“They never apologize for their marvelousness. They do not make themselves smaller for anyone. And they too make up their own words.” (Shonda Rhimes, “Year of Yes,” P. 202).
It all shifted and started the year I turned thirty. This was the year I realized being a Christian Good Girl was NOT why I was put on this planet. I wasn’t put here to be nice.
In many ways I do not regret taking the last 13 years to come home and rest well and raise our children. I do regret not cultivating something “life-giving” beyond motherhood at the beginning. I regret buying into the trap of motherhood and womanhood which adamantly says, “YOU’RE A MOTHER NOW. This is it. THIS SHOULD BE GOOD ENOUGH FOR YOU! Here you go – wear the frumpy clothes. THEY SHOULD BE GOOD ENOUGH now that you have a mother’s body. Let go of ever feeling passionate again. YOU’RE A MOTHER NOW, YOU DON’T HAVE THE RIGHT TO PASSION! Your children – being a mother – should be passion enough?”
I felt so guilty because it wasn’t good enough.
Being only a mother was not enough – as a woman I needed more. My soul required more. I want to LIVE.
Now I can give myself the benefit of the doubt. I was very, very tired. I was the mother of four children under the age of five. I didn’t know exactly what to do, what I loved, and how to pursue those things well. And once I did try to push myself forward into things which inspired my spirit and utilized my gifts – IT ALL BLEW UP.
Seriously if you are going to bomb – I know how to fail well. I’ve got a failure resume! I am the queen of going home in defeat.
How was I to know at the time of this great fracturing – church was NOT the place the Divine was going to use to shape me, to develop my voice, and to offer me the details of freedom. I would never be able to find freedom in those pews where a woman’s voice is never equal, always second, and her roles at the table are stifled. In the denomination of my youth women aren’t even invited to the table – they can serve the meal, take care of the children, and clean up afterwards. How was I to know I would never find LIFE there?
I didn’t know I couldn’t find my authentic voice as a woman there. I didn’t get it. Now I do and I am grateful for being called out into the open.
“People really do not like it when you decide to step off the road and climb the mountain instead. It seems to make even the people who mean well nervous.”(Shonda Rhimes, Year of Yes).
After royally bombing at my first passionate jumping – I came home again and studied. I came home again and read every single book I could get my hands on about: Civil Rights, Solitude, Silence, Prayer and other spiritual disciplines, being a woman and raising children. I read books by mystics, and pastors and lovers and feminists and writers. I read any faith memoir I could find. I intentionally chose stories completely different from my own. I went global and read others who were deep and wide and fierce in the world.
These teachers guided me towards wholehearted change. They didn’t require my niceness. They didn’t want me well-behaved. They taught me HOW to see the world differently. They inspired me. They informed me. They baptized me with ink and stained me with their words. They helped me to let go of the inner writer I had been grasping too tightly. That inner writing Diva I had been hiding was inspired to come out to play. They encouraged me to bravely release her into the world no matter who happened to be watching or how the watching reacted. Even when the watching world got angry, swirled wicked, mocked my efforts, and shamed my voice…. I learned how to write me anyways.
So I wrote and wrote and wrote. Then I started a blog. Then I picked up a camera and I took pictures again. Picture after picture after picture became my way of documenting the glory often hidden in the world around us. The too tiny, the mundane, the not very glorious at first glance became my companions on a long unexpected journey. Paper thin mushroom tops, and accordion folded underskirts, fungi on forest floors, cathedral green ceiling above, dragon flies perched on the tip of berry branches, and herons stalking fish at the water’s edge. Beavers in the early morning hours sending warning signals slapping the water with their tails. A fox pouncing on a frozen water hazard of a golf course and me, a trespassing witness to the divine on the green. I found things I had only glimpsed before. Now the holy is everywhere. At my finger tips – the divine beckons and I am overcome by her.
Along the way I found a new way of seeing the world, two new ways actually: 1. From behind a camera lens and 2. And words onto the page.
I read so many books on the writing life which spoke to my spirit, taught me HOW to fill up the well, and inspired me to write shitty first drafts (Anne Lamott is so wise!).
I’ve been writing shitty first drafts publicly ever since.
Mostly I think writing, photography, and reading words from people different from myself – have taught me how to be brave. I have a voice. I can use it. I don’t need any ONE PERSON’S permission to take up a pen or publish my thoughts. I also don’t need to share every word as a writer or every image as a photographer. I can keep them close or spread them wide. I have options. There are so many options. I am not limited by my womanhood or my motherhood. Being too sensitive or seeing well are NOT deficits in my personality. Refusing to engage people in their rage isn’t a deficit either.
Photography and writing – help you to see the world through a vast lens.
Framing the Holy
Photography changed the way in which I see the world. Now I find it easy to find the beautiful. It is so easy to see it – and capture it.
I am grateful. Photography is the sacred work of framing the holy. I get to frame the divine.
I am grateful for healed eyes and a renewed heart and courage. I am grateful that somehow in all these story writing adventures and in this holy way of seeing I have been given the chance to grow a back bone.
That Christian NICE girl – she is gone. She has been rebuilt as a creative being who understands her depth and goodness and love without apology.
I wasn’t PUT HERE to Be NICE
I am not afraid of ME anymore.
What lies have you bought about being a woman? Man? Mother? Father? How can creative endeavors redeem the broken places in you with passion?