The year I turned five was the year I learned how to ride a bicycle all on my own. It was also the same time I learned how to hide parts of myself to be the girl people liked. I got pretty good at both of these things as the years wore on.

A dirt-kneed and free-spirited child, my hair was forever a wild pile of unkempt hay. While I was a good and proper mama to my baby dolls and loved and spanked them when they needed it (or if I felt like it), I was also a crack shot fisherman and could spit farther than most boys in our neighborhood. There were two rowdy brothers I often played with that lived across the street. We spent most of the summer before school started criss-crossing through the woods from the fishing pond and back. One Texas-hot day the brothers and I headed to their house for a long drink from the hose and more bait. I don’t remember for sure but we probably splashed each other and made a mess. When the boys disappeared around the corner and left me waiting with their mother at the door, she took a long look at me and then bent low and whispered, “You should be ashamed of yourself. Stop running around here like a wild thing and act like a girl.”

She must have been right because I did feel the shame then.

After that day I made sure to smooth my hair a little better and tuck away my wild whenever I saw the boys’ mother. A kid doesn’t always know she does these things but because she said I should, I began hiding that side of me. She didn’t like it and, for causing me some trouble, I started to resent that wild girl part of me too.

This kind of offering up the pleasing side of me became some pattern through the years set slow and hard like wet cement. It was mostly easy to figure out the girl I needed to be that people wanted to be around because it felt like the warm glow of belonging. This good and proper girl would be the one on deck for first dates, parties, and church. That other girl who messed things up and none of us liked was also a no-brainer. This was the one who lost the relay race for the track team, said terrible awkward things that made the class laugh or didn’t get invited to the slumber party. Too much and too little all in one package, I continued to push this girl I didn’t like far behind me.

In a quiet moment one day after many tired years of refusing a seat at the table to the parts of me I didn’t love, I heard the Lord’s soft kind of whisper.

Turn around and look at the girl behind you… the one I love.

He said that surely and gently. It was only because I knew He did that I was able to turn around and view the real mess that was all of me.

And this girl is every kind of jacked up.

She snaps at her kids, is stubborn as a dead mule and assumes everyone is hanging out without her. She gets inappropriate giggles at any sort of fancy gathering, is a first class know it all, and gets mad because she cries when she gets mad. She curses with the same mouth she kisses with, secretly wants to be invited to everything, and her butt jiggles chasing after kids at the pool. She has a barefoot and dirt-kneed wild heart… and I never saw anyone who needed God so desperately in my life before. And I understood He loved this wretch something fierce right where  she stood and there was nothing she needed to do about it besides just take it.

Making peace with the girl I didn’t like meant standing in all of my terrible beauty and simply accepting that I am accepted. My hiding any part of who I am would be a tragic denial of God’s grace on my life.
It’s been long years now since I’ve made peace with the part of me that makes me fully human and still wholly loved.

This alone keeps me on my knees, reminds me of grace.

***

Grace strikes us when, year after year, the longed-for perfection does not appear, when the old compulsions reign within us as they have for decades, when despair destroys all joy and courage. Sometimes at that moment a wave of light breaks into our darkness, and it is as though a voice were saying: “You are accepted. You are accepted, accepted by that which is greater than you… Simply accept the fact that you are accepted.” If that happens to us, we experience grace.
~Paul Tillich, The Shaking of the Foundations

Melissa Blair
Melissa Blair / Posts / Blog

Melissa Blair is a writer and recovering Texan now living in the Ozark Mountains of Northwest Arkansas. Being barefoot in the kitchen or on the back porch with her people makes her as happy as strong coffee does. Melissa believes there is always treasure buried beneath the dirt of every day and enjoys digging for, dusting off, and holding each one up to the light for a better view.
She can be found writing the mess out of life at melissablair.net and is not afraid to post embarrassing status updates on her Facebook page and Instagram (@melblair)

  • Lori
    http://waitingformymiracle.wordpress.com

    Thanks for this, Melissa. ❤️

    April 17th, 2017 11:52
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    • Melissa Blair
      Melissa Blair

      Thank you for reading, Lori, and for taking the time to comment. It’s so nice to know you’re here with me. Also, can’t wait to check out your website!

      April 17th, 2017 17:43
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  • PamC

    You spoke my broken heart. Thank you

    April 17th, 2017 14:17
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    • Melissa Blair
      Melissa Blair

      Pam, I read your comment and just kind of exhaled this long, long breath. It stopped me in my tracks…I’m sorry you’ve been here too. Praying that today you feel so loved, wild and free…because you really, really are. Thank you so much touching base with me…it made my day to feel connected with you. <3

      April 17th, 2017 17:49
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  • Theresa Boedeker
    http://www.TheresaBoedeker.com

    This was strong and scary because it seems we are all hiding parts of us depending on the people and situation. So glad you embraced your wild little girl. And you are so right, God loves all our parts. Wild and crazy or not.

    April 17th, 2017 20:56
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    • Melissa Blair
      Melissa Blair

      Theresa…you are so right. What if, let’s pretend we’re free now, we could just BE? It is such a lighter load to carry. I love what you said…I hadn’t thought of it that way. Thank you for connecting here with me.

      April 20th, 2017 19:37
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  • Erin

    Yes. Been there too. God is slowly getting me to realize he really does accept all the parts of me.

    April 18th, 2017 17:13
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    • Melissa Blair
      Melissa Blair

      Erin, I just read the last page of All is Grace…that’s Brennan Manning’s memoir. Ragamuffin Gospel is the book I turn to when I need to feel Jesus’ breath on my cheek…that close. Brennan taught me more about God’s grace and whole love than anyone so far in a way that I can digest. So anyway…I am finishing his memoir and some of his last lines are: If asked whether I am finally letting God love me, just as I am, I would answer, ‘No, but I’m trying.’ And this, this dear sister, is something I can understand…we just keep trying. I really believe it means something to God. Thank you for your message today.

      April 20th, 2017 19:46
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  • Susan Mulder
    http://www.susanmulder.WordPress.com

    Oh, all I can do is sign. I was all the wrong things for my mother growing up-my hair was brown instead of blonde and always looked like an unmade bed(now it’s gray and still looks unmade!), I was too big, too loud, too shy, too much not what she wanted. I lived in the shame and spent a lifetime trying to correct my wrong-ness-because, if course, it had to be my fault. God has spoken into that hidden place but it bubbles up now and again. Thank you for this reminder of the ‘terrible beauty’s created fully, and loved fully, by God!

    April 19th, 2017 8:11
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    • Susan Mulder
      http://www.susanmulder.WordPress.com

      Auto correct never has my back… Should be ‘sigh’….Sigh.

      April 19th, 2017 8:13
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    • Melissa Blair
      Melissa Blair

      I read it as ‘sigh!’ Even before I got your next comment. I am here with you as well…I didn’t tell the whole story after…but my mother played a big role in my identity crisis for years to come. And yes, it bubbles up, and yes, it is always a fight and the enemy would rather us forget that all we are is loved because it kind of changes everything. Stained by human hands, we are. And our good glory, the one we fight for every day, is that that’s just what we see. I love the truth and candor of your message…I take it and I am lifting it…and I thank you, friend. I love your words, see you are a writer…will be looking you up 😉

      April 20th, 2017 19:40
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