My fingers might fall off while writing this blog post because I feel like I have so much to say & my heart is just about to explode. So while I sit here and try to find every version of “Hey Stephen” ever sung (for really weird reasons), I feel nothing but joy from copious amounts of coffee & words of wisdom & conversation that makes my heart beat out of my chest.
4 hours at a corner table with the bench in my favorite coffee shop to ever exist & some of my favorite people & a person whose words have been perfectly depicting the way I feel for a little over a year now.
Today is one I’m going to remember for a very long time. I hopped in the car, drove 60 miles, and met up with four girls from Berry College. I never honestly know how these coffee dates will go down. If they will be awkward. If we will be fast friends. But God knows this– I have never ever been capable of small talk. I run my whole life off the motto “go deep or go home.” And praise God for the deepness of these girls. We sat with lattes for four hours. We talked God. We talked transition. We talked about letting it go. We each shared a bundle of love stories. We gave people new names. It was like old friends who weathered some kind of storm and were finally coming back together to tell one another about it all. We were banging on the table. We were shouting “preach.” We talked broken dishes. And good views. And distance. And pottery. It was the most God-given coffee date have ever been on. I think our biggest takeaway was this: giving up control is one of the most freeing and yet hardest things to do. We say we want God to have everything and yet loosening the grip and accepting what that actually means is nearly impossible most days. But this isn’t a matter of God giving you the most perfect life possible. This is a matter of wanting the life he has for you The life and hard path that will make you the fullest version of yourself at the end of all this. It will not be perfect by any means. It will not leave you building a life that looks good to everyone on the outside. It will be way more internal than it is external. And it will hurt like hell on some days. But you can’t cling and shrink into the skins of someone you used to be. Those days are gone if you want them gone. And anyone who has ever wanted to be a different or better version than themselves should just sigh and say amen. Hallelujah for that. HB.
That was my Saturday, again perfectly put into words that perfectly depict the way I felt the entire time. I was where my feet were for those 4 hours. Completely immersed in each others words. I loved it. I took it in. I said to myself, “I’m going to remember these stories. These are going in the book.” Whether that was talking about being the salt of the world or coming up with new names to write people into books in new identities or about how someone might be 10 times better without you in their orbit, the incredible joy in my heart only continued to grow.
And we talked about worshiping a place called elsewhere. You always tell yourself, “When I get here…” or “When I do this…” and that’s seeing yourself satisfied with being elsewhere, but you can’t even imagine about feeling satisfied with the place you’re in right now. You would rather be elsewhere. And that was one of the most brilliant things I had ever been told. I don’t think I have ever felt as poured into as I did sitting at that table with these 4 girls. HB rocked my world & just kept sharing wisdom.
We talked love stories. We talked some mad mad mad love stories. Smashing plates in a basement. Coffee crawls through Atlanta. Long distance. Being pursued. Renaming people to put them in a book. We told it all. We understood each other, or as Hannah described it, “It was like old friends who weathered some kind of storm and were finally coming back together to tell one another about it all,” and I haven’t heard truer words.
Life has been one hell of a storm lately. I will say that. I have no clue who I am anymore. People are changing and I’m changing and people are leaving and I’m staying and I don’t like it. I don’t like that things aren’t in my control. I hate it, actually. It hurts so much. But I know God is writing some sort of redemption story & I know His mystery is the beauty of this all, but right now, I am too stubborn to surrender to that. I hate that I recognize that & I still haven’t been able to do it, but it’s happening.
And then I found myself doing all of these crazy things this weekend that definitely weren’t planned out. The only plans I had made were coffee with HB and homework. A long, intimate date with Spanish and Women’s Studies. That was all. And somehow, by the grace of God, I ended up at a birthday dinner for a friend, hot chocolate with a huge group of friends, Guardians of the Galaxy (fell in love with 80’s music all over again) at an old theater on Broad Street, venting to a friend in a town house, and last, but definitely not least, 80’s skate night. I actually decided I was going to this about 5 minutes before everyone left. I threw on some weirdly patterned pants in the back seat of a friend’s car and put on a neon yellow hat (worn backwards, of course). And it was incredibl(y embarrassing), especially because I haven’t skated since I was probably 8 years old. It was beautiful. I only ate it twice, and I laughed so hard both times. Belly-deep laughter. These moments. I will be able to remember skating to “Shake It Off” for a very very long time. Needless to say, this weekend was one for the books.
And I started the book. Like officially typed out words, not just scribbling notes in a journal. The book started on the notepad on my phone. It came out like word vomit, but all of it made sense. It was one of the best feelings I’ve felt in a long time.
The greatest lesson I learned this weekend:
“People won’t choose you if you can’t choose yourself.”
Just let that settle in for a second. Let that truth kind of echo inside of you. Bounce from side to side inside of your brain. I think it kind of goes along with one of the greatest commandments: loving your neighbor as yourself. Well, if we aren’t loving ourselves, then how in the world are we supposed to be loving our neighbor? Just think about that. Think about the way you see your self-worth and think about the way that reflects into every single relationship you have. Are your words hollow? Do they hold weight? How often do you use your words to lift others up? If you’re feeling convicted right about now or those words shook something inside of you, it might be time to start acting. Turn pity into gratitude. That is one of the best pieces of advice I’ve been given in a long time. We always complain about wanting feelings of pity or depression to go away, but they won’t go away if you can’t replace them with something else. And if you try to replace them with something superficial (an idol, a person, a relationship), then you will keep going in the same cycle. Until your eyes are solely fixed on the Maker of the universe, you will continue to go through this constant cycle of “Get rid of this & replace it with this” until you are completely drained. It’s exhausting. And if you keep searching for mountaintops, you will also end up dry & frustrated, and that is a terrifying realization to come to. But Jenna, I want to be excited and lively and exhilarated all the time. Good. Luck. You will be empty, believe me, I’ve tried. Let God in. Let Him teach you how to live in the valley. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. Open your heart & He will enter. I think we’re so terrified to do this because we’re afraid we won’t recognize Him. Like Mary Magdalene, who thought He was a gardener. Or Thomas, who said, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.” And Jesus appeared to him saying, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” I hate that He seems so unrecognizable to us until something huge happens, and we think, Wow, of course Jesus is in the center of this. But He is in the center of it all the time & He should be. That is where He belongs.
We are afraid to give up control for fear that we won’t like the outcome. But the outcome is a mystery & that mystery is beautiful & that beauty is Jesus.
I hope you have a wonderful Monday & if you get a chance, listen to this spoken word. Wow. Wow. Wow. Her words will hit something in you that you didn’t even realize was there. Trust me on this one.
If I should have a daughter, instead of “Mom,” she’s gonna call me “Point B,” because that way she knows that no matter what happens, at least she can always find her way to me. And I’m going to paint solar systems on the backs of her hands so she has to learn the entire universe before she can say, “Oh, I know that like the back of my hand.” And she’s going to learn that this life will hit you hard in the face,wait for you to get back up just so it can kick you in the stomach. But getting the wind knocked out of you is the only way to remind your lungs how much they like the taste of air. There is hurt, here, that cannot be fixed by Band-Aids or poetry. So the first time she realizes that Wonder Woman isn’t coming,I’ll make sure she knows she doesn’t have to wear the cape all by herself because no matter how wide you stretch your fingers, your hands will always be too small to catch all the pain you want to heal.Believe me, I’ve tried. “And, baby,” I’ll tell her, don’t keep your nose up in the air like that. I know that trick; I’ve done it a million times. You’re just smelling for smoke so you can follow the trail back to a burning house, so you can find the boy who lost everything in the fire to see if you can save him. Or else find the boy who lit the fire in the first place, to see if you can change him.” But I know she will anyway,so instead I’ll always keep an extra supply of chocolate and rain boots nearby, because there is no heartbreak that chocolate can’t fix. Okay, there’s a few heartbreaks that chocolate can’t fix. But that’s what the rain boots are for, because rain will wash away everything, if you let it. I want her to look at the world through the underside of a glass-bottom boat, to look through a microscope at the galaxies that exist on the pinpoint of a human mind, because that’s the way my mom taught me. That there’ll be days like this. ♫ There’ll be days like this, my momma said. ♫ When you open your hands to catch and wind up with only blisters and bruises; when you step out of the phone booth and try to fly and the very people you want to save are the ones standing on your cape; when your boots will fill with rain, and you’ll be up to your knees in disappointment. And those are the very days you have all the more reason to say thank you. Because there’s nothing more beautiful than the way the ocean refuses to stop kissing the shoreline,no matter how many times it’s sent away. You will put the wind in winsome, lose some. You will put the star in starting over, and over. And no matter how many land mines erupt in a minute, be sure your mind lands on the beauty of this funny place called life. And yes, on a scale from one to over-trusting, I am pretty damn naive. But I want her to know that this world is made out of sugar. It can crumble so easily,but don’t be afraid to stick your tongue out and taste it. “Baby,” I’ll tell her, “remember, your momma is a worrier, and your poppa is a warrior, and you are the girl with small hands and big eyes who never stops asking for more.” Remember that good things come in threes and so do bad things. And always apologize when you’ve done something wrong, but don’t you ever apologize for the way your eyes refuse to stop shining. Your voice is small, but don’t ever stop singing. And when they finally hand you heartache, when they slip war and hatred under your door and offer you handouts on street-corners of cynicism and defeat, you tell them that they really ought to meet your mother. Sarah Kay.