Bonnie Gray is the soulful author of Whispers of Rest and Finding Spiritual Whitespace. An inspirational speaker and retreat leader, she has touched thousands of lives through storytelling, visual arts, nature, prayer and meditation. Bonnie’s writing is featured on Relevant Magazine, DaySpring (in)courage, and Christianity Today. She lives in California with her husband and their two sons. Visit Bonnie at www.thebonniegray.com and connect with her @thebonniegray on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.
She is beautiful, cute and young.
She is going to wash my hair. And later, she will blow it dry, make it smooth and long, so that it curls just slightly at the ends. She will take a roller brush and do magic with it, like the wand Cinderella's fairy godmother circled in the air with pixie dust. I
'm getting my hair done. And to everyone around me, I'm just another woman enjoying some me-time at the hair salon.
But, I'm really just a broken, healing little girl inside, learning to take steps out into the world -- to walk her out and give her a voice. I'm learning not to hide. I'm learning to leave the way I've always done things, to discover new ways of connecting with people.
I'm learning to choose.
Not to melt into the background. To stop saying I'm okay. Even when I'm not.
I'm learning to dare -- to trust there is beauty in being cracked open -- and letting others see, too. As she lowers my head back into the sink, she cradles my neck.
Do You Know What I Mean?
"So what do you do?" she asks, as she squirts a few pumps of summer-smelling shampoo into my hair. I want to tell her what I always say. I'm a stay-at-home mom. I take care of the kids.
Instead, I tell her what I'm just beginning to dare speak into the open air, even though there's a voice that whispers: Imposter. "I'm a writer. I like to write." There. I said it. My heart starts racing.
"Oh..." her eyes grow wide and curious. "What are you writing about?"
Oh, no. Now, I did it. I didn't want to say. Maybe I should say something generic. I closed my eyes against the spray of the warm rinse of water.
"Well, it depends on what's happening. I write stories about what I'm going through." I take a deep breath. And I let it out into the open. "I'm writing about anxiety. Childhood trauma. About making choices. To feed your soul and care for yourself. I'm learning to find my voice."
"Oh, wow. Really?" She replied. I couldn't tell if she was really interested, or was it her polite way of signaling this conversation was getting too personal.
I decide to test the waters some more.
"Yeah... You know it's easier to blend into the background. To make everyone else happy, so you don't have to afraid of what happens if they're not." She was quiet and my eyes were still closed. So, I stopped talking. Oops. That was TMI. I thought.
As her fingers worked conditioner through my hair, massaging my scalp, she asked, "What do you mean?"
"It seemed like nothing I chose was right. It could be something small -- like when I used to go shopping and I liked a certain outfit, my mom would say, 'How cheap.' She had a way of turning something that looked shiny to me one moment into something wrong and ugly."
I took a breath, my chest tightening. "Do you know what I mean?"
"Yes. I do." She replied as she propped me up and tucked a towel on my head, like origami.
Everyone Has To Leave
Later, as this fresh-faced twenty-something gorgeous girl spritzed my hair and began to expertly run the hair dryer over my frizzy strands, she began to tell me her story.
She grew up with a loving momma and daddy who always encouraged her to be true to who she was. But, she lived a different story with a man who did not love and cherish her as she ought to have been.
"It's funny how I had to learn to choose to take care of my soul, later in life, even though I grew up as a happy child."
Then, she said the wisest thing that flew the doors of the little girl in me open. She said, "I guess everyone has to learn to leave something or someone at sometime. Everyone has to learn to choose."
I started to cry as strands of wet hair dabbled over the smock on my shoulders. "You're right. I am learning to leave."
These weren't just tears of sadness. They were tears of joy. I realized I wasn't so alone in the world. That my journey through pain and rebuilding from scratch is a journey we all have to make at one point. Over and again. Through the many seasons of life.
I felt connected to this girl and she felt connected to me. We laughed and got teary eyed, and it felt like we were far away and close at the same time.
It reminded me of Jesus.
The night Jesus gathered with the disciples before He had to make the final trek of leaving. Leaving His friends, His mother, the people He came to love, His favorite spots along the hills, seeing the sun set and hearing stories of people He'd met and healed.
Jesus knew He had to face the cross -- where He would ultimately leave the Father's embrace and where for the first time, He'd split open with heartbreak -- because everyone He ever met his whole life would leave Him when He needed them most. Jesus did it. He left everything.
So that He can be with you and me. So that we don't have to be alone.
Jesus chooses you.
You Can Step Out
I don't know what journey you are on today, friend.
You may be like me, learning to leave for the first time inside your heart, even though what has happened was many miles of years ago.
You might be like my new friend. You've had a wonderful, beautiful journey in the years behind you. And yet, you may have stumbled on a fork in the road, unexpected.
You have to choose. To leave safety. To find your voice.
To find that little girl in you again. And to take care of her. And let her walk out into the world.
You are not alone.
Even if it feels that way.
Because Jesus sees you. Understands you. Loves you. Accepts you.
You and I can step out.
He chooses you.
How is God calling you on a journey to choose?
How is leaving part of that journey?
Pull up a chair. Click to comment. Let's swap some stories.
If you’re walking on the journey of faith out into the world too, I would love to get to know you and enjoy your company. Join me on my blog as we journey in community together. Let’s keep speaking words of encouragement and friendship with each other in our faith stories — as it’s being made and lived. As is.
Bonnie Gray is an inspiring Christian writer and blogger, serving up shots of faith in everyday life. Bonnie is founder of FaithBarista.com and featured writer for DaySpring (in)courage. Bonnie's debut book will be published by Revell in June 2014. Bonnie is a native Californian living in the heart of Silicon Valley with her best friend Hubby, wrangling their two heaven-sent boys on the homestead.
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Photo by Joaquin R. via flickr.