When you’re so in love with the world around you, it’s absolutely impossible to not see every thing and every person as absolutely, breathtakingly beautiful. That’s how I feel when I look at the people God has put around me.
In the past few weeks, I’ve noticed a tendency in myself to look for the fluffy words and keep looking for the busy and the beautiful, but I realize it’s because there are some pretty raw wounds sitting at the surface I just keep trying to forget about. I sat in the passenger seat of my mom’s van, and I thought, You should ask her what God’s trying to teach her right now, and then I wanted to hold back because I didn’t want her to ask me and there was this lump in my throat, knowing I should ask and not wanting to. This was my thought process at one stop sign, about 30 seconds. I finally spit it out, and she asked what He was teaching me, and I told her He was trying to teach me what forgiveness looks like. I keep trying to move and navigate my days like I’m avoiding Him and He’s standing on the other side of the door trying to knock and tell me, and I keep ignoring Him. I felt this lump in my throat as I talked to her about forgiveness and reconciliation, and I felt myself telling God I just didn’t want it. It would be easier to keep busy and ignore what He was trying to say and plan a concert and study for media law and write research papers and keep exploring creative writing and I didn’t want to know forgiveness because I knew I was going to have to feel some more pain in the process.
And if I stay busy, I don’t have to feel the hurt and pain of brokenness. I don’t have to think about the death of a friend’s mom, the weight of sin in other people’s lives, the pain of broken relationships, the hurt in not forgiving, the weight of my own sin, the tragedy of sickness in people’s lives around me, and I could honestly keep this list going for a while, but for the sake of my own sanity and yours, we’ll stop there. But that is what half of my brain has looked like for the past month. I have not figured out how to lay down other’s burdens at the foot of the cross, and I have not figured out how to be the oil rig. I have figured out how to stay busy and keep the hurt right below the surface, micromanage, and release the anger and hurt in writing and personal, dorm room concerts, singing at the top of my lungs for some sort of release.
And reading a lot helps with that, finding the release. Sometimes we get to go through seasons where we can’t find the perfect words to say or write, and other poets or novelists or journalists get to do that for us. I know I’m falling back in love with people in general, and I love that God has given me an eye to be super aware of the beauty in others right now. There’s a stanza in one of my favorite poems that says, “Be with me, darling, early and late. Smash glasses—, I will study wry music for your sake. For should your hands drop white and empty, All the toys of the world would break.” And it’s this whole poem about the things one man loves about one woman, and forget the fact that it’s romantic, but it shows me that there is something worth noticing in every person I encounter. And I love that.
If I could pinpoint a prayer for this time it would be:
Show me where I need to accept Your grace.
And to that He would say, you need to get lost in it. Drown in it. In a sermon one of my bosses gave about a month ago, she said, “We are made to be free, and we walk around with a lot of guilt,” and if that isn’t true, I don’t know what is. When we don’t fix our eyes on God and His grace and Truth, we can get lost in the crowd and swept up in the chaos and sin and confusion. I don’t truly believe that everything I have is in Him. I don’t truly believe that He has my best interests at heart. And I find it incredibly difficult to believe that He delights in me.
I think God is pulling me into a season where I get to sort through some of the past again, and I am so resistant to it that I just try to stay occupied, and I’m grasping at straws trying to do that because I don’t want to know pain right now even though I’m sitting in the middle of it. And don’t get me wrong, I am happy. I definitely wake up and feel discontent and dissatisfied some days, but I am happy. I know I’m doing what I love, and I know that I’m passionate about journalism and research and event planning, and I know these are things that fill me up. But that’s the thing: they are things. I am very grateful for them, but when it comes to community and loving people well, I have not been doing a great job at that. There were so many times in the past few weeks when I just wanted to put all of my relationships on hold and crawl into a dark tunnel of research for a few days and not have to exert that energy with people, but I know that’s not what God calls me to do.
I pushed through to last Friday and ended up in Ellijay with some of the best people I know, and God showed me the beauty in my relationships, and I am so grateful for those filling moments He has given me, whether it was studying with my roommate or walking through apple houses with some people who reflect His light so beautifully or sitting at home with my brothers or riding in the car with my mom and dad. Those are all very filling things for me, so I don’t want to disregard the good work He is doing in my life because that is so evident.
Right now, it’s like I’m wading through the ocean, sometimes it picks up and I’m tossed around and sometimes it’s this stillness that I get to learn how to navigate, but I’m wading around searching for that oil rig, something solid to grasp. And I would like to think that something solid to grasp is somewhere deep inside myself, but I know there’s something I’m missing. That is one thing I have felt a lot lately, I’m missing something.
I remember when I used to write everyday, and it was the best release in the world. And I know right now this is the most I’ve written in weeks because I know the truth may hurt and if I start writing, it’ll come out. I’m challenging myself, and publishing this because then the challenge is public, to actually sit down, read through Hosea, and write the things that are scaring me. Just writing that out terrifies me, so say a prayer. I know I’m going to do fine on the media law exam I have on Wednesday, and I know I’ll get the essay done that I need to, so I don’t need to make those excuses to not sit down and take care of myself. I think that’s what God is trying to teach me right now: how to take care of myself, mentally, physically, emotionally, all of the above.
This long weekend ought to have been a break, and I know I still have time to turn that around. Here’s to taking time to do laundry, clean the room, and lie in fresh sheets. Go on a long run in fall weather and write down the things that scare me.
It’s all going to be alright. Breathe for a minute. Open the folder of all the writing that inspires you. Read a few pieces. Sing a song at the top of your lungs that makes you feel every emotion. Read some things from when you were an angsty teenager. Open the windows. Only drink one cup of coffee today. Remember to breathe. Don’t read the news for a day. Turn off your phone. Take a deep breath. Be alone. You’re going to be okay.
“Sometimes you’re 23 and standing in the kitchen of your house making breakfast and brewing coffee and listening to music that for some reason is really getting to your heart. You’re just standing there thinking about going to work and picking up your dry cleaning. And also more exciting things like books you’re reading and trips you plan on taking and relationships that are springing into existence. Or fading from your memory, which is far less exciting. And suddenly you just don’t feel at home in your skin or in your house and you just want home but “Mom’s” probably wouldn’t feel like home anymore either. There used to be the comfort of a number in your phone and ears that listened every day and arms that were never for anyone else. But just to calm you down when you started feeling trapped in a five-minute period where nostalgia is too much and thoughts of this person you are feel foreign. When you realize that you’ll never be this young again but this is the first time you’ve ever been this old. When you can’t remember how you got from sixteen to here and all the same feel like sixteen is just as much of a stranger to you now. The song is over. The coffee’s done. You’re going to breath in and out. You’re going to be fine in about five minutes.” (something found in the depths of the inspirational writing folder on my old laptop – not mine)
And one more piece, just for fun, because this one’s a favorite:
My clumsiest dear, whose hands shipwreck vases,
At whose quick touch all glasses chip and ring,
Whose palms are bulls in china, burs in linen,
And have no cunning with any soft thing
Except all ill-at-ease fidgeting people:
The refugee uncertain at the door
You make at home; deftly you steady
The drunk clambering on his undulant floor.
Unpredictable dear, the taxi drivers’ terror,
Shrinking from far headlights pale as a dime
Yet leaping before apopleptic streetcars—
Misfit in any space. And never on time.
A wrench in clocks and the solar system. Only
With words and people and love you move at ease;
In traffic of wit expertly maneuver
And keep us, all devotion, at your knees.
Forgetting your coffee spreading on our flannel,
Your lipstick grinning on our coat,
So gaily in love’s unbreakable heaven
Our souls on glory of spilt bourbon float.
Be with me, darling, early and late. Smash glasses—
I will study wry music for your sake.
For should your hands drop white and empty
All the toys of the world would break.
// Love Poem by John Frederick Nims
And I think it’s important to remember that the road is long because we have to learn courage and people are fragile, so we must be careful with the way we use our words. Use your words for good, and remind the people around you of how beautiful they are. And I’m probably saying that because I’m feeling all whimsical this afternoon, but I also know that using our words for good is an art that seems to have been lost, so let’s find it again.