Lessons From The Road

No one can do it for you.

They can love you and care about you, but they can’t fight your fight for you.

People could talk to me and pray for me, but they couldn’t drive for me. No one could come rescue me and bring me home.


You can’t control how you feel, but you are in control of how much you suffer.

You can say, “I can’t…” and “This is not okay…” all day long, and it doesn’t change your circumstances one damn bit. All it does is increase your suffering.

You have to breathe.

Don’t rage against what you feel- let it be.

Trust the process.


Bad feelings aren’t necessarily bad things.

Stop labeling things as bad just because they feel bad; a lot of good is born out of things that feel really bad.


You don’t have to give sucky emotions power by calling them truth.

Emotions come and go. We have to be careful not to let them determine our truth.


Some trips are about fun and some trips are about growth.


Sometimes it’s important to stop calling the contents of our hearts “wrong” or “bad.”

When you find yourself aware that not everyone sees the world in the same way as you do, maybe it’s better to draw the “wrongness” of your heart closer to yourself rather than push it away. Maybe what feels wrong is actually a unique wiring.

Maybe the key isn’t in making yourself be different, but learning how to embrace what is within you.

Maybe sometimes what we think are our flaws, the ways we struggle, the ways people don’t understand us, maybe the unique way we see the world is actually a secret God whispered into our hearts, and the trick is to learn how to let that widen us up to living bigger and deeper, rather than letting it make us feel discouraged or close us off to life.


On the road, all by yourself, you have no choice but to sit with your pain when it arises. You can’t drink it away or overdose it away or refuse to get out of bed, because you’re not home and you have a dog and someone has to take care of him.

And also, being all by yourself, thousands of miles from home, you suddenly realize how terrified you are that you’ll somehow die before ever getting home. You worry about car accidents, mostly, but also murder a little bit when you’re sleeping in a dark parking lot in your car. You worry about your car breaking down and your finances and what if you never get to go home again?

And you realize there’s a whole, beautiful life waiting for you at home. And it’s not perfect, but its yours, and dear God, how badly you just want to be back home where you get to live your imperfect, beautiful life.

So you sit with your pain. And you promise yourself you’ll do that at home too. You promise yourself that even when you’re back in the land where drinking and overdosing and trying to use other people to save you are options, you won’t do that.


You have to take some deep breaths and do the things for yourself that you can do- like not text and drive and stop when you need a break and call and talk to people (without begging them to rescue you) when you need to talk.

And you have to trust God with the rest, like no flat tires or car troubles and getting you back home alive.

If you carry the weight of the things God’s responsible for, it will suck all of the beautiful living out of your day and replace it with fear and worry that you were never meant to carry.


Every time Arlow makes eye contact with me, I say, “I love you,” or, “How are you doing, baby?” And I do that not because I’m insecure, but because that’s how I communicate.

And that’s how I communicate in my relationships also.

And so when people don’t do that with me, when they go days without talking to me, it feels like they don’t love me.

But not everyone communicates their love in the same way you do. It doesn’t mean they don’t love you.



Sometimes you can be royally pissed off and sitting in a park in New Mexico and hating everything about life, and then a woman and her kids will come sit with you and want to pet your dog, and you’ll be even more cranky because you didn’t ask for company or small talk.

But then you’ll notice the woman has a tin can labeled “Please Help. Need Food.” And she won’t address it. She won’t ask for anything. She’ll just set it off to the side and slightly behind herself. And she’ll talk about the weather and her kids and where the nearest CoinStar is while she watches her kids wrestle with a dog twice their size.

And you’ll reach into your wallet. Because MFing New Mexico sucks and it’s hot and dirty and no on drives well, but God clearly led you and your bad attitude to this park where a woman with a genuine need and a smile happened to cross your path.

And what a gift New Mexico turned out to be.


If you walk your dog in Texas, people will literally stop their cars to conversationally say to you, “That’s a big dog!”

They will also give you the water out of their car and hold the cup for your dog so he can hydrate.


The same part of my brain and heart that were terrified to be so far from home are the same part of my brain and heart that feel four years old.

“I’m so scared,” and, “I want my mom,” came in the same breath.

And maybe that’s how we parent ourselves sometimes. We say, soothingly and with a voice laced with love, “I know.”

But we don’t let that stop us from doing the hard, scary thing.


If you sit down in a park in Mississippi and sob into your hands, if you’re too weak to hold your dog’s leash anymore and so he runs wild and free while you cry, no one will even notice.


I used to think people who picked their scabs were disgusting.

But then I found myself bored and stuck in traffic with a bunch of week-old mosquito bites.


A rainbow feels like a personal promise to me in Utah just as much as it does here at home.


You can’t outrun your problems or your pain.

You come home at the end of a long road trip and you’re one part, “Thank God, I made it!” And, “Thank God I am back in the right time zone! And thank Him for my bed and my shower and my plants and cats and clean underwear and closet full of clothes!”

And you’re one part complete, black depression.

The road trip wasn’t a solution, it was a lesson.

And now it’s time to put to practice what you learned on your drive.

Now, in this really hard moment, you get to say to yourself, “No, I CAN do it.”

And in the face of blackness, I get to say to myself, “No, I WANT to live.”


“You’ve got a big heart. The way you see the world, it got you this far. You might have some bruises and a few scars, but you know you’re gonna be okay. And even though you’re scared, you’re stronger than you know. If you’re lost out where the lights are blinding, if you face the fear that keeps you frozen, chase the sky into the ocean, that’s when something wild calls you home.”



When people talk on the phone near me, I listen to see if they’ll end their conversation with an “I love you.”

I wait to hear the smile in their voice as they say, “I love you too.”

And it makes me glad for them.

Having someone to say ‘I love you’ to is one of this life’s greatest gifts.


Occasionally, you’ll hear someone talk about something good that happened in their life and they’ll say, “That changed me forever.”

They’ll assert that what happened–the event or circumstance of their past–has made who they are in the present richer and more alive and entirely different.

Which makes me think- Okay, so it’s possible not just to have something bad change you, but to have something so miraculous or good happen to you that you are no longer the same person.

That gives me hope- knowing there is the potential to be so undone and transformed by something (or Someone) that it warrants the statement “that changed me forever.”


“Miracles can happen in a heartbeat.”


I was thinking this morning about home-

The chaos of a bunny and a cat chasing each other through the house.
Something spilled in the bottom of the oven setting off the smoke detector.
Christmas music playing on the TV.
Candles lit.
Blowing a fuse because I forgot to turn the heat off before running the microwave.
Another cat meowing to be fed.
Laundry to do.
Cookies to bake.
Flour spilled on the floor.

And I smiled.

Chaos feels like love.

When you have to open the windows because the house is too hot from movement and conversation and baking- that’s love.

When Madison and the kids come over and one wipes their hands on the carpet and another runs off with my cell phone, and Madison is talking and we are laughing and there’s a movie to watch and kids to put pajamas on…

and I have to open the windows…

That’s love.

And when it’s quiet,
and the kids are softly snoring,
and I say goodnight to Madison and go to bed,
and I curl up beneath my blankets and listen to the bunny scratching at her cage,
and the cats jump on the bed and lay at my feet,
and the soft glow of the twinkle lights are coming from the room Madison and her kids are sleeping in…

That’s love too.


Today at Starbucks the barista complimented my freckles.

It always takes me off guard when someone compliments my freckles because I forget I have them. I don’t see them when I look in the mirror. So when someone says, “I love your freckles!” my first thought is: “You can see them!?”

But I love that compliment. Not because it makes me feel beautiful, because I know freckles are not traditionally considered beautiful, but I love it because it reminds me that God put me together special. He placed each one of my freckles.

And when the barista said that today, I felt Him smile at me. I felt Him near- bending down to kiss my forehead. The same freckled forehead He created almost 29 years ago.

I wonder if maybe there’s a reason I look the way I do. Young. Innocent. Not intimidating.

Emily and Kim and I were talking about Batman and who would be cast as who. She said I could be Cat Woman. And I laughed and told her I have zero sex appeal. I said it would make more sense to cast me as a kindergarten teacher or Little Orphan Annie.

Would I like to be beautiful? Sure. But I’m not. I’m “cute”. And that wasn’t a mistake any more than my heart or personality were mistakes. God doesn’t make mistakes.

So maybe my feeling young on the inside isn’t a problem to be solved. Maybe God gave me a face to match my insides.

I’m done calling myself and how I feel “wrong”.

God built me. I am His project. And if there’s anything in me that He wants to change, I trust Him to do it. Otherwise I am going to trust that He looks at me with love and calls me “good”. His creation. His beloved daughter. No less good than the sunrise or stars or birds.

It’s not up to me to call things wrong.

It’s up to me to love-

and myself.


This is beautiful.

So is this.


“Liminal space is a unique spiritual position where human beings hate to be but where the biblical God is always leading them. It is when you have left the ‘tried and true’ but have not yet been able to replace it with anything else. It is when you are finally out of the way. It is when you are in between your old comfort zone and any possible new answer.

It is no fun.

Think of Israel in the desert, Joseph in the pit, Jonah in the belly, the three Marys tending the tomb.

If you are not trained in how to hold anxiety, how to live with ambiguity, how to entrust and wait—you will run—or more likely you will explain. Not necessarily a true explanation, but any explanation is better than scary liminal space. Anything to flee from this terrible cloud of unknowing.’

Maybe the way forward is not finding THE answer right now but learning to live without an answer, or rather, living towards one.

We need to find our way back to the true meanings of trust, wait and patience; a life of hope.”


I wonder if all this pain of feeling like I don’t belong anywhere… I wonder how God will use it.

I wonder if someday I’ll be in a position where I can mother those who feel the way I do.

I’d like that.

I’d like to have an open door, to welcome people in- whether or not I have children of my own. I want all to feel included. Wanted. I want them to come into my home and I want to greet them a warm embrace. Because I’m a hugger…

which, ironically, is something I got from neither parent.

Maybe I got it from my Father.

I close my eyes and smile and picture the Thanksgivings and Christmasses and Friday nights of my future. Sleeping people scattered all throughout house- beds, couch, living room floor on blanket beds. And not because they don’t have a home, but because my home is just as much their home as the one where they have their mail delivered.

What if.

What if I let this make me tender?

What if I let Him empty me out. All of me. My sorrows and grief and longings and hopes and joys and every single corner and facet and moment of my life- committed to Him. In His hands.

What if.

What would He do?

It would be good. I have that promise. And maybe it wouldn’t be what I’d expect- maybe I’ll never be a daughter to anyone. Or a sister. Or carry a baby within my belly. Or be the one someone chooses to spend their life with.

And that? The thought of not ever being anyone’s ever again? That breaks my heart. It’s almost intolerable.


But He says not to fear. He says to trust Him. He says He IS Love. He says it’s safe to hope.

He says we won’t understand right now. His ways aren’t our ways.

So I have to tell my heart that. I’m not seeing the whole picture right now.

God doesn’t desire for me to live my entire life gripped with sorrow.

This isn’t where I’m meant to stay.

When I worry I’ll hurt forever, He extends His hand.

Because we’re on a journey.

And I can’t see what’s up ahead.

But He can.

And He says it’s good.


I was skimming Netflix the other day when I came across a movie that seemed vaguely familiar. It was old- made before I was even born, and yet I had the distinct impression that I had seen it before.

And so I hit play on the movie and watched and suddenly I remembered that yes- I HAD seen it! I remembered being in the living room. I remembered sitting on my mom’s lap. I remembered the scene where the kids are in the car.

And I remembered that was the day of The Penny.

When I was a child, I spent an abnormal amount of time praying. Although my prayer looked more like games of cards and reading library books aloud to God – who, looking back now, I have no doubt delighted in every second of listening to me read or watching me play with Him in mind.

And one Christmas I decided to leave Jesus a birthday present. And so I tucked a penny, a brown penny, between the brown carpet of the stairs and the brown wall. (Lots of brown. It was the early 90’s, folks.)

And I was watching that movie with Mom the next morning when I remembered the penny, so I jumped off her lap to see if Jesus had taken His present.

And it wasn’t there.

And I couldn’t believe it. I looked everywhere. I checked every step because maybe I had just forgotten where I had left it, even though I knew I hadn’t.

And it wasn’t there.

So I ran back upstairs to Mom and told her. And I don’t remember her reacting or seeming nearly as amazed as I did. But neither did she say she had found the penny or maybe vacuumed it up or anything. Rather, she seemed more focused on the movie.

And I crawled back up on her lap and kept watching the movie with her, but I held wonder and love within my chest.

And I remember that still.

When I was a child, God seemed SO near. So real. Alive. No less real or alive than my parents or siblings or next-door neighbor.

And sure, maybe someone found the penny, or maybe my parents vacuumed. But however it disappeared, it was God’s message to a child: “Thank you for thinking of Me. I’m here. And I love you.”

And I don’t know that I’m so far removed from being that child- the one who believes in crazy miracles.

I believe in a God who’d take a penny.

I believe in a God who will tuck me in to bed at night and sit with me until I fall asleep if I ask Him to.

I believe in a God who would sit with a child and listen to her read a Berenstain Bears book.

When I watch movies, movies that would seem impossible, where angels visits or hearts are transformed or someone gets the father or mother or child they’ve always wanted… I believe, in some small corner of my heart, that the movies aren’t just works of fiction and that it’s not naive for me to believe that because our God is our Abba Father and He loves us and NOTHING is impossible for Him.

Nothing we think up even comes close to how big our God is. We can’t dream or hope too big. We can’t out-imagine Him.


When I lie in bed at night and sob and tell Him that I need Him or want Him, sometimes it feels as pointless as telling my mom I need or want her. Which can leave me there, wracked with sorrow…

and with something else to grieve.

It HURTS to wanting and needing a God who you think won’t actually show up and be the living and present God He says He is.

And that’s why I am standing firm that there’s more for us.

I’m claiming that nothing is impossible.

I’m going to hope and believe, wildly and irrationally, like a child.

Because God made me.

And I’m done calling who I am wrong.

Maybe all those hours of cards and reading and conversation with God as a child weren’t one-sided. Maybe He used that time to breathe hope in me- the belief in the possibility of the impossible.


This year, I won’t be leaving God a penny. But I’ll be loving those who have no one to love them. I’ll donate money and time to people in need.

And I think about how maybe that’s the greatest gift we could give Jesus on His birthday- loving each other. Being together. What could bring Him more joy, after all? Whether we’re loving those we’ve known all our lives or a year or just met in line at the grocery store, we are fulfilling His deepest desire for us, aren’t we? We’re coming together.

He created us individually.

And placed us here lovingly.

And what could bring Him more joy than watching us come together and love each other?

Especially when we’re coming together because of Him.

Oh, happy, happy birthday, sweet Jesus.


Someday maybe Christmas will look like hot chocolate going cold on the coffee table and people curled up together on the couch, trying to keep their eyes open as the night comes to a close.

Or maybe it will look like being called someone’s sister. A miracle, undoubtedly, to be grafted into an already established family. But God can do anything.

Maybe I’ll have a husband.

Or a dog.

Maybe I’ll eat dinner alone or serve at a food bank or maybe I’ll be surrounded by people I love.

I don’t know. But I know He loves me.

And He loves them. You.

And He put us together on this big, scary, wonderful, lonely, beautiful planet.

And He whispers in my ear, “Hope wild, child. Nothing is impossible.”

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.”

Giving In

When I was in Mexico, I wanted to be home. I felt out of place and scared and like I had less to offer than anyone else. And how I felt didn’t matter because I wasn’t there for me. It wasn’t about me. I had to suck it up. I didn’t have another option.

I tried to fight, to stand my ground and refuse, but I’d get called out. And like a small child afraid of getting in trouble, I’d cave. I’d do the scary thing. And often I’d do it poorly. And I’d feel embarrassed.

More than once in Mexico, I went to my room and put in headphones and lied on my bed and covered my head with a blanket. It was too hot to cover my body, but I’d cover my head because at least then I had the privacy to make “not okay” faces and attempt to cry tears that never, ever come anymore. And I lay there and I’d want to go home. I listened to Heaven Song on repeat. I wanted to go Home.

I had a plan for when I got back. But sometime between my arrival in Mexico and the time the plane touched down in Seattle, I realized I wasn’t unloved. And I realized that, even if I’m no one’s wife or mother or daughter or sister, I’m still a person whose life is interlinked with other lives, and my not being here would matter. I don’t matter the way I want to matter. But I can no longer hide behind the lie that I don’t matter at all.

Pauline said my life is like a puzzle piece.

I’m quiet and gentle and sensitive and a nurturer. I’m not the one to make people laugh. I’m not the one everyone wants to have around, the life of the party. And maybe when I *am* around, no one notices. But they notice if I’m missing. You don’t notice a piece of the sky or the clouds in a puzzle, but you notice if it’s missing.

That seems like an awfully hard way to do life. To be the one who is overlooked but still somehow necessary to complete the puzzle. It would be easier if I had the opportunity to be the nurturer. If I had a baby to cuddle. If I had someone to cuddle me. But I’m living a life right now of social interactions, in which my strengths aren’t required and my weaknesses are magnified. I am a puzzle piece. I might feel like I should have all the freedom in the world to do whatever I want to with my life, but my decisions affect others. There’s just no escaping that.

I want to bury my face in Jesus’ chest. I want to feel His arms around me. I want to be able to cry. To ugly cry.

I want to cry all of my pain out and have someone witness it and cry with me. I want it to matter, my pain, my longing for a Jesus who can’t hold me, my disbelief that anything will ever be okay this side of heaven.

Someday, maybe, I’ll have a good story to tell. A story about how God lifted me from this pit. This place of being done trying, fighting, pressing in. This place of being completely okay with giving up, going Home, being a daughter again.

Maybe I’ll be able to tell people that I stopped faking it. I stopped pretending to be okay in order to keep people from getting uncomfortable. I’ll be able to tell how I gave social norms the finger and stopped trying to maintain appearances, and how that was the best decision I ever made for myself. I’ll be able to tell them that I stopped trying without giving up, because giving up and giving in are different things. I’ll be able to tell how I got help, how there’s no shame in getting help. How life is hard for us puzzle piece people, for us gentle souls and nurturers. Especially when we’re no one’s anything. I’m a friend, yes, but friends are replaceable. It’s hard to feel replaceable.

Maybe someday I’ll be able to be a voice for those who are holding it together in public, but going home at night and counting pills or studying the blue veins of their wrists or drinking until they can’t feel anything and it doesn’t matter. Until what they contain within themselves matters as little to them as it does to the rest of the world.

Maybe someday I’ll be able to tell people, “Don’t let the world, with its backwards priorities, convince you to stay quiet. Don’t let Satan lie to you about fear and shame and hope and what your options are.”

Maybe. Maybe someday I’ll be able to say it was worth it. That I’m glad that the people in my life who love me made it so hard for me to give up. Maybe I’ll be able to say that nothing matters as much as our lives, that there is a reason to live, that there is joy on the other side of depression, that there will come a day when they can say with their whole hearts, “I am so glad I lived.”

Maybe someday I’ll be able to say, “Stop faking it. There are people who will love you through this. Stop faking it. Let them carry you. Trust that they will.” Maybe I’ll be able to say that we belong to each other and that it’s okay to need each other and that when someone loves you, they don’t walk out. They love you when you’re quick to laugh and when you’re unable to get out of bed. They love you for who you are, not because they’re obligated to. They love you because you’re embedded in their hearts, and Jesus is there too, so love flows from them naturally and effortlessly, and you don’t have to apologize for being hard to love because that’s not how they see you. Not when they love you. Not when you’re their family. Not when you’re more than a puzzle piece to them. Not when they see you and choose you. Not when you’re irreplaceable.

And if that’s how anyone sees you, anyone at all, then you can’t give up.

And sometimes you don’t know. You feel invisible, just a piece of sky or grass that no one would notice. So you have to ask. You have to say, “Tell me you love me. That you love me special. That you love me for who I am. That you love me forever. That I can’t be replaced.” And maybe someday I’ll be able to tell people that it’s okay to ask those questions, it’s okay to sound like a four-year-old, because somewhere within all of us is a four-year-old and we don’t let her talk nearly as often as we should. And also, I’ll say, all that matters when you are ready to go home, to quit, is that you don’t. Be four, I’ll say. Be three. Be two. Be thirteen. Just don’t quit.

I’ll be able to say, “Don’t let well-meaning people tell you that you should try harder. I know how hard you’ve been trying. I know you didn’t wake up one day and decide you didn’t want to live anymore. I know you got to this place because you’ve tried and tried and you’re so tired of trying. You don’t have any fight left in you. You are brave and strong and you’re not broken or weak. You’re not a bad Christian for feeling this way. You are still alive. You are still here. And that deserves applause. A huge hug. I am SO proud of you. I am so, so proud. And so is Jesus.”

“You don’t need to try harder,” I’ll say. “Maybe what you need is the opposite- to try less. To let your guard down. To stop trying, to stop fighting. To get help. To rest.”

And maybe I’ll be able to say how God is real. Really, really, really real. Touched by an Angel real. Hallmark Christmas movie real. With us constantly, orchestrating things, sending us angels and visions and kissing our foreheads real.

And I’ll banish condemnation, the belief that they’re doing something wrong if they want to die, if they want to bypass this life and run straight to Jesus’ arms. “You aren’t the problem,” I’ll say.

I’ll be able to say they aren’t doing anything wrong if God feels far away because it’s not ever up to us to feel Him or sense Him or hear from Him. All we have to do is show up. And keep showing up. And trust that He knows what to do with us when we come to Him.

And someday, maybe, I’ll be able to say, “I know you want heaven, you want your Jesus to hold you because no one else will and this life feels like torture. I know how acutely aware you are of the fact that this world isn’t our home. I know. But this world isn’t hell either. This life is soaked, saturated with the goodness of God. His love and His presence. And I know you can’t see that right now, but it’s worth sticking around for. I promise, it’s worth it. And I promise He isn’t as far away as He feels right now. Be still. Listen to the sound of Him singing over you. Just be still.”

And maybe when I say those things, someday, I’ll believe them.

My Testimony

I’ve known the Lord since I was a child. I grew up in church and, from an early age, had an interest in the Bible and prayer. I remember praying in my bedroom when my parents were fighting, and praying during a thunderstorm when I couldn’t get the gate unlocked to get back inside, and I prayed before I got into a car again after experiencing an accident when I was twelve. I prayed for silly things, too, like that my Tigger stuffed animal would come to life. However, somehow, I’d always known the Lord as Mighty to Save. More than my parents or teachers or anyone else I looked up to, I knew the Lord could rescue me when I was in need of rescuing.

And yet, even with 20-something years of gradually maturing faith behind me, I still seem to be continually learning that the places within me that ache can be filled only with Him.

I’ve sought reprieve from the ache in alcohol, by getting straight-A’s in school, by only eating x-number of calories a day, and I’ve sought it in people. I’ve tried to find life in so many different things, and every single time I come back to the Lord, exhausted from trying to be okay on my own apart from Him, and with a fresh awareness of how He’s the only one who can save and heal and redeem and love me the way I need to be loved.

For me, accepting Christ wasn’t a one-time event. I was nine when I consciously made my faith my own, when I accepted the Lord as my Savior who died for my sins, but I’ve had to accept Him many times since then. I had to accept Him when my mom died, and I had to accept Him when I’ve stood all alone in this world with nowhere to call home, and I had to accept Him when my hopes and dreams have seemed far away.

And yet, even at the times I’ve been the most mad at Him, even when I attempted to rebel by saying I doubted His existence, I’ve also confessed to my closest friends, “I don’t know if I even believe in God anymore, but I love Him. Deeper than my consciousness or understanding, my heart aches with love for Him. I can’t stop loving Him.”

Once I invited Him in, He took over my heart. I’ve still struggled with sin and faith. I’ve battled hopelessness and feeling defeated by life. But my heart is tied to Him. And I know that—having a heart that is bound to Him–is not something I could’ve willed into existence. Rather, it’s His doing. It is proof that He exists and He loves me and He will never leave me, no matter how far I stray.

He’s been my patience when people or situations in my life would’ve normally elicited anger.

He’s been my comfort when I had no one to wrap my arms around.

He’s been my strength on the days when getting out of bed truly feels impossible.

And He’s my provider. He gifts me with reasons to laugh and moments in which I feel loved and significant. He has given me a roof over my head and an income and a job I love. And all that I feel like I’m still lacking is forced to sit down and recognize how much the Lord has already provided. He is my reason for gratitude. And He is my joy.

And He’s my hope. There is nothing in this world safe to hope in but the Lord. That’s a lesson He is still teaching me. The Lord doesn’t ask us to abandon our hopes and dreams and follow after Him desire-less. Instead, He asks us to put our hope in Him as opposed to things the world can provide. He beckons us to come near, to speak with Him, to come to know His heart, and realize that we can trust Him.

I’ve tried to do life on my own. I know what that looks like. And I know how hard it feels. When I try to take control of my life, everything falls apart. However, when I submit to the Lord, I stop feeling exhausted, and I start seeing His hand in things. I start seeing what He’s doing in my life, and that inspires an excitement for life. I want to see what else He’s going to do and how He’s going to take all the broken fragments of my life and make them something beautiful. When I give Him control, I can breathe again. I have the blessed freedom from trying to hold together what only He can hold together.

Life with the Lord is an adventure. He is my best friend, my Father, and my Savior. He defends me when the world is cruel and promises to redeem not only what’s been done to me, but the mistakes I’ve made as well. He is the holder of my heart, hearer of my dreams, and keeper of my secrets.

And I don’t think I’d know Him as all of those things if I’d walked an easier path. If I hadn’t hit wall after wall in looking for wholeness apart from Him, I wouldn’t have found myself on my knees at His throne, so acutely aware of how completely dependent I am on Him.

And that’s the most beautiful thing. No matter how many times I fail or get lost on this path, when I fall to my knees at His feet, He is never angry or bitter or cold. He never says, “I told you so,” or rebukes me for not having enough faith. Instead, He reaches down, cups my chin in His hand, and lifts my face so that my eyes meet His. And when I look up at Him, I see that He isn’t angry or disapproving, He is smiling. Because He is Love. And I am home.

Protected: I Don’t Feel Good

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below: