Be still and know that one day God is going to come and make all of the sad things come untrue.
I have never read Lord of the Rings, but when I hear those words (“Is everything sad going to come untrue?”) there’s something that wells up inside of me that gives me hope, even in this season of doubt. When you doubt and feel far from God, like continents away, you may be starkly aware of the brokenness in the world. The brokenness is a closer companion than God, and that hurts.
Man, it’s been almost 2 months. Hello, I’m sorry I’ve taken a long vacation from this corner of the internet (one day I’ll stop apologizing when it’s been too long, but today is not that day…sorry). Sometimes I forget that the doubt, or even just the exact place where I’m standing, is what qualifies me to be a follower of Christ. And I’m unsure of how I can continue to say that. I have not been following Him lately. I had this really awkward, feeble attempt at prayer a few mornings ago. It sort of felt like that moment in middle school when you dropped your tray and your lunch went flying, and that embarrassing, awkward moment is engrained in your mind so intensely. That was the awkwardness that was sitting down for prayer.
I came into the office early, started the coffee (that sacred moment I mentioned in the last post), and sat down on the couch, only the glow of Christmas lights illuminating the room, and I started to talk. Most of it felt like talking to air, but there were a couple moments when I felt it might matter.
Those are words that will make you question everything, but in the productive, good way, not just the downward spiral of wasted time and doubt and hurt. It makes you remember the times when you knew it was real. The moment you knew you believed in God and you knew that this was the realest thing you had ever known, and you could never believe in nothing ever again because of this very moment you stood in. And on the days I remember, I’ve felt myself asking the question: “Is this real or is this nothing?” And then I see a sunset or have a conversation that blows my mind. I think in the past week, my how are you‘s have been the most real and intentional question I’ve ever asked. I asked it and meant it and found God in the midst of it. The people who draw you nearer to Him are the people you need around.
I’ve turned a lot to poetry, and that’s a pretty new thing. I took a creative writing course this past semester, and I imagined I would have to drag myself through the poetry portion, and I’m not sure why. I love spoken word and poems. I don’t know where the distaste came from, but it went away rather quickly. I had a piece published in our school’s lit magazine, and it sort of refueled that deep need for creative outlets. And writing poetry was one thing I never imagined would draw me nearer to God. He taught me a lot about love this semester, and not my idea of love, but that love He wants us to know about. I have learned to fall in love with life again and with a bunch of different people in it, and that’s what this is about.
I’m learning how to fall
in love with people all over again.
Full hugs and day dreams
of your boots off at the end of the day,
the ones for hiking and house church
taken off by our front door or the foot
of our bed, and thank you
for getting my coffee and comedic relief.
Conversations about your habits and
routines, try showering backwards
or putting your shirt on last instead of
first, so we’re not standing in our underwear.
I’m in love with the space
you take up, the way you thumb through
pages and open books at the place
where the bookmark is tucked,
between pages I get to remember.
Warm feelings like only my feet tucked
beneath a blanket, and taste
the richness of God’s character
in the way you tuck love letters
between your promises and prayers.
The passion that drips from
every pep talk you sit me down for,
much like the golden hour floods
every part of a person’s design.
Your belly laughs and your swing
dancing over my clumsy feet.
And today I can’t wait
to grow old with someone and let them
call me honey every morning and separate
the newspaper just to share.
I’ll read the joys and the sorrows,
you’ll know I feel it all and hold my hand
on the down days and the in-betweens.
We’ll sip our tea with honey,
my coffee with no cream or sugar,
your buttoned up shirt kisses
my shoulders, my feet draped over.
Knowing that you are my best
friend and to know you is to love
you, and I can use that word
confidently because I finally know what it means.
There was a point this summer when I was the rawest emotionally I had ever been, and I also felt the closest to God I had ever felt before. There was a lot of honesty (a painful amount, actually) and I lot of peeling back layers of what was going on in my brain and in my heart. It’s the scariest and most liberating thing in the world to tell someone the feelings you actually feel and the thoughts that go through your mind, you never anticipated sharing. I think that’s why I felt so close. And in the last few months, I have managed to slowly pull the layers back on, like ginormous coats. I have made myself comfortable in hiding the dark parts of me so far below the surface. I am not undone. I am not vulnerable. I am not raw. But I have constructed it that way.
The beautiful thing about God though is that He intends to do beautiful things with us, even when we don’t want to realize it or recognize it. There are a lot of scary and messy things that have happened in the past year, or even few years. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by all that crap, but it’s hard to stop and see the beauty God provides on a daily basis. It’s sort of like you have to learn how to rewire your brain.
I sat in the car for a very long time yesterday, coming home from a funeral in South Georgia, and my heart just ached. We will never know why certain things happen. And even in doubt, I can understand that we find all of our yeses in Jesus. There is certainty in the character of Jesus. I know that there is supposed to be certainty in the character of Jesus. And how in the world do you navigate a season where the Savior of the world came to rescue and deliver us when you put on clothes of doubt every day? You might be under the impression that this sentence was supposed to answer that question, but that is a serious question I don’t have an answer to.
O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory. Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you. So I will bless you as long as I live; in your name I will lift up my hands. My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips, when I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night; for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy. My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me. Psalm 63:1-8
I think we tend to forget that we weren’t created for pain management and we were created to lay our pain down at the feet of God, knowing that He fully intends to make something beautiful out of us, including our pain. You’re not alone in that, I like to think through my plan of action as well. Something bad happens, I’ll cry, I’ll write about it, and speak a few words out loud, maybe listen to some sad music to speed up the grieving process. And it doesn’t work that way. Whether you’re grieving the loss of an idea, a relationship, or a person, there is room for you at the feet of God. He has brought His Kingdom here in the person of Jesus, something He has invited us into, beckoning us to Him. What better season to submit and receive that invitation.
Highlights of the semester: Developing a voice in my writing (or discovering that I had done that). NEEDTOBREATHE concert. Media Law (I came to love this subject more than I would’ve ever imagined).
Things I’m working on: Two words. 365 video. A few seconds of video every single day for the entirety of 2016. Oh yeah, be on the lookout.
Things I’m loving: Reading. SO much. I haven’t read this much since this summer. I’d pick a book over Grey’s Anatomy now, and that’s a big deal.
Things I’m reading: Harry Potter. Bird by Bird. (still skimming) A Million Little Ways. All the poetry I can get my hands on. The New York Times.
Things I’m learning: See people.
Beautiful words I found:
you were a writer
pen to paper.
just because you were not writing
does not mean you were not writing
internally.” Nayyirah Waheed.
“she asked ‘you are in love, what does love look like’ to which i replied ‘like everything i’ve ever lost come back to me.” Nayyirah Waheed.
“And love grew, stretched like a trampoline.
Love changed. Love disappeared,
Slowly, like baby teeth, losing parts of me I thought I needed.
Love vanished like an amateur magician, and everyone could see the trapdoor but me.
Like a flat tire, there were other places I planned on going, but my plans didn’t matter.
Love stayed away for years, and when love finally reappeared, I barely recognized him.
Love smelt different now, had darker eyes, a broader back, love came with freckles I didn’t recognize.
New birthmarks, a softer voice.
Now there were new sleeping patterns, new favorite books.
Love had songs that reminded him of someone else, songs love didn’t like to listen to. So did I.” Sarah Kay.
I grew up in a very crazy, loud, hectic, exciting household, and I remember growing up my parents would tell me, “One day you’re going to miss this.” And I always said no way, I love my quiet time, I will not miss this. Especially preparing to go to college, I thought, I cannot wait for peace and quiet. It took me 2 and a half years, but last night I was sitting at our packed kitchen table, the one we have to pull extra chairs around, and my heart was swelling. It had been an emotionally-draining day, and I just sat there, so satisfied and grateful and full of joy. I really did miss this. And my brothers probably would have found it strange for me to pull each of their faces into my hands and tell them I loved them, but I think that was the only thing that could have sufficed in the way my heart was exploding in those moments.
We were created to live in these moments of joy, fully understanding the beauty around us and experiencing the joy set before us. I do know that. I felt pieces of my heart loosen up tonight when I sat in a coffee shop I went to regularly in high school and listened to the words, I lean not on my own understanding, my life is in the hands of the Maker of Heaven. I give it all to you God, trusting that You’ll make something beautiful out of me. I will climb this mountain with my hands wide open. There’s nothing I hold on to.
I hope today you make the best cup of coffee you’ve ever made, and despite the pain and hurt and brokenness, you get to drink deep of the world. There’s a lot of pain and hurt and brokenness in the world, and you’ll drive yourself mad trying to make sense of it. Try to see people today. If you do nothing else, try to really see the people around you. It’s easy to be busy. It’s easy to make it to the end of the day. It’s the hardest thing in the world to really see people and keep your hands wide open. That’s the beauty.
Stay tuned for a 365 video and some more poetry.