I have been very hesitant in the last two months to write anything that could potentially express any real and raw emotions. When you dig a hole and then a storm comes and fills it with mud, the last thing you want to do is dig a little deeper and let it get a little muddier.
In my attempts to protect the colossal hole, I have hidden my true face. Morning after morning, I have tucked it away in my treasure chest of secret emotions, put on a good and acceptable mask, and faced the world around me.
At the end of each discomfited day, I have returned to my treasure chest, retrieved my true face, and looked in the mirror with grief. As King David said best, I have made my bed with tears.
And that’s okay.
I had a revelation. At least, I think it was a revelation.
For me to pretend to be anything other than what I really am is not only dishonoring to myself and to the Lord, but it is dishonoring to the world around me. I do believe that there are appropriate levels of openness depending on the audience, but I also believe that no matter the audience, that honesty is the only option for any level of openness.
So for the first time in this phase of my life, I am choosing to (within the boundaries of a chosen level of openness) be honest with you, world.
I have been thinking a lot about the Scarlet Letter. Nathaniel Hawthorne was a literary genius, in my opinion. He is not only creative and anomalous in his expressions, but he is quite bold as well.
When thinking back on this story, I feel as if I can relate to Hester one hundred percent. Different crimes, same gift of shame from the world. The public humiliation and subsequent feelings of isolation are all too familiar.
The world loves it when we fail. It is as if there is this huge balance in the world, and the moment someone falls, the weight of their sin sends others to a higher place. Sometimes, the world just enjoys our shortcomings because it allows them the pleasure of comparison in their favor. “At least I did not do that,” or, “At least I am not that person.”
The world loves, most of all, to take a label, a scarlet letter, and stamp us right on the forehead. After all, not only should everyone around us see the stamp, it needs to be the first thing we see when look in the mirror.
And so it was with Hester Prynne. She was labeled and put on display for the public to observe and delight in her misfortune, much of which was due to her own sinful nature. Even in this, one of the most remarkable characteristics of Hester’s response to the situation is her honesty. When it’s all said and done, the strength of this incredible honesty carries Hester through a life she never imagined. Though the label she was given was meant to destroy her, Hester presses in and presses on, and becomes a woman of great strength and dignity. Some would go as far as saying she was a legend.
I find myself identifying with Hester on such a deep level that I can’t help but be inspired. I feel labeled. My true face has a giant stamp on it. The ever-present reminder of my journey’s pain and heartache cannot be escaped. Ultimately I have two choices. I can either acknowledge it as a badge of shame, as the world prefers, or I can define the stamp as a symbol of my experiences and allow it to develop my character as I choose to embrace my true face.
Society loves to determine our identities.
Today, I am taking a stand.
Society no longer has the authority to do that. God, my loving and all-powerful Daddy, determines my identity and the time has come for me to let him do so. He says the old has gone and the new has come. He says I am a beautiful daughter, chosen and accepted. He says He will take everything the enemy intended for bad and use it for good. He says He loves me, even when I am unlovely. He says the stamp society has given me is a beautiful reminder of the work He is doing.
He is making all things beautiful in His perfect timing.
Today, I am keeping my true face. I am keeping my chin up, and going so far as to embrace my journey and eagerly await God’s strategy to use it for His glory.
As Hawthorne so brilliantly stated, “The tendency of her fate and fortunes had been to set her free. The scarlet letter was her passport into regions where other women dared not tread.”
Bring it on.