In the same week my Jenga tower collapsed, my roommate built a fort in our living room.
I have long searched for a safe place. A refuge. A place to be me. And unknowingly, a place to be messy.
This week, I found that safety in the form of twinkling lights and linens clothespinned together and draped from the the ceiling. A return to childhood, a time of blissful innocence where anything is possible and I can be whatever I choose.
If you know my love for dinner parties, you know I couldn’t pass up an opportunity for a dinner party in a fort. We indulged in fried things and fresh things and belly-laughed when somebody stole the caramel straight from Danny’s apple.
By the end of the night, the dishes were stacked a mile high and flour dusted the counter tops like winter’s first snow.
Under the sheets of the fort that night, people were nourished body and soul. And I felt safe.
This fort made of sheets, clothes pins, pillows, and blankets is a safe place. Within its walls I find refuge, comfort, peace. I’ve sat with friends and I’ve sat here alone. Beneath these sheets, I’ve laughed and cried. I’ve prayed on my knees and on my face under the linens and lights. Under the sheets that make up this fort, I have been the most real I have ever been with my friends, with God, and with myself.
Lately, I’ve been frustrated with how messy I have become and am always telling myself to lock it up and pull it together. I am sick of being a burden to others when I am supposed to be the strong one.
When I looked back on that night and the many nights leading up to it, God whispered something to my heart:
You’ve been this messy all along, but you have never felt safe enough to open up and let others in to see it, not even yourself.
And that is when I suddenly felt okay with not being okay.
Love takes risks. Vulnerability opens you to feel both the good and bad. As much as it hurts, I have to be glad that it does. It means I am finally in a safe enough place to be open, to share, to feel, to cry and be hurt, to not be okay.
I am thankful for my fort, my safety, my friends. The people who have held my hand as we’ve entered into this safe place together.
I love these people. So much.
And I don’t know what my life would be without them, without the safety of my fort. Without the twinkling lights always reminding me of the beauty of life no matter how painful, as long as I am surrounded by people I love who love me back — no matter how messy it gets.
It is painful, yes, all growth is. But the silver lining I am defending is turning gold, soon to illuminate my skies brighter than the darkness of my sorrows.