- admit you need help; cry out to God (psalm 118:5)
- run away from sin (job 1:13-19)
- keep your eyes on him (jonah 2)
- have faith (psalm 37:5)
- be submissive. let him rescue you; be loved by him (hosea 2)
I think we need to learn to be content with obscurity.
We’re completely consumed with praying for God’s will and for His plan to be revealed that we’re not asking for the faith to walk into the fog. God’s will will prevail regardless of our human insolence and our lack of faith in him. The word says “His eyes run to and fro throughout the earth to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him.” He doesn’t need us at all. He doesn’t depend on us, but he wants us. He wants us to experience the euphoria of being able to step forth in the fog into an adventure knowing he’s right there with us. Yet when we’re so paralyzed with fear of being out of his will that we don’t take a step in the darkness, what use is our faith? It’s as futile as praying for God to take away our free will (which I am completely guilty of doing). Trust isn’t moving forward when we see him there with a flashlight, it’s moving forward knowing we will see him eventually. A life in love with Jesus is manifested through our actions that prove we trust him.
I’m almost compelled to ask you why are there some days I believe it and some that I don’t. I want to ask you how doubt seeps into my imprint, raising as the water has in this city for the past three weeks, because now it’s drowning me.I want to say ‘what the hell, God? Why don’t you build dams? What happened to your carpenter’s hands? Why us it that I face doubt more than I face you? Why do I see murky waters instead of your reflection?’ What the hell, what is this hell? This back and forth in the waves reminds me of myself and my capacity-as large as the ocean- to wave® back and forth. I hear “imprint” and I almost- I do- get furious because my life isn’t as wonderfully glorious as yours. And you tell me ‘to lead a life so glorious, one among the heavens, you must die first. It’s the upside down kingdom, darling.”
I wish I could write my prayers on my skin. They would appear on my forearms in lovely gray ink and be something that only I could see. Then I would remember in moments like these to rejoice for an answered prayer rather than believing that my good, good Father is holding out on me.
For this is an answered prayer: He is presenting opportunities in which he can break all of my paradigms of what his faithfulness looks like. He can’t show me how immeasurable his faithfulness is when I’m staying comfortable, for where would my need for him increase?
No one expects to get laid off at twenty, especially when it’s a job in the service industry. Especially, especially, especially. I can think of dozens of them, but the truth is, they don’t matter. If I learned one thing in the service industry, it’s that specialties never last. They are different from truth in that way, always changing.
This transition is only one in one million that I’m facing right now, but as my eucharisteo sings, I’m thankful I have a steadfast God because it gives me the freedom to change. So I’ll sing it as I walk from door to door in the rain, seeing which one opens next. I’ll sing it as I write my prayers on my forearm: “I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord, be strong and let your heart take courage; and wait for the Lord.” I’ll sing to sleep the lies that tell me I’m forgotten, inadequate, and not good enough. And I’ll sing it all to the melody of selah and be forever amazed at a God who brings the greatest exhilaration from trusting in him because I have absolutely no idea what he is doing, but I know whatever it is, that it is good. It isn’t promised to be safe and secure or easy, but it is promised to be good. He is the King after all.
“And so my prayer is that your story will have involved some leaving and some coming home, some summer and some winter, some roses blooming out like children in a play. My hope is your story will be about changing, about getting something beautiful born inside of you about learning to love a woman or a man, about learning to love a child, about moving yourself around water, around mountains, around friends, about learning to love others more than we love ourselves, about learning oneness as a way of understanding God. We get one story, you and I, and one story alone. God has established the elements, the setting and the climax and the resolution. It would be a crime not to venture out, wouldn’t it?
It might be time for you to go. It might be time to change, to shine out.
I want to repeat one word for you:
Roll the word around on your tongue for a bit. It is a beautiful word, isn’t it? So strong and forceful, the way you have always wanted to be. And you will not be alone. You have never been alone. Don’t worry. Everything will still be here when you get back. It is you who will have changed.” Donald Miller, Through Painted Deserts
I find myself in the same place most days. I’m fighting for energy, choking on recycled air. I find my efforts lacking like those I have buried grudges against, six feet under, for their absence, and yet, I’m absent- the least of these, I am she.
And as easy as it would be to let this psalm end, I want to fight like David.
So I cry “forsake me not when my strength is spent” and I hope continually, and I will praise you more yet, never stopping to count my aches, only to count the ways you love me because you are good. Your very essence is good, and you don’t withhold from me. My God, with you, I lack no good thing.
“Love given is courage gained.”
I’ve recently discovered insecurities I thought I ‘dealt with’ a long time ago are still influencing my actions. It turns out, I’m just as insecure as I was ten months ago, it just looks differently today. No longer eroding my physical appearance, my insecurities have chosen to burrow themselves into the deepest parts of my being and make their way known from the inside out.
My lack of love for myself is based on my lack of ‘perfect.’ Somewhere in the past twenty years (age six sounds about right) I sold out to the lie that man owns the title to ‘perfect’ which left me a beggar shamelessly selling everything I had to get whatever man offered. Basically put: I didn’t love myself, so I became whomever it was I believed people would love. A complete give and take, this lifestyle became an addiction; anything for a hit of ‘glory.’
All the while, my own spirit was decaying.
I read somewhere that learning to accept yourself takes an abundance of “self-love” and “self-care.” Like “standing-bare-naked-in-front-of-a-mirror-and-complimenting-yourself” kind of self-love. The kind of stuff that bully victims in Lifetime movies do. The radical stuff.
In the past fourteen years, I have tried everything but the radical stuff, and although it sounded like a preteen’s manifesto, I was desperate. Because at twenty years old, I’ve tasted and seen a life that I dream of enjoying every single day- not just on days that I’m feeling thin or desirable. What did I have to lose?
So I found myself in front of a mirror: pale, raw, and real.
Typically at a time like this, I diverted my eyes from my reflection. Ironically enough, I hated anything above man’s influence. I praise God’s creative hands for each edge of the mountains and the carefully carved canyons, for the delicate tenderness felt in flower petals, the mysteries hidden in the night sky, the infinite watercolors of sunrises and sunsets, for the details in an animal cell, yet with the same breath, I curse and spit on His creativity when I don’t look like every airbrushed girl I see a photo of.
God, I need(ed) courage. I need(ed) humility.
Inhale; exhale. I prayed through waiting. Eyes closed, I put away the claws and asked for gentle, strong hands. Scarred hands courageous enough to love through pain. Hands skilled in creating and restoring; hands that could help me build a body I could love. The Carpenter’s hands.
They came slowly but faithfully. I built strong arms to embrace and serve my neighbors. I built a rib cage wide enough to protect a pair of lungs to sing and breathe in emerald Oregon pines. I built a soft tummy able to produce deep belly laughs and hold Salt & Straw ice cream. A soft tummy confidently wearing scars telling a remarkable story of redemption.
I am not naive; I know it will take time. I know there will be days I forget, but that’s all it will be: a day.
Psalm 139 says I have been “knit” together. Much more than simply being spoken into existence like the rest of creation, The Lord, in His dangerous untamed glory, “knit” me together. With His breath, He shared His wild holy magnificence with me, and I want to set fire to those wild holy fibers and let them consume me.
“Love given is courage gained.” The courage to be myself: His poiema.
Hiding amidst my own somber company
Loss echoes off the cavern walls:
Security dressed in the camo coveralls my father wore when I saw him leave an early November morning,
only to return in an 8X10 Christmas card reimbursing me for my loss with a $25 check.
The movie of love dressed in his button down making her husband breakfast on a Sunday morning
Twirling around the kitchen while he watches her over the brim of his coffee cup;
Yeah, that movie was lost in the move from Barbie’s dream house to Thumbelina’s thimble.
My ID card that I kept in my velcro wallet fell out when I went to the drug store to buy chocolate bars and was swept into a dust pan, falling among the trash into the bin with last month’s edition of Vogue.
“Remember whens” with familiar faces went missing in the pages of “once upon a times” that celebrated protagonists too magnificent to belong in my stories anymore.
His voice when he replied “I love you too” through the foggy car window before driving away.
This loss sat in my lap and hugged on my neck,
A pleasant memory to visit with
Until its grip grew tighter and it shoved its way into my throat
A gentleman drunk with nostalgia
“What good is this to you?” I choked out
“To give only to take away”
Like a dictator standing on bare skeletons
God was that distant father in the camo coveralls
And I couldn’t believe that His reimbursement check
Worth raindrops on eyelashes and warm chocolate chip cookies;
Soft flower petals and blades of emerald grass tickling toes;
Wind decorating the air with the smell of fresh laundry;
Conversation with a loved one over a Tuesday brunch;
The welcome of Light’s kiss on the horizon at dawn
When I first wake up under the comfort of hundreds of stitches
Could possibly be any better than-
What was that mournful echo I once heard?
For my ears are only flooded with the grandeur of thousands of trumpets as I waltz into the throne room
Adorned with eucharisteo I toss jewels down at my Abba’s feet,
That will never pay Him back the price He paid
For me to see His goodness.
Fuck Thank You
I suppose I should be thankful
That you taught me
To swallow my ‘no, thank you’s”
How to make walking shame look dignified in the rain
That the measly fabric between my crotch and your finger is durable enough
To not take things ‘too far’
Because it taught me to see that
A man who loves me
Will choose to see me
As a humble Nazarene man
Hanging on a cross
Exchanging His own oxygen for your
When you grope me
Lying on your futon
So, thank you
For teaching me
That I’m not worth being seen.
To be honest, I don’t know where to begin
But how could I when all I’ve known is the end?
The end of reality’s eclipse when my mother tasted the force of my father’s fist
The end of my finger when it crawled down my throat when I went to the bathroom alone.
The end of the blade that I drug across my waist
again and again in an attempt to breathe
in the waves I was drowning in.
Or the end of Your light,
Yes, I remember vividly that tangible darkness that covered me four hundred and sixty eight long nights
And I can’t help but cringe whenever it blinds me from time to time again.
You see, all I’ve known is the end
Like a patient waiting to die
Doctor, doctor! Do you hear my cry?
Because this incision looks a little too wide
As He pulls out
from years of inhaling death
and exhaling hopelessness
a sunken stomach
rotting from the inside out
starved of bread
A broken heart,
held and torn by the hands of men who’s love
was lust dressed in sheepskin
and an old pair of blind eyes
that have forgotten what light even looks like
“For my good,” He says,
as He pulls out my whole identity
I begin to weep,
Do you not see how much this hurts me?
God, don’t take away my familiarity
after years of living in a broken body
sitting in a tub of medicine burns
and being scrubbed clean hurts even worse
and as I’m laid down beneath the surface,
I believe wholeheartedly that this is it:
my God is just another one deserting me.
so I close my eyes
hold my breath
let myself sink
and I fall
only to find myself in His arms
pulling me out,
I feel a heart beat in my chest
All of a sudden I can breathe again!
he wraps me in a robe of righteousness
he sprinkles me with oils of joy and gladness
and He replaces my old with His new
It’s not until He restores my sight
That I see my blood flowing from the holes
in His hands
And I realize how much more this has hurt Him.
Yet He looks down at me
with tears in his eyes and says
“all because I love you enough to not let you stay that way,
my child, you’ve been set free.”
Now He gives me a new beginning every morning
And I never have to know an end again
There are some mornings
I stand in my closet
Simply because I can’t fathom
You chose me
When I can’t even seem to choose
What shoes to wear
To protect my feet from
That will be me someday
That was me that day
The day You said yes.
When I was sin
You saw me sitting at Your table
Gnawing the flesh off dry bones
Desperate for even the marrow-
Anything to make my own life grow.
You saw me then
Passed the bread
“Here, take this.”
So I took it in my blood stained hands
Believing that I would never be hungry again.
When I find myself on these mornings
Weeping in my closet
I can’t help but ask myself
Why would I ever choose
To put on these shoes
And walk away from the aisle
And Your “I do.”
To crawl to the street corner
And beg for bread.