I think I was born with a rebel heart. I’m not talking about the heavy metal, all-black, graffiti-vandalizing, tattoo-covered, and piercing-struck kind of rebel heart, no, not any of that. In fact, if you took one quick look at me, “rebel” might be the last word you use. I stand about five feet six inches tall, with bright blonde hair, dark blue eyes, and weigh about 100 pounds. I go on mission trips. My Instagram feed is filled with pictures of my siblings, my Starbucks, the best dishes at my favorite restaurants, and my Bible verses. I have two tattoos, one of my siblings initials in an infinity sign (talk about a basic white girl) and another one from a Christian song. My favorite type of Saturday night is one in with my boyfriend watching Netflix and eating take-out. I don’t stay up late, I work a corporate job, and I’ve always been an A student. I call my dad every day and spend time with nature.
When I say rebel soul, and rebel heart, I am referring to who I really am. And sometimes, this might be the person the world doesn’t see much of. For as long as I can remember, I have fought a rebellion against the “supposed tos”, the “you have tos,” the path most taken, the normalcy route, the easy way, and the status quo. I usually end up taking the hard route because I don’t listen to what anyone else says. I take the path less traveled when adventuring, literally and figuratively, which is why I almost fell off the side of a mountain in a foreign country this spring and why I am now graduating college with four degrees.
I am aware of my distaste for conformity, and I take that energy and run with it. Christ died for the terrible heart, and I want to be where the wild things are. Because it is wildly exhilarating to declare yourself free from all that everybody is expecting you to do. I always have, and I always will.
Here are some of my prime examples:
When I was five, I asked my dad why, on everything. Why is the sky blue? Why did he have to take me to my mom when I didn’t want to go? Why do cars drive on the road? Why did my mom always hit me? Why did planes fly in the sky? Why does my mom choke herself with her long eyeliner pen? Why do my shoes make me run so fast? Why does my mom talk to the voices in her head, and why don’t they talk to me? Why do flowers only stay for the summer, they are so pretty. Why doesn’t my mom love me? Why does the green light mean go? Why did my mom come and go, then come back, and why did she take so long to come back when she left? Why did the butterflies leave in the winter? Why did my mom leave in the winter, too?
When I was 12, I succumbed to an illness that could have taken my life. After a week of feeling sick to my stomach with a sore throat and a painful ear, I found myself hospitalized with every monitor, tube, needle, bright light, and medical professional to my side. Toxic shock syndrome had taken over my body, and pulled it down to bare survival mode. A week of a terrifying illness and a roller coaster ride of emotions for my family proved that my body was strong enough to make it out on the other side, and I did. Suffering from a life-threatening illness such as TSS at such a young age made me realize very quickly who and what I was thankful for, and how things were going to be different for myself from there on out.
When I was 17, I cut off all relationships with said “mom,” who was severely physically, mentally, and emotionally abusive, after a childhood of secrets held from the outside world, the pain of the bruising, the hitting, the beating, and the constant turmoil. From the men in and out of her house, to all of her relationships that could not hold stable, to the children she once knew and gave up, to the instability of finance and money, to her inability to mother a daughter unlike her “perfect, ideal daughter” and her heart of steel, I gave up. I spent the first 17 years of my life working to understand her, trying to get into her mind, trying to see what she sees, hear what she hears, think what she thinks. A child can only watch their own mother get arrested in the front yard so many times before it takes a toll on them, too. A child can only deal with so much negativity, haste, hate, and hurt before they break, too. It was not easy, and not something I took lightly to heart as I left behind a large family who did indeed love me and care for me because of a woman who hated me so much. This same year, I was adopted by the woman that I can call mom, a women who has truly stepped up to the plate to show me what unconditional love really means, and how families are supposed to be. She showed me what being a mom is all about, and if I can even be half of what she is, I would feel like I did my job. Nothing could ever repay this amazing person. A mom like her was my bright spot in life, and I thank God every chance I get for giving me the gift of a real, loving mom.
When I was 20, I embarked on a mission trip to Puerto Rico with 14 other college students that I didn’t know, traveling out of the country by myself for the first time, to a place of poor devastation and horrible survival conditions. Through this trip, I jumped in head first to each and every one of my physical, mental, and emotional fears. I got my feet wet with mountain climbing on the island, cliff-diving, volcano-hiking, salsa-dancing, serving orphans, working with a children’s ministry, authentic Latin cooking, serving in terrifying locations, putting myself on the line in the city for the sake of others, and most importantly, learning to humble myself in the presence of God and others. Before this enduring trip, I felt so entitled to the life I had. I truly learned that in the service of others, I was being served to my soul the entire time. Making friends from the other side of the world and speaking a foreign language with new people to create the strong bonds I still hold so close to my heart was an experience that my rebel soul led me right to without hesitation.
Stop trying to be so ready for things, and start doing things you might not be ready for. If I waited around to be ready for everything that I have done so far, I wouldn’t have achieved half of it. We as people of Christ are allowed to free ourselves. There is a God who made YOU, who wants YOU to be free. God proclaims this to us when he says, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free,” in the book of Galatians 5:1. We can pray and ask God to help us be free from our past regrets, our present sins, and our future worries. Being ready is for people who trust in themselves and who want to live a small and safe life. Freedom is for people who trust in the One who made them, and who want to live lives too big to be ready for.
Plus, when you stop to think about it, are we ever “ready” for anything? Ready seems like a lie, that steals our hopes and dreams and cripples us to present circumstances. The idea of ready has a way of paralyzing our feet from moving, and crippling our hearts from believing life is the most beautiful thing when we live in the unknown.
Does being free mean everyone will be ready to move to another country, switch their major, quit school, change jobs, or anything in between? Probably not. I was nowhere near ready for my grandfather to die two months after he was diagnosed with cancer. I wasn’t ready for my coach of eight years to drop dead of a heart attack. I was nowhere near ready for my family to move across the country, 1,150 miles away from our hometown, even though we had planned it for months. I am still not ready to graduate college in April of 2016. It isn’t about having to let every situation come and go, but it is about letting go of the toxic to make room for the freeing.
So, here is my challenge to you. What are “they” declaring you to do, and who are “they” anyways? Is it the media, a mentor, a boss, your parents, your significant other, your friends, your family, or perhaps, could it be your own voice, whispering lies so quietly, and you are unaware that you are even believing that little voice? Sober yourself from the thoughts and opinions of people who don’t matter, and consider the voice of God. If you’re going to be ready, just be ready for Jesus. And besides that, follow your rebel soul, and be free. Embrace your rebel heart.