Twice today I had opportunities to share small pieces of my heart and I shrunk back instead. I shared circumstances rather than soul. I stumbled over words and dismissed something that meant a lot to me rather than speaking boldly about it. I do this a lot. I often withhold my heart from others, because consciously or unconsciously I make a decision about my worth, and the worth of what I have to share.
I decide for them that they wouldn't care. I decide that it wouldn't be as important to them as it is to me, and because it is so important to me (as all things that are of the heart are) I fear they won't give it the attention or care I want, so it's better not to share, not to put it out there. I shrink back.
"They have their own things, they don't want to hear about mine."
"Now's not the time. They aren't really asking for heart stuff, they are just asking in passing and if I go to heart stuff it will get uncomfortable."
"They don't really want to know. They are just being nice."
Often thoughts like these move so quickly through me that I can't tease them out or discern them, I just stumble over my words and pass up the opportunity before I realize it even was an opportunity.
At yoga today a women I respect and look up to, who I would also really like to get to know better (the worst combination for making me feel socially anxious) commented on my hair and then asked if there was something that prompted the extreme cut. It was a perfect opportunity to let her see heart, to maybe broaden this casual friendship. I sputtered and stumbled and mumbled something about it "just being time".
Friends, this hair cut was about so much more than it "just being time." It was something holy, something long coming, something necessary. It was something worth documenting and remembering, something worthy of a blog post despite my long silence in this space.
I wrote in the fall about snakes shedding skin, and the need to strip off what isn't for me anymore. I've been sitting with that for a long time. A few things have peeled off, a few things are fighting to peel off now, there is constant shedding and re-evaluating, this last season has been full of it. But for awhile now I've been feeling a new season stirring. A season not separate or different from this season of shedding, of giving up territory that's not mine, of breaking old chains, but a season that moves broader. I needed an outward symbol of this season. I needed a act that solidified the desire to not put old shed skin back on again. I needed a symbolic gesture that showed I'd been there, I'd shed, and now it was time to move on to new depths.
And more than that, I needed a new shedding, a shedding of the part of me that devalues myself. The part of me that feels about twelve even though I'm in my mid-thirties. The part of me that puts others up on pedestals and says they are so much better and far beyond me that I have no right to want to be their friend, or even to give them honest glimpses of my heart when asked. The part of me that makes myself small and young, incapable and weak, timid and afraid. The part of me that forgets that I have something to offer the world, that I do have value, and a voice, and a place.
I needed a haircut that not only symbolically shed layers, but that also was a bit bold, confident, spunky even. Something that made me look mid-thirties instead of mid-twenties. I prayed for bold confidence as the scissors snapped and the pieces of hair fell to the floor, confidence to be who I am, to share who I am, to believe that I am valued and deeply loved.
Today, when I shrunk back from sharing even a small glimpse of my heart, I shrunk back from that prayer without even realizing it. So I'm realizing it now, I'm confessing it, I'm saying I want to live bold, authentic, open hearted, and confident. I'm tired of shrinking I'm tired of hiding.
Oh but, friends, change comes slowly, and even today's story doesn't stop there. I shrunk when it came to speaking about my hair and then I puffed up when the next opportunity to share heart came. Both times I hid.
Three different people this morning asked me how my first yoga class at my new home studio went last week. Here was another opportunity to share heart, instead I chose to highlight only certain things, things that kept the conversation light and comfortable, even things that made me look good without showing hurt.
I shared about how the room was full and how we ended up with more people than I expected because some of my friends brought their older kids to do yoga too.
But, friends, this is another area of my life that I need to document, that I need to process out in words, and for some reason I've been shrinking away from sharing, not just in person but even in writing. More than that this is an area of my life where I really need encouragement and advice and people to hold space for me. I need sisterhood in this area of my life and I've hidden from it.
I'm terrified to start trying to teach yoga again. That's the truth of it. Scared absolutely shitless.
This desire to teach yoga started almost 8 years ago. It came at me with fire and passion and a vision that was big and beautiful and beyond anything I'd ever experienced. I wanted to do more than teach yoga, I wanted to usher people into the presence of the Spirit of God. I wanted to lead them in an experience of worship that was wholistic and complete. I wanted to shift things in their bodies, hearts and spirits. I wanted to preach and teach and walk beside them in tangible, physical, radical ways. I wanted a class that would be more than a class, I wanted a sisterhood, a tribe, a deeply bonded community who would hold space for one another, who would do more than practice yoga together, who would practice life together. I didn't know anyone doing that. I had never heard of holy yoga, or Yahweh yoga, or Jesus & yoga, or anything like that.
I started a yoga teacher training program and at the same time started teaching whoever I could gather in to my home for free classes. I called it yoga and prayer or something super basic like that and you can find some of those early classes in the archives of this blog. I started with so much energy and then there were a lot of classes where only one person showed up, or no one showed up. This little seed of a dream started to show some small cracks.
Then I got pregnant and my world turned upside down and this little seed got buried.
Every now and then over the years I would start teaching again. A few months of classes in my home, a few weeks of teaching in my mother-in-laws living room, a random class here or there, a few classes for the college group at church, a few weeks of teaching corporate classes at my dad's office, but nothing came close to touching that original vision. Every attempt felt like a breaking, a cracking in the dark. Each attempt ended in hurt or disappointment.
Most of the time tending to this dream has looked like tending to dirt (or tending to shit). I've spent money on trainings and mats, props and books. Always with the question, "why the heck do I keep doing this?" hanging heavy on my shoulders. But isn't that what it's like tending to seeds before they germinate, before they sprout? You water dirt. You care for dirt.
And some seeds have such long germination times.
Right now, having an entire room of my house devoted to yoga and tentatively starting to teach classes again, somehow feels different than other times I've tried to teach. When I was praying this morning I had the perfect picture for it. This attempt feels like a sprout. It's not the full plant I want it to be, but it feels like something green and alive, fresh and new. It feels different than attempts I've made in the past, it doesn't feel buried. Something is breaking out of the dark. I can feel it. I don't know quiet what yet, but it's there.
Oh, but it is fragile, like one tiny shoot reaching out towards the light. It feels like it needs protecting, a greenhouse of warmth and encouragement. And though it's there above ground, it's main job isn't to produce fruit or even grow much, it's main job is still to put down roots, to soak up all of the nutrients from the rich soil that it can. So, class last week was good. It felt alive, a living thing bigger than me, but it also felt so fragile, so tender, so thin and small and easily destroyed.
Teaching again has meant breathing into a lot of hurt spaces for me, a lot of self doubt, a lot of fear of rejection, a lot of feelings of not being good enough, a lot of hard sticky spaces. It has meant a lot of falling before God and asking for a movement of the Spirit, for him to do a work in me and through me, for him to bring to completion the dream he gave me. A lot of praying for him to change how I see myself, to give me a right view of myself, not too high and also not too low. A lot of praying for bold confidence to value what he's given me to share.
Grace and peace, friends.
Grace and peace,