January 18, 2015

3 Resolutions for the Tired Hearts

We are officially over half way through the month of January and inching our way towards February. Purposefully, I have waited until the mass wave of New Year’s resolutions and words have filtered through the blogging world. You see, this post is not one of those beautifully written and perfectly articulated posts for the new year. Hardly even close.

This post is for the tired hearts.

This post is for the people out there who feel exactly the same way as they did on December 31st. These words are for anyone who wants to feel refreshed and energized, but instead feel like they are running on empty. This post is for you, sitting behind your glowing computer screen, on the days when you feel most exhausted. These words are written from my heart to yours, from a state of tiredness that no caffeine can fix. The new year came, and my soul still felt weary.

I love new beginnings. I love clean slates and fresh months. I love the new year. I even love resolutions. But, not this year. This year, January 1st felt an awfully like 2014 and I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was no more motivated to be better, run faster, and jump higher then I had been just the day before.

2015 has come, and I am still me.

I still hesitate in my prayers as I wrestle with who God is. I still drive the same road to work and sit at the same desk. I still question. I still hope. I still breathe this good air and drink clean water. The new year did not bring about any outwardly changes into my hemisphere.

I tried to think of goals. I tried to write a list of all the changes I wanted to make, emotionally, spiritually, and physically. I tried to motivate myself. Jump through one more hoop. Draw one more circle. And sadly, slowly, I felt defeated. Before the year had hardly even begun, I was tired. As the clock struck midnight and the page flipped to a new day, I was ready to cross off the whole year. Next year, I told myself, I’ll feel more prepared. Next year, I’ll be ready for the new year. Next year, I’ll have it all together. Next year... 

Enough. I am enough.”

In my tired heart, God’s steady voice whispers truth. In the midst of my fears, my obsessiveness, and my chaos, God is constant. True. Yesterday and today, tomorrow and forever, He remains who He is.

Enough. I am enough.”

With just the smallest whisper, my new year has been rocked to its core. Enough, God? But what about dreams, jobs, grad school? What about food, a home, a friend? Are you enough, God?

Enough. I am enough.”

Suddenly, any resolution I might have tried to make pales in comparison to the thought that God is enough for my tired heart. Do you ever have those realizations that you have been running and running for an illusive goal, when the real prize was right next to you the whole time?

I’ve had this idea that I needed to have it all together, present a perfect picture to the world, and then it would be okay. I drew this image of perfection around New Year’s day, imagining myself planning and proactively seeking new things. But when that picture failed to live up to my expectations, I felt weary. Tired. Ceaselessly shooting for an impossible goal. When all along, God has been steadily running right there next to me, whispering, “I am enough.”

Eighteen days into the new year, I finally have resolutions.

1.     Wake up and pray, “God, You are enough.” Pray this every day until my heart leads the prayer without prompting. Pray it until the words are etched across my mind and engraved into my very being. God, You are enough.

2.     Tell someone else, anyone else, as much as I can, God is enough. You don’t need to take better pictures, or run faster races, or build bigger houses to have worth. God is enough. His love is enough. His acceptance is enough. Stop pushing and pulling and always feeling tired because it is never enough. All of those earthly thing, they will never be enough. They will never satisfy. But God is enough. Always.


3.     Write it out, a hundred times if necessary, God is enough. Write it until my fingers cramp. Write it until I've mailed a thousand letters to the far off corners of the world. Write it into my life until my heart finds renewal. Write it in my words until they stop saying “I’m worried” and start saying “God is enough.” Write it into my eyes until they only seek the road He has prepared, instead of wandering to lesser paths. Write it until my muscles remember how it feels to trust in God even when it is hard. God is enough.

Will you join me on this journey? Sure, we won't lose weight with these resolutions, at least not physical weight...but our hearts might feel lighter. And we most probably won't grow any stronger, at least not physically. Chances are even high that our homes won't become more organized, unless we really do consider the heart as a home. Overall, the world around us is not likely to change too dramatically. But what if, just what if, we changed in the process? What if we began trusting Jesus more completely, more fully, then we ever knew was possible? What if our faith leapt into the arms of Jesus and found a save haven?

What if, just what if, we began to really believe and hope and trust and know... God is enough?


So tell me, what are your prayers and resolutions for this new year? 

January 12, 2015

Keeping This Covenant – Love, Even Then



I didn’t know that love would be quite this hard.

I mean, I knew it in my head, but my heart took awhile to catch up. I joked and wrote and told my friends that love looked a lot like dirty dishes, but these days, the dishes are the easiest part.

Rinse, scrub, soap, wash, dry, repeat. Warm tepid water, crinkly fingertips, wet dish towels. Rinse, scrub, soap, wash, dry, and repeat.

I didn’t know that there would be days when I would miss difficult dishes. The days when our love just can’t get the words right. When we spout off phrases like forgiveness and patience easier than we embrace them. Days when the dishes are the cleanest part of the house, because heaven forbid our words be white as snow.

When we stutter and we stammer and we try to say the right things even though they come out wrong. Because we want love to be easy. But sometimes (often), it’s not. It’s tough. It goes beyond “I’m sorry.” Love feels like fingernails on chalkboard, scraping down the rough patches of your heart and demanding that you obey.

Love. 

Even on the hard days. Especially on the hard days. Love when you can’t stand the sound of your words or his words or your words combined. Love when tomorrow seems so far away and “I do” feels like a lifetime ago. Love when “Will you forgive me?” is the hardest phrase in the world and you force yourself to spit the words out one by painful one.

Love then, especially then.

Love when the dishes are piled up and you don’t care, because your heart hurts. Love when his job changes and he’s scared. Love when your job changes and you’re thrilled. Love when he makes it, love when you miss.  Love when you’re here and you want to be there. Love when he’s there and he’s happy to be there. Love when you don’t think you can love anymore because he’s trying. Love when you don’t think you can love anymore and you don’t know if he’s trying or not. Love even then.

Love when it’s the hardest choice in the world.
Love when it’s the easiest choice in the world.
Love because you made a vow to love.
You made a choice to choose forever.
Love because you knew a day was coming when the fuzzy feelings would go away, even though you could never imagine what that day would look like.

Love then, especially then.

I knew it in my heart, on that humid stormy Saturday almost two years ago, but I could never imagine just how hard love could be. I could never imagine that even in the hardest of hard moments, it would be so good. Therapeutic. Trying. Growing. I could never have imagined that love, the sweetest love, comes in those moments when you’re angry and tired and upset, and you know that your heart and soul will unwaveringly choose him. Love because in your heart of hearts, even in the wildest moments, you know that he will choose you.

Throw out the warm n’ fuzzies. Throw out the idea that love is easy. Throw out any thought of love as a natural progression through life. Throw out the idea that love is romance, and embrace the journey instead. Embrace the romance, encourage the romance, but recognize that love is a choice you make on the days when kisses are harder to give. Love is the choice you make when you say “Please forgive me?” for the hundredth time today. Love is the choice you make when you forgive him, even though he didn’t ask. Love is all the in-between moments. The moments you would never dream to put on Instagram. The frustrations, the miscommunication, the try, try again even though we have tried a hundred times.

Love then, especially then.

Because you’re trying. You both know it; you’re on the same team. Some moments are harder than others, but you know you’re fighting towards the same goal. You’re learning and re-learning how to speak to each other. How to be kind, how to be tender, how to block your guards and continuously allow someone else to enter into your heart. Every day, every moment, every month, every year. Keep holding onto those moments when you’re tired, when your makeup is washed away, and when a hug offered in reconciliation changes everything.

Love when it’s risky and love when it’s hard, because you will begin to understand the love of God greater in those moments than you ever did before. He loves us when we are risky, when we are hard to love. He loves us when we don’t want to apologize, when we are convinced we are right, when we don’t show our love to him, when we don’t want to…he loves us even then.

I didn’t know love would be this hard. But I also didn’t know that it would be this purifying, this intoxicating process of transformation. I didn’t know that it would demand everything I have and then more. I didn’t know that love would redefine my faith. I didn’t know that love would change my heart.

Rinse, scrub, soap, wash, dry, repeat. Warm tepid water, crinkly fingertips, wet dish towels. Rinse, scrub, soap, wash, dry, and repeat.

Love then, especially then.














December 17, 2014

Keeping Christmas Well

via awesomeimages.com


Christmas is a tough season. I get it. I am an empathizer in every sense of the word. Even when my life is going just fine, I hear your words, I see your pain, and I place it in my heart. I feel your hurt. That's why I write. That's how I cope. I see the world through the eyes of a million people and I spill words onto paper to figure out some sense of normalcy. Growing up, I had family members read my poetry and ask my mom if I was okay. They read the pain, the anguish, the abandonment, the eating disorders, the scars on wrists, the death, the heartache...they read all these emotions out of my writing and called my mom. But you see, I've had a pretty easy go of it. I know I have. My parents aren't divorced and my family has very few scars etched on their DNA. My childhood was consistent, with a few bumps and scratches, but only the type that build you and don't break you. My life has been fortunate to a point that I have nothing to complain about. This could change tomorrow. It could change in the next five minutes, but for today, I am thankful. Yet, I am an empathizer. I walked closely with friends whose lives were torn apart out of no doing of their own. I saw the scars and the black eyes, I hugged friends when death had permeated their lives and a hug was the only thing I knew I could give. I have loved deeply and felt strongly. In this way, I get it. Christmas is a tough season. 

This year, I have grappled with eternity. The purpose of the here and now. The anguish of the saints and the questions of mankind. Elaborate, astounding, old as time and frustrating as ever. The questions that always seem to go unanswered. 


Why her?

Why him?
Why now?
Why cancer?
Why death?
Do you hear me, God? 

This year, I have prayed to more ceilings and felt the weight of the words press back down on me more than I have ever prayed in my life. I have cried more tears on the drive home from work and cleaned them up before I walked in the door than I have ever cried. I have harbored more anger and tried to surrender it more times than I can count. 2014 has been a year of reckoning. 


Christmas is a tough season. As we celebrate the season of Advent, the thrill of hope, the quietness of a baby born in the night, the depth of joy found in knowing that we no longer live in darkness, as we celebrate all this and more...it's tough to see the joy through a lens of pain. Because the questions are still there. The why's, the lonely prayers, the anguish...it doesn't disappear when the calendar flips to December. If anything, it is magnified. 


Every year since I began blogging in 2010, I seem to scrounge up a few words around Christmastime. Often, they revolve around the Dickens' classic "A Christmas Carol." This is no coincidence, as this is my favorite fiction Christmas story in all the world. Scrooge is my kindred spirit. He is my favorite, my homeboy, the BFF I've never met. Scrooge, to me, represents humanity so very well. Through Dickens' writings, we watch as grumpy, miserly Scrooge is confronted with the past, the present, and the future. We see his life; the pain, the hurt, the broken dreams and desires, we see how so many events and so many choices shaped him into the terrible old man that he is. Scrooge was given a bad lot, and after too many disappointments, he becomes something old and as good as dead. Yet, in this terrible state, he is given a second chance. In the most horrible of moments, during the most painful time of the year, Scrooge experiences an awakening. He becomes the most generous, the most kind, and the most loving man in all of London. 


Scrooge was better than his word.  He did it all, and infinitely more; and to Tiny Tim, who did not die, he was a second father.  He became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old world.  


This story, this parable, stirs up Christmas in my heart. It's a rough season. I feel your pain. I know the heartache behind seeing all this holly jolly Christmas decor. I know the way it feels to look at a fireplace with one less stocking. It would be easier to just skip the holiday season, skip the traditions, skip it all and jump right into a new year with new days and put the old days even further behind us. 


~


Life is tough sometimes, but it is still beautiful. Redemption is beautiful. Second chances are beautiful. Joy is beautiful. Scrooge gets it, eventually. And for that, I love him. I love him because I see myself in him. In his redemption. In his reckoning. 

This year, you might be in a similar place. You might be reckoning with the world, with heartache, with God. You might be yelling to the ceiling, "Why?!" You might be crying on your drive home from work just trying to get through tomorrow. I don't know where you are, right now, on the dreary December day, but I have a good feeling that like so many of us, you are tired.

I have really, really good news.

Christmas can be tough, but despite the difficulties, no, because of the difficulties, we can celebrate it more completely and more beautifully than ever before. The pain, the heartache, the hurt, the tears, the tiredness...they are the reasons why we can look at this season with the blinders taken away from our eyes. In our desperation, without rose colored glasses on or the warmth of happiness wrapped around our shoulders, we get to see Christmas for what it is. A thrill of hope in the darkness. A glorious awakening in the world. We can celebrate Christmas more completely in our trials and through the rough patches of life then we ever can through the happy and the giddy moments because Christmas is here for the broken and the tired. We celebrate Christmas, truly, because we are celebrating the birth of Christ into a world that is so desperate for him. A world caked in sin, in despair, in darkness. He came at the worst of the worst moments. When hope had all but disappeared. When humanity was at a dire point, we celebrated the birth of a baby. Christmas, in the current Christian calendar, is an event that has already happened. Now, we await for the coming of Christ, once more, as we celebrate the fact that he has already come and saved us. We await the reunion and we celebrate the introduction. Christmas, while a beautiful season for so many reasons, is essentially a time when we are desperately aware that in the coldness of winter (metaphorically), hope came alive.

You can celebrate Christmas in the joyful seasons of life. Indeed, Christmas is easiest and wonderful in these moments. But if you've had a tough year, if Christmas is tough this year, I challenge you to embrace this season with open arms. It was made for you. It won't be easy. Pain and heartache will cast their shadows still. But I have good news..."The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel" (which means "God with us"). Matthew 1:23. This is the season when we step back from wherever we are and recognize that God is with us, indeed. In the hardest moments of life, in the mourning of grief, in the difficult questions with no apparent answers, God is with us. Christmas was made for the tough moments.