Shared Meanings

Shared Meanings

Some might explain these kinds of things away. Not me.

With shining eyes, He looked down at me and said, “Let’s play!”

shared storiesIf you’ve read my book, Closer Than Your Skin, you might remember those two words. It was the first thing Jesus said to me as we sat together on a teeter totter. I was a young girl in the scene, holding a big globe of the earth on my side.

The conversation went like this…Continue reading

Belonging

Belonging

He didn't belongHe didn’t belong. In high school, the boys relentlessly hounded him. They chased him through parking lots, hurling accusations that he ratted on kids using drugs. He was small for his age. Apparently there wasn’t enough money in his family to straighten his crooked teeth.

His alcoholic father seemed non-existent, a shadow now and then in their tiny house. He felt hated by his mother. She once told him to go off and kill himself. I remember the tears that welled in his eyes as he recounted her words. His name was Scott.

My world was utterly different. My parents were stable, kind, and present. At school, I’d been ushered into the popular group, because I was dating a track star named Tony. Still I offered Scott my friendship. I baked him a molasses cake for his birthday and invited him to our Young Life club. I wanted him to know that God’s love was real. But his sense of self was damaged.

Joy of belongingAuthor and teacher Arthur Burk says that personhood starts to form when we are very young—when you find a particular joy in something, such as loving to paint or learning to dance or collecting rocks. Simple things.

Encouragement is belongingYou start to feel like a son or daughter, says Burk, when you experience your parents delighting in you as you “enjoy your joy.” Maybe your mom cooed when you handed her your first finger-painting. Perhaps your father smiled when you showed him an assortment of stones from the driveway. Like invisible strands of love and acceptance, those seemingly mundane connections are profoundly formative, yet in dysfunctional families, they are often missing.Continue reading

Remarkable Scars

Remarkable Scars

The lovely actress had grown weary of merely being “entertainment” for someone. She wanted to feel connected to others. Acting, she explained, can feel one-sided—like “lacerating self-exposure.”

She sauntered forward to observe us, her audience. It’s better having seen our faces, she said. Person to person. And what would she share if we were all friends? She paused to think it over.

Scars of failed relationships“I would say that I’m a little fragile…a little freaked out, you know, sort of at the end of a personal relationship. You’ve all been through that right? You know, the self-doubt and everything, the feeling that you’re not lovable, that you’re a mutt, too much of a mutt to be loved. And that you have—I don’t know—a crisis of confidence.”Continue reading