I love words.
I love how they look inside our heads, on pages of books, and even on screens of various devices.
I love how words form clouds of vibrations in the air as people give voice to them. I love the sounds that they make, how they can put weight on our hearts, and how they can lift our spirits. I love the tones that we give them, and I love the emphasis that we place on just the right words in sentences we say.
I love how words take my jumbled thoughts from my mind and make sense when I type them into a blog post.
What I love most about words is the pictures that they create in our minds with their various meanings and how those pictures become clearer as we understand the meanings of the words in different ways that impact our lives in meaningful ways.
The word embrace has become that for me recently.
According to Merriam-Webster.com, embrace has many meanings.
One use of the definitions tells us of a physical “hug” type experience. This would seem to require at least two people who like each other enough to touch each other, to hold each other, and to be near each other for a few seconds or more.
Another sense of the word is that of acceptance in a wholehearted way. This is different than seeing reality as it is and being ok with it. Instead, we “hug” reality in the same we would a friend whom we have not seen for a long time. We bring it into ourselves and realize that how it is will be a good way to move forward once we accept it.
These definitions of the word can mean so much more when we turn the concept onto ourselves.
When I look in the mirror sometimes, I do not have a clue who it is that I see. There are glimmers of a person who was as well as who is. Who I am today is a sum of parts. Some are negative while others are very positive. If I were honest, I would say that I most often feel compartmentalized into the various ages, stages, experiences, and feelings that combine to make me Stacy today.
Rarely – though more so as I age and become very conscious of this concept – do I feel whole.
While there is no running away from the sum of our parts, most of us have parts that we would like to shed. We write stories in our heads about these parts – we think of it as memory, but is it? I do not think so. How I recall a situation and how you recall the same situation may be very different. Where do we find the reality of it? We rarely do.
How scary is that?
The revisionist historian in me wants re-write my past so that I am victorious when I was not. When I am tempted to do this, I ignore the parts that make up my whole. I desire to shed the poor decisions rather than look at them, learn from them, and grow because of them. Who I am today would be different if the path that brought me here changed. When I attempt to change the past (impossible), I would risk changing who I am today.
I drove a lot last week. Over 1200 miles of thinking time can be risky. In this case, I think I found something. Somewhere in the last hundred miles, I found an image in my head that I cannot shake.
In my mind, the now-Stacy turned around and saw myself at an age that I would love to shed. We all have them. We all probably have more than one of them. I certainly do.
I looked at her, and I realized that I am older, wiser, and stronger because of her.
Without her, I do not exist.
In my mind, I embraced her in all of the ways that the word can be used. I held onto her as you would a friend who is about to leave or who is about to fall apart. I apologized to her for wanting to get rid of her, for ignoring her, and for not seeing her strength. Perhaps most importantly, I accepted her into me as part of my whole self. I allowed that me to be absorbed into the today me.
There are more little bits of me that need this type of embrace, and it probably is not a bad thing to take a moment each day to ask “myself” if there is a bit that is feeling rejected from me. If rejection from others hurts, how much more does it hurt when we reject a bit of ourselves?
One of the synonyms that Merriam-Webster gives for embrace is cherish.
I love a good word definition search. The thesaurus may be dying in some worlds, but it is alive and well in my world. Give me a word, leave me alone to search down its likenesses, and I will find another way to see that word. That is exactly what happened to me as I considered embrace in reference to myself and these parts that nag at me to see the world their way instead of as a combined vision of the whole of me. In that search for what it really means to embrace those parts of me – to alleviate their stress of seeing the world their way – I found cherish.
All of the definitions I could find about cherish points to a very special way of seeing a person, place, or object. When we cherish something, somewhere, or someone, we love and hold it so deeply that we can barely describe why. Words leave us, and emotions flood our senses.
As I stared into my eyes in the mirror yesterday afternoon, I asked myself if I could continue to have the compassion that I found over the weekend. Time will tell, but it is my intention to look at the parts and shower love, understanding, and acceptance on them.
Ending #2 – for those who want to hear about how God fits in to this in my mind…..
One of the reasons that I bother to look at the bits and pieces of myself is because I trust the truth that these are words that God uses to see me. It is unfortunate that love is not the word that many people associate with God, but God is the ultimate lover of humanity. The now-Stacy trusts, knows, and hopes that God embraces and cherishes us regardless of the redemption and restoration that we need.
It is because of His eyes that we can embrace and cherish those bits and pieces of ourselves. It is God’s presence with us through it all that makes our shaky path straight – not because of who we were or are but because of what He did and does on our behalf.
He takes our bits and pieces and makes them whole again.
I have written about “parts of me” before, so I thought I would share with you the links to a few of those posts: