First Love. Forever Love.

A year ago, I was feeling at the bottom of life, in the midst of darkness.  Though so much has changed, much has stayed the same as I continue to grow into the new creation that began unfolding in me during the destruction of my plans.

I’ve been reflecting a lot about the last year this past weekend, and I’m not sure whether to celebrate the changes or to continue shedding myself of its memory.

Surely, life is seldom what we plan and for that, I am thankful, but where do I go from here? How do I enter into new seasons while remembering old loves? Though I feel free of it in so many ways, I struggle with the what to do with the parts that remain…

As I asked myself these questions today during a moment of silence, I stumbled upon this entry from Henri Nouwen’s book “The Inner Voice of Love.” I could re-post all the entries, but I will refrain for now. It’s simply phenomenal and full of rich truths.

This one speaks to me especially today:

“Open yourself to the First Love”

“You have been speaking a lot about dying to old attachments in order to enter the new place, where God is waiting for you. But it is possible to end up with too many noes–no to your former way of thinking and feeling, no to things you did in the past, and most of all, no to human relationships that were once precious and life-giving.

You are setting up a spiritual battle full of noes, and you work yourself to despair when you realize how hard it seems, if not impossible, to cut yourself off from the past.

The love that came to you in particular, concrete human friendships that awakened your dormant desire to be completely and unconditionally loved was real and authentic.

It does not have to be denied as dangerous and idolatrous.

A love that comes to you through human beings is true, God-given love and needs to be celebrated as such.

When human friendships prove to be unlivable because you demand that your friends love you in ways that are beyond human capacity, you do not have to deny the reality of the love you received.

When you try to die to that love in order to find God’s love,
you are doing something God does not want.

The task is not to die to life-giving relationships but to realize that the love you received in them is part of a greater love. God has given you a beautiful self. There God dwells and loves you with the first love, which precedes all human love.

You carry your own beautiful, deeply loved self in your heart.
You can and must hold on to the truth of the love you were given and recognize that same love in others who see your goodness and love you.

So stop trying to die to the particular real love you have received.
Be grateful for it and see it as what enabled you to open yourself to God’s first love.”

At the heart of mystery

Why should we have more faith
in an amaryllis bulb
than in ourselves?
We know, perhaps,
that the amaryllis lives
by an inner law
with which we have lost touch
in ourselves.

The blossom dies;
with rest and darkness,
another bloom will come
we know, next year…

When we listen to the amaryllis,
resonate with its silence,
its eternal stillness,

we find ourselves
at the heart of the mystery

—Marion Woodman, Coming Home to Myself

a return and a revelation…

well, hello blog world.

i’m not sure how to begin this one, as i feel like i’ve been away from an old friend for some time and there is lots to say. do i begin by talking about how busy i’ve been and explain all the reasons i’ve not kept in touch?? Or do i just begin where i left off, the way it is when you’re with a friend who understands your soul?!

i feel like May Sarton when she writes in “Journal of a Solitude,”

“I am here alone for the first time in weeks, to take up my ‘real’ life again at last. This is what is strange–that friends, even passionate love, are not my real life unless there is time in which to explore and to discover what is happening or has happened.”

i’ve let time pass on by without writing much of it down, without letting myself discover what is happening and i feel rather….disconnected….i started a new job on my birthday this year and now, less than 2 months into it, i am wholly tired and uninspired. i put my 2 weeks notice in at the beginning of this month and will be finished after my two remaining shifts this week. some friends joke that it is my inability to commit that keeps me from staying here, but i know really that it is my unwillingness to surrender my imagination and dreams for a 40-hour work week just to pay the bills.

so instead, i’ve decided to cut back my expenses and invest in pursuing the things that make me most alive, like art and music and reading and writing and God. I even announced my plan to move across the country and go back to school next fall and, though i’m still terrified and full of unknowing of what really will happen, i feel a sort of freedom in making the decision. i’ve said it aloud now 15 times and i think that’s gotta be worth something.

perhaps this is the part about growing up where you learn to at least have some sort of vision for where you’re going and what you’ll be doing. my biggest fear for this though, is thinking of myself entirely in terms of what i do instead of who I am or somehow becoming locked in to some sort of “plan” that may turn out not to be what i wanted after all. but then again, it’s only a fear and i’m working through it…

(or maybe my friends are right.)

as i write now, i’m sitting in the dark, my face dimly lit by the light of my computer screen and the multicolored twinkle lights on the Christmas tree. there is some nostalgia in the room, what with the sparkly lights and the silence. i can see my glass ballerina ornament dangling through the branches on the tree and i remember days passed where i would gaze up at her, dreaming of pretty dresses and twirling on my toes. i don’t ever want to lose touch with that little girl in me who keeps on dreaming and keeps on twirling.

    

in the dark tonight, i can’t help but think of my life last year at this time.
i was with him and slowly fading into the deep heavy darkness of my own shit.
I was mean and cold and distant. It wasn’t fair.
To be honest, I don’t know why he stayed as long as he did…

Now though, I feel different, new. less heavy, less fearful and anxious and rude.
I am here now. I’m not there anymore. Not with him.
Life is carrying on and I feel taken over by a mixture of panic and faith at the truth of this: Life will keep going. I miss him sorely, though I feel confused by the pressure to ‘move on’ and the deep desire to just be ok. I don’t think I’ll ever stop loving him, but I’m learning at least to let him fly. He wants to be free and I want him to be happy.

I look at the love that surrounds me now, the new community and the strengthened friendships. The hidden loves, and desired love and
I am thankful for it all.

But over these several months, something has slowly changed as I’ve quietly turned my love towards myself. It’s as if my world has blossomed in full and wild color and I can breathe again. It feels good in here, inside my skin. & I am excited to journey on with this girl inside me, this amazing creature who can move and breathe and dance and cry and love and learn and forgive.

i’m ready for whatever is now. for whatever is next.

i just don’t want to miss these tiny moments that make up my life nor do i want to miss out of the opportunity to reach out to myself and to the world in vulnerability and truth. i see myself as i’ve been in the past weeks since i’ve written, rushing and maintaining and working and preparing for what “will happen next,” and the worries and plans that go along with it. i’m sick and tired of getting ready for life and not being in life right now.

here is the truth: i am enough as is.right now. a work in progress.

and so, to myself, and to anyone reading somewhere out there, i say a wholehearted yes to life right now. i begin again, the way the world begins again each day, and i commit to not taking myself too seriously and not trying too hard to figure it all out. i’m back on track and ready to rock this writing world, for, like laughter, it is good for my soul and good for my health.

i don’t know if there are any real readers out there, or only my imagination and the whirlwind of internet searches, but should you be reading this right now, curled up in your bed at home, or nestled quietly behind an office screen, i invite you to come. join me in reuniting with the secret depths of this life, where the soul quietly gives out its own secret. i will be writing more, so get ready…there may even be some pictures in store. let’s tumble on home then, shall we, and be returned to find that we are right where we need to be for now and even if all we do in one day is take a deep breath, that is enough.

You will lead me by the right road…

I spent most of today outside enjoying the sunshine while it’s still here. Unfortunately, though I struggle to admit it aloud, I know that the “s-word” of the winter season is coming and will stay for 6 or 7 months. I want to soak up as much sunshine as I can while I can…

During the afternoon, I took a walk in the woods and laughed at the wonder of the leaves changing color and danced around beneath tall evergreens. My spirit was lifted, there in love with the world and so grateful for today.

I’m learning about the importance of this moment that is right now because afterall, now is all we know and now is all we have. So, I twirled in the leaves and thanked God for this most amazing day, for the true blue sky, the sweet scented air, the sound of the river rushing over rocks and the sweetness of peace rushing over me. I even thanked Him for the this journey He’s leading me on, though it is still unknown and sometimes scary. All I know is now.

As I prepare to rest for the night, I find comfort in Thomas Merton’s prayer.

Though I do not know the way, I believe the God who created me and loves me is deeply committed to seeing His good and perfect will be made complete in my life. My job is only to TRUST & surrender.
Let that enough tonight. Be still, oh my soul.

My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end. 
Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am
following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you
and I hope that I have that desire in all that I am doing.
And I know that if I do this, you will lead me by the right road
although I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you
always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death,
I will not fear, for you are ever with me and you will never leave
me to face my perils alone

   

someday, we’ll both come around…

it’s getting cold already and so i’ve begun my adventures in the great indoors.
these dull gray Ohio skies make me want to run and hide inside some lover’s arms or tucked away beneath a bed of blankets while watching Lifetime.

it’s true that i hate..ok..strongly dislike this weather, but i like the idea of it, really.

i like the nostalgia of the cold season: sweaters & skinny jeans & big mugs of tea. and of course, twinkle lights and soft jazz tunes and the way the world feels like it’s dancing.

i’m not sure if it’s the bright Harvest moon or the magic of golden glowing leaves, but there is something about this season that makes me feel like ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE. perhaps it is because in the midst of the growing darkness outside, i realize the potential to discover uncharted depths of light radiating within my being inside and i want to leap at all the glorious hope of restoration.

for even as darkness covers us, there is hope.

and so i dwell in hope. and in delight. and in gratitude. i rise each day and as i stretch my arms and wake my mind, i thank the Lord for the gift of another unlived adventure that i get to live. and for the promise of good things in my life. and for the hope of restoration and reconciliation.

the truth is, i’ve come a long long long way since April, but it’s all a journey, really and i know the journey will never be over. 2 years ago at this time, i was falling in love and falling apart at the same time. 1 year old at this time, i was unraveling in the deepest pit of depression and anxiety and shame. and only 6 short months ago, i was losing him, my best friend, the man that colors my world.

the transitions these last months have been a crazy whirlwind of sorts and as the seasons shift again, i can’t help but expect more and more change. i believe that the Lord is deeply committed to seeing His great and perfect will be made complete in my life, and i trust Him with my plans. still, there are many days where, though I believe in the promise that it will all one day work out, it seems like it never will.

’tis out of my hands now.

these days, as i’m learning to trust and surrender, i have found so much comfort in music. i like to listen to it, play it, and sing along with it. it’s all very…freeing… over the past few months, Robby Hecht has quickly become one of my favorite musicians and this song, “A Reckoning of Us” speaks to the depths of my heart.  it is a song of “forgiveness” as Robby describes it.

i listen to this song to soothe my hurting ache for love
as well as to offer up a prayer for reconicilation.

may what was broken be made whole.
time levels out the ground.

” if it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”
_Romans 12:8

“i wanna see us work dear, see us reach the other side
we’re fighting both sides of the fight.
fighting for our selves, dear, fighting for our lives…”

lights will guide you home.

Just a few days ago, I gathered with a small group of college students beneath a gray autumn sky on a cold Saturday morning to talk about, wrestle with, and to experience breakthrough about our ideas related to  light, darkness, wholeness, and freedom. Together, we sang songs about our hearts’ cry for renewal and cried while sitting in a circle as we learned of each others’ difficult stories of brokenness and long journeys away from and then back towards God.

In the afternoon, just after lunch, I led the group to the edge of a tree-lined path as we laughed and joked about the day. I waited for the conversation to die down and in the quiet, I selected a student leader from the group and then asked the others to tie tight blindfolds around their eyes. You can imagine the look of surprise of the faces of the students as they obeyed silently, the questions surfacing only as expressions on their mouths.

Whaaattttttt?” one of the girls finally shouted, “You’ve got to be kidding me.

Still, I said nothing and explained only that we were going to do an experiment.
The student leader whom I had selected would remain un-blindfolded and serve as a guide to the group. Together, we would join hands and communicate only via the sound of hand claps and the rise and fall of arms to signal a direction shift, a stop, or a start, etc. I demonstrated quickly, the group joined by holding hands, and we began our walks through the woods.

Following behind the students, my role was to protect the hikers from harm and to silently help the student leader if need be. I walked slowly and watched with wide eyes as the journey began.

At first, the students steps were slow and harsh…many of them stepped forward with big, sloppy, heavy stomps while others walked with tiny steps like tip-toes through a quiet, creaking house. A few of them advanced in a hunched over position, evidently worried about bumping their head into a branch or twig of leaves. Together, they walked like a group of toddlers just learning to take a step. The process was slow and sometimes difficult, but they never let go of each other.

The student leader served as both a guide and a protector. I watched as he looked forward to the path and then back at the group and again, forward to the path and then back at the group. He held onto the hand of the blindfolded student in the front, letting go only to snap a large twig in half or to hold back a thing of thorns as the others marched on. His eyes watched over the path ahead and the path behind, over the student right next to him as well as the group that followed. I could see from his heavy breathing and heightened response to the tiniest sound or movement from the group, that he was deeply concerned with their well-being and deeply committed to making sure they went the right way.

As I watched, I couldn’t help but think about the Lord as my guide and protector, guiding me always and watching over me. My heart quickened inside my chest as I remembered the journey I’ve been through over the last year, the darkness that surrounded me and my overwhelming thoughts of doubt and confusion. I remember feeling so alone, asking God to show up, literally kicking and screaming for Him to hurry up and help me only to be met with a silence that seemed deafening. I felt so utterly abandoned by His unresponsiveness and often laid alone in my bed at night, sobbing and screaming in my soul, the way a child cries out loud in terror for their Dad. I began to believe that He would never rescue me, that I was destined to live alone in the darkness of my scary cave forever.

I was thinking through all of this as I was watching the students and began to understand more about God’s marvelous ways. As the group moved deeper into the woods, the path became more dangerous and both I and the student leader worked endlessly to keep the group on the designated path. Still, there were limbs to walk under, piles of rocks to mount, and heaps of wet leaves to avoid so the job was not an easy one. I moved quickly, helping the student leader hold back heavy branches and running around the students as I picked up handfuls of sticks and tossed them out of the way. At one point, I saw two students at the tail end of the line make their way towards a pile of prickly bushes. So, I ran in front of them, steeping right into the thorns, rubbing my arm against raw bark on my way so that when the students continued in the path, they ran into me and not the thorns.

Though I remained silent throughout the exercise, I wanted to laugh and cry and sing for joy at the thought of my Lord walking alongside me in my blind understanding of life, guiding me all the way, even through the darkness and protecting me from prickly bushes of destruction.

For those blindfolded during the exercise, the walk was full of silence and confusion and questions of the leader’s trustworthiness. I heard heavy sighs as we walked in the quiet and saw bodies tense at the fear of the path ahead. As they walked, they had no idea of the work we were doing around them, the things we were pulling out of the way, and the moments we clapped once, signifying a “stop” intended simply to let them breathe and rest.

Similarly, as we journey in this life, there are undoubtedly moments and seasons in our story that either past or present, seem like times of bitter silence, burdening questioning, and scary doubt. We wonder where God is in all of this or how much longer we’ll have to walk this certain road or why He doesn’t just reach down and make it all better.

In the Bible book of Job, a man’s faith is tested as he endures battle after hardship after struggle and grief. It seems all odds are against him and as you can imagine, he cries out for God to help but the struggle continues. The man, Job, writes of his long and tiring search for God and unsuccessful pursuit for answers saying:

“God has no right to treat me like this, it isn’t fair.
If only I knew where to find him [God], I’d go straight to him.
I would state my case before him and fill my mouth with arguments.
I would find out exactly what he is thinking,
discover what’s going on in his head.
Would he vigorously oppose me? Or bully me?
No, he wold not press charges against me.
He would take me seriously.
He would deliver me.

But, no, when I go looking to the east, he is not there.
If I go to the west, I do not find him.
If he is working in the north, I do not see him
or if he turns to the south, I catch no glimpse of him.”

Still, in verse 10, immediately following the description of his desperation, he writes the following words of simple surrender and deep trust:

But he knows where I am going…I’ve followed him closely,
my feet in his footprints, not once swerving from his way…
He’ll complete in detail what he’s decided about me
and whatever else he determines to do.
Right now, I’m completely in the dark.
I can’t see the hand in front of my face.”

(Job chapter 23)

For me, the Saturday afternoon walk in the woods was a clear and tangible reminder of this confidence that Job writes of. It served as a real, physical reminder that God is with me always, God is closest at the moments I feel afraid, and God is leading the way.

Though I admit that I still sometimes ask, “God, what the heck are you doing?” or “God, what’s next?” or even, “How much longer, Lord?!”  I trust that HE KNOWS WHERE I AM GOING and He will complete in detail everything that He’s decided for me according to His mighty and perfect plan for my life.

Just as I saw demonstrated in the student leader guiding the group along the path, I believe that God is so concerned about every step we take and is deeply committed to making sure we stay on the path He has chosen. “I know the plans I have for you,” He says and He promises to see it to completion. (Jeremiah 29:11, Psalm 138:8, Phillipians 1:6) Though the road may be difficult or long, the path made of rocks and wet leaves, the promise remains: He will grab hold of us by the right hand and guide us where we need to go. Therefore, we shall not be afraid.

His LIGHT will guide us where we need to be.
We simply must take His hand and go.
without answers.
without understanding.
only with trust.

And one day, we will sit together at Jesus’ side and learn of the amazing ways in which He was already rescuing us, even as we walked through the darkest seasons and hid out in deep, cold caves. We will see the ways in which we were held in His hand and sheltered from destruction, even as we suffered pain. God is a good, good Papa and He knows the way home. In His infinite tenderness, God is orchestrating a symphony of our stories and struggle so that we can rejoice in the light of His redemption.

 

Lord, help me to follow you wholeheartedly, with glad anticipation at what’s to come. Though I don’t know what lies ahead, I know that you know where I am going. Let that be enough for me. I trust that you are a good God who has blessings prepared for those who will follow you. Help me to continue to walk by faith, not by sight, for I know that herein, freedom lives and allows me to experience the joyous reality of your Presence. I love you, Lord. Amen.

& it hurts with every heartbeat.

you prepare for one sorrow,
but another comes. he asks for more time.
Love endures. You hold on.
warm tears fall from your eyes.
“this won’t be a forever thing.”
“i will love you always.”
so you wait patiently.
and pray steadily. then,

SILENCE.

it is stronger than thunder.
thick darkness. & cold.
it moves deep in the room–
sea-deep.
earth-deep.
love-deep.

SILENCE.

it rapes the heart of all comfort and
threatens to tear down all that’s been built.
Too much silence can be misleading.
Love always trusts. You keep believing.

Healing comes in a fresh wave of faith.
new hope. redemption. & transformation.
& now he says he misses you. says he’s thinking of you.
Love is patient. You keep waiting.

it is the rawest form of agony, this waiting.
a sort of fertile emptiness. & painful growth.
heart work. head work. you want to enjoy now
but you need to figure out what’s next.
Love always protects. You keep trusting.

and then a phone call. his tone is sharp
and stings your ears and heart.
words hurt most.
“i don’t want you anymore.”
“i want to be free.”
sounds like,
“i found something better than you.”
“you’re not worth it.”
CONFUSION
now.

you realize “us” has become a fragment of
what you want, what you knew.
who is this man that’s speaking?
seems immature and selfish.
out of character.
is he gone?
what just happened?
crying now—was this his plan?

HEART BREAK.
a pain you’ve known before, but not like this.
it hurts deep because you love deep.
and you love still. are you foolish?
SILENCE
becomes
the sound of sobbing
the sound of a heart breaking
the sound of sorrow
the sound of regret
the sound of bruised love
the sound of anger
the sound of “we’re done”
Love never gives up. You let go?

so many questions without answers.
the heart never is ready–
you prepare for one sorrow
but another comes
and another
and now
i’m all alone.

tomOrrow finds the beSt way out is thrOugh…

tonight, while driving to visit a friend, i saw a heavy, dark rain cloud lingering in the distance. it hovered low over fields and trees and from the distance, i could see thin streaks of rain falling. i watched in wonder and terror awe from my sunny side on the road and and decided quite confidently that i would stay dry.
even kept my window down.

 “i’ll be fine,” i thought.

 still, only minutes later, as the road turned and my direction shifted, large lumpy raindrops plopped onto my windshield and i quickly rolled up the window.

almost immediately, the raindrops joined with other raindrops, turned into big hail drops and multiplied until i could hardly see the road in front of me. cars slowed, puddles splashed, and it seemed like everything was white ahead of me, the heavy rain blocking the view. i prayed and kept going, following distantly and slowly behind a large truck while its oversized tires pushed mountainous amounts of water my way.

 i wasn’t sure if the road was flooded or if the water gushing down made it look like waves crashing, but all i know is: I WAS SCARED.
Ironically, the song playing on my CD rang out, “I feel the rains of Your love, Let it rain, Let it rain.” Did I ask for this to come? Did I invite the dark, heavy rains to fall?

I couldn’t help but thinking about the current “storm” I’ve been in.
And wondering how I even got here.
Though there was no immediate rain fall, the storm came quickly, heavy and strong. How many times since have I asked,
Did I ask for this? Did I cause this? What did I do wrong?

“It’s amazing how you can everything just happening and life just moving along, and then one day wake up to discover, like St. John of the Cross, your “house being now all stilled.” It’s not that you have let loose the truth that tethers your soul to Christ, it’s just that everything has gone quiet. And dark. ” (Kim Thomas)

Sometimes we don’t even know we’re in the deep end of despair until we get pain in our neck from having to look up from the bottom all the time. Sometimes we don’t even know we’re on a certain road until miles have made their way to the soles of our feet, until the black clouds have opened up and lumpy raindrops have wet our skin.

As I continued to make my way through the rain tonight, I passed by several cars pulled over to the side, just stopped. I considered pulling over myself, but the thought of being stuck in storm scared me more. I wanted to get out of it. I kept going.

 Some short miles later, with my hands tightly gripped to the wheel, my tires met real road, not water, and blue sky beckoned just ahead. I had made it through the storm and the light was returning and I felt calm. and thankful. and free.

 I remembered the cars stopped along the road and thought,
“If only you could just keep going, keep driving a little more, you would get here and see the beautiful sky waiting, the beautiful world just up ahead…”

It gave me hope.

In the dark night of my soul, which St. John of the Cross refers to as the “dense and burdensome cloud which afflicts the soul and keeps it withdrawn my God,” I can be confident of this: I am not alone. There are good things waiting. It’s just up ahead..

 I must keep going.
I must keep going because I simply can’t stop here.
I don’t want to be stuck.
Also, I know that dark nights eventually yield growth.
Seeds lie dormant until they are in the right condition.
Only after the night comes day, comes light.

 
“If, as I wait in the dark, in the quiet uncertainty, I will feed myself the proper soul nourishment, the hard shell of my heart will be broken and exposed. It is only then that I can begin to grow new roots that will sustain me despite the bruising and withering I will endure.” (Kim Thomas).

And when I falter to believe it’s worth the journey, when I fumble for strength, I am reminded of my great Lord pressing on, preserving for the Father’s will. But for the joy set before Him, He endured the despair of humanity, endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

You & I are pilgrims on this journey of life, sojourners in a land where inevitably, storms will come, rain will fall, moth and dust will destroy. But we have a hope and we lock our eyes with His, pressing on. & we just keep going. Like all nomads, if we don’t keep walking, we’ll die. There are better days ahead.

Just keep going.

Just keep going.

We will get through this.

"Let him who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the Lord." (Isaiah 50:10)

 “Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions
themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign
tongue.  Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you
would not be able to  live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the
questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along
some distant day into the answer.”
(Rainer Marie Wilke)

God is in the struggle WITH us

When I was five years old, I slept in a large room all alone on the opposite end of our house, my parents and then three siblings in rooms on the other end. One night, I had a scary dream about a mean cat and a hairy monster and woke frightened and out of breath. I opened my eyes to get away from it, but I saw nothing but darkness, so I covered my head with my white and pastel heart blanket and tried to hide. There was darkness under the blanket too. I opened my mouth to yell for Mom, but no sound came out. It felt like the darkness had swallowed me.

Now, more than a decade later, I am met with the same fear.
No, I don’t dream of big mean cats or hairy monsters, but still, I can’t sleep alone.
I open my eyes in hopes to find light, but there is only darkness.
I cover my head and try to hide, but there is only darkness.
It’s been over a year now, in this place of tears and sorrow, guilt, shame, captivity.
I have been living life in a deep scary pit and surely, the darkness has swallowed me.

And though I open my mouth for help, there is no sound.
I kick and scream and beg for rescue, but am all alone.

Meanwhile, where is God?

 When you are happy, there is no sense of needing him. While you are happy, if you remember yourself and turn to Him with gratitude, you will be–or so it feels, welcomed with open arms. But go to Him when your need is desperate, when all other help is vain, and what do you find? A door slammed in your face, a sound of double bolting on the inside. After that, silence.” (C.S. Lewis)

 You may as well turn away.

I’ve become angry with God for His silence. For His lack of action and lack of concern.
I close my eyes to yell at Him and see Him standing there. Just standing there. Unaffected.
I try to turn my thoughts to prayer and am met only with a bitter reminder of Christ on the cross, crying, “My God, why hast thou forsaken me?

 Does this make it easier to understand?

 The danger over this past year has never been my ceasing to believe in God.
The real danger has been coming to believe such dreadful things about Him.
The conclusion I’ve feared is not ‘So there’s no God after all,’ but
‘So, this is what God’s really like?’

 I’ve been crying out, shaking my fists, pulling at my clothes, demanding His attention.
And in the past few weeks, I have been met not with peace or rest, but continual hardship.Shit on top of shit. Tear after tear and a cutting in my heart. Wave upon wave in this scary, never ending storm. I screamed until my throat bled and cried until I couldn’t stand. I hit bottom. deep, deep in the pit. and all alone.

My God, why hast thou forsaken me?!

 
I cried heavy, sobbing tears and begged God to show up. “DO SOMETHING” I yelled and even threatened to run away if He didn’t hurry up. I threatened to harden my heart and give up on this “God stuff” once and for all unless I was met.

 Still, nothing.

 Finally, exhausted from angry yelling and tears, I laid my head down and planned to let it wash me away. I breathed in and the air hurt my lungs. I breathed out and the room became still.

A familiar sweetness, like the smell of the air on a summer day mixed with Mom’s baking and fresh roasted coffee surrounded me. I closed my eyes and made no sound and instead of heaviness, a wave of peace washed over me.

I feel like Jonah, alone and afraid, the engulfing waters threatening to kill me, the deep surrounding me and seaweed wrapped around my head. From deep in the realm of dead, I cried for help and just when I thought it was over, God showed up.
(see Jonah 2)

 “The time when there is nothing at all in your soul except a cry for help may be just the time when God can’t give it: you are like the drowning man who can’t be helped because he clutches and grabs. Perhaps your own reiterated cries deafen you to the voice you hoped to hear.” (C.S. Lewis)

 Surely, the Lord is not in noise and confusion, but in the still small voice.
I’ve been so quick to cry out and so hesitant to listen.
So quick to anger and so hesitant to love.
It amazes me that in the course of this last week, of learning to listen again, I feel as if I am beginning to regain my bearings. True, this awakening, this crazy wilderness of life feels a lot like breakdown most days, but I’m beginning to wonder if you can have one without the other.

 I know now that God has not gone away. He is here with me, crying with me, and not done yet. For certain, I am on one of life’s greatest unraveling journeys, and, scary as it is, I know I am not alone. I believe that in the midst of our pain, in the midst of our darkness, God is right there with us, and if we would only be quiet enough to hear, we would be overwhelmed with His presence.

Even darkness is as light to Him.
He promises good things for us.
He is with us along the way and has prepared us with everything we need.
Nothing is beyond redemption.

the {darkest} day i’ve seen


it is rainy & cold today in Ohio. it is rainy and cold in my heart.

i’ve never felt a pain like this and am overwhelmed by it each time it hits me again and the water just starts flowing from my eyes. i feel like i’m floating. i feel like i’m dreaming a horrible nightmare and maybe in a minute, i’ll just wake up and this will all be over. my heart is so heavy.
so full of love. & doubt. and tears.

in the midst of my pain today, i remembered that today is good friday.
not in any means a ‘good’ day as far as i can see, but at least i know i’m not alone in this. i immediately thought of Jesus on the cross, angry with God, screaming “why have you forsaken me?!” and his mother mary, weeping, and especially, mary magdalene, watching with horror, hopelessness, and utter fear. i felt most like mary magdalene. so in love with the man who was now gone. so confused. so hurt. so sad &
tormented with a sorrow so deep it burned in her chest.

just as in any manifestation of the divine, each profound moment of light is followed by long and trying times of darkness. today is a day of darkness. the darkest day i’ve seen. i have questions without answers. tears i never knew i would cry. and a longing i wish i knew how to fill.

i miss him.
i wish he was here.
i wish i was with him.
i wish i could call him.
to hear his voice.
to ask if he’s ok.

even as i think of him, tears fill my eyes. i wish i could hug him.
one moment, i am mad at him. the next i miss him.

this is shitty.

i try to sit in this shit. to let God fill the emptiness.
to remind me i’m not alone.
as i wait, the depth of the pain continues to surprise me. and haunt me.
but i wait.
and as it hits me again, i bear it. i let the tears come.
but i don’t run from it.
i cry out to God through my tears and ask Him to show up.
ask Him to hold me near.
the pain doesn’t go away, but i stay.
and i discover that it hasn’t washed me away.

rob bell said that the mark of someone who has shown significant growth in their soul is their ability to live in the midst of tension. isn’t that what this Easter season is about? The tension between suffering and trust? the tension between heaven and hell, death and life, darkness and light?

this day is harder than any i’ve lived before. full of doubt. and fear. anger. confusion. and somehow, a hope. i feel torn between my overwhelming emotions and my weak heart reminding me of His faithfulness. this is tension. i’m trying not to be pulled down again.

somehow, though i struggle to believe with all my heart, i hold on to words i know are true: God’s ways are higher than mine. He is with me in this. He will help me through. Nothing is impossible.
Redemption is better than perfection.

& though the blessed mary, mother of Jesus cried out in pain and sorrow, her faith was heroic. “when everything seemed absurd, she responded ‘Amen’ to what was so absurd and the absurdity disappeared. to the silence of God, she answered ‘Let it be’ and silence was transformed into presence. instead of demanding a guarantee of [answers], mary clung to the will of God; she remained in peace, and doubt turned into sweetness”
(the silence of mary, p. 92)

 i’m feeling tired these last few days. tired from the tears. tired from the fight. & i’m tired of being right. i’ve been bitter far too long. and i miss His sweet affection. though i feel guilty and ashamed, thinking maybe this is all my fault, i am trying not to dwell on it. shame was never meant to be my portion and i don’t want to let the lies hold me captive anymore.

in this day of darkness,
i am holding onto the hope that there will be a light.

hope begins in the dark. the stubborn hope that if you just show up and wait and watch, the dawn will come. it’s not about proving anything. just believing that love is bigger than any bleak shit anyone can throw at me.

and though i know this pain will stay with me, maybe this is God’s way of working things out. Anne Lamott says that when God wants to do something wonderful, He or she always starts with a hardship. and when God wants to do something amazing, He or She always starts with an impossibility.” I am praying for the impossible to be possible. For there to be wholeness. And mending. Reconciliation. and Light.

Surely, those who wait upon the Lord will renew their strength.
Surely, faith leads us into the abyss of death and asks us to trust.

It is this trust, even in the abyss of alienation,
that becomes the seedbed of Easter newness.

and so in the midst of this shit, i cry out with mary at the cross.

i cry out for help. i cry out because of pain.

i cry out in faith. i cry “Where are you God?” and He cries,
I am right here.
I know you’re suffering. and I am with you in your pain.
I’ve got you
.

this day is a mess. this day is hard.
this day is the darkest day i’ve seen.

but there will be a light.

there will be a light.

there will be a light.

arise, O Lord, lift up your eyes, don't forget I'm helpless...