“this is my face”
My kids are acutely observant, both of them. I think it’s because they are curious receivers of environments, each of them collecting different details. Let’s just say if they were ever called upon to create a police drawing of a bad guy on the scene of a crime they each witnessed, together their descriptions would be, like, 3D. So it made me laugh over the holidays when one of them remarked on how often she is told that she should wear make up. Because she ought to look more like other people. Right. In response to all the well-meaning fixers, she says, “This is my face.” Love that. It’s been bouncing around inside me for months.
This is my face. In other words, I am not you – I’m me. I’m good with it. This take-me-as-I-am swagger is incredibly appealing to me. I’m apprenticing to be that girl. Still have the training wheels on, but, this year I’m fixing to graduate to a 2-wheeler.
The problem is I have a lot of faces. Last night my husband and I were talking about a friend’s new profile picture, which, we agreed, seemed strange to us. It didn’t look like her. I said, I always wonder about pictures that I like of myself. Is that what I look like? And, in a conversation you can only have with someone who loves you for life, we picked on our pictures.
Me: Yes, this one is what you look like. But sometimes you look like that one!
Him: This is my favorite picture of you because this is what you look like when you’re happy.
We all have a person. We get to. Your person is your gift to the world but it’s also your gift from God to you. Being you is a pleasure. Recently a friend of mine described where she used to live as, “Where I was most me.”
Where are you most you? Isn’t it wonderful? Your shoulders drop, your lungs stop seizing with shallow breath, and you forget yourself. I think that’s the gift of being at home in our skin; in moments like that I have nothing to hide so I can be all about you. I disappear – not because of a wave of humility but because the honest truth that I have nothing to prop up as my face for you makes me totally free to advocate for your youness.
I am writing in a coffee shop where a gentleman is packing up the portable table he brought to use for his computer. I had not noticed it although we are sitting near one another; the table is black and the legs retract like a folding umbrella and he pops it right into his bag. He knows what works. He has the chair he likes best and it doesn’t have a table in front of it, so guess what, he’s got one to use. Me? I travel with my favorite beach chair and a wool blanket (that has been to Africa) in the trunk so that anytime I need some ocean, I am ready to make myself at home. The ocean is one of the places where I feel most me. Here are some others:
- in my family (in the cluster of the four of us sharing space)
- by myself
- in the dark part of morning
- by a fire
- out to breakfast with a friend
- holding yarn
- in my husband’s arms
- talking about the Word or the Church or glory.
- talking to Jesus, after I stop stalling and playing at prayer and I really get there.
And, here. In this room called a blog – this space where words color the walls, plump the cushions, and warm the coffee, and where all I am trying to do is write stones across a river and take another step.
It’s like this path between two small islands in Lake Kivu, Rwanda. These islands are separated by a nearly submerged path. Crossing it is not like crossing a mountain brook, where falling means just getting your butt wet. You have to trust that you are stepping on a stone sometimes.
I was wearing a dress that day, fisting it up in one hand to walk – completely comfortable. Completely me. But in all fairness, before I went over I watched at least 10 others go. The actual danger was minimal except I had never done it before, and me and my person are clumsy. I took the first picture to remember feeling a bit brave, and someone else took the shot of me moments later – dancing and squealing over the waters. When who we are is secure, nothing else is perilous.
Yesterday in church the worship pastor led my favorite song – Good Good Father – and my chin hit my chest as the familiar intro lifted off his guitar. Before the first lyric, my body already felt the truth I’ve come to live from.
You’re a good good father, it’s who you are. It’s who you are. It’s who you are.
And I’m loved by you; it’s who I am. It’s who I am. It’s who I am.
Because of who Jesus is, and who I am to him, I can live at ease in this skin, in this family, in this job, in this world. I am known and loved and shameless. And I have this to give – so whatever else I do, I do that. Clumsily. Directly and indirectly – because that is the always way. Whether my face is nervous or brave, freaked out or elated, who I am doesn’t change. There I am. Still me. Loved irreversibly.
I think I finally get it. I’m closer now than ever.
This is my face.