartly dresses in pastels and pristine white tennis shoes with white socks. Depending on the day, her pastels will alternate from bubblegum pink to purple to cornflower blue or mint green. Her slacks, however, always fall just a half-inch too short of the tops of her tennis shoes. She stands no taller than a petite 4ft 10in, and her brilliant white hair is carefully combed into a bob style and neatly framed within a coordinating stretchy headband. Her thin, failing frame is always bent forward over her trusty walker with wheels. As she walks, she never says a word. It appears to take every bit of concentration just to scoot one foot, one step forward. Maybe the fear of falling keeps her from lengthening her stride. Or maybe arthritis has frozen her joints so to allow only this cropped stride.

Following her is an odd elderly gentleman who faithfully pushes a wheelchair squarely behind her as she walks. His position would give you the idea that he follows behind to catch her if she were ever to fall backwards. However, his own aging condition brings into question his response time. So, a second thought would suggest he uses the wheelchair as his own walking support.

The third person in this picture is the one who draws my heart’s attention the most. He is a very unassuming man who is quickly passing middle age. Tall and slender and nearly statuesque in stride, he is the one who walks at her side. Always straightforward with a dreamlike gaze, he keeps in step with each dainty shuffle. Inch by inch she dodders her way past my counter with her gallant partner who never loses his pace with her.

At times, it is a painstaking experience to watch. I can’t imagine the level of frustration to be overcome with in such a relationship. As they inch by, you can begin to feel the virtue of the patience that must pulsate through this man’s character. He is wise to cross his arms at his waist to keep them from swinging—thereby resisting the temptation to increase his steps. You can’t help but imagine every bit of his natural strength, capability, and desire being refrained to the highest degree in order to stay at her side. He never moves ahead to stop and wait for her to catch up. He never stops to let her get far enough ahead so he can release his own natural stride and catch up with her. I wonder: is it the love of a son or the obligation of a care worker keeping this man at her side, shuffle by shuffle? Of course, on this side of the beauty counter, I may never know.

Beautiful Like Humility

The time it takes for this precious threesome to pass my counter grants plenty of opportunities to consider the beauty of humility. This is Jesus. Jesus—the man who refrains from so much of His own greatness—walks by my side. When I begin to fathom the restraint He voluntarily puts upon Himself just to walk with me, I become easily overwhelmed by the power of such a love. He could be so much more without me! Yet, though my walk with Him may be fearful and arthritic in so many places, He chooses to refrain His pace to walk with me. His beautiful refraining love never wants to overpower me but always wants to empower me.

I also imagine what He must be thinking as we walk. I know He sees me as more than a mall walker. He sees me as a marathon runner. So, He keeps pace with my shuffles until I can see what He sees and believe what He says. I bet He frequently peeks to see if my strides increase with each weak thought that dares to believe I was born to run a marathon. I bet that is why He never sleeps; the joy to see me run someday must keep Him awake all His nights. I know it keeps me awake some nights. I bet the confidence He has in Himself to empower my shuffles into a run keeps Him from forsaking me. I bet it is His love for me that keeps His dreamlike gaze looking forward to the day I run with everything He gave me.

The beauty of humility refrains and shuffles and dreams with love. I want to be beautiful; beautiful like humility.


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