January 15, 2011

I intend to make amends by shaking my booty

It has recently come to my attention that a lot of good things aren't fun. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that "good" and "healthy" are often antonyms for "fun." Making amends is the notorious part of the 12-step process that almost everyone super hates. By the above definition, lots of steps aren't fun, but amends are the wooooorst (see how many o's there are? That's how you know I mean it). Sincere efforts to offer apology for past harm. Sick. We all [the addicts, the crazies, even you normalest of humans] have done harm - both to others and also, I think, to ourselves. It's a fact. If we're lucky, we've made right in a timely fashion. Other times though, we haven't, and those are the places we need to revisit during this whole step nine business. What I'm struggling with is that I think I owe myself an amends. I need to apologize... to myself. Awkward.

In my experience, self harm can have a lot to do with lies. The lie could be anything from "you can't do that" to "you're not good enough" to "you're not enough, period." It's easy, when that voice is loud (and this is the part where things get harmy) to live like those lies are true. To say, "you're right, I can't do that." So I don't. "You're right, I'm not good enough." So I won't even try. "You're right, I'm not enough." So if I work hard enough, maybe I can DO enough to somehow BE enough. Which, if you've been there, you know just doesn't work. Because I would argue our worth isn't our own doing. The lies perpetuate.

There is a post on Stuff Christians Like called "Thinking You're Naked" and the first time I read it, it spoke to my soul. From Genesis 3:
When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She gave some to her husband and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. They heard the sound of the Lord God and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, "Where are you?" [Adam] answered, "I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid."
Jon Acuff calls God's response one of the "saddest and most profoundly beautiful verses in the entire Bible":: 
"Who told you that you were naked?" 
Before this moment, naked wasn't really even a thing - not a bad thing, anyway. I think it's not insignificant that the very first thing that happens after their interaction with the serpent is that Adam and Eve are struck with the awareness (lie?) that how they are naturally is shameful, and that they must cover it up. Naked was how they came. It was all they knew how to be, and they had never felt the need to hide before that moment. Here is the sequence of events as I see it: they came into contact with the father of lies. As a result, their "eyes were opened" and they "realized" that what they were was bad, and they became ashamed. As a result, they hid from the Father who loved them. They (we) exchanged the truth for a lie, and it separated them (us) from God. Lies induce shame. Shame tells us we'd better cover up, and fast. And I just don't think we were created to live under wraps like that. God hears our shame, sees the lies we believe and asks, "Who told you that?" There is an implied second part, I think: "because it wasn't me." That is profoundly beautiful. The truth often is.

Back to the topic at hand: I owe myself an apology. For believing lies, for living out of the shame that the lies created and for allowing them to separate me both from the Father who loves me and from the freedom I think was intended for us. I owe myself amends for hiding out from the things that I was created for (connection, joy, freedom, worship) because I was afraid of what might happen if I let myself be naked (metaphorically speaking). The question is, how does one apologize to oneself? Do I take myself out for coffee? Write myself a letter? Offer to do my own laundry for a month? Buy myself a nice bottle of wine? A gift certificate for a mani/pedi? I've been toying with it for a while now and then the other night as I walked out of my Zumba class, it dawned on me. I was making amends with myself and I didn't even know it.

Every time I do something that opposes a lie, it's an amends.
Every time I say yes when something inside me screams, "you can't!! you can't!," it's an apology.
Every time I tell shame to shut the @!#$... well, you get the idea.

It'll look different for all of us probably. For me, so far, it looks like being honest regardless of the outcome. It looks like sharing my junk with someone I trust without fear of rejection. It maybe looks like writing something that makes me feel a little bit naked and not feeling like I need to cover it up because I know it's truth. And as silly as this may sound to you, it looks like letting myself go to a Zumba class and admitting that I love it. Good things.

And I know what I said before... but some of it's actually even kind of a little bit fun. 
Especially the part that involves shaking my booty on a bi-weekly basis.