Nature

I am completely lost, and I mean that literally, not in the sense of not knowing where my life or my soul is going. I mean, I don’t entirely know where my life is going, but you’re not supposed to, I think. It’s just one of those things. I’m lost a lot though, literally and metaphorically (if that’s even the right word). It’s in my nature, I guess.

Being lost is usually something I would spend time writing about. I do that a lot – write about what I don’t know rather than what I do. Because, frankly, the rule “write what you know” is stupid to even exist and maybe writing about all the things I don’t know will help me understand them. Usually that’s the order my mind goes: Question. Write. Understand.

But sometimes there are things I do understand first. And I have to write them anyway, as a reminder for myself but also for you, dear friend, because I want you to understand them as well.

So, for once, here’s what I know:

I know that the people I’ve seen around here have a purpose – the man walking his dog, the police officers ticketing cars, the women kissing on the street corner. We’re all loved, we’re all here. I know that we’re all offered, given rather, grace. And we all have a habit of using too many unnecessary words to confuse that, but it really is that simple.

We’ve confused a lot.

I recently listened to a man speak about heaven and salvation and it should have been good, but it was disappointing at best. He shared about a man who had recently passed, someone who had chosen Jesus as his savior. And he questioned the man’s salvation because there were some sins he just couldn’t fight off.

I watched as people’s hearts streamed out of their eyes, as they questioned their own salvation. because they didn’t do this or they did do that. But that’s the point of having a savior, we don’t have to be perfect. He isn’t a question, He’s an answer.

Because we all get swept up in battle grounds and sometimes we’re soldiers and sometimes, more often, we’re civilians. We watch the explosions, the breaking of souls – our own at first, and then others, because we don’t always know what else to do. We let ourselves be mended and we can rest in that.

Because this is what I know:

It is impossible for our souls to re-break. You cannot be unsaved.

I found a bench to sit on while I wait. I’ll watch the world around me and I’ll think of the ways I work with it and I’ll know that I am more than that.

Because, while I’m lost a lot, I’m always found. It’s in my nature, I guess.

And that is not up for debate.

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On How I Imagine Water

I don’t know why but I always imagined the ocean to be smooth. I always pictured the shore consistently being washed by the tide and then drying as it left. There were waves in my image, yes, but they were calm, peaceful. Long before I even imagined any of it, water has been a symbol of hope, of love, of cleanliness, the washing away of all that stains our broken hearts.

 

But it isn’t always smooth. It isn’t always consistent and it isn’t always calm. And it terrifies me to no end. I always loved water, the kind in pools and lakes, rivers and raindrops, filling my cup, but I hate the ocean. It’s rough and unpredictable and exciting and I hate it. I want peace that doesn’t come with so many waves. I want to imagine that I don’t need that much water.

 

My life flipped upside down a few months ago. I felt as though all of that water was being poured over me all at once. I can be reminded over and over that it was for my own good, and it was. I can feel joy and happiness about what it brought me. But I refuse to be happy about the way it was poured. I go back to that day in my head all the time and I remind myself that the one dunking me in the water did it with good intentions and I like to think that her words didn’t hurt, but they did. And I’m done lying to myself about that.

 

But still, the water washed over my mind and it was thick, like paint, leaving markings of hope and love. It’s like instead of taking things away like I always imagine water to do, it’s putting more on me. It’s better but if I’m being honest, I hardly notice it. It’s made me admit a lot about myself to myself, things I always knew but imagined I could keep hidden. I never expected the water to wash all of that to shore.

 

Maybe that’s how it’s supposed to be. Maybe that is peace or the start of it anyway. It’s not the taking away of the old and unwanted, but bringing in the new and needed. I don’t know, but I do know that it is good. It is everything I imagined it to be and everything I didn’t. It is both calm and rough, both consistent and unpredictable. Water drowns us, but it also quenches thirst.

 

And as much as I hate to admit it, it is good.

Happily Ever After

The Old Testament ends with a promise, one that I needed so deeply to hear today, in a passage in Malachi that feeds my soul like no other.

“I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the Lord Almighty.

This promise is foretold. That’s the thing about promises – we desire them before we even know of them, like the small who doesn’t know he wants ice cream until he hears Do Your Ears Hang Low? playing in the distance. This is the promise that created us.

But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap.

This promise is truth. We all want to say we’d be that person, the one who would be able to stand. I believe we also want to admit that we wouldn’t be able to, because who stands when the earth is trembling under their feet, but we would be lying if we said that sin didn’t run deep through our veins.

He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver.

This promise is ours. It defines every strand of our very souls. This is His gift to us, not only to give us treasures, but to make us into one. And so He came down to us, not only to live at our level, but to push us up to His.

Then the Lord will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness, and the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be acceptable to the Lord, as in days gone by, as in former years.”

This promise is our offering, our ultimate sacrifice. It is the sacrifice He poured out for us, so we wouldn’t have to. It is Him giving us an offering that will never fail. It is Him turning us toward Him and teaching us how to run.

So I will come to put you on trial. I will be quick to testify against sorcerers, adulterers and perjurers, against those who defraud laborers of their wages, who oppress the widows and the fatherless, and deprive the foreigners among you of justice, but do not fear me,” says the Lord Almighty.

This promise is courage. it is the way we are able to stand when we have the weight of a thousand stones sitting on our shoulders. It is the way He makes our eyes sparkle, like newlyweds sharing their first kiss. It is the way we dance when standing still would be so much easier. This promise is a story given to us by the Writer of the Story of all stories. And as happily ever after has followed me throughout playgrounds and freeways, throughout crowded trampolines and lonely beds, I have learned that all the best stories end with a beginning. This story ends with life abundant; it ends with a love like no other. This promise is our happily ever after: Amen.

 

Baby Names

Most days I’m content to just let the future be. I know that my future has been planned, every detail of it, so I don’t have to worry, but then there are days like today when I sit on Pinterest designing a nursery for a baby who may never exist and I’m suddenly worried it will never happen. Yesterday I didn’t care, but that’s the thing about worry. It doesn’t care about your past or lessons learned, it’s only there to eat away at whatever peace and trust you still cling to. It rots, destroys from the inside out, but there is Hope and that begins by saying this: For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

If I should ever have a daughter, I’d like to call her Esther, so that she may be a star that points to the Heavens. And I’d want her to experience the depth of the King’s guidance, to follow the light of a star much brighter than her own. But when I think about the possibility of something so important being entrusted to me by its very creator, I am petrified. Worry will always come back. It’s at the root of my sin, my deepest struggle. I worry I can’t do this thing called life on my own, and I can’t, but Hope continues: Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.

If I should ever have a daughter, I’d like to caller her Eden, so that she may learn of Perfection. I’d want her to know, to always know, what it’s like to have the Giver of Life breathe into her. I’d want her to know what it’s like to look to Him for comfort when she stresses like I know she will. As much as I want to pass on my faith, I know that sin is inherited, too. I am learning to trust, however, that Hope is stronger than fear and it continues: You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

If I should ever have a daughter I’d like to call her Eve, not so she would be stuck in hiding but so she could know what it’s like to be found. She’ll experience insecurity, she’s my daughter after all, but she’s His even more so. He’ll find her as He found me. She will experience imprisonment, she will know what it is to be broken. But Hope will continue and she will experience freedom and redemption: I will be found by you and will bring you back from captivity.

I plan. I worry because I forget I don’t have to. I either trust or I dream and I’m learning that it’s okay to do both. Before I should ever have a daughter I’d like to learn to call myself these things, always and forever. If I should pass on Hope and Love, I pray I’d pass them together. I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.

If I should ever have a daughter I’d like to call her His, but first, that’s what I’ll call myself.

The Beginning

I don’t know what it is about starting that makes me freeze, but the beginning of something is always the hardest for me. I do know, however, what I want to get out of this.

I want growth. I want to experience something new. I want to change, to become more like Him, the writer of all beginnings.

I want peace. I want to be comforted on this journey. I want to see His control in all things.

I want community. I want to see active joy in the lives of others. I want to love like He loves.

I want to see. I want to look into the world and find my Savior. I want this month to be my Esther, to reflect the gifts of my Savior, as He says “When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.”

I want this to be a leap of faith. I want to take chances. I want to trust Him completely.

This is my prayer for the month. I’m starting simple, because I really don’t know how to start. But I’m trusting Him to use this month to His advantage. I’m trusting Him to help me grow in a way that is encouraging to others, in a way that points others to Him because if I’m being honest, I need that, and if I’m also being a bit blunt, so do you.

So here’s to reflection. Here’s to vulnerability. Here’s to nerves and getting them out of the way. I don’t exactly know what this journey will entail, but I hope you’ll join me on it anyway. Maybe we’ll learn something together.

Here’s to Blogging Every Day in April.

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“The Bible” when translated from its original Greek literally means “The Books.” These are the books, the ultimate books, the ones that define the heavens, the earth, and everything in between. These are the books that define me, that have my name written between the lines because they were written for me. These are the books that, together, make up the ultimate love letter. I can’t imagine better words; I don’t know why I ever tried.

I don’t strive to even touch the beauty of the words that reside in that love letter, but I dream of God taking my hand and using it to build worlds. I want to write something that matters. And there was a period of my life when that was all I wanted to do. I loved writing and I got a lot of praise for it; it was just good. I auditioned for a creative writing program in my city. Long story short, I didn’t get in. And that was it, I was done. The negative thoughts began to creep in.

I am a failure.

Why did I think I would be good at something? It didn’t matter that, for years, people had told me my writing was good. It didn’t even matter that I had liked my writing before this point. That one rejection letter was a tangible reminder that I had failed. It didn’t matter that I had pretty much no control over the situation.

Abram’s wife, Sarai, tried for years to give him children. It wasn’t until she was ninety years old when God finally told them that she would bear a son. And she laughed. I imagine it was, at least somewhat, a nervous laughter. It was too late. And I imagine that she had shared my negative thoughts all those years in between.

I am a failure.

I based a lot of my value on the things I can’t control.

I had writer’s block for the next four years. I would take pen to paper, I would stare at it for a couple minutes, and I would leave it blank. I had lost my ability to even try and it was absolutely ridiculous. Staring at blank journal after blank journal – the ones that lined my desk because people thought I would use them – I looked into my inability to try and there it was again.

I am a failure. I think I’ll always kind of regret those blank years.

When Abram took his wife with him to Egypt he made her tell the Egyptians that she was his sister. Pharaoh took her to be his wife and when he realized what Abram had done he sent them away. At this point, if Abram and I were anything alike, he would have thought about how stupid he had been. And he, too, would have shared my negativity.

I am a failure.

I based a lot of my value on my mistakes.

When I finally could actually think of words, I wrote them down. But it wasn’t the same. I couldn’t share these words. If people read them, surely they would also realize I had failed. I have journals – a lot of journals – filled with thoughts that will never be shared, locked away by my fears. The same fears that accompany the negativity that has haunted me all these years.

I am a failure.

When Peter started to, by the grace of God, walk on water, he got scared and started to sink. He had one simple task, Take courage! Do not be afraid. But he wasn’t able to rid himself of the fear that comes from trying to remain in control. I imagine that after this experience Peter thought about renaming himself Simon because I imagine that he, at least for a minute, also shared my negative thoughts.

I am a failure.

I based a lot of my value on my fears.

But I am not defined by my struggles, my mistakes, or my fears. I am not defined by my failures. I am not defined by the pain of this world, but by the Kingdom that is coming down to it. And it’s that Kingdom that is helping me trade out those old thoughts for new ones.

I am loved.

I am beautiful.

I am worthy.

I am His.

There’s a lot I still don’t know. I don’t know why one letter held the ability to knock me down so far. I don’t know why I can’t do some things. I don’t know why I still have fear lingering in my mind, just waiting to attack. I still don’t completely know all of whatever lesson I was supposed to learn from all this.

God renamed all of them – Abram, Sarai, and Simon [Peter.] He redefined them according to what he saw in them. And he’s doing the same for me. There’s no turning back, even if I don’t exactly know what it will do to me.

I don’t know my name, but right now, that’s okay.

 

Blue

I have an unwanted talent of making everything way more complicated than it needs to be.

I don’t understand Abram. I don’t understand how he was able to make the things that are so complicated for me seem so simple.

The Lord had said to Abram, “Go…” So Abram went.

That’s it. The Lord had said to Abram “Go,” so Abram went. He didn’t stop to pray about it or ask God if He is sure.

I can’t decide what color the sky is. I have this need to choose a specific shade of blue, as though it’s even my decision to make.

I’ve always been a little colorblind.

I am jealous of Abram. It doesn’t feel right. It stings my soul and it terrifies me, not because it turns me into someone I’m not, but because it shows who I am in my most broken state.

God says “Go,” so I stop. I look up at Him and plead “Are you sure?”

Go. But will you be there?

Go. But will you remember?

I have set my rainbow in the clouds.

A rainbow could not be a rainbow without all of the colors. It’s big and bright and always just out of reach. And when God set the rainbow in the sky that was life. It was big and bright and always just out of reach. We took away some of its colors – all of its colors – until it ceased to be a rainbow.

When God set the rainbow in the sky He promised to remember us. He will remember; I will forget.

I’ll look at the rainbow God has given me and I’ll take it. For a while I’ll try to keep it safe, but then I’ll let it get ripped apart. I’ll strip it of its color, of its beauty. That precious rainbow will be no more, murdered at my hand, and I will always need my Daddy to put it back together. The rainbow can’t be trusted in my hands.

When it breaks, I break. When its colors are stripped, so are mine. The rainbow cannot be when I am the one attempting to place it in the sky. That’s why I need You.

I need You to recognize the difference between who I was and who I am. I won’t always see it.

I need You because You know who I am and I don’t.

I need You because you love me when I don’t even understand what love means.

I need You because I have no words and you write them for me.

I need You because I will always forget and You will always remember.

I need You to paint the sky with your majesty. I need You to paint me like I never could.

I’ve always been a little colorblind.