I've been practicing putting my shoulders back lately.
I notice, multiple times a day, how hunched over I am. It's bad posture and it looks more attractive and confident to straighten up, which of course matters to me. But it's something else too.
It's like I'm living in a perpetual state of "not really". Not really awake, not really there, not really responsible. And like if I just stay hunkered down, get smaller, things will hurt less. Life will float over my head and I'll avoid getting smacked in the face. If I just stay little, skinny, short, I can fold up my body, close myself off, not be harmed, be harmless.
I have chosen "cute" over impact. And the thing is, I know I could have impact. I've chosen definition from a few select others instead of standing in, and filling out my space, shoulders back. I have felt hollow, less real, desperately aching for a good word from the right person to help me push my chin up. And why am I speaking in past tense? I DO ache for those words from those people. I don't even think that's wrong, I am moved at how God allows, -chooses to have- imperfect people express his perfect love. We are meant to square each other's shoulders when we can. But sometimes we can't. Sometimes an acknowledgement is all it would take, a wave from across the room, a hug, a wink, or just simply eye contact and a smile. And sometimes those things just don't happen.
Yesterday I was looking for those things, and they didn't come. I felt myself grasping inside for a way to make it happen. It wasn't going to. And I felt smaller, unseen, and less real.
And then there was this resistance in me to all the shrinking. A firm, clear "NO. Put your shoulders back." And I did. Again and again I did. I took up some space. I knew what I knew. I let myself see the people around me, and I let them see me.
I still ached for the hug. But I let myself believe that it would have been there if it could have. It's absence didn't have to hollow me out.
It's a lot of work, trying to reclaim my right posture at 32 years.
Standing up straight makes everything else shift too. My brokenness is rediscovered in new places, parts of me hurt that didn't hurt before, weak muscles start to complain to me of how they have been ignored. My body, my heart, speaks in groans. I will still need the embrace when it comes. I will whole heartedly receive it's warmth and steadfast encouragement. It provides sustenance on this journey. I make no apologies for that exquisite ache.
But still, doesn't the God, who's name is "I Am that I Am", make his children, in His image to BE. Without constant affirmation, or explanation or usefulness - we ARE. I hear that whisper to me "You Are".
And not only that, but we are Beloved. Oh - how desperately I want to breathe that in. I "am" because He is. Because He has put eternity in my heart, I am eternal. His breath comes through me uniquely and through you uniquely. This is what reminds me, prompts me, gently nudges me to stand up straight, take up space, and throw my shoulders back.