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.”

Living Into The Questions

“[The world is] so beautiful and complex and painful that sometimes you just need   to sit down and write about it.”

*

A lady at the dog park made me cry today.

Arlow jumped on her. But in his defense, he didn’t until her dog jumped on her.

“You need to get control of your dog!” she said to me.

And I thought, “Yeah. I need to get control of a lot.”

*

I am trying to embrace the fact that I am a person. I am trying to honor my heart and who God made me to be. I am trying to stand tall and firm in my own body rather than grasping and begging for other people to validate me and fill me up.

My friend, Erika, and I talked today about how I’m an empath. How I basically go through the world without any skin- feeling everything so deeply.

And she talked about how it’s important that I take care of myself, that I put up boundaries so that the world doesn’t overwhelm me.

I never really thought about that before, about being uniquely wired to be sensitive, about needing to take care of that truth about me, to honor this quality rather than shame myself for it, to give room for my heart to tell me what it needs.

*

We also talked about why I can’t hold love; why I am empty of love almost the second someone says, “Yes, I love you.”

She said that’s a foundational problem because all of the world is, at its core, about love.

She said to be aware of that, of my inability to hold love. To try to live into the question, to try to open myself up to finding healing for whatever part of me in wounded in that way.

*

“Is life worth it?” I asked her at one point. “I just need to know that life is worth it.”

In response, she said something then that I’ve heard before: “That’s black or white thinking.”

She said some days life is worth it, some days it’s not.

She said, “Welcome the tension, because if you don’t, you’re fighting a battle you don’t need to fight. Allow pain to find a home in you without trying to make yourself be somewhere else. Be present with it. And then you’ll discover you’re able to move on.”

*

I don’t know how my story is going to end. I don’t know what happens next.

But I know there’s grace for me in this season.

So many people are pouring love into me.

I’m so blessed.

And still, I hurt.

*

“The funny thing about writing is that more often than not, you write your own way into truth.”

Saving Grace

There was a deer.

There were pills.

There was alcohol.

There’s a dog, who puts his head under my chin while I sleep, as if standing watch to make sure I keep breathing.

There is not remembering how to breathe, because the sorrow is too big.

There is: “I promise I’ll fast! I will spend days on my knees before You! I will do whatever I have to do to make You be here now.”

And there is: “I will wait. All I can do is wait.”

There is: “I can’t do this anymore. It’s too big for me, this pain. And all the loss. So much loss.”

And there is: “You’re still working this out.”

There is: “I NEED A MIRACLE!”

And there is this moment. I’m still alive. And that’s a miracle in itself.

My continually beating heart is a miracle. It’s a constant, persistent, screaming at heaven that I KNOW there’s a God who saves and loves me.

There’s me, hanging on to the edge of a cliff. And I’m tired, and I’m screaming for help. And I don’t know that there’s anyone around for miles and miles. I don’t know that any help is coming. I don’t know whether this hanging on is futile.

But I know God is with me. And He works miracles. And so I continue to hold on, and I continue to scream.

*

The deer. I didn’t hit it. Nor did the car behind me hit me when I slammed on my brakes. Nor did I hit the car coming towards me when I swerved into oncoming traffic. And Arlow, although he flew forward and hit the dashboard, he wasn’t injured.

And there was God who, in that moment, said to me: “I AM WITH YOU. Always. You are MINE. And you are LOVED. And I AM GOD. You do not get to jump ship.”

“But, tomorrow is coming, Lord. Another day is coming,” I weep.

“I know.”

“And it’s too big for me! I don’t know how to do tomorrow. I don’t know how to contain all this pain within me. I don’t know how to make it be okay.” More tears. Hysterical sobbing. Cannot breathe. Panicked. Trapped. No way out. Nothing that feels like life. No one to reach out to who will make it better. Nothing on my to-do list that I can check off to make my pain smaller. I can’t do anything to fix it. It just is. And it’s so big that I feel like I could scream-cry into a pillow forever.

But He reminds me, gentle as a butterfly perching on my shoulder: “Child, you don’t have to know how to make it be okay. That isn’t your job, it’s Mine.”

*

There’s the dog who sees me stop writing this to put my face into my hands and weep. And he begins to whine. And he jumps up onto the couch with me and licks my tears.

And there is God in that.

And there’s me, looking at him, my sweet pup, and crying harder because he deserves a better mommy than me. He deserves better than a mom who cannot get off the couch or walk or feed him because of the night before. He deserves better than me, a mommy who’s only half here, committed to this life. And half begging for heaven.

*

I was not put together wrong.

“The INFJ personality type is very rare, making up less than one percent of the population,

Because INFJs are such complex people, they may be reluctant to engage with others who might not understand or appreciate them, and can thus be hard to get to know. When they sense that their values are not being respected, or when their intuition tells them that someone’s intentions are not pure, they are likely to withdraw.

They think deeply and often need time to process and evaluate before they are ready to share their ideas. They seek validation and will take the time to appreciate others and their ideas. 

INFJs want to maintain harmony in their relationships and are highly motivated to resolve conflicts. 

INFJs want a high degree of intimacy and emotional engagement, and are happiest when they feel they are sharing their innermost thoughts and feelings. One of the things INFJs find most important is establishing genuine, deep connections with the people they care about. If there’s anything they have a poor tolerance for in relationships, it is inauthenticity.

They tend to believe that nothing would help the world so much as using love and compassion to soften hearts.

INFJs take great care of other’s feelings, and they expect the favor to be returned.

When INFJs find themselves up against conflict and criticism – their sensitivity forces them to do everything they can to evade these seemingly personal attacks, but when the circumstances are unavoidable, they can fight back in highly irrational, unhelpful ways. When someone challenges or criticizes INFJs’ principles or values, they are likely to receive an alarmingly strong response. People with the INFJ personality type are highly vulnerable to criticism and conflict, and questioning their motives is the quickest way to their bad side.

People with this personality type are likely to exhaust themselves in short order if they don’t find a way to balance their ideals with the realities of day-to-day living.”

I am not a mistake. God made me this way. HE MADE ME. And He is sustaining me even now, guarding and protecting my life in spite of myself. He has a plan. He doesn’t make mistakes. I am not a mistake. I don’t have to be understood or treasured or loved or wanted to be not a mistake. Nothing can rob me of the fact that the God of the universe knit me together and gave me this life and body and personality for such a time as this. I am not a mistake. I am not a mistake.

*

I don’t want anyone or anything fake. I don’t want anything I have to try to hold together. I don’t want to beg for love or help. I don’t want anything but You, Jesus. It’s only with You that I am safe. I just want You. Please, God, PLEASE. Somehow… please answer that prayer. Be here. Be what I need.

Don’t forget, Jesus, that I am Yours. And don’t let me forget that I’m beloved. Help me, Jesus. Help me.

*

There is a Jesus who forgives me over and over again. Who weeps for me. Who whispers, against all that I see and feel, that it’s going to be okay. And there’s me, hanging on the cliff edge, who speaks over myself, over all I feel or see or can fathom: “I trust YOU.”

I trust Him, so I hang on as well as I can in spite of the pain and seeming hopelessness of the situation.

And I trust Him, so I cry out for help. Because I cannot save myself.

*

“This is where I belong, held by the arms of love. Love, don’t let me go.”

Stream-Of-Consciousness

The sky looks like gold and fluff and the sun is setting over the water. And I watch. And I take out my phone to get a picture. And I plead with my soul or mind or heart or whatever within me might be listening, “Let this matter to you.”

And Arlow thinks, if I’d just let him off the leash, he could for sure catch the motorcycles that drive by us. And he breaks into a run, only to be pulled back by the fraying fabric connecting us, and he bites at it and growls and refuses to move, and I pull him along saying “no” as firmly as I can, but I smile because he is his own little being and I love that he is himself and not just an extension of me. And people stop and tell me how beautiful he is, and sometimes he’s good and sometimes he jumps on them or pees on their shoes, and I say, “I’m sorry, we’re still working on manners.” And at night he curls up beside me and I watch his breath fog up the screen on my phone, and I pray that someday I won’t feel so disconnected from a life worth living. And I thank God for the ways He’s sustaining me, even when it doesn’t feel like enough.

And I read about the woman who lives with depression, and something in me turns to fire and I want to run, but I can’t, because the fire is me. And I beg God, with all the hope I have left, to not let that be my story. I can’t live my entire life wishing I wasn’t alive.

And I watch people do their lives. The barista at Starbucks, the man in the truck beside me, the baseball coach. And I think, “How?” And: “Why?” And: “What do you know that I’ve forgotten?”

And I hold babies and love people fiercely and want for them life and love and laughter and happiness. And I would protect them, if I could, from anything that would try to steal that. And I value life. I value their lives. And so why can’t I feel any sort of connection to my own?

And I’m scared.

And I dream I’m sick. Physically sick. And I’m not scared then, I’m relieved. Because no one will expect me to fix myself. No one will blame me for being sick. No one will say it’s because I’m not strong enough or don’t trust God enough. I can rest. No one will lock me away and take away my rights. They won’t withdraw. They will come near. Because it’s not my fault if I’m sick. It’s not my fault. And there’s more compassion and understanding when a high fever or broken bone are involved than when we can’t make ourselves remember that it’s a gift to be alive.

And I read: “I waffled between becoming an animal in a howl and pulling myself together into a tight numbness.” And I get it.

And the doctor calls out of duty to check on me. And no one can fix it.

And I can’t understand this God who supposedly leaves the flock of sheep for the one. And I need Him to do that for me.

And so I pray and worship and beg and sit silent under the fading sun and call everything Him. I let it all be a hug from Him. And I’m tired. I’m so tired. Because it isn’t like actually being hugged. It’s not rest or peace for my soul. It’s effort. It’s grasping and clawing and fighting tooth and nail to do this life and believe it to be beautiful and Him to  be near.

And my therapist and I discuss my life, and I can’t remember a time in the last eight years where I felt at rest. Taken care of. I’m always powering through on my own strength. Alone. Except for the God who feels no nearer than my deceased mom. And it’s not enough. It’s not. enough. But I fight not to let myself believe that. Because our God is a God of abundance and not depravity, right? And so I’m always trying to be okay and call life beautiful and tell myself that what my insides are screaming for is safe in the hands of the God who promises to provide for us.

And the medication and sleep and going through the motions and asking for prayer? I’m sure they help. But it doesn’t feel like provision. It feels like effort. Just another way I’m emptying myself out in the fight for life.

And I don’t see a solution.

And I’m so scared of being left. I’m scared of them leaving, of being unlovable. And I’m scared of leaving myself, of becoming a hollow shell of a person just waiting for God to do what He’s promised to do. And they’ll blame me. Because He doesn’t fail us.

And I wonder if I’ve been believing God to be good, while simultaneously believing He is mean. Because what might be good eternally can feel really mean to us today, right? At least that’s how I’m making sense of where I am and this life I’ve been given. He is good, even when He feels mean.

And that is terrifying. Because what hope do I have then? What hope do I have of a life that is full and rich if I believe the gifts He gives might feel like pain? What hope do I have of a life that, through tears and laughter, I can feel connected to and can say, “I choose you. I choose you through it all. Because this is the life I’ve been given and it’s a gift and God is near and I’m so, so blessed. And the hard? It can’t steal the beautiful. And, my God, is this life beautiful.”

And I want to be able to look hopeless people in the eyes, and hold their face between my hands, and I want to tell them not to listen to the people who want to make sure they don’t forget that life is hard. And I want to say, “You’re not weak for struggling. And yes, life is hard. But nothing you ever face will be as hard as where you are right now. This is as bad as it gets. And there’s better for you up ahead. I promise. I know because I’ve lived this same story- the story of hopelessness and a brain that is trying to kill you. I know how tired you are.”

And then I’ll take my hand and place it over their heart, and I will speak these words over them, and pray them at the same time: “It WILL be okay. Our God is good. He is GOOD. And He loves you fiercely. And this fight you’re enduring right now? He and I are so proud of you. You are not alone, and this won’t be forever.”

And then I’ll whisper to them, as God has done to me many times through another’s words or embrace or the fluffy baby ducks on the water: “Hear me, child. There. Is. Hope.”

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.”

It Is Well With My Soul

“Our own limitations should never inhibit our expectation of God…”

It doesn’t depend on us…

If I want to do well, if I desire to follow Him, that’s enough. I can look forward in hope and anticipation of what’s to come.

Hallelujah.

*

I’ve come to this place in my relationship with God where I say things to Him like, “Fine. I surrender. I give you x, y, z. But if I’m not going to have those things in my life, then I NEED MORE OF YOU.”

And then I read my Bible and pray and worship.

And I don’t feel more of Him.

Nor are X, Y, or Z marching (or even, from my perspective, crawling) into my life.

And so I get frustrated. And I say, “Fine, if I fall to my knees and don’t feel You, if I pray and things don’t get better, then it’s Your own fault if I stop seeking You first. Because You’re not enough. You’re not here and You don’t care and You see that I’m hurting and WHERE ARE YOU?”

And I blame Him. I blame Him for being absent.

But we know He never is.

I base SO much on how I feel.

And because I know He could swoop into my life in some big way and turn all my emotions around, I fault Him for not doing that.

And when I say, “FINE! All I want is You then!” and nothing changes, my heart still hurts, I fault Him even more. Because isn’t that the golden prayer? For more of Him? Him above all else? His face versus His hand?

…But if I’m basing my answer to my prayer for more of Him on what I feel, then it isn’t really His face I’m seeking, is it?

I am asking for Him, but the underlying request is that He prove Himself. “Prove it to me that You’re present. Prove to me that You care about my heart. Prove to me that You heard my prayer.”

…Because if I don’t feel it, then it isn’t happening, right? And, while we’re on the subject of how I’d like to see my prayers being answered, I don’t want to wait either. Because why should I have to?! If He’s here now, then BE. HERE. NOW!

…It’s insanely bold of me!

And also just insane.

Because His ways aren’t our ways.
His timing is perfect.
He is present.
And He cares, deeply, about my heart.

I know all that. But I am so quick to become a toddler before Him, begging my Father to pick me up, to carry me, to let me hide my face against His shoulder. And for all of that to happen in a way that doesn’t require, for just a few minutes, that I “walk by faith”.

I don’t understand. Oh, Lord, I don’t understand.

Scripture says David strengthened Himself in the Lord. It didn’t say, “David despaired and then God gave Him strength.” Although that, too, is true. But there’s a middle part to that equation: David chose to trust God. He chose to cling. Even when what He felt was despair, He chose to hold tight to the truth of who God is. And then, in doing that, God gave Him strength.

Very rarely, I’m coming to learn, is living a godly life a natural reflex for us fallible humans. Almost always, we have to choose– to be consciously aware of what is true and then be deliberate to live out of that truth.

No matter what I feel, I have to choose to keep falling to my knees and raising my hands in worship and praying wordless, tear-filled prayers. Because I KNOW they matter. Each time I run to Him, even when I don’t sense Him standing before me with arms outstretched, I know the spiritual realm takes notice.

I have to live my life with eyes open wide in holy anticipation of what’s to come. BECAUSE HE PROMISES IT WILL BE GOOD. And He has never broken a promise.

I can’t fall to my knees, press my head to the carpet, kneel before Him, and then despair because flame and wind and His voice didn’t fill the room. I can’t rise from the ground and furrow my brow and look up at the ceiling and say, “Don’t You see what I just did!? Man, You really missed an opportunity to win my heart over and speak to me!”

I can’t give up.

And I have to choose to rise from my knees in a room that still feels empty, with my heart that still screams with ache, and say, “You are still what I want above all else. I know that You alone can fill this ache within me. I know that the best, safest place for my heart is here, at Your side. And I know that, regardless of how I feel, I can smile and hope because You are good.”

Because I KNOW it matters. He bends to earth when we pray. EVEN WHEN WE DON’T FEEL IT. And how miraculous is that? How incredible that He do desires for us to speak to Him!?

Will I choose to stay, to say He is good, that what I have in Him is more than enough, even when I feel empty and alone, and He isn’t flooding my emptiness with Himself in a way that I can perceive?

Will I trust that when I open my arms up wide, when tears stream down my face and I need a shoulder to rest my head on, when all that is within me is screaming for relief from the pain, for more–more love, family, belonging, joy, hope, HIM–, will I trust that He comes running?

Will I throw my questions and anger and sorrow at Him, and then still say, “I choose You”?

Yes. Yes, I will.

Because HE IS GOOD- not just when my life reflects His goodness in the ways I want it to, or when I feel His goodness, but always. He is unarguably, unchangeably, unwaveringly, steadily, forever good.

And so I will choose, over and over and over again, to stick this journey out- eyes open in expectation for the wonders He promises to do.

And when nothing else makes sense, I can find comfort in what I know. I can tilt my head towards heaven and say, “You are good.”

And I can know that His eyes meet mine.
And He smiles a gentle smile.
And He says, “Yes, baby. I am.”

I will choose to ENDURE and let the face of Living Hope shine down on me.

I will cling to the One who is I Am.

*

“There is no way to peace along the way of safety. Peace is the opposite of security. To demand guarantees is to want to protect oneself. Peace means giving oneself completely to God’s commandment, wanting no security, but in faith and obedience laying…destiny…in the hand of Almighty God.”

 

One Word

It’s the time of the year when everyone’s claiming a word.

And I–lover of words and growth and claiming something as mine, given to me by God Himself–have always found that to be a sort of exciting way to begin the year.

Pray.
Ask God.
Grasp tight to a word.
Keep that word in the back of your mind (or the forefront of your mind, depending on the kind of day you are having!).
Let it be the filter through which you see your life.
Let it magnify the sound of God’s voice as He speaks into your circumstances.
Watch what He does with that word.
That simple word.
Watch how it doesn’t have the same meaning at the end of the year as it did when you first claimed it.

Last year surrender seemed to be my word. I didn’t choose it, it just became the word forever repeating itself in my head.

Surrender- the resting, the trusting.

Not surrender in the sense of coming out of battle, hands raised, turning yourself over to the enemy,

but surrender as in wrapping Him like a blanket around yourself and whispering “I trust You.” Letting His holiness and love soothe and comfort and be the thing that pulls you through even the most seemingly hopeless circumstances.

Surrender can feel like giving up or losing or resigning yourself to a less positive fate. And sometimes in this broken world, that’s exactly what it means.

But not when we surrender to our loving Father who is infinitely bigger and more capable of turning “hopeless” situations around than we are.

And this year? I am thinking my word might be light.

It has been the new word in my brain lately. The significance of light coming against darkness. How God is light. Light and love and life- all somehow, magnificently the same thing in the character of our Creator.

It has been seeping into my life for a while now, this word, as evidenced by my blog posts of late.

Light. Pressing in. Gradually.

Not a sudden, dramatic: “Let there be light!”, but a gentle glow, slowly warming its way into my life. Illuminating everything.

Light. Sunbeams stretching and spilling into the darkness.

Dust particles floating in the stretches of light as they reach towards me like arms.

And I close my eyes and pray to understand in a way bigger than my consciousness how this light is the Jesus I ache for so fiercely.

 

“Then spoke Jesus again to them, saying, ‘I am the light of the world: he that follows me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.'” -John 8:12