And I knew that in those moments, that’s what it felt like to love people from the depths of my soul. Deep-belly laughs & endless cups of coffee & hand holding. This was the stuff of life. This was what I missed. Somewhere between the calligraphy & painting on a bulletin board in Morgan & the running errands with these two inspiring people & singing High School Musical & drinking amaretto lattes & being weird with my roommate & reconnecting with people I haven’t seen for a month, I was reminded how gracious of a God we serve. If these past 3 days signify the way this semester will go, hit me with your best shot, God. I am so ready & so excited & He is so good.
“There is no one you cannot love after hearing their story.”
I had the opportunity to share my story with some friends this week. The entire thing. Start to finish. Darkness & all. Everything came out. And they told me their stories & it was so beautiful. And I realized that there is no stronger connection you get than when you share parts of your heart with people you’re in community with. It was like I told this story & God comforted me with their stories and the connections we shared through them. I thought it was such an awesome coincidence, and then I thought, “Jenna, God doesn’t do coincidences. God does mystery. And beauty. And it’s all planned. All of it. God knows no surprises.”
And then I found myself in Swift (surprise) talking to one of the greatest & wisest & kindest girls I have met at Berry, and she was telling me about her epiphany at home over the holidays. “What is love? Like I just don’t get it. And then I got it while I was watching Mockingjay.” And I was confused. But then she told me about love & not just the romantic stuff. She thought of the foundation of love from her parents & how they showed her what that looked like. And she told me about her past relationships & the realization of the guy she was in love with & how she knew that was what love felt like. That made her even more excited for her future husband. Just imagine how he’s going to love me if that’s what I already felt when I was in love. And I don’t mean this in the lovey-dovey, obsessive, weirdo-girl-always-thinking-about-boys way, but how awesome is that to think about? Think about all of the people you’ve crushed on or thought you were in love with & how you felt when you were with them, and now think, “Whoa. God has even more than that in store for me.” Did that just blow your mind? Yes. Yes. Yes.
“When the fire takes all you have, my home will be your home. When you are old and can no longer remember my face, I will meet you for the first time again and again. When they make fun of your accent, I will take you swimming because we all sound the same underwater. When Ellis Island tries to erase your past, I will call you by your real name. When they call your number for the draft, I will enlist to fight beside you. And I will march with you from Selma to Montgomery and back as many times as it takes. We will stand together against the hoses and the dogs – because it didn’t start with us. It started with Lennon and McCartney. It started with Thelma and Louise. It started with Winnie-the-Pooh and Christopher Robin. Bert and Ernie! Abbott and Costello! Rosencrantz and Guildenstern! Mario and Luigi! Watson and Sherlock! Pikachu and Charizard! And they could tell you what a miracle this is. They could tell you how rare this is. But they could tell you how rare friendship always is. The chances are slim. The cards are always stacked against you, the odds are always low. But I have seen the best of you, and the worst of you, and I choose both. I want to share every single one of your sunshines and save some for later. I will tuck them into my pockets so I can give them back to you when the rains fall hard. Friend – I want to be the mirror that reminds you to love yourself. I want to be air in your lungs that reminds you to breathe easy. When the walls come down – when the thunder rumbles – when nobody else is home, hold my hand – and I promise – I won’t let go.” That’s community. These people, God put them into your life because they choose both (watch this video & let it rock your world).
Random fact: when I get inspired, it’s always because of the Lord & many spoken word videos & incredible photography & reminiscing on beautiful moments with special people. And all of these things collide & an explosion just goes off in my heart. And the result is something like these blog posts. And I usually end up jumping up & down a few times & singing & dancing (& spilling Passion tea all over my quilt because I got way too excited about the way some words sounded together) & then I finish writing. And it’s a beautiful explosion & the words can only be described as of the Lord. He just gets it & He gives me the words that make my heart soar. And somehow, other people read it & they get it too. And that’s ANOTHER way God helps us make connections. You & me, feeling the same way, and I have finally figured out different ways to articulate bits & pieces of God’s story. And that makes me feel blessed & beautiful, that He would allow me to describe these feelings & His story to His people.
He keeps your relationships in mind. There isn’t one person in your life that is not there for a purpose & by the grace of God. He knows the fruit that will come from these relationships. He knows the plans. He knows your stories & how they connect. He knows no surprises. How beautiful is that? Nothing is a surprise to Him. He knows no curveballs. Gosh, He is so good. He knows the ways that life is going to hit you & slam you to the ground. And He equips you to come back from that. He is healer. And He gives you these people & this community. And at some points in your life, you may feel alone, but in those moments & seasons where He provides community, oh my, embrace it. Dance in it & soak it in because there are these people who will catch you when you fall & dry your tears & be a shoulder & live these stories with you. These people will KNOW you. And to be KNOWN is such a BEAUTIFUL THING. And you get to be mature & immature & naive & brilliant & ambitious with them. And they will UNDERSTAND you. What a beautiful thing to know that people GET IT. These people you do life with, THEY GET IT. And God, HE GETS IT. He’s written it. He’s watched it. And He’s lived it.
Let us become more aware of Your presence. Let us experience the glory of Your goodness.
“I want to be the mirror that reminds you to love yourself.” I heard those words & oh gosh, I came UNDONE. If you can be that person for another person…I wish I had the words for that. I wish I knew what it meant to teach other people to love themselves because that is so beautiful & important & unraveling. Crippling, even. Loving others so that they love themselves. What a concept. And I challenge you to lean into that this week. Relearn what it means to love yourself so that you can love people who can then love themselves. It’s a lot, but it’s just a start. Relearn respect & honesty & beauty, in the rawest form. Learn to be the mirror that reminds people to love themselves. Wow.