When Gindi first approached me about doing this blog series, this was the picture that came to mind.
It was literally buried in an album under other boxes from my childhood, in the bottom of my youngest daughter’s closet. It is from the spring of my senior year at Lamar High School, circa 1993.
To give you the backstory, my swimming coach, Coach Peggy, nominated me for this award. Peggy knew I worked hard and got good grades. She was a very good mentor and we had a great relationship. However, it was not the same with Coach P. She played favorites and no matter how hard I tried, I was not one. Still, the application needed the signature of the other coaches I played under, so Coach P had to sign.
When I went to her office, I knew what she would say. She looked at it and said, “Wow, I had no idea you were smart!” I think she meant it as a compliment, but I let it slide right through me. I’d stopped taking her treatment of me personally a few months prior to this picture being taken, for survival purposes really.
My high school career in a lot of ways was pretty normal – the usual angst. In other ways, though, it was a crash course in emotional endurance. Some of that had to do with how Coach P treated me and the other girls. Yet, like many, I was insecure going into high school. Like many, I focused only on what was wrong with me.
So, this picture, this moment, as I stood on the field at the Astrodome before an Oilers game, was the first moment I began to understand who I was. It was a moment where I embraced what I’d achieved. I graduated in the top 3% of my class. I was smart. I was fit. I had a 28” waist for crying out loud! I look and see a young woman who is beginning to internalize the good truth about her.
I love this outfit because I picked it out. My mom and I often butted heads on what I would wear, (part of the nature of the mother-teenage daughter relationship) but we agreed on this outfit. I did have tuck in the sweater (only something someone with sub-30” waist can do!) and wear hose, but I’m going use this as an example with my girls, highlighting my fashion philosophy: LOOK NICE. BE COMFORTABLE.
Oh sure, it’s very 1990’s! But I didn’t feel self-conscious. For once, I didn’t feel fat. I felt like me, the real me, underneath all the insecurity.
The daylight was beginning to break on who I was going to become as an adult. It’s taken another twenty-three years to come into a full realization of the revelation in that moment. I can see the glimmer of that beautiful truth in that girl’s eyes and her wry smile.
I was smiling for another reason (certainly not as holy). I smiled at what felt like sweet victory over Coach P’s assessment of me. I’ve since forgiven her, but in this moment, I felt vindicated. I remember feeling I’d proved her wrong for thinking less of me. This picture is the recognition for what I’d worked so hard for –on and off the court.
Y’all I know this award isn’t a gold medal! But it sure did feel like it.
I look at this picture and contemplate how much the Lord has taken me through. I try to grasp the layers of lies He’s stripped off, all so I could see the purity of who I was. I feel the refreshing wind of possibility all over again.
The struggles I had back then, I faced all on my own. While my waistline at forty-one (and after three kids) is much wider, so is my knowledge and hope in God. I no longer wonder about if God cares about me, like I did back then. Now I know for sure He loves me and makes it all come out good, somehow.
This was a very good day.
I am applying for Spiritual Director training in April of 2017. Spiritual, emotional and mental inventories are good things to take. This picture helps me do that. It shows me see how far the Lord has taken me and that that the hard work of sifting through the past does pay off. Years later, what remains of this girl is a hope and a bright future, even decades later. And I know Romans 8:28 is true:
That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good. (MSG)