Breathe in the Pieces
There is so much going through my mind. I’m always searching and learning. Always thinking, dreaming, reaching. So much of my time is spent uncovering things that are covered. The culmination of things noticed and remembered. I’m writing now because I have to. Every time I try, I am hindered by the idea of sorting it all out. But this time I want to push past it. Everything may not connect perfectly as I write, as I live even, but it is still coming together wonderfully nonetheless.
This evening I grabbed my phone, put in my headphones, and went for a walk. I played one song on repeat, and I want you to listen to that song now, before reading on:
This song, by Amanda Cook, wakes me at my core. It sends chills through my bones. Because it is truth that I’ve longed for.
It’s something I can’t deny any longer.
I was fixated on the moon tonight as I walked. Full and vibrant, piercing through the leaves on the tall trees. The leaves that are beginning to turn gold. The light shone down upon the water. It’s one of my favorite sights, the reflection it makes. I stopped on a bridge and watched the water rush beneath me, calm but quick. I could see grasses and algae underneath the water, bending with the current but holding on. Fallen leaves sweeping by. This was made for me. This is God’s heart. The whole world is filled, filled with His beautiful heart of love. He has given us all this beauty because He loves us. He really loves us. Like the song says, He doesn’t give His heart in pieces. He gave it all. And He is so much more than enough.
I hear the words of this song, over and over I listen: “Unreserved. Unrestrained. Your love is wild, your love is wild for me. It isn’t shy, it’s unashamed. Your love is proud to be seen with me.” I hear them deeply. I hear them as a woman broken by the sting of abandonment, shame, and rejection. Broken by years of sexual abuse. Broken by worthlessness and self-hate: a crushed will. I hear the words in my emptiness and I am filled, because I actually know, without a doubt, that these words are true. Because I’ve experienced it! They are true of the God who created everything. “Uncontrolled. Uncontained. Your love is a fire burning bright for me. It’s not just a spark. It’s not just a flame. Your love is a light that all the world will see.”
I’ve told my story quite a few times now, but in the past 24 hours I’ve realized that what I’ve been telling isn’t really true. It’s not really my story after all. I don’t want to minimize what I’ve been through, but the part of my life that is really unique—that is really worth telling—is the testimony to who God is, and how He has given an average girl such an extraordinary life. So instead, I want to maximize the God I’ve made so small.
For such a long time, I’ve tried not to surrender to womanhood. Due to the abuse I experienced in early womanhood, to me being a woman meant being weak, being defenseless. Being wronged and unheard, choked and voiceless. And because of that, for years I longed for the privileges of a man. The strength and the presence. The ability to compartmentalize and detach. The burdens of being a woman were simply too heavy. And I didn’t want them, not at all.
For years, I hated men for putting their rejection, anger, and weakness on us. Now I understand that not every man does this, but for so long, it was all I knew. And so I hated them. But I hated because I was envious. I wanted that kind of power. Selfishly, my anger brought me to a place of becoming what I hated, of wanting to do the very things I so strongly am against. But in my anger, I neglected to see something so important: the strength it takes to be a woman, and how our femininity and gentleness makes us anything but weak. Quite the contrary, actually. We are resilient, and that is so much of what makes us strong and beautiful. It’s hard to be a woman! Just as I will never really know the bitter pangs of manhood, a man can never know the tragic injustices that often fall upon women. But we are what we are and there’s no way around it. Many of us try to, but I’ve come to accept that I just can’t deny that which I inherently, genetically, and wonderfully am.
I am a woman. All the way to the core. And that’s okay. And I am not weak or powerless because of it.
I intend to embrace this fact instead of hopelessly trying to deny it – and miserably failing. I want to accept myself for all that I am. And I want to do it well. Do it courageously, humbly, gracefully. I want to be a woman with meekness and strength. With gentleness and perseverance. With love and compassion. I want to do womanhood with joy and thanksgiving! I’ve been given this, and I want to recognize it for what it is: a gift. Because really what it means to be a woman is indescribable. It’s to submit, but complete; to follow even though you can lead; to sacrifice; to surrender; to be strong in all the ways that are unseen and unrecognized. It’s to be delicate and powerful at the same time, to be strong through our vulnerability and wise by our compassion. It’s to be sensitive to life and valued equally, but so very distinctly. And though the world tries to shame us for our beauty, our sensitivity, our service and submission, by telling us we’re too much or not enough, the everlasting truth of womanhood, as predestined by God, is this: we are beautifully His, beautifully complex, and beautifully made for so much more than this world gives us credit for.
And though it is so hard sometimes in this world to be a woman, and though I despised this gift for years, and though I will have to continually fight to value and honor my femininity, I can confidently say now that I am proud to be a woman…It’s not always easy, but God made me strong enough to step out of this old, marred skin that the world gave me, and step into true, God-given womanhood.
So I listen. I listen and I am healed and revitalized. I am strengthened and overjoyed. For you make it right, Lord. You heal all the pain in my own life and make it honorable. You take what should be broken in me and you make it more whole than I ever imagined it could be! It’s all just so, so good because of you.
“Your love’s not fractured, it’s not a troubled mind. It isn’t anxious, it’s not the restless kind. Your love’s not passive, it’s never disengaged. It’s always present, it hangs on every word we say. Love keeps its promises; it keeps its word. It honors what’s sacred, because its vows are good. Your love’s not broken, it’s not insecure. Your love’s not selfish. Your love is pure! Cause you don’t give your heart in pieces, and you don’t hide yourself to tease us.” You carried every burden, every injustice, every wrong. You were perfect and we were not. You were betrayed, but you didn’t say a word.
Because you came to give us everything, to give me everything – everything I just don’t deserve! And I know it intimately and first-hand. So I breathe in the pieces of who you are, and I see.