To tell the story of a time one felt supremely loved is to reveal a very intimate part of the soul. People in their very nature can display scores of fears, aggressions, accomplishments, even hopes, and none of these will come so close to showing the inner workings of the Creator's design as describing what makes us feel loved. We were made for it, after all: to function in, from, and because of love. So, nothing here may be played close to the vest; when describing what makes me know I am loved, I am showing you me.
Naturally, then, the pressure is felt to accurately depict the moment or scene with brevity and perhaps a touch of clairvoyance; to be able to extrapolate the deep from the shallow is tantamount. What if I should explain something ever so slightingly off from its mark, and someone tried to replicate the event, aiming to fill up my love tank? How awkward to explain their efforts fell short! What if in attempting to tell the innermost parts of me, I utterly fail to bring the right words, and what I see on the page is a rude, unbefitting description of the buzzingly delicious love I know is so deeply imprinted on my soul? How disappointing.
Perhaps, then, I should begin simply, with a word.
My high school was remarkable in that, for such a small campus, in such a small town, it had a rather well-developed arts program. Three full-length stage productions per school year came out of the theater department alone, one of which was a school-wide, open audition format; even if you weren't in one of the advanced classes, you could try for a part. There were six Lost Boys in our production of Peter Pan that year, and I was counted among them.
The remainder of my four year high school career was spent immersed in this little world, pursuing as many roles and as much involvement as I could get my hot little hands in touch with; I was lucky in this way, to have found something that made the 'Krisann switch' turn on at such an early point in my life. The Krisann switch (not to be confused with a tasty Croissanwich) had been ever present and oft-alighted throughout my young childhood. I was the kid who considered all adjacent relatives and playmates mine for the directing in any number of the backyard shows I scripted, choreographed, starred in, directed, and produced. Any available family members and neighbors were then commanded to serve as audience while I helmed our performances. These activities increased, in number and intensity, culminating in regular productions and a trip to New York as a senior.
Telling this story doesn't seem to intersect with the traditional themes you might expect in a discourse about feeling loved. There was no moment where, say, my parents came to a show, shedding tears of pride in their daughter's accomplishments like a scene out of a cheesy movie. There was no theater critic attending incognito, writing rave reviews about the young starlet, and nary a talent scout sporting an outrageous East coast accent to be found. There was just the quiet, rushing warmth of standing on a stage, being watched, sharing myself. Then, that glorious applause. The stuff that made me beam and bounce off the walls and feel, maybe know on some cellular level, that I, this person I was growing into was, firstly, at all lovable.
As a girl who was raised in the church, you can imagine this idea, this sort of thirst after glory and praise, was met with some resistance in my head space. "God doesn't share glory!" I argued with my feelings. I had this idea that I'd one day have to die to myself, my love of performing, my love of praise, because it was in direct competition with my belief system, and my jealous God would ask me to exchange it all for proof that I followed him. So I bailed. I spent several years learning nothing more of the God I'd claimed was my own, and focused only on feeling loved.
I wish someone had told me. I wish someone had said that the feeling of hotly burning cheeks under the lights, feeling glorious, was good. I wish someone had explained that when I worked hard for months in preparation and then skillfully performed my role, that basking sort of stillness while receiving a standing ovation could be one of the ways to connect with the identity of a jealous Lord, not a threat to it. I wish someone had pulled me aside to say, "Girl, when you perform, I see the imprint of the one who made you. Brava."
No one did, so when my preferences came full circle and I returned to pursuing the scholarly and spiritual aspects of my reignited devotion, I pulled a move straight out of 128 Hours. I took a crude instrument and sliced off an entire part of me in order to escape from a harrowing situation. It was harrowing, really, because in the process of bailing on God to pursue my stage, I wound up in a series of tighter and tighter spots, emotionally and spiritually. In shedding theses vices and grasping for freedom, I thought I'd finally come to the moment of laying down my life; you know, laying down what I thought was fun in exchange for something serious and expected. What a grown-up I was being! How very mature! It worked too, except for that terribly pained whisper inside of me every time I thought of theater. You'd never have known it on the outside; I'd become good at 'denying myself' for the sake of suffering for the cause. Thankfully, I began to learn more and realized that much of my thinking on these matters was challenge-worthy to say the least. A year in school of ministry cured me of most of those beliefs, but by that point I had no idea of a way to merge the two now-seemingly disparate parts of me.
The journey to rectify that split carried on over the years as I married and became a mom. So finally we come to the climax of the story. Rattling on about the challenges of motherhood one day, I sat at the kitchen counter of my friend Karlet's house, appreciative of her open ear and understanding expressions. We talked at length regarding my place as a mom, feeling trapped (I had no vehicle at the time and relied on anyone and everyone to go anyplace), feeling alone, and unsupported, and not knowing where to direct this growing angst and anxiety about my life. Like a skilled surgeon, she laid me open with a single slice of a phrase, "Well, you're a show person. You need applause." I felt my head involuntarily responding with two small nods, the second of which continued straight into a head slam onto my arms in front of me. For minutes I sat with my face in my hands and wept violently. This was no pretty, churchy cry; this was legitimate snot-filled, swollen-faced bawling. While I released all that grief, feeling less alone and more known, I heard it finally. I heard the Father whisper resoundingly into my soul, "Feeling glorious is good, baby girl. When you feel that praise, you have a rare and unique opportunity to understand me more, to know why I ask you for it. My girl, when you perform, I get to see my blueprints alive and at work exactly as I designed them, and I love it. Brava."