one beautiful girl

Originally published Wednesday, 04 September 2013.

I was so nervous I could hardly put my mascara on in the right place. I didn't quite poke my eye out. But it was close. I threw on my favorite top, in my favorite color (turquoise, of course), to make myself feel better. And I prayed. A lot. I listened to this song, and this one, and still, my heart beat fast.

I am invited to speak in the fall with a group in my community dear to my heart--about a topic I just can't get enough of: authenticity and identity. And this morning I got to go meet one of the gals who is leading the group.

It was her email, sharing a bit of her story, which took my breath away.

It is not too often people trust you with their hearts. It is a rare and beautiful thing to lay it all out there--choose to be transparent. Choose to let your heart be soft. Choose to show you don't have it all together. Choose to reveal the fear, the wounds, the tears.

Oh, girl, do you know you are so powerful when you do this?

We cannot realize this amazing woman God has created us to be unless we allow Him to show us who we really are.

Known. Adored. Wanted.

This sister, whom I had the privilege of meeting with face to face today, for the first time, was unafraid of hiding, of revealing her struggles and fears and regrets. And when she found words for her story, her hand gripping her Starbucks cup as the sunlight shined bright on her face, I saw Jesus. And I saw beginning. And I saw hope and pain and beauty and glory--all the mess of being deep in the middle of something you wish you could find the end of not now, but yesterday.

But she helped me remember how well I know this place--the desire I often have to exit, as fast as I can, the hard places, the confusion of not knowing how, possibly, healing can come.

And I don't have words to fix it all, but I can be present, and I can listen, and I can share what I do know: God does not tire of telling us how much He loves us. He does not turn away from us when we mess up. He does not wish we were someone different. He does not stop pursuing us.

He wants all of our heart. He wants us to stop hiding, stop striving, stop despairing.

You don't have to know how to pray the right way to receive Him. The Father who designed you knows the language of your heart.

You don't have to be fixed before He loves you. He loves you the same amount after you messed up and did that thing as He did the moment He first thought you up.

Pray this, my sisters--in all your raw, uncensored beauty: "I don't have it all together, and I never will. Help me to accept your love for me. Help me to believe You pursue me. Help me to stay with You. Help me to recognize You. Help me to hear You. . . And tell me again and help me believe it .  . . 'I love you'"

Oh, girl, you melt His heart. Come close. See how He loves you. Watch how He comes running.

"So he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him" (Luke 15:20).

This is the book I get to speak about in November: Have you read it?

What do you think is the most difficult thing about being honest and authentic with another sister? 

What is something difficult for you to pray and believe?