Life after heartbreak.

Our Keep Going print is letterpress printed by hand on antique machinery. Black ink on bright white, extra thick archival paper. Fits an 8 x 10 inch frame.

I am still breathing.

Somehow you can still breathe after your heart has been broken. Doesn’t really seem fair.

There have been times I would have done anything not to feel–not to breathe.

Doesn’t seem fair sometimes that you have to keep going.

That life just keeps going, and that you’re expected to keep going along with it.

Grief is weird.

I think I’ve gone through all the stages…several times. Out of order. At random.

I am careful not to think I’ve finally gotten through it. It seems whenever I think I’m out of the woods, there always seems to be a surprise wave of ache, anger, nausea, or depression that knocks me over. I wept in my car for a solid 20 minutes the other night. 

But somehow I keep breathing. And life keeps on going. Keeps moving. .

It doesn’t wait for you to be okay again.

I think a part of grief is the false belief that you will never be okay again–that this pain couldn’t possibly ever fully go away. In this sense, grief is a lot like fear. I am afraid this will never stop hurting. That I will always live in a perpetual state of heartache. That I won’t ever get through this. My struggle with worth has been magnified intensely from this–it all plays over and over in my brain like a broken record. I want nothing more than to break the record of the past six months into a million pieces. 

Fear is unbelief. I am battling unbelief. I am battling believing God can really heal my heart. I am struggling to believe that God truly has my best interest in mind. I am fighting to believe that God loves me–for how could this be love? Nothing about this feels like love. It feels like hatred. 

I wish this grief had a shorter timeline for me. But I have not been allotted that mercy. And I wish I had more control over it. But the Lord tells me to trust in His control, humbly relinquishing mine.

And part of me wishes that life didn’t keep on moving. And that I didn’t have to keep on breathing.

And a small part of me is thankful that life keeps on moving.

That I had to pack up and move to another city for student teaching. That my alarm goes off at 5:36AM (because…extra minute) and that I groan my way out of bed and into the shower. That I gather my things and drive to an elementary school. That I stand at the classroom door and say “Good morning” to tiny people with gigantic backpacks on. That I have to teach. That I have to make sure kids don’t die during recess. That I have to hold my eyelids open as I pour over lesson plans in a nearby Starbucks. That I collapse onto my bed at 9PM.

That I have to keep on going.

Some days have been unbearable. Some days I feel as though I’m counting down the seconds until they are over–pleading with God for a better tomorrow. But they are getting easier. A little. The permanent throbbing ache in my heart is easing up slightly. I am unapologetically not okay. And, honestly, I’m so tired of not being okay. I am so exhausted of being sad. I feel like I am walking around in a fog of sadness. Everything in my life is clouded by sadness. And I long for it to go away. But I am not walking around defeated either. At least, I’m trying not to. I have been deeply wounded, and I am not okay yet. But I will be. Maybe never fully. But I will be okay again one day.

And until that day I will keep moving.

I will keep breathing.

Even when I don’t want to.

Lately, I haven’t wanted to. There is little to no part of me that wants to keep breathing. 

I don’t have any strength left to hold onto the Lord. But He is holding onto me. And He will see me through. For some reason, way beyond my understanding, this was for my good and for His glory. I rest in that. Otherwise I would lose my mind. I feel as though I already have. 

I must remember the cross. When Jesus was on the cross, people were likely thinking (and saying) –what good could come of this? They had no idea that the greatest of all good was coming. Salvation. In the worst possible situation, God was working for our good and for His glory. These events have left me standing, looking down at all the shattered pieces of my heart and I have cried, “What good could come of this?” I don’t know what the Lord is doing, but neither did the people staring at Jesus on the cross. I am learning to trust in what I do not see.

I am learning to keep breathing.

I am learning to keep moving.

Learning to keep moving on.

Grace has carried me safe thus far.

And grace shall lead me home.

 

Grace Upon Grace:

 

Advertisements

God doesn’t owe me a boyfriend.

tumblr_mfnutrqrsn1rz9zlco1_400

People mean well.

And the inspirational memes on Pinterest mean well.

It is a common sentiment.

It is often said to me that, because I have been through and am going through so much hardship, that it’s because a bigger blessing is coming–something spectacular is on its way.

I’ve been told this for four years. And I always respond the same way.

The “good” in Romans 8:28 is found in Romans 8:29. God works all things together so that believers might be conformed into the image of Christ. Therefore, yes, I will be blessed as a result of my suffering. But, no, it will not (necessarily) be what is often meant by a blessing.

Walking through this breakup, people have told me that it is all to prepare me for someone better. As if some “perfect” man is waiting just around the corner to sweep me off my feet, wipe away the tears from eyes, and to whisk me away, causing me to forget that my heart was ever broken.

I appreciate the sentiment.

But I disagree with it.

If 2017 is harder than 2016 and 2015 and 2014…that is my blessing. Because, in some (painful) way, the Lord is conforming me into the image of Christ. If I know Jesus more and I am more like Jesus at the end of 2017, then I have received a great blessing for my suffering.

Honestly, that is a hard pill to swallow at times. I believe that is because I, so often, have a far too high view of man and so low view of God. I think far too highly of myself and, somewhere inside of me, I feel entitled. I feel as though God owes me for allowing me to go through so much pain. But God owes me nothing. He doesn’t owe me perfect health because I have suffered for 2 1/2 years. And He does not owe me a boyfriend because He is allowing me to suffer through this painful breakup. He doesn’t owe me anything. But He has given me everything in Christ.

I know people mean well. However, it is not encouraging to hear that something “huge” is waiting for me around the corner. My something “huge” might be more hardship. It might be a really tough final semester of grad school. It might be unemployment or a cancer diagnosis. As far as relationships, it might be years more, or a lifetime of singleness.

God is committed to my holiness. He is committed to making me more like Jesus. For me, that has meant extremely painful years. And it will likely mean many more. I am not promised health, wealth, and prosperity because I have suffered. God’s Word never promises that. I am not promised a better boyfriend who will cherish me and love me because I have suffered. God’s Word never promises that.

But He promises Himself–His presence. With me until the very end. Never forsaken. Holding my hand. Crawling along with me. Offering me His strength. Loving me perfectly through the pain. Then me with Him forever. He promises a day when there will be no more pain. There will be no bodies riddled with illness. There will be no more broken hearts. This light and momentary affliction is achieving for us an eternal weight of glory that far outweighs them all.

I am not saying there will not be joy. There will be joy. In His presence is fullness of joy. There will be so much joy, even in the ashes.

But God doesn’t owe me anything.

God doesn’t owe me a boyfriend.

b749e20b8b042438159164d8bb9e126c

Singleness & Psalm 23.

Purchase this image at http://www.stocksy.com/90467

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

    He makes me lie down in green pastures.

He leads me beside still waters.

    He restores my soul.

He leads me in paths of righteousness

    for his name’s sake. 

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,

 I will fear no evil, for you are with me;

 your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me

in the presence of my enemies,

you anoint my head with oil;

my cup overflows.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,

and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Today I remembered one of my favorite sermons by David Platt (I know, how can you possibly choose a favorite?). It’s a sermon on Psalm 23 found here. I encourage you to listen/watch it. The first time I heard the sermon I was sitting in a pew in Brook Hills.  The second time I listened to it, I was lying in my bed, struggling to sit up, and fighting to endure my battle with debilitating chronic illness. The third time, I was sitting in my bed again–this time with a broken heart.

Tears fell as I let the words sink in to every shattered crevice of my aching heart.

After I listened, I went back and prayed through my notes. And, as I was praying, specific fears I have stood out to me. Many of which I have wrestled with and continue to wrestle with on a daily basis.

But then those fears were, graciously, met with truths. 

In my singleness,

I never have to fear ending up alone.

The LORD is with me. I will never be alone. 

I often fear that. Ending up alone. The lonely old maid who no one wanted. But I can’t ever be alone. It is impossible. I will never be alone. My Shepherd is always with me. He has promised me Himself. He will be with me until the very end. I will never be forsaken. He will always be holding my hand–and, at times, crawling along beside me, offering His strength and His presence.

I never have to fear never being loved. 

The LORD loves me perfectly. Always. 

My heart often yearns to be loved by a man. I want to be romanced, desired, and cherished. But, if I never experience that kind of love, I will never not be loved. I am constantly and perfectly loved by the God of the universe. I often long for the intimacy experienced by a husband and wife. I might never know that. But I am known by God. He knows me. He cares about me. He loves me. And He is intimately aware of every detail of my life. I am His treasure. I am fully known and fully loved by Him. And His love will never fail me.

I never have to fear never (again) being pursued. 

The LORD will relentlessly pursue  me all the days of my life. 

Women so strongly desire to be pursued. I got a taste of relentless pursuit. But it was short-lived. And it was dishonest. God’s pursuit of us is not like that. He actively pursues. It is a constant pursuit that has no end. He will never tire of His pursuit. He will pursue with goodness and mercy all the days of my life. No matter what I do, no matter how faithless I am, He will never stop pursuing me with His love.

I never have to fear not being provided for. 

The LORD will satisfy. The LORD will provide my every need. I shall never want. 

The LORD is my Shepherd, I shall not want. My God will supply all my needs according to His riches in glory. He will satisfy my deepest longings–which are all really for Him. With Him, I have everything I need. With Him, I shall never lack.

I never have to fear living with a shattered heart. 

The LORD will restore that which has been broken. He will heal what has been used and thrown away. 

By His grace, He will continually refresh me. He will lead me beside still waters. By His grace, He will restore me. And, in time, He will heal what has been broken. He will not leave me in shattered pieces forever. And He delights in restoration.

To the praise of His glorious grace.

I never have to fear that it will come to an end. 

The LORD’s goodness to me is eternal. 

The Good Shepherd laid down His life for me. And He picked it up three days later. Because of this, I know that His love for me will never come to an end. He will never end His relationship with me. He will never change His mind, trade me in, or find someone new or better. His goodness to me is eternal, and my fellowship with Him will be everlasting. And one day, He will personally wipe away every tear from my eyes. There will be no more pain or suffering anymore. And I will dwell with Him forever.

 

 

I may never marry. I feel that I most likely will not. But, for however long I am single–whether 5 years, 50, or until the day I die, I will never want for anything. In Christ, I have been given everything. Everything I will never deserve. May I fix my eyes on Him–the Shepherd who will never leave me. The Shepherd who loves me. The Shepherd who pursues me. The Shepherd who provides for me. The Shepherd who restores me. The Shepherd who gave His life for me.

The Shepherd who satisfies.

In my singleness, I shall never want.

 

 

 

 

The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.

images-9

To the girl who was thrown away.

I couldn’t write it fast enough.

The same phrase over and over.

I scribbled speedily, unable to see through the tears falling endlessly onto my journal’s pages.

The page was full.

But it didn’t help. With one hand I grasped my stomach, trying desperately to hold in the sobs. With the other hand I covered my mouth, attempting to mute them. Perhaps if I squeezed hard enough the ache would go away.

“I matter”

I had written it over and over hoping that the words would jump off the page and sink deep into my heart. But I wasn’t sure I believed what I was writing.

I have always feared that I didn’t matter.

I’ve spent a great deal of my life trying to matter. I spent years performing on stage trying to matter. I spent years crying as I looked in the mirror at the endless flaws trying to matter. I spent years in school trying to matter. I went overseas trying to matter. I worked in ministry trying to matter. I worked in jobs trying to matter. I exercised and dieted trying to matter. I wrote blogs trying to matter. I made jokes trying to matter. I went through my days trying to matter.

Trying. Me working to matter.

When I got sick, sometimes I would lay in bed for days, unable to walk. Unable to do. I could only be. And the Lord began to teach me in those painful hours that I mattered. That my worth and value did not come from what I did. That if I was too sick to get out of bed for the rest of my life, I mattered. My life was not meaningless.

Then two years later, I was thrown away.

I was deceived. I was lied to. I was betrayed. And I was thrown away.

Without a second thought.

Without a care.

Without an apology.

Disposed of. Traded in. Thrown away.

I am struggling incessantly to understand. To make sense of it. But there is no logic to be found. And the pain is unbearable.

I have experienced great pain in my life. But there is a distinctive pain that comes with this. When you are treated as nothing. When you are disposed of as if you were unwanted trash. When a person you trusted and cared for, by their actions, tell you that you are of no worth. That your life and your heart and your feelings do not matter. That who you are is not worthy of meaning.

When someone throws you away.

So to the girl who has been thrown away, I write this to you.

Perhaps you have been thrown away by a parent. Or maybe both. Maybe you were thrown away by a best friend. Or a group of friends. Perhaps, like me, you were thrown away by a boy.

I want you to know that I am in the trenches with you. I am crawling through this pain. I am not soaring. I am ugly snot faced weeping through this pain. Literally. I’m a mess. And I am not trying to compare my pain to yours. I just want you to know that your pain is real. Your pain is valid. And you are not alone.

And what I am about to say might sound trite. It might even be eye roll inducing. I pray that is not the case.

But I want you to know that you matter. You really do. And I know you can write it over and over and over in your journal, you can tattoo it on your wrist, and you can hear it said a million times and not believe it. I understand because I’m right there with you. But just because we are struggling to believe doesn’t make it any less true. You matter. I matter. That is true whether we believe it or not. And it’s true whether someone else believes it or not.

I want you to know that you are of incredible worth. You have intrinsic worth as an image bearer of God. That means it doesn’t go away. No matter what you do. And no matter what someone does to you. If you have been thrown away, you have been sinned against. Someone has broken you. But your worth didn’t change in that moment. And it has never and will never change. The God of the universe treasures you. You might not feel like that is true. Right now, I don’t feel like that is true. But our feelings do not define what is true. You are precious to Him. He created you. He loves you. And you are of great great worth.

I am sorry that you were thrown away. I am deeply, deeply sorry. I am sorry that you have been made to feel like you do not matter. I am sorry for the hurt and the pain that you have or are experiencing.

As I was praying the other day, the Lord reminded me the simple yet profound truth that He made my heart. He knows every nook and cranny–every last bit of it–because He designed it. He knit it together with His wise and perfect hands. He knows mine is broken right now. He knows mine has been used and thrown away. But who better to trust to mend it than the One who made it? I want control of the healing process. And I (REALLY) want it to move faster than it is. But the Lord is teaching me to entrust the mending to Him. In His timing. In His hands. He is the trustworthy and faithful healer of the brokenhearted. And He is not going to forget to mend mine. And He will not forget to mend yours. 

Lastly, to you, sweet reader. Forgive those who have thrown you away. Forgive them. And know this. The Lord will never throw you away. He will never change His mind. Or find someone new or better. He will never lie to you. He will never deceive you. He will never play games with your heart. He will never disregard your feelings. He will never devalue you.

Rest in the truth.

He will never throw you away. 

 

 

 

2016.

It’s that time of the year–the annual December “End of the Year” blog post. So crazy. Time is a funny thing.

I started this blog seven years ago–it had a different name. I actually don’t remember it. Seven years ago in December, I was unaware that everything in my life was about to change. That it was about to be “ruined.” And that I would begin to chronicle my ruined life. Six years ago, in the ‘end of the year’ post for 2010, I wrote,

Farewell 2010. This year God ruined my life…and I am forever thankful.

I am so thankful for 2010. And for the six years that have followed. They have, by far, been the most difficult years of my life. But there is beauty in the ashes.

2016. What a strange year. It has ended rather painfully, so my brain is having trouble processing through much of the rest. But there was a lot of good this year. The Lord is always good. Even in the hard.

I think pictures will help as I gather my thoughts.

As always, in no particular order…

 

In January, I decided to get another job. I was working on campus, but felt that my health had improved enough to allow me to get a job off campus. I didn’t think I would ever return to the barista life (I should really learn to “never say never”), but I applied and started working again at the Bucks. I was nervous. I was afraid that I would get too sick to work, but the Lord sustained me. Even on the bad days. He graciously helped me feel well enough to get through every long day for the 7 months I worked there.

Working two jobs while being a full time grad student was not easy. And the long mundane work days of the (ridiculously hot) summer taught me a lot about trusting God with the mundane. Rejoicing in the Extraordinary Ordinary Life . 

I visited my beloved Birmingham. I saw an amazing production of “The Little Mermaid” and grinned from ear to ear. I grabbed the final copy of Cursed Child in Barnes & Noble and gleefully read through the long awaited play while dreaming of seeing it performed live one day. I laughed and caught up with dear friends. Visited my church. Had lunch with my voice professor from Samford. And, of course, ate a Popsicle from Steel City Pops.

I began my final year at CIU. A year prior, I didn’t think I would make it to my final year. My health was greatly deteriorating and the prospects of becoming a teacher were grim. But I’m still here. I’m about to begin my final semester. And I am so thankful.

 

In April, I turned 27. I wore a dress with ice cream cones on it, got a pedicure, ate Ethiopian food, and my friends and I played several rounds of “Pie Face” (That game literally never stops being funny to me). My life is not what I imagined it would be like at 27 (nearing 28…yikes). But I am learning to rejoice in what has been given to me, not pining after that which has not. I told my friend the other day, “We need to learn how to let go of what we thought our lives would look like and be thankful for the life we’ve been given.” Easier said than done.

I went to the beach by myself for the first time. That probably sounds like a nightmare to most people, but this introvert was so happy. I drove to Charleston one day that I wasn’t working and spent the day soaking up the sun, reading, and walking in the waves.

 

I got my second tattoo. “But if not, He is still good”

I’ve realized that Christian suffering places you within the Biblical tension of Luke 22:42. Jesus, on the Mount of Olives, prays, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” Christian suffering places you in the tension of that prayer–the tension between “Remove this cup from me” and “not my will, but yours be done”. This is the tension I am desperately trying to live in. Trying desperately to breathe in. It’s suffocating sometimes. The “But if not” of Daniel 3. God is more than able to save–to heal. We worship a God we cannot exaggerate. He is able to do immeasurably more than all that we ask or think. I believe with all my heart that God is able to heal my broken body. But if not. God’s character would not change. He wouldn’t become less good, less able, or less powerful. In all things, He has never and will never become less “for me”.Relearning to Breathe

I discovered (What I already knew) that I couldn’t paint 😉 But still super fun. Also thankful for my friend, Marshall. Barista friendships are some of the best ones.

I discovered an incredible dance studio that only offers adult classes. I was so excited to put my tap shoes on again. It is incredibly fun. I truly love to tap.

I met this girl this year. She’s crazy. And loud. And “everything I’m not” (hahaha). I’m really thankful for her. And her amazing dance skills.

Danielle moved home to New York in January, and Anna moved back home to Kentucky after she graduated in May. I lost my two best friends. But in August, the “321” came to Louisville and stayed with my family. It was so much fun. I miss these two with all my heart. I am forever thankful to the Lord for placing me in the same apartment as them two years ago. We prayed together and wept when we said goodbye. Forever 321.

I fully began the MA Bible Teaching program this fall. I taught 5th graders once a week (and seriously reconsidered my decision to become a teacher at least 10 times a week 😉 ). Life went from theology books, research papers, and exegetical papers to lesson plans and teaching, and it was scary and hard and fun and overwhelming and exciting all at once. I will be student teaching in the spring and, Lord willing, I will graduate in April. What comes after that, only the Lord knows. But He is already there. I rest in that.

I WENT TO THE WIZARDING WORLD OF HARRY POTTER!!!! Y’all don’t even know. To say I was on cloud nine would be a vast understatement. My sister had park-to-park tickets. She’s not a Harry Potter fan, but she said watching me experience it was worth it. It was the most perfect day.

I ran a few races. Before I got sick, I was working my way up to a half marathon. A year prior to the first 5K, I could barely walk and I wasn’t sure if I would ever be able to run again. The Lord is gracious.

Weddings, weddings, weddings!! (NOT enough! I love going to weddings 🙂 )

Who me? I don’t like Harry Potter…

Winter Formal with the baes.

15268069_10209488009651137_2728162011881250169_n

This semester I got two new roommates. They are both wonderful. One of them has become my person. She hails from the great state of Bama, has a strong accent, adds “the” onto places (“We going to the Walmart?”), is obsessed with chili cheese dogs, and is a die hard Alabama fan (Roll Tide). Let me tell you, this girl makes me laugh. She is the most selfless person I know–always giving and giving. Always serving. She has been an incredible friend to me this semester. I honestly don’t know what I would have done this fall without her. I don’t think I would have made it. Love my Jessica. (That’s our tree, Charles Frederick Williamson, III)

Also, check out our cover of Shane and Shane’s “Though You Slay Me”: https://youtu.be/QtC3hs1XhkQ

Still rocking various shades of red lips. I think it has become part of my personality.

13240123_895270548996_556782098402914347_n

Still trying to become a viral meme 😉

13139178_892482057156_4230128110429763855_n

 

Oh yeah…I read all the Harry Potter books again. (I promise I read a lot of other books too)

large

I met a boy.

That might be old hat to most people. But it wasn’t for me.

I was single for over 27 years before I met a boy.

I honestly didn’t think it would ever happen for me. I wanted it to. I wrestled with my singleness. I struggled with living in the tension of desiring marriage, but not making that desire ultimate. As my twenties neared their end, the wrestling continued.

Then I met a boy.

He was unexpected. Very. For the first time in my life, I was pursued. Passionately. I didn’t know what to think of it. I was hesitant and cautious. But, oh, how he made me laugh. I was always ‘me’ with him. I felt beautiful. I’d never really felt beautiful. I felt special. And deeply cared for. I felt safe. I felt at home. We spent a lot of time getting to know each other (again, I was cautious)—and I loved every minute. He very nervously asked me to be his girlfriend one day, and after 27 years of singleness, I entrusted my heart to him and I said ‘yes.’

Then it ended.

And most days I struggle to breathe. The ache in my heart is unbearable. I don’t want to feel anymore. I have been on a roller coaster of endless feelings and I want off. I want to trade my heart in for a new one—one that couldn’t feel—one that isn’t broken. I wept deleting the photos and the videos.

Immediately, my mind was enveloped in lies. For weeks, I couldn’t shake them. Why would you think you were worth wanting? No one wants you. No one ever has. The only one who did changed his mind. You never mattered and you never will. You were just another girl. Another disposable girl. One he could just throw away. He doesn’t miss you. He never even liked you. I crawled back into bed one afternoon and I stayed there. For hours. Tears emptying onto my pillow as the ache in my chest deepened, widened, and consumed. Why did God allow this to happen? Why did He dangle this in front of me then rip it away? Why does He want me to be miserable?  The lies were endless and they were deafening.

I wanted there to be a knock on the door. And I would open it and he would be standing there. Like he used to. I wanted to text him and tell him about everything that had been happening. I wanted to listen to him tell me everything that was going on in his life. I wanted him to make fun of me for being old. I wanted him to be next to me when I was watching a movie. It was so strange how empty the couch felt. I wanted to send him a picture of the pie cutter I finally found in Walmart one day. The one I had given him such a hard time about. I wanted to tell him my placement for student teaching in the spring. I wanted him to look at me and to tell me I was going to be okay and that he believed in me. I wanted to know his opinion of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. I wanted to dance with him in my living room. I wanted to be with him.

Then I found out that he had been lying. He had deceived me. Tremendously. He lied to me for five months. I, honestly, don’t know what to believe. It was all a lie. And I feel like a fool. A used. Broken. Fool. He threw me away like I was nothing. And the pain is unimaginable. Read more here: To the girl who was thrown away.

The pain is agonizing. It hurts like hell. I greatly understand being in physical pain. But heartache is a different pain. Almost more unbearable than the pain that left me bedridden for nearly a year. But it’s getting better. Slowly. Very slowly. I am fighting depression. It’s a good day if I don’t feel permanently nauseated. I am struggling to get out of bed. But, I am trying to trust. I am learning to truly release my future into the Lord’s hands. I desperately want control. 

He has hurt me so much. So much. And, from the deepest part of my heart, I honestly desire and pray for the best for him. I told him that I forgave him. But the grief is real. It is excruciatingly real. 

So I have returned to the single life. And honestly, it’s hard. I don’t want to be single. I fear my age sometimes—fearing I have missed my chance. That my window of opportunity has passed. I really loved being someone’s girlfriend. I got a picture of a possibility that I loved. I want to be married. I want to have a family. I want to be a wife. I want to be a mom. But I also don’t want to be angry if it never happens again—if I’m never again someone’s girlfriend. I am also terrified of ever being in another relationship. I don’t know how I could ever go through this again. I honestly don’t think I ever could. And I don’t know how to trust a guy again. The Lord will have to work mightily on this shattered heart.

Oh so much fear. The Lord has commanded me not to fear. But I confess I am afraid.

I also don’t want to be bitter with God if I never get married. And I don’t want to be bitter that this happened. That I wasn’t spared this pain. That the Lord allowed me to be thrown away. And that somehow that is love.

But He gives more grace.

 

More grace and more beauty in the ashes. Honestly, I am finishing up this year very sad. My heart has been ripped to shreds. I feel like I am crawling through these last days of 2016. And I think that’s okay. It’s okay to be sad. God isn’t angered by our tears. He keeps them. Grieving is part of life. But there is hope. Because of the cross, I have been given an imperishable hope. Knowing the past of what God has done, I can hope in the future—not in wishful thinking, but in certainty of the promises of God. He has not abandoned me. I may be crawling, but He is with me down there, helping me along.

And my prayer for 2017 is that I will hope in God. No matter what happens. No matter what doesn’t happen that I wish would. No matter how scary. No matter how hard. No matter how disappointing. No matter how good. That I will hope in God. That I will hope in God in my ruined life.

I wish you all the best as you bid farewell to 2016 and welcome 2017.

 “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.”

Psalm 43:5

When it Hurts

 

rain-07

 

My heart hurts today.

A deep ache that is not easily soothed.

Sometimes I think I’m okay. Then the ache worsens. And deepens. And widens.

Naturally, the lies have begun to swarm around in my head.

I am tempted to believe each one.

Battling through life with a chronic illness, the question of “Why?” always, at some point, makes its way into my mind. I’m accustomed to the “why.”

I feel the “why” today.

The “What was the point?”

The “I don’t understand.”

And it hurts.

The hurt has made its way up and out of my mouth in the form of prayer. It’s made its way out in coping mechanisms of laughter and copious amounts of sarcasm and textbook self-deprecation. It has largely made its way up and out of my eyes in the form of hours of tears.

I am reminded of Psalm 77.

I cry aloud to God,
    aloud to God, and he will hear me.
In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord;
    in the night my hand is stretched out without wearying;
    my soul refuses to be comforted.
When I remember God, I moan;
    when I meditate, my spirit faints.

 

In the first 9 verses of Psalm 77, the Psalmist cries out to the Lord. He is broken. He is in anguish. He doesn’t understand. He is asking why.

I love the Psalms. The Psalms are evidence that we do not have to pretend to be “okay.” We can come before the Lord broken–shattered into pieces. God is not angry at us for asking “why.” He is not annoyed by our tears. He doesn’t scorn us for being sad. It is okay to be sad.

But the Psalmist takes a turn,

Then I said, “I will appeal to this,
    to the years of the right hand of the Most High.”[b]

11 I will remember the deeds of the Lord;
    yes, I will remember your wonders of old.
12 I will ponder all your work,
    and meditate on your mighty deeds.

In verses 10-12, the Psalmist decides, in the midst of the pain, to choose to remember. He chooses to remember the truth of who God is. He chooses to ponder His great works and to meditate on His mighty deeds. The Psalmist does not deny the existence of the pain. He does not pretend that all is well. Rather, the Psalmist declares that, although the pain and heartache are real and very present, He chooses truth. He chooses faith.

Tim Keller writes, “Faith is not primarily a function of how you feel. Faith is living out, trusting, and believing what truth is despite what you feel.”

Faith trusts when it hurts. Faith chooses God when it hurts.

Lastly, the Psalmist continues,

Your way, O God, is holy.
    What god is great like our God?
14 You are the God who works wonders;
    you have made known your might among the peoples.

The Psalmist finishes the remainder of the Psalm in worship. Despite the deepest possible pain, the Psalmist proclaims that God is worthy of all praise. His way is holy–His way is perfect and right–what god is great like our God?

 

My heart hurts today. I don’t understand the “why.” And the Lord knows that. He will be hearing from me quite a bit about it. I have and will continue to cry out to the Lord. But it will not stop there. I will cry out. But I will also choose to trust. I will choose to remember who God is and how He has loved me with a love I will never deserve. I will choose to remember that He has never and will never forsake me. I will choose to remember that His way is perfect. I will choose to remember that He is always working all things together for my good and for His glory.

And then I will worship.

I will praise His beautiful Name.

I will fall on my knees in adoration.

I will declare that He is enough. That He is everything I need.

That He is the greatest treasure and the true satisfier of my soul.

That He holds the world in His good and just hands.

That He is sovereign over all.

 

That He is there to hold me when it hurts.

To the praise of His glorious grace.

 

Two Years.

 

Image result for he is good

I’ve been sick for two years.

That’s strange to say.

Strange and overwhelming at the same time.

I remember when I hit one year. I wasn’t sure what that day would be like or how I would feel. I remember waking up and immediately beginning to cry. I cried off and on throughout the entire day, existing in a, seemingly, constant state of overwhelming emotion.

But I wasn’t sad.

I never felt sad that day. Not once.

I never felt angry. Not for a moment.

It was just joy. So much joy. The Lord gave me joyous tears overflowing from an overwhelmed heart–a heart in awe of grace.

There have been many many days since September 21, 2014 when I have been sad. Unbearably sad. I have looked into the eyes of counselors and have spoken the words, “I don’t know how to not be sad anymore.” There have been many times when I felt like a shell–a mere shadow of the person I once was. There have been times when I have begged and pleaded with the Lord to kill me. To end the shell of a life I was left with. To take the pain away or to take me away from the pain. There have been times the sadness grew so strong that it almost resulted in me ending my life.

I have been sad.

There have been many many days since September 21, 2014 that I have been angry. So angry. I have come face to face with my sense of entitlement–the belief that God owed me the perfect, healthy,  romantic, adventurous life–and I have been angry that I was instead a bedridden twenty-something, barely capable of walking some days. I have looked upon others with intense jealousy, angry that God had withheld intense suffering from them; giving them their dreams and Instagram-worthy lives while seemingly destroying mine. I have laid in bed day after day and week after week, unable to function outside of it, and I have been angry.

I have been angry.

As I reflect back on the two years that have passed since September 21, 2014, I don’t see a suffering hero. I have failed every single day. I have not wholly trusted the Lord at all times. I have not rejoiced always. I have doubted.

But God.

He has been faithful when I was faithless. He has sustained me. He has held onto me when I no longer felt I could hold onto Him.

Last year on the 21st of September, I woke up and started weeping. One year after that fateful day. After one year of living with chronic excruciating pain, depression, growing medical bills, endless tests and doctor visits, uncertainty about my future–I was still sick. The Lord didn’t make it go away.

But that is not why I wept.

I wept because of His love for me. His unimaginable perfect love for me.

God didn’t heal me. It has been two years now, and God has not healed me. And He might, in His infinite wisdom, never choose to. And He loves me. This is not a paradox.

God is a good Father, and everything He does in our lives is good. Everything. He is committed to molding me into the image of Christ, no matter how painful the process might be. In Him not healing me, He is perfectly loving me.

As year two comes to its end, and year three begins, my desire is to rejoice in all that the Lord has done and all that He continues to do in “my ruined life.” I pray that I will continue to learn to lean on Him as I walk, by His grace, in obedience. I pray that I will learn to rejoice always and to pray without ceasing. I pray that He will help my unbelief.

I still battle fear. I still battle the daily living in a body that fails me. I still battle sadness and anger. Two years later, I still fail.

But God.

Every day is really hard. And I fail every day. And every day He gives more grace.

We are saved by the gospel and we never graduate from it. And I am thankful for that. I am saved by grace and I live by grace.

I am no suffering hero. Jesus came into the world to save sinners of whom I am the foremost. Two years later, “I believe, help my unbelief!” is still my heart’s cry. I fall down at the foot of the cross where there is grace overflowing. I fall down at the foot of the cross and I will not get back up.

I have been sick for two years. And I am thankful.

 

 

My Extraordinary Ordinary Life.

cafe-romeo-lattes.jpg

Most days my alarm goes off at 4:52 AM. I (sadly) turn my alarm off, slowly roll out of bed, and, sleepily, get ready for work. I don all black apparel, grab my hat and green apron, and get into my car. As I drive past the other apartment buildings, noticing the dark windows which assume sleeping residents, a tinge of jealousy always sweeps over me.

Most days I spend my mornings serving people coffee. Most days I get covered in whipped cream and coffee grinds. Most days I make someone upset by failing to be perfect. Most days I come home with aching feet and the strong desire to take a nap. Most days I do.

Then, most days, I go to my second job. I clean and I do a lot of reading. Then I come back to my apartment. And I crawl back into bed. And 5 or 6 hours later, my alarm goes off again at 4:52AM.

My life is kind of boring.

It’s mundane.

Perhaps just for a season, but nevertheless, it’s boring.

A cyclical pattern day in and day out with rare diversions.

I scroll through my Facebook and Instagram feeds and wonder in amazement over the lives of others. My friends. My past classmates, teammates, etc. The vacations to Europe, the engagements, the exciting jobs, the musical and theatrical careers, the lavish parties, the gorgeous photoshoots. All of it, seemingly anything but boring.

And every day my alarm goes off at 4:52AM and, for minimum wage, I make coffee.

I am just kind of boring.

But perhaps life is made up of a lot of “boring.” And perhaps some seasons of life contain more of it than others. And perhaps some people have less of it, and that’s okay too. Comparison is indeed the thief of joy.

The “boring life”…IS life. And, it’s not to be dreaded, feared or, God-forbid, wasted. The Lord has placed me and has placed you wherever you, doing whatever you’re doing, for the sake of His great Name and for His glory. The “boring” life is to be lived as a spiritual act of worship. I am commanded to rejoice always. I am called to rejoice when I come home with milk in my hair because I have been blessed with a job–a job that helps pay bills, make student loan payments, and to put a little money away for my final year of grad school. I am called to rejoice when I go grocery shopping–how blessed am I to be able to afford nutritious food and the occasional box of chocolates and bouquet of fresh flowers to decorate my bedroom. I am to rejoice when I’m laying in bed reading a book or when I’m sitting on my couch watching a movie with a friend.  Both good gifts.

How often I have shaken my fists at God for leaving me in this “state of being” while those around me seemingly live lives of romance and grandeur. And it’s wrong.

Sometimes I am tempted to think if my life is not “exciting”, I am somehow failing. If I had truly given my life and my dreams to Lord, then He would surely work to make my life a thrilling adventure, right? My 20s have stood in direct contrast to this belief and it was greatly rocked when I became extremely ill. When you are mostly bedridden for a year, that theology will fail you. Because it’s not true. It puts your life in your hands, making God a sort of cosmic genie who grants your wildest dreams based upon your obedience or the amount of faith that you have. But it is not the amount or the strength of your faith, but the Object of your faith that saves you–Who saves you–who redeems and works in and through the boring life.

My prayers lately have been greatly about trust. Trusting God with my boring life. Trusting God with the mundane. Trusting God with the monotony. Trusting God with the life He has given me, even though it doesn’t look like I wish it did. Trusting that God hasn’t gotten something wrong or accidentally forgotten about me. Trusting that His ways are higher than mine and His way is perfect–even if I find it “boring.”

And praying for help to be faithful. Faithful in the silence. Faithful in the monotony. Faithful in the simple. Faithful in my boring life.

I pray that I will be faithful and obedient in the everyday tasks of every day. That I will glorify God in waking up, making lattes, doing laundry, doing my homework…That I will not waste away my days pitifully and selfishly upset about the cards I have been dealt, but that I will find my deepest satisfaction and my ultimate joy in my never changing, gracious God.

That I will be faithful in my extraordinary ordinary boring life.

So by dropping 13 years into the dumpster of history between chapters 16 and 17 the writer underscores the struggle of Abraham’s faith. what happened in those 13 years? Oh, what happened during the previous decade-plus. Abraham played veterinarian to his goats, settled scraps amount his herdsmen, sat up with Sarah when she had the flu, sent scouts out to look for water sources for the flocks-in short, all the sorts of things one does in the wash-your-face, brush-your-teeth, go-to-work routine of daily living. And year follows year that way, and Yahweh’s promise goes unfulfilled. Is the writer not telling us that time can be a severe problem for faith? That it can be hard to go on believing when you have to walk on in ordinary, run-of-the-mill living without seeing any of the fireworks of promise?

-Dale Ralph Davis

 

 

Song of Hope.

 

images (8)

 

Easter has come and gone but the resurrection still echoes its truth in my ears and my heart.

The song rings clearer still.

Hope.

Hope, it sings.

Hope.

I know I write often on here about my sickness. I suppose that is just the season of life I’m in. A season, I perhaps, will always be in. But only the Lord knows that.

Suffering awakened a longing within me for home. It was a longing that was there prior, but a longing that I have since experienced more deeply.

This world is not as it should be. It is broken. It is marred.

Children shouldn’t die of cancer. ISIS shouldn’t run rampant. Racism shouldn’t exist. Divorce shouldn’t happen. Politicians shouldn’t be corrupt. Poverty shouldn’t wage. Earthquakes shouldn’t destroy.

My body shouldn’t be broken.

But we live in a world that has been tainted by sin. My daily battles with the sin in my life are a constant reminder of this. In Christ, I have been saved from the penalty of sin and I have been saved from the power of sin (I am no longer its slave), but I have not been saved from the presence of sin. And the presence of sin and its effects are evident in realities such as human trafficking and the infant dying in his mother’s arms. It is in my bitter heart toward an unkind customer. And it is in my sickness.

And this is why Easter is my favorite. The resurrection sings a song of hope.

True hope. Certainty in the promises of God. Faith–the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen.

Because Jesus rose from the dead, everything He said is true. Because Jesus rose from the dead, I am saved by grace alone through faith alone. Because Jesus rose from the dead, I am a slave to righteousness. Because Jesus rose from the dead, I have nothing to fear. Because Jesus rose from the dead, I can rejoice in hope.

Because Jesus rose from the dead, I can live with my illness.

As I walk (and oftentimes crawl) through life battling chronic illness, I rest in the hope of the resurrection.

The resurrection is my hope. It is my joy. It is my life. Without it, there is no truth to what I believe. Without the resurrection, my faith is futile and I am still in my sins. Without the resurrection, my light and momentary affliction would be unbearable.

Tim Keller writes, “Suffering is unbearable if you aren’t certain that God is for you and with you.”

And, He is. I know that because of the resurrection.

Throughout the past year and a half I have reached unimaginable lows. I have pleaded with God to kill me. I have contemplated suicide.

But in the midst of my darkness, there shone the hope of the resurrection.

“Jesus lost all his glory so that we could be clothed in it. He was shut out so we could get access. He was bound, nailed, so that we could be free. He was cast out so we could approach. And Jesus took away the only kind of suffering that can really destroy you: that is being cast away from God. He took so that now all suffering that comes into your life will only make you great. A lump of coal under pressure becomes a diamond. And the suffering of a person in Christ only turns you into somebody gorgeous.”

Tim Keller

The resurrection is proof that one day He will make all things new. That one day He will wipe every tear from my eyes. My body won’t be broken anymore. I will be free from the presence of sin. I will see His face.

The resurrection is proof that one day all of the sad things will come untrue.

No matter what happens in this life, I have an unwavering hope. No matter what I get or do not get. No matter how wonderful or how painful. I have an unyielding hope.

“That which should distinguish the suffering of believers from unbelievers is the confidence that our suffering is under the control of an all-powerful and all-loving God. Our suffering has meaning and purpose in God’s eternal plan, and He brings or allows to come into our lives only that which is for His glory and our good.”

Jerry Bridges

I often long for home. But I pray that my time on this earth will be used to tell the world about that home–and the resurrection that makes going home possible.

Easter has come and gone, but the song remains–that beautiful song of hope. Oh, sweet hope. Hope that is all I have. Hope that is all I need. Hope that has set my heart free.

 

Singleness and Lies

 

bf6f0f0838b7a42eb8b48f6c180ee68c.jpg

“It’s not really the fact of ending up ‘alone’. It’s the lies I believe about it. They’re the worst part.”

I held my coffee cup in my hands as I stared off blankly—a habit I have when I am contemplating and haven’t sorted my thoughts neatly into words yet (Do I ever sort my thoughts neatly into words?).

My friend nodded as she listened.

I had discussed the same idea, briefly, with a friend the previous night.

He had asked me if being single actually did upset me. I responded that it really didn’t, but every once and awhile it was hard.

And as I began to explain why, something dawned on me that I hadn’t really thought through before.

Yes, just like anyone, I desire to meet someone one day who makes me laugh so hard it hurts. I would love to marry someone someday who loves Jesus way more than he loves me, who is a humble leader, and who enjoys a good musical. Who doesn’t want to meet someone who they can cry with, laugh with, grow with, and get old and fat with?

But the possibility of never having that is not what aches when I have a “singleness bad day”. It’s the lies. The greatest pain is caused by the lies that begin to replay over and over again in my mind.

The lies of singleness that I am unworthy. That I am single because I am ugly. That I am single because, in every way possible, I am not enough. Whatever it is that is worth wanting, I am not it. I am not worth wanting. I am not worth marrying. I am flawed. I am broken. I am not desirable. I am not enough.

The lies again and again begin to fill my mind as a pool fills with water. And slowly, but surely, I begin to drown. The lies spill over into my actions and my thoughts of jealousy, bitterness, and apathy.

And that is the poison. That is what is really hard.

Yes, I desire for a partner in crime, but the issue is so much deeper than that. The fight is so much more than that. The fight is so much more than wishing I had someone to buy me chocolate and a bouquet of roses on Valentine’s Day. The fight is so much more than wishing I could plan the perfect Pinterest wedding and have someone to take hipster pictures for Instagram with.

The fight is against the lies that I feed myself.

The fight is against my battle with enough.

The fight is against my looking for joy in creation over Creator.

The fight is my tendency to believe Satan rather than God.

The sea of lies that so often accompany singleness is far worse than the prospect of a lifetime unmarried.

By God’s grace, I pray He will help me and all of us to wage war on the lies. Day by day. Hour by hour. Moment by moment. Detect the lies. Reject the lies. Replace them with the truth. 

What lies are you believing today? Reject them. Replace them. Speak truth to yourself.

Paul Tripp writes, “No one is more influential in your life than you are, because no one talks to you as much as you talk to yourself.”

Tell yourself the truth today.

Your worth is fixed in Christ. You are perfectly and forever loved. His way is perfect. Trust Him today. He is the Truth. Rest in the truth.