When Mordecai learned of all that had been done, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and ashes, and went out into the city, wailing loudly and bitterly. -Esther 4:1
Most of us are on social media. Every day we see what our friends are doing, what they’re wearing… even what they ate for breakfast. We see them vacationing in Hawaii and skiing down the slopes of Colorado. We see their smiling children and doting spouse, and we start to question our own lives. We start to compare our marriage to theirs, our children to theirs; our vacations, our food choices, our homes… everything.
It has been said many times over that we compare our every day life to others’ highlight reels. Yet, even when we know this, we can’t seem to help ourselves. We still compare.
But what if things were different? What if we were real… I mean, really real? What if we were willing to be vulnerable with each other? What if we actually talked about our hurts, our pain, our embarrassing moments; the things that make us laugh, the things that make us cry? What if we shared the experiences that have shaped us? What would happen?
As I was pondering over names for this blog, the first one that came to mind was “Sackcloth and Ashes”. Let me tell you why, and then you will understand my heart, and why I created this blog in the first place.
See, back in the time of the Old Testament, people would put on sackcloth and ashes when in mourning or going through a time of despair, but here’s the crazy part… They didn’t put on sackcloth and ashes and then hide out in their house so no one would know they were hurting. Nope. Instead they “went out into the city, wailing…” Out into the city. They did not hide their hurt. They let the city know they were in pain, that they were grieving.
That’s what I want. I want this to be a place in which we can be vulnerable. A place to share life without the fear of being judged. A place to find love and acceptance. Real people experiencing real life. I strongly believe that connections are made when we allow ourselves to be vulnerable. It’s hard to relate to another’s façade. When we put on a mask to disguise our true selves, others don’t really know us. We lose the ability to connect.
In the end, I chose not to go with Sackcloth and Ashes. While I love the idea of clothing ourselves in sackcloth (a.k.a being outwardly real with each other), life isn’t always about grief and mourning; there is also joy and celebration, and I want that to be a part of this blog as well.
As you can see, I settled upon the name “The Soul Beloved”. I want this to be a place in which we see each other deeper than our outward appearances. I want us to look beyond skin color and gender, religion and political stance. I want us to see each other as we are. Some of us are broken and hurting. Others are finding love for the first time. Some of us are struggling with addiction. Others have overcome addiction. We are all walking a journey through this life. We can choose to do it alone, hidden behind a superficial mask, or we can take off our masks and come as we are. Whether you have it all together, or are barely hanging on, know that you are welcome here. This is a place for your soul to find rest and support and encouragement. A place to find connection, to discover that your soul, the essence of who you really are, is beloved; dearly loved.
I don’t know how familiar you are with the Bible, but the verse at the beginning of this post has a pretty incredible ending:
It had been declared that all Jewish people were to be killed, and this Jewish man, Mordecai, starts his process of grieving. He pleads with queen Esther to reveal to the king that she, too, is a Jew, in hopes of saving his people. Problem is, if you go to the king without being summoned, you’re killed. Esther expresses her fears, but Mordecai brings about this thought to Esther, “Perhaps this is the moment for which you have been created?” (vs. 14). Long story short, Esther goes to the king, risking her life, admits to being a Jew herself, and spares the lives of the Jewish people.
Isn’t it interesting? When Esther decides to admit who she really is… when she takes a risk… risking her very life, she not only saves herself, but many around her who identify with her?
Let us be risk-takers. Let us be brave. Let us be real and raw and vulnerable. And may we, in turn, find love and connection.