I

I’m people-watching at a corner table at Starbucks right now.

There’s the group of four older people, taking pictures with their phones of  a woodpecker outside the window beside them.

There’s the employee with the afro, and the woman wiping the counters. And I wonder if they’re happy. I wonder if people love them.

There’s the young couple, he with rubber bracelets on his arm, stacked halfway up to his elbow, and her with the Seahawks t-shirt and long, black ponytail.

There’s the couple at the table to my left, too. Their earphones in, their laptops open before them, papers strewn all over the table.

There’s the four-year-old with the mop of curls atop her head, crying because she spilled her hot chocolate. There’s her parents, drying off her seat and reassuring her there’s still some left in the cup.

And I wonder, if someone was people watching me, what would they see? Would they wonder why I don’t do my hair? Would they wonder why I’m sitting in a public chair with my feet on the seat and my knees up to my chest? Would they see the tears brimming in my eyes? Would they see the child within me reflected in my face?

*

At work the other day, my coworkers were talking about a client with BPD.

“What is that?” one of them asked.

“It means she’s a drama queen,” another one of them responded.

“Oh,” said the first person. “Then I feel less worried about how she’s doing. She’s probably just making it up for attention.”

I wonder if my coworkers see me.

*

I am tired eyes and a tender heart.

I am unruly hair and chipped fingernail polish.

I am “one day at a time” and sobbing myself to sleep.

I’m “throwing my head back laughing” and “aching for someone to hold my hand and never let go”.

I’m “pull the blankets up to my chin” and “kiss Arlow’s face until he pulls away”.

I’m picky about books and doesn’t drink enough water.

I’m “I know you love me” and “Tell me again you’ll never leave me.”

I’m so grateful and so scared.

*

I still sleep with my baby blanket.

I fall asleep every night with its worn fabric clenched in my hand, and wake up every morning with it still there, woven between my fingers. If I lose it during the course of the night, it wakes me up and I search for it, not falling back asleep until it’s been recovered from under my pillow or lost within the mess of other blankets on my bed.

I have never, not since the day of my birth, been without my blanket.

And I don’t know what it says about me that I, a thirty-year-old woman, still needs an fraying piece of yellow cloth, but I do know there’s a parallel between how I feel about my blanket and how I relate to others. There’s a desire to hold on, to grab on tight, to hold them close to my chest, to never let them go.

*

I don’t think any part of me is a mistake.

I don’t think my big eyes and baby-fine hair and innocence are a mistake.

I don’t think it’s a mistake that I sleep with a baby blanket and that I would rather have a mom than a husband.

I don’t think the ache of my heart and the way I love with all of me are mistakes either.

It would be a mistake, however, to minimize who I am. To decide that because I’m different, I’m less than. It would be a mistake to overlook the fact that I have been pieced together by a divine hand.

It would also be a mistake to take the screaming need inside of me and try to fit people into that ache.

It would be a mistake to not appreciate people for exactly who they are. It would me a mistake to try to make them be something to me that they are simply incapable of being.

It would be a mistake to overlook the fact that I’m in this place now, not because my relationships are somehow lacking, but because there’s something inside of me that is lacking.

It would be a mistake to give in to despair, rather than give in to God, letting Him grow me through the discomfort.

*

I’m “sleeps with a baby blanket” and “stops to move a caterpillar off of the sidewalk”.

I’m quick to hug and forever needing to be held.

I’m long walks and green tea lattes.

I’m yellow Converse and depression.

I’m thirty and I’m three.

I’m “It will all be okay” and “Tell me it’s going to be okay.”

I’m “I don’t know how to be a person apart from other people” and “Lord, teach me.”

I’m struggling to live and refusing to give up.

The Day Jesus Wore Pink

I got a pedicure the other day. I had to withdraw money from the ATM in advance because I didn’t actually know if I had enough. And cash is safer than debit when you’re in that situation. Because what would I have done if it was time to pay and my card got declined!? I would’ve been like: “Uh… do I have to give you my toes now? Is that how this works? Or… do I work here until I can pay off my debt? Or, hey, how about this, can’t we just call it good if I pinkie promise you I’ll come back when I get paid Friday?”

Sorry. That’s not actually the point of the story. But I still have my toes. And I’m still unemployed. So, hurrah for all the small victories.

Anyway, this is the point:

At the nail salon, I met a woman who was probably in her eighties. She was sitting next to me and smiling down at her bright pink toes as the manicurist (er, pedicurist?) painted them. And we made small talk about traffic and Puyallup and the color pink, this woman and I, but what struck me wasn’t our conversation, but her. She looked so happy. Just… like, deeply okay. She wasn’t giving off an “everything is perfect!” vibe, (because, y’know, traffic and all), but she just seemed so glad to be alive.

She seemed a little like Jesus.

And I have been thinking about her since. Because eighty. Eighty and glad for life. Not bitter or depressed or disillusioned or mean, but smiling and making happy small-talk and painting her toenails bright pink.

And I wanted to ask her, “How did you do it?!”

I also wanted to ask if she was a Christian. Although, I suspect she was because sister had Jesus all over her- especially in those kind, smiley eyes.

I wanted to ask how she did life. “How are you still here? How are you glad to be?” But I just sat silent instead. And after the small talk fizzled out, I leaned my head back in my chair and closed my eyes. And I prayed for her. I prayed that whatever measure of the Holy Spirit is in her, it would grow even more. I prayed she’d feel, every single second, pursued by Love.

And I thanked God for sending her to cross my path. Her, who gently and kindly made me question my outlook on life. Because eighty. And not emotionally worn out, ready for the grave. Just joyfully soaking up every moment of life. At eighty.

When I try to picture myself at eighty, (which is really hard to do right now), I can’t imagine anything but grief and boredom. Because life is hard, so, grief. And by that time I’ll have had eighty years of sunsets and conversation and pizza, so, boredom.

I wonder what she was like at my age. I hope she was a freaking mess. (Rereading that sentence made me laugh. What a horrible thing to hope!) But I’m just gonna go ahead and assume she was, in fact, a Freaking Mess. Because I feel like I need to make her my inspirational “comeback” story. Because if she can do it, maybe I can too.

She was probably not even human, but an angel. 😉 Jesus was probably totally punking me, all up in heaven like: “Lenore? (#madeupname) Tamara is just leaving the ATM. It’s time to get down to the nail salon. Be sure to give off a peaceful, happy vibe, mmmk? Think WWJD.” 😉

Regardless, human or angel, Jesus is probably super proud of “Lenore”. Because peaceful/happy? The gentleness of Jesus? Yeah. She nailed it. (No pun intended.)

It’s funny to me- I don’t even want to be alive at twenty-nine; I can hardly imagine fifty more years of this nonsense. I have no idea what was happening in the world eighty years ago. For real. You could be all: “Holocaust” and “Baby Ruth” and “The Hand Jive” and then throw in “Christopher Columbus” for good measure and I’d be like, “Okay. Sure. Seems legit.” But regardless of her actual past, Lenore certainly also had pain in her life. And somehow she stuck it out. It didn’t ruin her. Maybe, even, it softened her.

And when I close my eyes, when I ask Jesus to speak, when I stop allowing my pain to skew my perception, when I refuse to allow my pain to speak over my Jesus… I hear this: “Don’t give up, child. Give Me a chance to redeem this.”

Tomorrow is the one-year anniversary of That Night.

And I thought I’d reach this day and be so proud of myself for the fight, for my life. But instead, I’m looking at everything else I’ve lost over the past year. I’m looking at the ongoing fight. And I feel so, so deeply: “What’s The Point!?”

I don’t want to do it anymore.

But maybe there’s an eighty-year-0ld version of me fifty years in the future, beckoning me to keep fighting. And promising to treat me to a pedicure.

*

(Alternative titles in consideration for this post: “How Many Times Can I Use The Word ‘Eighty’ In One Post?”)

😉

Hoping For Holy Fire

Not-rainy mornings in Washington? They are something special.

I can’t do them justice with words or Instagram pictures, so I don’t (and won’t) try.

Instead, I just let my eyes soak up the beauty and wonder and majesty of the sunrise, and mountain, and fog, and clouds, and world still gently cloaked in sleep.

And how all of it proclaims GOD IS.

*

Today at work, (with the help of Pinterest), I made a list of happy things. I tacked it to the bulletin board above my desk where my clients (and I) can see it regularly and be reminded of all there is in this brutiful life to love.

And as I was writing it? I caught myself smiling. I would defy you to read it and not smile as well.

Some of my favorites:

1. Making babies smile.
2. Getting letters in the mail.
3. Looking down at the clouds on an airplane.
4. Friends who are like family.
5. How excited dogs get about everything.
6. Meeting someone with the same birthday as you.
7. Watching someone talk about something they love.
8. Flannels in the winter.
9. Nicknames.
10. Resting your head on someone’s shoulder.
11. 2 a.m. conversations.
12. Making someone laugh.
13. Looking forward to things.
14. “I love you,” “good morning,” “goodnight”.
15. When you can hear a smile in someone’s voice.
16. Sunny rooms.
17. Handmade gifts.
18. Being trusted.
19. Being brave enough to do the right thing.
20. The sound of a crackling fire.

*

I have become that person who sobs in her car, and then walks into the store without checking her face/makeup in a mirror first.

And then I buy myself flowers.

I am also the person who pulled my car over illegally the other day to ask a man in a wheelchair holding a sign if I could do anything for him. Food? Money? Warmth? “No,” he said. “I just need a job.”

Guys, he didn’t want anything but work. He was old and had no legs and no teeth and no home and he was dirty and it was cold, and if ever there was a person who had the right to give up, it was him. But he wasn’t giving up. He wanted to work.

It made the back of my eyes sting with tears. I apologized, sincerely, that I couldn’t provide work for him. And he looked at me with tired eyes and said, “It’s okay. God bless.”

And I returned the blessing. “God bless you, too,” I said. And I meant it.

And I had stopped for him, but I think the real gift in my stopping ended up being for me.

And there I was, in my warm car, with my green tea latte, driving back to work. So blessed. And still I had reasons to cry.

And I felt the warm hand of Jesus tip my chin upward to look Him in the eyes. And He smiled. And that was enough.

It’s enough to look like Him.

And maybe the sadness is, in some ways, a gift. It’s my tender-heartedness, after all, that led me to stop and talk with the man in the wheelchair.

And if I could wish my sadness away, I would. But not if that would mean trading in my tender heart, which I pray is coming to look more and more like Jesus’.

My eyes are on Him. He smiles down at me. And it’s okay. The sadness is okay. Because in His eyes, I see that I am held.

*

At church the other day, Pastor Billy was praying that the kids of our congregation would come to love Jesus- more than television, more than video games.

And I don’t think the problem is the video games. Or the children.

My foolishly bold (and undoubtedly unfair) complaint is with Jesus.

Because if only He was more real to us—if only our seeking paid off in a way that we could perceive—there’s no question in my mind that children (and adults!) would prefer Him to all other things.

And I know there’s this “walk by faith” thing, and that’s an important part of this life. But also, it feels like rejection and abandonment and it feels lonely, when you fall to your knees and come to Him and wait and wait and wait. And your heart grows heavier with every passing moment instead of lighter because WHERE IS HE?

And then, when my heart can’t handle it anymore and I feel defeated by the silence all around me and the heaviness within me–the desperation for Him that seemed to go unmet–I turn on the TV. And I laugh. And I don’t feel so alone because there are other voices filling the air and it’s not just me and my thoughts and my wanting and the silence.

And I know He promises we WILL find if we seek… AND KEEP ON SEEKING.

So I will. I will keep on.

But I’m just saying, I don’t blame kids.

It’s painful to go to Him and hope He’ll meet you, but silently fear you’ll leave feeling even more alone.

We need Him to be more real to us.

And I HAVE to believe that’s possible. Somehow, some way.

And so yes, I pray our kids will love the Lord above all else, but I also pray for that- that His presence will descend on us in a way that we can’t deny, and that our hunger for more and more of Him will make everything else lose at least some of its appeal.

*

I’m desperate for Him, and so I call everything a reflection of Him. I embrace it all.

I believe that God is in the bird flying overhead, and the cool fresh breeze of late autumn, and sound of salt crunching against pavement underneath my feet.
And color and yellow.
And getting inside a warm car, the heat taking the cold out of your limbs with a shiver.
And He’s in frosty windshields and blue skis and even the ability to cry.
He’s in dust particles floating across sunlight, and the smell of snow, and the way the bare trees look orange as the sun sets.

He has to be in those things. Because if He’s not there, if He’s not in those simple, everyday, often over-looked things, where is He?

And it’s beautiful and it’s wonderful, and it’s probably even more beautiful and wonderful than I even realize because it’s all I’ve ever known, so I take it for granted. I need fresh, child-like eyes with which to view the wonders this world has to offer- all of which are marked with His fingerprints.

And yet, even still, if He’s ONLY there–in the smile of a baby and the sound of the wind blowing through grass and the warm, comforting hand of someone you love–how is that the fulfillment of the promise that we will find Him when we seek Him?

It doesn’t make sense that there’s not more.

I want fire from heaven.
Wind that’s alive.
Thunder that carries his voice.
A dove to land on my shoulder.
Waves to cease at the mention of His name.
I want His presence to fall like rain, saturating us all.
I want His face to be bright in my mind and painted on the inside of my eyelids when I close my eyes.
I want my heart to be unmistakably, inexplicably His.
I want the truth that I carry the Holy Spirit within me to feel heavy with significance and purpose, and light with joy and hope.
I want to talk to Him as though we were face-to-face.
I want to feel His arms around me.

And still, as mere human, I have to accept that He knows how to be More Than Enough. Even if it doesn’t look the way I wish it would.

But I’m still going to hope for fire and things so impossible that they have to be holy.

*

I think one of the reasons movies are so deeply impacting to us is that they tell a story in which everything the characters feel and think and experience MATTERS. And that resonates with us, because how much of our lives do we feel like nothing about our hearts and lives really matter?

And not only that–the inarguable truth of the value of the characters’ lives and depths of their hearts–but also, in the end you are (usually) left with a heart-warming, life-affirming sense that it’s all going to be okay.

*

I texted Pauline yesterday afternoon.

I told her that it seems the happier I get, the more content I get with this life, the sadder I get as well. And I said I don’t understand how that’s possible and I’m so frustrated by my inability to just simply love life.

And I posted on Instagram:

“Today I am pondering how happiness and sadness can coexist- how often the happier I feel, the more there is this bubbling threat of tears within me. And I don’t understand it. But I try to welcome it- be gentle and patient with my tender heart.

And sometimes I wonder if what I call sadness is actually something else. Because my brain doesn’t have words for the sadness, and tears can result from many things. Gratitude, for instance. A heart that is reawakening and slowly, timidly coming back to life. Hearing someone say the words you didn’t even know you needed to hear until they’re spoken- hanging there in the air, while your cheeks turn red with the effort to keep tears from spilling from your eyes.

I don’t know what this is- this hope and joy and love and sadness(?). Belonging? Longing? A prayer?

And it’s days like this the child in me wants to reach out to those I love and remind them every hour ‘I love you, I love you, I love you’. Because the words–the truth of them, having someone to say them to–it’s like a hug. And tender, tear-filled hearts need that.

And also, burning within me–teary and holy and shouting ‘hallelujah!’–is this: I am living out, in my life and in my heart, the proof that Light drives out darkness. And He is coming.

And I’m young and fragile and scared. And His.

And it’s more hard and lovely and awe-inspiring and beautiful than words can say.

And so I cry.”

Oh, Jesus… Hold my heart…

I can’t do anything.

But You can do all things.

*

I thought this was beautiful.

*

Be well, friends.

Truth

Quotes. Thank you, Jesus, for Holley Gerth.

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“We know what it’s like to be connected and yet feel alone. We look to our left and right, our hearts asking the question, ‘Who’s with me?’ Of course, the Sunday school answer is ‘God.’ And that’s true—God promises to be wish us. Yet it seems he also created within us a deep desire to share life with each other—flesh and blood. In the Garden of Eden he declared, “It is not good for the man to be alone” (Gen. 2:18). It’s not good for women either. We need others to speak truth to us, remind us that we’re amazing, walk alongside us, and encourage us in all God has called us to do. We may tell ourselves, ‘If only I were closer to God, I wouldn’t feel like I needed other people so much.’ But Adam lived in a perfect place. There was no sin. He had an intimacy with God we can only imagine. Yet God still said that Adam being alone wasn’t good. So that ache you feel, that longing you can’t name? You don’t need to feel guilty about it. It’s the magnet God places within you that draws you to other people. It’s part of his plan. It’s GOOD. When God says being alone is ‘not good,’ the contrast is stark. Remember the seven days of creation? After sky, water, birds, animals, light, and dark, God says, ‘It is good.’ And yet now he is announcing the opposite. A life without relationships with out human beings isn’t good—isn’t what he planned. In today’s world of going-it-alone, pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps thinking, it often seems we disagree. Oh, perhaps it’s not stated directly. But even in churches it sometimes feels as if needing other people is a sign of weakness. ‘If only my relationship with God were stronger, then I wouldn’t be lonely. If only I could get my act together, then I wouldn’t care at all what other people thought.’ But wanting other people in your life isn’t weakness. Instead, it’s a reflection that you are created by a God who is inherently relational. Look at the lengths he’s gone just to have a relationship with you. Why was Adam being alone not good? Because it’s not like God. Father. Son. Holy Spirit. The kingdom we serve in is one of love, relationship and intimacy.”

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“I want to know that I am safe and secure, that someone bigger and stronger than I am is ready and willing to fight on my behalf. I need to know that love is there and that it will win. While our fears show up in various forms, ultimately they all point back to the deepest fear of all: that we won’t be loved. God says that he will take care of the fear in our lives. He promises us that fear will not win. Love chases away fear as often as we ask. Think of the moments when you feel the most loved and accepted. Those are probably also the ones when you feel the least fear. When fear comes at you, ask God to hide you in his love, to draw you deeper into it, to whisper to your heart the truth you need to hear so that his voice is louder than anything else. The more we grow in love, the more fear shrinks. That process will continue until we’re safe forever in heaven. Every time we choose to listen to love more than fear, our faith grows. We learn to trust more, to see God act in new ways in our lives, to let him take us places beyond where we could have dared to go before.”

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Throughout scripture, God places people in precarious situations and then comes through in miraculous ways. But there is always that moment when they must decide, ‘Will I choose obedience over safety?’ Yes, God promises us security, but safety and comfort are another matter. Safety is ultimately an illusion, a grasp for control that makes our minds calm down. But none of us are truly safe. A meteor could crash through my ceiling right now, and that would be the end of me in this life. The idea that we can be safe can trick us into avoiding risks that God is asking us to take. And ironically, when we risk with him it’s the safest thing we can do. Because he gives us what truly can’t be taken away–security. Security doesn’t depend on external circumstances. It’s invincible. So you may be taking more risks than ever before and feeling more fear than you think you can stand. But actually you’re more secure than when you felt safe because you’re right in the middle of God’s plan.”

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There’s a myth in the Christian culture today that says the Promised Land is only heaven. When I look through those chapters in scripture, I just don’t see that being true. Yes, the ultimate Promised Land is ours when we step from this life to the next, but I believe God has so much for us right here and now too. If you feel numb, depressed, or even just flat-out bored, I don’t believe that’s God’s plan for you. Yes, we all have seasons when we go through grief or experience difficulties. But if we live year after year in a state of just surviving, God has more for us. He didn’t put you on this earth just so you could hold on by your fingernails until you get to heaven. He loves you and wants you to thrive. As one of my favorite verses says, ‘The Lord be exalted, who delights in the well-being of his servant” (Ps. 35:27). But we have to agree with God that not only is this possible but it’s actually what he wants for us. The Israelites wandered in the desert for forty years because they refused to believe God really could give them more. Don’t settle. Don’t give in to fear. You’re allowed to be happy. You’re allowed to be blessed. You’re allowed to live a full life. Even more than allowed–this is what God ultimately wants for you. If you believe anything else, then you have been sold a lie. Now let me be clear: all of the above doesn’t come through doing whatever we want. That’s not the way it works. But obedience is supposed to lead to joy. Don’t let the idea that suffering is part of the Christian life trick you into believing that it’s the entirety of what God has for you. It’s not even the majority. It’s only a gateway that he will use to bring you into deeper joy in the end. And just surviving is certainly not God’s plan for your life either. He didn’t put you on the earth to be mediocre. He didn’t form you with his hands, dream you up in his heart, and place you in this world for a purpose just for you to go through life being ‘fine.’ Oh no, my friends. God has more for you–so much more than you can even imagine. You are made in his image, and the more you display all he has placed within you, the more you bring him glory. And when we bring him glory, we feel joy, freedom, and purpose. Life becomes a gift rather than a chore. Spend your life being fully alive. Then spend eternity full of joy. When God said his plans for you are good, he meant it.

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I Will Trust In Him

Sometimes all you have is this: the firm belief that no matter what you perceive, no matter what you feel, no matter how bleak or hopeless things seem, God IS.

And if that’s all you have, that’s enough.

He is holy.

He is good.

He is mighty.

He is powerful.

And He loves us. He loves us with a love that is too big to be understood by our limited human brains. I’m so comforted by that. If He loves me more than I love my nieces and nephew, more than I love my cats, more than I love the people my heart calls family, then certainly I can trust Him.

And, not only can I trust Him, but how praise-worthy it is that the God of the universe loves me with a love so profound!?

I’m so comforted by the fact that His ways aren’t our ways, His love is bigger than our understanding of love, His plan for my life is better than what I could plan for myself.

Not only do I not have to understand, but I won’t be able to. I cannot wrap my mind around what He is doing or the vastness and greatness of who He is. And I’m so, so comforted by that. It gives me permission just to be still and know, to just be His child. To let go of my need for control.

It doesn’t have to make sense to me. And even if it does’t make sense, I can trust that IT IS GOOD. He makes all things good.

My tears matter, my heartbreak matters, my disappointments and defeats and losses matter, BUT THAT’S NOT HOW MY STORY ENDS. So while God empathizes with me, while Jesus sheds tears on my behalf and reaches down from heaven to dry my face when I cry, He also smiles. He is joyful. Because He knows what is coming. He sees the whole picture, and He says not to be afraid. He says to rejoice.

I don’t have to understand.

Lord, help me to trust and love You more each day that I live.

Joy, I ask of You. Peace. Hope. Fullness of life. Love. Family. Fulfillment. Freedom. Healing. Happiness.

But even more than that, Lord, I ask for more of You.

I don’t know how to fix it.

I don’t know how to be okay.

I don’t know why my brain and heart are all twisty and achy and completely devoid of energy and laughter and lightness.

But You know. You understand. I am not a mystery to You.

I am so grateful for that.

Lord, I trust You with me. I trust You with my heart and my life, with my hopes and dreams and plans and desires. I trust You.

(Lord, help me to trust You…)

Just don’t let go of me. If all I have is You, I’m going to need You to hold tight to my hand, to tell me over and over that You love me, to kiss my forehead before I go to bed at night and smile at me when my eyes open in the morning. I’m going to need You to call me beautiful and ‘daughter’ and hold Your arms open wide for me to run into them when I’m sad or happy or insecure or just need to feel nearer to You.

More of You, Abba. More of You.

Take my heart, Lord. Take my life.

But give me You.

I am thirsty.

I am desperate.

I am Yours.

I trust You.

*

“The need to control is rooted not in strong and capable, but in fear and distrust.

However, when we finally allow the truth [that God loves us] to envelop our core, we are left breathless to the wonder of such grace. That a love so profound and eternal could have a plan for all of our yesterdays, our todays, and our tomorrows is a roller coaster ride like no other.

We no longer turn our ears toward fear, but listen intently to the voice of unfailing kindness. We no longer follow the urge to commandeer the controls, but rest in complete abandon to everlasting Love.

And we once again give ourselves permission to anticipate what’s ahead. To be fascinated with the possibilities that lie beyond our own reach. To release control and throw our arms in the air with certainty that no matter the destination and no matter the stretching beyond our comfort zone . . .

We are held.

We are loved.

We are never forgotten.”

Rainbows and Trust

I saw a rainbow today. Barely. I stared at the sky for a long time, trying to figure out if my eyes were playing tricks on me.

God knows I am forever hunting the sky for rainbows. He knows what they mean to me. To me, they are a hug from Him. A reassurance. He knows that.

And after carefully scrutinizing the sky, I felt something well up inside of my soul. It felt like I was being hugged from the inside. And I knew that my eyes weren’t tricking me. It was there, a rainbow, in muted pink and orange and yellow, arching across the sky.

And I bet no one else even saw it.

But I did.

And that makes me think that God put it there for me.

I was praying when I saw the rainbow. One of those, “You are big and mighty and holy and I am in awe of You… But, Lord, please just tell me that it’s all going to be alright,” prayers. And then I saw it. And my prayer quickly became, “I love You, I love You, I love You, I love You…”

And I do. I do love Him.

But it’s also a prayer, a plea, because I know I cannot trust myself. I know how hard it is to hold on to a God I cannot physically touch, especially when this life feels disappointing. It’s hard to not give up seeking a God who cannot hold me.

And I don’t think I’m alone in that struggle. We love Him because He first loved us, right? Which is selfish and silly and honestly kind of sickening to me, and yet, it’s human nature. And so, I pray His love for me will overwhelm me in such a way that my love for Him continues to grow stronger and deeper all the days of my life.

And I know myself. I know that I am prone to drowning in emotion. If things go poorly, if they don’t go my way, no amount of filling my head with scripture is going to counter the ache that forms like a ulcer in my heart. I know it’s true that He is good, and I know it’s true that He has a plan, but that doesn’t make this moment hurt less.

It does, however, whisper an important truth to my soul: “Do not despair.” And that’s immensely helpful, it is. But as I said before, I am prone to drowning in emotion.

And so I pray that prayer, telling Him that I love Him, because I need to feel Him smiling at me. I need Him to know it’s true. And I need Him to hold tight to me. When I turn away or try to give someone or something else God’s place in my life, I need Him to pull me back. I need Him to consume my heart.

I cannot control anything. I cannot control how my life turns out or whether or not I’m okay. I’ve tried. I have nothing left to offer. I’ve tried to battle my emotions and thoughts with scripture. I’ve tried to begin each day smiling at the sunrise. And I don’t have it in me to try to be okay anymore.

I want joy that is genuine, not happiness that I hold on to relentlessly, even while it’s struggling to get away.

I think for a long time I’ve done life with my happiness like an umbrella in the wind, constantly turning itself inside out. I’m soaking wet from the rain and my umbrella is inside out above my outstretched arm, but I refuse to let go. I refuse to say this isn’t working. Instead, I hold on anyway, insisting everything is great.

I cannot do it anymore.

And, ironically, I think maybe that’s where God has wanted me all along. I don’t think God asks us to be stronger than our pain, I think He just asks us to trust Him.

And I want to. I want my love for Him to be the biggest, realest thing in my heart.

I read last night that sometimes it takes more courage and strength to let yourself fall apart, trusting God to catch you, than it does to try to hold it together. I think that’s really, really true. It’s much scarier to throw your hands up and say, “I can’t do it!” than it is to attempt to power through.

It’s much scarier to give in to gravity, to loosen your death-grip on the ledge you’ve been digging your fingertips into to keep from falling, and to just fall. To let go, knowing that you aren’t going to grow wings on your way down, and knowing that you cannot ensure that your landing will be a soft one. You fall and all you know as gravity pulls you towards the earth is who your God is, that He is holy and mighty and He has a plan, and that You couldn’t hold on anymore anyway. There was no other option but to fall and trust.

Where I’m at right now is really embarrassing. But I cannot hide it or pretend everything is okay or else I know that I won’t survive. So I have to be honest with the people in my life who I love and trust. And that is terrifying. Completely terrifying. Because… I don’t know how anyone could love me through this.

I have no choice, though. It’s either risk losing love or risk not surviving.

And, as a friend of mine keeps telling me, love isn’t fragile. I’m trying to believe that, which is hard because I don’t know that I’ve ever known a love that isn’t fragile or conditional.

My friend says, when someone loves you the way the Bible describes love, they don’t stop. They don’t change their mind. They don’t give up on you. The love of the Bible is strong and unwavering.

And so that is my prayer, as well. That something beneath my feet will be solid, that something in my hands won’t crumble.

I pray this time, this season of my life and the people in my life, are from God. Because if they are, I can breathe. People will always let each other down, I know. We are flawed and imperfect and human and I am completely okay with that. But if God goes before me, if He paves the way, if He knew this time was coming and I’d need someone to help me get through it, then maybe the people in my life right now are in my life for a reason, and maybe I don’t have to be afraid.

And, if not, if things do get worse before they get better–(dear God, please say they’re going to get better!)–at least I’m still the daughter of a King who puts rainbows in the sky for me.