Tuesday, December 19, 2006

at seventeen

There was a song popular during my high school years that seemed to define that time frame for me very well. It was by Janis Ian, and I still remember so many of the lyrics.

I learned the truth at seventeen
That love was meant for beauty queens
And high school girls with clear-skinned smiles
Who married young and then retired
It seemed like those years were filled with attempts to get rid of the latest round of acne, the latest five, ten, fifteen pounds gained and repeatedly lost, tame my eyebrows and my body hair, try to feel at least somewhat normal at a time when my hormones kept ambushing me in the worst ways...God broke into my life when I was fourteen, but even as supernaturally spectacular as that intervention to my life was, the outworking of it to me seemed largely invisible. I wanted to suddenly be transformed both inwardly and outwardly into someone people would notice!
And those of us with ravaged faces
Lacking in the social graces
Desperately remained at home
Inventing lovers on the phone
It seemed it was not to be, at least not as long as I believed only in the value the world placed on a fat, bespectacled girl with acne who never really fit in anywhere. I was reminded recently that I will never achieve the life I was meant for or a goal I dearly prize unless I first believe I can. Belief is what changed my life, not a diet or face cream, or even growing older and expecting maturity and wisdom to simply happen. They don't. Nothing does without faith.
We all play the game and when we dare
To cheat ourselves at solitaire
Inventing lovers on the phone
Repenting of our lives unknown
There has to come a time when faith takes hold, a faith that sees not what is, but what can be, a faith that shucks off the visible perimeters of flesh, circumstance, limitations, and boldly proclaims, "I believe!" I look back to what God has done in my life since high school, a time that some people see as their "glory days", apologies to Bruce Springsteen, and see the invisible appearing out of the impossible where I broke through the barriers in my mind. Fear died...slowly, but it did. Suddenly the world seemed larger and possibilities grew with every determination to move forward. Limitations fell, circumstances moved into the right places as my flesh bowed to my spirit and the Spirit of God. The miracle is, this can happen at any age, any place, any time! How exciting this is! I look at my life nearing 50 and think I can't wait to see what will happen-bring it on, Lord!
It was long ago and far away
The world was younger than today
And dreams were all they gave for free
To ugly duckling girls like me


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