I Am Worthy

 Image credit:  Dylan Spitz

Image credit: Dylan Spitz

"i only want what's real
i set aside the highlight reel
and leave my greatest failures on display with an asterisk
worthy of love anyway"

I wanted to feel very small. I didn’t know much else about what I needed out of life then, but I was sure that above all else I needed to feel very small. I needed to look around me and not see the egos that have permanent zip codes in New York. I wanted to see trees. I needed to stand in place and not feel like I was being suffocated by manufactured reality, trademarked personal brands, an entire city built of lego sets instead of real bricks. I wanted dirt under my boots. 

I wanted to feel cold because it was cold in Ohio and not because emotional distance freezes any soul. 

I wanted to have the space to scream my praise for the way God had given me the strength and guidance to build upon myself during a season that begged to pull me apart. Because my friend is right. Days after my trip to Ohio — I on the east coast, she driving through South Carolina, on her way home and to her house  — she said, “Nature doesn’t ask anything of you.”

She’d missed her first exit, and also her second one, but still we layered words over sentences over visuals about how nature and freedom and love were so intertwined. At the end of her drive, her home and her house would be in the same place; next week, home would be with her in a car as they drove to another city in Florida and home would look like him in the front seat and home would look like love. 

It made my heart skip a beat and it reminded me of how close I felt to love in the middle of trees that touched the sky in Ohio. I did a half spin in front of a camera, in front of God, and took in my joy. It was sunset and the temperature was below 40 and my friend was creatively directing me into the middle of branches and asking me to touch tree trunks like they were meant to be caressed and acknowledged. I’d never felt more beautiful and more myself. 

To feel beautiful in my own skin was a fight I’d waged against my past and my mirror for months, maybe years. Now, in the middle of Ohio, neither my past nor my mirror were invited to bear witness to how brokenness had led to this moment of glory. The only witness to how the beauty I felt inside was finding its way onto a memory card were the eyes behind the camera. To feel comfortable and beautiful in front of a lens was a feeling that’d been lost on me the minute that brokenness, fear, anxiety-induced spirals and ego knocked on our door. 

Brokenness in particular, it found me in the winter, With every day it showed up in my life, it made me stronger. With every day it looked me back in the mirror, it reminded me that what was broken wasn’t me. I was just human. 

Feeling brokenness isn’t always a reflection of my insides, sometimes it’s just an internalization of what’s happening in the world around me. And the world around me falls apart and puts itself back together constantly. It’s been avalanche after avalanche, it’s been moments of reckoning after moments of reckoning. It was red solo cup after red solo cup and deep reminders of who we chose to be when the tectonic plates below our feet shifted and rubbed against each other and pulled apart and crashed into each other again. 

I’d been at war with a craving for substance for months and instead was served moment after moment of superficiality. It drained me. By the time the new year came calling, I’d made decisions based on the person I was becoming. Reaping was going to be intentional for me this year. I would ask more. I would expect more. I would let nature teach me the biggest lesson it had for me — that my existence is enough of a reason for any love that comes my way. That I am worthy simply because I am me. 

In sweat pants and my favorite henley, or with the dress that drapes down my back like it was made for me, I am beautiful. In the middle of journal passages for my daughter or speeches at the UN on vulnerability, I am grounded, compassionate, and intelligent. In the middle of arguments, or moments of sacred intimacy, I am consistent, I am a safe place to land, I am able to stay. I am a daughter without a mother and the founder of a website that helped others feel less alone in that pain.

Because resilience is necessary when life tries to convince you that you have to prove your worth and excuse your pain. You don’t have anything to prove. You don’t have anything to justify. 

I know, because, I’ve been on the hamster wheel of “is this enough?” and so easily what that really screams is, “am I enough?”. I am enough and I’ve done enough. Enough that for too long made me feel would make up for the ways that other people in my life simply didn’t try or show up. Nothing I could have added to my to do list would make up for their lack of empathy, resistance to vulnerability, or their emotional immaturity. 

The minute I stopped trying to make up for their shortcomings, I gave myself permission for self-growth. I focused inward instead of trying harder when I was failed and not met in the middle. I gave up on needing to forgive others when they didn't make moves to repent. I was done with bridging gaps that weren’t created by me in the first place. I’m open and ready for the acceptance and love that comes from those who are anchored in things bigger than themselves. 

My friend was still driving somewhere through South Carolina on her way to I-10, while I sat on the floor in the Northeast, when I had a moment of clarity — our paths were meant to cross. We were meant to hold each other’s hands, we were meant to help each other heal past scars, and the way love had failed us before it came through for us.

I was meant to be laying on the floor, atop a white rug, with 6 pieces of tape on my left boob, because brokenness had brought me here and it was giving me the chance to take myself back. My humanity was a poke in my breast every time I moved my arm a specific way. My fragility was a tear down my cheek every time I thought of the way things could have turned out if I hadn’t stuck by doing what I knew was right for me. My strength and my self-worth were so intermingled these days that you couldn’t tell one from the other. 

Holding up a mirror to those around you makes your arm hurt after a while and it makes it too easy to forget to look in the mirror yourself. As women, we’re expected to constantly anchor and bring others home when they’ve forgotten the key has always been under the mat. But, listen, there are some seasons when I need to be guided home too. Finding myself up against walls in passion and in tears is great for a season, but not for a lifetime. I like when belonging is organic and when moments of heat are sparked by candles from Bath and Body Works. I like when my worth is anchored in my being. There’s beauty that is born when I’m seen, accepted, and loved for who I am. I’ve felt it so many times in moments when during peak anxiety I had arms wrapped around me that reminded me to breathe or in the daily reminders from my people that my heaviest stories aren’t as heavy as I think they are. I know it exists. I'm the proud owner of that kind of love and acceptance. 

“Nature doesn’t ask anything of you.”

You just pour into it, exist in it, let it show you what beauty really is. Nature doesn’t ask anything of me and still it gives me space to fall in love and reminds me that my humanity and my worth are present, regardless of where I go. Regardless of how many times I've had to rebuild. Regardless of how many people I've had to bury. Regardless of how many scars are on me like tattoos. 

“Nature doesn’t ask anything of you.”

I don’t ask anything of it. I expect it to show up as it is and to let me bear witness to its soul. There are broken trees and pines that touch the sky, all within the same forest. All within the same person.  

“Nature doesn’t ask anything of you.”

We are worthy. Me and you. Worthy.