We can do better.

“It’s sadly the most unoriginal hurt.” That quote was the one that stung me the most this week, when I watched an interview of a woman talking about her rape when she was a teenager. And I’ve continually heard the quote: “We can do better.”

And I’ve mostly heard that quote in relation to having Brett Kavanaugh sworn in, but I don’t believe it in relation to that. He’s in the Supreme Court, and that’s happened. I say, we can do better with the way we put light in these dark places. We can do better at supporting men and women who come forward with their stories of sexual assault. And when the man holding the highest position in all the land can stand before everyone, literally everyone in this nation because it was broadcast everywhere, and mock a sexual assault survivor, regardless of whether or not the man who assaulted her was who she claimed it to be, that is a hell of a shame. I wish I had a stronger word for that. It’s bullshit. It’s absolute bullshit.

You can disagree with me. That’s welcomed here. But I’d venture to say we live in a culture where it’s more normal to raise your voice and assert your self-righteousness than it is to actually do what’s right.

I think we need to step back and see both sides. Can you imagine, just for a second if there was a man in your life falsely accused of sexual assault? The hurt that would affect not just him, but would cause an earthquake in his life, affecting every person around him? I had a very humbling moment this past week where God gently but firmly reminded me that my idea of justice may not be God’s definition of justice, just like so often my definition of good is not God’s pure definition of good. I do believe in times like this, I think of two verses most, and I’m tearing up as I sit here and write this from bravery and from the pain this past week in the news has dredged up.

“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.” Genesis 50:20


I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten.” Joel 2:25

Let’s chat about this Genesis passage. It was really easy for me to sit through those hours of hearings and within the first few hours be filled with so so so much anger, what felt like righteous anger, when I listened to Dr. Ford testify. Someone has wronged her. Someone has traumatized her for the rest of her life. And that is heartbreaking. And it’s heartbreaking that we just throw around words like “trauma.” That is a pain I know very well. The anger also came when I found myself on Twitter, looking at the feed of the man who took advantage of me, seeing he stood in firm defense of Dr. Ford. Where the hell was that when I was being taken advantage of in high school?

And then I listened to Kavanaugh’s testimony, over and over again. If this isn’t the man that has assaulted her, his life is ruined. And yes, he was sworn in to sit on one of the most prestigious seats in the nation, but his family, the view his wife and his daughters and his parents and his cousins and his aunts and uncles have toward him, they are forever changed. So professionally, obviously his life isn’t ruined, but this may have ruined so many relationships for him. And relationships are our most valuable and safe space. And that breaks my heart.

I don’t blog about this as someone who has all it all together and knows exactly what they’re talking about when it comes to politics because I don’t. Take that in first, I don’t like politics. I don’t like the division and the hostility and the pain it causes during this season in our country. I don’t like the hatred it sows among us. I don’t come here to talk politics. I write because this has struck something in me. Maybe a hunger for justice and goodness, but mostly to tell a story of restoration that came from pain.

God’s heart might not be breaking because Brett Kavanaugh was sworn in this week, but it is breaking because of the hatred this has invoked for so many. What makes me really sad is people’s apathy when they assume they can’t do anything but this might be news to you, prayer works. It changes our hearts when we decide to choose love and communicate with God before we freak out and yell our political beliefs at people. Also, on another note, you have a voice, and it’s my prayer that you would use it for good. So please, freakin vote.

So right now in our current political climate, it doesn’t look good.

I’m choosing to believe that there are still things that God’s heart is breaking for, but what man meant for evil, God meant it for good, that there would be restoration and freedom for every sexual assault survivor who needed a voice. Men and women everywhere would be able to stand in solidarity and speak into the night that they too have been pained and mistreated in a way no person should ever have to endure. God’s voice is louder. His love is louder.

If you have an ounce of empathy running through your veins, you understand Dr. Ford. But you also understand Judge Kavanaugh. There is pain on both ends, whether from a false accusation or from a reckoning, I don’t know. And you don’t know either, let that humble you. But there is obviously pain.

So yes, I have to imagine how she felt when she ran from the room and locked the bathroom. While I might not have felt that panic after physical encounters with a man I thought cared for me, I can assure you that’s what I felt the day he turned and everything came undone.

I wasn’t prepared to think about it, though I knew I wanted to watch the hearings. I never thought I’d think about my past when listening to Dr. Ford and Kavanaugh speak on the alleged assault.

I want to challenge you with something though: take those verses and remember them as you navigate this week. You don’t know the aftermath this has caused for some people. You don’t know the pain. You don’t know the depth of the hurt. But you can choose to be kind and love the people in your sphere well and remember that you have the ability to use your voice for good.

And I have these two questions I had to sit back and ask myself, to humble myself when self-righteousness and “I know what’s best in this situation” crept in:

Why does this hurt me?

Why should it hurt you?

So when it comes to the phrase, “We can do better.” Yes, we can do better. Support the people around you with stories of sexual assault because we appear to live in a divided society when it comes to support. You can come out to find the love and support of family and friends, or you can come out to be told you’re not believed and should be silenced.

The choice isn’t whether or not you should come forward; you should. The choice is which person you will be when someone comes to you. And we get to say in this respect, we can do better.

Stop trying to yell louder, that your political opinions may be heard in anger. But instead, let us strive to shine light into dark places and show people their voices are heard. Let’s choose kindess instead of hate, and I don’t say that in some sort of happy-go-lucky way.

If I could speak to the man who took advantage of me in this moment right now, I would hope to speak forgiveness and kindness. It’s awkward to talk about. I still am not clear with the wrong, though I’ve heard the word victim spoken over me in those years. I wasn’t raped. I was taken advantage of. I was being used by a man twice my age and in authority over me to meet his physical and emotional demands, and I called it a relationship. Did he choose actions that ruined his life? Yes. Did he ask me to claim that responsibility? Yes. And did I for many years? Yes. And he gets to live with the ruin he’s caused. It’s not my job to bear his burden anymore.

And I don’t want to compare this situation to Dr. Ford’s but the reality is that our political climate forces many people to relive traumatic instances in their stories. And their stories are important. You can’t tell me they’re not. Our stories form the way we live our lives. My story has shaped the way I receive love, trust people, and receive physical affection. I know that for certain. And many people have learned other “for certain”s from their own stories, and you have no right to disregard those.

You can control your actions. You can vote. You can speak. You can love. You can sow kindness where there is hatred. You can do better.

We can do better.

I shoved the I-could-never’s away.

I stopped using the phrase, “I could never do that.”

And I’ve spent these past few weeks reflecting back on seasons of intense change, without even realizing it, because I happen to be in one right now. I’ll start with this “I could never do that,” though it was more of a whispered one to myself. I could never run that far. Each day, I’ve bumped up my mileage, the most recent being a 7.3 mile run and a 15.04 mile bike ride. I shoved the I-could-never’s away.

It’s therapy. And therapy looks different for everyone; hang that as a banner over this post. Some people need to sit on a couch and verbally process everything, and I’ve had seasons where that was true for me, but I’m not sitting in the center of that season anymore. Now, all it takes is a phone call to a person who knows me deeply, a very long run with a Dear Sugars podcast, and establishing a routine in these past few weeks of making coffee like a ritual and watching the Today Show from start to finish. Will that change in a couple weeks when I’m waking up at 5AM? Oh, for sure. But routine has been my grounded space.

And now I’m searching for the consistency in my relationship with God. I find Him in that morning coffee ritual and in the long runs and in spending intentional time with family. I find Him less by sitting and having quiet time for 2 hours every morning. I find Him in continuing to trust Him in a season of intense change, praying for wisdom and knowledge, not just relying on my own steps. It’s been made very clear to me that ultimately I do not have control over my future, which has been the scariest and most humbling thing. I stopped saying, “I could never do that,” after the Lord uprooted me and stuck me in Costa Rica for the summer.

I stopped saying I would never try ministry abroad again. I stopped thinking I would never go back into ministry. I stopped saying I would never move home. I stopped saying I would never run long distances again. I stopped searching. I stopped longing. I stopped trying to control. I decided to fix my eyes on Jesus. I focused on the things I did know to be true about this very moment I’m sitting in: I am who God calls me. I am going where He calls me. I am open to being used by Him. His love is proud to be seen with me. He is steadfast. He is light. He exposes darkness. He is secure. He is my bravery. He is my most important relationship.

Truth be told, I recently came out of a relationship that was very difficult. I’ll lay that out, plain and simple. I learned a lot about me, and I learned a lot about this other person that was hard to grapple with. And stepping into this season, instead of saying, “I could never do that,” when it comes to dating, I’ve felt God pushing my desires in a different direction, to dream and plan and explore on my own. I’m not going to sit here and saying, “Oh God no, I’ll never do that again because it was a terrible thing that broke little pieces of me,” but I will say, “Hey God, I don’t know what You’re doing, and I don’t know why the heck You allowed that to happen, but I’m going to trust You despite all of it.”

I do not feel a call to date or put myself in a position to learn and trust another person, and I do think this comes from that last little phrase. He is my most important relationship. Am I going to write it off completely? Of course not. But am I going to steer clear until I see a reason not to do that anymore? Absolutely. And some of that may be charged with fear, seeing relationships around me filled with darkness and hurt, but the other part of that truly does feel like a change in desire. In this season, I feel called to lean more deeply into God and keeping my eyes fixed on Him, praying that one day He’s going to bring me someone who I can walk alongside and continue to follow Him.

I think back to last summer when I was working at a camp in Mount Berry, GA, and there was a group of girls who would go out on the trails for one week of a two week session, and they would lead high school girls through the woods, teaching them the truth of God. And I remember multiple conversations with leaders in that group that ended with me saying, “Oh gosh, I just could never do that,” and they would always tell me, “Of course you can!” And when I think about the phrase I so often use (“I could never do that”), I think of those stories for some reason. I don’t believe that the reason I’m remembering that is because God wants me to pack up my belongings and head out to live in the woods for a while, but I do have reason to believe He’s calling me into a wilderness of learning what it looks like to trust Him when I can no longer be in control.

I got to talk with a sweet friend this week that I recently had the opportunity to reconnect with, and she said the more she thought about it, it was like I decided to take one step in faith and God unfolded the rest in front of me. And I started thinking about that one step and what it was, and I remembered. I quit a job that wasn’t going to allow me to go to my brother’s high school graduation, and I knew that honoring my family was the most important thing, and God honored that. Because I quit that job, I had the opportunity to go to Costa Rica and because I went to Costa Rica, I moved out of Rome and got a job in Atlanta, which then led to more opportunities than I could’ve ever imagined. I keep thinking about how God gives abundantly, even when our eyes are wandering all over the place. I kept looking and seeking and longing for all of these different things, but each time, a small whisper of God saying, “Hey, eyes right here,” and that focus changes everything. All of these opportunities and all of these plans unfolding right in front of my eyes are all Jesus, every single one of them.

So I’ll stop using phrases like, “I could never do that,” and words like, “Never.” Those are strict and limiting, and that’s just not who God is. And it may seem like a simple thing, just to change the words you use, but I believe it’s profound. If I would’ve let fear dictate this past season, I wouldn’t be able to sit here and write stories of God’s faithfulness in another country or in a season of intense change or in learning when to say enough or I deserve better. It’s good and sweet and rich, and I just wanted to place a mile marker down to say, “This moment. It’s a good one.”

For when I am weak.

Weak is one of those words I used to hate, but now it feels like a sort of peace offering. Using that word feels like some sort of Ebenezer in desperate moments where I can look back and say, “This. This is exactly where God showed up when I thought He never would even though He always does.” I can look down at where my feet are and who I’m talking to and what I’m holding in my hands and what emotions are running wild and remember where God has come through and reminded me of His steadfastness.

I’ve had to step away from this space for a while. I didn’t feel like the words coming out of me were genuine or deep or real, so I decided to press pause and come back when I felt ready. Every time I sat down to punch out some words, they were just really dry and, honestly, I hated them a lot. An author we had at Berry a year ago said that when you write your first book, you should put it in a drawer and never let anyone see it, and then publish the second book. That’s how I’ve been feeling about these posts. It was a bit of a mess for a while there, so I stepped back into journaling and forced myself to write and write and write until I didn’t have anything left, and that’s when it got better.

I realized I had to write a lot a lot a lot of crap to get at what was just sitting in a deep well of stale grief, moments I tried to take captive, and pieces of inexpressible joy that God wasn’t calling me to write words about but was helping me to just sit and experience without having to explain. I constantly got these little whispers of, “You don’t have to write this down. You don’t have to have the words for this moment. I just want you to be here and feel it all.” And if you know me, you know that feeling has never been a problem for me. Never, in bright, bold, neon, all caps letters, never. I’m a feeler, and I think it’s been such a gift that God has allowed me to sit in that part of myself for a bit.

I’ve pulled this tab open multiple times in the past couple months and haven’t had anything good to say. But these past few weeks, man, they’ve been ones filled with some really hard days and some days that were just filled to the brim with things to celebrate, and I need a mile marker now.

Life is full right now, like really full. In so many good ways, draining ways, and ways I’m having to learn more about. Every day, I wake up and I am inspired out of my mind, and I see God in so much. (Also, don’t read that as every day because there have certainly been days when I force myself into an early morning filled with darkness and not enough grace and honestly just waking up on the wrong side of the bed, but I’ve still been doing it, nonetheless). This is a new place for me because usually when things pick up and life gets a little too busy, I just miss Him. I miss all of these sweet moments because I like the rush of my brain and my body moving at a million miles an hour more than intimacy with God. I’m well acquainted with moving fast and less familiar with slowing down, and I know I’m not unique in saying that. But really cool things happen when we stop and invite God into the things we’re doing.

“Let us know; let us press on to know the LORD; his going out is sure as the dawn; he will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth.” // Hosea 6:3 ESV

But I will say this isn’t a season I’m familiar with. It’s not so much a transition as it is a season of learning how to be where I’m at when I know one of the biggest transitions of my life is sitting right in front of me. But I guess it’s wise to also not try and label this season like I do with every other one because God’s going to do whatever He’s going to do, and I want to be here for it. The moments are more valuable than any words I try to place on it, like I’ve gone over God’s head and can see perfectly what He’s doing. First admission: I can’t. I don’t know what He’s doing. And it’s sort of exhilarating. Trusting and waiting has never been fun for me, not a day in my life, but here we are, and I think I enjoy it.

I’ve seen God in a lot of the hard stuff, like a lot. I thought grieving was difficult, but nobody ever tells you what comes after the intense pain and shock. It’s a hell of a ride, and it’s months of having to sort out the things you thought were important and finding out they never were and how you should’ve just believed that God was good all along because it would’ve saved you from a lot of hurting. I’ve felt the Holy Spirit in the midst of fears I forgot existed. I’ve noticed Him in long, difficult walks of silence. I’ve seen Him in conflict and moments of frustration. And I’ve seen Him in all of these moments because I was so weak and so spent.

And I’ve seen Him in not knowing what I’m doing with my future, but I know who I’m going with, and that may be the cheesiest thing I’ve written in a long time, but my God, it is also the most true. I know who is walking before me and knows my fears but knows my days, and there is nothing better than knowing I get to do my days with Jesus. He is acquainted with all of my ways, and that is so reassuring when I don’t have anything else to be sure about. I get to meet him and splay out my fear on the dinner table in front of Him while I come back to my seat at the table because God isn’t afraid of our fears and asks us to come closer, especially in our moments of deep brokenness when we feel like we have absolutely nothing to offer.

So maybe I’m not going back to a place I had put all my hopes and dreams and plans inside of and maybe I’m learning what it looks like to stand up for what’s right and maybe I’m learning that doing what is right still has consequences because this world is so broken and maybe I’m about to pick up and move to a new city in three months and maybe that scares the absolute crap out of me, but there is nothing like it. There is nothing like stepping into a peace and confidence only the Lord can provide. That’s not something I found in between the pages of my journal, even though that’s where I desperately looked for it, like I had the words inside of me and somehow they were going to put everything back together again. That was never promised to me. And when I write that, I remember the Scripture that says, “He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” I am held together by a God who stands firm, and there is so much peace to be found in that one small statement.

This season of waiting is difficult, really waiting on the Lord to reveal pieces of future plans to me, and most days I’ve been able to accept that and rest in God, which is not a place I am familiar with. However, these days have also fallen to a lot of weaknesses I recognize in myself. I am very impatient with others. I often cannot muster up enough grace for myself. I work until I burn out. I put expectations on people they will never meet. I speak very quickly when I ought to listen. I put off hard conversations. I look at people through distorted lenses. I could make this list so so long, and I’m sure as I’m listing these faults in myself, some of these are identifying with you or you’re thinking of some of your own weaknesses too. And I am so weak, but I keep being reminded that I am giving all I have to offer to God.

Recognizing that all that I am is all I have to offer and that’s pleasing to God has been a really beautiful thing. That doesn’t mean I’m not still growing or looking to surround myself with people who will push me to be more of who the Lord created me to be, but it’s offered a new sort of acceptance of who I am and the ways God created me to operate.

And I think that time has certainly offered up moments for me to recognize my weaknesses and intentionally lay them before God. I find myself saying, “God, I cannot do this,” a lot these days, and I feel like He sort of laughs to Himself when those words leave my mouth or get lifted up in prayer. It’s as if He says, “Of course you can’t,” and that’s when I get to settle back into my weaknesses and look to Him who perfects everything. Because when I am weak.

then. Then I am strong in the One who has saved my seat at the table.