This image (of me!) leaves me in awe of God. The awe is not simply because I am standing on my head.
This is me in awe of a healing journey. If this life were only viewed through my lens, this moment would not have been possible.
Instead, there is an invitation for me (and for you) to view this world through God's lens. A lens that loves and believes. A lens that heals and gives hope. God sees beauty in ashes.
Maybe when you look at this image you simply see me standing on my head amidst stone architecture. Honestly, I shy away from sharing this (or others like it) for a few reasons. We'll get to that in a bit. First, what do you see?
Maybe you see shadow and light.
Maybe you see victory and wholeness.
Maybe you see brick and motor.
Maybe you see fear and instability.
Maybe you see strength and courage.
Maybe you see healing and hope.
Images such as this one are often shared by slender, young, popular yogis and yoginis who practice their asanas at the beach or on mountaintops. This space is not a scenic destination and I am not young, slender, or popular by Instagram standards. The ground is uneven and the traffic was constant. My friend (with her camera) and I snuck into this corner during a recent retreat as I told her it would be really empowering for me to "try" a headstand on the uneven surface of this sanctuary. My feet floated to the sky on the cool uneven stone that day as I protected the sensitive spots on my head from touching the earth.
This is ordinary me doing something extraordinary - for me, for God.
It's not comfortable for me look at or share images of myself. Which is an interesting turn of events since at one point in my youth, I aspired to be Katie Couric...on screen and clearly in public view. Today it's uncomfortable for me to "see me" in images or on screen and I was not sure why until I saw this image.
It's hard to see myself through God's lens.
Yet I'm learning to see as God sees - all around me. So, that includes me. I share this in hopes that you may see through a God lens too. When I see this photo as God would see me, I see a woman of 40 who has overcome many physical health obstacles. I see a woman who mourns because she was told she shouldn't attempt pregnancy again. I see a women who has beat the odds of cancer, stroke, and brain surgery. I see a woman who loves God so very much...in spite of all that. I see a woman who believes each person is unique and beautiful and important yet sometimes struggles to believe this for herself. I see a woman who attempted things she never thought possible - physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
Sometimes you look at yourself and don't recognize who you are, how far you've come, or especially how far you have to go. This image helps me appreciate each.
In 2005, I could barely consider standing on my own two feet, and definitely never considered standing on my head. The months that followed included a walker and a cane. I even traveled around SuperCenters in motorized carts. I was scoffed at a time or two for what appeared to be a joy ride by some who saw no physical scars or struggles of paralysis.
In those dark days, I knew I could praise God again (somehow) and thank him for this journey. But, I did not expect it to be my feet I raised in thanksgiving. The feet that have held me up now pull me closer each day. I never fathomed I would lift these feet to the God who made me.
But, that's what happened.
Nearly ten years of taking the next step. A step to find the right physical therapist or yoga class. A step to meet with a spiritual director and counselor. A step to finish 13.1 miles. A step to learn. A step to lead. A step to listen. A step to heal. A step to slowing down. A step to lean in. A step to savor motherhood, family, and friendships. A step to embrace losses and missed steps. A step to living in to the person God created me to be - imperfections and all.
Steps of faithfulness have included lots of boundaries and disappointments. They also included saying yes to God over and over again and being amazed by faithfulness.
The gift I received when my life was turned upside down, indeed took my feet out from under me.
In a sanctuary of stone I realized this...when your life is turned upside down, it really can be beautiful, even if you're the last one to notice it.
Look through God's lens.
Whitney R. Simpson
• author • yoga & meditation teacher • spiritual director • creating soul care resources for exploring the gift of God's peace with breath, body & spirit •
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Whitney R. Simpson,
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