Going back to the basics means that I go back to my first love, to those teenage years when I was willing to give it all up for You, the Lover of my soul before I even understood what that meant, before I understood the implications of a lover, of desire, and of intimacy. It means worshiping You early on sun-kissed mornings as my heart burst with love and Your presence filled my complete existence like air fills the voids of everything within it. It means never doubting Your promises in the midst of an ever-changing reality and the inevitable dubiety of my fallen nature, tears baptizing me each time I collected them and handed them over at the foot of Your cross, trusting there would be beauty from the ashes of my broken life.
But now, going back to the basics, returning to that first love and the completeness it created in me means that I must give up who I have become, an accomplished though tainted woman, so that You may be glorified through me rather than me be recognized outside of You, like a stray spark lost in the outskirts of a magnificent bonfire, alone and brilliant only to a minimal few. Whereas the basics of my Christianity had been laid upon the foundation of our early rose-petaled relationship when You were as real to me as kissing the tear-stained cheeks of my mother, childhood shattered at the painful realities of “growing up,” and innocence was lost forever, my blind trust cracking in the arid heat of disappointment, sorrow, and illness. And all that was left of us was a sad shell of who we once were even as I desperately yearn to return back to the basics when my first love had been beautiful and pure and holy, though now I know full well the implications of You being the sole Lover of my soul, eagerly waiting for my predestined return into Your arms.
Around this time of year, when crosses are covered with purple sheets and giant bunnies suddenly become more photogenic, I often wonder what the disciples did while Jesus slept, when the storms of abandonment shadowed their horizon, and His words seemed blown by the wind. Did you mourn, as I do, when Death takes a bow an exits the stage unalone, even though His death had been foreseen by the prophets and the Lord, and in doing so, Death had been minimized to a sting? Did you feel the sudden desperation in your chest when thoughts swarmed like mosquitos lying that you would never see the One you loved ever again, and His truths had been imagined and concealed? And you, women who wept for a fallen man, did you believe that He whom you had buried in spices and perfumes would not arise again as God as He had promised? Or did the nagging at your spirit prevail in preparing you for the King’s arrival by rendering your offerings and your hearts to Him?
I wonder, if in these dark times of dying and abandon, when solitude seems to accompany the soul, and the heart bursts with deceit, do I mourn like the disciples, having awaited for a Redeemer and had suffered his death instead? Do I hang from the tip of the loose strings of His holy words and climb pearl upon pearl until I reach His throne of glory? Do I lay down my life for others and pour out my spirit to the King like libations while I wait for His return and the fulfilment of His promises?
Oh Risen Lord, why do I continue to seek the living among the dead?
Beauty has a different effect on me now that I’m older than when I was a child. I grew up knowing I was beautiful, not because I was conceited or perfect, not because I had pristine hair or wore the latest fashion; but because my parents never failed to remind me that beauty was not simply a pretty face or a slim figure (which I was not!), but about a beautiful heart and an open mind. Fostered by this belief, I did not care about decorating my face with eye-shadow and lipsticks, or scathingly adorning my body with clothes that revealed more than calves and arms. Instead, I was raised to care about the needs of others over my own, and prevail over poverty by focusing on my studies; to be tolerant without jeopardizing my own principles, and to never give up on my strengths, like reading and writing.
But as I’ve gotten older and have become more mature, more accomplished, and more wrinkled, I wonder whether I disregarded beauty too early in life and missed out on the aesthetic side of it, the part that appreciates good looks and sexiness and hairstyles and make-up, not as a means to attract attention but simply to augment what I already have. And now, decades later, my concept of beauty fades as I sadly watch my hands wither, my hair grow white, and the lines on my face deepen. While I do not regret the way my parents raised me since it did mold me into the woman I am today, their concept of beauty was incomplete, and now, my concept of beauty remains fragmented as well.
I have long, brown, curly hair with a mind of its own and a wildness that I can barely tame. I have dark hazel eyes, green in the sunlight but almond-brown most days, baring all my feelings and emotions like undergarments hanging on a line. I am not tall, but can carry myself as if I wore heels to ball games and stilettos to church. I have a weakness for calves and clavicle bones, and that crevice on my neck between chin and shoulder that weakens my knees and blanks my mind. I have Bipolar Disorder like I have poor eyesight and difficulty hearing, neither of which stops me from laughing out loud and kissing deeply. I have a good sense of direction, though I seem to lose myself in my writing all the time; and I tend to find more pleasure in giving than in receiving, though I like a gift every so often as much as the next person. I am sentenced to pills every night as I am to eating yogurt and drinking water, my overall health more important than your taboos and stereotypes. I am a woman in all sense of the word, and a passionate one at that! You might blame that on mental illness (and that only shows how little you know me), but I like to attribute that to good genes and saving grace.
My name originates from a Dutch word meaning chaste, or pure. When I was a teenager, I was so proud of my name despite the fact that I am not Dutch. But the meaning was so profound for me because it represented all that I wanted to accomplish in life at that time as a Christian teen. After all, chastity was what I had been brought up to uphold in a religious family where at a young age we were “married” to Jesus Christ. And while I did not wear a chastity belt, I certainly would have willingly done so to prove my loyalty to Him. I was so in love with Jesus that the idea of losing my virginity to some mortal was abhorrent and disgusting, even as a curious teenager.
College skewed my perspective somewhat, especially since there I had met the man I would marry. The trust my mother charged me with to uphold my namesake kept me from succumbing to the awakening desires for this man even though we dated for many years prior to marrying. But in those years, the purity of my name became sullied and my own desires tainted what I had safeguarded for so long as a teenager. I not only had the curiosity of a child, but also the attentions of an experienced man who was willing to teach me those lessons I had not cared to learn when younger. So we played, and I learned even though I proudly married him as a virgin.
Afterwards, sitting in a hotel bathroom in pain and tears, I wondered whether I had learned anything at all, and spent long months trying to find my place in this new world where chastity and purity were now defined not by what I did with my body, but what I did with my soul. And for years my name meant inner chastity and spiritual purity, but my mind betrayed me and I lost all semblance of what my name represented by forsaking my marriage vows and losing the battle for my sanity. It took years to gain back what I had lost, and I still struggle to this day with the consequences of my actions.
My name is not who I am anymore. I am as chaste and as pure as I am Dutch. I am just me, an emotionally starving artist in need of attention who is searching for a stability that will give me back my passion for Christ and return to me the purity of my heart.