the flip side

A heartbreak detour a few months back had me scrambling for default mode. No matter how much I busied myself or how many plates I kept spinning, I couldn’t keep myself together. I couldn’t shake it. Someone had scaled my walls to really see me, opened up my mess and real-time thoughts yet was not overwhelmed by me, sat in my dirt and stayed for a while. Then he dared me to let everybody else into this Layne too, he swore they’d like her even more than they like the faraway one. I’ve heard this dare before; his was an echo of Someone Else’s all-my-life dare: Go ahead, My girl. Just be you already. I made you just-right. You’re Enough because I say so–and what I say goes.

So before I could backtrack or think twice, Abba did it again. He stole me away to the quiet where I’d hear Him. To get my heart racing again, He took me all over everywhere, that I’d taste of His Love from every which way. He spoke tenderly to me, spoke tenderness right into me. God leaves no thing unchanged, so He didn’t just patch up or fix up. He did a wild, new, wouldn’t-believe-it kinda thing! He took hammer and nail to this keepaway heart and remade it, untangled it, synched it up to His rhythm. He sat in my dirt with me, let me cry and saw no less brave in me when I couldn’t keep it together. He brewed within me uncharted emotion, took care and took notice of me. My God dared me like always to let people into my nothing-special, and then He went and gave me the best of them. So I did it! I really did it. I unraveled all summer in broad daylight, while strangers and little sisters and my home team cheered loud. I told them my Story, all the fine print. Just like He promised, they cared, listened, prayed, stayed and on some days, they cried right there with me. They called me my flip side name until I called myself Enough too.

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Abba is always speaking Enough over me, into me, out of me. He never tells me to be the balancing act or play put-together or fake okay. He doesn’t require of me. He doesn’t ask me to impress Him or win Him over or prove myself worthy again and again. There is no catch to His Love, no must-be-met expectation. It does not hang on my performance or hinge on my deservedness. Though I try to work-hard barter with Him, He is not like the rest of them. His Love is free of charge—I wish I’d never forget.

But while I know the voice of Abba and I chase Him long and hard, the Liar keeps up with my pace. Loud and annoying, He allures me like my before days with gold stars, trophies, ‘good job’s and glory. He feeds me false grace and false gospel, likes to set my gaze on all their attention. He’d do anything to convince me that I am my old self and that Abba’s Love must be merited.

When I hear the Liar out, I resort back to before Layne. I manufacture joy, I am some exception to emotion. I try hard to make myself lovable, to keep good and holy and polished-up for Him. I stack bricks high, for my mess should be unknowable. But just when I default to my old name and nature, my God comes quick to shake me awake. No head-shaking or lecture or ‘I told you so’–He just reminds me that I know better, that I’m not the Layne I once was. His Love barrels through my balancing act every time just to sweep me away with Him. He does what He always does, the very thing He does best. He speaks His words right back into me and re-tells me my Story, just as I’ve started to forget:

 

I am my flip side, my new self
I am not her: the Layne I used to be
or all the things they expect of me
or the dots and stars they stuck on me
I am so much more than she
I am not my old chains or old names
or a GPA or resume
I am Enough, He says I am
Enough is who I’ll stay
I am my flip side, my new self
Enough I’ll always be
my God rewrote my history
traded old Layne for one set free
I am plain dirt turned to Glory
I am my before-and-after story
I am a nobody-turned-somebody
A recovering Pharisee
A performer let loose to just be me
He’s pleased with me already
Though I have no merit to my name
no worthiness to claim
I am enough, He says I am
Enough is who I’ll stay
Enough! Enough!
my flip side’s stuck
Enough I’ll always be
now it’s time I tell the world
how Grace has set me free

This is my Story! How dare I forget it, or crawl back to old Layne as if Grace can be undone. This is the Story He habitually wakes me up to. He tells it on-repeat until I know it backwards and forwards, until I’m proud of it. Then He sends me out to coffeeshops,  mountaintops and the occasional up-front onstage spot. My girl! Our story: I love it so. Come on! Let’s show and tell it.


I will lure her into the desert and speak tenderly to her heart | Hosea 2:14

Being confident of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. | Philippians 1:6

Do you believe that God loves you beyond worthiness and unworthiness, beyond fidelity and infidelity, that He loves you in the morning sun and the evening rain? That He loves you when your intellect denies it, your emotions refuse it and your whole being rejects it? Do you believe that He loves you without condition or reservation and loves you this moment as you are and not as you should be? | Brennan Manning


 

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