The Whole Fire
In an interview, I was asked about my strengths. Sitting with two other women in the same interview, my brain was a flat tire; as useless and deflated as the rubber the tire was made of. I closed my eyes and centered my insides and after everything I’d put myself through to be at this interview, I knew I had to open up a storage container and start an American Pickers rerun.
So I told the interviewers that my strength was the hard years. The years that almost cost me more than I had to pay. The days that were so bad, I couldn’t even cry about them. The walks home from middle school when I’d carefully pack away the bullies, the friends that were simply for show and the shame in not having the strength to admit it, and manufacture the strength to say that my day was fine and pray to God I could shelf the rest of the conversation. The exploded friendship that had a detonator of needing someone to blame. The aftermath of the shrapnel that still affects me today.
The interviewer, probably expecting a robot response, stared and asked me why.
I answered simply that although I got knocked down, with the strength it took to get back up the reflection looking back at me is just a little bit truer than it was before. That I try and repurpose my hard days into strength for the kids that I teach. That they might feel a little less alone. A little less uncomfortable. A little more expensive. A little more courageous.
The room stood in suspension, sort of in a thick pause before the rainstorm rains. I could’ve taken scissors and cut ribbons with the silence.
And finally another interviewer smiled and wrote something down and went to say something and stopped.
As I left, I heard a muffled, I like her.
I cried the whole way back from that interview, mostly because I was exhausted and stressed and drained. That was okay. In that moment I took a piece of my power back from the thieves who stole my sparks and it felt like I rose like the whole damn fire.
And that, God tending my heart and giving me grace, that collision is where my fire flames.Read More