Monday, April 28, 2008

Bare Naked Ladies

We just concluded a weekend rendevous with Brian's parents, Hud and the Coopinator. I almost forgot that I was in grad school for a short period of time, but now it's time to get back to business and finish out trimester #2 this week. With one more paper and a final - the end is in sight. I'll have about a week off and then hopefully I'll be ready for a round of summer courses. As I anticipate what the next couple of months will be like, I can't help but think bitter and envious thoughts about you and your little cruise vacation. I imagine you're out basking in the sun right this very minute listening to a great mix of music on your ipod and reading a thought-provoking and engaging book attempting to solve some of life's little mysteries. Am I right??? I don't even have to ask...I know the answer.

So thinking about you in a swim suit has triggered a few thoughts about a conversation we had a little over a week ago about exhibitionism (Ha - how'd you like that transition?). I was primarily reflecting upon the ways in which I have demonstrated exhibitionistic behavior in my own life. No - I've never freaked out an innocent group of kids by pulling open a trench coat (in fact the only times I've ever been completely naked in public have been in those nightmares where you're at school or something and everyone's looking at you really funny). But I have, in fact, exposed myself, my story, my wounds, my shortcomings, to others in ways that were less than gracious - towards myself, or others for that matter.

There seem to be primarily two types of people - let's just call them exhibitionists and manic prudes. Exhibitionists tend to shock people with their over-exposure of their rawness. Manic prudes are so completely covered up that they are often perceived as being robotic rather than human. Both styles of relating destroy intimacy and both kill true desire. The Exhibitionist becomes detached from her own beauty and power. Though desperate for others to see her, she reveals her flesh in such a crude and exploitative way to those who least deserve it and so they turn away from ever being able to truly see her and honor her. She harms herself by continually exposing her most private parts and through some manner of self-fulfilling prophecy she proves time and time again that no one can handle her wounds. She's simply too much. The prude never reveals herself to anyone for fear that the other might actually see her weakness, her vulnerability, her neediness. Her own desire terrifies her, so she locks it up and hides it away until she can no longer remember where she put the key to unlock the damn door. Her nakedness becomes a barren and lifeless place void of experiencing the pleasure it was created to produce.

Our friendship is unique, to say the least. My style of relating has fallen somewhere along the exhibitionist side and you are discovering the root of your prudishness. And we now find ourselves longing for something more. I'm learning what it means to honor my own nakedness...and you're trying to find yours. My hope is that we'll both learn, as we unravel the many messages that have kept us trapped by these patterns, what it means to be naked and unashamed. What is required for such a radical transformation to occur? I have been a recovering exhibitionist for the past two years - my trenchcoat was traded in for a straight jacket that couldn't be taken off even if I tried to undo it. In the recent months, I've adjusted my attire once again. I'm literally wearing khaki pants, a white buttom-up collar shirt and a blue and green striped sweater over it. It is a fairly conservative outfit - and yet I've been able to unbutton the top button. That's where I'm at right now. I'm discovering what it feels like to be seen with reverence by others rather than feeling exploited or over-exposed. I still experience my moments of regression, but for the most part I'm learning to honor myself and my story.

~S

Friday, April 18, 2008

questions.questions.

this form of self-expression is addicting. i've begun it and now, i don't know if i'll be able to quit it. there is a power in getting things out of my head and onto paper. i've journaled before-but this is different. you're reading my thoughts. my journal collects dust with it's scribbled nonsense...this-this is different. because i have you, my audience, this writing from my proverbial pen to paper (since it's really my fingers to keyboard) takes a new shape. i am creating for you. i am creating for your delight as well as my own.

is this somehow a telling of how we're made? are we made to share, to give, to create for one another?

i struggle with two sides of one coin. on the one side, i believe it must be enough that i write for myself. for my delight. without the need for someone else to kudos me. i have to be proud of myself, without my worth coming from another being proud of me. but there's the other side of that same coin. why have i not delighted nearly as much in my own journaling as now when i have you to share my writings with?

k.

Monday, April 14, 2008

what then?

i find myself approaching this blog like someone would a small, shy animal...very slowly, and with timidity and caution. but unlike approaching a small animal, i don't fear that this opportunity will come back to bite me (i know your fears and histories with squirrels...), but rather that it will not sit still long enough for me to engage with it. the daily happenings, discourses, findings, encounters, revelations, and other aha moments i encounter in our conversations seem so fleeting, i hardly have time to catch onto one without letting it go when another so quickly comes my way. so, what then? how do i juggle these whimsical hankies of ideas and concepts that float one right after the other with a toss here, a catch there, another toss...is it all just a magic show-meant to distract and complicate rather than reveal and solidify?

so, what then?

this then: we dialogue. we wrestle. we spar. we engage. we listen. we question. we bear. we learn. we teach. we experience. we connect.

in a word: we juggle...together.

with a toss here and a catch there, we will juggle one idea after another until, with fluidity and beauty we are living out the very objects of our juggling. ideas are no longer in the air, but hand in hand. concepts are no longer for tossing, but for grabbing hold of and incorporating. and with gracefulness and agility we will add more objects to our act until all are floating steadily...appearing in sequence, in order, in their place as a part of a brilliant show. not a magic show, but indeed magical.

k.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The War Begins

I wasn't planning on posting another entry until you had a chance to post your first, but the intensity of what I’ve been experiencing over the past two days has left me in desperate need for some form of expression or outlet. As you know, a few weeks ago I submitted my Personal Position paper for my Marriage and Family Therapy class. It was one of the more difficult papers to write considering the task was to summarize our experience of our family of origin and how it has served to develop our style of relating in a mere five pages. We both know how difficult it is for me to be that succinct, especially considering the drama of my life. As difficult as the paper was to write, it was even more difficult turning it in. I wasn’t able to put my finger on the source of my fear in turning the paper in – it wasn’t fear of a grade (this one is only pass or fail). I felt confident that I had labored well in the telling of my story.

Left unable to define the source of my anxiety, I waited expectantly for Allender’s response for just under four weeks. Somehow on Friday night the anticipation of receiving his feedback on my story surfaced in a dream and I awoke Saturday and immediately checked my email. Surprisingly, or maybe not so surprisingly, he had sent me an email indicating that he had completed his commentary and that I could find my paper in my student file on Monday but that I could also have his audio comments emailed to me. I responded immediately and requested that he send over the mp3 file at his convenience. I checked my email about every 15 minutes after that, and in less than an hour I spotted it in my inbox. There it was- the feedback I had been rather anxiously awaiting.

Remembering the personal nature of what I had written, I began frantically searching for my headphones so that I wouldn’t have to worry about the material being presented within earshot of Brian and the girls. Once I got situated and the file was downloaded, I took a deep breath and hit the play button – there was no going back now. I think I cried my entire way through all 9 minutes and 31 seconds of the recording. He didn’t say anything absolutely and undeniably prophetic, though a voice of truth he most certainly was, but there was something about his acknowledgment of my heartache that unleashed a flood of emotions. There is something deeply powerful that occurs when someone else is able to read your story, which has been written in your true voice, and is able to see even more of you than you had intended to reveal.

Later in the afternoon I took the girls to this lake just a few miles from our apartment. It was one of the most beautiful days we’ve experienced since being here. The sky was clear (can you believe it?), Mount Rainier was shining in all her glory and it was nearly 75 degrees. I laid a blanket out across the sand and sat there, stripped down to my tank top (again…can you believe it?), watching the girls play for hours in the sand under the warm sun, all the while aware of the reality that something radical was shifting within me. It was the oddest combination of contentment and deep sorrow. I do not think I have ever experienced anything quite like it. The process of naming what has occurred within the story of our lives and naming who we have become and how we have chosen to respond catapults us into the war for our very souls. In those peaceful moments, I was painfully aware of the implications of the war I was now choosing to enter into. I was baffled at God’s absolutely magnificent way of revealing to me that he was with me as I was taking this giant leap. I could feel him inside and out. Actually it was more like I felt the warmth from the sun as it strove to affect every sensory receptor available on the surface of my skin. Upon warming the entire surface of my body, it began to penetrate deeper and deeper into the very core. God’s warmth and light was encompassing me from the outside in.

All fear dissipated in those remarkable moments. I am still very aware of the war, the struggle and the battle for truth that lies before me, but I am not alone.

~S

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Beginnings

So here it is – our first joint blog! As is typical with any new venture, I enter into this dialogue with great anticipation and excitement for what is to be born from this experience. As I contemplate the title of this blog, I can’t help but acknowledge the irony involved. Would anyone ever have found the two of us speechless? Not likely. And yet, I believe we are both discovering that somewhere along the road of life we lost our authentic voice, the voice that was dreamed up by a God who ultimately longs for us to reclaim the glory he’s placed within each of us.

Our paths have been very different. I feel as though my entire life has been revolving around one continual existential crisis. You seem to be just entering into a crisis which possesses many of the same intriguing questions about life, love and purpose. Though the circumstances of our lives have been as drastically different as night and day, we have found a connection in our passionate pursuit of authenticity. Our travels are not for the sake of authenticity itself, but rather, for the connection to the divine (whether horizontally or vertically) that is only possible when we reclaim our voice by entering into our own stories and accepting the invitation of co-authorship.

We could both continue to exist as we have up until this point in our lives. I could continue to be controlled by fear and the overwhelming nature of my desires and longings. You could continue to function according to your understanding of what is right and what is wrong. Or we can listen to our stories and the Voice evident every step of the way that seems to have been attempting to wake us from our deep slumber for such a long time. Will we take the risk? Will we take the plunge? Will we enter into the story written on our own hearts despite the daunting task of removing the masks that have served as a viable survival technique up until this point? Do we dare to love the story we’ve been given, the story we’ve been simply surviving up until this point? Do we dare to love the story because of the way in which our story adds uniquely to God’s ultimate story? Do we dare to join in the living, not the surviving, and the telling of our stories in our own authentic voice?

There is something about taking this giant leap together that makes it seem possible. Let’s venture together…shall we?

~S