Last year I entered into an organization to guide teenagers on trails across the western United States. Jesus, the wilderness, backpacking. This mission, in short, was what I was made to do.
Before I took my first group out “on trail,” I was called into an office. At 7:45 in the morning, bleary-eyed and still somewhat asleep, my extracurricular activities were brought into question. A topless “Mountain Babes” picture on my Facebook page was the topic of discussion. I was told to take it down.
Being called higher was slid into the conversation. There was a fear that I would do something like this with under-aged children. While never stated explicitly, I could feel the implied undertones: sin, lawsuit, immodesty, donors. I was applauded for handling this with such maturity as I assured them I would do ask they asked.
I left the room sick. Physically ill and shaking, I deleted the pictures from social media, untagged my affiliation with this group, and filtered all of my comments on images from my past. I dare you to find the real me on my social media. She’s gone.
The picture in question featured one of my best childhood friends, a musician, gardener, and trout-fisher extraordinaire, along with a newly-acquainted friend, a backcountry babe, yogi, and mender of souls. Behind the camera was an equally terrific, Ironman finisher and outdoor enthusiast! The three of us stood looking out at the incredible vista of the San Juan Mountains; bare-back to the camera, hands to the heavens, vulnerable. The Lord smiled down on us.
To clarify from the beginning of this post, I’m not here to argue the implications of calling a woman’s back provocative. Or to state an opinion on this ministry’s position on social media, modesty, or sin. In fact, I deeply respect the individuals that had this hand in my refinement.
Yet, some twisted unraveling started in my soul that morning and I am no longer the same person I was when I walked into that meeting.
The sick feeling didn’t leave right away. I was physically nauseous for three weeks. My therapist says that I am a world-class compartmentalizer, but I couldn’t put this feeling to the side. I knew that something was either terribly wrong or, something was about to be made terribly right.
Everything that I thought I was started to come undone. You see, on my best days, I’m naked on the top of a mountain crying PRAISE YOU JESUS, and the Lord meets me there. He meets me in the vulnerability and nakedness of my soul, and He restores me.
Yet, the yarn continued to come undone.
Yet, core beliefs about my place in this religious construct continued to crumble.
Yet, I doubted myself as a guide. I doubted myself as a Leader. I doubted myself as a follower of Christ.
“Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.”
Yet and Therefore. Hope.
My soul smiles when I come across those words.
Yet and Therefore.
Even though they tried, they failed. Therefore, God sent His Son.
Yet and Therefore.
Yet, I am tired and weary, and an ember stirs in my soul. I’ve spent the last three months evaluating my actions. I have questioned everything: ministry, mission, feminism, and sexuality; my intentions, my motives, my goals, my education, my voice, my power as a woman. Jesus, are you in this? I have spent the last three months accounting for idolatry, wrath, and envy. Oh envy. My envy of those not called to ministry. Why is it Lord, that you keep calling me back to the very thing that stings me most?
And most troubling (and freeing) is that I have begun the arduous process of defeating a haunting un-truth that, in this unraveling, had crept back into my mind more sinister than ever before:
There must be something wrong with me. I am deficient if, at 26 years old, my integrity is being questioned. Unloveable. Too Much. Something is wrong with me.
I was eight years old when I recognized Jesus as my savior. I was 12 years old when I began to listen to the Holy Spirit. I was 14 when I felt a call to international missions. I was 16 years old when the Lord made it clear that following him was my only safe-haven.
Eight-year-old Corinne, 12-year-old Corinne, 16-year-old Corinne, and 26-year-old Corinne put on the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shield of faith, and the helmet of salvation. We pick up the sword of the Spirit, and we go to battle against these evil lies. We arm ourselves together, past, present, and future, to do battle. Battling for others is something we do well. Fighting for ourselves is uncharted territory.
In a journal entry, I feverishly scribble, “If only. If only they knew what Jesus had redeemed in my life.”
Even though I question and argue and take my shirt off on mountain peaks. Even though I curse. Even though I am loud. Even though my filter should have been changed 10,000 miles ago. Even though I may believe a lie for an instant: “too much” or “made wrong.” Even though I find myself broken and bleeding before the cross. Even though I am messy in this life. Even though I am lonely in this life. Even though I disappoint. Even though I will never be enough.
“Yet, this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.”
Christians, why are we hiding? Why are we not showing our lamenting hearts? Our praise-filled hearts? Our broken hearts? Our war-torn hearts?
Why are we afraid to be seen? Why am I afraid to be seen?
Why am I afraid to be seen when I serve a God that knows me in and out, already? A God that desires for me to know Him more fully. A God that yearns for His people to understand how He cares for us and loves us.
If you venture further into Lamentations 3, you will find the following verses:
“The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,
to the one who seeks him;
it is good to wait quietly
for the salvation of the Lord.
It is good for a man to bear the yoke
while he is young.
Let him sit alone in silence,
for the Lord has laid it on him.
Let him bury his face in the dust—
there may yet be hope.
Let him offer his cheek to one who would strike him,
and let him be filled with disgrace.
For no one is cast off
by the Lord forever.
Though he brings grief, he will show compassion,
so great is his unfailing love.
For he does not willingly bring affliction
or grief to anyone.”
Yet and Therefore.
Therefore: Lord, you have begun an unraveling in Your warrior’s soul. This ember burns for the healing You have started in me. Lord of all, let me PRAISE YOU on mountaintops and in valleys. Let me praise You with vulnerability. Let me weep to You in moments of despair. Let Your hope and Your view of me be a comfort. Let my song be one of Your desire to commune with us as messy, dangerous, provocative human beings. Let my leadership be carefully curated and sculpted for Your mission. Let my wisdom be that of You, solely. Let my tongue be as consistent as the stream of atonement. Jesus, let us not forget that we are made in the image of God. Let us not forget our place at the table and that the more we commune with the triune God, His creation, and His people, the more we are drawn to the likeness of Him.
Let us not forget that even though our shortcomings fill novels, the hope of the Lord is in us and His compassions never fail.