OK… so lets just jump right into this. Hello there! I am Elisabeth, currently a decently confident woman- married to a great guy and mom of 2 cute kids. Because I am more comfortable in my skin than ever before, I’d like to introduce you to “awkward adolescent Elisabeth.” So when I was in my early teens, for some reason (probably that I was in middle school and needed to redefine myself as something other than scholastic bookworm), I decided that I liked ska music (basically punk rock with a horn section) as well as “skanking” to ska music. Gaah… I said it. It’s out there. So embarrassing, I know.
Now that you think less of me, let me describe how I understood the appropriate way to “skank” so you can fully understand the beauty and grace of it, and participate if you are ever so inspired. First, wear a baggy t-shirt and really baggy wide leg jeans. Then, hunch your back over like you have to pick up something from the ground but can’t bend your knees. Then, start skipping (left left, right right, alternating). On each foot’s second step you should kick instead of step, so you end up with a hop/kick alternating on each side, all the while hunched over. Now lets get the arms moving- place your hands in a loose fist and, alternating arms (from the opposite side of the lower half of your body) stick out your elbow and forearm in a “punch to the side while blocking a punch” motion, horizontal to your hunched over chest. Do everything together in spastic rythym, kicking and punching higher and harder in response to faster and louder ska music. Elegant, right? It really accents the trumpet, bass lines, and baggy outfits.
Anyway, graceful swan of a middle-schooler that I was, skanking was the primary way that I enjoyed ska music. I would practice this choppy dance in my room and execute it with a crowd at a concert. Christian ska concerts with Christian ska bands, of course, because, you know, I would only rebel SO MUCH. The O.C. Supertones and Five Iron Frenzy made the top of my list in 8th grade!
Thankfully, after middle school the ska phase faded away, but I recently thought of it because of a question my husband asked me. We had been looking up questions to ask each other so we could figure out new things about each other (we’ve been married 9 years so we don’t run into a ton of new info these days) and he asked me “If you had a soundtrack to your life, what songs would be on it?” Another quick confession- I am absolutely HORRIBLE at remembering names or words of songs- so the song list ended up being pretty short. Oddly enough though, the first song I thought of fondly was one of the old ska songs by Five Iron Frenzy I knew it was something about a boy and his mom and flowers, so I did a little research (everybody knows that means I Googled it) and found the song, “Dandelions.” It is about a boy giving his mom some dandelion weeds, but when the mother looks at them she doesn’t see just weeds, she sees is his love for her.
My middle school self always liked this idea but now as a mom I understand this concept even more. I have a 2 ½ year old daughter who loves finding “treasures” and giving them to me- “Yook mama! I haf a tweashur for you! Atorn! A wot! Yeaves!” (acorn, rock, leaves hehehe she’s so darn cute!). On my own I wouldn’t consider these items treasure but when my daughter points these things out to me and decides to give them to me it melts my heart, even when the “rock” is actually a small chunk of dog poop from a neighbors yard (I wish I was exaggerating).
The song’s takeaway is that even though parts of our lives can often seem insignificant, imperfect, or even ugly to others or ourselves, God loves and values every part of who we are.
My current confession: I sometimes still believe I need to hide or ignore the parts of my life that seem ugly or embarrassing or cringe-worthy (skanking, anyone?), and present myself as a put-together person who offers humanity what I consider valid and beautiful contributions.
This is the ugly truth that I have believed about myself- a lot of what I have to offer is like a common cheaper-than-cheap dandelion weed: I have nothing unique to offer, I have not tried hard enough to become the expert, and I should cringe at and be embarrassed of certain parts of my life. Therefore I will only offer the parts of myself that I deem worthy or good or beautiful… I end up holding back so much, stopping before I start.
Yet, I have found a beautiful truth that I am beginning to choose to believe: Simply that I am loved and valuable. And if I am loved that means every single person alive is also loved and valuable. If this is true then how does that change how we live and connect with each other? So, I am writing about my life -my skills, my self perception, my delightful middle school dancing, all stories of my life that make me look good AND make me look pretty bad- no matter what weeds end up in the mix.
The amazing thing is as I begin to see love instead of weeds, I begin to have grace for myself and for others. What I used to see as the ugly truth (about myself and others) is now beginning to look pretty beautiful. I am writing this blog to share my stories, the ugly beautiful ones, so we can learn together, find hope together, and maybe even laugh together. Join me in my journey to discover The Beautiful Truth.