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Back when I was working for RELEVANT Magazine, I wrote a piece about how yoga had helped me become more comfortable in my own skin. How it had helped me embrace my body’s strength instead of hyper-focusing on the bits I wished I could change – the chicken pox scars, the stretch marks, the knobby knees.
The article resonated with other people who saw themselves in my story. They were on their own journeys toward self-acceptance, and they appreciated that I was offering an honest look into my struggles. But here’s the thing about being vulnerable – especially in a public forum – it opens you up to scrutiny and often to resulting criticism. On this particular piece, a handful of critics posted strongly-worded comments – mostly expressing dismay at my references to yoga.
They claimed that yoga is “the devil’s tool.” That it’s the equivalent of witchcraft.
On the one hand, I can see where these people are coming from. Anything can be destructive if it takes God’s place as the Ultimate Provider, Savior, Comforter, and Redeemer of our lives. Anything can be the “devil’s tool” – even really good things like food and music and marriage and family and, yes, yoga.
But those things can also be really really good – as long as they play a supporting role in our lives. They’re good gifts from a good father, not The Gift (James 1:17).
There he was. The evidence of this morning’s #kitchenfail. The sesame seed. Just sitting there, between the “x” and the “c” keys, taunting me as I sat down to write.
He’d won out this morning. He’d gotten the best of me. But this afternoon, his presence only made me smile. The last lingering remnant of a cookie recipe gone awry, he reminded me that there was grace for my mistakes. That the whole day didn’t have to go in the garbage just because that seemed to be the destiny of my cookies. That my kitchen failure was an integral part of this sunny Saturday.
I’d woken early. The sun streaming through my windows at 6:30am. My blackout curtains no match for the bright beams.
Rather than reach for my eye mask and attempt to sleep a bit longer, I decided to rise early and get a head start on the day.
Inspired by the food magazine I’d been reading before bed the night before, I somehow got it in my head that tahini honey cookies were the exact right dessert to bring to the dinner party we’d be going to later that evening. That and a Napa Valley Zinfandel.
As I got to work on the cookies, I quickly realized that the coconut flour I had thought would be a fine substitute for almond flour was not working out as well as I’d hoped. The aroma was heavenly. Vanilla and cinnamon. A slightly savory touch from the tahini and sweetness from the honey. And who can say no to the creamy quality of coconut?
Do you ever feel like there’s something rotten inside you? Like something has “gone bad” in your mind or heart – as though it’s an avocado you let sit out too long or a half-eaten loaf of bread you forgot about? It’s an unsavory discovery.
Recently, this “rottenness” manifested in the form of a generally cranky disposition. I was bumping into things and frustrated and tired and not feeling quite like myself – something was off.
Sweet James was the gentle observer of my frustrations. Over the past few years I’ve learned to not blame others for my frustrations quite so much, but it’s still a temptation. The opportunity to blame-shift and deflect my overall crummy feeling onto someone else has its appeal. But I’ve done the blame thing enough – sorry, Mom and boyfriends of seasons past – to know that any sense of relief I’d experience would be momentary and fleeting. Instead, I usually feel worse than before – because now I’m still frustrated and I’m feeling guilty and embarrassed about my juvenile behavior.
So, rather than get angry with James, I got curious. Continue reading
Your deadlines are pressing in on you like a heavy weight, you’ve run out of clean underwear, and you think your marriage or your dating life (or lack of one) just might kill you.
Life can feel overwhelming. That’s why I write. I write for the men and women who need to know that even though life feels out of control, that might actually be a good thing – there might be something to learn or a way to grow and stretch beyond the present trials. I write for people who want to find purpose in the small and big, the light and dark, the mountains and the molehills. Purpose that stems from who they are, not what they do.
I write for the woman who sometimes struggles to see the beauty in life – especially when she looks in the mirror. She’s so caught up in the trials and frustrations, and I just want to tell her: It’s going to be okay. You’re going to be okay. Because these things are hard. But 1) God is present with you, and if you let him come close to you in this state of frustration, you’re going to find a peace and joy that you didn’t know was possible. And 2) these circumstances will change you. You’re in the crucible. So rather than trying to find a way OUT or AROUND, look for the way THROUGH and the gifts you’ll find IN that place.
Basically, I write for me, because those are truths I need to remind myself of daily. And I write for you. I write for the women I know and love – even if I’ve never met them – who want to believe there’s grace in the messiness of their lives. Who are tired of the constant striving and hustling for their self-worth. Who want to experience joy and love that’s not tied to their performance or the level of perfection they’ve achieved in their bodies or their work. Who want to press through the challenges and come out stronger on the other side. Continue reading