I can remember the night I met my now husband. I can remember thinking to myself that a person this good, this moral would never love me because of that one thing in my past. That one thing I tell no one, that my closest friends know and never bring up. The one thing I am more confused about than any other decision I have ever made in my past. The one thing that makes me feel like I am not good enough to have this man love me. As a result of this fear, I reacted in the opposite way that I normally do with this piece of information. Normally, I hide it until someone sees me, loves me enough to love me in spite of that one thing I did when I was 16. This thing that I completely believe is everyone woman’s choice to make, but why when I acknowledge that I used my right to choose does it make my skin crawl. However on that night I didn’t bury that information, when my wonderful now-husband asked me about the significance of my tattoo on my back instead of using any one of the reasons I normally share with people, I told him the truth, I told him about a choice that I made when I was 16 and the ways that it still drives my life today. And guess what. .. he still loved me. He still asked me if I was upset he wasn’t trying to make out with me that night, and still convinces me every day that I am his “have-to-have” in life, that I am his most beautiful woman in the world. And I like to think it is not in spite of my choice to tell him about my past, but maybe just a little bit because of my choice to tell him. ( And look at me even now, not wanting to write the word out)
A wonderful woman named Grace spoke to a group of 16-18-year-old girls this week, she will continue to speak to them every week for the next 10 weeks she will influence the way that they share their lives with people, and she impacted the way I hope to share my life. She spoke about vulnerability but beyond that, she spoke of transparency. Transparency in our lives in our stories is typically reserved for the few closest to us, those we believe, as I did, will love us in spite of the choices that we made and not turn our back on us or run and tell their neighbor the things we choose to share. They will see themselves a little bit in our stories and find our humanity refreshing. But vulnerability is what we chose to share with people who have not earned transparency yet, with the people who ask to hear our testimony, who ask us about our day. We pick and choose little-edited pieces of our life that we feel comfortable sharing, things that may make us look like we have been through something tragic but still paint us in a good light. We don’t talk about all the shitty things WE have done when we are just being vulnerable.
But what could we do, if we were transparent with more people if we shared the struggles the hardest decisions we have made and then let people see the ways we were formed and shaped by those choices. Through the times that we hide away from others, don’t you think we all probably have a little more in common that we think? But we just spend our lives only showing the “instagrammable” moments with each other. We paint our lives to appear beautiful all the time. But I think we could all become a lot closer if we showed the browns and the grays of our lives instead of only the golden, the bright and shiny hues.
First off, I have never been to WildWood, not as a camper, not as a counselor, not as a staff member. Wildwood is a place where campers spend a week of their lives trying to get closer to God and get closer to each other. It is a place removed from cell phones, social media and a place where you get to work hard and take a week to breathe deeply again. I spent a few nights at Wildwood this summer as a guest and in the moments I start to hide away the moments I forget what it is like to live transparently, I hope someone will Take me Back to Wildwood.
P.S. I wrote most of this post back in June, and am just getting around to posting it.
(Wildwood, camp- Hume CA)