The Heart Of Life

They say “life is hard.”

I think that means something different to me at this season of my life than it used to. When I hear that now, the oxygen gets sucked out of the room. In those words, I hear: “Life is ONLY hard.”

When I tell myself to just accept that life is only hard, the small joys stop mattering to me. Because what the crap does it matter that bees buzz and lilac smells good and beautiful, complicated people walk this planet if life is only hard? I refuse to be placated by nuggets of good if really, at its core, life is just something to get through.

But I don’t believe that. I don’t believe life is just hard. I don’t believe that we’re all just waking up each day in a cloud of depression and drinking ourselves stupid each night just to keep on getting through this unfortunate curse that is being alive.

I believe in magic and hope and laughter and light. I believe in goodness and joy and love. And I believe that all of those things prevail.

I lived most of my thirty years loving life. Truly, delighting in being alive. Back then, the thought that “life is hard” seemed like a given. The thought didn’t cripple me because my desire to be alive was a constant. I could handle the hard because my core belief was that life was worth it.

I still believe that now. I just can’t feel it. I can’t feel that life is worth it.

“Tell me it’s going to be okay,” I said to someone recently. And then, tonight, I said the same thing to my therapist. “I don’t need life to be easy, I just need to be okay. I just need to know that I’m going to be okay and that things will get better. I need to know I won’t always feel this way. Tell me it’s going to be okay.”

I refuse to surrender to the “life is hard” mentality. I refuse to let that become the mantra of my mind, the thing to keep my feet on the ground and my heart subdued when life disappoints or fails to reflect the goodness I believe is inherent in it. Because I think if I just accept that, if I keep telling myself to suck it up and expect life to be hard, then I’ll stop expecting God to show up.

And I refuse to stop expecting God to show up.

I refuse to believe the enemy has more power here than God does.

Today my client and I were driving in silence, and out of nowhere he said: “You’ve just got to endure. Because life is really wonderful.”

“Do you really believe that?” I asked. “Do you feel like life is wonderful?”

“Yes,” he said. “I do.”

I do too.

Saturday

“Ready, Freddy,” I asked my client.

She turned to look at me. “Freddy? Why do you call me that?”

“Just because it rhymes with ready,” I said, smiling and offering a shrug.

She looked pensive for a moment, and then the conversation changed to something else.

After we got back to her house and she opened the door of my car to get out, I said, “Take care, girly. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

To which she responded: “See you soon, Freddy.”

*

He yelled at me when I got to his house. He was irate, towering over me, his build reminiscent of Shrek.

Usually I let him yell, I figure he’ll eventually wear himself out. But today I didn’t have it in me. “I’m going to go,” I told him while he continued to yell, and then I turned and walked away, while he screamed after me.

I took a deep breath when I got into my car.

And then, thirty minutes later, he called. “I just wanted to say I’m sorry,” he said. “I’m just sorry… and yeah, I’m sorry.”

And I smiled.

*

He gave me flowers. Rhododendrons in a Crystal Light container.

“These are for you,” he said, handing them over.

When I got home, I put them on the ledge outside my front door.

*

A month ago, she threatened to kill me. Two weeks ago, she glared at me through greasy bangs.

Today I helped her make some phone calls, and at the end of our time together she hesitated and then said, “Thank you for staying.”

Then she asked me for a hug.

*

These days are the Saturdays- the time between the crucifixion and the resurrection.

*

I cried. She put her hand on my knee, witness to my tears, loving me.

And then I repaid the favor later that day.

*

These are the Saturdays.

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.

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?”)

😉

Safe In The Savior’s Arms

“I can’t hurt like this forever,” I pray.

“You won’t, child. Forever is an awfully long time.”

And then all my accusations get stolen from my mouth before I can even complete the sentence, because they FEEL true, but they aren’t:

“You don’t understand!” Yes, He does.
“You don’t care!” Yes, He does.
“You aren’t here!” Yes, He is.
“No one loves me!” Yes, they do.
“I’m no one’s family! Not really!” Yes, I am.

So where does that leave me? With a screaming heart that I have to let scream. I can’t numb it or shut it down. Not if I want to really heal.

I can’t feed it with platitudes that aren’t necessarily true either, like, “It’s all going to be okay.” Maybe it won’t. At least, not in the way I want it to be.

My hope can’t be in a certain outcome, it has to be in God alone. Grief gets cut short, I think, when we tell ourselves it’s all going to be okay and then define what “okay” means. Numbing ourselves to pain can look so many different ways. I’m learning that now.

However, on the other hand, I can’t feed my heart with worst-case-scenarios either. I can’t let my sorrow become panic. Because sorrow? That’s real. Panic is a lie. Sorrow is where God is taking me right now. It’s holy and important. Panic is Satan.

I have to just settle into the not knowing. I don’t know what the future holds. I don’t know. But I do know who God is.

I do know He is good and He loves me and He has a plan.

And, you know, let’s be freaking honest, that doesn’t feel like comfort right now. But I can sense Him smiling as I type that because He isn’t threatened by honesty. Instead, He smiles because it’s the truth right now and I said it. And He responds, “I know. And that’s okay.”

And then He takes my hand and walks me deeper still into my grief. “Let’s talk about the things that hurt,” He says. “Don’t try to make yourself feel something. Don’t belittle yourself for not being able to know me as More Than Enough. It’s okay, child. Changing how you feel isn’t your task, your task is simply to walk with me. So, let’s talk. Feel, child. Feel. And tell me what hurts.”

“I hurt so badly,” I sobbed tonight. Over and over again, “I hurt so badly.”

And He? “I know, child. I know. Let it out. Let yourself hurt.”

I sobbed worship music in the shower tonight. I sat with arms raised, sobbing and singing, my off-pitch, tear-filled voice embarrassing me, even though I was alone. But I sang anyway. I let worship be an outlet for my pain. Because I can’t fix it. But I can piss Satan off by screaming truth even when I don’t feel it. “MY GOD IS GOOD!” My God is GOOD. Without contingency. No ifs. No buts. He is just good.

“Letting it be” is the hardest thing for me. If I can’t fix it, if I have to just let myself feel… I don’t handle that well. I am a fixer. I want to be able to make it better. And I’m impatient. I want to make it better and I want to make it better NOW. And, on top of all of that, I am not an even-keeled feeler. My highs are high and my lows are low.

But here I am with my grief. And I can’t fix it. I can’t rush it. I can’t make it stop hurting. But I can praise God as good. Here I am. With my grief, and my Jesus.

“It’s so unfair!” I say.
And His response? “I am the God who redeems. I am the God who defends.”

*

I can’t sleep. But I don’t automatically go to, “I will never sleep again!” So why do I do that with my pain? Or with what looks like lost love? Why do I assume I’ll never feel okay again, or never be loved again?
“Never is an awfully long time.”

*

I can’t sleep. And yes, my natural reaction is to panic at that too. Because if I can’t sleep, then I’m still awake, feeling pain. And that is not an option.

Only it is an option because it is what is happening. And I can’t change it.

I can’t change it.

So I’m writing.

And I’m crying.

And there’s worship music playing.

I am under a warm blanket and I made myself tea and I cut myself up an apple.

I’m learning. I’m learning to tend to my heart.

I’m learning how to run to Him for what is true.

I am learning not to rage against the pain, but to walk it out with Him. “Let’s walk, child,” He says. “It won’t be like this forever. I promise. So just take my hand. Let’s walk.”

*

I feel like the grief is going to kill me. But it won’t. Ironically, what would kill me is not grieving at all. Stuffing it down. Letting the unprocessed grief be a depression so heavy that it becomes impossible to feel anything, even joy.

Because we can’t silence our pain without silencing our joy. Right? We can’t selectively numb.

*

I’m been begging for a miracle. A healing that comes like a finger snap. Because, “I can’t fix this! I can’t endure this! This is going to kill me! HELP!” But maybe this is my miracle. Maybe this is my help.

A finger snap wouldn’t really resolve anything. I might FEEL better, but the pain would still be there within me, lying dormant, unprocessed. God can’t make it stop hurting without making my heart less alive rather than more alive. And God, the giver of life Himself, would never agree to create in me a less alive heart. God wants better for me than that.

“Are you going to just let this kill me!?” I scream at Him.
And He? “Oh, child. No. The reason I can’t just make it all better right this second is because I DON’T want to let this kill you. No real life can be gained without your involvement. You have to agree to walk this through with Me. I want life for you, child. Fullness of life. Life for your heart as much as your body.”

And I tilt my head upwards and I blow a kiss to the sky. Because I’m still 7 years old sometimes. I’m 50 when I make myself tea and cut myself up an apple; I’m being my own mom. I’m 7 when I blow Jesus a kiss. I’m 29 when I’m sobbing in the shower, arms raised to heaven, turning my pain into worship.

*

Oh, gentle, tender heart of mine. What do you believe about God?

He is good. He is good. He is good.

*

In The BFG, there’s a scene where the little girl jumps off a balcony because she is desperate for the BFG to show up, to not leave her, and she knows he’ll catch her if she jumps. She knows he’ll have to show up because he would never let any harm befall her.

The 10-year-old in me? She gets that.

But people, and God, they can’t be manipulated. You can’t MAKE someone show up or want you or hold you.

And it’s excruciating.

But what’s worse, really? Being unable to make someone love you, or wondering if they only love you because you forced them to?

What’s worse, being rejected or abandoned, or desperately trying to earn or keep love?

Honestly, I’m tempted to say the former is worse. But God wants life for me. And He wants love for me. Real love. No for me to live a desperate, begging, pleading existence, looking wide-eyed at the people I love and silently begging: “Love me, love me, love me!”

God doesn’t give anything other than the best. Real love. It has to be real. He won’t give me permission to try to earn love. “Love them. And LET THEM LOVE YOU. Not ‘make them love you.'” Love and let. Love and rest. So I have to breathe and stop standing on balconies. I have to let people choose me. Or not.

And God? What’s the better way to draw near Him? Jumping off a balcony, or sobbing until you throw up? Manipulation, a desperate and panicked rebellion… or a sorrow so intense your sobbing feels more animalistic than human.

If my heart is numb, if both joy and grief have become depression, then how am I supposed to really connect with God? Because it’s in my heart that He lives, right?

So I am letting my heart come back to life. An act of healing. An act of worship.

Truth, even when it is painful and raw, that is the best way to draw near to Him.

I can’t fix it. But I can at least welcome Him into the pain.

*

Surrender.

Here with my grief and my insomnia. Here with no way to fix it. Here with my open, broken, nerve-exposed heart all laid bare. Here, alone.

But also not alone.

*

Someday I’ll smile easy. I’ll feel the sun and think, “I’m so grateful to be alive.” And nothing will hurt.

Oh, sure, maybe there will always be an ache in my heart, because this world isn’t our home, but it won’t feel like a scream. Just an ache. A twinge. A gentle, and, let’s face it, probably necessary reminder to keep my eyes on Jesus.

*

I can’t make myself be loved the way I want to be. I can’t make myself be wanted. I can’t make myself belong.

But I can stand firm and say, “I know who my Jesus is.”

And that’s how I know that someday it won’t hurt like this. Because Jesus.

Someday I’ll be able to say, “Remember that time all seemed lost? I’m so glad I didn’t give up. Look at what God has done!”

And I’ll blow a kiss towards heaven and I’ll thank Him for my miracle.

*

I will not die, but live
And declare the works of the Lord
(Ps. 118:17)

I will not die.

God is working.

And it’s going to be so, so good.

Rooms and Stars

I felt alive today for thirty minutes.

I was on the phone with my client. Loving her. Listening to her. Being a therapist. Being a friend. And for those thirty minutes, I almost felt like myself. I felt a spark of life- something human, where inside of me is usually only a physical pain in my heart and darkness.

But not darkness like the blackness you’d experience when trying to feel your way through a cave. Something emptier than that. More like the indescribable black-ish color you “see” when you close your eyes.

Pain and blackness.

And.

A light.

Just a flicker.

Distant and unreachable, like a star. And it’s flickering and faint and I have to squint sometimes to clarify to my mind whether or not it’s something I’m actually seeing or if I’m just imagining it. And my eyes and brain get tired of staring so hard at the flicker and trying to determine if it’s real. But I know it is.

Just a tiny light. But it’s there.

And it isn’t hope or love or joy or any of those big, buoyant words that we think of as being important to sustaining life. But it’s somehow bigger and more important than even those-

Jesus.

And not Jesus in the “roaring Lion”, “trumpet blast” way. Not the Jesus that “comes in power.” Not the Jesus who is GOD, although I know that to be true too.

Rather, the flicker I see is the Jesus who was Man. The Jesus who was wounded for me. The Jesus who came as an infant. Jesus as a man, laughing and playing with children. Jesus on the cross. Jesus with nail-scarred hands.

Jesus as a quiet, quiet promise.

*

My head is like a room right now. And I can see myself in there, in that room, and I’m looking desperately for a door or window or tiny hole that I can punch and kick until it grows, allowing me to escape and see sunlight and breathe in fresh air. But I can’t find the door or the window or the tiny hole. I know there’s got to be a way out, but I can’t see it.

It’s all darkness and a flicker so faint it almost doesn’t seem real.

And so all I can do is try to breathe and wait on God.

And I beg Him to have a plan. I know He does, obviously, but I mean a plan for today. Rescue. A miracle. Not a plan for “someday”. Not an “it will all be okay someday.” I need a way for it to be okay today. Right now.

And I’ve tried so hard to achieve that on my own. And I’ve tried to achieve it with help.

And the longer I’m here, in this room, waiting and screaming for help and looking for a way out, the more I see that there is no rescue apart from Him. There is no help for me apart from Him.

Every time I see a therapist, I feel worse. And I know there’s no way to say this without sounding arrogant, but I think it’s because I’m smart. It just is what it is, the way God designed me. (And honestly, sort of a miracle given that my father’s DNA certainly didn’t do me any favors in that area.) I’m a lot of negative things too, but I’m smart. And because of that, I think I’m harder to help.

I’ve already done everything every single therapist I’ve seen is able to suggest I do. I have done it all. I have powered through on sunsets and the occasional hug and a Jesus who is near, and I’ve practiced coping skills and thought monitoring and radical acceptance, and I’ve exercised and been social and practiced gratitude. I’ve done that for months. Years maybe.

And people think the problem is me. They think I need to learn a new way to exist in this world, because if I just knew better I’d certainly not feel this way. Because what is wrong with a person who feels this way? Clearly there must be something. Because it’s not normal. Right?

But I don’t think that’s true. Thank God it’s not normal in the sense that it’s “typical” for people to get to such a dark place, but I also don’t think it’s indicative of some sort of “sickness”. I don’t think there’s anything “wrong” with me.  I think the problem is the world I live in and the life I’ve had and how it has impacted my heart. And depression contributes, I’m sure. And trauma. And aching for a Jesus who can hold me. But I think those are the least important factors in why I am where I am right now.

I don’t feel crazy. I feel sane. And when I talk to people, I know I sound sane. And no one knows what to do with that. When they can’t find flaws in my thinking or coping skills or logic, they don’t know what else to do for me.

And I don’t know either.

I’m beyond feeling like I will feel better if x, y, or z happens or changes. Because why stake my happiness on something that will probably never be?

It’s like wishing for windows or doors to appear.

What I need is a miracle.

*

And I wonder… why? And I don’t ask that because I want an answer, but because I know there has to be an answer. There’s a difference. I don’t need an explanation. I just know that where I am right now, today, isn’t an accident. It isn’t the product of some sort of mental illness or character flaw or sin or lack of faith.

I feel like this is where I am for a reason. Which isn’t to say that God orchestrated it, but that it all makes sense to Him. Why has this been my life? Why is this my personality? Why do I have the job I do and the IQ I do and the brokenness I do? How does it all fit together?

And you know what I DON’T hear? I don’t hear Him telling me I need help. He isn’t saying, “Whoa, sister. This is not okay. Something in your brain is not okay. Please get help.”

I think He’s telling me that He knows, He sees, and I think He’s validating me, reassuring me that how I feel right now makes perfect sense. And it’s not because I battle depression, and it’s not because I’m doing anything wrong. He is saying it hurts because it’s painful. It hurts because it SHOULD hurt. And He is whispering to me, with sad eyes, that I’m right- this isn’t the way it should’ve been. This isn’t His plan for me.

But He’ll use it.

Somehow.

Somehow, it all fits together- this place I’m in and the big, beautiful future He has for me.

*

Lord, help me surrender and trust the process. I can’t fix me. And I don’t think anyone else can either.

I don’t see any hope, Lord. None. None apart from You and Your promises.

I spread my arms open and I’m empty before you. I have nothing to offer. I have nowhere to turn. There is nothing but this room and its cement walls and time that just keeps going forward and what can I do? What can I do?

You’ve seen, Lord. You’ve seen how I’ve clung and fought and battled my way through this. And You know, Lord, that I just don’t have it in me anymore. Help me surrender to that truth without surrendering to despair. Help me believe You’re strong, no matter how weak I am.

Please don’t let me give up on my miracle.

I Believe

“I pray that I honor this season and allow God to make the changes in me that he wants to make.”

“Life is busy and it is hard to breathe slow and honor the moments we are in.”

*

I believe in big love.

I believe in “shoulder to cry on,” “I found a shirt on sale!”, “good morning!”, “just wanted to tell you I was thinking of you!” love.

I believe in “you will never lose me,” “call any time,” “my door is always open” love.

I believe in open communication, it’s safe to disagree, no walls up, no punishments, no withdrawing, love.

I believe in “it’s always better when you’re there!”, “happy birth minute!”, “I don’t know what I’d do without you” love.

I believe in “you’re never alone,” “you’re always on my mind,” “we can tell each other anything” love, “laugh until you cry,” “would you hold my hand?” love.

Love that doesn’t seek to meet needs only the Lord can fulfill,
but that points us right back to Him and teaches us to how He loves us.

*

I believe in God’s breath filling the room in which I sit.

I believe in the rumble of His voice and the touch of His hand.

I believe in signs and wonders, prophecy and dreams.

I believe in a head-over-heels, all-consuming, ruined-for-this-world love for Him.

I believe in a relationship with Him that is realer and truer to me than anything I can see or touch before me now.

I believe in living a life so drenched in Him that the only possible explanation for it is the Holy Spirit.

I believe in a God who cannot be contained in any a box or within four walls or even our own minds. Limitless in nearness and power and love.

*

I also believe I’ve spent a long, long time silencing the rainbow-colored unicorn that is my heart.

I’ve told myself to stop being unrealistic and accept my fate. I’ve looked around at my life in shade of gray and thought maybe the problem was me. Maybe my feeler or my thinker were broken.

And when people suggested that, I believed them: “Maybe everything I thought and felt were wrong because I’m broken somehow. Maybe that kind of love doesn’t exist this side of heaven. Maybe that kind of knowing Him doesn’t exist here either.”

So I go through the motions of my life. I trudge and try to find joy in the small things and try not to let panic seize me when I realize there’s no ‘out’ – this is my life, and no matter what comes into my life or goes out of it, we’re stuck together, this life of mine and I, come what may.

And why is life so hard to love?

I can love the blossoms on the trees and my puppy’s sweet eyes and when Mowgli licks my face and the way vanilla ice cream tastes when it’s just begun to melt. I can enjoy THINGS. But life? The whole big picture- circumstances and and the contents of my heart laid out before me? It all seems not worth it.

But I have to rebuke that, that thought that life isn’t worth it. I have to know better than to hold on to that thought and give it any power. Because even when it’s all laid out before me, I don’t see the full picture. Even when I think I see clearly, I don’t. And so, I just have to trust.

But it’s not enough to just not entertain certain thoughts. I have to choose to believe what is true. And so, I will throw myself at it, at this believing that life is so, so worth it- a gift.

I won’t survive otherwise.

Blossoms are beautiful, but they aren’t enough.

Prayer and worship are beautiful, but they aren’t enough.

And I think God is delighted with that- my stubborn refusal to accept that this is all there is. “I NEED MORE OF YOU! I NEED MORE LIFE!” And He smiles because wouldn’t complacency be worse? Wouldn’t thinking I had gotten as close to Him as I was going to get, wouldn’t surrendering to feeling kind of disappointed with my relationship with Him and accepting that maybe this is just what it is… wouldn’t that just be me buying into the lies of the enemy?

And maybe it’s weird. And maybe people will call me broken. And maybe I’ll go it alone.

But I’m not going to stop expecting more.

I’m not going to stifle the rainbow-colored unicorn heart of mine…
because God gave it to me for a reason.

I’m going to stand beneath the sky my Father created and I’m going to look up at the tree branches and birds and I am going to plant my feet on the solid earth and I’m going to stand my ground.

“You gave me this life, You’re providing my breath, and You designed my heart,” I’ll remind Him. “And I’m not going anywhere. I’m not going to give up on a wild, passionate, laughing, singing, dancing, break my heart for what breaks Yours, love-filled, love-fueled, Jesus’ fingerprints, life.”

Lord, fill me up with the hope that it’s real and possible and that, even if everything is gray now, it doesn’t mean that I, like Dorothy, can’t ride the storm from the gray to the world of color.

Fill me up with both boldness and humility- the ability to stand by my heart and honor my experiences, but also apologize when necessary and admit when I’m wrong.

I pray against pride. And I pray against feeling inferior.

“Don’t shrink back, don’t puff up, just stand your sacred ground.”

*

What would I tell my child? What would I want her to believe if she was stuck grappling with what is real and possible?

I’d want her to know you can’t dream too big.

I’d want her to know anything is possible because we serve a God for whom nothing is impossible.

I’d tell her she didn’t need to outgrow the unicorn or trade it in for one that’s not rainbow-colored.

I’d take both of her hands in my own and look into her eyes and I’d say, with words like lead, heavy with importance: “Keep your wild dreams and hope-filled unicorn heart alive, child.”

I’d encourage her to trust in the God who made her heart.

I’d tell her not to ever force herself to ‘grow up’ or ‘outgrow’ anything. After all, doesn’t Jesus encourage faith like a child?

“Trust Him,” I’d tell her. “Trust the way He wired your heart. Treasure the youngness and hope and wonder within you. They are not an accident or a flaw.

In fact, I pray it will grow. I pray for wonder and hope and joy and ‘anything is possible’ and ‘God is RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW’ to overflow within you.

And I pray it will be contagious.

Anything is possible, child. God is a God of miracles and reckless, passionate, unimaginably wild love.”

That’s what I’d tell her.

And I suspect that’s what He’d tell me too.

*

Arise.

He tells us to arise.

Arise. Move towards instead of backing away.

Arise. Be secure in His promises.

Arise. Live as children of light.

Oh, my soul, arise. Arise, my unicorn heart. My every breath is a gift. And I am here, my heart is beating, for a reason.

*

Lord, help me not stop living long before I actually die.

I want to throw myself at You- unrestrained, and helpless without you, and desperate for you to show up.

I want to live like Peter did when he leapt from the boat.

I don’t need a boat. I don’t need calm waters. I don’t need a sky without clouds or a sun to illuminate everything. I don’t need to understand. I can continue to press in, push on, and believe. Because He is there, beckoning me, calling me to Him.

With eyes open and thoughts submitted and my heart in His hands, I am guaranteed life abundant.

Rainbow colors as far as the eye can see.

Unicorns for everyone.

*

“If something is keeping you from throwing open the door and running out wild and free, maybe it’s time to put your something in it’s place too. It’s passion week friends, don’t let anything stand in the way.”