351 days

It has been 351 days since I watched the man I thought I loved walk out of my room for the last time.

351 days.

351 sunrises and sunsets.

351 twenty-four hour periods.

351 times I’ve caught myself wondering if it was real life.

I’ve been quiet these last 8 weeks. Really quiet. Intentionally so. Because well, you know, I started dating someone new. And I’ve been so terrified it will end and I will have to relive the pain both in real life and in my social world that I just sort of shut it down.

So I went dark. Because the echoes of 351 days ago still haunt me.

He doesn’t haunt me.

But the pain haunts me.

The funny thing about love is that it can’t fit into a box. Just because I don’t want him or us or the girl I was doesn’t mean it doesn’t try to creep into my moments. My life. My dreams. It doesn’t mean it doesn’t whisper on the edges of my days and try to take me prisoner, promising to keep me safe.

I always thought love to be more black and white.

You’re in love or out of love. You want someone or you don’t want someone. You fight for it or you walk away. But what I’ve come to find is that you don’t necessarily come out of love or back it into. It’s more vivid colors than one or the other. You fight for yourself and walk away from the lies. It’s all of the things and none of the things.

It matters but it doesn’t.

There are pieces of the past that find their way into my new relationship. We brush up against them when I withdraw or shut down or get upset. He carefully walks around fighting to find me and not the landmines waiting to go off. And I do the same. Watching for the wounds from his past, expectations that might be unclear and unexpressed.

I’ve found the fear of falling in love again to be paralyzing. He asks me to trust him. Something I would have done without reservation 351 days ago. And yet in the quiet moments my chest gets tight. I start to think about the nights I sobbed in my bed, alone, with pain beyond anything I had ever experienced before.

I wrestle through choosing to trust. To not hold the sins of another against him. Because he has consistently been different. He has consistently been trustworthy. He has consistently shown up. He has consistently sought Papa. He has consistently fought to choose Papa instead of himself.

So we look to Him. We choose Him. We fight to find Him so we can find each other.

Slowly but surely I see He’s taking the in-love’s and out-of-love’s, the full spectrum of colors, the fight and defeat, the fear and past, and He’s turning a fractured mess into a reflection of His beauty.

And I start to realize that 351 days is enough time. 351 days is 350 too many to let my heart stay captive. It’s time to sing my fight song. It’s time to break off the remaining pieces, step out of my shell, the shadow of what was, and trust. It’s time to uncurl my fist and let the world see what a mending broken heart looks like, what it feels like, what it’s capable of.

Because my mending broken heart is now capable of loving so much more than it ever was before it shattered. And that will always be worth the shattering process.

Facing the Darkness

When I sunk into a month of quiet and rest, I didn’t expect it to go the way it has. I knew I had some commitments and things that would keep me a little busy but I didn’t expect to fall flat on my face and wrestle into the darkness.

I left for a work trip within 5 days of beginning my season of rest. I was on a plane and traveling and working and enjoying the beach and working more and flying home. When I landed I felt pangry (people angry). My introverted self was screaming to be alone. So the day after I got back I was just about to turn my phone off for the night when I got a text message. An urgent text about health concerns for one of my sweetest friends. Serious health concerns. And there went my plans for the night.

As night turned to day and I ended up at the hospital to love on this sweet little love and his parents, I tried to find the rest in the midst of the uncertainty. But that night the situation got worse. There were increased measures to protect his little brain and it was overwhelming and scary. I petitioned my friends and community and my people to cover this sweet one. But then I laid in my bed and sobbed.

I sobbed for the brokenness of our world, the frailty of his body, the things he has yet to accomplish. I sobbed for the heartbreak his parents were enduring. I sobbed for the hurt and the longing for total restoration. I sobbed.

I sobbed until I had no more tears left.

I found myself admitting my weakness to Papa. Admitting the temptation of “good enough” seemed so appealing. Admitting I didn’t have the strength to resist. Admitting I wanted to be comforted and told it was okay. I wanted to turn to something, someone, anything to numb the ache.

There was no bargaining or anger or threats just a broken confession of how appealing temptation was in that moment and asking my Papa to meet me in that place. Because I needed HIM.

Within 2 minutes of uttering my tearful confession I received an audio file from my brother. My community, who doesn’t know my sweet friends but knew of their situation, had spent close to 10 minutes petitioning the Father on his behalf. I could hear the crackle of the campfire as they called on the power of our Papa. As they believed for miracles when I had nothing in me to believe.

My spirit groaned in agreement as I listened to my brothers and sisters cry out. I sat in my bed with tears streaming down my face coming into agreement for miracles and full restoration and a hope and a future. I felt my spirit turn towards the light of my Papa. As the prayer ended and the clip finished up, I laid back down with cheeks still wet and I knew a substitution would never be enough. I knew I was longing for my Papa. And when I had asked for Him… when I had cried out for Him to meet me in the place of sorrow and darkness, He brought His gentle light.

Because friends, darkness isn’t something to be afraid of. It is in darkness where we truly come to appreciate light. I think sometimes I’m so afraid to wrap my arms around darkness, to be engulfed in it because it must mean there is something wrong with me or my faith or my lack of trust in Papa. But the world we live in has darkness in it. And to ignore or deny or pretend it doesn’t exist doesn’t give the Cross credit for what it has done — take away the power darkness has.

So in this time of rest, I’m learning to face the darkness with hope. I’m learning to put darkness in its proper place. I’m learning to soak up the light and let it fill my bones to the marrow.

Because my Papa is light and He wins and darkness does not last forever.

What are you finding in this season of rest?

oh and my sweet buddy? Papa showed off His mighty strength and healed him. In miraculous ways.

When it is time to sit down.

Tears I didn’t expect began to flow down cheeks unprepared.

I wasn’t entirely sure why I felt this hurt so deeply. It was a crummy thing he had done, something immature and inconsiderate but it didn’t warrant the amount of tears that fell on the snowy evening. I was trying to figure it out, trying to find the root and the reason and the lie responsible but I was just so tired. And defeated. And weary.

When I processed with my sweet friend Carrie, she gently asked a question she had posed a day earlier.

do you think its maybe time to take a break? 

When she asked me that simple phrase my spirit recoiled.

No! Breaks are for the weak! Breaks mean I’m giving up! Breaks turn into forever! No! I have to keep fighting! 

Love, the last year has been hard. The last two months… have been REALLY hard. I think you need a break. 

The tears which had ceased became a torrent.

I am so tired. 

I finally admitted.

I heard my sweet Papa whisper that it was okay to take a water break.

I had this image of me, going round after round in the ring, with Papa as my coach, but taking on my hopes and dreams and the people who have embodied them. It was like watching a fight where you just want the fighter to take a break and shake it off but they won’t listen and the hits keep on coming. Because there had been someone before the ex-boyfriend came back, and then he came around again after the ex-boyfriend was gone, but it didn’t work. And there had been potential with others but it would to deep conversations and moments and a weird emotional intimacy and then just stop. By my doing or theirs.

I saw evidence of my weary heart, my heart that has been rejected and bruised and beat down, and I decided Papa needs to tend to it. It’s simple really. I knew I needed to take care of myself. Because I know I’m strong. I know I’m able. I have hope in my Provider. I believe. I trust. All of those things. It’s just lost beneath some bruises and cuts and scales. It’s when the sunlight needs to break through the cracks in my armor and push off the broken pieces. They’re clinging on, I’m allowing them to stay on, but I don’t want them anymore.

So finally, I decided to sit down. I decided to take a month. To pray through the hurt and the lies and put them in their rightful place, at the foot of the cross. To spend time every day praying through different characteristics of the mighty woman of God I long to be. To be a woman who blesses those who do her wrong. To be a woman who encourages those around her. To be a woman who speaks life and hope into the hearts of others.

I don’t know if this means I process more or less in this month. I let you all in on so much of what Papa is doing because it is HIS story and HIS glory. But sometimes I let Him work it out a little bit before we tell of the marvelous things He’s done. Will you all pray for me? Pray that this month is one of rest and healing and restoration? That my heart searches only for Papa and puts aside anything it may try to numb the process with?

Do you need rest? Do you want to join me in these next 20some days of March? We can find His rest and His peace together.

You Don’t Give Me Butterflies

I stared at him.

Trying to process the words as I searched his face for something to tell me there was no truth to this.

What I found was nothing.

I withdrew every part of my body that was touching his and my demeanor went ice cold.

“What?” I asked pointedly. “I don’t give you butterflies. What does that even mean?”

“No, I’ve never gotten butterflies when I have seen you.” he set his mouth in a grim line.

And you know what? I should have walked out right then. Because what came next was a flood of hurtful things. I heard them. But I didn’t absorb them because I was too busy reeling from this shocking revelation.

The struggle to believe that I am beautiful is one of my deepest battles. It was something I shared with him from the beginning — that I was afraid someone would be with me because they liked my personality and thought I was fun and I helped them love Jesus but they wouldn’t necessarily be attracted to me.

Because I’ve been told, boys like that aren’t attracted to girls like you.

So it’s lingered. This wondering of will the man I’m attracted to ever be attracted to me. 9/10 times they weren’t. And I learned to deal. But he was different. He told me I was beautiful and I believed him.

I never once questioned his attraction to me the whole time we were dating. He made me feel safe and loved. Until he uttered those 5 words that night.

And everything felt like a lie. And all of the lies I fought my entire life suddenly became truth.

We had a follow-up conversation and I asked the questions I needed to know and he admitted to the truth he wouldn’t say that night. He meant to hurt me. Regardless of the apologies and the convincing me otherwise, the damage was done.

That one sentence, those 5 seemingly harmless words independent of each other, struck deep into the most sacred vulnerable places of my heart and ripped a wound wide open. I bled for awhile. I doubted. I re-considered. I freaked out. I feared.

I thought about the absolute power our words have. The power to bring life. The power to bring death. We are cautioned all through Scripture of this power and yet we misuse it so often. We take the words that we think are speaking truth or being honest with someone or sharing authentically and throw a little bit of Jesus in there and convince ourselves our words just brought life.

But in reality they brought death.

They were self-serving words. Phrases and statements and sentiments used to hide our insecurities and wounds. We mask them up in something pretty but in the end they are a time bomb waiting to go off.

And the more we know of someone, the more we know their story, the more we invite them in, the more catastrophic these words can be. Because we KNOW where to aim our guns. Exactly where our target is. We know what will cause them the most pain. So we go straight for it.

But my sweet brothers and sisters.

The gift of LIFE we’ve been given. The gift of Love. Can you imagine if we stopped living afraid? Can you imagine if we took the hurts and insecurities and put them at the foot of the cross. If we told Papa “YOU belong on the throne” not the lies or the words or the things I believe. Because if I live out of THOSE things, I put them on the throne. I worship them.

But loved ones. The power we have. The power to bless and heal and whisper His tenderness. The soothing balm of His truth. We also have that power.

I am so sad for a world, myself included, that decides to live captive to the lies that have the smallest bit of truth. The ones who sounds just enough like truth that we embrace it and live out of this new identity.

Here’s what I know to be true:

You are NOT unwanted like those girls said you were while you were standing in the lunch line. You are NOT the cuts from the basketball team. You are NOT the villain in her story. You are NOT the slut they whispered about. You are NOT the things he said to you when he was afraid. You are NOT beyond repair. You are NOT something to be thrown away. You are NOT too much. You are NOT your mistakes. You are NOT the sum of the wrongs committed. You are NOT worth less.

Papa decides who we are. Papa gives us a new name. Papa gives us a new heart. Papa has won the battle for us. He sent His Son to set us free. We are no longer known by our slave name but as free people. We are not who we’ve been told we are by this broken messy world.

You are Chosen. You are Loved. You are Known. You are Beautiful. You are Strong. You are Lovely. You are Enough.  You are Valuable. You are Blessed. You are Remembered. You are Heard. You are Seen. You are New. You are Precious. You are His.

He has given you a new name. Live out of that today. Speak out of that today. Love out of that today.