Some Notes on Letting Go

It has been that kind of month.

The kind where your insurance gets randomly deactivated. The kind where you get a migraine so bad that your head is in the trash can. The kind where someone changes their mind faster than you can catch your breath.

The kind where you are stuck having conversations that you swore you’d never get close to having again.

Let it rain.

Put your palms out and throw your head back and stop trying to build makeshift umbrellas.

Welcome to the there’s-nowhere-else-to-run club. I am the ring leader and I’m here to tell you this: you are where you are and the faster you accept that, the easier you’ll start to breathe.

I was nine years old the year that Matthew Mcconaughey’s southern drawl became the nighttime lullaby for young girls everywhere. All my friends kept The Wedding Planner in their DVD player and let it play as they fell asleep.

And there was that part at the end where Mary starts throwing out all the colored M&Ms because Steve once pointed out that the brown ones had less artificial food coloring (because chocolate is already brown).

I think that line probably stayed with all of us. I’m convinced there’s a massive population of twenty-something females who think about that every time they tear open those little candy bags.

That scene has been on repeat in my head in the middle of the torrential downpour that is the month of June.

So, I’ve been taking inventory of the candy in my life—the things that seem to put color in my hands, but aren’t exactly the real thing.

You can’t always get away from that. I’m learning that sometimes, you’re forced to take a good long look at what it is that you’ve been holding onto and realize that you’re better off letting it go.

And in the middle of hugging that trash can, making toll-free phone calls, and sweeping old tile floors you will get soaked in the downpour of confusion, anger, hurt, misunderstanding. But, just slip off your shoes and sit down in the middle of it, realize that there’s nowhere you can hide from this storm.

But you know what? It’s actually a good thing, because the truth is, God knows there’s some dust you just can’t shake. Sometimes you need a thunderstorm to wash over you and to clean off the things that were never meant to cling to you.

So, let it rain. Decide that you’re done with whining, complaining and wishing for a change in the weather. Let it rain and look at the dark clouds knowing that they’re serving you far more good than harm. It might keep coming down, but it’s not going to sweep you away. You won’t drown, just know that.

So yeah, it’s raining over here in Georgia and artificial flavored things are flying all over the place. And there’s laughter and yelling and a whole lot of uncertainty, but I’m still standing. No umbrella, no rain jacket; just me watching the maker of the clouds rinse off the things that need to go.

I’m not here to tell you that I’ve mastered it—or found all the secrets of letting go. But I’m just here to welcome you, if you find yourself standing under these same kind of skies. Maybe you’ve been here before. Maybe you’re wondering how you found your way back. Well, you’re not alone, and we are not drowning. And God isn’t punishing us by sending this rain. We‘re here, exactly where we’re supposed to be, because it’s time for us to come clean. It’s time to be rid of the things we just couldn’t shake on our own.

So, welcome to the storm! Pull up a chair, I’m happy to loan you some notes of what I’m relearning about letting go.

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.

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.

The Fight You’ll Never Win

I wish someone had told me back then that love is not a competition.

I wish someone had come to me and said: “If there ever comes a time when you’re thrown into the ring and told to fight is to prove yourself, to prove your value; if you feel the need to make people think you’re something different than you are, that’s the time to throw your hands up and bow out.

Maybe then I would have known I was throwing and taking punches in a fight that never crowns a final winner.

Growing up, I was too skinny. My curly hair was out of control. My thick, but beautifully arched eyebrows were called unruly. These days, those attributes are coveted. Everyone wants to be skin and bones, every woman I know owns a curling wand. The new trend is for girls draw in thicker, more full eyebrows than what they already have.

The rules are always changing. That’s something I wish I had known.

Just when you’ve finally saved enough for the right pair of jeans, or have hit your “target weight” or have perfected your beachy waves hairstyle: all the rules change.

Decide now, just to be a rule breaker. Because your jokes are funny. Your hair is perfectly fine the way it is. The size of your jeans won’t make the world stop spinning.

Know that there will always be people who slide on their gloves and taunt you to get in the ring.

There will be people who will kick you with insults that are wrapped beneath a sticky sweet condescending smile. They will steal your jokes, your witty one liners and sign their name at the end. They will be better than you at volleyball, dancing or baking, and they’ll make sure you and everybody else knows it.

But they can’t take anything from you. No one on earth can put their feet in your shoes and go the exact distance and route you’ve gone. No one could ever be better at being you.

So, stop apologizing for the things that make you weird, or the things that nobody has ever complimented. Stop trying to be a competitor in a contest that seeks to make us all look and act the same.

I spent years trying to throw those defining words away.

Like those leftover mashed sweet potatoes that stayed in my fridge for far too long, like the junk mail you never remember subscribing to, like the tree limbs that fell in last week’s ice storm.

I. Wanted. To. Be. Done.

I wanted to be done with syllables, sentences, paragraphs, that had been tossed toward me like I was dog begging for scraps. Words that someone else used to tell me who I’m supposed to be.

And if I’m not careful, I’ll start carrying them around again. 

Back then, I learned how brace myself like I was a balloon in the hand of someone whose other hand held a needle; he made me think that he held the power to drain me of all my worth. Be the best. Speak softer. Have less opinions. Look prettier. And maybe, just maybe, you’ll be the pick-of-the-day.

But I never saw how he carried his own disappointments like a wildfire, until they nearly burned me to the ground.

Breeding defeat and disappointment were his specialties and I ordered them every single time.

Believe me when I say that I paid for it, over and over again. It took months on top of months until I maxed out and finally heard PAYMENT DECLINED. That day, I fell to my knees and prayed for the next person who would someday get in over their head in his kind of debt.

Someone should tell you that love does not require repayment. It doesn’t send out itemized statements, rules, or lists of demands.

The envelopes that hold those bills are the personalized stationary of Misery and Selfishness. You need to consider an address change the first day they stamp and mail something your way.

You don’t have to compete for love. Your fight isn’t one to prove you’re enough. You don’t have to be anyone or anything other than yourself. And people who take swings at you, or try to measure your worth: know that those people are burning in their own disappointment. Chances are they’ve had their share of people use harsh words to tell them who they’re supposed to be.

Figure out your own standards. Don’t let others become your measuring stick, the thing that says whether or not you’re enough.

Know who you are and stop apologizing for it. Learn to love all the parts of you, even if each one of them breaks all the rules.

Sunday and Not Settling

Sunday has ruined me for other days.

Sunshine, windows down, music sailing through speakers, it’s like his wind whispers: you’ll never be able to settle when you see how I’ll always come back around for you.

I’ve tried to fall in love with Mondays, Thursdays, but they can’t hold a shred of my heart once he starts knocking.

He is gentle in the way he loves me. He brings friends with fresh flowers and comes with steeples that hover over people who are also trying to learn about this thing called grace.

I love that he makes me feel comfortable to be natural, barefoot and lazy. I’m never afraid to let my hair down, to dance and twirl on hardwood floors. Together, along with caramel coffee, we don’t focus on the questions, the worry, what we don’t know. He’s my day, it’s that plain and simple. Sunday has got me wrapped around his finger.

He’s painted with laugh lines and leans in to remind me that even when it’s hard, i’m going to be just fine.

Sunday ruined me for settling.

God knows I’ve tried. I’ve drawn maps and written pages about how maybe just maybe, I could try and hold hands with people and things that just weren’t ever meant to be mine. But then there’s Sunday, and he starts shoveling hope back to this heart like he did when I was eight, twelve and fifteen; he does it now, just weeks away from twenty-three. 

I’m not going to stand here and tell you that it’s easy to hold onto hope. I’m not going to grab your hands and force you to grip the end of this rope and wait for a love like Sunday. I’m just going to tell you that you could. I think you could do it.

You don’t have to wait. I’m not saying that you’re doomed to loneliness unless you find perfection. What I am telling you is that, I don’t want to be the one who settles. 

Not in a world where I can string together Sundays and know what it feels like to be so completely delighted in.

Not when there’s ice cream and good conversation on the front porch to be had. I can’t settle when there are backyard campfires to be around while sitting on blankets, roasting hotdogs and drinking root beer.

I can’t settle when I really do believe that love exists, that it can be strong enough to overcome death and that I was born to be fought for and absolutely adored. I can’t settle for “making something work” or something that’s “logical and just makes sense”.

I left social media for a while to discover how to be enchanted by the world again and I think I’m finally there. I think today, Sunday, sealed the deal for me. I’m starting to remember that the world is pretty glorious, pretty breathtaking place and that hope isn’t foolish, it isn’t a recipe for disappointment.

Foolishness is giving up on what you’ve bruised your knees in prayer for.

It”s up to you to decide if you want more. Decide if you believe that better things than what you’re wanting to settle for are really worth the wait.

I’m going to tell you that I want to learn to leave people feeling the way I feel about Sundays. I want to be a reason for people to think they’re made for much better than settling.  

Sundays have ruined me for being disenchanted and for telling people that it’s okay to choose anything less than what makes them better, what makes them feel adored. I want them to be inspired to love with a kind of love that’s overwhelming and that sets the bar for those who’ve never known what it means to be truly, wholly and completed delighted in.

I’m ruined for anything less than life filled with love like Sundays.

Unplugging and Reinventing

I’ve forgotten how to be enchanted.

We live in a world where text messages are considered pursuit, apps can act as a crystal ball for choosing your future spouse, phone calls are for old people and face to face dinners where phones stay tucked in our pockets are almost extinct.

I used to spend weekends watching movie after movie. My sister and I would curl up with cups of tea, bags of snacks and sit under piles of blankets. I never once watched a movie where people stared at their phones during dinner or sat in rooms silently scrolling through Facebook for three hours. If I had watched a movie where people paused at every meal, street corner, or flower to take a picture and Instagram it, I would have never made it to the ending.

I’ve been consumed by the wrong kind of light. The glow of my computer and phone have dulled my eyes to what’s truly beautiful.

I miss being inspired by grand gestures. I miss believing that people care enough to run through airports, that we live in a world where it’s possible for people show up on your porch. I miss being the person who is willing to go to great lengths to let people know they really matter. I miss believing that other people are willing to do that for me.

I want to live in a world where girls know they’re beautiful because someone looks them right in the face and says it, not because they got 174 likes on their selfie.

I want to live in a moment and not feel the need to have 844 people approve it or admire it. I want to live in a world where it’s still fun to have sweet secrets. I want to dance alone in my room like a fool if flowers are delivered to my door. I want to treasure and cherish surprises and not spoil the intimacy and thrill of a gesture that whispers, “I thought of you today.

We forget to live. It’s really that simple. We forget to spend our last moments before we fall asleep thinking about the way someone made us laugh that day. Our phones are the first thing we grab in the morning, so we forget to take a second to even be thankful that we’ve got another day, another chance to show up.

The things we love in movies are the things we wish we could do, but have completely closed ourselves off to. We love the extravagant speeches, when the plain-jane girl finally gets asked to dance, and when the guy stands outside with a boombox over his head. You actually have to show up to do those things. You’ve got to get in your car and go to them for that to happen.

You know, I’d weep buckets of tears if we started swooning in movie theaters as we watched George Clooney send a text that said, “What are you up to?”

All of this to say: I’m unplugging for a little while. 

Because I want to enjoy a sunset without grabbing my phone. I want to be forced to do something more than run my fingers over a keyboard to tell someone I really miss you.

I can’t expect this from others, without requiring it of myself. It starts with me. I have to learn how to look away from my phone, Facebook and anything else that gives me a false sense of relationship. I want people to know what’s happening in my life because we sat down and had lunch. I want to be forced to remember my closest friends’ birthdays without having to be told by a screen. I want to stand in front of someone and say “Hey! You’re pretty awesome” with a hug and a bag of their favorite chocolate.

So, I’m unplugging from social media for the next little bit. I don’t have a set time, I guess it will be however long it takes for me to feel excitement rebuilding in my bones; however long it takes for me to have made a dent in reinventing the way I see the world.

But not to worry, things will be written and the blog will go on! I’m excited to see how it will refuel my passion for life and help me create new content. I’ve got a feeling that good things are on the way.

The Stranger In The Corner

“We’re ready for the check.” Hands folded gracefully, she smiled up at the waitress.

Picking up plates, our waitress grinned. “Someone already took care of it.”

Our eyes began to scan the room. We stared at one another wordlessly, realizing we hadn’t the slightest clue who would do such a thing.

Our waitress saw our expressions and leaned in, “It was the gentleman who was sitting behind you. He’s one of our regulars, he’s a really nice guy.”

I saw tears form in my sweet friend’s eyes and I felt the sting of them in my own.

We sat there, hands clutching our hearts, completely in awe. I had just spent the last hour venting about my frustration, ranting about all the reasons why I’m angry at a large portion of men in my life. I knew he heard every word and I wondered if it was this stranger’s way of pouring a little hope into my weary heart.

We grabbed our purses and slowly walked out of our favorite restaurant. We always go there, though it’s a luxury and above what my budget typically allows. We’ve never said it, but I think it’s a treat to ourselves and to each other. Going there is our way of saying, “You are worth extravagant things. You’re classy, legendary, exquisite, fierce and unstoppable. You should be celebrated.”

The truth is though, my friend can make anywhere classy. When you’re in a room with her, you feel like you’ve got the world on a string, everything you need in your pockets. When she’s around, you feel as though mirrors rejoice at the chance to catch all the loveliness you carry.

I think that’s who we were always meant to be.

I think we’re meant to light up rooms that way. I think people should feel like gold around us, they should feel celebrated, their heads should be held high and feeling like they’ve got the kind of greatness that stops people in their tracks.

I think the guy who picked up our tab understood that. I think he knew that sometimes you need to make someone feel special, give them something extravagant and not even stick around to see their smile. Do it for them, not for you. Give and shine and be the person who makes someone feel valuable, make them know that even in their difficult moments, they’re worth beautiful and selfless gestures.

I’m learning how to be that person, who isn’t afraid to go big for other people. I’m also figuring out how to go big for myself, to make strong decisions. It feels good to finally come to the place where you just square your shoulders and say, “Come hell or high water, I’m doing this thing. I’m in it and I’m going to shake the earth with the way I dig my heels in and change things.”

I think people need us to be able to do that. They need us to see value in ourselves and that will push and inspire them to believe and see their own. When we show them that we’re determined to make ourselves grow, to see ourselves go further than we were ever told we could go, it will be easier for them to see that they are born to do the same.

This is really all about how I’m realizing how valuable I am and how learning that makes it easier to see others that way. If I know what I’m worth, then I’ll see that nothing can lessen that and how showing others their worth makes us both richer.

I never expected the stranger in the corner to be the one to strengthen these knocking knees. I sometimes forget how simple acts lead to incredible change.

2014 is coming to a close and I can’t really say that I’m sad to see her go. There were difficulties, there were hard questions, harder answers and a grace to learn to live with both.  Changes are coming and I’m ready. Checks paid, faith restored, hope refilled and I’ve got a feeling this is just the beginning.

Black Coffee & Weak People

“I’ll take a coffee.”

He begins slowly pouring it into the white paper cup. “Room for cream and sugar?”

I shake my head, “No.”

He looks slightly surprised, but says nothing as he pops the plastic top onto the cup.

If you’re going to love something, learn to love it exactly the way it is.

This is my thought about coffee, about life, about people.

We’re always trying to add things, change things, make them sweeter and easier to swallow.

I don’t want to expect anything different than what I’m being handed. This is it. This cup of coffee, this moment, this human being. This is what’s in front of me and that has to be enough, it should be enough.

I want to be enough as I am.

I realized that when I was working in the living room in my pajamas the other morning. Our house is consistently knocked upon by visitors and I’m just learning how to open the door.

No running to the mirror to check my hair, no throwing the little messes into the laundry room. I want to be enough, just as I am.

When I’m angry, in denial, in my sweatpants with two day hair. When there’s just not enough energy in me to do what needs to be done. When I’m disappointing people, disappointing myself, I want to know that it’s not the end of the world.

I want you to hear that from me. I want you to know that there’s some grace for you, when you can’t stand for another second. If you just need me to grab your shoulders and say: just rest, you have the time you need to figure this out, I’ll do that for you.

It’s okay that you haven’t figured it out yet. Everyone is rushing you and you’re overwhelmed with the idea of having to figure out where one more piece fits in this puzzle…but you don’t have to do it today. You don’t even have to do it tomorrow.

There’s going to come a day where you do have to get up, make your bed, and make a decision. You can’t stay here in your comfy chair forever. But today, if you need to rest, I’m here to tell you that you’re still enough.

In your weakest moment, you are adequate. You’re allowed to get tired and frustrated. You are allowed to take a break. You are allowed to let people down, because you are not perfect.

You are still human. You are still fragile. While you are wildly adequate, stunning, worth loving you are still just made of dust.

And you can’t carry it all. You can’t be everything to everybody all the time. You can’t be every single piece to every empty corner of a puzzle. You’re just you, you’re just one person and that’s all you have to be today, just you. And you can be weak if you need to be, you can cry and laugh until you can’t distinguish which is which anymore and you’re just letting out whatever it is that’s been burrowing so deep inside of you this week.

Black coffee. Frustrating days. People who are broken. I’m learning to love them, hold them, take them exactly as they are, nothing added and nothing else expected.

We’re enough today, even if we’re at our weakest, we are adequate and worth love even if we still haven’t figured things out.

 

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.]

It’s Okay to Not Be Okay

Blood shot eyes, I just sat there with my face soaked in tears. Hands beneath the table, I was clenching that elegant white table cloth, praying we could just get that meal over with.

No one asked.

I think that had to be one of the most monumental moments of that year. Sitting at a table in some of the deepest pain I’ve ever known, and the people I thought were closest to me never even asked.

He was gone. Not gone on vacation, not moved away. He was really gone and at that moment being prepared to be lowered in the ground.

I could have tapped my glass, stood to give a toast, and at the end tacked on: “and with this sip of water, I toast to the life of a childhood friend who isn’t simply moving away, but who no longer has breath in his body.”

I didn’t, thank God. My mother gave me the sense to know that doing those kinds of things wouldn’t have changed what had already occurred. Still, sometimes I lie awake and wonder if it would have been an alarm clock to a room full of people who claim to love me.

I want to be the person who asks, even when I don’t want to, even if it’s uncomfortable. I want to see brokenness and not be afraid of it. I want to love people so much that even if their arms push me away, I push harder to let them know that it’s okay to not be okay.

I think sometimes we’re just all afraid to dig deeper, to ask painful questions. We’re afraid of what could occur if we light a match next the pile of dynamite pain. I don’t want to be standing too close if and when this explodes. 

“I’ll let them come to me.” We tell ourselves, “When they’re ready to talk about it… they will.”

Sometimes that’s true, but most of the time it’s an excuse.

We sit at fancy tables with white table cloths and we just try to shield our eyes from the person dripping tears into their lap. This isn’t the time or place. Can’t they just get it together until the time is more appropriate? I’ll ask them later, when there are less people around, when I have more time.

We give them a little side hug, buy their food, a little pat on the back, but we steer clear of words and apologies. It’s easier just to not ask, to say a little prayer and hope that God handles it and we don’t have to.

We’re always waiting for better moments to love people. We’re waiting until we’ve changed into lesser clothes before we sit down in the mud with them.

I’m not sure when it became embarrassing or improper to not be okay. As though it were a choice, or as if it could be controlled. We treat it as though little bandaids can hold back the blood of gaping wounds. Just put this over it, put on a little smile until it’s more convenient, but don’t break, not here, not in public.

Sitting at that table on that Sunday afternoon where no one asked, I nearly bled out. While faces were turned and entrees were served, I felt almost everything drain out of me.

I wondered if that was how he felt. Had he been stabbed with that same feeling over and over again? Had he just sat in room after room, at table after table while no one asked? Did he feel inconvenient, weak, shameful? Is that what caused him to end his life? Did they watch him bleed out, never willing to put their hands on his wounds and call for help?

You can’t save people. Those words have been said to me over and over again, I know they are true. But I can scream, I can yell, I can make a scene to say that you are loved and you are not in this thing alone. I may not can save them, but I must be willing to push people out of the ways of trains, away from cliffs; to bring flashlights to them on dark paths where it seems like there’s only one end.

I can’t save people, but that can never be a reason not to fight for someone’s life with all the fierce love inside of me.

I want to dig my heels in and say “It’s alright if you make a scene, let it out, be angry or broken. You are not an embarrassment. I don’t see you as a fragile or useless person when you’re not okay. It’s okay to not be okay.”

Pain is not a gentleman. He pushes himself to the front of the line, knocks displays over, and wounds others in his way. He does not wait patiently on the porch. He bangs his hands brutally against your door and barges in before you’ve even had time to fix your hair.

Pain shows up and there isn’t always a warning, a phone call to say what time he’ll arrive, he shows up with guns blazing. Pain is not proper, so Love is does not wait for convenience.

Love doesn’t care if her dress is wrinkled or her eyes are bloodshot. Love doesn’t mind weeping in public or knees hitting the carpet. She doesn’t really care what the onlookers at the restaurant think of her or the one she holds. She doesn’t keep a watch, doesn’t wait for quiet, isn’t afraid of words or silence. Love has no expectation, no requirement, no desire to wait for a better time. 

Pain will surely come, most times in a loud and unruly manner. When he does, may he be met with Love, who never minds a mess and isn’t afraid of making a scene.