All my life I have laid my soul bare. My friend once said, “Tiffany, you strip yourself naked for the world in an effort to be loved.” I thought long and hard about that. He was right.

I have been giving the truth raw since I stepped into the world. I have unabashedly admitted my shortcomings over and over. I was hoping someone would notice, and that they would find honor in my heart. Maybe I did seek love and approval, but my higher self sought righteousness. More than that, I’ve been searching for something real in a world that is full of falsehoods. I wanted a sense of authenticity. 

The past week I’ve been broken and angry. I’ve been disappointed and lied to by people I value and love. I have so many daggers in my back, my heart has turned cold from the generous flow of blood pouring from my wounds. 

I wonder at times how I’m still standing. When they took my boys, they stole my very breath away. I had just experienced a wave of healing from deep, unresolved pain that came from over 13 years of anguish. My oldest son’s visit brought closure and peace like a cool river to my scorched soul. Sadly, the reprieve was short lived.

In one harsh blow my three boys were taken the very same day. It seems almost strategic when I think about it. When the wounds were closing and I could finally look up without the regret and pain weighing me down, a new weight was thrust upon me without mercy. New wounds opened but this time my heart was wide open and the magnitude of the agony was too cruel for me to sustain. My body was wracked with pain, and rage coursed through me in a new and unfamiliar way. I became numb, so numb that for a moment I was frozen in time. What had they created? 

I believe there are those who seek to destroy love and all that is light. They will crush the light because it will illuminate their darkness and reveal truths they can not bear to take in. In their darkness, monsters lurk; hideous monsters they fear man will not be able to look upon. The truth is, some won’t, but those of us who’ve walked through hell and made it back, already see. 

We are the ones who don’t fear the darkness. We embrace the light. We accept both because we know, without the blackened midnight of sky, the stars won’t shine quite so bright. 

Well, let me tell you something.. I’m blazing! I am shining so damn bright, the sun must question his dominion. I am not foolish; I know night will come, but I am built by the fire. I don’t fear the flame. I never deny it’s heat or it’s ability to burn me, but after standing so long, I realize I am a firestorm myself.

I have lost so many things. I have been broken again and again. I’ve been rejected and betrayed by people I’ve poured my soul into. I don’t regret what I’ve given, but I am saddened they couldn’t see the beauty I shared. I’m sad they didn’t know how to appreciate the precious gift that I lovingly laid at their calloused feet.

I’ve thought long and hard about what truth is. Some say a white lie is acceptable if it spares another’s feelings. I say scar me with your truth! Let me see your face when the masks are removed and the gloves are off. 

I bet you one thing, even if it takes some time, I will find a way to love you. My challenge to you today is this, show me your ugly! Strip down and let your hideous scars come to light. Let the stretch marks of growth be revealed. I can almost guarantee the image you see is not nearly as bad as you have perceived. I bet that you are beautiful and unique, gloriously clothed in light and shadow. 

There I stand before the crowd, a glorious masterpiece. Yes, people point when the dropcloth is removed. Some stare and others marvel at God’s handiwork. There are those who criticize and critique the choice of colors, and those who proudly explain that they would have done it differently. I say screw what they think! You will always have haters, but if you are confident in who you are, their negativity will not dull your shine. 

The experience of bearing one’s soul, will leave you breathless. It will allow you to soar at heights that were never before dreamed. Total freedom!

As I reach this pivotal point, and my body lies naked before the crowd, I no longer fear their harsh words and forked tongues. I smile, sunshine in my soul, and gather my rumpled clothing in hand. Shoulders high and crown in place, I fade into the night, remembering the words of a dear friend, “We are supernovas!” Indeed we are my beloved friend..indeed we are!

Written by: Tiffany Jackson

Photograph by: William Percious