Recently, a good friend of mine and I have been up, talking late into the night about everything from coffee to the ugliest scars on our hearts. Maybe it's been a little irresponsible of us, as we're supposed to be adults now, going to our 9-5's (okay, 8:30-4:30 on his part, 9:30-4:30 on mine [for now], but you get the idea), and not staying up until 3am every night, but, as I'm trying to teach The Girls, sometimes, what society tells you to do isn't the most right option. Let me explain why I think that is for this specific case.
I don't know if you've ever stayed up past the point of the second wind, past the point of delirium, all the way until the point of utter openness, but I'm going to work from the assumption that you haven't, as my high school English teachers taught me to do on my essays, so scroll on down if you already know what I'm talking about. Everyone else, this is for you. Anymore, my friend shows up around 8:30 or 9:30 at night, and, usually, neither of us have eaten (because we both apparently picked up European eating habits during our stints in Germany), so I'll start making some food; he'll generally start cleaning. Neither of these tasks require too much brain power, so it really lends itself to opening a conversation. So we talk. And we eat. And we laugh. Maybe we'll watch a movie. Maybe he'll help answer some of my questions about TESOL. Then, one of us will do something that's not funny at all, but it will get the other one (okay... me) laughing uncontrollably, which will get the other laughing uncontrollably, until we're both laying on the floor, staring at the ceiling, contemplating how to get the dust out of my overhead light.
Unavoidably, at this point, something will sneak up out of nowhere - this force I can't explain - and one of us will say, "Can I ask you a weird question?" And then the openness has arrived. So, the other will say, "Sure," and the conversation proceeds as if we're not baring our souls to each other, telling the other things that we're not even sure we've told ourselves yet. Our most recent encounter with this stage has left my mind reeling for the past couple of days. I've churned it over and over, knowing that he's Biblically correct, but unable to get any kind of firm grip on the topic, because, as our eyes met, and the word "Sure" tumbled over my lips, he asked me,
"Do you think you're beautiful?"
"No; not at all."
"I thought so. It shows in the way you relate to everyone around you. I'm sure it won't mean much, coming from me, but I want you to know, I think you're a beautiful person."
I was stunned. Absolutely stunned. There was so much to contemplate there in the possible literal meanings of the phrase that it really just took me this long to make linguistic sense of it all. But, as I listened to Matt Maher's Empty and Beautiful album tonight (the title track, specifically), it all seemed to click into place. I could handle admitting that the areas of G-d in me are beautiful. This is no problem for me to say. What else would they be? As I returned to these thoughts, while wrapping down for the night, the opening lines to the song caught me:
My past won't stop haunting me.
In this prison there's a fight between
Who I am and who I used to be.
And then I remembered: For me, it's very much who I USED TO BE. Because, like I've said, If not for G-d, I am dead. It follows that those things within me that are separate from G-d must be dead. All that is in me and makes me must be held extremely close to G-d, and, being that close, it cannot fail to reflect Him. Just look at the story of Moses on Mount Sinai. Therefore, I MUST be beautiful.
I'm not sure how this conclusion does much for me, other than clearing my head of one more lie that I've been sucked into, but I feel secure in knowing it, which seems like a good enough reason for me. There are a lot of implications that I could go into about it, but, at this point, it is 2:06am, and I have my first TESOL presentation tomorrow, so I really should get some sleep.
Remember to be dead, my friends.