Life

I wept behind my sunglasses as I drove home Sunday.

“Why am I crying?!” I asked myself. And I didn’t know. But my body did. On some level, the tears were important. And so I let them fall.

And I prayed in the Spirit because I knew I needed words other than my own to communicate to heaven what was happening inside of me.

But these tears weren’t the same as ones I would’ve cried a couple weeks ago because at no point did my brain decide it no longer wanted to be alive.

I feel like the me that has been hijacked by depression for so long is slowly resurfacing. And it’s a holy and tender thing. My body and mind and heart have been through a lot over these last months, and I am somehow exhausted and full of life at the same time.

“I’m proud of you,” my therapist said to me. “I’m so proud of you.”

She said she knew all along it was just a matter of finding the right medication. It wasn’t that I am “lacking faith” or “sick”. I wasn’t doing anything “wrong”. My brain had been hijacked. And it was real and dark and horrible and lonely. And I survived.

“Please promise me I’m feeling better because the medication is working,” I said to my doctor. “Please promise me this isn’t just a fluke. I don’t want to be afraid that I might wake up tomorrow and suddenly not be able to feel joy or life or gladness anymore.”

And he said he could almost guarantee that it’s the medication and that I’m only going to start feeling even better.

And I want to cry with the relief of it. I want to cry because there is life blooming inside of me again. I am not having to spend my entire day trying to stay alive, and that is enough to make me want to fall to my knees and weep tears of gratitude and praise.

I want to cry because God never let go of my hand. He always, always had a plan. The God who whispered to me for so long to just hang on, who watched me drink myself stupid and never once shamed me for it. The God who knew all along the battle I was fighting was real and fierce. The God who tasked me with one thing only: to keep breathing.

I want to cry because my therapist said she’s proud of me. And God is proud of me. And I’m kind of proud of me too.

I want to cry for sad reasons too, because change is scary and relationships are hard. I want to cry when I feel out of place or lonely.

And I want to cry because I am loved. I am so loved. And I feel loved.

I want to cry because I am LOOKING FORWARD to my life again. I’m excited for Christmas and moving across the bridge and continuing to surrender who I am to God. I am excited to watch my life unfold according to His design and plan.

I am excited about the thought of someday being a mama- whether because I marry or because I adopt. And I think maybe I’m okay with either.

I am excited about having people in my life who wrap their arms around me and kiss the top of my head.

I am excited about being able to be a good friend again.

I am excited about this family that God is knitting me into.

I am excited about the book I’m someday going to write.

I am excited for beauty in all its forms- beauty in nature and laughter and hugs and even tears. Beauty in all the things that tell of a God who is Love.

And I want to cry because… it’s me. I can see me.

And this isn’t something I’m doing or forcing. I am not trying to make myself feel excited about life or grateful for the good. This isn’t by my effort; it’s God. (And Celexa. ;))

I am not “making myself feel better”. It’s real; not forced. It’s bigger than me and beyond me and I don’t have to hold anything together or sustain anything; I just get to be here for the holy and miraculous unfolding of it all. I get to watch my life return to me.

My life over the last year and a half has been like trying to see something in a steamed-up mirror. And for so long, nothing looked real or important or worth it. But now I can see.

And there, in that mirror, I see me.

I see this excitement in my chest, and a desire to throw my arms out wide and scream a “HALLELUJAH!” for the life that is springing back up in me.

And I see my eyes. And they are tired, because it has been hard.

But there, in my tired eyes, there’s something else too. Life, sure. But not just life in the “has a pulse” sense. I see there, flickering like flame behind my eyes, the Holy Spirit within me.

I see, in my smile and freckles and slope of my nose, the fingerprints of the God who created me.

And deep, deep in my heart, I see and feel the smile of the Jesus who saw me through the darkest season of my life.

There is breath in my lungs. But it’s not my own; it’s His.

And I am so grateful.

Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah.

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The Holder Of Every Second

I was crying in the car after dinner. I tried not to cry. I tried to focus on the raindrops running down my windshield and the way my headlights were bouncing off the license plate in front of me. I focused on the porch light that seemed to be flickering because of the tree branches waving back and forth in front of it. I scanned the bushes for deer.

My head was empty of thoughts, but the tears still came, flowing from some place in the center of me where all my pain is built up as pressure and poison.

*

People ask how I am and it’s always the same thing: I still can’t feel any connection to this life that I know is a gift.

I look at my therapist and say, “I have nothing to say.” Because it’s all been said already. I just keep saying the same thing. And what’s the point? Speaking my pain, my gratitude, my hopes and fears, joys, needs, and the overriding goodness of the God who loves me, none of it changes anything. It all still just hurts.

Sometimes when I’m not with her, I imagine myself going into my therapy session, sitting on her couch, putting my face in my hands, and sobbing the entire hour. That I could do. I have no words, just pain. But when I am actually there, I never have the guts to just devote an entire hour to weeping. And I still have nothing to say. So instead, I spend the hour avoiding looking her in the eyes and I fidgeting uncomfortably.

I still showed up, though. I got in my car and I drove there. I’m a mess and I have nothing to offer, but I’m still alive to sit on a couch and blink back tears. I’m still showing up, the best way I know how, for this life that I can’t seem to make myself want.

But with His eyes full of promise and love, I can hear my Jesus say: “Don’t give up. Keep your eyes on Me. Just wait, child. Just wait and trust.”

And so I’m trying. I can’t make myself want to live, but I can trust that He is doing something, even when I can’t perceive it. He is working things together even when I hurt.

*

I’ve been watching a survival show lately. It’s the voice of God to me over and over again.

There’s the father who crawls across the ground, his back and legs broken, to reach his child who is calling for him. After the rescue, the doctor says it’s impossible that he could’ve done that with the injuries he sustained. And then they interview the father, his eyes moist with tears, who shrugs lightly and says: “Love is stronger than anything. It’s stronger than pain. It’s the strongest force on earth. My baby was calling for me. Nothing was going to stop me from getting to her.”
And the message to me: Love wins. Love is powerful. God is Love. I am His child. He fights for me. He comes when I call. Nothing will stop Him from running to me.

There’s the woman who is quoted as having worried, in the midst of her crisis: “What must they (onlookers) think of this person I am right now?” And then she paused a moment, thoughtfully, and said: “I don’t care what they think. I am SURVIVING here. They are just going to have to deal with it.”
The message? Sometimes it’s enough just to survive. The opinions of others, if harsh, are from a place of ignorance, a lack of understanding what it means to be looking death in the face and saying no.

There’s the woman whose son survived because she had told him his entire life that, no matter what situation he finds himself in, never to panic because “panic kills more people than whatever the incident is.”
The message? Truth. My experience, too, is that it’s the panic that tries to kill me even more than the pain.

There’s the man who pushed past his child to protect her from a bear. He couldn’t see the bear initially, he didn’t know what he was going to see when he stepped around the corner where she was, but he knew “[his] kid was in danger.” Nothing else mattered. He had to protect her.
The message? My God protects me. Life is full of pain, yes, but there’s the pain meant to grow us, and there’s the pain that will destroy us. The latter pain, the bear-like pain, He jumps in front of and tells it to go. He won’t let it touch me.

In every story of survival, the victims rarely did the “right” thing. Their rescue was never the result of their effort or wisdom or even their begging. They were completely powerless to save themselves. All they could do was wait and hope. And make mistakes. And keep breathing. And pray.

And the most incredible thing to me is how everything had to come together perfectly or their rescue never would’ve happened. And there was no way all those things should’ve been able to connect at the precise moments they did. It was impossible. But then again, nothing is impossible where God is at work.

There was no denying God’s hand in each of their stories. And that makes me feel so safe, so completely assured that nothing will happen to me that He doesn’t allow.

He holds every single second.

*

The people in that show who were rescued, they all said they wanted to give up at a point during their suffering, but then they thought of their families. They thought of their parents or spouses or children, the people whose lives were inseparably connected to their own, bound by fierce love, and sometimes blood. That was why they fought- for their families. For love.

“None of it matters unless you have your family by your side,” one survivor said.

And I agree.

And it hurts.

But then I remember the God who IS my family. The God who has blessed me with family, even though it doesn’t look or feel the way I wish it did. The God whose love heals. The God who is jealous for me.

And I remember the God whose ways are beyond our ability to understand. The God whose love is also beyond what we could comprehend.

And I know that somehow, even when it hurts, I’m held. Every single second.

*

God, where are You in this moment? Where are You when it hurts and I can’t script for myself an ending that makes this feel worth it?

Where are You when I can’t feed myself promises of the “better” to come or of a suffering that has an expiration date?

Where are You when there’s no air to breathe? When no one can make it better and the walls are closing in on me because: “Time keeps passing and how do I do this life that is causing me so much grief?!”

Where are You when my chest fills with panic and help cannot be found?

Where are You when I have no idea how to make anything – my life, my relationships, my heart – better?

Where are You when I’m powerless and desperate and screwing up constantly and terrified of things getting worse? Where are You?

And I don’t say that as an accusation, but as a prayer: “Teach me to see You.”

And He knows. He sees my heart. He hears words even when I have none to say. And in response, He offers a gentle smile. And then: “Trust Me, child.”

And it’s not an answer to all of my questions. It’s not a solution with steps that I can follow, outlined and numbered and clear. It’s not an instantaneous healing. Just a reminder to trust.

Trust- not in a plan or method or clearly marked path.
Trust- not in my ability to see how it’s going to be okay.
Trust- not in someone to swoop in with answers or love.
Trust- not in my efforts to fight this battle, or think all the right things, or pray without ceasing.
But trust in Him. In the character and power of the God of hope and promise.

There is nothing to trust in but Him. Everything else has been stripped away. I have nothing to offer and I can’t fix it.

I’ve tried taking my life in my hands and molding it in such a way that it doesn’t hurt. But that doesn’t work. My life just becomes this fragile, teetering thing. And I have moments of happiness, sure, but I’m also exhausting myself constantly, trying to keep what I’ve built from toppling.

I’ve tried to manipulate people and situations so that they’d fit into the broken, screaming places in my heart. But people aren’t meant to be manipulated. And love can’t be forced. And our hearts are much too reflective of Him to be made whole by being patched with only things of this world.

I’ve tried to make it be better. I’ve tried radical acceptance. I’ve tried not wanting anything but God. Nothing I try works. And maybe that’s the realization I’ve been supposed to come to all along: I can’t problem-solve or analyze my way out of this. I don’t have to have a solution. I don’t even have to have anything to offer. Because it isn’t my job to be the solution-seer. That job belongs to the One who whispers: “Trust Me.”

My job isn’t to take and mold and force and beg and decided how this story is going to go; my job is to let it be written. He writes, I trust. He writes, I stay alive.

And He smiles because I’m giving up trying to script and build and sustain and fix, which means that finally things are going to be built right- by capable, all-knowing, infinitely-loving hands.

No more teetering or wobbling. No more desperate pleading and scrambling to keep things from falling apart.

I don’t have a plan. All I have is the kind eyes and tender leading of my Father.

But isn’t that what I’ve been praying for? “I don’t know what I want anymore. I don’t know how to fix it. I just want You. Teach me to see You.” And so now here I am, where everything hurts and I am, every single second, needing to seek His face because it’s the only thing keeping me in this fight.

Oh, for His perspective. How much less would all this hurt if only I could see the beauty woven through all of the pain?

And so, I pray: “Lord, teach me not to base my truth on what I feel or see. Protect me from anything untrue. Help me to guard my heart and mind so that only Your voice, the voice of Truth, will resound within me.”

I pray.

And I go for walks.

I cry in cars.

I read books that stir hope within me.

I want to give up.

But most days, I don’t let myself.

And I watch night fade into day. Over and over and over again.

Thirst

The sun was warm on my back and I listened to the rustle of bunnies in the long grass to my right. Arlow saw a bunny and it was game over as far as our walk went. His mind instantly went into hunting mode. But he was on his leash. The bunnies were safe. And watching him pounce at the grass playfully, even though I had to encourage him repeatedly to keep walking, made me smile.
I saw the faces of people I love. I had conversations. Someone reached over and hugged me and my brain interpreted that as love. Oh, how incredibly starved I am for love.
I watch mouths move and I smile and respond and sometimes I’m even kind of witty. But I’m not there, not getting anything from the conversation. “This, faces and conversation, isn’t what I need,” I realize. And it terrifies me. It isn’t the solution.
And I wake up and shower and walk the dog and do the dishes and eat cereal at the kitchen window while I watch Mowgli climbing the tree in the backyard. And I smile because I know he thinks that giant crow a few branches over is within his ability to catch. But the crow is bigger than him. And the crow can fly. Mowgli cannot. “I admire your self-confidence,” I think as I eat. Occasionally I drop a handful of dry cereal on the floor for Arlow, who is looking up at me, carefully watching my food, wavering between patience and wild insistence.
I go through the motions of living life but I feel completely detached. I can’t feel any reason to live. And I know better than to let what I feel determine my truth, but it’s exhausting to fight so hard without any reward.
“This thing matters! This is one reason life is GOOD!” I tell my brain. But I can’t feel it. I am constantly seeking the good, reminding myself that life is worth it. And I can’t feel it. And it’s exhausting.
There’s a metaphorical hole in my metaphorical bucket, so no matter how much water I pour in, it’s still empty. And yet, I keep pouring. Because I can’t fix the hole. I can’t make there be no hole. And I can’t get a new bucket. This is the only one I’ve got. My whole life is dependent on this one, busted bucket. So I just keep collecting water and pouring it in and watching it empty out. And it feels futile and stupid, but what’s the alternative? Giving up. Either I keep collecting water, or I throw the bucket aside.
I’m trying so hard. I am so tired. Exhausted. Sleepy.
By church’s end on Sunday, I was near tears. Because it is TERRIFYING to not want to live, even when eyes are looking at you with love and the sun is shining and your dog wiggles his entire tail-end because he’s so happy to see you when you get home.
It’s like there’s life playing itself out before me, and all I can feel is this haze. Sleepiness. I am so, so tired all the time. And I’m fighting so hard to push my way through this into the life that everyone else seems to know as worth it, even with its ups and downs. But I feel closer to death than I do life. And I’m scared this is how it will always be.
“Are you okay?” Laura asked when I told her I wasn’t going to go to lunch with everyone after church. And I said yes. But immediately, my chin shook with emotion. And why? I don’t know why. I don’t know what is wrong with me.
I got in my car and I sobbed hysterically. Because every day is this battle to live. And there’s no relief or reprieve to be found anywhere. And I am fighting so hard for something I can’t feel, something that is so elusive I don’t even know if it’s real. And yet, people around me are alive. And they don’t have to battle suicidal thinking, even on their worst days. So I know there’s a reason to do this life.
But I look forward to nothing. And time just keeps passing and I have to keep up with it.
And I stay social and active and guard my thoughts with a fierceness that borders on panic. And I’m so tired.
And what’s the solution? Keep going? Give up? They both seem equally impossible.
So I fall to my knees and spread my arms open wide and I come to God as nothing more than His. I can’t promise Him anything. I can’t even promise Him I won’t give up on life. But I come. Empty and weak and heavy all at once, I fall down in desperate surrender and worship, reminding myself He is God and I am not. He is God. He is God.
And I smile and hug the people I love, and I make plans, and I list in my head things that are coming up that I want to be alive for.
And I weep. And no matter how many hours I sleep at night, I am so tired when my alarm goes off in the morning.
But if this, and that, and those things aren’t the solution, if they don’t help me feel firmly planted in this life, with its green grass and opportunities to laugh, what else is there?
He is the only solution. God alone can make this be okay.
So I try to wait. And I thank God for the water He provides, even while my bucket is broken.

Believing In Holy Magic

“I feel like my life is one of those meals… those ‘take everything leftover out of the fridge and make it into soup’ meals. And it won’t be good, but it will keep you alive,” I said. I was sobbing.

“I feel like nothing about my life is what God had planned, so now he’s just scraping from the bottom of the barrel to sustain me with things that are ‘good enough’. Just enough to get by. That’s how I feel He is putting my life together. It isn’t magic. None of it feels like His Plan A.”

I sobbed, snotty and swollen-eyed, forcing myself to put words to the sorrow within me.

And then, once I felt emptied of all the misery I could verbalize, I took a deep breath and I said, “But I know, if I asked God’s perspective on this, what He’d say.” And I spoke all the truths and holy, wild love that I felt Him placing on my heart as I sought His face above my sorrow and confusion and anger and grief and fear.

Because God doesn’t have a Plan B. I know that. And He is the giver of gifts that are beyond what we can ask and think and imagine. And I don’t know how, looking at my life, that could possibly be true, but I know that it is. There’s no “piecing ‘good enough’ together” when it comes to God. There’s no “bottom of the barrel” digging. He doesn’t feed us with snakes. Even when I can’t see how he’ll provide fish, somehow He does. With a side of fries. Because #beyondwhatwecanaskandthinkandimagine. 😉

And I thanked Him last night. I thanked Him that He’s all in. Even when I’m not. Even when I want to abandon my own life, even when I want to jump ship and give up on this person in whose body I sometimes feel trapped, He’s all in. Wholly involved. Completely committed to seeing this through.

He is the beat of the heart that I sometimes wish would just stop.

He is the one who whispers, in the midst of my deepest sorrow: “Look at Me. Let your eyes meet Mine. Let Me tell you what is true.”

He is the one who takes my: “Why doesn’t my life feel or look like magic? Shouldn’t it if You’re involved? Not perfect, but redeemed and beautiful and like a story that is going to end well? Where is the magic?”

He takes that and He says, “Look away from what you can see for a minute. Look at Me. Stop trying to see what I’m doing. Stop trying to figure it out. And hear Me, child. Even if you can’t understand how your life is magic, can you trust me when I say that you are? That your existence and tender heart and strengths and weaknesses and the Me you bring into the world, THAT is magic. That is the real miracle of your life. Believe that, dear heart, and trust Me with the rest.”

*

Tell me that not a single moment on my knees is wasted.

Tell me Your voice is the only one that matters.

Tell me that I can come to You with nothing to offer, not even the ability to sustain my own life, and it’s okay. Tell me it’s okay.

I can’t make any promises to You. I’ve tried and failed. Tell me it’s okay.

Tell me I can be all fear and sorrow and questions and the desire to run, and it’s okay.

Tell me that when I want to run but I fall to my knees instead, somehow a victory is won. Tell me that when I stand back up, even if I don’t feel any better, somehow things are different. Because prayer changes things. Even if I can’t perceive it.

Tell me it’s okay if I’m comprised of nothing more than a scream and the knowledge that You are. Because I remember a time of sunlight inside of me, and I don’t know how this can be reversed. How can I stop being empty hands and yelling from the deepest part of me that You are NOT enough, even if I know that’s not true, but it hurts and where are You and none of this makes sense.

Tell me the unceasing scream forces me to hear You above it- that it’s beautiful in that way.

Tell me it’s okay, that You can make sense of it all.

Tell me that even screaming insides can be taught to submit to the authority of heaven.

Tell me someday I’ll look back and be able to see the threads of beautiful you’ve been weaving through my story all along.

I am emptiness and depression and screaming grief.
But You are life.

I have nothing.
But it’s okay because You are all.

You are I am.

Tell me it’s okay.

Tell me it’s going to be okay, and not because of anything about me, but because of You.

I will not die, but live,
and declare the works of the Lord.

I declare that good is coming.

This Is How You Let Yourself Be Held

I know God is a good father.

But I wish He felt like a good father a little more often.

Certainly He can’t expect us to do this life without knowing His arms around us- without sensing ourselves held, beloved, in His warm embrace?

“I want to cry. I am so, so tired,” I told someone yesterday.

And I laughed. Yesterday, I laughed so hard I couldn’t talk.

And I got a migraine.

And I slept well.

And I held a child.

And cuddled a dog.

And I sobbed.

And I feared today coming.

And I wondered what the point of all this is.

And I asked God if I’ll ever feel okay again.

And I checked in with myself and was disheartened, but not surprised, to discover my outlook on being alive is still the same.

I’m so tired.

I am fighting so hard. I’m doing everything I know to do, and this life? It feels… Well, it feels like I’m carrying a cross. I’m doing something I don’t feel like doing, each second choosing to put one foot in front of the next. And not only don’t I want to do it, but it HURTS. Each second, each step, it’s so painful. And yet I’m choosing to walk. I’m choosing to live in the pain.

And I ask God big questions. And I tell Him bold things, like, “This is WRONG. This can’t be what You have for me. Something isn’t right. This can’t be all there is.”

And I sob. I get angry and I get scared and I can’t breathe and I want to jump ship. I want to be done with this life I never asked for in the first place, this life that I don’t see getting better any time soon.

And my head fills with heavy things and everything is spinning and I have no control.

And then I close my eyes.

And I whisper the only prayer that comforts my heart: “Just hold me.”

Because it’s all spinning and the cross is heavy and I’m in so much pain. And time just doesn’t freaking stop. It just keeps going and it doesn’t care if I’m tired.

But I’m still His.

He is still my Father.

And, even when I can’t feel it, I know He is holding me.

I know He is good.

*

“I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait on the Lord. Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart. Wait, I say, on the Lord!” -Ps. 27:13-14

 

I’ll Remember The Empty Grave

I cried endlessly yesterday. I cried in my office, I cried in my coworkers’ office, I cried in my car, I cried on the phone, I cried on the couch, I cried in bed.

And I didn’t know that I’d ever stop crying. I didn’t want the next breath or the next breath or the next second or the next minute to come.

But Arlow needed to be walked.

So I went to the park and we walked.

And after he got too tired, we sat.

And he napped.

And I laid on my stomach in the wet, muddy grass in my work pants, and I listened to the sound of children playing, and passerbys commenting on “that cute puppy”, and the sound of passing cars.

And I looked up at the trees,
and I looked down at the grass reflecting the sunlight,
and I looked up at the hazy light of the fading day.

“Be still and know.”
“Be still and know.”
“Be still and know.”

*

I’m so hurt and angry. And my head wants to fill with fire-hot thoughts:
“They don’t ___!”
Or “They said ____!”
Or “They’re lying about me and getting away with it and we all know it!”
Or “I’m all alone and I can’t breathe and my chest hurts and HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO ENDURE A LIFE THAT FEELS SO ENDLESSLY HARD!?”

And I have to remind myself how much of this battle is mine, and how much of it is the Lord’s.

My job is to stand firm. My job is to let myself be His.

His job is to fight.

The lies and injustices aren’t mine to battle. I will speak truth. I will not back down. And I will try to keep my mind focused on Him rather than all the craziness. But He is my Defender. He is the Truth-Revealer. This is His battle.

My job is to start looking for another job.

My job is to continue to love even when I feel alone.

My job is to believe in a life that is going to be greater than I could ever have dreamed.

My job is to trust.

He will fight.

*

I am not okay.

But He is God over every season.

And He is whispering to me truths about a life that is more than just suffering,
a life that is more than just something to endure.

It Is Well With My Soul

“Our own limitations should never inhibit our expectation of God…”

It doesn’t depend on us…

If I want to do well, if I desire to follow Him, that’s enough. I can look forward in hope and anticipation of what’s to come.

Hallelujah.

*

I’ve come to this place in my relationship with God where I say things to Him like, “Fine. I surrender. I give you x, y, z. But if I’m not going to have those things in my life, then I NEED MORE OF YOU.”

And then I read my Bible and pray and worship.

And I don’t feel more of Him.

Nor are X, Y, or Z marching (or even, from my perspective, crawling) into my life.

And so I get frustrated. And I say, “Fine, if I fall to my knees and don’t feel You, if I pray and things don’t get better, then it’s Your own fault if I stop seeking You first. Because You’re not enough. You’re not here and You don’t care and You see that I’m hurting and WHERE ARE YOU?”

And I blame Him. I blame Him for being absent.

But we know He never is.

I base SO much on how I feel.

And because I know He could swoop into my life in some big way and turn all my emotions around, I fault Him for not doing that.

And when I say, “FINE! All I want is You then!” and nothing changes, my heart still hurts, I fault Him even more. Because isn’t that the golden prayer? For more of Him? Him above all else? His face versus His hand?

…But if I’m basing my answer to my prayer for more of Him on what I feel, then it isn’t really His face I’m seeking, is it?

I am asking for Him, but the underlying request is that He prove Himself. “Prove it to me that You’re present. Prove to me that You care about my heart. Prove to me that You heard my prayer.”

…Because if I don’t feel it, then it isn’t happening, right? And, while we’re on the subject of how I’d like to see my prayers being answered, I don’t want to wait either. Because why should I have to?! If He’s here now, then BE. HERE. NOW!

…It’s insanely bold of me!

And also just insane.

Because His ways aren’t our ways.
His timing is perfect.
He is present.
And He cares, deeply, about my heart.

I know all that. But I am so quick to become a toddler before Him, begging my Father to pick me up, to carry me, to let me hide my face against His shoulder. And for all of that to happen in a way that doesn’t require, for just a few minutes, that I “walk by faith”.

I don’t understand. Oh, Lord, I don’t understand.

Scripture says David strengthened Himself in the Lord. It didn’t say, “David despaired and then God gave Him strength.” Although that, too, is true. But there’s a middle part to that equation: David chose to trust God. He chose to cling. Even when what He felt was despair, He chose to hold tight to the truth of who God is. And then, in doing that, God gave Him strength.

Very rarely, I’m coming to learn, is living a godly life a natural reflex for us fallible humans. Almost always, we have to choose– to be consciously aware of what is true and then be deliberate to live out of that truth.

No matter what I feel, I have to choose to keep falling to my knees and raising my hands in worship and praying wordless, tear-filled prayers. Because I KNOW they matter. Each time I run to Him, even when I don’t sense Him standing before me with arms outstretched, I know the spiritual realm takes notice.

I have to live my life with eyes open wide in holy anticipation of what’s to come. BECAUSE HE PROMISES IT WILL BE GOOD. And He has never broken a promise.

I can’t fall to my knees, press my head to the carpet, kneel before Him, and then despair because flame and wind and His voice didn’t fill the room. I can’t rise from the ground and furrow my brow and look up at the ceiling and say, “Don’t You see what I just did!? Man, You really missed an opportunity to win my heart over and speak to me!”

I can’t give up.

And I have to choose to rise from my knees in a room that still feels empty, with my heart that still screams with ache, and say, “You are still what I want above all else. I know that You alone can fill this ache within me. I know that the best, safest place for my heart is here, at Your side. And I know that, regardless of how I feel, I can smile and hope because You are good.”

Because I KNOW it matters. He bends to earth when we pray. EVEN WHEN WE DON’T FEEL IT. And how miraculous is that? How incredible that He do desires for us to speak to Him!?

Will I choose to stay, to say He is good, that what I have in Him is more than enough, even when I feel empty and alone, and He isn’t flooding my emptiness with Himself in a way that I can perceive?

Will I trust that when I open my arms up wide, when tears stream down my face and I need a shoulder to rest my head on, when all that is within me is screaming for relief from the pain, for more–more love, family, belonging, joy, hope, HIM–, will I trust that He comes running?

Will I throw my questions and anger and sorrow at Him, and then still say, “I choose You”?

Yes. Yes, I will.

Because HE IS GOOD- not just when my life reflects His goodness in the ways I want it to, or when I feel His goodness, but always. He is unarguably, unchangeably, unwaveringly, steadily, forever good.

And so I will choose, over and over and over again, to stick this journey out- eyes open in expectation for the wonders He promises to do.

And when nothing else makes sense, I can find comfort in what I know. I can tilt my head towards heaven and say, “You are good.”

And I can know that His eyes meet mine.
And He smiles a gentle smile.
And He says, “Yes, baby. I am.”

I will choose to ENDURE and let the face of Living Hope shine down on me.

I will cling to the One who is I Am.

*

“There is no way to peace along the way of safety. Peace is the opposite of security. To demand guarantees is to want to protect oneself. Peace means giving oneself completely to God’s commandment, wanting no security, but in faith and obedience laying…destiny…in the hand of Almighty God.”