Some Things Just Take Time

When my foot touched the top step, and I smelled that familiar scent, I went back to three years prior.

I closed my eyes and told God, before I even cracked open that door: I can’t fix it. I’m going to want to, but I can’t fix it.

I didn’t and couldn’t. But I figured out how to settle in that reality, and tried to find some kind of hope to grab ahold of. It was then I realized I have to accept that some things take more time than just a few years. Some things can’t simply be solved over a cup of coffee and a hearty breakfast.

After that, I pulled out my favorite pair of pink shorts.

I had horribly ruined them the year before by washing them with dark clothes.

I did the very thing that my Mama taught me not to do with laundry. Separate your darks, they’ll ruin everything else.

I should have believed her.

I remember disappointment grabbing me when I saw those stains. They were just a pair of shorts, but they were my favorite and I was frustrated.

They were ruined and there was no fixing it. It was plain and simple.

But I just couldn’t throw them away. I put them in a box and thought maybe God would do a miracle and I’d pull them out one day to realize none of it happened.

I was delusional….over a pair of shorts. But I guess we all have our quirks.

In the waiting for my unlikely miracle, I searched for a replacement pair and nothing fit quite the same. I browsed the internet and seriously searched every store from here to Georgia; I found nothing that even came close.

So nearly a year later, I pulled them out of the box. The stains were–as you would guess–still there.

Stubborn misfit that I am, I went against all that made sense; I scrubbed the spots and put them back in the washer.

I waited, knowing that I was probably just wasting gallons of water while simultaneously paving my life path closer to permanent insanity.

When the cycle ended, I pulled them out and I just stood there with tears. I remember so clearly feeling God’s presence and I heard Him say so loudly, almost as if it were audible:

“Some things wash out.”

My shoulders shook as I began to cry. I knew God wasn’t just talking about the shorts.

I knew that he was talking about that moment on the stairs, when I told him I can’t fix it. I knew that it was his way of saying that some things just take time, but you don’t throw them out, even if it seems like it’s all beyond repair.

This has been a month of seeing a million things I can’t fix and sometimes I still carry the disappointment of that. But God is showing me that it’s okay to believe that in a year, or two (or ten) we can pull things out, give it our best shot. Maybe the things that stained us with grief and mourning will finally start to wash out.

Sometimes, it pays to hold onto hope for something that everybody tells you to let go of. 

It doesn’t mean you sit it front and center on your shelf. It doesn’t mean you constantly walk by it and torture yourself into mourning the loss of something you loved. Sometimes, you pack it away and you wait. You wait for that moment when courage collides with grace (and is sprinkled with a miracle) and you put your hands to it again and see that there’s a reason God never let you find the replacement pair of shorts.

Because He finds a way to fix things. He finds a way.

And maybe there are some things that don’t wash out–maybe there are some things that are done and over. But I think the way we figure that out is when the replacement pair of shorts doesn’t come our way.

God doesn’t leave us empty handed.

He gives us a new thing or he makes the old thing new again and whichever He chooses is always good. The new thing isn’t a knock-off and the old thing isn’t a shell of its former self. His gifts are good and perfect, whatever their form.

My heart is thankful He finds a way. And both my heart and my wardrobe are thankful that some things really do wash out.

God, My Questions, and a Stranger

I stared at the foam of my cappuccino as her words broke through the thick fog I’d been walking through since we first landed in Israel. This woman, who just an hour before had been a total stranger to me, was telling me her story and showing me some pretty raw places of her past.

She sighed, but sat with such peace. “I was struggling so much. I was believing so many lies… but God still used me, you know?”

I leaned in and watched the corners of her mouth turn upwards in a smile,

“God is so big, He doesn’t mind.”

As soon as they hit my heart, I knew those were the words I’ve been waiting years to hear.

It took me back to a few years ago, to a day that I’ve heavily carried. My face was soaking wet, my eyes were bloodshot; I was angry, I was afraid, I was barely breathing. I was five bodies deep in grief, and the sixth was being prepared to be put in the ground. I remember standing in that church building with clenched fists and shouting to the top of my lungs, “If God is so big, He can handle my questions!”

As soon as those words left my mouth, I broke. I fell straight to my knees and sobbed on the floor. Countless people passed by me, but I didn’t care how it looked. This was me and God on the battlefield and this was me slinging every last shot I had. I was firing all of my ammunition, this was my win or lose moment. This was the moment when God would either walk off and leave me or lean in and grab me tighter. I was giving Him every reason to finally turn around and walk away, I was pushing Him with every bit of force my tiny fists could muster. I thought for sure that He’d leave, if He hadn’t already.

So flash forward, years later, sitting in Israel across from this stranger. She whispered those words with such peace, such certainty: God is so big, He doesn’t mind.

It felt like I was finally hearing Him respond to that moment, “You were right, I could handle it. I didn’t mind. I didn’t mind that you were weak. It didn’t change anything.”

He’s that big. He isn’t the least bit altered by my anger, weakness, frustration or questions. I’m not a big enough bully that I could make Him walk away.

I think that was Israel for me. All throughout the Bible we see that Israel rejected God, gave Him a million reasons to leave. They hated Him, they pushed Him away, but He stayed and He still stays. He’s there and He has such mercy, even in the war and chaos, even in the grief and in the misunderstanding.

Everywhere I stepped it was a reminder of Him saying, I don’t leave my people. 

I think most people were expecting some kind of post about adventure, climbing mountains, walking on water, exploring ruins of an ancient city. Maybe you thought I’d have some kind of life lesson about enjoying every moment, about living an exciting and free life.

What this post is about is God pressing the play button, after feeling like I’ve been on pause for a really long time. It was His reply to the banging of my fists all those years ago. It was the moment of me finally looking up from weeping on the floor and seeing that even though so many people left, He stayed.

I walked down the Via Dolorosa last week (the road Jesus walked to the cross). I thought a lot about the men who were beating Him, swinging over and over again while watching His body crack and tear. Later I realized that some of the swings they made were for the day I fell screaming in that church floor.

He handled my questions, then. It was finished on that day. It didn’t matter that I hadn’t yet rammed my fists into the floor or shouted furiously, He handled my questions long before that day. God is big enough, that He didn’t mind. He didn’t mind my questions, because He died to give me the answer.

He doesn’t leave, that’s really what Israel gave to me. The reminder that we all have years spent in the desert, years of giving Him a million reasons to go. No matter how long we spend wandering around and walking in circles, He’s big enough, He can handle it, He stays.

When My Neck Is Sore and My Feet Are Tired

The whole thing started on a blue piece of construction paper. I was sitting in the lobby of one of my favorite places and furiously scribbling for my next blog post.

I kept getting distracted. Something that has been grabbing at my heart lately kept pulling on me. I would write a sentence, pause and let my mind wander. The next thing I knew I was playing a long and tiring round of “what if?”

Suddenly, I would remember that I was supposed to be focusing.

I leaned my head back against the wall, “Did they look down, God?”

I was thinking about The Wise Men. The ones who had direction, but no details. They knew what they were headed toward, but they didn’t know what it would take to get there. Follow the star and you’ll find the one who will save your life, that’s all they’d really been given.

Did they look down? I wondered if they ever got tired of holding their heads up and looking at that star.

“Did you use it, God?” That was my next question to Him.

“When their heads got tired of looking up and they felt the need to make a plan, to figure out places to rest, to find food. When they stopped trusting and tried to figure it out, did you use it?” 

When trying to figure out the timing of their journey and when they would arrive, did God factor in all the stops along the way? Did he plan for all the moments they’d get in an argument about whose turn it was to feed the camels?

My mind was all over the place and and I was feeling really guilty because I knew that if I had been on that journey, I would have tried to make maps and schedules. 

I would have tried to make sure all our needs were met, the camels were rested and fed, the path was safe, the other guys did their share of helping out.

I wouldn’t have always believed the star was enough. I would have looked away to draw my maps and make my plans. I get so easily distracted because I so desperately want details.

“Do you use it, God?”

Do you use the moments that I think your guidance seems vague and distant? The moments where I’m just stumbling around out in the desert and trying to figure out if I’m actually any closer than I was yesterday?

“I knew the men I had chosen.”

Suddenly, I felt really free. I didn’t feel Him scold me to rip up all my plans and maps. I just felt Him smile and let me in on an ancient little secret. Yes, He uses it. He uses even my distractions, my moments of distrust, the days that I get tired of looking up at the star and complain that my neck is sore and my feet are tired.

Though wise, those men were not perfect and God had always known that. He didn’t choose the The Perfect Men. He chose the worshippers, the ones who were willing to seek Him out, those willing to offer Him something they valued.

And when they left, God made sure He told them which way to go. He gave them a dream, He made sure they heard Him.

He knew the men He had chosen.

The Wise Men weren’t just wise because of their title, or even because they perfectly followed the star. They were ultimately wise because when God needed them to change the path, they were flexible to change their plans, they were ready and listening. They didn’t just trust the star, they trusted the One who put it up there in the first place.

He chose you and He knows you.

Just come, exactly as you are.

With your arms full of maps, schedules, poorly wrapped gifts. Just come. With your holiday frustration, your to-do list, the feelings that the star isn’t enough and that you’d like a few more details. Come, just as you are and bringing whatever you have.

Just come looking for Him. Keep coming, even if you yelled at Balthazar this morning for not brushing the camels.

Keep walking even without all the answers, and know that the proof of your trust is not in your perfection, but in the way you keep coming.

The Road In-Between

God asked me the one question I prayed He wouldn’t.

It was a sweet moment, though my knees were knocking and my shoulders shivering. The winds were cold, the roads daunting, the trees sprinkled with fresh snow. I took a deep breath before I answered Him, not even sure what would come out of my mouth

But He knew my answer before I did and that was the reason He asked; He knew I had to hear myself say it out loud.

I leaned against the car, my back pressed hard against it, staring up at the mountains. She told me this would happen. This complete stranger, who when she looked at me, smiled like she’d known me my entire life, told me: “He’s going to give you perspective up there, when you’re standing on top of that mountain.”

I knew she was right. Her words stayed nestled in the pit of my stomach and the whole drive up I just kept wringing my hands and shifting in my seat. He would be there, He would have something to say.

I saw and heard exactly what I hoped for and everything I prayed I wouldn’t.

I’m learning that’s the pattern of the road in-between. It’s a mix of hope and intimidation; something wonderful might be waiting, but the way there might require some uncomfortable and unnerving things.

The night before, I was in one of the most terrifying situations of my life. One of those moments where you choose to trust God, or to just lay down and give up. It was one of those moments where I wanted to run away; everything inside of me wanted to be rational, to make the safest choice and call it wisdom. But safety isn’t always wisdom. Safety isn’t always God.

And that’s never been my outlook on life. I’m cautious. I am cautious to the point that I make most grandparents look dangerous and reckless.

But cautious is not a synonym for right. I’m not always right in being cautious, I’m actually seeing that I’m more often wrong.

I made it.

And the next morning held my favorite kind of laughter, the kind that shakes your entire body, that leaves your eyes with tears and your gut in pain.

I’m realizing that’s also the way of the road in-between. It’s a lot of risk and praying. It’s a lot of crying out and holding steady, even when you just want to stop right there, and never move again. And you keep thinking there’s no way you’ll get through this and laugh again, but then somehow you do–somehow you get there. 

And it wasn’t safety that necessarily got you there, it wasn’t because you constructed the most cautious plan. It was because you did what you had to, you trusted, you prayed, you realized that your own cautious plans wouldn’t have ever guaranteed your safe arrival anyways.

Sometimes, you’re required to pry your hands from controlling the outcome of everything around you.

You can’t control it, even with all of your best and carefully laid plans. Nothing teaches you that more than the road in-between. You’ve already left where you were, you’re going somewhere else and you get three choices: stop and give up, turn around or move forward.

You’re already moving, you can’t change that. Once you move, you have to make some hard choices. The best choice for me was to move forward, even though everything inside of me shouted “turn back!” 

We shouldn’t always listen to that. Yes, there are times to trust your gut, but there’s also a time to shut it up, to tell yourself that your past experiences lied. Just because you’ve seen a road that looked like this before, doesn’t mean you’ll end up at the same place.

I write all of this, my bags still packed, my hair unwashed, my eyes stinging. I write this after just telling my roommates, “my experiences are my truth, that I have to make my choices based on past outcomes.”

But I knew on that mountain and I knew an hour ago, here in my living room, that to live believing every road lined with grass and trees takes you to the same destination is absurd.

The roads might have similar markers, but it doesn’t mean your destination is the same.

The road in-between isn’t easy for any of us, and it will likely require you to answer the hard questions and to choose to hold steady when you’re determined that the only way to survive is to stop or turn around.

But survival was never the goal in the first place.

And what would it matter if you made it back, but never got to hear the whisper that was waiting for you if you had just gone a little further.

Sitting across from two complete strangers I started to yell…

I’ve been replaying this memory in my head.

A while back, someone walked up to me weeks after we’d met and said “You may not remember me…”

I was stunned, absolutely speechless. I just kept quiet and went along with it. The whole time this person was talking and reminding me of that first introduction (one that was relatively significant), all that kept rolling through my mind was, Do you… do you actually think you could be so easily forgotten?

Looking back, I wish I had grabbed their shoulders, stared straight in their eyes and said, “You are better than multiple introductions given with a shaky voice, and thinking someone wouldn’t remember your golden smile.”

But those aren’t things we say to people, especially not on our second interaction. We smile politely and ask about their hometown, career, or where they went to college. We don’t drown them in words of value from the first second. We just go through the motions and keep to ourselves all the things we immediately love about them.

We restrain ourselves. We’re always holding back. We’re always trying to do what’s proper, because reservation has become synonymous with dignity. But when did hesitancy and suppression become virtues? Who decided that it was unbecoming to exuberantly and extravagantly tell someone how wonderful they are as soon as you meet them?

I met some amazing people over the weekend and it shook me.

It happened after I was thrown into a room of middle-aged parents, people who are in entirely different stages of life than I am. And there I was, trying to hold myself together. I didn’t want to speak too loudly, express myself too extravagantly. I wanted to appear poised and collected.

And then suddenly, sitting across from two complete strangers I started to yell, “Where did you come from? You are my people! You’re amazing! I love you!”

For a second, I felt exposed and childlike. I felt like I had just belched at a banquet table in The White House.

Until their faces spread into the widest grins. They laughed and both gave me strong, lengthy hugs and words of equal affirmation.

It was then that I realized that no other words could have been more valuable, more remarkable. I had in one swift outburst, burned the bridge of detachment that I had always been told was mature and professional upon meeting someone.

I immediately went back to that memory I’d been mulling over and whole-heartedly wished I had handled it in that same manner. I wished that I would have grabbed that person, the one who had put on a name-tag that said Stranger. Oh, that I would have excitedly pulled them in and called them Known.

We keep letting people in our lives label themselves Stranger. We wait…sometimes months, sometimes years. After numerous surface-level interactions, we might then graduate to a casual compliment or vocally acknowledge their value. We give nods and half smiles, feeling uncomfortable to go beyond that. We don’t know them, after all. It would be weird to say something of actual consequence.

But how odd it is that we have to give ourselves pep-talks to interact with people we see daily, weekly, monthly. Isn’t it disheartening that using terms of endearment for other humans takes years, when using them for pets is an instant reaction.

We generously use our most meaningful and affirming words on puppies or kittens, but hold them back for years from the people across the street or down the hall.

Our craving to appear impressive and eloquent leads us to being neither. I’m learning that there’s nothing impressive about my holding back from others my pure and joyful adoration for them, the delight I feel when they are simply themselves. Even if I’ve only known them a few short moments.

The world has enough dignified people who paint inside the lines, fold their hands, and craft their words. What the world really needs are the finger-painters who might make a mess, but whose words are ones of love unrehearsed and love unreserved.

It Won’t Be the Stage

I joined a grief group soon after I moved to Georgia.

It was completely unlike me, but I was so broken and desperate for healing that I was willing to do something that I would have previously labeled as mortifying.

I showed up to a few of the meetings. I was the youngest person, the quietest person and the least certain that I wanted to be there.

It took maybe three sessions before I walked out a changed person. It had nothing to do with the discussions, people, videos, etc. (although they were all good things). I think I walked out a completely different person because it took choosing to become a different person to ever walk into that meeting in the first place.

Sometimes, we have to choose to do the things we never thought we would.

We have to be willing to walk out the path that we once labeled ourselves too good to tread on.

I was a pull-yourself-up-by-your-boot-straps-and-deal-with-it kind of girl for most of my adolescence. I didn’t need grief groups, counselors, or cry sessions. I was too strong for that, too proud for that.

But it wasn’t until I chose to do the things that sent my knees to the dirt that I learned how wrong I’ve seen the world.

I learned the value of doing things that are hard, that require me to sit among other broken people and say maybe we’re all really the same. Maybe I’m not better than anyone else. Maybe I am a poster child for weakness and that’s not as bad as it always seemed. Maybe weakness is where I always needed to start.

The world is going to tell you who you’re supposed to be and what you’re supposed to wear.

They’re going to tell you that you’ve got to be the loudest, the funniest, the crowd-drawer. They’re going to expect you to wear dresses, suits, ties and pointed shoes. They’ll tell you that’s what makes a leader, that’s what makes a world changer. They’ll tell you that the behind the scenes people are important too. “There are no small parts,” that’s what they’ll say.

And what they’ll never know is that some of the greatest leaders, greatest world changers, some of the bravest people are those who pull the curtains and cheer for the people on the stage.

What they’ll never tell you is that Mother Teresa wasn’t a show stopper and she didn’t go looking for microphones and monuments built for her name. But she was a force; she wrestled hatred with her bare hands, and she won. At age 87, she lifted her arms in victory and heard the words, “Well done.”

They told us, “Leaders don’t go to grief groups, and world changers aren’t quiet. Difference makers don’t mop floors and brave people don’t wait for anything. Leaders push, they’re the people who build something and make things happen (even if what they built doesn’t last).”

But what I’ve learned of lasting change is from the people who choose the hard things, whose names aren’t the first among the credits. They learn how to listen first, and speak carefully. They weigh their words, bend their knees and know what it means to wait, to truly wait for something to grow.

They are not afraid of the platforms or the microphones, but they have no appetite for them, no fascination with them. They do not shrink at truth, but do not speak for the sake of being heard.

I took a journey of becoming the person I want to be when I stepped through the door that led me to that grief group. When I chose to become the person that I saw as weak, I started to do the things that actually make me stronger.

What I really needed was to step into a little back room with a few people, where I didn’t need to be liked, or to get a round of applause. I needed to sit among people who knew my kind of loss and admit that it was hard, but I was going to try. I had to decide that I was willing to do the work it would take (even if it took forever).

It was the little step that led to a change that has lasted.

It won’t be the stage, the fame, the applause, that will make you the kind of person you really want to be, or help you change the world in a deep-rooted way.

Mother Teresa’s don’t come by way of popularity.

It’s when you let go of the need to have anyone know your name, the need to be seen as strong or brave; that’s when you’ll change the world in a lasting way.

It Happened and It Changed Me

A few years ago, I learned how to really cry.

I cried buckets of tears until I was drained. They stopped coming after that; the saddest songs and movies only caused a shrug of my shoulders and the shaking of my head. Nothing seemed to move me quite the same after those months that left me dry.

Then came New York City,

with her tall buildings, her strong coffee, her firm presence and undeniable strength. She made me cry again, she brought me face to face with my drought. And she brought freedom for me when I realized that there are some things still big enough to stir me, to remind me that none of us are immovable.

There now sits a memorial, a museum, and a tower that knocked the wind right out of me. A reminder of New York’s own kind of Titanic. We never thought it could sink and yet the walls fell. On that day, a lot of life sunk beneath piles of debris and rubble.

In all of her stability and power, a strong part of her crumbled on that day. 

But there now sits a memorial, a museum, and a tower. They don’t replace what was lost, but whisper, there are still things we can build.

She taught me that. It’s not about replacing, it’s about rebuilding.

Because we won’t ever get back what we lost. It can never be the same again.

They didn’t try to bulldoze it all and pave over the loss, leaving no traces behind. What a betrayal that would have been. They left reminders, and built beautiful things around it.

Sometimes it feels like a betrayal of myself to try and pave over the past. It happened and it changed me. Still, I’ve tried to just replace it all and erase my memory.

But New York grabbed me by the shoulders, shook me hard and said, “Build around it, girl. Build beautiful things around it and let it push you to fight more fiercely for your freedom.”

She gave me permission and I didn’t even know that’s what I needed.

But when I stood next to that tower and watched the people who still fearlessly get on subways, planes, and walk the streets alone, I knew I was being given an invitation: it’s time to remember how to be free again. 

New York is still loud, still loves bagels. She doesn’t apologize for her size, for the space she takes up.

She didn’t cut her hair, change her clothes, become someone new. She just kept going, kept being herself, kept her arms open and her streets full. She didn’t have to convince anybody that she would be better off. She just daily grew stronger and proved that freedom comes through rebuilding, in not letting the pain take the best of you.

It won’t be easy.

I’m figuring that out. Through tears and decisions, it’s been me and some of my closest friends sitting knee to knee and saying, “It hurts to look at all the pain, to not deny it, to experience it fully and try to find some sort of peace with it all. “

What does it look like to rebuild? Where do we even start?

For us, we start with prayers, a cup of tea, and laying one brick at a time.

“We’ll get there.” That’s what we tell each other with bloodshot eyes and runny noses. We’ll see the good things, they’re closer every single day.

We’re beginning to rebuild and it will take time to see results, but I know we’re going to get there.

The Days That Make up The Years

Fourteen years ago, sometime in the earliest hours of the morning, I was sitting on my mother’s lap when she said, “he’s gone.”

I’ve never forgotten that moment, never unlearned the pain of losing someone I love.

I don’t think my grandfather would have ever imagined that such a little girl would carry a silly, wrinkled, ice cream obsessed man into even the smallest spaces of her life. But I did and I still do. I still think about him every time I see a peppermint, turn on a computer, or flip past the tv show Jeopardy.

Lately, my mind has been taking me back to the days when I thought God was big guy with dark black hair and a blue sash.

I thought He sat in a blue wingback chair and wanted me to be successful and smart.

But if you were to ask me what I believe about that now, I would pour you some coffee and tell you that I don’t really have the answers I thought I would have by now. That night, fourteen years ago, I would have hoped I’d have figured my life out by now.

If you were here next to me, I would tell you about a man who had a faith that I could see, but never got the chance to touch.

He never tried to offer answers, never in my childhood did I hear him trying to beg or convince others to believe. But he lived with a quiet, steady belief of a God who is not easily explained. I loved that he never tried to explain Him, and yet, somehow I always knew my grandfather believed.

I think even as a child, I knew that you couldn’t have joy like his or overcome the fear he’d battled without some sort of rooted belief that God was there, that He hears our prayers.

Welcome to the whirlwind.

The storm that will hit you when you finally have to admit to yourself that you don’t really have all the answers. When you realize that fourteen years later, sometimes your view of God is not as steady as it used to be, back when you thought He was the Big Guy in Blue.

Sometimes, He is quiet.  He rarely explains himself.

I’ve started to think He’s okay with the quiet parts of our faith. With the wrestling and wondering about how we got here, where we’re going, and where He stands in the middle of all of it.

My faith isn’t always loud, doesn’t always have words and I think He’s big enough to work with that.

I don’t think God is bothered by the fact that I ask so many questions. Or that sometimes I don’t have the strength to ask them at all. I think He’s okay with that fact that some days I just want to learn the art of a perfect latte, or walk aimlessly around department stores.

He never put pressure on me like I thought He did. He doesn’t sit up there waiting to use me if/when I become smart & successful. 

And days of wandering, smaller paychecks, and messy hair don’t make me a failure.

I think He can handle my mediocrity. I think He can handle the sigh I make when I slam the snooze button and pray to forget the hard things.

There’s a lot of change that has been happening and I don’t really know how to make sense of it. I don’t have any idea how to take some of the steps I’m going to have to takeIn this moment, I wish my grandfather could be here, so that I could ask him about what it takes to move on, about what it takes to swallow your fear and decide to keep walking.

If I could, I would make you a fort in my room, the way we did at my grandparents’ house. I would give you vanilla ice cream with chocolate syrup, and pop in Beauty and the Beast. I would refuse to let us fill our time with worrying about how it will all turn out. We would just love the moments of our lives, not knowing that the day will come when people we love will be gone. I wouldn’t tell you that we might wake up fourteen years later with a life that looks nothing like we planned.

Because most of the time, God doesn’t want us to figure it out. He just wants us to live.

If He had told the nine-year-old me that my grandfather would die, I would move to a different state, and given me the daily contents of my life at twenty-three…I’m certain I would have panicked.

Because I wouldn’t have been able to see or know the good in all the other days. I wouldn’t have known all the people who have stepped in and taught me how to stand, the laughter that steals the breath right out of me, the plane rides that take me to places I never knew existed. I wouldn’t have known about the late night eating of cake, the long talks in the kitchen, the days when hope holds my bones together.

Because the fear tries to steal the joy. It tries overshadow all the goodness in our days.

We’re not going to figure it all out.

And I don’t think it’s worth trying. We just have to live life, enjoy it, wrestle through it, love the people around us fiercely. We have to realize that our lives impact people. That a 73-year-old man can be branded on the heart of a 9-year-old girl, and he can forever change the way she sees the world.

We have to stop demanding that God give us the answers we desperately seek. Because He knows our frame is too small to hold the knowledge of all that is in front of us.

We have to know that there’s goodness. Even though I know there will be sadness, pain, loss, days when I wish I could hold people that are no longer here. Still, there is such goodness ahead. 

We have to learn to be okay with quiet faith, with being human, with plans that might not make us look smart or successful. We have to learn to love the process, the days that make up the years, the joy we are privileged to hold when new babies are born, weddings are celebrated, autumn is welcomed once again.

We have to trust His goodness, even and especially in the unknown.

We have to know that God’s always had us, and He will always get us through. We have to trust that there’s joy and good living ahead of us.

If I would have asked my grandfather then, and I think even if I could ask him now, he would tell me this: I can bet on a belief that says there is so much goodness I’ve yet to see.

I Thought That Was My Moment

If anyone else had been there they would have written down our words, a description of the weather, and told Nicholas Sparks to drop it into a novel.

The perfect song was playing on the radio.

I thought that was my moment.

I could not have written the whole scene better myself. I was proud, proud of myself for taking a risk, proud of God for giving my story such a perfect little paragraph.

So, when I ended up with my face in the carpet a few days later, it’s safe to say that I was disappointed with myself and with God.

I laid still, wishing I could force tears to come. But I was numb, I was tired, and I just wanted to forget the whole thing.

That wasn’t my moment. I thought to myself, the toes of my running shoes digging into the floor.  It was always too small. I know that wasn’t it.

Whether I wanted to admit it or not, that perfect moment could have never been enough. I’d been aching for so long for a moment, something that would cause me to see the color of the trees again. I needed something to pull me out of the dull gray fog that had blanketed my life.

I thought I had it, and it rivaled every movie moment I’ve ever applauded. But it was still too small to compete with the fire that once sat in my belly.

People are not God.

That’s the thing I’ve been trying to say, the words I’ve been searching for since I was eight years old and lying on a trampoline, studying the hues of the sky. 

They will not make us whole.

They can’t fix three years of broken friendship. They can’t see the years of dancing, praying and crying we did next to barren white walls. They could never keep you from crumbling when you get the seven phone calls to put on a black dress and say goodbye. They can never be what makes you whole, and the moments they give us won’t paint our colorless worlds.

It took a ten minute conversation in my driveway for me to realize that a few perfect moments would never be the things to convince me to get out of bed in the morning. They would never be worth living for.

Because moments fade and perfect songs end.  We go back to the grind of life and soon realize that we’re still looking for more, craving something that lasts longer than a few hours, weeks, years.

People can’t fix you. 

No matter how many times they tell you how beautiful you are, how far you can go, how special you were born to be.

People are never going to fix your ache. They’re never going to pull you out of the darkness, never going to have the kind of love that will help you put one foot in front of the other. They might give it their best, but it could never be enough.

Don’t put that on them. Don’t put it on someone else’s shoulders to make everything okay for you. They will let you down, even if they make every promise not to.

Sometimes, we get the perfect moments.

The thing we hoped would happen. The job we worked hard for. The keys to the house we dreamt about our entire lives. The wedding we planned for at 10 years old. But it will never be enough and the people next to you in life can never fully fix your broken heart.

When the day settles and you are left with just your own thoughts and an ache that digs at the deepest parts of you, He’s there. Even when you think He’s left you.

Stay there.

Maybe you’ve never been the kind to stay, but if you’ll just dig your feet in, there’s something beneath the ground He’s got you standing on. Stay with Him. He didn’t let you get to this place without a purpose and He didn’t leave you to figure it out on your own.

That thing you’ve been begging Him for, that you don’t have, it’s not because He is cruel. But it’s because He knows it won’t fix it and that what you’re asking for isn’t really the thing you want.

What you really want is to feel whole again, so you don’t actually want Him to give you anything but Himself.

I am Tired of Praying for Things

“It matters where you stand.”

Ironically enough, I remember exactly where I was standing when God said that to me. I was about to go into a meeting that had me wringing my hands and fidgeting with loose threads.

I had no idea that meeting would alter the course of my life. I was also entirely unaware of how that one sentence from God would continuously save me over and over again.

“You are a person who gets what you pray for, but not without a cost.”

When a friend said those words to me, I knew they were the truth. I’m always asking for bold things, for specifics, and many times God grants them. But then He shows me what all the things that I’ll have to say “no” to in order for Him to say “yes” to that thing.

There’s a price for big prayers. It isn’t because God is punishing us, or because His love isn’t free. Answered prayers aren’t proof of God’s love or affirmation, they’re just a door that leads our heart to see how much we have always been loved.

I wish I’d understood that when I asked Him for that one thing. He gave it to me, but only for a season. He didn’t give it to me because it was the best thing for me, but because it would break my heart in a way that would cause me to become the best version of myself I’d ever been.

It was never about the thing, it was about the process that led to a permanent and beautiful change.

It’s not about the thing.

We want all these things, all these blessings, but it’s not about the thing.

It’s about who we are when we get the thing, while we have the thing, and when we lose the thing.

Believe me when I tell you, it can never about the thingBecause things are just things, they aren’t stable, they aren’t constant. They can be right in the winter and wrong for the spring.

Things change.

The way a heart beats,  the weather, the strength of your bones… they all change. Nothing stays the same here on earth. The thing you’re so desperately begging God for, if it’s a thing, it won’t last.

Maybe you’ll have it for eighty years. Maybe you’ll have it for a day. But at the end of it all, the thing was and can never be the point.

What it points you toward, how you grow, the person you start to become, your focus: those are the point.  The thing is just the door that takes you to those rooms, that shows you why God ever gave you breath to start with.

How that thing builds love in you, and the truth it helps you echo, that was always the point.

I don’t always get what I pray for, but either way, I’m learning to pray less for things and more for processes, for truths, for God to make me who I need to be. As far as the things, well it seems best to let God choose the ones most suited for the process.

It matters where you stand. Maybe you’ll get some cool shoes while you stand there. Maybe you’ll have good stories about what passes by. But those things will never be the point. It matters where you stand simply because of who you’ll be if and when God asks you to stand somewhere else.