Tough Love

I took a taxi barefoot, in a nightgown.

I paid $17 to go home.

“You can’t come get me?” I asked.

“No,” she said. “I’m sorry it’s come to this.”

I get it. I’m sure they’d say, “It’s tough love.”

But tough love doesn’t work for all of us. And tough love doesn’t work for all situations.

Because, while I sat outside the ER, bra-less, so sick I couldn’t see straight or stand, all I felt was even more split between this world and the next.

I feel like partĀ of me is already dead. Even if only the part of me that exists in the hearts and minds of others.

Jesus would’ve picked me up.

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In His Arms

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And everything I lack can be found in Him.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I am moved to tears by Him.

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

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

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

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

The Lord who holds me.

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