I Won “Worst Laugh”

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In 8th grade, I had a light-up bracelet and I had crushes on boys who were a year younger than me and I braided my hair with ribbons intertwined into the braids and I made a really weird sound when I laughed. Up to that point, one of my proudest moments was winning the award for “worst laugh.”

Even as I type this, I’m squinting with disgust at that version of myself, as I know many of us do when we remember our young, foolish days.

But, you know, I really made sense to myself back then. Weirdness, friendliness and cheerleading somehow became my cocktail for positive attention – making people laugh or smile, having them know me for something – whatever. The more people that laughed at how “weird” I was, the more I embraced that identity.

I don’t really know how the laugh thing happened. I think I laughed weird by accident this one time and a boy I liked thought the sound I made was funny, so I kept doing it for the next 5-20 years.

I grew up with overly out-there parents (you can Google them), so I guess it makes sense that as I bumbled around trying to figure out who I was, I latched onto “weird.” But, now, as I stare THIRTY in the face, I do a cringey sort of half-smile as I remember when I thought my “weirdness” was unique or necessary.

The older I get, the more I see that everyone is super weird, and we’re all just trying to do the best we can, or doing whatever level of trying we’ve made peace with.

I know I’ve lived most the years I’ve been given with God completely outside of my identity. But, here, at twenty-nine, as I notice my eyelid skin isn’t what it once was, I want more and more to be known as a woman who loved Jesus, rather than a girl who wrote funny stories or had a weird laugh to make a boy like her.

I know that the almost-thirty version of me has it’s own light up bracelets and affected quirks and even now, in this season where I’m so raw and hyper-aware, a part of me still wants to find my identity in worthless things.

C.S. Lewis said, ““It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

I don’t want Jesus to be someone I admire from a distance. I don’t want Him to be my sounding board or a side-gig for my identity. I want Him to take me over. At 22, I tattooed 2 Corinthians 5:17, written in my mom’s handwriting, onto my wrist because I wanted my identity to be the “cool Christian girl with tattoos.” Now, I just want that verse to be true of my heart – “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

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