real love.

i posted this on the fb earlier today, just archiving it here on the b-log. xo
sharing the rest of my sobriety story tomorrow, thinking on the things i’ve learned over the last seven years and some months and some days. also reading a lot of other people’s really beautiful words about dividing hot topics. everything is fragile where hearts and lives are involved. my heart aches, and my heart hopes.
the only thing i know if ever i have known anything at all, the only True Truth i know is True, is that Love is the only thing that matters. not respecting someone, even if you don’t agree, looks an awful lot like un-Love. in fact, it looks a lot like fear. Love clobbers fear, though, and Love says, “God in me Loves God in you and let’s have this conversation not because i’m right but because i want to understand and i want to Love The Real You better with Real Love and The Real Me needs Real Love, too”.

more than i found god in church, and surely he is found there, i found him in aa. i mean, REAL God. Real God, who Loves Real, Broken People because Love-God made Love-People who become Real and Broken Love-People. (it’s our brokenness, after all, that makes us Love-People.) and i have seen Love-God CHANGE LIVES through Love-People.

what am i talking about…Love-God CHANGED MY LIFE through Love-People, foremost of all is the person of Jesus.

(this was just my experience, by the way. i was raised in a non-traditional kind of ministry where it was just Jesus and people and a whole lot of Love and laughing and crying on a hill in the country. we were also raised to love and respect the church, which i do. most of the time.)

my friend brennan said, “church should look more like an aa-meeting”. pass the beans and potatoes and bad coffee and tell me where Grace found you. all are welcome and invited to The Table. you belong to me and i belong to you as long as we both know and/or we’re on our way to knowing more that we desperately need Love-God to love us a lot through Love-People because that’s all any of us really, truly need. just a lot a lot a lot of Love. because we’re ALL broken and messy and beautiful pilgrims on an Awesome journey that begins and ends with God who is Love.

sometimes Love isn’t nice. but Love is supposed to be kind. and Love is the only thing that will “fix” us, if in fact we need “fixing”. Love is the only thing that works. it’s the only thing that creates the right kind of change. it’s the only thing that matters. no matter our theology, Love has to be The Thing because it’s The Only Thing.

YOU, i, we were made by and for and with and to Love. let’s do just that, and just do that. even if it’s hard, even if it hurts. there is always reward when we commit to just Love.

Love God, Love People. because we are Love-People born of Love-God.

xo

rich soil.

woh. woh. woh.

just got off the phone and my head is spinning with some thoughts.

here’s one.

this i know: our hearts are The Most Important Thing To God.

second most important? our relationships, with Him and everyone. the ones that He has created and not the ones we try to force and fabricate, but the True Ones who are our Love-Family? these are the ones that matter to God who is Love.

we all bring to the table our own brand of dysfunction. and in our dysfunction, sometimes we don’t know we’re hurting each other until our relationships explode and there are blood and guts everywhere. and sometimes we’re all, “WAIT WHAT JUST HAPPENED I DIDN’T SEE THAT COMING I HAD NO IDEA WHY ARE THEY SO MAD THEY MUST HAVE ANGER ISSUES.”

for the discerning and the wise, the ones who have perhaps been through some therapy and maybe even one or two or all twelve of the twelve steps, for anyone who is instrospective at all or has any shred amount of self-awareness, we aren’t surprised when this happens because we see our part. we might see their part, too. but we focus on our own.

that’s actually an aside, though.

because, when this happens – that is, when our relationships explode and we’re left wounded on the field only to be found by the Healer who is The Only One Who Heals – it might take some time for our blood and guts to no longer be flung about, or to be put back together again. but if we’re willing patients, and do all the therapy and healing-stuff that wounded soldiers need to do in order that they return to perhaps a more vulnerable but also stronger state of being, then we might find ourselves and our relationships restored.

sometimes he uses other soldiers from the same battlefield on which we have fought together to say, “me too” and we can validate each other’s hurt in order to further our healing. sometimes this happens.

sometimes you just have to lay stuff aside for the sake of a greater cause. this is unfortunate, but this is life. but it’s actually unfortunate because it is not life at all.

because Life is the Love that is the Healer.

but if it starts with just sitting next to each other because you know you have to and so, “let’s just be grown-up about this”, then, listen. you did it. you are doing it. you are doing your job and you are doing a really good job of doing your job. what am i talking about – i forget that i have found myself in this situation recently, actually. i just have to be a grown-up. sometimes there’s this. perhaps it’s the front-end of a healing. it’s hard to know what that will look like, and we’re not really meant to know that.

sometimes relationships are just going to be what they are because we tried to make them into something they were never meant to be.

so i’m not talking about these kind of relationships.

i’m talking about the ones who, together, you fought the good and right fight until you started fighting each other. or fighting about each other. or perhaps you were fighting against something fighting against you, together. anyway, it blew up and you both -or you all- were casualties and you couldn’t help each other because you lay dying in the same field and you’re not really sure who hurt who anymore. you just know you’re all hurt and you need to not know each other forever, if not for now.

or at least you think that.

and maybe it’s true.

for now.

god desires, above all, reconciliation to his heart and healed relationships with one another. i’ve learned, though, that we can’t force it. if he desires it, which he does, then when it’s time he will open the door, if we’re willing to walk through it. and it may be awkward at first. because when a man goes down and then gets back up, he might have to learn to walk again. and to a man who is learning to walk again, who always was able to walk and then suddenly couldn’t, is re-learning this? it just feels strange physically, and it plays games with your brain, mentally.

and so, sometimes, once the healing has taken place and restoration has happened? it may feel awkward to share space again with that person. because you don’t feel pain anymore, only Love – because that’s what the Healer does in the end-parts of our recovery, He takes away the pain and replaces it with an even greater depth of Love, an even greater capacity for Trust and intense level of Grace and so much more Compassion for each other. because all this time, when Love was healing up secret places that were no longer your pain but just your tender scars, you found now that you just miss each other.

because Love and Time and Life is the Healer.

even so, you don’t really know what it’s going to be like to just…be…in space together again.

but you just do it, anyway. you just do it. anyway. and in any way.

because now there’s a knowing between you. you look and see and hear and understand because of the battle you fought together before the battle you fought against each other, and you remember and you recognize that it was Love that drew you together in the first place. and the woundedness, and the healing and the restoration between you now makes everything so much sweeter and so much deeper.

and Love, this kind of Love that is buried deep into the rich soil of hearts, the kind that takes years and time and pain and goodness and watering and space and hard, hard labor and time, time, time to grow and till, that is The Best Kind of Love -the Only Kind of Love- worth having. if you’re going to have any kind of Love at all, make it the kind that you fought to have and to keep, the kind you paid a price for and a price was paid for you. the kind of Love that found you worthy of having is The Only Kind of Love worth having at all.

 

xo

 

 

 

tiny bubbles.

“it’s happened, hasn’t it?” he said. “you’re settled, aren’t you?”

“like, comfortable in my own skin again?”

“yes, you’re settled”.

“yes, then. i guess i’m settled”.

finally. i really do feel like myself again. the grace person i used to be. i’m kind of blind-sided by it, actually, but not surprised. whew, but i’m grateful. i was having a hard time being me there for a little while.

even up until last semester, i was living into this really strange place of striving for righteousness. one of the professors who works in my department told me that righteousness means, “living in right relationship, with god and others”. this i can do. i can try to do. i want to do this.

what it does not mean is that i am better than or more worthy than or i have to work hard to get god’s attention, or that i have to do anything at all to get him to love me better than you. and, also, it’s not my job to do or make happen any of that for you. BEEN THERE, DONE THAT, BOUGHT THE T-SHIRT.

“i want to help people,” i told him.

“you are helping people, just by you being you”.

i live and work and breathe in a bubble THAT IS AWESOME AND I LOVE IT. the bubble itself is not the issue. those of us who inhabit the bubble are the issue. we bring into it with us all of our stuff and our junk and our religion and traditions and backgrounds and ways of doing things that may or may not have anything at all to do with god, even though we may or may not think that they do. and we can justify all of the above, or we think that we can.

and so, to help people, “just by you being you” and not because i’m trying to teach right living because, honestly, who even knows anymore save for what the bible itself teaches us but good grief everyone seems to have an answer for everything that sometimes i have a hard time finding scripture to back up.

sometimes i sit in my classes where i am learning about god and the bible and jesus and i still have so many questions about all of it, questions i’ve never asked until now, and i want to say to some of my colleagues, “oh, really? that is so interesting. except i’m not really here to listen to you teach us all, even though you seem to know everything, because that’s what that person up there who did all this work and already wrote a bunch of papers and did all the research that earned letters after his name is here to do. we’re all here for the same reason and are paying the same money for that reason. (unless you work here and receive tuition benefits because you had a thought from that place you sometimes think might be god, and he promised you would graduate debt-free.) but i love you. but just be quiet.”

“the guy next to him was promised paradise while he was waiting to die,” he said. “the end of our lives isn’t too late”.

no, of course it isn’t. thank god, it isn’t. and in the time-space continuum of forever, i don’t think god is as concerned about when we come to jesus as we are. but i think we miss the whole point of everything here on the earth if it takes us to the end/beginning of the rest of our lives to figure that out.

i don’t want to wait until i get to the “eternal life” part to have the abundant life part, when that is available to me – to us – now. i don’t want to be the guy hanging next to jesus who is promised paradise in his final breaths when i can have a full and rich and meaningful life NOW.

when i can have freedom NOW.

when i can live in Love and Light NOW.

the first step is the hardest one, for anyone. to do any hard thing which, glennon says, we can all do. i believe her. because you can do it, too. you already have all the courage you need. and you are very, very brave.

freedom comes at a cost, but it’s worth the price. you have to pursue freedom, though, in order to get it. freedom in christ was a price paid with his whole entire young life in exchange for our whole lives.

how can i not give my whole life to the cause of offering freedom to others i have found in jesus?

so, i don’t mind laying my stuff out there. but truth? it terrifies me when i do. every. single. time. i press “publish”. but, the thing is, i don’t expose myself for the sake of others’ scrutiny. i do it because, if i taste some morsel of healing or freedom, then i have to consider that it’s never just for me. and that someone else might need to taste it, too.

after some time had passed when i had gained traction in my life and found more and more freedom and healing, i knew that i knew that i knew just as i know that i know that i know that it wasn’t mine to keep. “lord, use all of this. all of it. every single bit of every single thing that i’ve been through. my story for your glory. use it, lord.” and that’s when i started writing here. my friend adele encouraged me for years before i ever actually started blogging. i wasn’t ready to share my stuff yet. i was still living in my stuff in those years. i was doing field research for what would become my stories to share. stories of healing and freedom and brokenness and drama and laughter.

but, truth? i hate doing it. i only do it when i’m a little bit ready and a tiny bit brave. and when i hit “publish” i just do it quickly lest i not do it at all. because i fear what you will think or that i will not explain myself properly or you will think wrong things or i will have said something and you’ll be all, “oh, let me fix what you just said or explain it better” because sometimes that happens and then i have to go back and clarify what i actually must have meant to say since i obviously didn’t say it very well the first time.

when i first joined aa, i learned, “it’s not my business what other people think of me.” i try to remind myself of this. it doesn’t always work. because sometimes i really care. but here’s why. here’s why i care.

because if i’m just putting all my stuff and stories out there? and you’re all, “oo! congratulations, mk! you’re awesome! i could NEVER do that.” i start thinking thoughts like, “well, i guess i’m the only one who lives with this kind of nonsense”, even though i know that i’m not. and then i get these secret, private messages from people who share their stuff with me, and they thank me for putting my stuff out there but they aren’t ready yet to do it.

and i think, “DON’T YOU WANT TO BE FREE? WOULDN’T THAT BE EASIER THAN SENDING ME PRIVATE MESSAGES, EVEN THOUGH I APPRECIATE IT AND I LOVE YOU AND I’M GLAD TO WALK THROUGH THIS WITH YOU AND SIT HERE WITH YOU BUT DON’T YOU WANT TO JUST DEAL WITH YOUR STUFF BECAUSE ISN’T THE COST OF HIDING OUT MORE EXPENSIVE THAN JUST BEING WHO YOU ARE? BECAUSE WHO YOU REALLY ARE – NO, WHO YOU REALLY, REALLY ARE – THIS PERSON THAT YOU HAVE SHOWN ME AND ARE SHOWING ME IS SO FREAKING AWESOME AND WORTH IT AND THE WORLD NEEDS TO KNOW THIS PERSON AND NOT WHO YOU ARE PRETENDING TO BE JUST BECAUSE YOU ARE AFRAID?”

that’s what i’m thinking sometimes. and sometimes i am actually yelling it like that in my heart, too. sometimes when i’m at home alone responding, i might even be yelling at you like this with all the love in my heart out loud. like a prayer over you.

but sometimes – usually –  what i actually say is, “i’m sorry. i understand. i’ve been there”. and i’m not lying. i have been there. that’s why i know i can’t actually yell those things to you. because i know, a.) if someone had yelled at me like that, even in love, it’s possible i would have dug down deeper into my hole of depression, and b.) it takes what it takes. it’s not my job to get you out of there.

but, c.) it’s not my job to leave you there, either. if i’m coming out of your hole, since it’s not actually my hole and so at some point i’m going to have to, then you are darn sure going to make an attempt at trying to climb out of there with me. i’ll stay with you as long as you need, but you and i are going to climb out of your hole at some point.

i will stay down there with you because i owe it to every person who ever climbed down into my hole with me. i owe it to them because it’s how i thank them because that’s the only way any of us can pay back someone like that for doing something like that.

but if you are going to stay in your hole for any length of time – whether it’s depression or religion or addiction – then i do feel responsible for sharing my stories, two steps forward and one step back at a time, so that maybe you might feel less alone. so that someone who might not know it will know that they are actually completely and totally normal even though we all feel like we are completely and totally whacked out of our minds.

you’re not, you know. and i’m not. we aren’t crazy. we’re just silly and happy children trying to learn how to be wise and responsible grown-ups. all of us.

it makes me totally nervous to share my stories. but i do it because i can’t share your stories. YOU need to share your stories. i share mine so that maybe you might share yours a little bit better. you don’t have to do it publicly. but just do it with someone. we need you.

my whole life my family has been nervous about me being so outspoken. i totally get that. i try to respect it, but it’s just that sometimes the filter between my brain and my mouth doesn’t work. i would like to think i’ve done a better job at just telling my own story in a way that won’t hurt or embarrass anyone else, especially my mom and sisters. and now, to write anything that might one day embarrass my nieces and nephew. but karen says i’m a truth-teller. i can’t not tell the truth, at least not when it comes to my story and my stuff. sometimes i read my stuff and think, “gosh, they must think i’m so self-absorbed.” but i can only tell the stories which are mine to tell.

but it doesn’t mean it’s up for display for the world to see as an example of how not to do things or live right or be well or get along. i don’t need scrutiny, especially because i scrutinize and analyze all of my own stuff to death and have probably already done that by the time you read it. and so, if that’s all this is for anyone, and i think it might be for a few folks who just aren’t there yet, then all of this is for naught. and i hope that’s it’s not.

but it’s okay if it is, if it’s just for a few. because others of you, the rest of you…like 98% of you are all, “me too! this is me! i needed your story so that i could tell mine, too! or better! or because i don’t know how and you don’t know how, either, but you did it!”

and that’s why i do this. because i need to know that you need to know we’re all in this thing together. that i’m not alone and that you’re not alone, either. because i really, really need the assurance that i’m actually not crazy. or if i am, then you are, too, and in that case i don’t really care if i am because we both are together.

evidently my morsel, once again, ruined a few lives this week, in a bunch of the right ways. i’m sorry and you’re welcome. and thank you, jesus, for returning me to the place where i found so. much. freaking. grace.

where it flows like a river FOR EVERYONE.

y’all, we all have some kind of addiction or weird vice or some thing that we turn to when we get afraid or lonely or depressed or angry. it may not be illegal or send you to jail or ruin your whole life and everyone’s around you, but it keeps us locked up in the prisons of our own minds and hearts. and if you say you don’t have one (or four), then we probably can’t be friends.

because i won’t believe you.

and you can’t really have real friendships with people who you don’t believe are being honest. (which isn’t to say we need to go around gauging each other’s level of honesty on a scale, but can’t we all tell when someone just refuses to take off her mask?)

i’m not suggesting we continue to keep choosing these things, just that we recognize that they are there. because those things? are just symptoms. those things aren’t the real things. they’re just indicators that something else is happening deep inside our hearts that we’re not facing, and so instead we turn to some short-term satisfaction that makes us feel better in the moment.

everyone does or has done this. many don’t recognize it yet. others really are walking a path of overcoming this kind of thing. the ones i admire most are the ones who are honest about their hard days and harder nights and say, “oops” and then keep moving forward.

that is grace.

when we’re not living in freedom, it’s my experience and observation that we tend to get religious-y and self-righteous-y. i do it, too. the pendulum has made it’s way back to the middle and i remember what it feels like to live in grace again. and if i’m going to err, i’d rather it be on the side of grace than being bossy or legalistic.

because my job, and yours, is just to love. that’s it. that’s all.

no one i’ve ever known has fallen in love with jesus because of rules or religion. it’s when one encounters his love and runs smack into the revelation of his grace that they can’t not love him back.

and love doesn’t always mean being nice. love sometimes means you have to do things that might hurt for a moment and others might question, but in the end is still the most loving thing you could have done, either for you and/or for them.

by the way, i mentioned the other day that sometimes i push people away. and that is true. not everyone, but some. when i get afraid, i sometimes but not all of the time do this.

but one strange/awesome/wearisome but it’s really okay as long as i am taking care of myself thing about being me is that i attract and invite all manner of other people’s issues into my life. THIS IS ON ME. I OWN THIS. I DON’T FULLY UNDERSTAND IT BUT I AM LETTING GOD DEAL WITH THIS IN ME, GENTLY AND LOVINGLY. i’m learning boundaries. in some ways, i can do boundaries awesomely. i don’t have a problem saying “no”. in other ways, though, i suck at boundaries. and boundaries are not the same thing as pushing people away. i am learning the difference.

sometimes you just have to walk unhealthy relationships to the door and see them out, and be loving and not mean about it whenever possible. sometimes this is messy. and we stand in the doorway and watch our unhealthy relationship stomp or sulk off and we wonder if we did the right thing. but then you go back inside the sanctuary of your heart and you close the door without locking it because grace does that, too.

this has been a whole mish-mash of a bunch of thoughts and feelings and conversations over the last few days. i started a succinct thought last night on facebook, but then it became a whole message, which then became all of this. so it may not all make sense as it all runs together, but hopefully something of it does.

cripple me.

yesterday i cried.

like a big baby, last night, i wept.

for a while now, i’ve been saying, “i need to find a meeting. i need to find aa in tulsa”.

last night, i did.

and i was weepy there with gratitude that i felt like i could breathe with others who understood why sometimes i can’t.

but it was last night once i got home that i groaned from dark caverns.

i went running yesterday afternoon, like have done every other monday and thursday and saturday since the beginning of the year. i ran and ran, and as i was processing the day as the anniversary of the day i was the “girl in the green dress”, i was also so consumed by the awareness that i was no longer safe. secure, yes. safe, no. it’s been there for a while, this desire to escape, to run (and not the good kind). this need for one more bloody mary sunday with my bff. and for one minute longer than i should have thought about it, i wondered how possible it would be. how feasible it could be. if i could even get away with it.

and then i went down that road in my mind. i played it out.

and the answer is i couldn’t. can’t.

there is nothing – not one thing – that would make picking up that first drink worth it. i heard someone say early in my recovery, “i know i have another drink in me. i don’t know if i have another white chip in me”. i have worked too hard to live as a sober person. i don’t always do a good job of this, even though i’m not drinking. some days, all i have is, “i didn’t act right, but at least i didn’t drink today”. and somehow i’ve accumulated whatever 7 months and some months and some days equals. at this point, i’ve spent more days sober than i did in active alcoholism.

i understand now that i deserve sobriety. i am worth being sober.

deep in the night within the same 24 hours on the other side of the day -that is, before i walked in to a meeting, so the night before- i woke up to this post by christa black. i did not know christa well, but she and i were a part of the same church family in new york about 12 years ago.

before i started therapy. before i went into full-blown addiction.

before she went on tour with michael w. smith. again.

and i do not know this kind of grief. to write so raw and beautifully so early on in what can only be described as the worst form of torture, my heart aches and breaks for her.

but i do know what it’s like to be making eggs or running or vaccuuming or reading or breathing and to be hit from out-of-nowhere with a desire for strong drink at 9:00 in the morning. or to spend money that i don’t have. or to find someone who would offer temporary pleasure. i do know what that’s like. that desperate need for a fix, for an escape, for whatever else you want to call it. to be numb. to not feel anything because you feel so much. all the time, you feel so much. too much. and now i know that feeling life so deeply when i used to not feel it at all, is not not normal. it’s the not knowing what to do with my feelings, or how to handle them, or thinking there’s something wrong with me for having them at all when there’s nothing wrong at all, that can make a person loo-loo.

i don’t want you to worry.

i won’t go back.

i can’t go back.

but i just need to be honest.

because if i am only as sick as my secrets, then i need to tell the truth. my truth.

and don’t try to understand it if you can’t understand it. it’s really okay, maybe it’s better if you don’t. i’d rather you just say that -that you don’t understand, but you will honor this in me- then pretend like you do and make up words or thoughts that aren’t true and real. you don’t have to do anything with any of this. i’m just processing and you don’t have to get it. but if someone might, and i think someone might, then i hope this helps you.

a few weeks ago, i shared my sobriety story with the undergrad substance abuse class. i only got as far as, “and then i got sober” and class ended. it was the first time in 7 years and some months and some days that i had publicly, in person, shared out loud what it was like. but i didn’t get to the part about what it’s like now. i’ve been invited to come back and share the rest of my story. i honestly don’t even know what i would say, so i’m glad for the time to process the last several years through the filter of my sobriety.

i loved hearing and telling my own story and remembering but not reliving that girl i once was. who i used to be but never really was, only to return to who i was made and was always meant to be. and isn’t that the case for us all? most of us, anyway? i loved hearing her story because that girl is precious to me. and i loved telling it because i am not that girl anymore, the one who “took a sabbatical from (her) brain”, as john hobbs says.

back to my run.

as i played out the story in my mind yesterday, i pretty much sprinted all the way back to the store. (and by “sprint”, i mean ran only just a little bit faster.) i was suddenly overwhelmed by how close i was to the edge, and how desperate i had become. i almost ran straight to my car, but i was the only one there in my group yesterday, so i knew i had to be seen just so no one would worry that i hadn’t returned. (i’m not sure if that would have actually happened, but i wanted to be a responsible adult.) and then i sat in my car and begged siri to tell me when and where the next meeting was.

i yelled at siri when we couldn’t get on the same page. i kept saying one thing, she heard something all together other. dammit, siri.

and my cousin texted me right around this time. the last time she texted me, about a month ago, she gave me permission to get mad at god about some things he and i haven’t talked about in a real long time. and i did. i got mad. and then i got tired. and he won. i basically let him. i wasn’t fighting to win, but to gain understanding. i relented without getting many answers, but enough that i knew i was okay not knowing again.

years ago…as in, maybe 15, i told a girl i went to college with -i had been her r.a.- that she couldn’t get mad at god when her dad died suddenly.

she was pissed then at both god and me, understandably.

it hasn’t left me that i ever told her that.

i can’t believe i ever told anyone that.

this time, cousin said, “get to a meeting.”

i told cousin to leave me alone.

but i made it.

i did make it.

i walked into a beginners’ (which there were none even though we all are) eighth step meeting. “made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.”

i didn’t mean to stop going to meetings. i got sober in my hometown, and faithfully went to meetings daily if not twice-a-day for over a year before i moved to eastern north carolina. as suggested, i didn’t make any major decisions or move anywhere in my first year. i broke other rules/not rules, but i did not break that one. when i moved, i attended meetings in my new town for a while, but it just wasn’t the same. all meetings are the same, in theory. but not all meetings are the same. i wanted them to be, but they weren’t. at that point, though, i found myself back in church again. and if our sobriety is based on our spiritual program, then my spirit was still actively growing.

the last chip i got was when i put together 3 years.

i’ve been sober now for 7 years, and some months and some days. i could do the math, but i try to make it a point not to do math at all.

that’s a long time to go without working any steps or holding hands with strangers who are family, crying with one another and laughing together and drinking not great coffee and holding space and allowing silence for one another.

the last meeting i attended, i took the youngest of my mom’s six sisters with me. she wanted to go, so together we went.

she died tragically a year later of stage four alcoholism. the same summer i went through the stuff that led me into the deep calling deep which the deep used to lead me into the middle of the country. her death was a part of that whole glorious experience, and i mean that in earnest now. her death, actually, led to more life for me. (i need to tell you the whole story of getting out here, soon. this will make more sense then.)

my dad died a few years before that, dropped dead of cardiac arrest from congestive heart failure, manifest from a lifetime of hard living. i’ve told you the story, but i mention it now because i wasn’t actively tending to my recovery when my dad died. i was still seeing karen, but i wasn’t attending meetings at that time.

i moved to the middle of the country a year ago. i wrestled, i strived, not with my disease but with not having really lived away from home for the first time ever in 35 years and so i was re-learning myself. i didn’t know that was going to happen when i got here, and before that i felt like i knew myself pretty well. i have no doubt i am right where i am supposed to be. i am still growing spiritually, and i am asking a lot of questions. i am thawing out from the trauma of what i experienced a few years ago. i am returning to myself, making my way back to where i got a little bit lost again.

and i need meetings.

i have friends here who love god and love me. i have people with whom i can be honest. i have found some who see me, whom i have shown me, and others who i don’t need to see me. these are those into whom i get to look deeply and say, “you are loved. and you are enough.”

but i have not made this connection yet, the one with people who are like me in this way. broken and bruised and painstakingly honest and terribly vulnerable, so painfully aware of our character flaws, and wanting to be and become better, one day at a time in the fellowship of true grace.

yesterday, a friend posted on facebook, “Melancholy is to depression as eccentric is to crazy. A few extra zeros make all the difference.” (quite honestly, i don’t know what the part about the zeros mean.) but to this, i replied, “You put words to what I was thinking about earlier tonight…sometimes we just get to grieve and feel pain, deeply. It’s necessary, and we can’t afford to miss out on it by just calling it depression when it’s not. (Alternately, we have to be honest with ourselves when it might be/could be/is.) Sometimes we just get to feel all of our feelings, though. I’m so grateful for that. (And just because one is quirky or eccentric, doesn’t mean one is cuckoo. Alternately, one who is certifiable may not appear to have any eccentricities at all. Most cunning, baffling, powerful of all.)”

perhaps my favorite part of being sober is that i get to feel all my feelings now. i’m not depressed, just sometimes i get sad the way normal people get sad. (and i’m not crazy, just quirky. or, as it turns out, just a woman.)

when i stopped going to meetings, i left off on step seven, which is to “humbly ask god to remove our shortcomings.”

i hadn’t yet made it to step eight.

which is exactly what we studied last night, what i walked into.

and i have blamed others and victimized myself, pretending to but not really owning my own part in the wreckage of broken relationships.

as someone pointed out last night, step eight is just to make the list of those we wronged when we were drinking. that’s it. we’re just making a list. kind of like the fourth step. it’s just the list. the next step is the decision about what to do with the list, how to best make amends, and then to do it. there are also those we have wronged while maybe we weren’t drinking, but perhaps not sober, either. i probably have as many people on this list as the other, many of the names are the same.

but last night, what i grieved deeply when i came home was that the one person i abused the most violently when i was drinking was my dad. and how he’s not here any more to ask for forgiveness and to live out our amends together.

this is to say nothing of how, together, we lived next to and worked together while we were both in active alcoholism. or what it was like growing up in an alcoholic home that preceded my own search for an escape route.

but for the first time, i grieved not being able to ask his forgiveness for how i yelled and cussed and punished and hurt my dad in my anger and depression.

he’s dead. he’s dead, and all i could do was cry and ask, anyway.

and to ask god’s forgiveness also for not honoring my dad better.

i honor him now. and before he died, i stopped being mad at him and we had sweet days that neither of us knew but i think we both suspected and i kind of did know that they were our last ones together.

i know he forgave me then, even before i would have asked. i know he understood my anger toward him…toward everyone…even if we never really talked about it. i know he understood it because, along with a deep well that could be filled with all manner of liquor, i inherited an intense capacity for feeling deeply. and if there’s a way for him to offer forgiveness now then i choose to receive it, because i know he would offer it freely. in fact, it probably wouldn’t even be a thing for him.

but it’s a thing for me, now.

i heard him say in my heart, “sweet pea” like he used to call me, or when he didn’t have other words. but that was all. and it was enough.

i’m not going to drink.

but, once again, i realized i’m still learning how to live here on this new playground with my new playmates with the gifts and tools and talents and quirks and dreams and clumsiness that god has given me which i can now offer to others, leaving room in my bucket for what is offered back.

because we all need each other. i need what my friends here at school and work and my people back home and across the universe and what my global aa-family presents to one another, to better live together. simply, to breathe.

i don’t have the 12 & 12 in front of me right now, but the last page of the chapter on the eighth step concludes with a thought about how this step will isolate us from each other if we continue to live under any amount of shame or blame of not making things right what we made wrong. not the wrongs done to us, and of course there were some and we have to forgive because we get to. because we have to. but these are the wrongs for which we were responsible.

in my fear and insecurity, both as a sober person and when i wasn’t, i have pushed people away at different points in my life. people i know who really love(d) me. i was afraid that if they got too close, they wouldn’t like what they saw or they would find me a fraud or i would clobber them with my co-dependency. i was afraid i would be too much or not enough and once they discovered this, they would end up leaving eventually, so why not just make it easier and create the distance myself?

i still do this. that is the raw, honest truth. i am not proud of this. and i will make amends with those, to my knowledge, i have hurt in this way or in others over the years. and i am working on standing still and not walking away from those god’s given me to love and to trust him and not them with the outcome of our relationships, even as i hold on loosely to them but hold on nonetheless.

because my soul can’t afford to live in that kind of isolation, the kind that’s afraid of being abandoned or rejected or just left alone in life. god does have me in a season of stillness, and i do have and enjoy and appreciate my alone-time. i’m in an incubation period right now, and it’s necessary for me to stay hidden in his wing. there is a difference between staying hidden and polarizing oneself because she is plum terrified of the outside world and feeling all of her feelings out there inside of it.

none are islands, and we are not made to live on one.

and that’s all i have.

please, please, please cripple me
so i cannot keep running away
away from you

{elenowen, cripple me}

hey, p.s. i don’t always post here. sometimes i have these random inspiring moments that i share on facebook, just in a status update. less thought and time goes into these posts. it’s less of my processing, and i guess they are bent more toward encouraging and exhorting others. i was going to tell you that you can find me there, but i just remembered my page is set to private. blah. if you can find me there, and you’ll include in your friend request that you know me from here, then i’ll be glad to friend you there. i say more there than i do here, regularly. just an invitation to share life if you want to. unless you seem creepy. xo

horrible bangs.

so, i think i may have found grace again today.

i woke up nervous this morning that i had said anything here about grace and not grace and truth and not truth. but i left it out there. i appreciate that i’m not alone, and that others of you are making your way, too. (and that i didn’t not make sense, at least to some of you.)

i watched brene brown this morning while i was getting ready for work.

i don’t watch or listen to inspirational speakers because i think there’s something (too terribly) wrong with me (anymore). i watch them because…well, they inspire. they draw out my true self – not the self-improved self, or the me on the way to who i am becoming. but the me i have always been and was always meant to be, and the me that will ever be. my cousin, who is himself very inspiring, suggested last summer i start doing this. always, always, always i leave my house in a better mood in the morning than when i first woke up, bleary-eyed and groggy, when i do this.

i love sleep, y’all.

and because i was so caught up with brene brown, i decided i could go without drying my hair.

i got bangs last week. i still can’t figure out how to work them or if i even like them. like, for real bangs. i don’t think i’ve had bangs in a thousand years. but, bangs? i got ‘em. i keep thinking my hair is in my face because, well. my hair is in my face.

so i threw my hair up in a damp pony tail with an “oh well” and basically decided i didn’t care.

disclaimer: you need to know when i say “i don’t care” – i’m not giving the middle finger to the universe. when i say, “i don’t care”, i just mean “this is something i’m not going to worry about right now. there are more important things.” my wet ponytail was just not going to be one of those things today.

and neither were my bangs.

ugh. bangs.

i don’t think i like them.

i don’t know.

anyway.

when i got to work, my student worker had gotten there before me and left her things outside the door while she ran downstairs to grab breakfast. so i did what any good boss would do. i hid her bags under my desk and tried to pretend like i didn’t know what she was talking about when she asked about them.

but i’ve got no game, y’all. i’m a terrible liar…which makes sense because of the whole being a truth-teller and all…but i’m also convinced it is god’s mercy on my soul because that is one less thing i need to be able to get away with.

my mentor had texted me and called my phone already by the time i sat down. she’s been terribly sick, so she asked me to bring things from her office out to her car.

and i did that.

i went down to the basement, the dregs of our building, through the tunnels and out into the world where my friend was waiting.

because i could.

because i wanted to.

i had another errand to run across campus, so i made a whole adventure out of it.

and i smiled. and i was glad to see her and happy to help her.

in my damp ponytail and ugly bangs in a dress that i think is the one that requires an extra slip, which i forgot about until i was walking from my car this morning, i made my delivery to her and walked on to make my next one.

and do you know what she did? she sent me a text telling me i looked good today, which i didn’t even notice until i had made my other delivery and climbed the walls back to my office.

and i smiled all the way down to HR and at the secretary when i saw her, too. and i dropped off the thing and apologized and apologized for a mistake and asked for extra time and she was lovely.

and i smiled all the way back to my office and spoke to each student i saw on my way back.

in other words, i decided to show up today. to be present.

i think for the most part i do this – kind of like the grace thing. i think, for the most part, i am both grace and truth and, in general, i think most would say i am fully present.

except on the days that i’m not.

and these are the days that trip me up. 

because i want to be present on all of those days, too.

and if i have one off day in regard to any of these, then i feel like the worst person on the planet and god and i both have to start over completely from scratch and the potter has to smash his clay to the wheel because she became unruly and tried to jump off the wheel again and i want to crawl back into the hole that surely i must have crawled out of all because i didn’t have enough grace for someone or should have spoken truth with more kindness.

and those things may be true, but not all of the rest of it. because grace is an every day kindness of god. and his doesn’t run out, even when mine does – especially for myself.

i told my bff’s at lunch today that i feel like i’m coming alive again.

i didn’t really even realize i was ever not alive.

and maybe it has something to do with the weather.

maybe it has everything to do with the weather, actually.

i’ve been here a year now, and before that i had about 3 months to get ready to get here. and before that was the most traumatic experience of my whole life, second only to my dad dying. what i’m saying is, there hasn’t been a whole lot of time over the last 2 years that i haven’t been in some kind of pretty major transition. (karen calls me her over-achiever.)

when i first got here, i was a full-time student for the first time in…many…years (again, the whole math thing. just. no.) god opened up the door for me and zella to live with a precious couple for the first few months i was here – more transition – and then last summer i went home for a few weeks just to come back to a full-time job again and resume my education as a part-time student. zella and i also moved into our own little house/apartment. apartment. it’s an apartment. but it feels like a little tiny house to me.

i will tell you this whole story another time. it’s awesome.

and last fall was ALL transition, as every single thing i was doing for my job was work i had not done before…with more support than anyone could ever hope for, but no real training. (that’s not a dig on anyone AT ALL. it’s just a thing, which everyone knows is a thing.) i was also on a(nother) emotional roller coaster that i have since stepped off of…which still kind of sucks, but it was and is the best thing for my heart.

i don’t really feel like i’m in transition anymore. i feel alive again. when i wasn’t looking, i have become present in my life again.

maybe it’s all the running.

it’s definitely the relationships god’s given me, both here and at home and other friends across the country.

i was looking at all the pictures on my fridge tonight before i sat down to write this and that’s when i knew. that’s when i saw.

grace. this…these…these precious people…are all grace. all of these…awesome, soulful, incredible spirits…that god has seen fit to share with me…

THAT is all grace. there was a time i would have said “THAT is all grace” and i would have meant “because i don’t deserve it at all” in an “i am lower than the earth” kind of way.

but when i felt it earlier, and stopped in front of all these faces, and thought, “THAT is all grace”, i was just grateful. of course we don’t deserve it. we all know that. but we get it, anyway. we get to have the gift of these people in our lives and it’s our job to enjoy them and take care of each other and just be alive for one another. to just show up to life with and for and on behalf of one another. it doesn’t have anything at all to do with whether or not we deserve it.

don’t you think we get that part wrong about god sometimes?

like somewhere we kind of believe that maybe he’s keeping score, or a list of what we do or do not deserve. like the claw in toy story? he’ll pick out a gift for us to have according to our goodness. the way we talk about god sometimes, i think we think that about him.

and that is just crap.

because, no. of course we don’t deserve anything. but i really don’t think it has anything to do with us at all. and yet…it has everything to do with us at all.

i think he just gives because he’s good and because he loves and because he’s god, he can and so he does. and because he created us for the sole purpose of his enjoyment, that we would turn right back around and laugh and cry and worship and enjoy his presence for his own enjoyment…and yet we’re the ones who get the gifts.

sometimes i think, or act like i believe, that god is “just trying to teach me a lesson”. and, sure. lessons come. but don’t you think if we just looked at his love, just chose to experience it, the lessons would either just sort of fall off or happen naturally?

there’s nothing too theological about any of that. just my thoughts.

there is a little girl who is learning how to spell and read and, really, i think she borders genius because, well. you would, too, if you knew her. and daily i get at least a dozen texts from my girl-wonder who is half a world away. she writes, “you can do anything, kk! you’re the best, kk!” (i kind of want to tell her not to learn any more new words. just stick with these, kid. they’re good ones.)

and THAT?

ALL GRACE.

not simply that i would be loved like that, that’s too cliche.

but that i get to have a relationship with this beautiful spirit-child that god has given me to love, along with her two cousins (who are too young yet to know how to spell :)), and we can share in love with one another and watch and help each other grow. i can allow her to love me and i get to love her even more…so much more. (she will never know just how much i adore her.) she is a teacher on how to love and be loved and on the gift of being present.

and that is grace.

when i got back to my office this morning, my other mentor stopped in the foyer outside my window like he does frequently. i jumped up and ran out to hug him, and he asked me to walk with him so he could tell me a story i asked him about the other day. and i did and he did and we stood out in the foyer and i cried for being so moved by what is happening for him, by what god is doing. it is just so beautiful. i could hear my heart sing on his behalf.

i cried when i was praying for my friend during chapel today. just got a little bit weepy. nothing dramatic.

in general, i started crying again this week. i feel like…for the first time in a long time…they are just real, genuine tears. i’m not crying because of hysterics or hormones or because i’m exhausted or thinking, “what the bleep am i doing here? god, GET ME OUT.” it feels a little bit like the first time i cried real tears when i first got sober.

i was alone, in my car in my driveway at my house.

and it was such a pure and holy and sacred moment.

and in the times i have just shown up to life without any guard or filter, holy moments like these just happen. 

and not because i had anything to do with making any of these moments happen. i didn’t – at all. …actually, that’s kind of the whole point. i didn’t make them happen. but because at least one of us was present – and in each of these cases this week, all of us have been – and we just show up to the moment…holy happens. 

you know what else i noticed today? 

i was smiling more. like, at everything and everyone. at one point, i smiled and then -consciously, deliberately- smiled even bigger. just because i loved the moment i was in, and the conversation i was having. like a cheshire cat. but i didn’t care. because we all need to smile more.

people have asked me before, “what’s wrong?” when they see me and i’m not smiling. not because i’m not smiling, but because when i’m not smiling, i guess i look mad? or like i’m frowning?

we all need to smile more. i’d rather look like a doofus for smiling too much than come off as mad or mean because i’m not smiling at all.

and i laughed a lot today, too. at lunch, ben said he wanted to create a meme of one of my faces (because, apparently, I MAKE A LOT OF THEM) and, for some reason, that just struck me as so funny. i laughed so hard…harder than i have laughed in a really. long. time. at one point, i heard chandee point out that i had broken out into silent laughter. it felt so good to laugh that hard.

and i saw my hebrew teacher and had to tell him why i skipped class yesterday and he had SO MUCH FUNNY GRACE about it, but that is to be expected. he is just so precious.

and we got a delivery and it was like christmas unloading all those office supplies! one of my student workers laughed at me and my other student worker…i need to come up with fake-names for them, they are each so special…she was laughing at us picking on each other. and that is its very own story of grace, too.

and then a student came onto the hallway and said, “hey, mk. i have a message for you. your best friend wants you to know everyone loves you.” – and i laughed and we walked out to where she was and it was like a party was out there! people everywhere that i love – they just happened to be there in between classes – no one was actually there to see me, but there were several students just hanging out in different places that i have had the awesome privilege of getting to know in the last year. and this student said, “yeh, i told her everyone loves you and she told me to come tell you,” and i hugged him hard and really meant it when i said, “well, who doesn’t need to hear that more?!” BECAUSE WE ALL NEED TO HEAR THAT MORE.

WE ALL NEED TO SAY THAT MORE. 

AND MEAN IT.

“everyone loves you.” say it to someone and see what it does. try it and see what happens.

and then i got to show him the r2-d2 action figure that is hiding in the tabernacle like dr. lamp showed me one day just because it’s awesome.

and, y’all. ALL OF THAT IS GRACE. because did you read my post yesterday? i mean, today? wait, what day is this? i haven’t been feeling full of grace lately. and then i showed up and this day happened and it seems as though no one really noticed that i forgot grace. or maybe i was just being too hard on myself, because THAT HAPPENS A LOT.

all day long felt like a big party just because it was a regular, ordinary, normal day and i got to be a part of it, fully.

and at lunch, a student who comes into our office every-so-often saw me and came over to hug me, saying, “i’m a hugger, and i know i can’t hug you in your office” and i said, “what the what? you better hug me in my office! i’m a hugger, too!”

and then one of my favorites came in and we usually have moments when we are together. he looked around my office and said, “who would have thought that when you were sitting in my class last year…?” and we had a moment. god has gifted him to me like a father. and then i was able to be honest with him about a situation in one of my classes, and he agreed and was already on top of it. i said a hard, true thing that i would have second-guessed myself about afterward or talked myself out of saying before or “just get over it”, but i said it respectfully and it was a done deal and that was that.

and by the time 4:30 rolled around, i was exhausted…which i’m sure had nothing to do with being up until midnight writing a blog-post…so i came home and took a nap and cuddled my dog in the quiet until i had to go to my p.e. class tonight.

and tonight my heart is full.

but you need to know something.

if i were to tell you all of that without what i’m going to say next, it would sound like i am so full of myself. 

and sometimes i am, admittedly. ego-maniac with a self-esteem problem. good grief.

but you can bet that, if i’m talking about myself in any self-indulgent sort of way, there’s usually a greater point. 

so here it is:

today, i decided to show up. and i was alive.

when i say my heart is full, i do not mean it is full of hyperactive emotion.

it is just very simply full. and that is grace. i showed up to life today, horrible bangs and all. and not because i did that, but when i did that, i noticed that other people had shown up to their lives today, too. and they probably have been all along, maybe they were just waiting for me to join the party. and a lot of really sweet and special and funny and tender moments happened. others needed me to be present today, and i was. and i needed them to be present today, too, and they were. nothing was manufactured or created. i kind of went through the day without thinking too much about anything – which is always a good place for me to be – and the day just happened.

like it was waiting for me to get there.

and i did.

and it was beautiful.

and THAT is ALL grace.

because ALL really is grace.*

*special thanks to my friend shanda for the reminder of our friend’s words in her bio, which i read today.

i’m going to go on and post this now.

it’s almost tomorrow.

and there’s another day we get to show up for.

xo

sword of.

it would seem as though my blog lately (maybe always, i’m not really sure) has become more like a journal. i need to write. i know this. i am rusty. so instead of over-thinking everything, i’m just writing anything. i said it the other day, and it’s true that writing is how i process. you can read in my writing when i am scratching the surface or break through something all together. i “journal” here because my fingers type faster than they write in my journal. but i do journal still. and writing is my therapy.

i got off of facebook a few weeks ago. i don’t miss it. kind of i do, but not really i do. i miss my people there. but i don’t miss the noise of it all. because i am who i am, which is only to say i will speak to a shoe if it’s walking toward me, and because my family is who they are, which is only to say i grew up traveling with an evangelist and in retreat-ministry and so it just so happens that i have had the incredible privilege of knowing a gazillion awesome people in the world…also to say my whole family on both sides will also speak to a shoe or a lamp or a bus or a cat if it means we get to make a new friend and neither of us gets to be lonely…

why was i saying all of that? oh, because i know a lot of people there. and so when i post here? now that i’m not there? i only get a few hits a day. WHICH IS FINE because i kind of say whatever i want without really having to edit much.

there was a time, back when i first started blogging, when i wanted to stake a place in the blogosphere. when i cared about being known to infinity and beyond.

or at least in the twitterverse.

i think i might have said that i didn’t care then, but i cared then. part of me, anyway, wanted to belong in that world.

i would schedule my posts and space out my announcements…it became like a job…to write every day and integrate myself into the weird, virtual community where everyone and no one knows no one and everyone. and it’s awesome and also not awesome there. awesome if you can handle it, not awesome if you can’t.

today? honestly? i really don’t care. i care tremendously about the people who stop by here for a visit. because that is what matters. but i don’t do math and i don’t do numbers and if one person stops by here whose heart i can connect to? because that’s what matters?

and it’s the only thing that matters?

well, that’s what matters.

because i need you. i need to know we’re not alone together.

and you know what i realize i’m okay with now that i haven’t been okay with before?

is that you might need me, too.

you need me to show up.

and i need you to be there when i do.

here lately, though, i write because i know i need to write. and i’m happy you’re here.

can i tell you what i prayed today?

i was driving toward school and said, “god. just make me regular. ordinary. i just want to be normal.” honestly, it is my greatest desire to just fly under the radar. i don’t want to be noticed or known. that is, to be known to those who know, yes. of course. i want to be known by these. that is important, for all of us. but to be known by the whole universe?

i just want to know i’m known by the god of that. 

i’ve been reduced to this. and i honestly don’t care about much else.

keeping up appearances or with the jones’ or with…anything or anyone…good grief, i have a hard enough time remembering not to wear the same thing twice in one week and to brush my teeth in the morning…i can’t even remember how old i am anymore…i never ever remember my phone extension at work…much less remembering to…do anything else (couldn’t think of anything clever, but i mean everything at all).

who has the time or the energy? i spent all of last year striving in my new environment. i didn’t even realize it until i went home for christmas a year later. and i just can’t anymore. i just cannot. can you? no, you can’t either. let’s not strive anymore, okay? promise? really. for real. can we just breathe together? and laugh and cry together? no judgment here. let’s just be.

i’m secretly an introvert. but in life i can’t be that. my job/life/ministry…i just can’t be that. i’ve never been able to actually be that. maybe because i’m not really that? any time i take the MBTI, i’m near the middle but always leaning left. but i’m one of those creative-types who processes on her own out loud, but is perfectly content to not talk to a single soul and process through writing and painting and singing and praying and reading…alone…until it’s time to process aloud again…(right? that’s a type, isn’t it?)

i’ve been listening to bob goff lately. watching his interviews. he talks about being secretly incredible. this i want to be.

i told my cousin that, would if i could, i want to publish my first book anonymously. i don’t know what would most honor god there. as it is, i don’t have to worry about that right now since, you know. there’s no actual book to publish.

also, glennon melton over at momastery, who…y’all. she is freeing me up in so many ways. i’m not sure why i never started reading her, not on a regular basis, until now. she is reminding me of grace. the thing i used to be. what i still am, but…

i know where it started. where i lost grace. i sometimes forget where i lost it, but then i remember. and i still had it, even while i lost it. it was because of that thing that happened.

and those who know, i know you will and do get it because you were a part of it either before, during or after. and i’m sorry i keep alluding to it but not talking about it here. i’m not sure if or when or if it’s even or will ever be necessary or what i want to say about it, anyway. it was horrible.

hurt people hurt people, that’s what they say. sometimes hurt people help people, though.

and that’s when it happened. and friends who know me may say i didn’t lose it. but i feel like i did. let it never be said of me, god, that i am not a safe place of grace for…anyone. ever. please.

and, of course, kid president. he’s my favorite. (seriously, this morning? i thought about what it would be like to hang out with him. and you know what i came up with? he would just be a kid. and i would just be me. and it would be awesome.)

i want what these people have.

i used to have what these people have.

some would say i still have it? maybe? i don’t know, honestly.

my spirit has been quiet lately. my soul? a little bit restless. my spirit, quiet.

i think i’m figuring out who i am all over again.

or figuring out who i am in this stage of my life.

it’s a weird, awesome place. and i’m finally totally okay with not knowing who or where i am right now. i’m getting there. not fighting or striving or trying to figure it out. just life…figure me out for me. it’s good. and life is simple when i just leave life alone and let life be life.

i don’t mean to sound so narcissistic, if that’s how i’ve been coming across lately. my hope is that as i’m processing my heart and my life, that you might be, too. it’s the only reason i’m writing here. it would be in my journal otherwise. and maybe some things are best left there. or maybe let’s just be more honest.

my little sister/fellow old soul/sweet friend said today, “midol’s better than tylenol. midol’s my jam.” that has absolutely nothing to do with anything, except maybe it has a little something to do with everything i’m saying right now. plus, it was just funny and we all laughed when she said it.

i called out a(nother) friend recently. it’s becoming a thing. not really a thing that i like, but it keeps happening.

i honestly didn’t mean to do it. i wasn’t trying to. i actually forgot that it happened, to be honest. my only intention at the time was to speak some truth that needed to be spoken to a situation that i’m not even that close to, just a casual observer from the outside looking in, but who cares about deeply about all parties. i was asked a related question, which turned into a “let me tell you how it is” answer because that’s what happens when this righteousness-thing that’s in me kicks in. i love the person i was speaking to, but i was a little bit hard on the person to whom i was speaking.

and the friend on whose behalf i was speaking thanked me for it later.

but then i had to apologize. not for what was said, but because i can be kind of intense when i speak “truth”. we landed on the same page…but we -i- both spoke to be heard instead of listened, again, to be understood.

and this just wasn’t okay. again.

so i went to find my friend. again.

only the two were speaking to each other when i saw the one i had apologized to, so i pretended i was doing something else, which is dumb but i took it as a sign that maybe i just needed to mind my own business…and maybe i did…

but then…i got back to my office and thought, “no. no secrets. do this. nothing to hide. get it out in the open. no shadows. you’re a part of this now, whether you wanted to be or asked for it or not. make sure it’s right, even if it’s weird. this is okay.”

so i went back to the library where the two were, and i hugged him harder than her and said, “listen. i love both of you. and i want what’s best for both of you. i care about both of you. AND THERE IS GRACE. AND I AM LEARNING TO LIVE IN GRACE AGAIN. and what i said is still TRUTH. but THERE IS GRACE FOR YOU TO LEARN WHAT IS TRUTH FOR YOU. and this situation will work out because you are both seekers of jesus and of grace and of truth and we are all on this journey together. AND I AM NOT RIGHT ALL OF THE TIME. and i am cheering for both of you because we are all in this together and we’re not going anywhere any time soon that we’re not all going together.”

and i cried not dramatically but just because i could, and i hugged them both not because it was the right thing to do but because it was the only thing to do.

because i look like i’m 12 and act like i’m 5, 17 or a hundred depending on the day, i sometimes forget that i’m like the big sister that they didn’t ask for to some of my colleagues. i forget that many of them will not learn lessons like i learned them, because i was drunk or hungover when i got the stories that created the lessons that i learned later. but no matter how they learn things, they have to and get to figure out stuff, too. and I don’t just get to be “older and wiser” just because i think i am older and wiser. my lessons may not be their lessons, my truth may not be their truth.

AND, ALSO, I DON’T HAVE ANY ANSWERS.

i’m learning this all over again.

but…at the same time? i do have something to contribute. i do have something to say. and i do have a voice that is meant to be used, and so i am learning to do this at all, and how it is meant to be done.

it is SO WEIRD to be aware of needing to re-learn all of this. how again did i lose it? just so strange. anyway. finding it all again. that’s the part that matters.

i may think i have an answer, or know something, but if i haven’t been asked to contribute? then who really cares how much i think i know? you know?

this is not to say, though…rather, let me put it this way.

how do i want to put it?

grace and truth. my friend whitni posted on her wall a few weeks ago something along the lines of, “truth without grace is just mean”. basically. and there was a flip-side part of the quote, too. about “grace without truth”, but i can’t remember it and i can’t find it accurately now. i think she was quoting someone else.

one of my core, fundamental truths that i seem to only just now be remembering, even though i’ve said it a thousand times, is: just because i think it, doesn’t mean you need to hear it. or that you need to hear it from me. 

this is how i remember learning that: years ago, at least ten, my friend wes said to me, “it’s not that what you said isn’t the truth. it’s just that the way you say it makes me not want to listen to you.” i, obviously, haven’t forgotten this. as in, i remember where we were sitting and exactly how he said it and if i did not thank him then (but i think that i did because i loved him then as i do now and he was so honest with me and loving about it), then i sure thank (or re-thank) him now. because it is true, what he said. i think i wrote a post about this very thing, actually.

my point is this: i am and have always been and karen and i have talked ad nauseam about how part of who i am – a big, fundamental, unavoidable and i can’t apologize for it part of who i am – is that i am a truth-sayer. sometimes this sucks. a lot of times, this sucks. because i’m not always the best time-teller. and sometimes i’m not the best at identifying ear-hearers. sometimes those parts aren’t my job. but sometimes the combination of it all just is…it just sometimes sucks. but i’m sort of used to it now. i don’t mind it, except when i do.

(god, please? ordinary?)

but, also? i really am a grace pourer-outer. i mean, in theory. in theory, i am a grace pourer-outer. (again, it’s the thing i seem to have lost but i am finding again…thank you, jesus…)

but i find lately, in dealing with students who are trying to make their way and friends on whose journeys i have been invited, that i’m more of the truth-sayer than the grace pourer-outer.

but i can’t be one if i’m not going to be the other.

because the truth-teller has to foremost be a grace pourer-outer. otherwise she is just mean and bossy and a know-it-all, and who really wants to know a know-it-all? 

when i was decompressing the situation with another friend, one who is in a similar life-stage as i am in, two things happened: one is that i didn’t second-guess myself. FOR THOSE WHO KNOW ME WELL, YOU KNOW THIS IS HUGE. i knew that what i said in the first place was truth. that i had somehow been positioned to speak truth where truth needed to be spoken. hearts were involved. what i said about it was truth. and in the library, that part was truth, too. THEY BOTH THANKED ME FOR IT because she said it opened the door for what needed to be an honest conversation between the two of them. i couldn’t apologize for speaking the truth, just for being kind of intense when i said it.

i am becoming okay with and less shocked by speaking truth and pouring grace, and asking for it in return, and not apologizing for any of it whereas i used to apologize just for being alive. and i’m not sorry for that part anymore.

you know what’s funny, actually? is that this was the first time i had said anything at all to anyone about the situation, and i said it directly to the person involved. but others have been asking questions and speaking into the situation and no one’s “gotten into trouble” over it. and then came me. geez.

(please, god, just make me regular.)

anyway. my friend reminded me, “listen to me. you’re the one who told me to get off the emotional roller coaster last year.” (oh, the irony…)

and she reminded me again of another truth i had to work out and walk through and make similar changes she was forced to make when she got off that roller coaster.

truth is truth. it just is. my granddad used to say, “all truth is god’s truth”. and as long as that’s the truth we’re telling, then this is true.

he also used to say, “in all things, do the loving thing.”

he said a lot of things.

we have to have grace and truth. grace can survive without truth. but truth cannot breathe without grace.

yes. this is my truth.

and i’m thankful for the grace to hear it.

there’s more. (because always, there is more.)

but that’s enough for now.

night night.

xo

sack of potatoes.

i’ve started running.

i am not a runner.

but i’ve started running.

last fall, my good friend ben told me about a couch-to-5k group i could join.

so i did.

so i show up most every monday and thursday evenings and saturday mornings.

and i run.

i make ben go with me.

ben, who actually is a runner. as in, he’s training for a marathon.

i am not training for a marathon.

because, remember, i am not a runner. 

but i run.

after the first two weeks or so, ben and i show up to meet our group on saturday morning and the guy who led us on thursday says, “you two are going with the 10k group this morning, because…”

and i’m not sure what he said after that on account of laughing too loudly to hear his rationale.

but i am pretty sure he was drunk.

or maybe just crazy.

probably both.

but we did it. rather, i did it. ben did it, too, but as it is he can run a bazillion miles without stopping. he’s like a machine.

i’m like a…not machine.

(not that kind of machine, anyway.)

so, i keep showing up. and i keep running. yesterday, we ran 6.06 miles on a new route.

at 6:30 in the morning.

YESTERDAY WAS SATURDAY.

on the way back, as the marathoners were running past us (evidently these are foreigners who get there before everyone and just run and run because they enjoy it so much and i’m not sure they ever stop, ever), i ended up filing in behind a girl in my group when we were nearing the end in order to get out of the way of these marathoners.

she didn’t speed up, and neither did i. i kept the same, safe distance behind her the whole time so she wouldn’t feel like i was chasing her, or all up in her personal space. (nevermind that i couldn’t have caught her if i was actually chasing her.) i almost said to her, “don’t worry, friend. i’m not going to compete with you, or try to pass you. you’re doing great! i’m right behind you, silently begging god to help us cheering for us both to make it to the end.” i didn’t say it to her because i didn’t need to. if i had said anything, while all of these sticks and twigs from a far-off land zoomed past us, it might have thrown us both off the sidewalk. instead of saying anything, i silently honored her space and my space. we both had to trust each other in our silence.

(mind you, she may not have had any thoughts at all about the situation. we were near the end of our trek and she was probably just trying to finish. i have no idea. this is just how i was processing it, and you all know by now that i WAY OVER-THINK THINGS.)

later in the day, after a very long nap, i took zella on a walk. we went around a fenced-in state lakey-thing in the neighborhood behind my house, so i let princess poops-a-lot off her leash so she could be free to run around.

when i take zella on walks, i’ve learned to let them be about her as much as i can. she will stop and sniff anything and try to catch everything, so i have stopped trying to fuss at her or tug on her leash so that we can both just enjoy this time. it’s time i can devote just to her, and i find other time to get my own exercise.

in general, i’m trying to stopping fussing and tugging on leashes so i and those around me can just enjoy our time together.

yesterday, i just walked slowly around the lake as she had her own adventure. even with my back to her, she was never out of my sight. and if i walked ahead of her while she explored, i paused and enjoyed watching her. i would have called after her if there was cause for concern, but there wasn’t. so i didn’t say anything to hurry or interrupt her play, but i slowed down enough for her to be able to see me when she was ready to continue.

when zella was around 18 months old, we moved to my grandparents’ farmhouse in the country. we had a 23-acre sprawl on the property of our family’s ministry on which she had full reign. she could run and play to her heart’s content. we lived on a hill, and i would let her out back and she could run as far as she could ever want to.

but sometimes, instead of taking off for the field, that girl would take off down the driveway and run down the road. and i would take off after her, hollering after her like a crazy lady, praying that her end would not be met with a car in front of me.

if insanity is defined as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”, then let’s just say this happened enough times to qualify.

but always, i would catch her. if not immediately, then eventually. and i would throw her over my shoulder like a sack of potatoes and carry her back up the hill we had both just charged down, fussing at and kissing her the whole way up.

yesterday when i let her off her leash, i wasn’t worried that she would run off. and i didn’t have to say anything to “encourage” or “support” her, other than to express my delight in her when she came chasing after me. and she stayed next to me then, until something else captured her attention.

when we neared the end of the opening of the fence, she was near. i only had to say her name and she stopped for me to attach her leash.

zella is ten now. 

i don’t have to scold her anymore.

she trusts me, and has an understanding of my love for her. she knows my voice and is no longer defiant when i say her name because she trusts me. she knows when i call after her in caution, and when i say her name playfully.

she is at my feet right now. in fact, she does not leave my side when we are home together, and will not go farther than she can see me whenever i take her out to the country to run around, or down the street. in fact, these days, when we are together, she makes sure some part of her is touching some part of me. (and, yes, i do realize this is starting to bordering co-dependency, only the difference is that our relationship doesn’t make me feel like a crazy person. not sure about her. seems fine.)

she knows she is safe in my presence. she trusts my presence, even if i’m not saying anything to her. i think she might even enjoy my presence, even if i’m not scratching her belly. and i love having her near, even when we are not playing. occasionally, i will reach down to rub behind her ears so she knows i know she’s there.

occasionally, i will reach down to rub behind her ears so i know i know she’s there.

my dog, who is my only child, is my delight.

god’s been silent lately. close, near. but silent.

his silence used to make me nervous, like a child in hiding waiting to be caught for lying or hitting.

but i know now he’s not mad at or disappointed in me or giving me the silent treatment.

because god ONLY loves. even when we don’t hear him.

and i am not god in either of these stories.

but when i did not say anything yesterday to my friend, my thoughts turned to the lord’s silence. and his presence. and how, if in his presence there is fullness of joy, it doesn’t always mean he is doting on us or holding us or kissing us or even talking to us at all. in his silence, we learn to trust him.

a new baby, when he is fresh out of the oven and new to the world, needs and gets to experience, in most cases, all the love and attention and affection in the world.

as we grow in our relationships with those who love us most, and the one whose love is beyond compare or measure, we have to -we get to- simply trust love, even when we are not being shown absolute affection. we simply know we are safe in love. as we grow, by the time we are older in years and/or maturity, we learn from experience how to trust divine love. we are confident in this because we have tasted and seen and know what it looks like, and what it doesn’t. or what it’s not supposed to, anyway.

and so sometimes, experiencing the fullness of joy might be when we are just in his silent presence.

his silent, but still adoring, trustworthy presence.

oh, that we might have one true taste of this in our lives, how we might change and be changed and god’s love through us might change others.

i’m still learning all of this.

and i’m still learning that i’m still learning all of this.

maybe you’re still learning that you’re still learning all of this, too.

when i was with zella yesterday, just letting my dog be a dog, and enjoying her doing it, i thought of what oswald chambers says about god’s silence, based on john 11:6.

Has God trusted you with His silence – silence that has great meaning? God’s silences are actually His answers. Just think of those days of absolute silence in the home of Bethany! Is there anything comparable to those days in your life? Can God trust you like that, or are you still asking Him for a visible answer? God will give you the very blessing you ask if you refuse to go any further without them, but His silence is the sign that He is bringing you into an even more wonderful understanding of Himself. Are you mourning before God because you have not had an audible response? When you cannot hear God, you will find that He has trusted you in the most intimate way possible – with absolute silence, not a silence of despair, but one of pleasure, because He saw that you could withstand an even bigger revelation. If God has given you a silence, then praise Him – He is bringing you into the mainstream of His purposes. The actual evidence of the answer in time is simply a matter of God’s sovereignty. Time is nothing to God. For a while you may have said, “I asked God to give me bread, but He gave me a stone instead” (Matt 7:9). He did not give you a stone, and today you find that He gave you the “bread of life” (John 6:35).

A wonderful thing about God’s silence is that His stillness is contagious – it gets into you, causing you to become perfectly confident so that you can honestly say, “I know that God has heard me.” His silence is the very proof that He has. As long as you have the idea that God will always bless you in answer to prayer, He will do it, but He will never give you the grace of His silence. If Jesus Christ is bringing you into the understanding that prayer is for the glorifying of His Father, then He will give you the first sign of His intimacy – silence.

{My Utmost for His Highest, October 11. emphasis mine.}

and i just wonder today, if we are learning that god is trusting you and me through his silence?

or maybe he already has?

may you experience the fullness of joy today, even if he is not all together silent.

and especially if he is.

xo

blue blazes.

well, now i’ve done it.

i’ve gone and looked at gypsymama’s 5mf and read the whole thing and now i have to follow her amazing post because i can’t not say something when prompted to write anything, especially when hers points to charity and community and children and all that is good and right on the earth, or at least helps to make it so.

and about the word for the week, garden, a few things…

last fall, some of my friends will tell you that the lord was doing something in a garden inside of me. i kept seeing myself in this garden…there was a whole storyline to it, only i got different images of it at different points and the scenes changed…it sounds really strange to say it out loud. or write it, i mean. but if you speak the language, then i trust that you get it.

and i thought it meant one thing, but i think when it was all said and done, we deduced that the lord was doing something during that season in the garden of my own heart, of my own life. because isn’t that usually the case?

when i first began seeing these images, it was summer time. hot, hot, hot summer. in the image, it was summer. but also it was august. in the midwest. where it is hot as blue blazes.

but then the scenes shifted and it was time for harvest before fall in the land actually began.

woh. woh. woh.

sorry, just now realizing something…will get to it…

so, harvest. i was sowing seeds, others were sowing seeds. he said, “sow this seed. water this seed.” so i did. i sowed and watered the one i thought he said to sow and water and it was harvest time in this proverbial garden.

and then it was suddenly winter. everything just stopped. froze. the day was gray and silent. the garden was still, dormant, quiet. no sign of life or growth. we did our job. it was time for the land to grow it up now.

and i said it yesterday, not even making the connection, and this is the “woh. woh. woh.”

i am feeling the warmth of spring on my soul again. life is stirring, awakening. it’s been almost two years since that thing happened and i said just yesterday that i feel like there is a sprout forming above the earth from a seed dropped dormant in the dark, rich soil of winter. anticipation of the earth in full motion rumbles beneath the surface.

not even making the connection until just this moment that it’s all been a part of the same garden, the one we saw last fall, also the garden of my heart. all different parts of the same story. same garden, but my garden. not that person’s or the other. the garden of my heart in which he and i walk alone because our gardens, yours and mine, aren’t meant to be shared until the bounty and the plenty comes. he leads me privately, showing me the land and where he himself

planted seeds

and sowed them

and watered them

he tilled this land, not me

but i was there, with him

god drops seeds and he sows and we reap and heaven pours and earth moves and land forms life in spring because that is what fertile soil where seeds are planted is made, is created, it itself born to do. and harvest comes and we share because we can’t not share. we must share in and from and through the abundance of hearts, of lives.

i didn’t realize it really would take this long, just like she said it would. the recovery time has taken way longer than the actual experience. it’s something i rarely think about anymore, were it not for this garden.

god spoke to hearts and he paved ways, so i uprooted and moved away and started a new life not long after, chasing after, pursuing only, not stopping on the race that is carved out for me. that part happened a year ago.

i’m settled here now. no longer striving. comfortable in my skin, even when i’m not. safe in him. secure in my place in the world. rather, secure in not necessarily knowing my place in the world, just that i have one and it’s important because we all do and everyone’s is.

i am a soul coming alive again, finding her voice again.

and i am not afraid to use it, though cautious and sensitive to my own heart and this garden therein.

one sprout, i can see it. she did not resist the land where she was safe but for the natural movement and it grew her, sturdy and strong and hearty. delicate still for waking up to the dawn of early morning after the deepest sleep. but she is alive again. she made it.

spring is coming. spring is here.

and it was worth it.

amen.

 

rubber and glue.

i’m an external processor.

i think.

so i’ve been told.

yes, i guess that i am.

right now, i don’t have anything to process.

i don’t think.

sometimes i just need to write just because. just to get it out. but i really don’t have anything too important to say tonight. and i don’t have time for fancy prose when the work day and hebrew class loom.

plus, i’m kind of all about just keeping it real these days. i’ve always been that way. but i think i’ve become more that way in recent days. as in, who really cares if we have fancy words to say? what if i just have regular words to say, even if no one at all reads them?

i just got home from my p.e. class. i am stinky. my hair is pulled back in a ponytail. i’m getting my haircut tomorrow. i think i’m going short. er. shorter. i’ve had long hair for…five?…years now. makes me nervous, but i think it’s time for a change. just going to go with it. also, i’ve reached that point in my life when i might have to sacrifice groceries for hair color. because PLEASE STOP GROWING GREY HAIR. SSS. THERE ARE JUST SO MANY OF YOU.

i deactivated my facebook account earlier this week. i was going to do it on monday because it was the beginning of the week, and the date ended in a zero. i have this thing about even numbers. i like even numbers and numbers that end in 5 or 0. 1, 3, 7, 9 just feel sort of incomplete to me. (i am now thinking of the spiritual significance of each of these numbers. my number thing is a very not-spiritual thing. it’s just a thing.) but i shut ‘er down before i went to bed on sunday night. i don’t even know the reason for it. kind of i do, now. but not really. if for no other reason, i did this in order to free up creative space for writing or painting or playing guitar or piano or reading something more inspiring than…well, let’s just say it’s time to read some books, folks.

also, it’s amazing how un-profound your thoughts seem to be when you don’t immediately broadcast them to your whole virtual world. rather, when you are your own audience, your words are less-fancy. in fact, my words to me are harsher than my words to my “friends”.

i don’t want to speak harshly to me anymore.

we have to start loving ourselves better, don’t we?

right now, kid president is giving me a pep talk.

like he does just about every morning. seriously. do you know this kid? he is awesome.

i’ve been late to work a lot lately because, the truth is, i just don’t feel like getting out of bed. but not because i’m depressed…unless you count just being sad about getting out of bed as depressed (i mean this literally - i have been that kind of depressed, and that’s not the kind i’m talking about. if that’s you, i get that. and i’m sorry. stay in bed today if you need to. it’s okay. we’ll try again tomorrow. you’re not alone.)…it’s just so cold out there! also, i just like being in bed. it’s warm and safe in there.

so i get mad at the cold and that i have to get out of bed and be in it, as if the cold is specifically cold just to make me mad that i have to get out of bed.

i’m onto you, cold. i know your games. your tricks. i’ll show you, cold. tomorrow i’m going to get out of bed with a smile less of a frown than i normally do. see? take that, cold.

i actually enjoy being happy. it’s just that some days i have to work at it a little bit harder. (i mean, really? isn’t that true of most of us, if we’re just being honest? maybe not most, but some.) so i’ve started doing this thing in the morning when i’m getting ready. since i’m a little bit cranky and don’t actually want to be, i’ll listen to podcasts or watch videos of naturally joyful or otherwise inspiring people. it’s one thing to be someone who has had to fight for joy, or fight to keep it or to get it back. but naturally joyful people? they make the rest of us glad to be alive, just to be breathing. like, i want whatever they’re having. only, in most of these cases, what they’re having is jesus and so i say, “i have you, too, jesus! but i’m mostly cranky these days. what can we do about this, jesus?”

i actually haven’t said that, but i will tomorrow. i mainly just trust that something they have will bounce off of them and stick onto me and will be food for my soul that maybe/perhaps/hopefully i might have the good fortune of feeding another sick soul like mine some of the soul food i’ve been fed.

this morning, i watched a video by bob goff. my mentor showed it to her class the other day. i could hear him laughing on the video through my office wall.

i need to hear more people laughing through my office wall.

(don’t we all?)

do you ever just laugh at everything you think you are and thought you ever were and realize you are utterly, completely and totally ridiculous and not at all anything you ever thought you were but everything you’ve always been?

and what you are actually is pretty awesome? and by “pretty awesome”, i mean “really awesome”?

i mean this in the way that psalm 139, for example, might literally come alive in your bones. as if you might explode with the knowledge that every single hair on your head has been counted, every breath you breathe is being breathed through you, that your quirks are not shamed but are delighted in and god’s thoughts about you are just…endless? and…good? that’s the kind of “i am awesome” i’m talking about.

i’m a secretary for one of the colleges at my university.

and i have decided two things, just today. one is, i really love people. i actually didn’t just decide that today. but it created more definition for me today. if my whole day could just be about people and i didn’t have to do things that are important to other people for the reason that people are the most important thing and everything else will get done eventually, then i would have the best job on the planet.

the second thing is, i am laughing at myself tonight, realizing that i am not as administrative as i pretend to be.

in fact, i’m probably not as anything as i pretend to be.

this week has been rigorous, overwhelming. i have been irritable because i’ve been hormonal. i don’t write everything down. i forget things all the time. i don’t know the right questions to ask all the time, and so i do the wrong thing if i remember to do the thing at all, and then i get upset when i look like an idiot.

but here’s the thing: i don’t care.

and by “i don’t care”, i mean this:

wait. hold the phone.

ha! i am so prideful! 

did you hear what i just said? (did i hear what i just said?) “i don’t care.” oh, good grief.

i care. obviously i care. only people who care too much say “i don’t care”.

and so i think i’m going to stop being prideful and just care.

starting right now.

it’s not that i don’t care. it’s just i am plain prideful!

golly.

my friends are right. external processor. geez louise.

i think i’m going to stop pretending like i know how to run everything and do anything and just throw my hands in the air and wave them like i just don’t care and have a dance party. or something.

because it’s not that i don’t care. it’s that i actually don’t know. and “i don’t know” isn’t a bad thing. we can work with “i don’t know”. “i don’t care”, well. that just doesn’t sound very nice. i need to stop saying that. there are times i say “i don’t care” when what i mean is “WE DON’T HAVE TIME TO WORRY ABOUT THAT LITTLE TINY THING. THERE ARE HEARTS TO LOVE AND PEOPLE TO HUG, PEOPLE!”

it is very freeing and much easier to just laugh at myself than it is to try to control things i can’t control and to just say “oops” or “i’m sorry i did that wrong” or “i have no idea what i’m doing” or “please help me”. how am i going to learn anything if i think i know everything? i am surrounded by some awesome teachers, faculty and staff alike who a.) have lots of grace and no trouble at all distributing it and, b.) are more than willing to help me if they can.

GET OVER YOURSELF, i am going to start saying to myself. loudly.

and then i’m going to laugh.

because the other thing i’m learning how to do more of? is how not to take myself so seriously. even when i get whiny, i make fun of myself. again, i’ve always been this way, too. but i’m becoming this way all over again.

i mean, truth be told, i’d like to just not be whiny or cranky or prone to depression at all anymore. i’d also like to lose 10 pounds and not have acne anymore. and so, i make different choices. i look for opportunities to choose right thinking versus wrong thinking. to feed my soul and my body with good and healthy and life-giving nourishment instead of giving in to what has previously been a natural tendency.

i sent an email to my people who pray for me earlier this week. in it, i explained that karen told me it would take me a good two years to recover from the trauma of what i experienced…well, now, almost two years ago. i didn’t want to believe her, i prayed that it wouldn’t take that long. but like a seed that has been dormant in a winter soil, life is starting to poke out a little bit from the ground that i forgot was ever there.

so, all these things that i’m saying now that sound like they’re new things? i don’t think they are. i think i just forgot they were there. i’m starting to feel like myself all over again, only i want to be a better version of me.

awkward, funny, kind, relaxed, one day at a time kind of girl of the gypsy/home-body variety, depending on the day. who may or may not be a little bit cranky, even if she makes fun of herself.

seeds that grow again tend to be sturdier, more resilient.

and the cranky? it will go away. (to keep things right-sized…when i and every other woman in the world is hormonal? everything is super-sized. i know you know this by now. i am probably not as cranky as i think i am, but maybe this week i am.)

to be fair, my office is very busy. it is very small, and at any given point there might be as many as five students just hanging out in there. i only have two extra chairs, which means the other three people are just standing there. (okay, what is actually more likely and normal is that there might be 3 students in there at a time, which means one is standing.)

note to self: why don’t you start offering people your own chair? you sit there most of the day. get up. offer your seat. stand.

this afternoon, one of our professors came in to visit just as he normally does when i’m working late on the days he has a later class. and a sweet student, an awesome guy, came in with him. he didn’t sit down until he was invited to, and i realize that’s the probably the case with a lot of folks. i just assume everyone knows to make themselves at home, but some folks need an invitation to have a seat with you.

we can’t assume people know they are welcome, even if you and i know they always are. but the thing about a welcome is, once invited to the table one time, they are more inclined to sit down the next time.

i enjoy it when this prof comes in at the end of the day. he only stays a few minutes because “i won’t keep you, i know you have work to do”, to which i reply, “it is always a pleasure. you don’t keep me from anything. i enjoy our visits.”  today, when we were visiting with this student, i commented that this time of day is always a good time for a visit. he reminded that it’s because it’s nice when people aren’t telling you or asking you or needing you to do something for them. it’s nice when people sit down just to visit.

and it’s true. we need to stop needing people so much, y’all. don’t you think? i mean, we need each other just because we do. because we can’t do life alone. we need each other because we are designed to need each other and do life together.

but then comes the time when we take for granted the people in our lives because of what they can do for us instead of who they are.

and this isn’t okay.

this is so simple. it’s so basic. i do it.

hey, listen. i am not preaching to anyone but myself here.

but my days get SO BUSY that, a.) even though i say i love people, i don’t always act like i do. it is my job to serve students and faculty. it is not up to them to determine whether or not it’s a good time for them to need me to do something for them. i do not have the option of not loving people.

we can’t afford not to love people, y’all. it’s the only thing we’re really told to do.

b.) i think i’m just going to start hugging people when they come in my door. why not? hugs heal. they make people feel better. they make me feel better. they might also make people uncomfortable. but i’d rather make people uncomfortable with a hug instead of my “what in the world do you want and can’t you see how busy and important i am?” face.

another thing i learned today? people don’t care how important you think you are.

they care about how important you think they are.

and by “important” i do not mean letters or titles.

and i do not mean pretending to be nice to the person who can do things for you or better than you or can somehow help advance or promote you.

I KNOW IT’S HARD TO BELIEVE THERE ARE PEOPLE LIKE THAT IN THE WORLD.

i also know you are not one of them.

and i don’t want to be one of them, either.

because, people? they matter. all of them. all of the people in all of the places in all of the land everywhere really matter.

but you know what kind of person i don’t really want to be but sometimes find myself being? (i can’t take credit for this, by the way. it’s a take-away from the bob goff message i listened to this morning.)

is the person who tries to make herself matter more by telling other people that she made that person feel like they mattered.

jesus didn’t tell other people how important he made someone else feel. and he didn’t tell people how important he was.

he just was, and they just were. and that was that.

and people knew that they mattered to him because they actually mattered to him.

i want to be that person.

i also want to be a person who gets her work done more efficiently and is a better time manager and remembers not to forget things and writes all the things down that are so important to god and everyone.

but for now i’ll settle for being someone who is known for all the hugs she gives.

even if it makes people sort of uncomfortable.

and what’s more real than an awkward moment?

then we get to laugh and be easy.

and that’s the best thing of all.

xo

p.s. it’s thursday now. i fell asleep writing this last night. there are a whole lot of words in there and i’m not cranky today. i did just as i said i would, telling the cold “I OWN YOU”, and so i woke up happier (but still hormonal).

and do you know what the day did?

it got warmer.

as in, i didn’t wear my coat when i came back from lunch.

there is still stale snow on the ground in front of my apartment, but i don’t have to wear my coat.

as in, i woke up, anyway, and got out of my warm bed in spite of the cold and both the warm and i showed up for life today.

spring is coming.

white flag.

I feel like I owe God and my Mom and Dad and Sisters and the Whole World an apology.

Also, a ginormous “THANK YOU” written across the sky in balloons and butterflies and glitter.

Ten years ago, I could not have understood what I know that I know that I know to be Absolute Truth now. My bones burn with this message now, but what is so frustrating and tiresome and also Absolute Truth is that I cannot, would not, spare anyone the grace that was poured out onto me in droves to discover this Truth on their own.

I would if I could. OH MY GOSH, I would if I could.

Let me clarify one thing, though. The grace? That was poured out onto me in droves? It, of course, didn’t run out. But grace also did not give me permission to live recklessly. That’s not what grace does. Grace said, “You are going to do what you are going to do and it will be hard and there will be a price to pay. You do not have to choose this road, there is one that is better for you. There will be consequences not of my punishment but of your own making if this is the road you choose. But grace won’t leave you and it will find you at your bottom and lead you back to Love. Because Love uses all things to compel you to Love, and will do so by whatever means necessary.”

Do you get that? Grace is good. But the road of grace sometimes sucks. Not because grace sucks. Thank God for grace. But because I suck.

But grace does not suck and grace found me.

But, for me, I could not have found freedom through any other means except for the extravagant grace that led me to Love. Because all roads lead to Love.

I would give anything to keep someone I love – even someone I don’t love so much – from learning some really hard lessons the way I learned them. I wish I could keep someone from their own consequences. The codependent in me wants to say, “Here! Take mine! I already paid the price for you!” But the sane me would not withhold from anyone the opportunity to understand something so heartbreakingly beautiful, or “brutiful”, as Glennon says.

I knew everything then.

And now I know absolutely nothing.

But, truth? I really didn’t know anything then, either. (I know. You weren’t expecting that. But it’s true.) The truth is, I was more afraid then and needed to feel like I had some sort of control over some area of my life, even while my whole life was quickly spiraling out of control.

And just as no one could stop me from doing what I was going to do then, I do not have the power to stop anyone else’s train wreck from happening now.

So I get it.

I hate it.

But I get it.

But, gosh, I hate it.

I told a friend the other day, “I know that I’m really mad at the devil, but I kinda want to kick that person in the face.” Only I didn’t say face.

And so the best I know to do is, with a heart overwhelmed with gratitude, offer up my own “Thank you and I’m sorry” for wearing my people out who chased me down with their red flags on my own road of grace.

Disclaimer: None of this is rooted in shame. I do not live with any guilt from my past because that’s also what grace does. Grace sets free captives of one’s own ravaged heart. Once I got free, I did the hard work to get free. I can’t make other people get free. But in watching people I care about struggle with getting free and not being free yet, it makes me so grateful for the price Jesus paid for my own hard-won freedom. Also, to recognize again my own past struggles, it makes me more compassionate toward the other Pilgrims when what I would really like to do is kick some of them in the…face.

Dear God and Mom and Dad and Sisters and the Whole World,

Thank you for lovingly holding up all the red flags for me that I just ran past. I kept running, speeding past you like a race car on a track, and you kept waving your flags. I was a train wreck about to happen that could not, would not, be stopped. And you had to watch, not knowing how that was going to turn out except that you held on to Faith on my behalf.

Thank you for affording me the grace to do this, to learn everything in my whole life until then (and now) the hard way. I couldn’t have learned about God and Life and True Love any other way, but I know it came at a cost for you. I can only imagine how hard and painful it was for you to watch this woman-child that you loved so much make so many poor, bad, ugly choices that affected your lives, too. Forgive me for not listening. For not heeding your caution.

I know only some of the fear you lived with because of my bad decisions, and the pain I caused you with the weapons of my own anger, fear and depression.

This is the part that deeply and profoundly grieves my soul. If I could go back and withdraw the painful parts from your life that I created with my life during that time, believe me I would. Thank you for forgiving me for hurting you.

I want to keep all of this right-sized. I know I am not powerful enough to ruin someone else’s life. But I recognize and admit and confess and apologize –not for being me – but for, well…for not being me during that time. We have all changed and grown since then and there were other dynamics that had nothing to do with me at all. I can’t own everyone else’s part or their own pain.

But I do own mine. And I’m sorry that my pain caused you pain.

Thank you for all the lines you drew in the sand. For every time you told me “No” when I begged for a “Yes”. For every time I manipulated or deceived you because of my own shame, guilt, fear or feelings of worthlessness, please…please…know just how sorry I am for that. Thank you for saying hard words to me. I’m sorry for the times you had to become the worst version of you because I was being the worst version of me.

The truth is, what I never told you but I know you knew, is that I knew then just as I know now that you were right. I knew I was in trouble and heading down a really dark path. I was rebellious. I was defiant. I was mean. I was controlling. I was depressed. I was angry at the world and thought the world was angry at me. I felt entitled. I was very afraid. And I acted like I didn’t care because, and I know you know this, I cared too much.

My heart and my soul were writhing around in such deep, profound painfully painful pain because of, well, everything. And I didn’t know that I had the tools to deal with, well, everything. So I numbed myself and shut you out as much as I could.

You knew I would eventually wear myself out and so you kept waving flags until your arms got tired.

You were right. I did not trust you because I did not trust God and I did not trust God because I did not trust anything or anyone at all. I don’t know when or how I stopped trusting now, but I can say in confidence that you were not then and are not now the cause or the reason for my choices. The freeing thing is that I get to take responsibility for my life and choices. I did then, and I do now.

Back then, I did not trust and I did not know just how loved by Love I was.

But what I want you to know is that Love won.

I threw up my white flag and you threw down your red ones and Love won.

Because Love always wins.

And you Loved well and you Loved hard and you Loved when I refused Love and you Loved, anyway. And because you Loved me with That Kind of Love – the hard kind that says, “I will wait, but I cannot watch” – Love found me in a ditch that was in a hole at the bottom of a very deep well, and at the bottom of a glass.

Thank you for being my cheerleaders of grace, champions of me. You saw in me what I was too deaf, dumb and blind to know. You helped me find my way back to me. God’s grace in you led me back to you and God and the Whole World.

Jesus, Thank you for rescuing me from myself. For being my Hero. My Warrior. For fighting for my heart in some really horrible, crazy and nasty battles. You win. You won. In you, and only for your glory, I win, too. It is for and by and with and in your Love that I know Love at all. Have all of it, God. All of me, God. I throw my hands up in surrender always, and in all ways.

Not my will, Lord. Yours alone be done in my life.

Let me just add a P.S. here, lest anyone think I just threw up my white flag and everyone lived happily ever after on account of every right decision I made thereafter. There is so much still to be said about this. Even until two years ago, when everyone I knew and loved watched me say “Yes” when every single person who knew and loved me wanted to scream “NOOOO” they knew they couldn’t stop me from saying “Yes”. (Seriously, I had no idea how loudly they were all screaming on their insides until it was all over. They knew they couldn’t say anything then.) And Love had to have Love’s way in a major way with me then. That is certainly not the only example, but it’s a darn good one, as everyone who walked through that with me – rather, everyone who waited for me to come out on the other side because no one was allowed to walk through that with me – can attest.

It’s never been as bad as it was during all of my twenties.

I am still stubborn. I still get trapped in my head in some of the ways I used to, but I catch it quicker now.

Usually.

Most of the time.

Nevertheless, Love always has Love’s way with me.

Because Love can’t not have Love’s way.

And we can choose Love the easy way or the hard way.

Because that is just Love’s way.

Love, especially when found through grace, gets to win.

Love. Wins.

xo

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