Here’s Where You Get To Choose

It’s easy to love people when things are good. It’s easy to love them when you feel secure and comfortable and loved in return. But what about when loving someone starts to feel scary?

What about when it hurts like hell and everything in you wants to demand they fix it?

That’s when you get to decide what love really is.

Do I love people because I want to feel comfortable and secure and loved in return? Because that isn’t love; love isn’t self-seeking. Love wants the best for others, even when it’s uncomfortable for us.

And it’s the hardest thing in the world in that moment, when your emotions are so big, but you have a choice. And when everything in you wants to scream and cry and demand and control, but you choose not to? That’s when love puts on its work boots and becomes genuine.

*

What about when you’re misunderstood, and the core of who you are is threatened by a person’s inability to understand you?

What about when everything in you wants to tell them they’re wrong?

That’s when you get to choose.

It’s a moment, just a split second, and the decision and the person are both before you, and you want to let your emotional reaction have a voice because it hurts to feel misunderstood and they need to know they’re wrong. But that isn’t your only option, it’s just the easier one. And you get to choose.

After all, is it possible that the God who is too big for us to comprehend could have created two people who have different opinions for a reason, and that maybe neither of us is right or wrong?

*

When the walls are closing in on you and nothing feels right or easy and there’s an actual physical pain in your chest and a bottle of pills in the bathroom and you’re so, so tired…

That’s when you get to choose.

Am I going to do the easy thing, or am I going to do the thing that feels impossible?

Am I going to give in to despair or am I going to stand up, even when nothing in me feels it, and say, “I’m not gonna let life steal my hope.”

You get to choose.

*

Over and over and over again we get to decide: “Where am I going to go from here? What am I going to do with my pain?”

But at the core of all of these decisions is this question: “Am I going to trust God with my heart?”

And in that, too, we get to choose.

*

I make the wrong decision so often.

Thank God He can redeem it.

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Living A Life Of Love

I wet my finger with anointing oil, and then I reach over and draw the shape of a cross on the top of Arlow’s head while he sleeps.

He wakes up, startled, seeing the bottle and my hand coming towards him and fearing I’m going to clean his ears. Which reminds me that yes, I do need to do that. But not right now. Right now is for putting my hand on top of his head and praying for his health.

And I don’t say words, but I don’t need to. I just present my heart to the Lord and He does the rest. With my hand on his head, I breathe out all the love and tenderness I have for him. I breathe out the fear I feel that he’s still not completely healthy. And I breathe out gratitude and awe that God gave him to me.

I reach over and feel something like swollen lymph nodes on either side of his neck. Can dogs get swollen lymph nodes?

I hear his raspy breathing as he settles back to sleep, the Ear Cleaning threat gone. He’s still sneezing and coughing during the day. No more throwing up, but definitely still battling something.

I told my friend the other day that there’s something about having to clean up throw up, and cuddle a snotty-faced boy, and choosing to draw him to me even when he smells like sickness, that makes me love him even more deeply. It grows and shapes into some new breed of love- a love that is, regardless of any other factors or the loved one’s “worthiness”, wild and untameable.

My friend kind of smiled at that, imagining, undoubtedly, cleaning up after a dog who’s throwing up every five minutes. Then he said, “I don’t know that would have the same impact on me.”

And I realized in that moment that he was right. It didn’t make sense. I started to backtrack and explain myself, saying, “Well, no, I don’t like barf or anything, that’s not what I mean…”

I’ve given it more thought today though. Why did such a miserable experience have that affect on me?

And then the whisper of the voice I’m so familiar with after these long months: “It’s because, in what you were doing for Arlow, you recognized Me.”

Yes. That was it. My heart recognized my “laying down my life” for Arlow as, ironically, life-giving.

That is an unreal, mind-blowing revelation to me. Maybe the song is right- maybe we really DO find our lives (our purpose, motivation, joy…) when we lay them down! Could it be that the more I deliberately and intentionally give my life to Jesus, the more life I’ll have?

Maybe the fullest, happiest life is the one that’s daily being laid down!

*

Laura talked the other night about hoping she looks like her Father. Maybe that’s the “sweet spot” of life- when we make looking like Him our top priority.

My prayer has so often been: “Help me know You more. Help me love You more. Help me want to be alive.”

And there’s nothing wrong with those prayers, of course, but now that the depression is improving and I have a little more energy and a lot more joy, I feel like maybe God is showing me the answer to all of those prayers is the same: modeling Him.

“Come, child,” He says. “Let’s go into this world together and be LOVE. Then you will know and love me more. Then you will rediscover your life.”

I don’t know. I feel like maybe I’m seeing a glimmer of truth, or truth in a newer, deeper way, but I am still mostly comprised of a lack of understanding. I feel like I am looking at this truth, examining it, turning it over in my hands, and then trying to stretch it to make it cover the whole of life. “Let me see how I can apply this to everything so that nothing hurts anymore and everything makes sense and there’s a solution for every problem!” my brain wants to say. But, of course, in a world designed by a God who is bigger tan our comprehension, the mystery of it will always exceed what we understand.

Which, I believe, is by design. A reminder that we don’t have to see the whole picture. Nor do we have to understand to obey. We just have to hear what God is saying to us in the moment we’re in.

After all, fullness of life isn’t found in understanding, it’s found in Him.

And so, Lord, I lay down my desire to understand. I lay down my desire for it to “make sense”. I choose LIFE- in all its messy, holy, tear-stained, laughter-filled, glory. I choose to be where You are. I choose to let You lead me and unveil my life as I love and serve You.

*

My heart recognizes how I love Arlow as hinting at how He loves me. I think that’s why I found not just life, but comfort, in tending to my boy. I felt like I was doing for Arlow what Jesus daily does for me, even though I’m often unaware.

How many nights has He bent low and drawn the shape of a cross on my forehead with His holy hand? How many times has He drawn me to Him when human instinct would be to push me away because I’m snotty-faced and stinky, (metaphorically speaking… I hope 😉 )? How many times has He come face-to-face with my messes and said to me, “I can clean this up.”?

Arlow doesn’t understand why he doesn’t feel well, and he doesn’t know if he’ll ever feel well again because he’s a dog and this present moment is the realest one to him. He doesn’t understand why I’m feeding him oatmeal and baby food, or why I haven’t taken him for a walk or to daycare. He doesn’t understand why I left him at the vet’s and they shaved part of his leg and poked him and gave him an IV. He doesn’t understand.

But he doesn’t try to. Nor does he grow suspicious and depressed. He just trusts that I am, in all my ways towards him, motivated by love.

In so many ways, God uses Arlow to speak to me. About sacrificial love, and what fuels life, and how sometimes, even when motivated by love, this life will hurt and not make sense.

And Arlow’s helped me see things more simply, too. For example, he’s shown me that none of the “whys” matter when you trust the one in charge. And none of the day’s hard stuff is any match for the joy of having arms who will hold you at the end of the day.

And so tonight, I will sleep- my dog snotty and snoring on my chest, my hand atop his head, praying.

And in the spiritual realm, though I cannot see it, I know Jesus is doing the same. I am settling down to sleep, resting in His love and goodness and presence. And He is here, His hand atop my head, praying.

 

*

Linking Up with: http://www.givinguponperfect.com/2016/10/real-autumn-life-works-for-me/

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.

 

The Questions We Ask

He whines and tries to push his wet nose between my hands and face when I cry. Which is definitely more endearing when he hasn’t been throwing up all night.

I rolled out of bed and slipped on some Uggs, and my unbrushed hair and pajama-clad self and I went to Albertson’s for some canned pumpkin tonight. Because that’s supposed to help doggy tummies.

And mamas crawl out of bed and go to the store for their babies.

He threw that up the little bit of pumpkin I gave him too, so I wiped his runny nose with my hand and turned out the lights and told him he needed to rest. He’s here at my side now, while we sit in the dark. And I pray for his body, occasionally reaching over and placing my hand on him while I pray.

I pray for his body, and I pray for my heart. He’s throwing up and my eyelids are swollen from crying. It’s been quite the night.

*

Laura spoke at church the other night about serving. And I found myself wondering if God’s call to serve (others and Him) is almost protective. Because when we keep in mind that we’re serving Him, we don’t have to have the answers. We don’t have to understand things or be orchestrating things or hold anything together. That isn’t our role. All we have to know is what the next thing is that God is asking us to do.

It keeps us safe when we go through life remembering He is the one scripting it, and that our job is to surrender and serve.

Surrender and serve, admittedly, are two words that have a traditionally negative connotation. But when I think of them in relation to our God who is Love? All I hear is: “Rest, child. You are held. Be still and know.”

So often my anxiety and fear stems from a desire to control things that aren’t mine to control. I’ll lie in bed all tangled up, analyzing what is or might be, and how I can fix it or undo it, and what that means for my future and life and hope.

And in the midst of all that, God whispers to me: “You’re asking the wrong questions.”

The right questions are more along the lines of: “What are You saying to me in this moment?” “What do I KNOW to be true?”

And it strikes me that, even if God gave me the answers to all of the things I want to know, often times I suspect He’d have to say: “But these things are still in process. The answers I’m giving you might not even be the same tomorrow or the next day or in a month or a year.”

It would be like drawing conclusions about the ending of a book based on paragraph three, chapter six.

So, questions that demand answers aren’t really helpful. Questions that help us feel like we’re able to dig our nails back into our lives in some manner of control? That’s not His goal for us.

He’s protecting us by what He doesn’t reveal.
He’s loving us when He refuses to let us believe we’re in control.
And when He is silent in response to our petitions? Even that is proof of His goodness.

We know we’re asking the right questions when we feel more surrendered and peaceful in the asking. The right questions are those that help us shed the weight of things that were never ours to carry. They leave us with our hearts open to life and possibility, rather than shut down and suspicious.

*

“What are your favorite things about God?” Laura asked that the other night as well.

Mine? He’s always available. He loves to hear what’s on my heart.
He loves me and understands me and delights in me so completely that my heart is always safe with Him.
I never have to be afraid or weigh my words or be scared He’ll yell at me for something I feel.
He always sees me, even when I’m at my worst, through eyes of love.
He is gentle and compassionate and leads me with kindness.
He is invested in me, and He isn’t going anywhere. No matter what.

And as I made that list I thought, “…Isn’t that ironic? All the things about Him that I love the most are the things my heart is so desperate to find in human relationships.”

And I don’t know what that means necessarily. I do believe that those things (although imperfect forms of them) can be found in relationship with others. But I am grateful that in this season, He is teaching me that I can also find what I long for in Him.

*

I spread my arms out wide. “Lord, strip away all that isn’t of You.”

“Teach me, Lord, that it’s enough to go through life as just me.”

“Teach me to live surrendered and at peace. Teach me to live held.”

*

And when I feel out of place and like I don’t belong, I can go lock myself in a bathroom stall and tilt my eyes to heaven.

And because He and I have spent so much time together rehearsing truth, I can meet His eyes and remember that the God of the Universe knows my heart and smiles when He thinks of me. Who I am, just as I am, is enough.

I don’t have to feel in control, even in social situations. I don’t have to be well-spoken or magnetic or present myself “well”. I can let go of that pressure because He’s the one doing the orchestrating, and He knew what He was doing when He placed my silly self there among those people.

And so I can go back out there, just as I am, and know that feeling “out of place” isn’t a reflection of me. And that “not belonging” is a lie because God handpicked me and placed me there for a reason.

I don’t have to stand against a wall, feeling conspicuous and awkward and like there’s a neon sign flashing above my head that reads: “No one wants this girl.”

I don’t have to stand there, palms sweaty, asking: “What is wrong with me?”, “Will I always feel like this?”, “Do they love me even though it doesn’t seem that way right now?”

Because back in the bathroom stall, God reminded me: “Those are the wrong questions, child.”

“Oh. Right.” I am called to serve Him. Which means the right question is: “What do you want me to do right now?”

And He smiles. Because yes, that is the right question. And what He says next almost makes me want to roll my eyes because “what a God thing to say!” 😉

“Go love people.”

Which, oddly enough, is a lot easier to do when you’re not trying to control them. Or yourself. 🙂

Believing In Holy Magic

“I feel like my life is one of those meals… those ‘take everything leftover out of the fridge and make it into soup’ meals. And it won’t be good, but it will keep you alive,” I said. I was sobbing.

“I feel like nothing about my life is what God had planned, so now he’s just scraping from the bottom of the barrel to sustain me with things that are ‘good enough’. Just enough to get by. That’s how I feel He is putting my life together. It isn’t magic. None of it feels like His Plan A.”

I sobbed, snotty and swollen-eyed, forcing myself to put words to the sorrow within me.

And then, once I felt emptied of all the misery I could verbalize, I took a deep breath and I said, “But I know, if I asked God’s perspective on this, what He’d say.” And I spoke all the truths and holy, wild love that I felt Him placing on my heart as I sought His face above my sorrow and confusion and anger and grief and fear.

Because God doesn’t have a Plan B. I know that. And He is the giver of gifts that are beyond what we can ask and think and imagine. And I don’t know how, looking at my life, that could possibly be true, but I know that it is. There’s no “piecing ‘good enough’ together” when it comes to God. There’s no “bottom of the barrel” digging. He doesn’t feed us with snakes. Even when I can’t see how he’ll provide fish, somehow He does. With a side of fries. Because #beyondwhatwecanaskandthinkandimagine. 😉

And I thanked Him last night. I thanked Him that He’s all in. Even when I’m not. Even when I want to abandon my own life, even when I want to jump ship and give up on this person in whose body I sometimes feel trapped, He’s all in. Wholly involved. Completely committed to seeing this through.

He is the beat of the heart that I sometimes wish would just stop.

He is the one who whispers, in the midst of my deepest sorrow: “Look at Me. Let your eyes meet Mine. Let Me tell you what is true.”

He is the one who takes my: “Why doesn’t my life feel or look like magic? Shouldn’t it if You’re involved? Not perfect, but redeemed and beautiful and like a story that is going to end well? Where is the magic?”

He takes that and He says, “Look away from what you can see for a minute. Look at Me. Stop trying to see what I’m doing. Stop trying to figure it out. And hear Me, child. Even if you can’t understand how your life is magic, can you trust me when I say that you are? That your existence and tender heart and strengths and weaknesses and the Me you bring into the world, THAT is magic. That is the real miracle of your life. Believe that, dear heart, and trust Me with the rest.”

*

Tell me that not a single moment on my knees is wasted.

Tell me Your voice is the only one that matters.

Tell me that I can come to You with nothing to offer, not even the ability to sustain my own life, and it’s okay. Tell me it’s okay.

I can’t make any promises to You. I’ve tried and failed. Tell me it’s okay.

Tell me I can be all fear and sorrow and questions and the desire to run, and it’s okay.

Tell me that when I want to run but I fall to my knees instead, somehow a victory is won. Tell me that when I stand back up, even if I don’t feel any better, somehow things are different. Because prayer changes things. Even if I can’t perceive it.

Tell me it’s okay if I’m comprised of nothing more than a scream and the knowledge that You are. Because I remember a time of sunlight inside of me, and I don’t know how this can be reversed. How can I stop being empty hands and yelling from the deepest part of me that You are NOT enough, even if I know that’s not true, but it hurts and where are You and none of this makes sense.

Tell me the unceasing scream forces me to hear You above it- that it’s beautiful in that way.

Tell me it’s okay, that You can make sense of it all.

Tell me that even screaming insides can be taught to submit to the authority of heaven.

Tell me someday I’ll look back and be able to see the threads of beautiful you’ve been weaving through my story all along.

I am emptiness and depression and screaming grief.
But You are life.

I have nothing.
But it’s okay because You are all.

You are I am.

Tell me it’s okay.

Tell me it’s going to be okay, and not because of anything about me, but because of You.

I will not die, but live,
and declare the works of the Lord.

I declare that good is coming.

Open Hands

“Write down the thoughts you have before you start to feel like giving up on life,” she said.

And so I did. I took the pen and I wrote, and I was surprised at how quickly things flowed. They’re all there all the time, these thoughts I’m battling. But these thoughts? They are, at least some of them, true. And how do I handle that? How do you battle truth? You tell it to sit down because God’s truth is bigger. Right?

But does His truth undo other truths? Can I tell my circumstances that they are inferior to hope and the good the Lord has for me? Can I tell my beaten-up heart to trust?

That’s what I’ve been doing. For months. Years.

But what do I do when I’m powering through on the promise that God is good and that He can be trusted, but things don’t get any easier or better? What do I do when the condition of my heart is only getting more and more dire, no matter how much time I spend reading the Bible, and raising my hands in worship in my living room, and falling to my knees in the shower, and leaving my house to socialize with people or walk the dog or go to work and help others?

What do I do when I’m coping and fighting, and every single day everything in me still doesn’t feel any interest in this life, and all I am is sorrow and grief and EFFORT. So. Much. Effort. I am doing everything I can to look at my life and say, “It’s okay because God is good and He has a plan.” But it’s not okay, and God is still good and He still has a plan, but IT’S NOT OKAY. So what then? What now?

“I can’t fix it,” I wrote on my list yesterday. And then: “I want Jesus.”

I can’t fix it.

I can’t feel like this forever. I can’t do life like this. I can’t.

And I can’t fix it.

I am only His child. Only He loves me in the way everything inside of me is screaming to be loved.

And I’m telling myself that’s okay, that He’s enough.

But it’s not true. It’s not okay. He IS enough. But somehow also, He isn’t. And I don’t know how that’s possible, but no matter what my brain knows, my heart keeps shattering into smaller pieces as I try to power through this life on His being enough.

He isn’t here. He isn’t here to hold me. I can’t feel Him or hear His voice.

So it ISN’T enough.

As we talked yesterday, I cried. At first it was one solitary tear, clinging to my eyelashes, which I tried to discreetly wipe away and onto my pant leg without her noticing, but then it was the tears that make your chin quiver and your voice fail you. And I couldn’t stop crying. Our time was over and I was sobbing and I had to leave like that, with her reminding me to stay safe. And I sat in my car and sobbed into my hands and nothing about it was okay. Nothing about this is okay.

And I can’t fix it.

But then there was the kid whose love language is also touch, and he touched my shoulder and the top of my head in his little boy, trying to be annoying way. And there was his brother, who fell asleep in my car, and I reached over to keep his head from tipping and waking him up as I went around corners. And the toddler, his legs entwined with mine on the couch. And the dog who let me cradle his head in the crook of my arm, and who fell asleep, snoring, while I rubbed his belly.

But I woke up this morning, and I called my therapist, and I cried. And I am all tears and grief and there are moments of what I’m screaming for, moments of connection and love and belonging and Jesus, but it’s not enough. It’s not enough.

“I don’t want you to think everyone’s life is so much happier than yours and that you’re the exception,” someone else said to me today.

But that isn’t my fear. My fear is the opposite. My fear is that no one is happy. My fear is that everyone feels like this. Because then what hope do I have? I need to believe this world has people in it who are happy and glad to be alive. I WANT everyone to be happier than me.

*

There was a woman at McDonald’s the other day, sitting at a table, scowling, looking like she hasn’t been hugged or loved in a long, long time. And I thought, “There is SO much better for you than this…”

And how can I say that? How can I feel that for her when that hasn’t been my experience at all?

How do I tell people about the healing, miraculous, all-consuming, powerful love of our God who is nearer than our very breath, when I’ve been telling myself that for months and I’m NOT OKAY?

What is true?

Is this all there is? Is this the More Than Enough, Abundant Life He has for me? Is this it?

I don’t know.

But it’s not okay.

And it’s not enough.

And I can’t fix it.

And so I open my hands. I come empty and broken and scared and with no answers. I have no answers. I just have questions. And even those I offer up to Him. I don’t need answers, I just need help getting through today.

I come to Him screaming for a love that I don’t think I’ll ever have again.

I come to Him wanting to give up and just run to His arms and be done with this pain and suffering and fight.

And I come to Him saying that He is good. You are good, You are good, You are good.

I don’t understand. And I don’t know how to endure this. And I am drowning in a sorrow that I can’t fix. And You are good.

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.”