"The sweetest thing in all my life has been the longing —
to reach the Mountain, to find the place where all the beauty came from —
my country, the place where I ought to have been born. Do you think it all meant nothing,
all the longing? The longing for home? For indeed it now feels not like going, but like going back."

~C.S. Lewis

Monday, August 29, 2011

Becoming a woman and what I learned as a girl

Tomorrow I turn twenty. For years I have looked toward this birthday with a sense of anticipation, not because somehow I was no longer a teenager, but because of a quote in a lovely book called Stepping Heavenward that I read years ago:

Mother smiled a little.…She said my character would be essentially formed by the time I reached my twentieth year, and left it to me to say if I wished to be as a woman what I was now as a girl.
~Elisabeth Prentiss, Stepping Heavenward

Now, I am twenty. A great part of my character has been established.

And I am content.

I am not perfect, I am the first to look at my life and feel a sinking sense, as if, with all of this truth given to me—all of this light shown me—all of this beauty revealed to me—should I not be closer to the image of Christ? I am full of inconsistencies, different among family than I am among friends, continuing in false beliefs that I know are wrong, doing things I ought not. People could read this blog, and then meet me in person, and wonder how I can write all of this and yet not live it. I know I have simply taken a step on the eternity-long path of holiness.

Yet, there is a difference: Perhaps, in years past, I would have felt worse because of that, felt less loved by my Jesus, less like a Christian. But that is not the way it is, anymore. I can look at those, yet feel no worse about myself—and simply love my Lord the more. He loves me! He loves me!

As much as I have learned in the past twenty years, I have exponentially more to learn in the next twenty and the next twenty and the next. It’s like a spiral upward, with every turn revealing a wider world of glory. But this spiral of glory in the past twenty years has been indescribable.

As a girl, there was much for me to learn. I needed to learn about being the unconditional true relationship of being the Beloved of the Prince of Heaven, to be His in perfect rest, without striving, without doing—to be at peace. I needed to learn that the very depth of being in Christ is practicing His presence, so much easier and so much harder than anything else I had ever attempted. I needed to learn about Seeing others and Seeing myself—to let my soul open up in perfect honesty, to express my very self and being in confidence. I needed to learn about truly honoring myself—to see myself as holy, and as beautiful and worthy of respect as any human being. I needed to learn about beauty and glory-joy, and that such perfect blissful splendor is the very foundation of life and makes everything so perfect, even if it is not easy. I needed to learn about the kingdom gospel and the nature of creation-deep redemption, a gospel that makes everything so simple and yet so right, so very right. I needed to learn all of these things as a girl.

Now, let me live as a woman.