It was modeled to me as a young girl growing up in southern California that attention equals worth. That pre and extra-marital affairs were normal, or at least would happen with limited repercussions, they were very matter-of-fact. Sex is power, and back-up plans are a must—don’t ever be alone. So naturally, when I entered the dating and adult world, I carried these layers (aka wounds) with me. They ruined parts of my heart. They could’ve ruined my marriage. Then it hit me. One night He whispered, you wanted to be wanted. We all do, but mine went a little deeper.
I am the product of an affair. My mom ached for a baby, and I know the man I call Daddy wanted a daughter, too. Just not another man’s daughter, maybe? (He loves me like his own, and I am his in every way except blood.) From my very conception there was a filter of unwanted-ness placed over me, a permeable wall keeping Claire away from unconditional love. I was loved, adored, and cared for; but also resented, distanced, and blocked. I hated my birthday growing up. It was just another reminder that my existence ripped so much apart. December, 31 1987 reminded me (and possibly the most important people in my life) that I was born, and nine months prior I was conceived in less-than-ideal circumstances.
Every one of my relationships oozed with “WANT ME!” I’ll do whatever it takes, I’ll style my hair the way you like it. I’ll stay tan. I’ll wear this and that. I’ll go to church. I’ll be everything you need me to be! Just keep looking. And DO NOT LEAVE. Want me!
If only I had known… If only I had been taught and shown that my worth and value simply…were. The summer between 8th and 9th grade I got a nose job (I think it was that summer, it may have been earlier though). Yes, the deviated septum prevented me from breathing, that part had to be fixed. But did I need the slight cosmetic fix, too? I had a “rhombus tip” that the surgeon suggested to my mom and me could be made into a nicer, more rounded tip, and hey, insurance was already paying for the surgery. Why not milk them for a prettier face while we’re at it?! But my friends will still know it’s me, right? You’re not going to make me look too different, right? They won’t be able to tell, right?
I love my nose now, it is a beautiful, sculpted signature of the surgeon who put it there; and it makes my face look good. The thing is, I’m not sure I didn’t love it before… I already had a good nose, one that my Creator approved of. Why couldn’t that surgeon, or my mom, also approve of it? That rhombus tip certainly didn’t detract from my value. It didn’t make me less love-able. Which begs the question, would getting a more suitable, pretty nose add to my value? Would it make me easier to hire? Easier to marry or manipulate into marrying? Easier to look at in a mirror? Easier for others to look at, and therefore easier for others to submit to? Who tells a girl in the middle of those horribly awkward years, that firestorm that is pre-teen/teen body image, TO GO SO FAR AS TO SURGICALLY ENHANCE HERSELF?!?!!!?
I would tell my daughters, my son too, the exact opposite. Sweet Things, God looks at the inside. You are fearfully and wonderfully made. I would shoot death lasers out of my eyes at a surgeon who suggested Rae’s rhombus tip could (should) be modified. No, I think I would have found a different surgeon. If only I could have told myself that I was perfect just the way I was! It is what I want to always communicate to my kiddos. It is what I pound into myself all day, every day. Lucy, Rae, Atticus, YOU ARE ALL WANTED! You are enough! Clairey, YOU ARE WANTED, TOO! You are enough!
What are the layers and wounds that were modeled and imparted to you? What identities and fears, and back-up plans did you accept from those who shaped you? How hard do you have to work to maintain it all? How exhausted are you? How deeply do you want the light to shine in? How deeply do you want to be known and loved? How brightly do you want to shine? Is there a date you dread every year because of the shame it heaps onto you? Are there several dates? Many? It’s okay— me too.
A little side note: You know what? Contrary to what I had witnessed and believed to be normal, I needed to be alone. The solitude and desperate loneliness I settled into before meeting David were essential to accepting the true, great Love of my life. When my last, most manipulative back-up plan failed, it was only in that soul-piercing silence and desperate introspection that I repented and decided I wanted freedom and truth, decided I wanted more. The hard loneliness helped me conclude that I wanted the best man. When I was ready, when I had run my filthy laundry through Jesus’ washing machine, I found him. Or he found me. Or we slurped the same spiritual spaghetti noodle, having no choice but to bump into our Love. It was probably the second most significant decision I’ve ever made (besides rehab), entering into a life with David. And if I hadn’t re-centered, recalibrated, quieted down, I would have missed it. Maybe, I’m not quite sure how God handles all that providence stuff…
YOU, READER, YOU ARE WANTED. You are a beloved and prized lamb of the most Loving Shepherd. It doesn’t matter how fat or thin you are. It doesn’t matter if you’re tan or not, or how much money you donate. I don’t care if you show up to meet me wearing a hoodie and jeans or the cutest leggings paired with the cutest little tunic and the cutest pair of flats (please extend the same courtesy to me in return). I’m not sure God cares much about us going to church. It doesn’t matter if you are a bastard, adopted, or abandoned. He sure as hell doesn’t recoil at the thought of rhombus nose tips, skin conditions, lackluster hair, cankles, stretch marks, muscle mass, etc. He doesn’t prefer (or mind) perfectly sculpted features, though, either. Just come to the Banquet Table—show up. You are Loved, a guest of honor. You are wanted. You are enough. Right now. And always. There is no wall, there never has been— He destroyed it all with that trusty Love Sledgehammer.