Put your best foot forward. That’s what they say. Put your best foot forward. And I think they’re right but only partly.
They’re right that we should raise our own bar.
They’re right that we have a lot of best to give, and we’d do well to remember that’s true.
They’re right that there’s time after time after time when we need to put on our grown-up pants, set aside our whining, and give more than we think we’ve got. (Why, hello, parenting!)
Put your best foot forward, I hear.
But that’s a hard thing to do all the time. And especially when you wear your flaws out front. Or, in my case, on my face.
The whispering started when I was in the 3rd grade. Every recess. Every lunch. Constant - incessant - whispering. But it wasn’t behind my back, as you might expect.
Oh, no. It was to-my-face whispering.
Or, rather, it was to-my-nose whispering. In fact, kids lined up around the playground to tell secrets to my nose.
I know; it was weird. And it’s OK if you’re confused and thinking, “Whaaa…??” Because who’s ever heard of telling secrets to a nose? Isn’t that what ears are for?
Well, yes, dear friend. Yes! You’re right. And that is the joke, exactly.
You see, my nose is approximately 20% ear. My ear, in fact, which is what the surgeons harvested to reconstruct my nose after it was partially devoured by a dog who forgot his manners and tried to eat my face. The fact that I’m patched together at all is a tribute to modern medicine, years of reconstructive and plastic surgeries, and my parents’ determination to fund an insane amount of dental work. (Thank you, Parents!)
Although I’ve been told by many medical professionals that I “might want to have further work done,” I’ve elected not to do it, and so I have scars that run down the side of my nose and through my lips, and there’s a chunk missing from my ear.
I’m going to camp this week – middle school camp – to teach 150 young women a class on identity and image and beauty and God and somehow making our way toward our deepest, truest selves. I am ECSTATIC about this. It’s an incredible opportunity. And, I’ll be honest, it’s weird.
It’s weird, y’all.
It’s weird because the people who asked me to teach this class know me. They know flawed, crazy, beautiful, awful me, and they still asked.
It’s weird because my teenage daughter will be there, and she gave me permission to do this. I asked her months ahead of time, positive her “NO WAY, Mom!” would echo off of the mountain behind our house, but she was excited and encouraging and supportive and mature and eager to hear what her mommy has to say.
It’s weird because I’m several months into my own upheaval – my own discomfort and uneasy transformation - where I feel so very strongly and so very spiritually that living into my deepest, truest self means that I must, wherever possible, put both feet forward even though that means that the Messy Foot gets equal billing with the Best Foot… and the Doubt Foot stands next to the Faith Foot… and the Funny Foot balances me alongside the Serious Foot.
And it’s especially weird because I’m as scarred and broken and stupid as I am pretty and strong and brave, and I see each of those things every time I catch my reflection in the mirror or in writing or in friendship. I carry the complexity of being a woman – of being human – with me everywhere I go.
I’ve worked for weeks now to try to distill a message of hope and faith and real beauty into language that young women might understand. And along the journey, I’ve found that much of the message was also meant for me.
Along the way, I’ve been learning to listen to Love loving me.
That’s it. The core, really.
I’m learning to listen to Love loving me, and I hope to share Love’s voice this week.
Put your best foot forward. That’s what they say. Put your best foot forward. And I think they’re right. But only partly. Because sometimes we move through life with our flaws out front. And Love loves our scars, too.
While I’m at camp this week, I’m running a parallel blog series on Women and Beauty in Faith and Culture. I’ve asked three writers whose authenticity and faith I admire to share their personal stories with you. Look for their writing here Tuesday through Thursday.
I’ll be popping in and out of here as I’m able, and I’ll also be on Facebook periodically.
See you soon!