He approached the drawing with care and curiosity as I stood by. I don’t consider myself an artist, at least not with colors and chalk and paper. But I was at a conference where the task at hand was to tell my story—who I am and who I’ve been—with a life size outline of my body on a long sheet of white paper. I remember feeling a little out of my depth with all the encouraged creativity from my group leaders.
Now, as this dear friend approached, I examined the work I had poured into my outline. Words, names, and pictures wrapped around my body in vivid color. I took in my own deep blue eyes and wildly curly hair, and I wondered what this man thought as he read the story I had lived and looked into the face I had drawn to represent my own.
He touched the cheek of my drawing with great tenderness, then turned to meet my eyes and asked, “I wonder, where is your kiss?”
My face flushed red and my mouth felt parched. I hadn’t drawn a mouth on my outline. I had thought about it, but I didn’t know what my mouth should say… I felt like there were far too many messages that I contained inside of myself for just one mouth. I believed that words needed to be handled carefully, and I suppose I believed that my mouth needed to be handled carefully too. I knew I was bright and perceptive and eager for deep connection, and I had learned that meant I was powerful and completely responsible for whatever I stirred in others. The result was a woman scared of what she carried inside of her and shutdown to sharing it.
And at some level, maybe my friend sensed all of that. If he had asked where my mouth was, I would have had a logical answer about waiting until I had fully thought through what it should say. But he didn’t.
He felt the desire to know where the woman with the piercing blue eyes carried her kiss. And I felt undone, almost naked, and shaken. Standing there together, my heart pounded the truth so loudly he must have heard it: I had never been kissed.
“Where is my kiss?” I didn’t feel qualified to answer that question, but it pricked at my heart nonetheless. For the rest of that week, I started to ponder the nature of my kiss— the longings that made it deep, the beauty that made it rich, the passion that made it wild, the joy that made it playful, the love that made it constant and the surrender that freed it from self-protection.
I started to realize that the bravest and truest kiss isn’t only given or received; it is worn daily, tucked in the corner of your mouth. So I started seeking to welcome my own kiss to the tip of my lips, with invitation and hope.
And hope hasn’t disappointed. Looking back, I can see that I have come alive to all of those parts of my kiss that I had spent so long quieting in careful self-protection. I exude more desire and beauty, passion and play, love and abandon. And, I also carry more ache, I have shed more tears, and I have faced some of the deepest fears of my heart with happy and unhappy endings in equal supply.
When it comes to your kiss, nothing is ever sure.
But, I love the woman I am becoming… not because she has been wooed into worth by a chivalrous man, but because she delights and rests in her worth more freely than I had imagined was possible. She is starting to carry her kiss in the corner of her mouth, come what may.
So, because it is one of the kindest questions I have ever been asked, I wonder, “Where is your kiss?”
Perhaps it has been buried in hundreds of scenes in restaurants and cars and bedrooms that come with the lie that your kiss is easy and cheap. Perhaps it has been placed in a photo album as the kisses you receive have grown more like handshakes or hugs— familiar and predictable. Perhaps your kiss feels twisted in ambivalence, as you have explored kissing men, kissing women, kissing both. Perhaps your kiss has been attacked and the only thing you can feel is the violence of kisses not given or received, but assaulted in moments of terror. And maybe you have been tempted to believe a lie that I grappled with that day: your kiss is naive, inexperienced and has nothing of note to say.
My heart tells me that if you have locked away, buried or numbed your kiss, you have made that choice for a very compelling reason.
Still, what might it look like to start to bless your kiss? Because your kiss is lovely and the place where you hold it reflects the convictions you carry about your own heart. And because the Maker of your kiss smiles with delight in the moments when you, His beloved, brave wearing it.
Katy Johnson lives, dreams, writes, and edits in a messy, watercolored world. She’s a 24 year old, discovering her hope, her longings, and the wild spaces in her own heart. Her favorite creative project right now is called The Someday Writings, and someday, she may let those writings see the light of day. For now, she is honored to be a part of Red Tent Living.