Thursday, April 30, 2015

Here's to the Girls

As soon as they announced that my 20th high school reunion would be a "girls night out," I told Justin he was off the hook and made plans to travel all by my lonesome to Chattanooga. I knew it would be a great night because what happens when a bunch of pushing-forty-women get together without men or kids or any other distractions?  We become girls again! We laughed and talked and cried and remembered all the years we spent racing head first and oh-so recklessly towards adulthood together.

Fact: Everyone looked the same and none of us are getting old. 

"Remember when we...?"


"Did we really do that?!"

"Did we really wear that? (Socks and Birkenstocks!?)"

I've worked very hard to dig deeper into God's grace over the last few years. Slowly, almost imperceptibly, I've begun to see that God's love is not an abstract idea but a real, tangible, sweet and overwhelming thing - like oxygen and water and light and all the things we simply can't live without. I finally really get what Paul meant when he said, "In Him we live and move and have our being."

But that is now. What about then? Was God looking at me with the same love-filled gaze back then? God loves me now but did God love her, the girl I used to be? The awkward girl? The headstrong and stubborn girl? The girl with a long list of mistakes just waiting for her around the corner? The girl I tried to pretend I never was?

Every time I saw that girl looking back at me in yearbooks and photographs over the last twenty years my instinct has been to look away.  But this weekend I decided to do something different and for once, I let myself just love her.  No judgements, no embarrassment, no regrets. I saw her as the beloved girl she was and is. I saw the Grace. Grace that watched her to make bad choice after bad choice but still led her to a life with more beauty and love than she could have ever imagined. Grace that turned her broken heart into a heart overflowing with joy. Grace that took her weaknesses and grew strength.

I realized on my long drive to Tennessee this  weekend that I can't accept God's love for me now if I don't believe God loved me then. I can't see my beauty today if I don't see the same beauty God saw in me then.

When we say God's love is eternal, it means it is without beginning and without ending, the same yesterday and today. That means God loved me when I was a mess. When I wore Birkenstocks and socks and thought true love could be expressed in a mixed tape, God smiled and kept loving. When I was that girl who felt painfully out of place, God offered an abundance of grace that I could not see then but is overwhelmingly clear to me now.

So here's to the girls- the girls we were and the girls we will aways be. Ladies, may you each discover what I believe to be true: all these years God has been gazing on us with a lot of love and maybe a little amusement, (because, well, Birkenstocks and socks.) Throughout all these years that steadfast gaze of love did not waver with our failed marriages, failed pregnancies, failed careers, or our failed attempts to outrun the past. Because, to quote Fr. Gregory Boyle, "God would seem to be too occupied in being unable to take Her eyes off of us to spend any time raising an eyebrow in disapproval."  Thank you for helping me remember this truth.  Let's not wait another twenty years to be those sweet, amazing girls again.

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