Lovely Letters: You Can Draw Lines

Let’s do this! Round of 2 of Lovely Letters is here!

The balance between wanting to completely shut down and let it all in is really really hard. How do I “guard” my heart without shutting it off completely?

                                                                         -A

Dear A,

It’s funny, just the other day I was talking about the very same thing in a little diner near my hometown. My best friend and I were about three hours deep in a long conversation and were sipping our coffee, trying to answer that very question.

Somewhere in between sips and the last few bites of omelette, I just shrugged. “Draw a line, don’t build a wall.”

I saw something in her eyes light up and I immediately knew that she understood exactly what I meant.

Don’t let your life be something that others cannot see, don’t make yourself closed off and untouchable. Put away the bricks and mortar, take a breath.

Take a look down at your feet, all around them there is sand. The reality is, this life is sand. Our moments here in this beautiful, crazy, messy world are sitting on those shifting grains. The things you’re surrounded by now will eventually wash out to shore and you’ll have to re-evaluate the world all over again. Nothing on this earth is solid, stable, certain. It all shifts…over and over again. 

The reality is, you can’t build walls on sand. They won’t stand on that kind of foundation. And unfortunately, when you build walls around yourself on sand, they always coming crashing down and usually it’s on you, not whoever you’re trying to keep yourself safe from.

But you can draw lines. You can draw them as close or as far away from yourself as you need to. And the beautiful thing about lines in the sand is that they can be erased and redrawn. There’s room for growth, change, mistakes when you draw lines in the sand. You can decide that you need a little more space and draw it a little further out, you can decide that there’s someone you’re willing to let closer and you can bring them further in.

They’re yours to draw, A. You can draw them wherever your heart needs to. Don’t be the girl who uses her pain to lock herself away, don’t become cold and unapproachable. Don’t let love leave your limbs and ligaments, hold on to every bit of affection and enchantment you have inside of you. Don’t let anything or anybody steal that from you.

You let someone too close; trust me, I’ve been there. Forget lines or walls, I made everything in my life free admission for a select group of people, and they left some serious garbage and stains, they broke a lot of what they touched. But I learned to let go of the pain and anger because the fact was, I gave them access. 

And I chose not to regret it, not to call myself a fool; because the reality is that I did it because I knew love was worth the risk. Even in my deepest hurt, I still believe it was always worth it. But I’m not saying I would do it all over again, A.  I’m saying that now I know about lines in the sand, and I’ll know how to wait, watch, wage whether or not I really should move that line to let someone have full access.  I’ve learned to be careful with this fragile, but stunning thing that beats inside my chest.

You can’t hide behind lines. People will still see you, so there’s no opportunity for you to lie about who you are or what you’re going through. Lines aren’t for people who choose to be fake. But you, Sweet Thing, are not made for being fake and that is one of your greatest qualities. You wear your heart on your sleeve, your hurts on your face… you’ll be good at drawing lines. You can let them know you’re hurt, you can cry if you need to. A, if you need to sit down at their feet and sob on the floor; don’t you for one second be ashamed of that. You are human, imperfect, breakable… but you are also fierce and powerful. Tears and pain do not make you weak. 

But what makes you relentless, strong, and a force to be reckoned with is the fact that you’re able to get up, wipe your face and even in your pain, you can draw a line. They will see your struggles, your pain, your heartbreak; but what they have to say or think about it can’t cross your linesYour line is for you; not for them. Draw that line, but not to keep yourself from loving others, rather to guard what you let in.

Don’t shut yourself off from people, A. You’re far too exquisite to be locked away somewhere; the world needs to see all that you bring. The people that have tried to break you, they need to see you too. They need to see what it looks like for someone to draw their line on the opposite side of  what they threw their way.. Draw a line where their mistakes, jabs, lies, and problems no longer affect you. What they think about you, say to you, try to take from you can only go as far as you let it. 

You’re going to be okay, A. I don’t know if anyone has said that to you yet, but you’re going to be okay. You are going to be a pro at drawing lines and breaking down walls. Today might be difficult, you might draw a few lines in the wrong places, erase and start again. But as hard as this life surrounded by sand is, there’s always room for change.

If you’ll go back and read, you’ll see that I said you’re surrounded by sand. But you, darling, are made for standing on a rock. You can’t control the fact that everything around you is sand, but you can choose what you yourself stand on. The things around you are always going to be changing, you’re always going to have to draw lines and choose not to build walls. But who you are, what you know, what you believe… those things are made for standing on the rock. Don’t let them be something that moves and shifts with the sand.

Stand firm and steady, A. People that truly love you, they’ll wait patiently for you to erase the lines you draw. When you finally do let them come close, they’ll come stand on The Rock next to you, they’ll know about standing on things like love, honor, grace, humility. Keep holding on… and know that even though it feels like it sometimes, you’re not standing here on your own.

Standing with you,

Ashlin

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I WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU!

Lovely Letters is a new series I’m starting that will happen every Wednesday! I’ve gotten such an amazing e-mail response from many of my readers and I try to respond to as many as I can directly; and some of them have inspired me to share thoughts and ideas on my blog. You guys seriously inspire me and what you’re going through is universal and I think other people need to hear that they’re not alone.

So… if you’re interested in inspiring the next Lovely Letters post, send me an e-mail and let me know what’s going on in your life. I absolutely love hearing from all of you!

E-mail:  ashlinkayh@gmail.com

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Lovely Letters: I Hate Vacations

A few weeks ago, I found this little line sandwiched in my e-mail. 

I hate to say that I’ve given up on love, but I’m getting close to throwing in the towel. I just don’t know what to do.
 -B

Dear Sweet B,

I hate vacations.

I don’t really know any other person on the planet that can say that. The few people who have actually heard me say these words out loud can’t ever seem to keep their jaw from hitting the floor.

But I do, I hate vacations.

There’s something about them that haunts me. Leaving my life behind—-the thing I’m working so hard at, the people I’m investing so much in. It’s like for a week (or however long I’m supposed to lay on a beach somewhere) I’m telling them that just for the next little bit, I need a break from them.

I hate that. I hate indirectly telling everything in my life that it’s just a little too much for me to handle right now.

I hate it, but just recently, I took a different kind of vacation. I tried to take a little time away from love and from my emotions.

They told me they were weakness, they told me to get a grip. People told me that to feel is to be fractured. Love comes with a whole lot of feelings, B. Sometimes, you choose it despite your feelings, but there are feelings involved just the same. Sometimes they’re wonderful, exciting or precious, other times they are painful and costly.

But you know what I discovered? It’s better to feel everything, to know the good, scary, sadness, messiness than to feel nothingWhatever you do, whatever your situation becomes, B… don’t ever choose to be numb.

Trust me on this, take these words and pin them somewhere in your heart. If you choose to be numb, you’ll spend days and hours and weeks of your life wishing that you could get back to the pain and to the frustration because at least you felt SOMETHING.

I know because for a long time, I chose to be numb. I threw in the towel and I threw it hard. I walked away and just like the country song I said, “I’m giving up on love, ’cause love’s given up on me.”

It was the worst decision I’ve ever made. Above all the dorky moments, screw-ups, saying things I wish I could take back, hurting others, the thing I regret most was the day I chose to stop feeling it. I let my heart become a switch and I became the master at turning it off. 

Imagine being twenty-two years old and unaffected by the world around you; a beautiful sunset, a hug, Christmas morning. Things that used to make me come alive had become like the credits at the end of the movie. They exist, but don’t grab my attention; they just pass right in front of my eyes, unappreciated and downright boring.

Whatever you do, don’t stop having a sense of wonder, a heart of hope. Don’t take a vacation from love. Don’t go pitch your umbrella in a place of solitude and tell her that she is just too much to handle.

Choose to stay with love, whatever that takes. Whatever it costs you, don’t walk away.

Love hasn’t given up on you, I’m quite certain of that. If you were here in this little cafe, I would just sigh and watch the way the light floods the booth we’d be here sitting in.

I would tell you that you are stronger than giving up.

If you weren’t, you wouldn’t have stayed, you wouldn’t have chosen to love as long as you have. The cowards, the weak, they never even give love a try. You are better than sitting down in your pain and choosing to never get back up.

The truth is, when it comes to love, you can’t ever really take a “vacation”. Once you do, you almost entirely forget how to come back to her again. It gets so easy to sit in your little chair by the water of apathy and self-preservation. You will continuously decide it’s not worth coming home to, you’d rather just choose what seems the easier life to lead.

But then will come a day when the chair makes you stiff, the winds get a little too cold. You will vaguely remember that there used to be a rhythm inside of your chest. You’ll miss all the times you danced to it, all the ways it brought you joy. Then you will try to pack up your little chair and go home to it again.

And you can, it’s not impossible, but it’s a long journey. It’s a hard one, it’s like learning to walk all over again. It’s like trying to remember 9th grade Algebra years after graduation.

There will be a moment when you’ll walk in the door and realize that the lights were turned off, the water doesn’t run and you have nothing in the fridge. It will be a process of having to pay what is long overdue, of having to restock the fridge. Love is still there, and she waited for you, but you didn’t take care of her while you were gone. It will take you making some steps to getting things back to where they were (and hopefully even better).

It can be done, B; but I don’t want you to leave her. Don’t run away in your little car and hope that if and when you decide to come back, you’ll pick up where you left off. She will always wait for you, but she may not be so easy to embrace when you walk back through those doors. The ruins of selfishness will be painful to look upon.

Sometimes, you’ll need a vacation, but take her with you, Sweet B. Let her heal the pain, the wounds, the scars that come from the broken trust or disappointed hopes.

B, love is your greatest friend, your most trustworthy partner. Sometimes we all need some time away, but please don’t leave love behind.

There’s not a day in your life that will be worth living without her.

Ashlin

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I WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU!

Lovely Letters is a new series I’m starting that will happen every Wednesday! I’ve gotten such an amazing e-mail response from many of my readers and I try to respond to as many as I can directly; and some of them have inspired me to share thoughts and ideas on my blog. You guys seriously inspire me and what you’re going through is universal and I think other people need to hear that they’re not alone.

So… if you’re interested in inspiring the next Lovely Letters post, send me an e-mail and let me know what’s going on in your life. I absolutely love hearing from all of you!

E-mail:  ashlinkayh@gmail.com

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________

When They’re Cutting Cucumbers or Washing Dishes

We balanced our bare feet on the edge of the balcony and she just simply asked me why those three words are so hard to say.

In return I asked her why we wait until we’re leaving or standing in hospital rooms or next to pine boxes to say them, to say “I love you”. Because it’s not that we love someone more in those moments, but it’s in those moments that we finally realize how stupid it was to have wasted any time not telling them. What on earth kept us from using the three most important words in existence?

“I want to tell people I love them constantly, especially in the ordinary, when they’re cutting cucumbers or washing dishes.”

I knew exactly what she meant. Because there was a day, two years ago in April, that I was slicing tomatoes in a sunlit kitchen and I missed a moment. I missed one of those simple seconds just to say “I love you and that’s not going to change” to the person sitting on a barstool watching me prepare dinner. I’ve never forgotten it, I’ve lugged that moment around for the last 784 days.

I didn’t think those words would carry the kind of weight they were made to deliver, so I held them back. I didn’t know if they would be enough coming from me.

Darling, you should know something: those three words are absolutely enough when they come crashing out of your mouth and into another’s ears. 

They bear the kind of weight that even Atlas the Titan couldn’t have carried. They are solid and heavy and something concrete for the people you say them to.

I wish you wouldn’t just save them up for rainy days or for moments deemed “appropriate”.

I want you to say them walking down the paper towel aisle of the grocery store or after a belly-aching laugh at the breakfast table. Say them to the people who are there in the little moments of your life, who know how you like your eggs and who aren’t embarrassed by you when you dance in the center of the room.

And say them when it’s inconvenient, when it’s awkward and when you’re not sure how it will sound. Say “I love you” because there aren’t other words that are more important, there’s nothing else that takes priority.

Say it the second you realize it, when people are fully being themselves and you are delighted to watch. Say it then, because they need to know it right at that moment, that someone in the world is filled with the wonder of all they are and all they were made to be. They need to know it’s incredible, it’s breathtaking and that it’s enough.

Don’t be the person who mumbles it as they’re getting into their car and you’re looking at your phone. Don’t just casually toss it on their lap with a Hallmark card when you’re leaving their birthday party. 

Look at them in the face. Show them they are worth another moment of your time. Hold them in an embrace just a little longer and let them know that they really are seen, they really are loved, they really are worth good things.

Those words are enough when they come from you, they bring more to a heart than you’ve ever been able to see. They are exactly what you’re made to say, made to hear, made to need; so say them, and let them be said.

Don’t turn your head when someone tells you. Don’t just shrug it off as though someone asked you “paper or plastic?” 

Drink those words in, every single time you hear them.

They are not casual or common, though they should be said often. They are not simple, clean cut or lighthearted, though they are not really all that complicated and are universally understood.

We decided that night on the porch that we were going to say them. To our friends, to our families, to our baristas, to the people breaking our hearts, to each other, and to ourselves.

Because those words are always beautiful, always enough, and they should be said. Say them even when it’s not a cinematic moment and when it might sound a little out of place. 

There’s no reason to keep them locked up, and despite what people say they won’t lose their meaning with continuous use.

Those are the words that will matter most, more than anything else you will ever say. 

I Won’t Take These Words Back

I think you’ve got to ask yourself. “Where does this pain come from?”

I think it’s okay to ask yourself where the hurt all started, and when you figure it out, let’s kick it to the curb.

You’re not afraid to let people see the tidy parts of who you are, but you’re terrified of the unfinished pieces. You keep quiet because you can’t entertain the thought of letting it all spill out. 

Baby, let it all spill out. Let it pour, let it splatter and run down the wood. Try not to go grasping for towels and mops anymore. Can you just let it drip, and gather in the corners? Let it settle into the cracks and crevices. I’m asking you to let it get a little messy.

Live a little, you know? And let other people see you for where you are. They’ll like what they see.

I know because I like what I see in you.

And I’m not going to be afraid to look you in the eye. No, I choose to see you. I’m learning to not be so quick to turn my head at this generational awkwardness of acknowledging another human being. I want to show you that you are worth my gaze, you are enough to make someone look your way. I choose to hold your eyes as long as you’ll let me because you’ve got a lot to offer.

You are worth untangling. You are worth time spent and meals shared. You are worth hearing words that are meant and not just spoken. You are worth being forgiven, even though you’re a master of breaking hearts and bruising dreams. You are worth being heard. I wish you really believed these words. I wish you’d soak them in, even when they are hard to hear. Even when you want to throw them in the trash along with your trust and all the times that people took these kinds of words back. I won’t take these words back.

So, I’m learning how to turn the car around and do the things that scare the heck out of me.

Because you are worth that, though I don’t really know all that much about you. But I know the way you’ve taught yourself to steer clear of the disappointment. I know how you require yourself to always have the upper hand. I know it seems easier to recover from your own failures than it is from those who you fail you.

They tell me you’re the hard nose, the stiff neck, the one who just can’t seem to smile, but I won’t believe it. You’re entirely knit together of hope and heart. I don’t care how much you iron that plaid shirt, I refuse to believe you’re made of stone.

So, stand there and act like you don’t care if you’re noticed. Go on and keep pretending like you’re not worried that nobody seems to be watching. I see the way you wait for them to cross the room and come to you. I see the way your eyes follow the laughter, the way you’re looking for someone to say it…

to say, “you’re enough”.

Well, I’m saying it. Over and over I will shout it from the rooftops if that’s what it takes for you. If it takes me dancing down the highway and making pit stops at every McDonald’s along the way, I’ll keep packing these bags. I’ll come and buy you a cup of coffee and let you wade through what it takes to let another heart love you. You were made for love, for being loved, for learning how to live in it and from it.

It’s not because I’m so brave, but mostly because that’s what this whole living thing is really about. And I think we’ve got to learn to live a little. To stretch ourselves, to do what’s different. I think we’ve got to go places that never seemed exciting and dig in the dirt to find the treasure. Few will go far to find it, but as for me, I love a good adventure. You’re a destination where I’m choosing to stop, a beautiful sight that I’m aching to see. So, let me tell you that you’re quite enough. You’ve got something that makes me want to see what some people seem to have missed.

So this is a letter to you, the most misunderstood one in the room. I’m here to say you’ve met your match. I’m ready to kick these buckets over and have it all spill out. I’m quite certain we can paint a portion of the world with a beautiful mess like you. 

 

What About Thursdays?

Saturday mornings are for cold pizza

Most Tuesdays are for dancing in the living room like a bull in a china shop. Four to Six are the hours best for reading books and drinking apple cider.

Oh, and Wednesdays are for shoving discouragement on the playground, for giving hopelessness a bloody nose.

I wish we would all realize these bullies were also the weights around the feet of the sailors who kept on going when everybody said, “The world is flat, you can’t, you can’t!”

“Oh, someday I hope that you get tired of waking up to thieves and liars”

I hope you stop listening to the voices that scream why you can’t, won’t and never could. I hope you laugh in the face of impossibility. I hope that doubt gets trapped and forced to watch your eyes sparkle as you start to realize just how much you can and you will.

I hope you make fear tremble and insecurity break out in a cold sweat.

Let’s watch cowardice wave its last goodbye. I want us to chase away timidity ’til he reaches the point of no return. May we unnerve reservation and isolation all the way to their core. 

I want to be fearless and brave. In my bones, I am made reckless and daring. Oh, I’m learning how to be downright disheartening to the enemies who have tried to keep me down.

When they turn to see us fall, I want us to be standing with heads held high and hearts intact. We’ve got the makings of a warrior and the limbs of a champion; let’s challenge rejection, manipulation and apathy. Let’s riot in the streets against hatred, abuse and criticism.

Inferiority doesn’t stand a chance when we walk in the room. Indifference is moved when we speak.

The world is full of books about people who threw off those shadows and came out of the darkness. History favors the brave, celebration and change follow the gutsy and the lionhearted.

Pity parties are for the faint of heart and procrastination is for the counterfeit. You have something to give that no one else can and you can, you can, you can.

You know all those things you want to do? You should do them; and you should laugh, dance and unabashedly revel in joy and hope as you do them.

Be outrageous and improper and grab every day by the face and sing it a song, call it sweetheart and take it to dinner. Be romanced by this abundant life that you’ve been given. Buy yourself a cup of coffee, read a good book, fly to the other side of the world, give someone a hug, decide to change the world.

Because we can, you can, I can.

It starts with deciding that passivity and halfheartedness are not welcome where we are. Detachment and comfort are not the cool kids and passion, bravery and backbone are the stuff of champs.

So, what about Thursdays?

Thursdays are for remembering that the world isn’t flat, that men can walk on the moon, and for making sure that impossibility runs home crying to its Momma.

You Stand Before a Harvest

There is no disappointment like sitting in the dirt.

Knee-deep in mud and glaring straight into the pain of barrenness brings an incomparable grief. Sometimes it feels like that’s all you’ve ever known, and when it fills your entire frame of vision, there’s only one option.

Stand up and step back.

When you do, you will see that you stand before a harvest.

It was the dirt and the mud that made this ground rich enough to produce crops that stretch farther than your vision can hold. You will see its richness came from every pain and every heart ache you have ever known. You will see how it has grown the seeds of love in you, ones that know the risk of giving your heart, and that still give it anyway.

In the way you are able to forgive and in the way you are able to return, you will see you are standing in a field of harvest.

You are surrounded by more than your belly could ever consume. You have produced something that will feed every person that walks into your life.

You stand before a harvest when you look into your own heart.

Abundance leaks from your veins. There are seeds and seeds of redemption that have been sown into every crook and crevice of your being since before you were even born.

You’ve got love down inside of you that knows how to hold its ground and how to let it go. You’ve been cultivating a garden that can grow the kind of love that will nourish the nations, and you’ve got the heart to give it away. Because you know in your bones and in your ligaments, even when you’re worn, that you’re giving from what you’ve been given.

You were born to give away the love that made you, the love that was always too big for you to hold for just yourself.

So when someone steals from your grain, or they pluck every last piece you seem to possess, know that you pull from an endless garden of grace. There won’t be anything that can be taken from you that you cannot let go of with joy, because redemption won’t fail to spring up in your fields! They cannot take one single thing from you that your Father won’t hand back to you. He is the finder of lost things, the Father who multiplies the lack, who brings the dead things back to life again.

I hope you really know that.

When you only want to wrap your arms around what you’ve lost, hold on. Because joy is going to well up inside of you and you’re going to be handing out your harvest by handfuls. Oh, you’ve got mounds and piles of love! You’ve got enough to go around, even to your enemies.

Your field has got some stalks that Jack ain’t ever even thought about climbing.

You’re going to feed the multitudes with your fields of favor because your Father doesn’t withhold. So lift your eyes from the dirt. There is more here than what your eyes currently see. When your eyes finally adjust you will see that the times of pain and plowing have caused you to be standing in a field of abundant harvest. 

For Those Who Think I’m Perfect.

Sometimes, I’m absolutely terrified to tell my own stories.

The funny ones were never difficult, I’ve always been able to easily spin and weave those into any and every conversation. Nothing brings me joy like making a room full of people ache with laughter.

But the ones that require me pulling off layers of skin, cracking open my rib cage and letting you peek at the cracks and crevices of my core?

These are the stories I have always been afraid of.

I have driven to the places that haunt me so many times, that I know each tree that lines those gravel streets.

I used stockpile restaurant napkins to keep in the glove box of my little blue Nissan, for all the times I would sit in grocery store parking lots, legs crossed, tears pouring down my face.

I’ve worn out the words “I love you” to people who will never and can never say them back to me.

All by myself, I have stumbled up to houses, hands shaking & stomach churning to apologize to people who probably didn’t deserve it.

I have given out hand-written letters with splatters of my own heart painting the page. I have said words that made me cringe, words that left me feeling bare and exposed because I really believed those people needed to hear the absolute truth.

I lost myself in fears that threatened to swallow me whole. I gave room to a series of imaginations that paralyzed me and barricaded me. I let myself forget the feeling of sunshine on my face and fresh wind filling my lungs.

I’ve lost best friends. People who have seen the best in me, the worst in me, who let me fall into their embrace and told me “it’s all going to be okay”.

Those people left me and it nearly killed me.

I told myself that I needed to hide these parts from the world; that strangers and friends alike didn’t deserve to hear about these scars, they didn’t earn the right to know the pieces that aren’t so pretty. They are not ready for the i’m-not-so-perfect-after-all confessions of a preacher’s kid.

I prided myself on my ability to lock up my disfigured limbs and the unlovely layers of my heart.

But I’m starting to think people need to read and hear the stories that make another person human. They need to know that they’re not alone in their despair, that they aren’t the only ones who have been kicked and thrown dirt at.

They need to know that they weren’t the only kids who trusted someone who took advantage of them.

They need to know that they are not alone in their questions about the God of their childhood, who looks nothing like everyone said He did.

You’re not the only person who is angry at someone for breaking every single promise they ever made to you. You are not the only one who came limping home, head in their hands, feeling like they’d been kicked in the gut because someone should have protected you, but didn’t.

I used to wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat, screaming into my pillow from the nightmares that plastered themselves to the walls of my unconscious.

I’ve been broken by memories that are stuck on repeat. Nights of trust and truth that were erased by ones of betrayal and misery.

I have beat my steering wheel. I have used words that, if she had heard them, would have caused my mother to wash my mouth out with bars of white Ivory soap.

Because I am human and that is glorious and chaotic.

I am often broken and sometimes smothered by harsh realities, unanswerable questions and heartbreaking losses.

But I am beautiful. I am so absolutely, unmistakably, breathtakingly stunning. With all of my flaws and blemishes and imperfections, I am still worthy of love.

I have wrestled with the emptiness that weighs heavily on my chest, I know well the pain of having something and someone you love deeply taken away from you.

But I am learning to be open about that.

All the parts I try to cover up, the wounds I try to sew up that seem to keep cracking open at the first signs of disappointment:

I am done with trying to erase them.

I am so done with the idea that our bruises and our scars are not marks of beauty. I am finished with refusing to look at them. When the truth is, they are my marks of redemption and grace.

Those things that I have called ugly are reminders of His unfailing affection and His immovable desire to come for me, even when I hated Him.

I don’t want to push it all away. I don’t want to clean up and look pretty. I want to show the world the marks I bear on my heart and my body that scream HE LOVES ME! HE LOVES ME!

The ones that I don’t have to hide any longer because on His own body he wore the scars that brought healing to mine.

I am not ashamed of who I am, where I’ve been, the brokenness I’ve felt and that He came down and pulled me out. I will not hide those stories that make you wince and cause you to see my grief.

Because I am not ashamed of the power of God to take what is absolutely hideous and make it the perfect picture of freedom and redemption.

Not only did Jesus let his friends see his scars, He let them put their dirty hands on the places where he had once been ripped apart.

He is not ashamed of suffering.

So, I refuse to cover my wounds. I refuse to hide my marks of past suffering. Because He has redeemed them. He has carried them and He put pain on display so that I could have the right as his child to display His grace, His healing and His forgiveness.

But I cannot show you how He heals, unless I show you what was first broken. I cannot give proof of how He washes, if I will not show what was dirty before He came. I cannot convince you of the greatness of His love, if I do not first show you how He took away the shame of all the things I think are unlovable about me.

I’m sorry.

I’m so sorry if the church has made you feel like you can’t show your scars. If they made you feel ashamed of all that you have done or have carried.

I’m sorry if we seem perfect, with our pressed church clothes and words like modest, pure, and consecrated and have made you feel like that we were always clean and tidy; born with a Bible in our hands.

I’m sorry we have been afraid to tell our stories.

That somewhere along the way we forgot that they are what make us relatable, human and displays of infinite grace.

I’m sorry if I haven’t let you see the parts that sometimes still bleed, the limbs that are still a little crooked. I’m sorry that I sometimes still cover the insecure places with my fancy words and deeds.

But I am human and I am flawed. I have known the feeling of weeping on the cold tile floor. I have done things that dulled the life in my eyes. I’ve been the girl who has felt used and worthless.

But I am loved. I know it when I read of how He continuously rolls up His sleeves and lets people remember Him naked, hanging on a tree, mocked and rejected.

He doesn’t let us forget His pain. He doesn’t try to cover it up. He reminds us over and over again of all that He endured.

But He also doesn’t let us forget His resurrection and that He overcame that so that we could also overcome.

So, I will not be ashamed of my stories. My stories tell the world of His ability to love the unlovable and find worth in the unworthy.