Wednesday, February 24, 2010

she who laughs...

One of my dearest friends posted this photo on Facebook today. It was taken about 16 or 17 years ago during a meal at campus ministry retreat in Indiana. My friend, Nate, and I are stopped in the middle of the room laughing. It's one of my favorite photos of myself. Ever. Ever ever. In the history of ever. I look at that photo and see my true self. There I am in a room full of people with my head tilted back laughing with my whole being.

That is me. That is me being free. That is me inviting others to the party.

The people in my life who know ME will likely tell you that when they picture Jennifer they picture someone who looks like the girl in that photo.

When that Jennifer isn't around - for a variety of reasons - things do not feel right.

But, there have been a lot of times when that Jennifer has felt misunderstood. Like a liability. Embarrassed of and by herself. She’s felt her cheeks go flushed from the glare of people who don’t understand and think she laughs too loudly. Her laughter sounds like noise. Her very self, a handicap. Unwanted, unneeded.

Something to be punished for.

Something to be ashamed of.

Do you know how much energy it takes to bottle up a personality that big? But she has to find a way to package all of that up no matter how exhausting it will be. Being like this is no way to live.

She feels like she is too much.

She feels like no one wants to be around her.

And then there are times when that Jennifer is just NOT IN THE MOOD. She has come down with a fever and needs to crawl under the covers and hide under mounds of quilts and pillows. This is not a simple case of the sniffles. She does not feel like being around and knows it would be better to stay tucked away than to risk getting anyone else sick. Forcing her to come out and play just prolongs recovery. It makes her wish for more quilts and pillows to be piled on. She just wants to be alone. But she gets lonely and would love a hug. Would love to be held. She does not have the energy to get dolled up. Yet doesn't want to be seen this way. She tells herself that's to protect the people around her - spare them from her. But maybe that's an excuse. Maybe it's a matter of courage and trust and vulnerability. Once again, she feels misunderstood. Embarrassed. Fearful. She misses herself. This is exhausting and no way to live.

She feels like she is not enough.

She feels like no one wants to be around her.

When certain people begin to notice her absence it's…
a criticism.
a taunting.
a good riddance.
a "see ya later" from a fair weather friend.

But the ones who matter and miss her...their words feel like...
a phone call from an old friend.
an invitation to come out and play.
a bright yellow greeting card…. “thinking of you”...
or "get well soon".
an apology.
a request for music.
an invitation to dance.
an invitation to be me.


Anonymous said...

:`( ILY, Jennifer!

Anonymous said...

Honey, you are the unique and wonderful and beautiful creation of God! You are a gift to us all!!!

Anonymous said...

P.S. You have been a blessing and inspiration to me in ways you don't know. When I first 'discovered' your blog and then later on Facebook... the tender but bold way in which you have always expressed your faith inspired me and gave me courage to do so as well! Thank you!

John Carroll Coomer said...

Well said. Wish I could write like you do, Daughter. Keep it up.

L. Peyton Adams said...

I think my Mom would have been glad to know you like she did your Dad and you are a good writer. I always admire good writing in folks. It is what makes civilization more civil and life better. A good book always requires a good writer somewhere in the background.

Jennifer Coomer said...

Wow. Thank you everyone. Thank you. I'm not sure what else to say.