Love, Attachment, and ER Visits

​”Attachment theory teaches us that our assumption that we can and should control our emotional needs and soothe ourselves in the face of stress is simply wrong. Research findings support the exact opposite.

*

My arm was stretched across his abdomen. There were no words, just the gentle inhale and exhale and the sense of being safe.

She told me she loved me. She told me I don’t repel people. She told me not to give too much power to one person’s negative opinion of me, that not everyone sees me that way, that she doesn’t see me that way.

We laughed and drove to the coast. Comfort and freedom. Silliness and honest conversation. Singing ‘Carry On My Wayward Son’ over chips and salsa.

He said my smile is unreal. He said he can’t get enough. He said he likes my eyes and my freckles. He took me in and found something special there.

She said I’m brave.

She thanked me for my honesty. She said I could tell her anything.

We watched our dogs play. We laughed and talked and there was no judgment, just being present with one another.

She asked me what my plans are for Labor Day weekend. She wants to see me. She wants to spend time with me.

He offered to come over and spend time with me. My heart hurt and he offered to come over so that I wasn’t alone.

She text messaged me a quote. Encouragement in words. A reminder that I have support in this process I’m going through.

Her kids draw me pictures. She calls me when she’s sad. I call her too. We are family.

But I sat outside the ER alone, barefoot and barely clothed, so sick I couldn’t even tell the taxi driver how to get to my house.

I don’t think that’s okay. I will never, ever think that’s okay.

Love walks through fire.

Love is a cold and it’s a broken hallelujah.

Love shows up.

*

“As adults we don’t play with toys anymore, but we do have to go out into the world and deal with novel situations and difficult challenges. We want to be highly functional at work, at ease and inspired in our hobbies, and compassionate enough to care for our children and partners. If we feel secure, the world is at our feet. We can take risks, be creative, and pursue our dreams. And if we lack that sense of security? If we are unsure whether the person closest to us truly believes in us and supports us and will be there for us in times of need, we’ll find it much harder to maintain focus and engage in life. When our important attachments are thoroughly dependable and make us feel safe, and especially if they know how to reassure us during the hard times, we can turn our attention to all the other aspects of life that make our existence meaningful.

Advertisements

Love Wears Work Boots

I stood in the middle of a two-lane road today and screamed at someone.

I was trying to be thoughtful. I was trying not to inconvenience anyone. And it back-fired. (Yes, that is self-pity you hear in my voice.)

I was going for a walk, and I reached the road. I could’ve hit the crosswalk button, but then the cars would’ve had to stop, and I knew I could cross to the center median before the car to my left even came close, and that I could wait there a few seconds until the car to my right passed.

But instead, just as I was stopping at the center median, the car to my right slammed on his brakes and started screaming at me about not hitting the crosswalk button. He was irate and dropping f-bombs… and so what was there to do but defend myself in typical Tamara style? It’s the social worker in me. I can’t keep my ever-loving mouth closed when something feels unfair.

And so I faced him, moving deliberately out in front of his car, and I screamed: “I WAS WAITING FOR YOU!”

More f-bombs on his end, and then his tires squealed and he drove away.

And I resumed my walk.

Only it only took me a few minutes of processing before I burst into shoulder-shaking, hiccuping sobs. And I walked that way, crying, for the next fifteen minutes, making people uncomfortable while I passed.

And, admittedly, the driver was maybe not even wrong for being mad. I’m sure he thought I was going to cross the road in front of him.

But I also know a typical person, even one who was angry with me, wouldn’t have screamed like that and swore repeatedly at me.

I text messaged Laura after that. “I don’t think I’m feeling very ‘love wins’ today,” I said.

*

I was reading a book description last night.

“…finding strength and courage in the most unimaginable places.”

“Determined to dictate their own fate…”

“…give each other strength and hope as they fight to survive…”

“Brave and defiant…”

“…friendships that will both nourish and challenge her.”

“A beautiful testament to love, family, and the sheer force of will…”

“…a figure of abiding grace.”

If someone were to write a story about my life, I would want it described in that way.

I want to live a beautiful story.

*

I was talking with Pauline yesterday about fighting for truth, about not letting my emotions dictate my behaviors.

I told her how I felt, and then I said: “But the best thing I can do for [this person] is to set my emotions aside and fight for truth. And I want to do that.”

I do. I want to love well. I don’t want to make my emotions, (which, let’s face it, are often the product of lies and fears), the priority of every situation. I want to choose love. I want to choose them over me.

After I said all that, Pauline reminded me that she’s talked with me for a long time about fighting for truth. Admittedly, I have kind of rolled my eyes at it before, believing my emotions to always be the truest, most important thing.

Then Pauline said, “It strikes me that God knows you through and through. He created you. And He knew that, in order to commit to this fight, He’d have to put you face-to-face with something you really valued.” Then she paused and said, “And He knew you’d fight if it was for [this person].”

It’s so true.

God doesn’t put us in situations that hurt, but He uses them.

Our pain isn’t without meaning.

*

Love, love that puts the other person first, that shushes our own scream for comfort and security, it’s hard.

It’s a series of deliberate and conscious choices.

Whether it’s space or a hug, a night out or a long conversation, you show up (metaphorically or otherwise) in the name of love.

And, for all the ways you can’t make things better, you lift that person up in prayer. You plea and petition with the Lord to do for that person what you are incapable of doing.

You take a deep breath and you do the right thing. Over and over and over again. You tell your other emotions to sit down, and you call Love to the bat.

And you text a friend. You ask for prayer. Because Lord knows how hard it is to make smart choices, especially when your emotions are involved. You say, “Please pray with me for strength to make the right choices, and for my perspective to be based only on truth, and for my heart to be filled with peace and patience.”

Because we need each other. Loving well takes being loved well.

*

A few days ago, Pauline asked me how I’d like to be remembered when this life of mine ends.

And, without hesitation, I said: “She loved well.”

Reality

Sometimes it’s hard for me to know what’s real.

I don’t mean to say that I am out of touch with reality, (although that too, sometimes ;-)). I have no problem being able to say, “This happened today,” and know that’s true, but the trouble comes in when I, without realizing it, start assigning meaning to the events of the day.

I look at the facts and start answering for myself “why did that happen?” and “what does that mean?” Like an architect examines a structure for stability, I pace back and forth over the events of my life, examining them second by second, inch by inch, asking the questions: “Is this thing solid? Am I secure? Am I safe?”

I don’t feel very safe today.

And that’s why I say I don’t know what’s real. Because nothing bad happened, it’s my own analysis of events, my own answers to the “why’s” and “what’s” that has me feeling like the ground I am standing on is shaky.

And is it? Am I safe? Is it shaky? I DON’T KNOW. I don’t know what’s real and I’m scared because I need to know I’m safe.

Which brings me to another one of those fork-in-the-road moments though, doesn’t it? I can either choose to act out of my fear, or I can choose something better for myself.

I can choose to view my day through the lens of fear and trauma, or I can choose to view it through the lens of: “Where was God?” That doesn’t make it any easier for me to know whether or not I’m safe, but it does help me get back to the basics of what ACTUALLY happened today.

Remove the emotion, get down to the facts: Where was God?

He was in my slow-start morning.
The willingness of Laura to bring by my medication.
Having people to call when I need to be emotional and messy.
The warm day.
Watching Arlow play at the dog park.
Finding a ball at the dog park, after realizing I forgot to bring one of ours.
The woman I met, who I talked with about her divorce and daughters and dogs.
Not hitting traffic on the drive back home.
A good sermon.
Flickers of hope.
The invitation to have dinner and s’mores at a friends’ house tonight.

*

I heard a sermon today about the men who lowered their friend through the roof of a house to get him to Jesus. They would’ve done anything to get their friend to Jesus. They weren’t concerned about being impolite or interrupting or making a hole in someone’s roof. They just wanted Jesus.

And I heard that, and I thought about my theory about love. How loving someone means doing the least selfish thing.

But what those men did? That was pretty selfish. And it might not have even been motivated by love, but by need. And yet, Jesus still responded to it.

People can’t handle desperation. People can’t handle it when you come to them with a “cut a hole into someone’s roof” category of need. But God can.

With Him, I’m safe.

But He’s not here.

He’s in my day, but He’s not here.

And I wonder if it’s more important for me to love Him well in the midst of this life that is too hard for me, or if it’s okay to come to Him desperate and ruled more by need than by love.

Things That Cling: Lint And Me

Sometimes I feel like my body collects heaviness as I move through my days.

The table of laughter and conversation, which I was not invited to be a part of.
The house I had to go by myself to see about renting.
The rude driver.
The Friday night alone at home.
The $900 spent at the vet.
The dog who still isn’t feeling well.

I feel like black pants moving through a white lint and cat hair filled world. (I excel at analogies. I know.)

And how often is The Thing not even really the issue? How often do the experiences of my day hurt so badly because they reinforce things I fear or believe?
“You’re all alone.”
“You’re no one’s child.”
“You better learn to be okay with doing life by yourself, even when it’s hard and scary and you don’t know what you’re doing because no one ever taught you to be an adult before your mom got sick and died and your dad abandoned you.” (Run-on sentences? They are the things of my brain.)
“You have to fight and beg and claw and scrape at this life if you want anything good.”
“Everyone leaves.”
“There is nothing special or purposed for you.”
“There’s nothing lasting or safe to trust in. Everything is fluid and ending. Everything is loss.”
“You are not enough.”

I am this tender, trying-to-heal heart doing life under the suspicion: “Everything hurts and it always will.”

And although my brain would argue vehemently, does that not hint at a belief that God can’t be trusted?

*

I sobbed into a pillow last night. I cried like my tears were a burning acid in my heart, and the more I could get out, the healthier my heart might be. I cried tears that doubled as prayers.

And then I stood. I stood, arms out in the shape of a ‘t’, and begged God to come and rid me of all that clings to me and threatens to weigh me down. (Everything in me wanted to stick with my earlier Black Pants analogy and say I begged God to be my lint-roller. But I didn’t. Until now. Because at least I have partial self-restraint.) “Here I am, Lord. All of me. These heavy limbs and weary heart. I give it all to You,” I said. “Undo me. Heal me. Take away my pain. Draw me to You.”

And then I reached my arms upward and said over and over again: “You are good, You are good, You are good.” Preaching to my soul. Speaking truth and life over my pain.

I don’t know what I’m doing. In life. As an adult. As this person in this body with this life here in Washington.

I don’t know how to carry this heavy heart with me through my day and through experiences that constantly bump up against the wounds I’m working so hard to heal. Can healing still happen when the wounds keep getting poked at?

I don’t know. I don’t know anything and I hurt.

But God.

But there is this God who holds it all together. Who knows and sees and allows (for my ultimate good) every single thing that happens to me. There’s this God who desires my healing and my life to overflow with joy.

There’s this God who says illogical, irrational, crazy things, like that suffering produces hope.

There’s this God who says not to try to comprehend what is happening through our own limited understanding, because He is greater and bigger than what we can conceive.

There’s this God who says the story He is writing is good, even when my heart and the news and so much of what I see over the course of my day is anything but good.

I’m Black Pants in a white fuzz world. Which is ironic because I refuse to buy black pants for that exact reason- ain’t no one got time for such impractical wardrobe choices; I got things to go that don’t involve picking at lint all day.

God is teaching me something, even now. He is healing my heart, even while it is screaming.

He is restoring me to life.

*

I told my therapist the other day, “The pain in me is screaming.” It’s hollow and gaping and making a sound that is more inhale than exhale.

But when my depression was worse, when life felt not worth it, this pain in me has its own gravity or force, like a black hole. It wanted to suck everything into its scream. But not anymore, hallelujah. Now it exists as its own separate part of me. It isn’t all-consuming.

“The pain in me in screaming,” I said. And then I added, “But so is the joy.”

I am equal parts on-my-knees-weeping-with-sorrow and hands-reaching-towards-heaven-rejoicing.

Because:

The table of laughter and conversation, which I was not invited to be a part of.
But the text message conversation that made me laugh. The “I love you, always.” The learning to trust that love means something; that love doesn’t always walk out.

The house I went to see about renting all by myself.
But the person who sent me a list of questions to ask the landlord while I was there, who said she was sorry she couldn’t be with me. And the person who prayed with me beforehand, that I’d hear God’s voice clearly when I went to see the place.
And the God who smiled at me as I stood there in that tiny home with its brand new kitchen, holding my yellow post-it-notepad with questions scribbled on it, trying to look like I wasn’t feeling scared and sad and out of place. The God who clearly whispered: “This isn’t the one for you.”
And the ability to trust Him enough not to get ahead of Him, afraid nothing else would ever come along and that I better take this not-right-for-me home before I was left with nothing at all.

The rude driver.
But I have a car that’s paid-off and reliable. And the driver was rude, yes, and not being safe, but God protected me.
And He is teaching me that other people’s emotions or thoughts or opinions aren’t reflections of who I am; they aren’t problems for me to solve or things I need to internalize and apologize for.
He’s teaching me to breathe through my natural desire to get hot with anger. He is teaching me to pray for these people who are mean, and not in a pious/removed/too-holy-for-anger way, but as a healthier, more productive way of dealing with the anger than swearing. Because the problem of the mean driver is actually a bigger problem, and that is the problem of his soul.

The Friday night alone at home.
But I have a home I love. And there was the sound of rain outside. And tea.
The eventual receding of the panic and tears. The ability to breathe in trust. How every time I get through intense emotional situations, I come to a place of deeper peace and surrender.
And God is parenting me: “Emotions come and go. Let them. Remember, you were laughing earlier today. You’ll laugh again. You’ll feel hope and peace again.”

The $900 spent at the vet.
But I have pet insurance. And people who love me and Arlow, and who have hit the pause button on their day today to pray for us.

The dog who still isn’t feeling well.
But the friend who called and said she’ll bring me chicken broth for him tomorrow. And the other friend who called and gave me advice on how to keep his vomiting at bay so that we could both get some sleep tonight.
And the gift of loving a pet so deeply. And how that is a small reflection of the way God loves me.

*

Mourning what I don’t have, while wildly grateful for what I do.

Panic that leads to peace.

Suffering that leads to hope.

This God who is so much bigger and so much more good than my broken heart would at times have me believe.

 

Breath

I told someone recently that I feel like, if life is breath, then where there should be breath within me, there is just a deflated balloon.

And it doesn’t matter what I tell my brain or heart, or what my eyes take in that I label as “Something To Be Grateful For.” None of that fills up the place where breath should be.

I feel like I used to see the world in color and now it’s all black and white.

And I don’t know how to fix it.

What do I do besides fall to my knees and pray and wait for the God who is Healer to come and minister to the broken and empty places within me?

*

The people Jesus healed in the Bible didn’t have to follow a formula. They just had to come to Him.

And sometimes HE came to THEM.

Repeatedly, He healed people in different ways.

So who is to say that receiving prayer in a public venue is the only way for me to be made whole?

I don’t think God would give me a checklist of things to do to be made whole. I think His plan is different and unique for everyone.

If there was a “right” way to do it, we’d start pursuing that rather than Him. Wouldn’t we? What need would we have for Him if we could will healing into our lives through actions?

I think that there’s more than one way to seek healing. And that what’s right for one person isn’t necessarily right for another.

 

*

I was wondering the other day, how often do we shy away from the things of God without even realizing it?

We call it self-protection.

Or none of our business.

Or inconvenient.

But maybe it’s all Love beckoning us to come near.

Love in the homeless man,
Love in the rain,
Love in the sleepless night.

*

Seeing a deer on my evening drive.
Rainbows.
DOUBLE rainbows.
A dog’s head tilted and looking at me with gentle, love-thirsty eyes.
Standing barefoot in soggy grass and letting the rain wet my hair.

I don’t know how to do this life without trying to see Jesus in everything- making everything personal, doing away with the concept of coincidence.

I need to believe in a God who woos us and pursues us and is delighted by us. A God who is involved in every moment of our lives.

Oh, sweet Jesus. Be here, be here, be here. Fiercely, I need You.

Give me eyes to see.

Maybe this side of heaven, He’s the kind eyes of strangers,
and warm embrace of someone you love,
and baby smiles,
and the way the bare trees look orange when the sun sets in autumn,
and the happy crow with the French fry,
and a good song,
and a warm, homemade meal,
and the vastness and depths of the unexplored portions of the ocean.

He knows us. He knows how to whisper to our hearts, “I am here. I love you. You are not alone.”

*

I heard it said recently that the saddest day in history, Christ’s death on the cross, and the happiest day in history, his resurrection, were only three days apart.

It was a three-day gap from That Night to my return home.

Who are we to say how long God is going to take to turn things around?

He created the world in 7 days, spoke Adam to life with dirt and a breath, raised Christ from the dead in three days, and took four days to bring life back to Lazarus’ body.

There’s no pattern. No way to rationalize how He does things and when and why.

Some times it takes three days, three years, three seconds.

Lord, help me to love today, all the while maintaining a hope that persists against all reason. Help me love today while firmly believing for an even better future.

The other day, while I was questioning the practicality of hope (ha!) I sensed Him asking, “Do you believe that my desire for you is a life of suffering?”

To which I responded, “Of course not. I know You are good. But I fear that sometimes the good You will for my life won’t look or feel good to me for a long time.”

And His response? “Open your eyes, child. Look for what I’m doing in your life, even if it’s not exactly what you want. IT IS GOOD.”

*

I was watching a movie the other day in which someone sacrificed their innocent life to give life to someone he loved.

And I found myself watching, wide-eyed, both in awe of and devastated by his sacrifice. “Geez, what kind of love is that! If he’d die for her, what wouldn’t he do for her!? She must’ve felt so safe and adored when he was around!”

Guys, it took me that ENTIRE train of thought to think about Jesus.

I HAVE THAT IN HIM!

Why do I spend so much time questioning His goodness and feeling fearful and unsafe!? It’s ludicrous.

I am convinced that we have so much more in Him than we can even really understand right now.

There is so much reason to rejoice.

How blind we humans are to the truth of His power and goodness.

*

Sometimes I feel like I’m here against my will.

I am trying to love life, trying SO hard, but it doesn’t seem to matter what I do – my insides are a popped balloon.

But I will stand.

I will look into the darkness and speak Light and Love.

And, with my words spoken in faith, I will breathe out the power and presence of God.

With my popped balloon insides, the breath of my voice borrowed from Him.

It’s not me. It’s not my breath- my strength or power.

I am living in a black and white world.

But I have a God who decorated heaven with colors human eyes have never seen.

And I will cry.

Tears that come from that place where the popped balloon exists, at the core of my being, somewhere too deep for me to really analyze or understand or fix.

And the tears will speak the words I don’t even know to speak.

They will be a prayer.

And He will hear.

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.

The Things I Choose To Hold On To

I sent Pauline a text last night and asked: “How many more nights am I going to have to cry myself to sleep?”

It was a rhetorical question, obviously, but one that hung heavy in my room last night as I sobbed and hiccuped and wiped my nose on my shirt because I am disgusting and a child.

And this morning, my pillow was stained with my mascara. And my eyelids are swollen and puffy from so many hours of tears.

And yet, as miserable as this feels, it’s been a long time since I’ve been able to cry, and I’ll take this–FEELING!–over numbness any day.

I’ll take sorrow and grieving over trying to demand control and being unable to breathe.

It is my prayer that the tears are accomplishing something. I pray for a heart and mind and emotions submitted to the Lord. I pray for tears of grieving and acceptance and surrender, and not tears of self-pity. I don’t want to get stuck. I don’t want to feel sorry for myself. It’s a fine line, I think- feeling without feeling sorry for yourself.

I’m truly at the end of myself. It’s all too messy and too painful, and the battle in my brain and the contents of my heart are TOO MUCH. I know that we can do anything with the Lord’s help, though. And I know He loves me and He is good. So I will continue to battle.

But sometimes I honestly just want to fall to my knees in defeat and surrender and desperation for Him to intervene- to be the lifter of my head.

I did last night.

I worshiped in my living room for a long time, arms raised to the ceiling, tears pouring down my face, some words sung with a smile, some accompanied by a little dance, and some barely understandable through the teary quivering of my voice.

“I will take You at your unfailing word
More than all I want, I will seek Your first
I will bless Your name when the night is long
God, You have my surrender.”

I sang those words. And then I fell to my knees. Because it freaking HURTS to make that proclamation. It’s scary and painful! And yet, it is still what I will choose (with His help!) over and over and over again.

Lord, help me to choose You. Help me to choose surrender. Even when it hurts. Remind me Your way is the only way to true, abundant life. Help me rest in the confidence that You are good, that You have a plan, and that you have a purpose for my pain. But oh, Jesus, how I HURT. And how I NEED A VICTORY.

And yet, I have to choose to surrender even that–my desire for victory, my pain, my weakness, my “I don’t know how I’m going to survive”–to the Lord.

And I have to surrender my concept of family.

Pauline asked me recently how I’d define family. I said family is who shows up at your house unexpectedly, and eats food off your plate without asking, and whose shoulder or lap you can rest your head on while you watch TV in the evenings. Family is the people you belong with, the dinner table that would be incomplete without you there, those who love you unconditionally and are permanently committed to you no matter what. Family is who you can call when you’re crying, or when you’re excited because you got a cute new shirt on sale, or because you’re bored, or just because you want to hear their voice. And family calls you too. Because you are on their minds and in their hearts and you make their lives better.

I don’t have family as defined that way. And maybe I never will again. I don’t know.

But I know I am not doing life unloved.

And I don’t know what His plan it, but I know that the pain in my heart matters to the Lord. And I know that it is safe to hope in Him.

And so I worship, and I cry, and I go for long walks and sometimes I feel better afterwards and sometimes I still feel like crap. And I pray- not for things, not even usually for family, but to love the Lord more. Because I don’t know any other way to stop hurting but to fill my heart up with Him- with He who is reliably loving and present.

“Satisfy me, Lord.
Yeah I’m begging You, help me see
You’re all I want, You’re what I need.”

I don’t know how to get to that place. I don’t know how to achieve victory over all of this. Maybe it’s a “one day at a time” thing. And even though I’m hurting, maybe I can hurt for a little while longer as long as I cling tight to hope. A little hope can go a long way.

I pray for satisfaction and fulfillment in Him. And I give Him my desire for love and family and belonging, even if I have to surrender that over and over again all day long, and frequently through tears. “I choose You,” I say. “I choose to trust You.”

So much of faith and our relationship with God is a choice, isn’t it? You don’t have to feel trust or feel like He is more than enough for you, but you choose to believe those things because of what scripture says. It’s a deliberate choice. One I have to make constantly.

And I pray He honors that.

I pray for less frequently swollen eyelids and less nights of hysterical sobbing.

But more than that, I pray for healing. I pray that I will come to know and love Him more.

And so I say, even as I’m terrified and sobbing, or on my knees with my face pressed against the carpet of my living room, or reaching my arms up to the ceiling like a child raises their arms when they want their parent to pick them up, or dancing in my car because HE IS GOOD and it makes me dance even when I’m struggling to look at my life and call it good, I will say, “I choose to trust You.”

And in the meantime, I will be patient. I will wait on the Lord. And I will trust Him with that, the waiting, too.

I pray also that the surrender is an exchange. That as I lay down everything that matters to me (apart from the Lord), I’m able to grab onto Him with both hands. I pray He comes and fills up every broken place and corner of me that aches.

I want to live in a way that ushers heaven into our world. I don’t know what that would look like, I just have to believe there’s more for us. More Holy Spirit activity. The ability to live so aware of heaven’s reality that we operate in that one instead of this one.

I just feel like there’s got to be more.

That there should be a way for Him to be more real. There has to be a way to live lives undeniably marked by his involvement- to be flames to the world, not just lights, but fire, igniting everyone and everything that we come into contact with.

I don’t know. Maybe that’s not what He has for us right now. I don’t know. I don’t know anything. But that He is good and loves us and delights in spending time with us.

So I will wait.

I will choose hope.

I will choose trust.

I will choose surrender.

I will feel my emotions and refuse to believe lies.

I will hide myself in Him.

I will abide (is that not the most beautiful word!?) in His love.

I will worship, hands to the heavens.

And I will kneel, forehead to the ground, and wait.