Truth or Dare.
I remember that feeling like it was yesterday. We would all be in our pajamas by this time of the night. And we had (of course) already completed the other tasks on our To Do List of Sixth-Grade Fun including a 3hour-long series of MASH, make-overs, dance performances, scary movies, raiding the fridge… and NOW. It was everyone’s favorite.
Pillow in lap. Here we go.
And before you could say Backstreet’s Back, everyone was sitting in a perfectly flawless circle, Indian style and all, silently comparing PJ’s. And I swear you could actually hear hearts beating heavily around the room like rocks gloriously tumbling down the Carolina mountainside. And the longer the silence lasted between players, the louder these hearts of rock would become until suddenly, the moment when you equally love and hate your name…
Truth or Dare!?
At once, as if all N’sync (ha, see what I did there?), a chorus of giggles and glares would leap across the circle as each girl internally analyzed you to death, looking you up and down trying to figure out what your puberty-stricken self is made of. In retrospect, it is a bit creepy how each individual tween's eyes would gleam like diamonds as she would silently predict your answer better than a weatherman predicts the day's mood.
And as fun as it was to be the brave soul that took on the Dare every round and be forced to rush to the garage and shove a bowl of Dog food down your throat against your own Limited Too will, you do know that, most times that was the easier route. I mean, seriously, what middle school girl really wants to open all doors to any question which she is required by Slumber Party Law to uphold to in all honesty? Um… sorry, but No Thanks.
Ok so we’re on the same page? Truth is the new Dare. Just go with me for a minute…
So back to yesterday…you know those moments when you crave nothing more than familiarity? This was one of those days. Shoot, you could have thrown me in a ditch in Nashville or Tuscaloosa (take your pick) and I would have been one happy little camper. Either place would have sufficed. Just give me a voice I recognize, a face that knows my past so I don’t have to explain myself anymore. Just give me that Alabama ground, a tree at Centennial. Anything.
It’s quite hilarious, though, how upset I get at myself when those feelings come. I find myself saying things like, Just tough it up Mary Margaret. Come on. You’re a big girl now. And then low and behold, the real battle exists between a clean cheek and a wet one. And let me tell you, if those tears come, all hell breaks loose.
I get so mad at myself.
Each tear becomes one more avalanche reminding me I failed. I failed at being grown-up. I failed at putting on the happy face that people so easily associate with me… or at least that’s my desire. Tears mean soft, weak, pitiful. And this is not the time. At least save them until you are by yourself, I tell myself. Save it for a decent writing session, a lonely night before bed.
I was in Rite Aid when it happened. The battle had begun. Two of my new coworkers/friends scurried around the store to cross off their lifelong list of items… or so it seemed because it had literally been years since I purchased my one necessary item for the day: a watch. I was putting it off as long as possible. I hate wearing those heavy, ugly things on my wrist. And more than that, most days I hate knowing what time it is. It makes me feel like I live in a box… but I guess that’s part of being grown-up too.
So I was sitting in a cheap, raggedy looking chair in the front of the store that I’m pretty sure was for sale since it was in the middle of Nowhere-ville, Rite Aid. Yes, I was feeling a bit on the lazy side but I was certainly ok with that. I know I probably looked a bit silly and out of place sitting there but I somehow felt entitled to such temporary and unusual comfort, I guess because, “I’m not from around these parts.”
I’m using that line as long as possible.
And then it hit me: I’m not having fun. I feel stuck in this town, in this store, with no car and no desire to be the slightest bit social. And I just bought a watch. Really?! A watch.
Ok so mission accomplished. I didn’t cry. My new friends who are coming to know me for my quirky humor and Alabama twang never even knew I was hurting inside. But should that have been my goal?
It’s such a natural instinct for me to not let myself “go there” too many times than not. As soon as I get the shaky voice and the stuffy nose, I just want to crawl into a hole and die. Ok that’s a little dramatic but I think it’s safe to say I quickly turn into somewhat of a drill sergeant inside demanding this way, then that. This feeling, not that.
And you know one thing I am beginning to realize? While I spend all my time and efforts to withhold being vulnerable with people (A.K.A. when my heart turns plastic like a McDonald’s hamburger), I hurt those I am closest to because I don’t let them in. I don’t let them in to that sacred space where God actually dreams of me living. Because it is there that He gets to be God and we get to be human. He gets to be Father and we get to be child. He gets to be Creator and we get to be creation.
Simpler version? We become what we were made for: Weak.
I know, it’s a bit unsettling. I still struggle with the concept myself but God is opening my eyes to a new day, a new reality, where I actually can begin to trust in His goodness. He is inviting me to a new place on the map, an island of liberty perhaps, where He can actually hold my frail and fragile heart and let me be me.
Messy messy me. Tears and all.