Who are you, really?


yoga

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Some days run in loops, endless laundry cycles. I feel that I may measure out my life in sippy cups. No matter the stage of life, sometimes it can drone on until you wonder who you are anymore. Sometimes you have to step away to be able to see deeper inside yourself. We can walk deep spiritless ruts into our identities: “single,” “straight,” “married,” “man,” “mother,” “lawyer,” writer,” “preacher.” Sometimes we can so become one identity or another that we lose our actual selves.

This is why I decided to go to yoga. That, and my body is threatening to crap out on me. I go to yoga because it’s one of the few places where I see my simple self, how it is God sees me, not solely the mother, the friend, or the wife. There’s everything beautiful about those other roles, but they aren’t my true identity. I believe ultimately that when God looks on me, He sees Christ.  It’s hard to walk in Him, when you don’t believe you can.

My yoga story begins with my girlfriend Casee who recently got her certification as an instructor, and when it first began, she came over to hang out. We prayed together and got to talking. Before I knew it she had me in the floor helping me out with my crazy hips, and then she landed in the floor next to me. We were learning to align ourselves and practicing simply how to lie down. After a while I realized that she and I had been lying there face to face talking real up close like two little sisters with no sense of personal space. There’s a purity metaphor in the intimacy of close siblings that can’t be found anywhere else. We met years ago in Spanish class, and we always only ever speak in metaphor. We have a deep essence together of what potheads love in smokey circle time, only without the smoke or weed. Casee is one of my best friends. We’ll get grey-headed together; I’m sure of it.

Last week I got a little one-on-one session with her. We laid our mats together, and she led it just for me, for the way I’m shaped.  She used all the yoga words and explained all the kundalini definitions. She spoke of divine union, we sisters there together understanding the whole thing through the lens of Christ. A better way to put it is that when we’re together, it’s all Christ. It’s always about Christ, everything, history, physics, and others’ pursuits to know divinity. Two years ago I wouldn’t have been comfortable with this, but now I’ve been wooed into God more and more by how I’ve watched Him woo her.

At the end of class there is always a time I usually just call the chill-out time, which is actually why anyone should ever want to go to yoga. You get to lie down and take deep meditative breaths, and somehow you get to call it exercise. This time with Casee, though, she led me in savasana, the death or corpse pose. After 40 minutes of what felt like a fairly rigorous balancing act with a sprinkling of cardio, I got to lie down under a blanket in the discipline of complete stillness. She had read scripture over me, since it was just the two of us, something from Isaiah 40. Referring back to it, she directed me to sink into the floor, release of tension and also a full awareness of my body and the energy within.

As I began to feel like one big immovable bag of sand, she quickly pointed a question straight to my heart, only to be answered there, and strangely the answer was very very clear. “What is the greatest desire of your heart?” And without hesitation I thought “to please Him. I want to please God.”

Before that makes me sound so mighty and sweet, know that my life long, I have begged of Him,”Please make me good.” It’s my most little girl prayer, and it’s the most desperate thought I have. So much of it is absolutely rooted in an intense near hopeless feeling that I’ll never make the cut. I’ll never be good enough. Often I’ll think I’ve shoved my beggary down deep, but when I had stopped to meditate that night and put my body aside, I realized just how close to the top of my mind is the thought that God barely puts up with me. I only ever stand before him because He merely tolerates me.

I’m not sure how, but then Casee led the thought, not even knowing my answer. She said to switch the desire, to tell myself the desire as if it is something true, and yes I understand how kookie this sounds. For me to turn the desire of my heart into a positive statement was for me to think to myself, “I am pleasing to God.” Over and over again, I repeated this phrase to myself as Casee spoke over my entire body going from part to part. My mouth is pleasing to God. My nose. My eyes are pleasing. My hands. My thighs are pleasing. My fingers. My feet.

I went over my body and saw myself completely and utterly belonging. In the laid out posture of death, tears brimming, I was in Him and of Him, and I knew beyond a shadow that I am pleasing to my God.

This is my real identity. All other roles should come under and flow out of this knowledge.

Call your hot shower a sanctuary if you must. Learn to take a walk around to the unvisited side of the house. Where do you give yourself the space to know who you really are?

amberhaines
About me

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21 Comments

Ashlee
Reply January 27, 2014

I love this, Amber. Thanks for sharing. I often feel this way on Sunday mornings, standing in church with my eyes closed, singing worship songs with open hands. It's so freeing and powerful, to be overwhelmed with love. Too often I sink right back into Monday mornings, feeling barely tolerated, as you said. Perhaps I need to incorporate more daily worship into my weeks ;)

    Amber
    Reply January 27, 2014

    Yes, Ashley, every single time I worship with song, I think to myself, why do I not go around like this all the time? Engaging is art, too, is often very much worship and like yoga all at once.

Lori Harris
Reply January 27, 2014

i so love your words.
and my rickety old suburban is my sanctuary.
driving makes me feel brave.

    Amber
    Reply January 27, 2014

    Lori, I love alone car time, too. I am always up for it.

Missy K
Reply January 27, 2014

Oh Amber.
Oh.
Thank you for this beautiful gift. I needed so much to read this today.
Thank you.

Sam
Reply January 27, 2014

Two things -
1) Thanks for reminding me how badly I need "face time" with my friend, my 'soul sister' SaraBeth - We've never attempted yoga together, but she's very good at helping me get back to who I am.
2) You're not just tolerated. You're celebrated ;) http://www.samanthalowdermilk.com/2014/01/you-are-loved.html

Karen
Reply January 27, 2014

I'm finding myself when I meditate on scripture and let it penetrate me. Having resisted it most of my life and instead spending qualitative lifetimes in the smokey circle, I'm now coming full circle back and discovering that my heart is truly at peace resting in God and following Jesus and only there. Life can be pretty funny sometimes, in a tragic sort of way. :)

Jennifer
Reply January 27, 2014

Part of me, I realize is yearning for this intimacy I know is true, I know if for me. I am grateful for the invitation to the healing He wants to do in our hearts, deeply, truly, completely. Thank you, Amber.

the Blah Blah Blahger
Reply January 27, 2014

Holy wow...this was intense and SO good! I want a Casee!

Sue
Reply January 28, 2014

Amber, well said. For me that deep ME-ness with Jesus in this season it is at sunrise and in silence…and never when I am rushing! It does happen sometimes when I'm reading random things too...

Rachel Franklin
Reply January 28, 2014

Honestly, I don't know if I know what "that place" is for me. Maybe I've not let myself know. But now is the time to learn. I love this post so very much.

Tanya Marlow
Reply January 28, 2014

Low on energy so this'll be short: loved this. You've got me wondering what my desire is - and I already see the power of reframing it as an answer - my eyes were brimming with tears at the end. Maybe that is my little-girl-prayer too.

Tara Owens
Reply January 28, 2014

There's something about engaging my body (however that happens) that lets me get deeper into my true heart space than I can any other way. I don't think that's prescriptively true for everyone, but there's so much that happens in the sanctuary of blood and bone, when I move and make room in these interior spaces, I often here the gentle hum of Jesus singing the tune of myself that I'd largely forgotten. Thank you for this, Amber. Thank you.

Stephanie
Reply January 28, 2014

I recently stumbled upon your and your husband's blogs ... thru another, a friend blogger of yours. I love how you write - it provokes thought and inspiration. Longer ago, I was once more involved with things of Christ ... I held onto hope for an unhealthy marriage. I am divorced, raising my 3 (19, 16, and 12). My son is on the autism spectrum. I work in mental health. Understanding things ogf psychology helps me a lot now. I do not feel fully like the woman I was when I was so close to that exposure to scripture, believing, praying, hoping, worshipping like I did back then.

This post is lovely .... lovely to think of a friend as dear, close and loving as this.

MaryAnn
Reply January 28, 2014

Amber, you have presented a beautifully written and very powerful message of seeking the Lord in body and spirit is what God desires of us... For you were bought with a price, therefore glorify God in body and spirit. (1 Corinthians 6:20) That is the foundation Scripture of PraiseMoves... the Christian alternative to yoga. You see, yoga is a Hindu-theistic philosophy, and when you move into yoga poses what you probably don't realize is that you are actually offering your body to one of many Hindu gods that the poses are named for. Shiva - the Hindu god of destruction is also the god of yoga. I had never knew anything about yoga when I came across PraiseMoves and it transformed my life through the Word - the postures have been redeemed and each one is associated with a Scripture that we meditate on, and many PM postures are unique to PraiseMoves. The corpse pose is actually our Refuge posture and we meditate on the Scripture from Psalm 46:10-11, Be still and know that I am God, I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. The Lord of hosts is with us. The God of Jacob is our Refuge. You see yoga focuses on death (like you mentioned the corpse pose) but we focus on the one who gave us new life in Christ. If you have questions, please check out this page. Why a Christian alternative to yoga.. http://praisemoves.com/about-us/why-a-christian-alternative-to-yoga/ I pray you will check out this page there are many links that explain about the dangers of yoga. I pray that the Lord will guide you in this. Very sincerely & prayerfully.

Mark Allman
Reply January 28, 2014

I laughed out loud at this line "You get to lie down and take deep meditative breaths, and somehow you get to call it exercise." Actually when I have tried yoga it has been pretty tough to do; to hold those poses.

I agree we are much more than our roles which over time change in scope and change altogether but who we are is bound up in our relationship with God.

Diana Trautwein
Reply January 29, 2014

Sigh. Why do find it so very hard to believe that God is pleased with us? I did a lot of thinking and writing on that very topic at my place this week, about unlearning some old ideas and gradually letting the truth sink in and down into me. I don't think God sees Christ when he looks at you, Amber. I think he sees Christ in YOU. You are not lost. You don't disappear. The center of who you are is this: a loved creature, made in the image of God, for whom God chose to live and die and rise again so that relationship between you could be rich and real and restored. I think yoga can be a real gift in this process of discovery. I never have done it, but I did do pilates about a decade ago and loved it a lot. Something about tuning the body into the right wavelength. . . Thanks for this loverly reflection.

Alia Joy
Reply January 29, 2014

Uggh, that weight of a little girl's prayers. Make me good. I have felt the years of barely tolerable in God's presence. This brought out all my tears because I wrestle with it still. Yes, I am pleasing to God. Good Lord, that smarts.

Amy Hunt
Reply January 30, 2014

When we give our selves this gift of setting aside everything and everyone else to come to a place where we face the truth of who we are -- not some dark secret, but the hidden secret of Truth -- we honor Him. Because so often the lies seem to win in our minds. The real truth is that He's got us and the lies don't win, but they seem to. So when we give ourselves permission to See, I think we bring an offering of willingness to Him that simply and profoundly honors Him in such a beautiful and powerful way. We enable Him to move so much closer to our heart and bleed out in our days unlike any other way. This is worship right here.

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