The Value Of $10

At Fred Meyer the other night, a woman came up to me as I was getting out of my car, asking for money for gas.

Do I think she really wanted it for gas? I don’t know. But that’s not really my job to determine, is it? We aren’t called to be suspicious and skeptical of people. Wise and discerning, yes, but she claimed to have a need, and I had no way of knowing for sure that her need wasn’t real.

Normally I don’t have any cash on me, so I apologize to people when they ask for money and I continue on with my day, just briefly mentioning them in prayer. But this night, I had money. I had a $10, a $5, and two $1’s.

And I gave her the $10.

I chose to give her the $10 and skip buying myself cold medicine- not because I’m a martyr, but because I saw her as Jesus’ child. I looked at her with compassion and some sadness and I thought, “You need Jesus.” And as that thought hit me, I knew what I needed to do. She needed Jesus, and I had the opportunity to be Jesus to her.

After I handed the money over, she practically ran away from me with barely a “thank you”. I felt pretty confident in that moment that she didn’t need gas. She acted like she was getting away with something, and she wanted to get as far from me as possible before I learned the truth and changed my mind.

And so I called after her, “God bless you!” Because I wanted her to know I gave to her not as me, but as Jesus’ hands and feet here on Earth. I gave to her from the love He has for her. It wasn’t about the $10.

And wouldn’t you know, she stopped mid-run. She couldn’t be slowed down to say “thank you” properly, but she stopped when I said that and she turned to look at me. She studied my face for a second. “God bless you, too,” she said.

I pray she didn’t use the money for drugs. I pray she used it for gas.

But either way, I pray she felt the love of Jesus that night. I pray He will take my $10 and use it for much more than I ever could’ve.

And I smile with the ease at which I handed that money over. And it’s not because I’m some saint, but because giving $10 to a stranger was the easiest thing God’s asked me to do in a long time.

There’s growth and blessing in sorrow and struggle.

Sometimes I feel like I have nothing, like it’s just me moving through this world, emptied out on the inside. I feel like I’m having to consciously remind my heart to beat, and not just beat, but beat for one thing alone- God.

And I believe He’ll bring me out of this valley.

But while I’m here, He is teaching me to breathe.

He is teaching me what truly gives life.

He is presenting me with situations I can’t control, and situations I can. And the funny thing is, I can’t control what comes into my life- all I can control is what I give out.

And as I mourn and grieve and tearfully choose surrender and acceptance over and over again all day long, He is reminding me that laying down my life feels like a death, yes, and it is, but it’s not the end.

Things are laid down, but not buried. Not beyond resurrection.

As I leave everything at the foot of the cross, He’ll sift through it. He’ll take each thing, one by one, and hold them. He’ll examine them for their life-giving (or life-stealing) qualities, He’ll search them for signs of heaven, and He’ll weigh whether or not they have the ability to support rather than detract from my higher calling as His beloved child. And some things He’ll toss out because He won’t give me anything less than the best. But some things He’ll bring new life to and hand back to me.

He’ll take my worldly wants and desires and sorrows and fears and trauma, and He’ll breathe holy breath and life and redemption and healing into them. And I’ll appreciate them differently when they come into my life as a gift, or healing, or freedom- all marked with His fingerprints.

And when I can’t see the gift without seeing His fingerprints, I won’t be tempted to worship the gift- I’ll worship the gift-giver.

I can trust Him with my heart. I can trust Him with my pain, my life, with the things I can’t control.

And so I’ll pursue Him. I will invest my energy in the things I can control instead of fighting against what I can’t.

He’s teaching me that when I sink below the surface of the water, like Peter, the only hand reaching out for me will be His. Because only He can walk on water. Everyone else? They’ll be in the boat. Not heartlessly, not without care or concern or love, but the most they can do is row over and toss me a buoy. They can’t walk on water.

He’s the Gift-Giver. The Healer. The Redeemer. The Savior. The true source of the life I so desperately long for.

He’s teaching me that.

And He’s teaching me the value of $10.

$10 isn’t going to keep me from drowning, but grasping tight to His hand will.

*

“Where You go, I’ll go
Where You stay, I’ll stay
When You move, I’ll move
I will follow You
Who You love, I’ll love
How You serve I’ll serve
If this life I lose, I will follow You.

In The Morning When I Rise, Give Me Jesus

Driving to work this morning, the sun shone through the fog so brilliantly that more than once I had to pause and inhale the beauty of it. I could see actual rays of sun, like the rays kids draw in pictures, beaming their way through the fog, reaching out to me like an exclamation point- “Good morning!”

And I smiled.

And I tilted my head towards heaven and said, “Thank you, Jesus, for bringing me through another night.”

I spent hours and hours yesterday talking with Jesus- sobbing, worshiping, driving aimlessly, falling to my knees, reaching my arms toward heaven DESPERATE.

And I had to remind myself, as I lay awake in bed last night, that I am loved. “You love me,” I repeated over and over again, trying to replace every other thought and emotion with that simple, but profound, truth. He loves me. And eventually, I was able to sleep. Blanketing myself in His love.

I prayed over myself last night. I put a hand on my heart and I prayed. At one time I put a hand on my forehead and prayed. And maybe that’s not biblical, maybe it’s weird, but I hoped my hand could represent the hand of Jesus. “Pray through me, Lord,” I pleaded, “Let my hand be Yours.”

It’s constant, choosing to lay things down at the foot of the cross, giving all over to Him, wholly entrusting myself to His care.

When sorrow fills my heart and threatens to pull me under water, I pass it off to God like it’s a hot coal. I don’t want to hold it- I CAN’T hold it. But He can.

And not only can He hold it, but He’ll use it.

He’ll collect the coals and eventually I’ll see the purpose of them- He’ll use them to build and sustain a fire.

And as I am praising Him for the fire, amazed at what He did with my pain, He’ll smile and show me I can use the fire to keep warm.

And as I worship Him for His goodness, He’ll smile again and use the fire to cook food. And He’ll feed me. And enable me to feed others.

And it will blow my mind because I thought the fire was the redemption of my pain, but it was just the beginning. Because He can do above and beyond what I can think or imagine.

Lord, help me continue to move THROUGH the grief. Help me not set up camp here. Help me not bury or numb my heart. Help me to breathe in what is and trust You to make something beautiful out of what’s been lost.

With everything- every thought, every emotion, I have to seek God. “Is this something You want me to try to hold, or do You want me to give it to You?”

Often I run my sorrow through a series of questions:
Is this something I have control over?
Is this something I can fix?
Is this something I KNOW to be true, or am I drawing conclusions based on partial evidence?

And the questions are really more of a formality, a way to soothe my spinning and frazzled mind, than they are necessary. Because almost every time I come up with the same conclusion: The only thing I can do, literally, is seek Him.

I can’t fix it.

I can’t KNOW the whole truth of what is.

I can’t KNOW what is coming.

Last night I prayed, fiercely, for the love of the Lord to overwhelm me. Because I have nothing else. There’s nowhere else to turn. There’s nothing else to grasp on to with both hands in my effort to stay afloat.

There’s no one but Him to greet me in the morning.

And He won’t wake me with a kiss on the forehead and a hot cup of tea,

but He’ll smile at me with sun rays like exclamation points.

And maybe that’s all any of us really has.

Where Hope Is Found

What is it about not feeling well that makes me want to cry?

And I don’t even want to cry because I can’t sleep and my eyes burn and my nose is running and my throat hurts and I keep coughing. No, none of that makes me sad or teary. It’s inconvenient and annoying, sure, but apart from that, I don’t really “mind” being sick.

In some ways, I kind of appreciate that my body is demanding my attention. When I’m sick, my body requires that I recognize that I am a person with needs. It demands I slow down. That’s not a bad thing. It gives me permission to make myself a priority without feeling selfish.

When I’m at work at my nose is running while I talk to a client, I remember I’m more than a therapist- I’m a living, breathing, human being. That becomes the bigger, truer thing in all aspects of my life when I’m sick- I am a person and I have needs.

I want to cry because being sick makes me feel sensitive and young and small. Why does my birth certificate say that I’m 28, because I’m pretty sure I’m still a child, and who’s going to make me dinner and tuck me into bed and kiss my forehead as my eyes close?!

I don’t know what to do when I feel this way. And I think that’s because there’s nothing I can do.

I can’t point at someone and say, “You. I choose you to be what I need. I choose you to come over and sit with me on my couch and let me rest my head on your shoulder. I choose you to love me the way I think I need to be loved.”

Everything, it seems, is a call to surrender- to give up my desire for control and fix my eyes instead on the face of the Lord, who loves me passionately and relentlessly and forever.

I’ve believed for a long time that I could find security in my relationships if only I had some sort of guarantee that the people in my life love me, that they carry me in their hearts and minds even when we’re apart. But the irony is that looking for security in relationships only breeds insecurity.

It’s a freaking waste of time.

Not only that, but it kills relationships. Trust me, I know. People don’t want to have to reassure you constantly that they love you.

The enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy. And that? The fear of losing love? Needing reassurance and validation? That’s got his name written all over it. I see you, Satan. I see you and I’m calling you out.

We can’t find our security in anything apart from the Lord because the hard, undeniable truth is that life doesn’t come with any guarantees.

Help us to fix our eyes on You, Jesus. Help us to know You as the source of all our hope.

No matter how many times someone says they love me, it won’t be what I need. The anxiety in my brain won’t shut off like a switch after the 31st “I love you”.

Because relationships are fluid things built on trust. They are not contracts.

I mean, Jesus Himself modeled that. His life demonstrated that we cannot make anyone love us. But that our mission, regardless of the love we receive, is to love.

I have to learn to live with the anxiety when it arises. I have to tell my anxiety to sit down, stop ranting and raving about how scary everything is, and remember that our God is still on the throne.

When I ask God for some promise that so-and-so will love me forever, when I ask Him if I’ll ever have someone to hold me when I’m sad, He gently whispers that I am asking the wrong questions. My focus is on the wrong thing.

He keeps in perfect peace those whose minds are stayed on Him. (Is. 26:3)

We are to seek Him with our whole hearts and He will provide for our needs. (Jer. 29:13, Ps. 119:2, Amos 5:4, Deut. 11:13)

Over and over again in scripture He reminds us that our focus HAS to be Him.

If I focus my eyes on anything else, that’s when anxiety replaces peace. Even if I don’t understand how it’s possible, I know from scripture that He is all that I need. And I know I can trust Him with my heart, with my life, with my needs.

My focus is wrong when I look to the world for love, with big, questioning eyes.

When I look to the world, it should be to love, not to be loved.

And when I need love? It’s then I should look to Jesus.

All I can do is that- keep my eyes on Him and leave the outcomes in His hands. Everything surrendered, everything at the foot of the cross, and my arms wrapped around His waist- too full of Him to hold on to anything else.

I’m sick. And no one is going to cover me with a blanket if I fall asleep on the couch or make me soup.

And that’s okay. It’s sad, but it’s okay because God is good and He can be trusted. He knows what He’s doing, and even when I don’t understand, I know He doesn’t make mistakes.

And because He is my Father, because He loves me so wildly, He beckons, “Arise, daughter. Let hope arise. Take heart. Abide in My love. And when you fall asleep on the couch, I’ll cover you- not with a blanket, but with My love.”

*

“Home is where you’re made to feel like a big deal. More than welcome, you are wanted.”

“There’s nothing better than the warm embrace of belonging.”

Needing Jesus and Being Jesus

At therapy a couple weeks ago, I was in the waiting room when a kid, probably about seven years old, came running out of his therapy appointment and excitedly scanned the room for his mom. He started to run towards a woman he thought was his mom for a second, but then he realized it wasn’t and I watched his face fall.

For a while, he stood against the wall and watched the door for his mom to arrive. I tried to smile reassuringly at him a couple of times, but I felt like I was triggering his Stranger Danger alarm, so I mostly just read my book. When I looked up again, he had disappeared around the corner.

And then I heard something.

It sounded like crying.

So I got up to investigate, and sure enough, the little boy had waited bravely for his mom for a solid five minutes or so before collapsing into a chair and crying.

I was kneeling to talk to him, reassuring him that his mom would be there any minute and offering for him to come sit with me until she arrived, when she came through the door.

My initial reaction? Anger. Who leaves their small child alone at a therapy session? And what kind of therapist dismisses a child after his therapy appointment without first checking to see if his parent is there?!

Immediately, before she had even walked through the doorway, her son jumped up and, still sobbing, ran to her, wrapping his arms around her.

That kid? He’s me. Maybe he’s all of us.

Maybe we’re all just scanning the room for a familiar, loving face. Someone to wrap our arms around. And when no kind eyes and loving embrace can be found, maybe we all struggle to maintain a brave face. Maybe we’re all tempted to slink down into a chair and cry hopeless, scared tears into our hands.

I suspect that is, indeed, all of us.

And the reason I suspect that is because we’re all wired to need Jesus in that way. We’re fragile, us humans. We need Someone strong and loving to hold on to.

I think we get taller and older, but that we’re all still our child selves deep down.

We all still need love and belonging. We all crave feeling safe and wanted. We all want to know someone is waiting for us- sitting in the waiting room after our therapy session or awaiting our arrival at home at the end of the day.

We want to know our names and faces and hearts matter because of who we are, and not because of what we do. We want it to matter that our favorite color is yellow and that we bite our fingernails and that sometimes when the moon is full it makes us think of heaven and Jesus and our eyes tear with the wonder of it all.

When we are children, the hope is that our parents can be that for us. That they can model Jesus for us and point us to Him. Of course, that’s unfortunately not the way it always works out, but that was God’s plan, I believe.

Either way, however, when we get older the Lord is meant to be that for us- the one person who will never walk out, never leave us standing alone in the waiting room, watching the door with a trembling chin.

He can’t wrap His arms around me, not yet, but that doesn’t mean I can’t run to Him.

And sometimes He blesses us with people who can wrap their arms around us- people who can reflect His love for us.

And sometimes He blesses us by allowing us to be that to someone else.

This morning on my way to work, I witnessed a car accident. It was bad enough for one of the cars to be rendered not drive-able, but thankfully no one was injured.

I pulled over to the side of the road. I expected to be dismissed when I walked up to the car nearest to me and asked if there was anything I could do, but instead, she nodded slowly. “You saw the accident happen?” she asked me, teary and trembling. I confirmed that I did. “Would you like me to stay?” I asked her. And she looked down at her hands and nodded.

I reached in through her window and rubbed her shoulder. I asked if she was hurt. She told me her coffee spilled. She said that she saw the car coming up behind her but that there was nothing she could do. She said that it all happened so quickly.

And then she got out of her car. And suddenly she was that little boy in the waiting room, trying to maintain a brave face as she surveyed the wreckage around us and tried to wrap her mind around how quickly her day had been turned upside down.

She started to cry.

“Is it okay if I hug you?” I asked.

Again, a nod.

And so I hugged her and she cried.

I am so glad I stopped this morning. I hadn’t thought it would matter if I was there, that I would just get in the way, and really, what could I do anyway? And so I almost kept driving.

But because I didn’t, because I obeyed the tiny whisper inside of me and pulled over to the side of the road, I got to be Jesus to the people involved in the accident today.

I got to be His arms and kind eyes and gentle smile. I got to be His affirmation that “YOU MATTER! YOUR PAIN, YOUR FEAR, YOUR TEARS- THEY MATTER!”

I stayed there, comforting each driver, for about an hour. Thirty minutes after I left, I got a text message from the woman who had cried on my shoulder. She thanked me for stopping. “Not many people would’ve stopped on their way to work,” she said.

It was an honor to be there for them in that moment, to be there when they needed someone to rub their shoulder and witness their tears and ask if they were okay.

And so I responded and told her that being there this morning was the most important thing I could’ve possibly been doing with my time. And I reassured her that my boss understood.

It’s beautiful, this life.

As I’ve said in my recent posts and am going to echo now, it bring tears to my eyes- both what I don’t have, and what I do.

In His Arms

I was tempted to start off this post by saying: “Sadness sucks.”

But that’s not really true, is it? God can use our sadness. God can grow us and speak to us in our sadness. But we make it harder on Him, I think, when we’ve labeled our sadness as “sucky”, as something to “get through”. I am learning to breathe through the sadness, to ask God how He wants to use it.

I went to the Chris Tomlin and Toby Mac concert last night.

I started the night off feeling kind of awkward in my body, wanting to dance or clap, but feeling self-conscious.

Towards the middle of the night, I was standing, swaying, raising my arms.

And then sadness hit me like a pool of water when you jump off a diving board and belly flop. I wasn’t expecting it. And honestly, it was hard to say what exactly happened.

But there I was, sucker-punched by sadness. And so I sat, and I hugged my knees to my chest, and I wiped tears off my cheeks with the back of my hand, and then wiped my hand on the knee of my jeans.

And I felt embarrassed. I didn’t know if anyone noticed that I was crying, and I was worried that if they did, they would think I was ruining their fun. But I have vowed to myself not to shut my heart down, not to say “no” if the Lord is wanting to do something in me.

And what is worship if not time dedicated to the Lord?

Maybe sometimes that looks like raised hands (even while your knees shake, as I wrote about in a previous blog!) and sometimes it might look like curling your body into as small a ball as you can get it and letting yourself cry.

And yes I was crying, and yes I was sad, but it was more than that. It was more than sadness. I was also crying because I felt deeply moved by how the Lord loves us.

And everything I lack can be found in Him.

No one is going to hold me. I’m no one’s daughter, little sister, wife. But He will. He will hold me.

And that, the grieving of what I don’t have and the mind-blowing beauty of what I do have, it made me cry.

And also, off to the right, glowing like a reminder that I didn’t want, stood the hospital. I’ve been in that ER twice in the past couple of months.

All around me, words about God’s love filled the air, and off to the right stood a reminder that I’ve come so far… and still not that far.

And I cried. I cried because of how my decisions must’ve grieved the Father’s heart. And I cried because HE HAD NEVER LEFT MY SIDE. How astoundingly beautiful that the Jesus who died to give me life would still love me after I had decided that life wasn’t worth it.

I hurt. And I’m sad. And also, I’m full of hope and joy. I laugh and smile. And I cry. And I’ll take that- I’ll take feeling, even when it’s painful, over numbness. I want, as much as possible, to live my life fully alive.

And so I cried at the concert. And I rebuked embarrassment and shame and any depression that might want to creep in and sabotage the good work the Lord was doing, and I prayed, “Holy Spirit, have your way in me.”

And I sat in my seat, chin quivering, breathing in the love of Christ, allowing pain to beat in sync with my heart, and smiling. Because it’s incredible, the beauty that is promised to us, the love that is here for us now, and the people all around me–thousands of people–all worshiping the God who sustains and redeems and never, ever walks out on us.

And I cried for another reason as well. Because I was at that concert, worshiping the God who loves me, and I wasn’t there alone. I went with my church family. People who I fiercely love.

Love is such an incredible gift. Healthy, genuine, unconditional, reminiscent-of-Jesus love.

I’m still terrified of it- of boundaries and vulnerability and not having any signed, unbreakable document assuring me that people won’t leave me. But mostly I’m able to breathe in the gift of what the Lord has provided for me, and marvel at the fact that He has taken such good care of me.

He has given me people–and, miraculously, FAMILY!–and He’s given me victory and growth and comfort and wisdom and freedom. And He’s given me Himself.

I am moved to tears by Him.

I cry because of what I don’t have, and I cry because of what I do. And I think maybe that’s beautiful. Because tears indicate a heart that is fully alive. And smiling through the tears is an act of trust- surrender to a God who knows more and sees more and who is faithfully good.

And maybe I’m not ever going to be the life of the party, the person everyone gravitates toward for a good time. But I’m watching God break off my belief that I have to prove myself to people or show up “a certain way” rather than just showing up. Slowly, but undeniably, He is doing a good work in me.

And I feel the Lord closer to me after last night’s concert. I feel His breath swirling all around me.

And so when I am sad, it’s easier to turn my head against His chest and be embraced by the Lord who understands me and loves me perfectly.

The Lord who holds me.

Open

This morning I was stretched out at a coffee shop, my bottom on one chair and my feet on the other, a steaming cup of tea before me and a book in my hands- John Piper’s “Battling Unbelief”.

I have a raised-eyebrow approach to John Piper, but the book was recommended to me, and thus far has proven to be full of wise words, undeniable truth, and even–surprisingly!–some comfort.

I was reading about being unashamed of the gospel when an older gentlemen came by my table and said, “It’s so nice to see someone reading an actual book!”

We bantered back and forth about that for a while, about how I’m a die-hard actual, made-of-paper book fan, and about how he doesn’t know how to use a cell phone or how to respond when the barista greets him with a “yo!”

And then he said something I thought profound, although I know he didn’t mean it to be. He was simply referring to technology, but his words spoke to me about life. He said, “People just keep moving forward. They throw away the things of the past. They just want to move on to bigger and better things.”

I nodded at him and added, “You’re right. We have to build on the past, learn from it, not move on and act like it never happened.”

A little bit later in our conversation, he asked me what book I was reading. I don’t know if he was a Christian or not, but as I talked to him about the book, I prayed that the Lord would somehow use our interaction. Maybe he was just a friendly guy in a coffee shop, but maybe our lives intersected this morning for a reason- he, John Piper, and I talking about paperbacks and Christianity, while we indulged in our early morning caffeine, and the sunlight reflected off the dew on the windows of the coffee shop.

And the baristas fought in the backroom.

There was also the two men, one of whom I think was interviewing for a job. The interviewee called to the barista, “God bless you!” as he left. I also heard him talking about extending the same grace to others that has been extended to him in the past.

And the mother and daughter, who I stopped as they got straws for their coffee, to tell them I envied both of their outfits.

Sometimes it’s so simple to bless people. To be Jesus to people. To smile at the small child wearing bright pink sunglasses, her head tilted slightly upward to keep them from slipping down on her nose. To wave at a baby. To tell a man his dog is cute, even if the dog is barking indoors and the man looks embarrassed.

Life is such a mixture. Beautiful things, and imperfect things.

For instance, even as I overheard the coworkers bickering behind the door to my right, I prayed for God’s presence to fill up that coffee shop. I felt like I was doing something important, inviting Jesus there, encouraging Him to speak to me in that public place, among strangers with complex lives and varying struggles and beliefs.

Maybe sometimes allowing the Lord to use you is as simple as opening up your heart and a paperback.

Eyes to see, ears to hear, and a heart open to receive, for these things I pray.

The Things I Choose To Hold On To

I sent Pauline a text last night and asked: “How many more nights am I going to have to cry myself to sleep?”

It was a rhetorical question, obviously, but one that hung heavy in my room last night as I sobbed and hiccuped and wiped my nose on my shirt because I am disgusting and a child.

And this morning, my pillow was stained with my mascara. And my eyelids are swollen and puffy from so many hours of tears.

And yet, as miserable as this feels, it’s been a long time since I’ve been able to cry, and I’ll take this–FEELING!–over numbness any day.

I’ll take sorrow and grieving over trying to demand control and being unable to breathe.

It is my prayer that the tears are accomplishing something. I pray for a heart and mind and emotions submitted to the Lord. I pray for tears of grieving and acceptance and surrender, and not tears of self-pity. I don’t want to get stuck. I don’t want to feel sorry for myself. It’s a fine line, I think- feeling without feeling sorry for yourself.

I’m truly at the end of myself. It’s all too messy and too painful, and the battle in my brain and the contents of my heart are TOO MUCH. I know that we can do anything with the Lord’s help, though. And I know He loves me and He is good. So I will continue to battle.

But sometimes I honestly just want to fall to my knees in defeat and surrender and desperation for Him to intervene- to be the lifter of my head.

I did last night.

I worshiped in my living room for a long time, arms raised to the ceiling, tears pouring down my face, some words sung with a smile, some accompanied by a little dance, and some barely understandable through the teary quivering of my voice.

“I will take You at your unfailing word
More than all I want, I will seek Your first
I will bless Your name when the night is long
God, You have my surrender.”

I sang those words. And then I fell to my knees. Because it freaking HURTS to make that proclamation. It’s scary and painful! And yet, it is still what I will choose (with His help!) over and over and over again.

Lord, help me to choose You. Help me to choose surrender. Even when it hurts. Remind me Your way is the only way to true, abundant life. Help me rest in the confidence that You are good, that You have a plan, and that you have a purpose for my pain. But oh, Jesus, how I HURT. And how I NEED A VICTORY.

And yet, I have to choose to surrender even that–my desire for victory, my pain, my weakness, my “I don’t know how I’m going to survive”–to the Lord.

And I have to surrender my concept of family.

Pauline asked me recently how I’d define family. I said family is who shows up at your house unexpectedly, and eats food off your plate without asking, and whose shoulder or lap you can rest your head on while you watch TV in the evenings. Family is the people you belong with, the dinner table that would be incomplete without you there, those who love you unconditionally and are permanently committed to you no matter what. Family is who you can call when you’re crying, or when you’re excited because you got a cute new shirt on sale, or because you’re bored, or just because you want to hear their voice. And family calls you too. Because you are on their minds and in their hearts and you make their lives better.

I don’t have family as defined that way. And maybe I never will again. I don’t know.

But I know I am not doing life unloved.

And I don’t know what His plan it, but I know that the pain in my heart matters to the Lord. And I know that it is safe to hope in Him.

And so I worship, and I cry, and I go for long walks and sometimes I feel better afterwards and sometimes I still feel like crap. And I pray- not for things, not even usually for family, but to love the Lord more. Because I don’t know any other way to stop hurting but to fill my heart up with Him- with He who is reliably loving and present.

“Satisfy me, Lord.
Yeah I’m begging You, help me see
You’re all I want, You’re what I need.”

I don’t know how to get to that place. I don’t know how to achieve victory over all of this. Maybe it’s a “one day at a time” thing. And even though I’m hurting, maybe I can hurt for a little while longer as long as I cling tight to hope. A little hope can go a long way.

I pray for satisfaction and fulfillment in Him. And I give Him my desire for love and family and belonging, even if I have to surrender that over and over again all day long, and frequently through tears. “I choose You,” I say. “I choose to trust You.”

So much of faith and our relationship with God is a choice, isn’t it? You don’t have to feel trust or feel like He is more than enough for you, but you choose to believe those things because of what scripture says. It’s a deliberate choice. One I have to make constantly.

And I pray He honors that.

I pray for less frequently swollen eyelids and less nights of hysterical sobbing.

But more than that, I pray for healing. I pray that I will come to know and love Him more.

And so I say, even as I’m terrified and sobbing, or on my knees with my face pressed against the carpet of my living room, or reaching my arms up to the ceiling like a child raises their arms when they want their parent to pick them up, or dancing in my car because HE IS GOOD and it makes me dance even when I’m struggling to look at my life and call it good, I will say, “I choose to trust You.”

And in the meantime, I will be patient. I will wait on the Lord. And I will trust Him with that, the waiting, too.

I pray also that the surrender is an exchange. That as I lay down everything that matters to me (apart from the Lord), I’m able to grab onto Him with both hands. I pray He comes and fills up every broken place and corner of me that aches.

I want to live in a way that ushers heaven into our world. I don’t know what that would look like, I just have to believe there’s more for us. More Holy Spirit activity. The ability to live so aware of heaven’s reality that we operate in that one instead of this one.

I just feel like there’s got to be more.

That there should be a way for Him to be more real. There has to be a way to live lives undeniably marked by his involvement- to be flames to the world, not just lights, but fire, igniting everyone and everything that we come into contact with.

I don’t know. Maybe that’s not what He has for us right now. I don’t know. I don’t know anything. But that He is good and loves us and delights in spending time with us.

So I will wait.

I will choose hope.

I will choose trust.

I will choose surrender.

I will feel my emotions and refuse to believe lies.

I will hide myself in Him.

I will abide (is that not the most beautiful word!?) in His love.

I will worship, hands to the heavens.

And I will kneel, forehead to the ground, and wait.