October 6, 2011

Spend Yourself {Day 6} :: The spending ...

I spent the first half of my life creating identities and living up to them. I spent the second half letting go of them one by one. I am only now learning how to spend this life in real time. In real skin. With just one identity. We'll talk about that soon...

My young life wasn't super extraordinary but it was certainly atypical. An Army brat born in Germany, I spent major holidays in destination locations. In the summer we camped in the sand near the Adriatic, taxied into Venice in the evenings for dinner. I spent Easter in London. Christmas vacations in ski-school in the Alps.

For Thanksgiving I shared a long table with strangers in a countryside kibbutz ... in Israel. For school credit I kept a journal of my days there and I scribbled words like these: "Today we floated in the Dead Sea. It was really salty. " And these: "Today I walked the streets where Jesus carried his cross..."
I tucked a tiny prayer into the Western Wall, literally. Something about needing help to stop arguing with my brothers...

I lost a tooth in Rome; it turned my gelato all pink and earned me some Lira under my hotel pillow. And as a young Catholic girl I received communion for the first time in Saint Peter's Basilica. In the Vatican.

My father taught at the Military Academy at West Point and we sponsored young cadets. I wantd to be one and they came over for dinners and I told jokes on the coffee table. When we moved to Los Angeles I was named the "world traveler" among my small, non-military California friends. I was a star. And I had really good stuff for show-and-tell. I won my first election.

I became a high achieving student and a gymnast and I got lots of winks and nods over my work ethic, my commitment, my performance. Teachers commented on my sweetness. I made straight A's. Every time. 

I spent twenty hours a week in the gym; ate dinner and did homework at ten o'clock. My coach said things like, "If I had a daughter I would want her to be just like you."

When the long hours, hard coach words, and body aches wore me down I discovered things like cheer leading and track and field and Young Life. I had early morning bible study in my house and spent free time with college leaders. I went on mission trips and weekend retreats. I highlighted my bible. I back flipped across the gym in that little skirt while my best girl pals climbed and posed behind me.

And when you grow up in big places and you have big experiences and people think big things about you, true or not, you can get used to feeling, well ... big. That small complimentary voice starts out as a kind companion. Innocent and loyal. A great motivator. But what happens when the sound of that voice becomes the motivation?

Do more. Be more. Shine ... deep breathe ... more.

Yes, I had a strong identity and I had really big plans. And then I got really tired ...

I know this isn't your story. But you have one too. Have you ever spent a lot of time building an identitiy that just left you ... tired? Come back again? Let's keep going?

If you're just stopping by, I hope you'll scroll down. Keep reading ... and join us for these 31 days in October.

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