Wednesday, September 24, 2014

what skype and homesickness taught me about God

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part, but then I shall know fully even as I am fully known. -Corinthians 13:12

Today I realized my relationship with God is something like a bad Skype connection.
After 3 ½ months in Cameroon, Central Africa, and looking forward to another 2 months of internship away from my family, I know something about bad Skype connections. I know calculating time differences and desperation to see the faces of the people I love, miscommunication and missing them by 2 minutes, lying awake in my mosquito net re-reading gratitude journal entries about family because I’ve run out of internet credit and Camtel isn’t open till Monday.
But I know also the joy of my Yaoundé balcony seat, curled up telling my family my adventures and worries; I know sitting shoulder to shoulder with my Kribi sister Marcelle, the unstoppable smiles as my sisters meet across the world; I know memorizing details in the middle of the market, storing up my best stories for them; I know how this stilted connection helps homesickness and makes it worse simultaneously, it’s a taste of the real thing that comforts and entices. I played catch up, splicing together their delayed image with garbled words, gathering enough of the gist to give joy but prolong frustration.

Because the fuzzy pixelated beauty of my baby sister’s face cannot compare to the moment when I was finally home and could kiss her chubby cheeks. Squealing with my sisters about boys and impatiently demanding they Skype the next day to give me the next installment of their current life-story meant I missed out on being physically there. But I was delighted to find that, a continent away, I was still very much a part of their life story, and they mine. It wasn’t perfect, but it was enough to get me through.
And that, I realized, is God. Through sunshine and coffee morning devotions, underlined passages and dog eared  Bibles, late night conversations with people who know my soul, tall pines and red needle carpets, I get little pixelated images, but I have to do the brainwork and put together the picture, the face of God in my life.

And these glimpses of God satisfy my soul and makes me more hungry at the same time, it’s a taste of the homecoming that’s coming, when he shall live amongst us. It’s realizing that all of history is leading up to the real homecoming that waits.

Look, God's home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. -Revelation 21:3 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

how getting outside helped me get outside of self-hate

Yoga helped save me from self hate.

Learning to love my body has been a long journey. In high school, I used to fall asleep thinking about how ugly I was; self-hate and body-image issues haunted my life. When I discovered yoga and learned to windsurf, I took the first steps towards healing. Exercising had always seemed like a punishment to me, but I fell in love with yoga and windsurfing for the sheer fun of it, for the tension of sails and wind and water on my windsurf board, for the joy of holding crow pose two seconds longer, for the thrill of challenging myself and growing. I discovered that my body is capable of more than being looked at.
It’s through my body that I get to experience the world, I get to hug my baby sister, dance through fall leaves crunching under my bare feet, taste triple chocolate brownies. While loving my body for its own sake was still a long way off, I slowly began to appreciate my body for all that it allowed me to do. I began to exercise to celebrate, not punish, my body.  And eventually, the day came when I was able to appreciate my body for its own sake too.

I’m thrilled that this fall, the Annual Women’s Center “I Love My Body Day” on Wednesday, September 10th will coincide with a new social media campaign #girlgetoutside which encourages girls and women to engage in outdoor activities. As a participating college, we’re also using #sienagirlgetoutside to join the nationwide campaign. Join us. It just might change your life too.

I got outside; I got outside physically, I got outside of my comfort zone and challenged myself, I got outside of my prejudices about what “exercising” had to look like. Most surprising of all, this helped me get outside of the cycle of self-hate I’d lived in for so long. I’m signing my name on our “I love my body just the way it is” banner with a proud flourish, because thanks to God and getting outside, it’s finally true.