Feel something real

I took off my clothes and let the sun touch my skin. I put on a bikini and marveled at the feeling of breeze on my midriff. I stretched out on the chaise lounge and fell asleep under blue sky. I awoke bronzed and alive. I wasn't damned. God didn't strike me down.

I felt real.

I looked at myself in the mirror and instead of hating my woman's body--this body that began betraying me with curves when I was 13, making me apologize to God for "stumbling" men with these curves I couldn't help--instead of hating my body, I thanked it.

Someone called me last week to see how I was doing. I was honest. I'm just very done.

I've given up on doing Big Things For God. I'm weary and exhausted. I'm so very weary of the fighting and the divisions.

I'm a pacifist now. A pacifist in a bikini.

I can soak up the sun and speak whisper-love. I won't fight with you. I refuse to engage. I've laid down my weapons. I'm standing here half-naked in a bikini and if you tell me I'm sinning and stumbling others and maybe "leading souls astray," I will shrug my sun-tanned shoulders and offer you a margarita.

Here, right here? There's no needing to be right. Or wrong. I am practicing the faith of being real and being honest. Judging, it turns out, is too heavy a burden to bear. Developing the discipline of compassion and hearing the story behind the story--the feeling behind your words--that's what I'm looking for now.

Last week a customer at the restaurant where I waitress got upset with me. She said the food came out "too fast." But she was so upset...I had this moment where I realized: this wasn't about the food. Or even about me. What was this really about?

I later found out she had a whole list of expectations that she'd been hoping would be met and I had failed to meet those expectations. She'd been dieting all month and was looking forward to this meal for a very long time. And because it didn't go as perfectly as she imagined, she was disappointed.

Unmet expectations. Disappointment. Isn't this the core of much of life's pain? We expect things to go differently--or better--and when they don't, we are disappointed. We are frustrated. We take it out on someone else.

Maybe this is my problem, too. I expected God to be different. Or maybe I expected not to get hurt again by church. And yet, here I am again: sad, frustrated, disappointed.

Great expectations--is there any bigger setup for disappointment than that? If we expect great things, maybe we should also expect outrageous disappointment.

If we allow ourselves to love, maybe we should also allow our hearts to break.

If we want to be real, we must know being real hurts.

My heart is smashed in a million pieces and oddly enough, I'm OK with that.

I have bikinis to wear. I have poetry to read.

I am real.