Lovely Letters: Stay In It

Dear Lovely One,

Yes, you. Do you know how rightly those words fit you? Like a chunky knit sweater, they were made to wrap around you and shield you from the cold.

And it gets cold, doesn’t it?

Life gets cold when loneliness comes around, after the day’s laughter has faded. We are left with our thoughts about what is, what could have been, what is likely to never be. And life gets painstakingly, teeth rattling cold.

But you, you are lovely and so worth loving and the world is better and brighter because you’re in it.

Stay in it. 

Those are the words I want to bundle you up in: stay in it.

Keep fighting. Because your bones are stronger than you give them credit for. Your heart is more durable than you’ve been made to believe. Whoever told you that you’re too weak to walk this thing out, that you don’t have any fight left in you: they lied.

Because I know that your fierce footsteps could change the world. You’ve got to keep walking.

It’s hard and we’re always bandaging scars, old ones that get re-opened and new ones that are just starting to form. It sometimes seems like we’re being put through a never-ending process of running to get bandaids and gauze: we’re looking for anything to stop the bleeding.

Let love and hope stop your bleeding.

There’s more here than what we’re seeing. There are things bigger and better than what tattered hearts and broken minds can imagine. I don’t always believe it, but in my gut, I’m certain that it’s true.

Because if things like sunsets, road trips, loud music, oceans, good friends and pints of ice cream exist, then there’s someone who made those things and He has even better up His sleeve. We haven’t seen anything yet. The best is yet to come.

But we’ve got to keep walking, keep fighting, keep grabbing for hope and love, knowing that it will all be worth it. Even on the days when we’ve hit rock bottom and are seemingly at our worst, holding onto hope and love will be worth it

You are lovely. In the simplest and truest way, you are lovely. And the world needs your light, your laughter, your dancing, for you to start dreaming again. You deserve to dream, to ask for better things for yourself.

You’re not alone. I’m here curled up on my couch with books and blankets, tear-stained face, all to tell you that we all feel the cold and that you’re not alone in that. Keep holding on. There is always light, always hope, always something beautiful to be made out of the mess. If you can’t believe that yet, then let’s make a deal: you believe for me & I’ll believe for you.

Us holding these broken hearts is not the end of the story. Maybe we’re just at the part where the sad songs are playing and it seems like everything we wanted went slipping through our hands. But stay tuned, because there’s something good coming: I can promise you that. There are good things waiting for us, this whole thing isn’t over yet.

Stay in it and watch what happens…we are not going to be disappointed.

Lovely One: that’s who you are. Wear those words and own them, they are yours on any and every cold day that comes.

These hard times are just a brief breeze that will soon pass by.

Bundle up tight in love, and don’t let the pain steal your strength. Just a little further, and you’ll see that there’s so much better ahead than anything you’ve yet to see.

7 Billion Reasons for Grace

I am pulling out mixing bowls and measuring cups again.

If you’ve been on this journey with me for a while, then you might remember my baking phase after Apartment G .

I’m back at it and I find myself inviting Grace back inside my home to do her thing. She showed up a couple of weeks ago, right after a rain storm and reminded me of late nights at diners and long Carolina car rides.

“This ain’t us.” She told me. I was shakily holding my phone and Anger was fiercely holding me. Grace didn’t force me to do the right thing, she just stood there, holding the door and offering me a way out.

I had forgotten the rhythm that Grace and I had once gotten into, back when she showed me how to live with less. She once taught me that there’s good in everything, sometimes it just takes time to find it.

And in your pain, Grace will tell you to keep going. She will ask you to choose to do the things that feel like salt on the wound; she knows that the things that hurt deeply can often times help you heal. She’ll show you how, and she will pull you low, teaching you how to whisper thank-you’s for that pain.

She will pull you out of bed when your eyes sting and your head pounds. “Come on, there are people waiting for you to show up.” She’ll take your hand and lead you into rooms with people who are aching to hear that they’re going to be alright. She’ll give you the words to say, ones that you could have never come up with on your own.

And when others cry, whether it be tears of joy, sorrow or relief, she will pull you close and hum: “Didn’t I tell you there was more? Oh, don’t you know that you’ve always got 7 billion reasons to climb out from underneath those sheets?”

Because Grace won’t make you a schedule that has very many spaces for yourself. She’s got some breaks for you to breathe, but she’s blocked out most of the slots for people in grocery stores, strangers covered in dust and quite a few for the people who handed you back your own heart covered with bruises and deep cuts.

So, when she hoists herself up on your kitchen counter and says things like, I’m sticking around for the long haul” you’ll wonder why you ever let her go, locked her out, didn’t stay in touch. Because that’s all you’ve ever really wanted anyway, those words to be next to you when you realize you can’t do this whole living life thing on your own. We all want something and someone who stays, who doesn’t let us hide beneath those covers and forfeit the places we were born to stand.

“I never gave up on you, you know.”

When she tells you those words, they will carve themselves into the very marrow of your bones. So when the time comes that one of those 7 Billion Reasons stands there trying to give you excuses to walk away, you’ll just pull yourself up onto their counter and say, “I’m in this for the long haul.”

I didn’t know how much I missed her until she came knocking on the door of a little room hidden in the halls of a quaint church. I met her at the door, thinking that she was going to shake her head with disappointment at the time I had let pass. But instead, she tackled me with laughter, steadied my weak knees and walked with me to a place I could have never found without her.

She and I bake in my kitchen, my bare feet relearning how to dance on hardwood floors. I realized that though she pulls me to painful places, pushing Grace away was what led to the most unbearable agony of all.

I moved to Georgia a year ago, lugged my bags into this old brick house, not knowing if I’d ever see her again. But she is always knocking, sometimes it’s so gentle that I’ve got to get still and quiet to hear it.

I told her that I’m planning to keep her around this time. She’s helped me see that the world is much better off when I invite her to stay.

If Given the Same Chance…

I feel as though I’ve lived that exact moment a hundred times.

This place I’ve been standing recently is one that tastes so familiar. If I went back to old journals, I think I’ve got hundreds of pages filled with maps of walking this pathway.

“Haven’t we been through this already?” I asked God, not expecting much of an answer. He knew I felt frustrated, thinking I would never learn whatever it is that He has apparently trying to drill through my thick head about this kind of pain.

“You know, it doesn’t mean you failed to learn the lesson last time. Sometimes, you come to the same circumstance in order for me to show you that you are not the same person you used to be.”

I took a deep breath and leaned my head back, tears forming in the corners of my eyes. Because you always hope, if given the same chance, you would make better choices than you did last time.

If I had known then what I know now, I would have done things differently.” 

If you’ve lived long at all, you’ve probably uttered those words. But can we ever really be sure of that?

It’s hard to be sure when our hearts get so tangled in the edges and curves of faces that figure out ways to paint themselves into the lines of our days.

But sometimes, you get a chance to find out.

All over again, you get the moment of reaction, the choice of how to carry it, and to tug from grace what it takes to nod and graciously walk away.

Sometimes, you get to see that you’re a far better person than you used to be. And maybe it was that gruesome mountain you walked up last time that gave you the strength to more easily scale the one in your present.

I smiled at God, “We’ve been through a lot worse, am I right?”

I felt him smile and then we went on talking about how I have horrible coordination when it comes to vacuuming.

I told Him last year that I was finished with picking up disappointment.

I’ve given her a ride too many times in the last twenty-three years. She is a demeaning back seat driver and she will eventually push herself behind the wheel. When she does, she will take you to a place that a simple GPS could never get you out of.

When I saw her the other day, thumb taunting me from the side of the highway of my heart, I locked the doors and let my foot press harder on the gas. There’s no room for you here, I thought. You’ve taken up far too much of my time and ruined way too many of what could have been beautiful miles.

So much of what we go through really has less to do with other people and more to do with us. It’s about who we decide to be and how we keep a balance of grace and principle. About learning to be steady in the places that used to rattle our bones.

Keeping disappointment out of the car takes realizing that the only control you have is over your own choices. You can’t change or anticipate what others will do, but you can commit to a better response, one that refuses to settle for going back to the person you used to be.

I’m not going to tell you that it’s easy, that you’ll enjoy looking at these same monsters in the eye.

But what I will tell you is that when you realize you can stare back at them without blinking, without shoving them back behind those closet doors, you will be grateful to be standing in places you prayed you’d never stand again.

Growth is the thing that keeps us moving and opens doors to bigger and better things.

It’s only by being confronted with all those fears and the battles that once bloodied your elbows and knees that you find out just how far it is you’ve really come.

And I hope each time we do, we find that we’ve actually come a lot further than we ever could have imagined.

I Heard Him Whisper

I’m still a little surprised I heard Him.

Over the sound of buzzing lights and a thunderstorm brewing outside, I heard Him whisper.

I slipped off my socks and shoes. My bare feet standing on a dirt covered floor, I tried to follow His lead.

It’s a little bit of an awkward thing, if I’m being honest, to be invited to dance with one who is bigger than the room you’re in. You can’t exactly wrap your arms around Him.

But I think that’s what I’ve always liked about God: I can’t take over, take control. I’m far too small to take the lead.

I keep thinking about this time that my sister and I tucked ourselves away in this barren cabin in the mountains of Tennessee. We spent hours in silence, waiting for God to show up.

He showed up when we were hiking and face to face with a black bear. And while there were others standing by in awe, I was trying to figure out the best way to get off of the mountain. I was drawing maps and making exit plans, all the while yelling at those who thought this terrifying being was something remarkable.

While I was angry, (and thought everyone had seemingly lost their minds) I envied them. I craved the ability to trustingly stand shoulder to shoulder with something that had the power to crush me.

When a thunderstorm comes, my Dad loves to go out on the porch and watch God do his work.

I always tell him to come inside, it isn’t safe to stand so close.

But barefoot and whirling around that room as thunder echoed, I told God that I didn’t want to run from Him any longer. Though my knees might always knock, I wanted the risk of loving a God that could flatten me.

To love something that’s big enough and mysterious enough to prove me and all of my ideas wrong. Someone who, just by showing up, shows me that my grandest plans are weak, at best.

I think that’s the kind of faith I’ve always wanted. To love something that just might cost me everything. I want to stand as close as possible to something I can’t control and resist my instinct to run away.

There will always be moments we never saw coming.

When our feet are taken out from under us. It’s that moment when you’ll wonder if God is going to break you. He could, you know. He could choose to break your heart. He could make a whole big lesson out of something precious to you. He could deny you all the things you keep telling him are the best thing for you.

But what we choose to do with Him will define the season.

Sometimes you go on a long walk and rain starts pouring before you make it home. You can always duck in somewhere, take cover, hope it passes, and try to make it home later.

Or you can just keep going. You will get soaked, but you will make it home.

I want to get where God’s taking me, even if it doesn’t always go exactly the way I planned. I want to keep believing it’s all because He loves me. I want to stand next to Him, to be close enough to hear Him breathe, to whisper.

I want to accept that whispered invitation, even if I’m left with dirty feet and stumbling around when He seems too big to follow.

Can I Tell You a Secret?

Some days, it feels like we’re all just lost in the woods.

Like we’ve been dropped out here and that we’re supposed to figure out how to make it home. We’re looking for that thing, that moment when we’ll reach the right door. We are waiting for a place to wipe our feet, a place that’s safe. Something entirely our own.

We’re all looking for home and some of us don’t even know what that means.

Would I know it if I found it? This thing, this person, this place where I can rest my head, take off my shoes, finally be myself? I’ve never known that kind of life, but they tell me it exists.

It mostly seems like a race, a competition, a challenge. Who can find home first? Who gets out of the woods first? And can they help everyone else find the way?

So we read books, blogs, articles. We watch tv, movies, youtube videos. We’re all looking for someone to tell us where it is and how they found it. How was it that you found that thing I so desperately desire?

Can I tell you a secret?

No one knows how they got out. They can give you advice, practical answers, steps they took. They might can point at a path, but they can’t really tell you what got them there in the first place. We get there. The questions of when and how are up to God and the choices we make.

What I can tell you is to work hard. Do that thing in front of you. Be the best grocery store clerk that exists. Sell bagels with more joy and love than a person can carry out the door.

Stop being the sum of words they put on your tiny shoulders. Because we all have them, those things that have followed us around like the little nursery rhymes and song lyrics we never forgot. There are the things that always sit with you and yet, make you feel so alone.

Let them go. They were never yours to carry.

Cradling coffee cups in our hands, I watched the world slow down for a minute last week.

I rested in the thought that it would be okay if I decided to be janitor and never do anything else. Because I could be the most committed, dedicated, loving janitor in the world and that could change things. I realized that it’s not about what we do, or the amount that we do, it was always about how we do it. 

It’s about who you are, never about what you do.

You are enough, right where you sit. If you never moved, you would still be worth loving.

But you will move, because you’ve got fire in your bones that pushes you to keep loving people and to make dents in the little corner of the universe you’re standing in.

So whether you do that with a mop, a headset and a bag of fries, or at a Fortune 500 company, you’ll always be worth the words i love you and you’re enough.

It’s easy for me to forget that when I’m out in the woods, looking for that next big thing, the next temporary avenue to joy.

There’s really no special secret to getting out of it, to finding your way. I don’t think that’s really the point. I think the point is learning to be the best traveler you can be, so that wherever you arrive you have something firm and steady to offer.

And if I get steady things by mopping floors, selling fries…give me a bucket and pass me an apron.

Pep Talk: Buy The Leather Jacket

 We all want something.

There’s something across the room that your eyes keep falling on. It’s probably got a leather jacket on and knows the art of casually leaning against a concrete wall.

You’ve never fit into crowds with leather jackets because you think it’s pointless to invest and try wearing something you could never pull off in the first place. Never mind that you’ve never put the thing on, walked the runway of a dressing room and taken a minute to honestly ask how it looks on you.

You already believe that you don’t have what it takes.

There’s something right in this moment that is tugging at the deepest part of you, it’s whatever is pulling you out of bed. You’re lacing up your Nikes for something, something is keeping those feet of yours moving.

I’m here to tell you that you have what it takes. If you want it, I’m a firm believer that you’ve got what it takes.

But here’s the thing:

You’ve got to work for it. You’ve got to sweat for it. You’re going to need to pull from places you forgot you had. Stretch until it hurts. You’ve got to make yourself sore, (and get over the fact that you’re going to limp for days afterwards). If you want this, you’ve got to give blood, marrow, organs…things that take time to grow back, things that never will.

You’re not who they said you are,

whoever that was: your parents, your ex, that old teacher, your baseball coach, the person who made promises they decided to stop keeping.

I think it’s time you figure out who it is you really are, who you actually want to be. Throw the lies in the trash already.  You’re cool in your own way and in your own right. You can set whatever trend you want to, you can start something that no one else claps for and that doesn’t mean you have to quit.

It’s time to find your fight song. It’s time to pound pavement, to get your head back in this thing. Finally move toward doing the thing that has kept you awake at night for years. Start making steps to bring it closer to your reach.

Every day that you postpone it, make excuses or hesitate is only adding to its impossibility.

You don’t need the leather jacket, you just need to know that if you really wanted to, you could totally rock one.

You Will Learn to Dream Again

I got it all.

I had written my dreams on a white piece of poster board. I laid it all out there and decided to believe it was possible.

In just a few short days, I got it all.

It happened exactly like one of those end-of-the-movie moments. My dreams all started coming true and I felt alive in every limb and ligament. Finally, so much of my life made sense. All the years of pain, preparation, prayer. It had all brought me to that perfect moment. 

My time had finally come.

To be honest with you, it was just as glorious as I had always imagined, maybe even more so.  It was like everyone had gotten a copy of the script I had spent years writing in my wildest dreams; all were playing their role so perfectly. Never before or after have I experienced such an incredibly unblemished season.

Still, I tiptoed carefully. I could never shake wondering if it could really last forever? 

It didn’t.

Sitting there with a table full of everything I could want in front of me, the tablecloth was ripped off and I watched everything crash to the floor in slow motion. I wasn’t prepared. (But you can’t ever really prepare yourself for that moment, that instant second when all oxygen is barricaded from your lungs and your heart is drained of every last drop of hope it ever held.)

There are many days when I’m still sweeping up those crumbs. It has been a lot to clean up. There had been nearly nothing left on that table. And every single dream that had survived the pulling of that tablecloth was eventually stolen while I was down on my knees scraping up the remnants of those messy conversations.

It’s hard to dream again after that. It’s hard to get back up in that chair, pick up that menu and try again.

For a while, I tried. I decided to stay at the same table. I kept trying to order those same dishes. Maybe if I just kept trying, I could get it all back. But eventually, those things I always wanted stopped being an option; they were taken off the menu.

So, I moved on. I changed restaurants, outfits and opened up an entirely different menu. Soon I realized that I still couldn’t order. I couldn’t just decide to get a new dream, not after knowing that it could all so quickly be taken away.

Having your dreams become reality, getting everything you want, having your every desire fulfilled isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Because no one can promise you that those things will stick around. They aren’t guaranteed and they don’t come with a warranty. Believe me when I tell you that you can’t just get a new one. You can’t just “pick something else”. 

I thought I could, I thought for a while that it would be that easy. But it’s never going to be that simple.

You’ll get your heart set on something and when it’s suddenly removed from the menu, you won’t know how to be content with anything else. You won’t know how to settle for just picking something else. 

You’ll get that job, or that degree. You’ll find that person. You’ll move to that country. And for as long as life allows, you’ll be over the moon and you’ll sip thousands of cups of peppermint tea and be so incredibly thankful. 

Because this isn’t a Charles Dickens’ novel, or a trick, or a Hallmark movie. Things aren’t taken away from you only when you aren’t grateful or because you took them for granted.

Sometimes you love something with every cell of your being, sometimes you work hard and with unwavering loyalty. Sometimes you say thank you a thousand times a day for just a few seconds of having something so incredibly wonderful at your fingertips.

Sometimes you lose it anyway.

Just know that I don’t have answers about such questions and I finally gave up checking the back of the textbook for them. I don’t know how to solve for X on that equation. 

But believe me when I tell you that you will get hungry again. You’ll start wanting new things, but sometimes it takes a while. It might be years of perusing thousands of menus, only to find yourself disappointed that nothing seems to appeal the way the former things did.

Even so, there will be something that eventually plants itself under your nose. One day, you’ll look down and you’ll realize that right there in your line of sight is something that sounds incredibly inviting and it will be worth ordering, worth trying, worth wanting. You’ll smooth the napkin in your lap, ask for what you want and you’ll risk the tablecloth being ripped off all over again.

You will learn to dream again, I promise you that.

But there’s a lesson in the losing. There’s something to be gained from your months or years of scraping things up off the floor. Those things aren’t and could never be permanent. That may turn out to be one of life’s harshest realities, but it is true nonetheless. Nothing is permanent. But we can’t let that keep us down with our knees in the carpet, cleaning up yesterday’s messes. Eventually, you’ve got to get back up.

That’s life: dreaming, winning, losing, fighting, forgiving and starting all over again.

So forgive the ones who ripped off the tablecloths, the waiters who told you that they no longer serve that dish and decide to try something new. Wipe off what you’ve been trying to scrape back onto plates, long after the five-second-rule expired. You are free to dream and try new things. When you are once again hit with the reality that dreams are temporary, you’ll learn to also see it as a chance to do more and see more than you first could have imagined.

Maybe you were never meant for just one dream. Maybe sometimes losing one simply leads to gaining so many more.

Choosing The Better Path

The first time I slipped on that jacket, I was walking right into a war zone.

Head held high, shoulders straightened, I made the choice to be fearless and forgiving. That jacket became a trophy for a day that I decided to be the bigger person.

Seasons changed, the jacket got packed away with other winter clothes and life continued on. I had forgotten it until the early fall when I pulled it out again. I shrugged it on, remembering how it helped me to stand in the worst days of the previous year.

I found myself lugging it around everywhere. Even if it was too warm to put it on, I kept it close. Over and over, I’d think about sitting in that cold room with fluorescent lights and white tile floors. I kept reminding myself that I have what it takes to choose the better path.

In the days that followed, my dreams were being forced to change, all my plans started failing. Doors I thought would always swing wide open started to close with a resounding smack.

I found myself drowning in anger. Standing in a parking lot on a breezy afternoon, the disappointment of slamming doors were a kick to a heart that had finally begun to hope again. Wearing that jacket suddenly felt heavy, I felt like I was going to crumble under the pressure it had put on my shoulders.

I didn’t know if I really had it in me to be better than all the things I wanted to scream in my anger. I really just wanted to take my fists and ram them into the person standing in front of me. I didn’t want to be the better person, I didn’t want to make the right choice. I just wanted some justice, I wanted some long awaited answers.

Just when I felt my temper hit its peak, I dug my clenched hands deep into the pockets of that jacket and I knew the war was over.

I wrapped my fingers around a little piece of cardboard in the left pocket and that was when I waved my white flag. I knew I never really wanted to be the kind of fighter whose weapons were bitterness, disappointment and rage from my pain.

There in that pocket was a coffee sleeve I’d crammed in there on a night in September. I told myself that every time my fingers grazed it, I’d remember to pray in the middle of hard things. I’d remember that God could make a way when there is no way. I told myself it would be the trophy of the new season, it would be the thing to remind me that not only could I be better, I could believe for better. I could believe that good things, really good things, were in front of me.

That jacket felt like a weight and the coffee sleeve became an anchor and I realized it is actually quite a heavy thing to decide to be the bigger person and to believe for better things.  Many days you’ll be forced to go against everything you want and everything that makes sense. You’ll have to choose to live a way that looks pretty empty handed. Being that person sometimes causes you to lose friends and other times, it causes you to sacrifice yourself.

What it takes to be to the kind of person who can hold their head high, who has true class; a person who can leave a mark on the world, on a room with fluorescent lights, or in a parking lot on a breezy day is a person who knows the only wars ever won are the ones where the fighters chose love and bravery over the disappointment of the season.

The Things That Matter

I sat down and made a list of things I know.

I made a list of things I know right in this moment, to see if they were enough to keep me moving forward.

There were nineteen bullet points on that list. I had to ask myself if that was that enough to make me move forward in things that feel pretty risky.

If I’m being honest, I feel like I need at least fifty things on the list of certainties before I can take a risk. Let’s be real, nineteen isn’t really in the ballpark of fifty.

I sat there, tears on my face as I realized that sandwiched there in the middle were three of the most important things I could ever write. These certainties, these things I know to be true, are all that it should take for me to take a leap.

Figure out what matters.

That’s my advice to you. In whatever situations you’re sitting with, in whatever battle you’re fighting, figure out what matters and let that make your choice.

There are always going to be questions. You’ll always have little doubts trying to weasel their way into your ear drums, trying to settle in there and make their voice a permanent part of your story. You will always be fighting uncertainty in one way or another. You can have fifty-one things on your list of reasons why you should or shouldn’t, but if you don’t have the most important things covered, it was never even worth picking up the pencil.

Figure out what it is you’re really looking for, who you’re trying to be, where you’re trying to go. Get those things covered and if what you are considering lines up, stop looking for more confirmation. Stop waiting for all fifty spots to be filled in. If you’re staring at number eleven, twelve, and thirteen and they make you cry and say to yourself, that’s the heart of it, that’s what I’ve really been in search of, then you’d be crazy not to take that chance.

You would be crazy to back away in fear when your heart has a chance to see the miracles you’ve waited for.

We make things too complicated. We want all the answers when we’re too afraid to even ask the questions.

Did you ever play the foot game when you were little? The one where everyone would make their feet into a circle and someone would sing a silly song and rule everyone out and the last foot in won the game?

Your chances were better always better when both feet were in.

You’ve got to jump into this thing with both feet, kid. You’ve got to stop keeping one of your feet out of the circle. You’re doing it because it protects you, because it’s easier to only have one foot rejected than both. You’ve got to decide here and now if you’re in or out. 

Are you committed to this thing?

God once asked me that about a circumstance I was dancing around. Are you going to be involved or are you going to be committed?

I chose commitment.

It was one of the hardest, but most amazing things I’ve ever done. The next thing I knew, I was up to my knees in a mess that seemed impossible to stand in. But I learned, I learned things that only commitment can teach you. 

You’ve got to decide, you know. Decide if you’re involved, if you’re committed, or if you’re bowing out.

Figure out what’s important. Figure out who you are, what you’re called to. If this is what you have really been looking for, stop waiting for flashing arrows and someone to give you that fiftieth reason why you should say “yes”. If it’s just not quite right, crumple the paper and go in search of the important things.

We’re always going to want to play it safe, and we’re going to always want a perfect plan. Sometimes, what you really need is the moment of clarity that comes when you’re staring straight at the few, but mighty things that actually matter. 

 


 

[photo cred]

Where You’re Supposed to Be

Every weekend you could find us there.

We would be sitting in one of those wooden booths sharing pizza, we’d be laughing, crying, screaming, wondering if the days would ever change.

We were always asking those questions about where we would be in a year. When the glow of Christmas lights started to wrap around our worlds again, where would we be sitting?

As they go up this year, we sit on opposite sides of the country.

The girl with dark curls taught me how to laugh and I taught her how to cry. We were perfect partners for the see-saw of that season. When one went crashing toward the ground, the other could pick her feet up and fly toward the sky. It was a beautiful balance and worth late nights and the coffee addictions we developed to stay awake at work and school. Those nights were ours, to live and to learn about growing up.

I did it. I did the thing I used to wonder if I’d ever be able to do again. I used to ask her when we would curl up on her couch and watch the hours pass by: Will I ever feel again? Will I ever be able to open my heart? Will I let go of this and be happy?

It happened…slowly and all at once. The process of letting go of pain was long and grueling, but the realization of its absence was a sudden kick to my entire frame. I woke up and found that I was finally free.

Miles separated us on the day that God made my shoulders light again, and I knew she was proud. I knew she was cheering and saying this is it, this is what we waited for and prayed about while we emptied countless mugs of coffee and cried on the front porch.

When I drove around my little Georgia town with the phone pressed to my ear retracing conversations and painting out all the details, I knew that she loved hearing my laughter as much as she loves having her own.

That’s what friends do. Your victories are theirs, no matter where they find themselves on a map when the breakthrough finally comes.

I know because I feel that when she tells me that she’s learning to live fully again. I feel my own heart settle with peace when she says, “I’m glad to be in this new place…we couldn’t have stayed where we were.”

The sadness that comes with distance is thick in our voices, but we’re happy and we’re growing.

I went home for Thanksgiving.

Went home. It’s an odd thing to say because I didn’t ever really believe I’d leave home. This year, for the holidays, I get to go home.

Days into December, that curly haired girl and I will both go back home. We will giggle ’til late hours that fade into early morning, we will walk along the sidewalk in the cold winter air to wait for a table at that pizza restaurant. We’ll drink in every second it takes to catch up, to make new memories, to soak in how we’ve changed through these months.

Then after the holidays are over, she’ll board a plane and I’ll pack up my car. We’ll wipe some tears as we go back to the rooms that have our beds, the closets that hold our clothes, the towns we’ve claimed for the current season of our lives.

I already know that we’ll question everything.

Should we have stayed? Should we have ever left at all? Will we ever feel home anywhere other than those little neighboring North Carolina towns? Is it worth leaving behind these people who have such a special place in us?

There’s a pain in choosing to do something different, in leaving what you know for a life that will never be what you had.

But it’s worth it. Because we’re living and we’re changing. I’m learning to laugh again, to let people in, to love people who haven’t known me my entire life.

I’m learning to believe that it’s not a mistake, wherever it is that you end up. You were always meant to end up there. In some form or fashion, the world was always ready for you to stumble into the place you’re now standing. God knew, he always knew and he’s been planning things out and none of it was a mistake.

This is really just a blog about my friend, about how life changes, about how things work out… they really do work out.

So, wherever you’re sitting right now, stop questioning if you’re where you need to be. You’re exactly where you’re supposed to be. The second that stops being true, you’ll find yourself somewhere else, I can promise you that. Stop worrying about how you’re going to get there or what decisions you’ll have to make, you’ll get there.

We got here. We made it to different days under different skies and I can’t even really tell you how it happened. So, for now, I’ll look forward to those Christmastime nights and stop worrying about the weeks that follow. We’re exactly where we’re supposed to be and sometimes we don’t need to know anything beyond that.

[photo cred.]