I've been in California for almost 5 years now, but you'd think I just moved here for how much I love going to the beach. An Oregon native, the ocean was only an hour drive from my childhood home, but going to the Oregon coast and a Southern California beach are two very, very different experiences, and I have yet to lose my sense of wonder at being able to lay out on the sand in a swimsuit or venture into the warm Pacific water.
Yesterday found me at the beach, sitting on a jetty overlooking the water with my two best friends. For a while we sat in silence, letting the ocean air and the sound of the water lapping up against concrete wash over us. We eventually started talking about this year, our first out of college, and how it's been one of transition and choices and change, of letting go and holding on, of losing and finding ourselves all at the same time.
But Katie, my voice of wisdom and reason, was uncharacteristically silent, adding little to the discussion. I turned from my view of the ocean and looked at her, blue eyes pensive, and inquired,
"Why so quiet?"
One of the things I love about Katie is that she means every word she utters with every ounce of her 5'4" frame, and these words were no different. After a moment of pause, she took a deep breath and said,
"I just want you guys to know how much you're worth."
I smiled and nodded, knowing I didn't need to add anything to her statement, and looked back over the water.
I'm starting to think that maybe the most valuable thing we have to offer another human being is the simple reminder of who they are, and what they are worth, frequently and with great volume. Certainly that has been the case for me and my community over the past year; the most important role we have played in each others lives as of late has been that of truth-tellers.
Because the lies come for all of us, and some of the most beautiful people I know have lost and missed out on so much of life and love because they believed them. Believed that they were permanently broken. That they were unworthy of love. That all they were capable of wreaking (or receiving) was hurt and destruction. That other people are not to be trusted or let close.
Ram Dass says that we're all just walking each other home, but I'd like to think that on that walk we should also be leaning over to whisper the truth in each other's ears.
Sometimes that truth will be sweet, like the reminder of who we are and are becoming, and sometimes it will be a strong, "you're better than this," but make no mistake, true community is about both. True community encompasses the kind of love that speaks when it is easy and well received, and when it is difficult and will not be. True love humbly speaks to both our darkness and our light, in the hopes of helping us more fully be our child of God selves.
My most well worn prayer borrows from Psalm 43, saying, let your light and your truth lead me to the place where you live. More often than not, He sends his light & truth in the form of his people, who gently spin me around so as to untangle me from the lies, take me by the hand, and lead me to the truth.
And some days all that's needed is an ocean jetty and a simple reminder.