I’ll Tell Him That He Didn’t Fight These Last Few Years Alone

The smell of stale coffee always reminds me of a man I met on a flight bound for Seattle.

He wore a navy blue hoodie and dark framed glasses. He crossed his chest in prayer before we lifted off and touched the ground.

When I saw him again three days later boarding the same flight as me I will never forget the same look of wonder and astonishment we shared. What were the chances that two complete strangers would book the exact same flights and sit so close together?

I wish that the story was more profound than it is. But mostly we just stuck close together out of familiarity and then kind of shook our heads in speechless amazement when we said goodbye at the gate.

But sometimes I think of him and I wonder how he is. I wonder if he still prays, if he still watches Oscar nominated pictures. I think about him because in that moment and time we were two humans who banded together out of what seemed to be a coincidence of circumstance. We knew each other more than we knew anyone else on that plane (which wasn’t saying much because we didn’t know each other at all). But it’s amazing that one previous encounter tied us to each other just a little bit, just enough to make us closer than an absolute stranger.

I still think about him when I’m in an airport or when I tell stories about weird things that have happened to me on planes. I think of him, I smile, and I pray for him. I can’t help but think about how crazy that is, that a chance encounter made him the object of another person’s prayers. I wonder about the people that I’ve bumped into at banks or met in the line at grocery stores…maybe sometimes they pray for me.

Maybe there’s a woman with big green eyes who met me at a cinema. Maybe she sometimes laughs at the girl with the southern accent and sends up a prayer for her when she smells buttered popcorn.

I’ve started to wonder about these kinds of people, the people that sometimes waft back through my memories. Maybe they’re the people that God puts in front of us because somewhere, in their corner of the universe, they’re fighting a battle and thinking that they have always been just a face in an airport that no one ever remembered.

Maybe the things we notice and the people we remember are branded on us for a reason that far extends the moment we know them or the amount of time we interact with them. Maybe the reason God gave us a memory was to fight the lies someone is believing that say there is nothing special about them, nothing that makes them stick around in a heart years after a plane landed.

We love in a movie when someone remembers what the other was wearing the first time they met. We love the little details, the little tokens someone held onto from a first date. But we don’t always value the memories we store for the people we might never see again.

Years ago I started realizing that there must be more to the impressions people make on our lives; because our mind’s ability to store these random memories has to be for a bigger purpose than just sitting inside of our heads.

Maybe it’s not just strangers, but maybe it’s the girl who sat next to us in third grade or the co-worker we had in high school. The people who were for a brief time in a world, but somehow still manage to come bouncing through our memory from time to time; the ones that give us this slightly inexplicable feeling that they’re tied to us as more than just a random person we once knew.

Someday I hope that I board a flight to Seattle and he’s there. It seems improbable, but I won’t say impossible because we managed to find the same plane twice in our lives. And if he is, and if we do, I’ll tell him that he didn’t fight these last few years alone. I’ll make a toast with stale airplane coffee to praying for strangers and knowing that God gave us a mind and a heart that stores things for greater and bigger purposes than we’ll probably ever fully know.

 

 

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Breaking Up + Building Home

I just got back from Georgia and it felt a lot like seeing an ex for the first time since a break-up.

It was all the nervous tension and trying to figure out how to act and how to feel. At first it was this bittersweet mix of formality and familiarity. We’re used to do everything together, but it’s been a while and everything is different now.

I lived there for two years and made that place my home. It’s comfortable and easy. It’s laughter and inside jokes. It’s not having to tell the back-story or swim through all the surface stuff.

I miss being known and knowing where I belong. I miss being pulled into a hug and held there. I miss someone just showing up at my door. I miss someone reading my thoughts from across the room. I miss the things that took so much time to build.

It’s hard coming back to that.

You’ve moved on, and you know it was the right thing to do. But when things ended on good terms, you can easily fall back into those conversations and into finishing each others sentences. Then it just gets painful. Life, time and geography tell you that you can’t sit next to each other anymore.

And let me tell you, Georgia looked good. He looked real good. His build was strong and his hair was perfect. His green eyes were playful, he wore a well tailored suit, and brought a lot of sunshine and memories of some of my favorite times in my life. He was confident and steady.

As for me, I was a mess. I was not what you imagine or hope to be when you run into that former love. I was not a glamorous picture of success with perfect windblown hair and a five year plan. I was a sleep-deprived mess of a woman who had just lived out her own real life SNL skit involving a flat tire and three police officers.

For some reason, I came packed with the worst of my wardrobe. My skin was freaking out. I was stuffing my face with Skittles and Goldfish (which I guess could explain the skin issue). I was also trying to plan out speaking in front of people and how to finish assignments that felt like a foreign language.

Still, Georgia was inviting. He still knew how to make me laugh and took me to my favorite restaurants. He knew all the right things to say, all the right ways to pull at my heart. He reminded me of those former glory days, back when summer evenings were long and spent by the lake. He brought back winters with coffee on the couch and Josh Garrels on the record player in the living room.

It was hard to walk away.

I wanted to turn that car around and fling myself into the arms of that southern town and say “Please, take me back! I was a fool for ever leaving you behind!”

But it was a lie and I knew it. It was desperate and crazy. It was not the healthy, wise, or sane decision.

We know when it’s time to move on.

God, people, circumstances, and life let us know when our hearts need to move forward and I’m learning how to listen.

About halfway back home, a sad song came on my playlist and like a real break up,  I started spilling my guts to God. I kept mulling over all the reasons why my life right now looks so much less than what I had back then.

Because I mean, the most consistent person in my life right now is the man at the Chick-fil-A drive-thru window who serves me my yogurt and coffee every morning.

And believe me when I tell you, I think he is just as disturbed by his consistency in my life as I am.

Building a new life and new relationships take time and they require giving your heart. It’s hard to give your heart away again when what you had before was so good. Especially when there was really no seemingly good reason to end things other than it was just time to move on, things didn’t fit anymore.

Because what happens if I do this all over again and things just stop fitting?

What if I find something good again and then I have to move on and go start over with another blank apartment, another set of streets I can’t navigate, a table with empty seats? What if I have to even go find a whole other Chick-fil-A man who can’t learn to accept the fact that I’m just going to spend an ungodly amount of money on breakfast food?

One of my bosses gave a sermon this week and said something that hit me hard:

“We say ‘I’ve been hurt in a relationship, I’m never going to date again!’ instead of saying ‘Lord, show me the qualities that make for healthy relationships, so that I will know what is truly worth hurting over.”

Things end. But Georgia was healthy and it was worth hurting over.

Maybe I won’t be here forever, but I’m here for now. I want to build things that are worth hurting over.

Someday, if I ever move away from this place, I want to come back and have that momentary second of foolishness of wanting to jump into its arms again and ask it to have me back. I won’t do it, but I want to have been so recklessly selfless with my love that I’ll want to. I want to be shaken by the memory of what it felt like to wade through all the nervous first encounters, awkward conversations, DTR conversations, stupid fights, moments of wishing I could leave, stupid inside jokes, nights around a bonfire.

I want to build something worth hurting over if I ever have to say goodbye to it.

When I moved away from home I cried when I left my mailman. Right now, I don’t even know my mailman, and it won’t really hurt if I have to say goodbye to my Chick-fil-A man. But I need it to. I need to be teary for the day when he will no longer be MY Chick-fil-A man.

I want to build a life that’s steady and full of the kind of love that cries about my neighbors and the things that become a consistent part of my life.

Because I need to build a life that’s radically ordinary, beautiful, and full of health. I’m learning it will help prepare me for the someday permanent people and places, for when the time and person comes and I find myself making promises and covenants to stay.

(P.S. the Chick-fil-A man is old, married, and is not a romantic interest in my life.)

When The Holidays Are Hard

Some days I am still in the kitchen looking for napkins at that Christmas party. I can hear the laughter coming from the back of the house, my heart swells with the hope as the background music fades to the next track.

I immediately smile as I hear the younger version of myself laugh. Nothing was untouched by the lights that year, anything and everything was possible. All our troubles seemed miles away.

What I didn’t know was that by the next Christmas all of that hope would feel long forgotten and it would take years to get any of it back.

Fast forward to last week when I got a handwritten letter in the mail.

It was from a dear friend across the country and her words were full of that same kind of hope, risk, excitement, uncertainty. I found myself thinking about that Christmas party and about the year that followed.

I replayed what it felt like to let my heart grab on to things that were never meant to be. I let myself be taken back to those twinkle lights and the cold winter air. I let my heart stir in that hope that built me and broke me. While I can’t say I regret that time in my life, the memory of it sometimes still feels heavy whenever the holidays roll around.

One of my favorite Christmas songs is Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. I get all warm and sappy whenever I hear it playing over the speakers in the mall, or when it greets me in the car on a dark winter morning.

I wish I could go back to the 40’s and sip coffee with the writers, Hugh and Ralph. I would ask them to tell me about the day they pulled that crumpled melody out of the trashcan. I would ask about the stories that caused them to write those words and that tune.

Let your heart be light…

Around this time of year, I have to remind myself not to get weighed down. It seems so much easier to get heavy when the days get shorter and the nights get longer. And there always seems to be so much pressure to get happier when the red ornaments come out and the big mugs of hot cider start getting passed around. The thick obsession with holiday cheer can weigh me down faster than anything else. I don’t want to miss it. According to every one and every thing, these are supposed to be my happiest months. I often feel rushed to get myself together before December slips away.

I’m figuring out that we need to learn to let our hearts be light, but that we don’t need to hurry it or force it.

Some days it is okay to remember the Christmas party that broke your heart and to grieve the chairs those people no longer fill. But then you have to let go of that weight, sweep the floors and make new invitations. Keep throwing parties and keep filling up those chairs.

Let your heart be light. Allow it to let go, allow it to hope for better years. Go and see the lights, sniff the fresh pine, watch all the best and worst Hallmark movies, help your grandmother decorate her tree, make plans to find the perfect wrapping paper. Let your heart be hopeful and expectant, even if there are hard memories and prior years that still bring pain.

Sometimes I feel like Dickens really got his stories mixed up. He really should have started off the Christmas one with that whole bit about how it was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Because some days I’m still in that kitchen and I am heavy with the weight of what Christmas used to be, might have been, appears to be for everyone else. One minute, I am one pine-scented candle away from weeping in Target and the next, I’m singing Holly Jolly Christmas and flailing around in snowman pajamas.

Most days this really is the most wonderful time of the year. Still, Ralph and Hugh knew that there would be those holiday days we would need a melancholic song that would help us mourn, while simultaneously giving us a swift-kick-in-the-rear with a challenge like let your heart be light. 

I’m not sure if those guys knew it, but a different kind of Christmas light is the only thing that can help us with the heavy weight. That Light came in the middle of the night to a bunch of people on the run, who were probably crying over old Christmas parties, and whose lives looked nothing like Hallmark movies. He saw all the sadness, darkness, pain, loss, loneliness they were in and He came.

And when He took his first human breath, I think that was really the first time the world heard what are quickly becoming my favorite words of the season: let your heart be light.

 

 

The Guest Room: To The Ones We’ve Hurt

Dear Hurting, 

You wonder how I know your name – oh, it’s written all over you. You’ve been hurt, and no matter how you try to mask your wounds, you are hurting.
 
I see you.
 
I completely understand why you would resent “Christians” and maybe even God himself.
 
Who could blame you? You didn’t deserve what happened to you, and you don’t deserve what’s happening now.
 
Years come and go. It’s been a while since you experienced that first hurt. But you’ve never forgotten the horrid sensation, and you are determined that to never let it happen again.
 
What’s worse, is that the people who are supposed to be “the good ones” do nothing but judge you. They judge you because all they see are your actions – actions that speak clearly of the pain you’ve endured. Pain that now lives behind doors of arrogance, independence, and numbness to anything representative of that “god person” who people rant and rave about.
 
This probably doesn’t mean much coming from me, a stranger who rants about God on the daily; but, the people whom you knew and trusted were a misrepresentation of Christ, to say the least.
 
Jesus’ sole purpose and desire for you is that you would know His love. A true love. It’s a love that doesn’t inflict cruel pain. A love that only brings joy. A love that lasts forever.
 
Deep down inside, you knew there was something wrong about the kind of love that you were shown. 

I’m here to tell you: you were right. That isn’t what love looks like.

It isn’t what actual Christianity looks like. And it definitely isn’t what Jesus looks like.

Dear Hurting, I want you to know that your deep wounds are not too deep.

You are not a lost cause.
 
When you first take steps to heal, it will probably feel uncomfortable. You’ll be uncovering bumps and bruises that you thought were gone; the truth is, they were merely bandaged up, never properly dealt with.
 
The pain you’ll feel in revisiting the circumstances that caused your scars is only temporary.  It’s like rubbing alcohol on a cut – it burns like crazy at first, but the sting is well worth the long term benefits, like protection from bacteria, infection, amputation, and even death. 
 
Allow the Holy Spirit to be your rubbing alcohol. 

Dear Hurting, I apologize.

I apologize for ignoring you, for judging you, for hurting you. 
 
You probably never expected to hear that – especially from me, one of those who caused you the most pain. I apologize on behalf of all Christians who failed at showing you the powerful and unrelenting love of the Father. I apologize that they left you to do life alone after simply diagnosing your “issues”. 
 
It hurts. It hurts like crazy, huh? To be rejected, lost, confused, abused, abandoned, afraid, and in the midst of all that, alone. 
 
I don’t want to make excuses for why we sometimes lack compassion. I know that some of us seem to live a life completely opposite of what our Bible teaches us. I can’t make any excuses because there are none.
 
But it hurts me almost as much as it hurts you – and it hurts God even more.

Finally, Hurting, I can not heal you. 

No person can. And anyone who tells you they can is lying. Don’t trust them. They’ll only leave you in more pain. 
 
If they’re not speaking truth and walking in love and only pointing you to the true One who can heal you – don’t trust them.
 
They are like wolves in sheep’s clothes – our common enemy’s weapon of choice. They’re not the real thing.
 
The only one who can heal you, redeem you, change your heart, forgive your sin, and make your future more abundant than you could have imagined is Jesus – a love greater than any love you’ll ever know.
 
I’m sorry. Sorry that these aren’t the words you’ve always been told. I’m sorry that they told you they could fix you, give you all the right answers, heal you.
 
Dear Hurting, will you forgive us?

Dear Hurting, will you let LOVE heal you?



Profile PictureKristina Smith. At 31 years old, I still have the faith of a child. I’m obsessed with love and all the power that it yields when given & received in its most pure, raw, organic, & natural form.

Currently residing in the on & popping city of Gainesville, GA (see: sarcasm), I work for Adventures in Missions, a non-profit Christian missions organization, and am committed to unveiling hidden potential in the missionaries that I disciple. 

Instagram: @krissi1908

 

Why I Won’t Pursue a Man

Relationships and opinions about them are sticky.

People get passionate and everyone has an opinion. I think it’s something that we all work out, a choice that is ours to make. I can’t and don’t judge anyone’s personal journey, or the way they feel like God calls them to pursue romance.

As for me, I can state this (after much wrestling and questioning):

I can not and will not pursue a man.

Feminism is becoming a common doctrine of our world, and because of it, there is a question of whether or not women can approach a man in the way that they’ve been forbidden to in the past.

I’m not going to answer that for humanity. But as for me, I have one desire:

I want the (and yes, I said “the”) man that God has for me. God cares for the birds, so I believe that He intimately cares about my husband. He is sovereign over that. I believe that, I’ve prayed for that and I live my life trusting for that.

My entire life, I’ve wanted a man whose life is committed and unquestionably sacrificed to Jesus. I want a dead man, whose own life means nothing to Him, who doesn’t want a Sunday morning Jesus, but is branded by the very God who has wrecked my entire life.

And, yes, we’re going to be equal.

We deserve the same privileges and respect, we are both fully human and should be loved and valued equally. But there’s an order, a way that the Bible calls me to be. It says that I will be submissive, it says that my husband will love me as Christ loves the church.

To be submissive appears to be contrary to everything that makes sense to me. I’m independent, opinionated, passionate, argumentative. But if someone loves me sacrificially, unconditionally, I can (and want to) submit to that.

The problem is, we don’t trust men to love us as Christ loves the church. In a lot of ways, that makes sense. They’re imperfect, they mess up, they aren’t Jesus. No one will love me like Jesus, this is something that I must accept.

But my husband’s desire will be to love me in that way. My desire (though it won’t always happen) will be to submit.

I want that to start as soon as I meet him, as soon as the pursuit begins.

If I want a man that loves me, the way Christ loves the church, then that’s going to point me toward this belief:

Christ came for his church. He chose me, I did not choose Him.

I was the responder. Yes, I got a choice. I was given the right decide whether or not I wanted to enter into that relationship. AND I knew what God’s intentions were toward me in that relationship (and if I didn’t, I was free to ask!)

But He found me, He chose me, He came for me.

I want a husband, a man, who has that quality stained in the core of his heart, his behavior, his choices.

I can submit to that. I can say “yes” to that. And it might surprise you, but I feel respected, equal, free, and valued in that.

Feminists everywhere might nail me to a cross. That’s fine, I’ll loan you my hammer. This is something I am willing to put my life up for. This is something that I will not compromise. This is because it is one of the biggest decisions I will ever make. The man I marry will be my partner, my advocate, my leader. He will be the father of my children. He will need to be responsible, he will need to be bold and he will need to know what he wants and how to pursue it.

When we are ninety, I will wipe the drool from his cheek, bathe him, feed him mashed potatoes. And he will sit with me when I’m frail, he will pray with me, he will still stand up to fight for me…(even if he knows the other guy could take him).

I want someone stronger than me. And if that’s the hammer I hand you, the thing that makes you call me old fashioned, weak, or irrelevant…well, I’ve been called a lot worse.

You don’t have to agree with me. You don’t have to believe that this is the path for your life, I’m not telling you it is. This is me, this is what I’ve chosen, and these are my reasons.

All of them because I fell in love with a man, with holes in his hands, who comes, fights for, and pursues his bride.

I want my life to mirror that on this earth. On earth, if I ever get married, I’m going to be a bride; so, I don’t want to, at any point, act like the groom.