This podcast is very near to my heart and was incredibly hard to share. For so long, I've been afraid to even speak of this season of my life that I struggled with panic and anxiety. I was fearful that by even speaking the names of these things, they would be triggered to return.
But I truly know that I am healed and that stories of healing are meant to be shared. Have grace with this podcast. I am rambly and a little disorganized, but it's because I'm emotional and it's all so personal.
I believe that by putting biblical and logical concepts of discipline in place, we can manage anxiety and find peace. But my 4th point is the most crucial and life changing for me. I believe that by the power of Jesus and his Holy Spirit, I found the true and absolute healing I was looking for.
Please listen if you or someone you know deals with anxiety and have grace for my bumbling words. I pray something in here resonates with you and helps you understand concepts that could help you.
During this time, I wrote the below words as a way to remind myself that there was healing from all the pain. I wrote a lot during that time, and never shared most of it, so I might little by little post it here. Kind of scary to me, but it's also healing.
I’d always grown up believing the best of the world, seeing it with rose colored glasses.
But darkness scraped off my childishness, removing my skin, rendering it ashes.
I had a choice
To sit, to remember, to anger, to condemn
Or I could re-grow that skin, painfully stronger than it had been.
So you know what I did?
My skin grew back, tough and more rosey than ever before.
I have a power inside of me that spoke to the darkness ‘no more.’
‘You do not have to be broken to be real.
You don’t have to be broken to feel.
You are mighty in your wholeness.
Strong and growing and healed.
And your rose-colored glasses are glasses no longer,
but have become the way you see what is stronger.
the darkness only wins if we sit in our anger
but in healing, that childlike-rosey light is now your anchor.’
Real moment. In the ways I used to think, in terms of my legalistic, old way of thinking, I am getting worse. I curse more, cry more, drink more, post less ‘Christiany’ quotes, and wonder what the heck I’m doing with my life and why in the world could there possibly be so much pain in this world and ask ‘why, God??’ and 'I don’t understand!’ and “what is the deal!?’ more. (just being honest). In my old ways of thinking, I’ve certainly strayed off the path that leads to righteousness. But in the ways of grace, I am learning that I am becoming whole. The shallow has vanished and all that has been left is the deep anguish of my soul and hallelujah, I can finally be real - I am broken too. For all the anger and confusion and sadness I’ve found in the world, I’ve also learned that loving Jesus is not about becoming good or climbing a metaphorical ladder to purity within the Christian life. My pious, devoted, "good” ways were tainted with a subconscious, subtle striving, a need to please, a need to portray that the standard of a good Christian could be achieved and that my brokenness could be mended by my inner strength. I was left wrecked, having given more than I had, in debt to myself and hopeless that my striving was me running around in a circle.
Then grace came and I was allowed to be vulnerable and too much and not enough and allowed to have a lack and thus allowed to be free. And I feel loved by him. I could weep with the authenticity I can say that with that I could never have understood before. I am not better than I was, but I feel so utterly loved by Jesus that I don’t care anymore. I feel like I actually, genuinely can love others. Because brokenness never goes away and pain exists in the worst way and we never get better in the shallow sense of the word, but we, hand in hand, go deeper into Jesus’ grace. A grace that acknowledges the darkness of life, and how it can really just suck…but a grace that also redeems all things, that mends the brokenness and gives hope and love in the midst. I feel like, even in my whys and confusion and sin, this whole thing makes sense. Pain and anger and sadness and joy and everything that has happened to my family and to me and to everyone makes sense in the light of the cross and grace is all there is. Jesus loves me, this I know and it’s finally all I know and that simplicity brings such peace.
Being in one place for such a short amount of time is interesting. You feel detached from your surroundings. Out of place. Never really sure. And you start to notice things.
I was always fascinated by the book about the time traveler's wife. And as we travel on this long road trip, staying in towns for a day or two and then leaving, I identify with her husband. You are always out of place. Everywhere we go, I will never get to know the people there as I wish I could. At every store we visit in every city, I wonder....will I ever meet these people again? Maybe in 20 years, our lives will cross paths and we'll have never known about that time we spoke in the grocery store. So many stories I will miss and that makes me sad.
I wonder while at the park in San Francisco, sitting and eating lunch with Ryan, do the guys playing basketball know that we don't belong here? That in 24 hours, I'll be gone from here, whisked away to another town, our lives never intersecting with their own, never making an impact on one another.
Another thing about traveling so often - you begin to read people better. You begin to see what the check out guy says over and over at thousands of different coffee shops. You begin to see pain flash in people's eyes when you may have never noticed it before. You begin to watch emotions better, because you need connection and emotion in a life of constant detachment.
And you begin to love people more. How could you not? Always watching them. You see them visit their parks, shop with their babies in their neighborhood markets, smoke behind the building with their friends, see them eat breakfast at cafes on Saturday mornings just like I used to do all the way in Florida. You begin to wish you could hear the stories of all people. You begin to feel things for people you saw on the street or at the gas station or at the Starbucks. You want to know them. You want them to know you. There are thousands of them and you see their pain and laughter and joy and you watch them go on first dates in coffee shops, you watch them pump your gas from the window in Oregon, you watch them sit alone in a Panera and gaze out the window in sadness, you watch them walk down the street with lovers, frustratingly pick up their crying children on the sidewalk, you've seen glimpses of them tearing up at a John Green book on the train. And you love them.
Traveling so much can make you feel detached, yes. But it can allow you moments where you see the tapestry of life, drawn into full scale. Where you are afforded quiet moments into thousands of people's lives. Moments where you forget about yourself and see each person as they wish to be seen. And how could you not love them? Their pain and sadness and anger and heartbreak and joy. Oh, their joy. They are like you, everywhere, wanting to be loved and walking through anger and growth and laughing at funny movies and drinking too much coffee and having awkward moments and happy moments and struggling with life and hoping, always hoping.
I'm not creepy, I don't think. I'm not trying to be. But I watch people, because after tens of thousands of miles, mountains look the same. But people, crafted uniquely and perfectly and flawed and beautiful. They fill me with such joy and I hope that when I go home, I never forget them. Every single one of them. Even the ones I never spoke to. They deserve to be remembered. And in my small, silly little love for them, I am overwhelmed by the love of another who sees us the way we've always wished to be seen, thousands of us, one of us. Even all of us at once in our patterns and even one of us alone in our sorrow. We are different and we are the same and I love you and thank you, whoever you are, for allowing me to glimpse your beauty and pain and quiet moments and fullness of life.
maybe Jesus wasn’t the guy sitting quietly in the pews next to us as kids, whispering solemn prayers under his breath and looking a little too serious. maybe Jesus is the kid next to you, poking you and whispering too loud and asking if maybe, just maybe you want to escape the boxed in hell-hole version of God we’ve all created out of a culture that wasn’t okay with a poor man getting a rich man’s wage. maybe he is the little boy next to you asking you if you’d rather go outside and run fast with him, and laugh a little louder than you’ve been told is allowed, and choose to see the gray of the world a little deeper without immediately calling “black” or “white” or “wrong” “right”. we wanted too many don’ts and Jesus fiercely whispers ‘do’ in a voice that rumbles with laughter and perhaps so much glee that it could be found disrespectful in the red-rimmed, tired eyes of the all too serious do-gooder adults that want to smack the light out of the childrens’ hands because they have forgotten what it is like to play.
Jesus is in the gay man’s joy and the little child’s belches and the running and running and the sun that seeps through the clouds while you lay on a picnic blanket letting its warmth touch your eyes in a way that screams more, more, more and we all know it but no one wants to say it. Jesus is not the reserved and refined man we thought he was, but he is the man that eats with drunkards and gamblers and all those the religious snidely deem ‘off limits.’ and he does not just sit in a corner and ‘associate’ with them…. like the church does with their token gay friend, secretly judging from behind protective religious cages…. but Jesus chooses them first. he engulfs himself in them, throwing himself into their experiences, feeling their joy, eating their food, perhaps laughing too much and filling with affection at every turn. he sees the shock on his friend’s faces when they understand that their long awaited messiah chose to define himself not as an unemotional, disconnected man who loved rules and black and whites and ‘that’s enough’ and ‘try harders’ and ‘stop doing this’, but defined himself instead by loving fiercely in the gray, by saying ‘it’s enough’ ‘you can have more joy. more good. more love. more than this,’ by stirring up trouble where he knew trouble was needed, by holding the hand of the dying in the dirt filled corner, holding their filth and weeping into their shoulder as he saw the affects of poverty, of prejudice, of suicide, of brokenness, of rule bent religion, the affects of the hatred that had seeped into a world that had forgotten how to love and protect one another.
and gosh darn it. i don’t want to follow the man in the corner of the church, so intent on wrongs and rights that he does not see the people beside him. i tried that man and his edges were not able to cover all of the pain that stretches just too far, his shallowness not able to reach the deepness of heartbreak that runs just too deep. i want to follow the man in the bar, roaring with laughter with his arm thrown around his brother, speaking radical grace, radiating love and light and joy and full of so much abundant life that covers our deep pain with his tenderness.
and do my thoughts go too far? a lot of people will probably think so. but i think Jesus went too far for us and i’m done believing in the culture-created Jesus that never goes far enough to actually cover the darkness and evil and filth and pulsing hatred and sadness and outright sobs of the world. I am learning that he does go far enough, and I will go farther with him too, far enough to cover this darkness with his glorious, unabashed, wound healing, hate destroying laughter of love.
once upon a time.
we were all children. beautiful and unfiltered, bold and untainted. we ran through meadows without shoes, we kissed frogs, and laughed at nothing, we marveled at little moments…not understanding what the big picture of anything was. we hugged whoever we wanted, we let our hair tangle and our voice go hoarse and we loved. my, how we loved. we loved without question, seeing beauty in all and letting our little hearts fill the spaces and holes and brokenness of others.
and then we thought we woke up.
we suddenly snapped out of something. the colors of the world suddenly went gray. we stopped marveling, stopped wondering, stopped doing things merely for the sake of making our eyes light up. we looked at the big picture now. and the big picture painted ugliness over our lives. we tried to love, but only saw cracks, and pain, oozing, and filth. when we could not love others, we looked to ourselves and tried the simple task of liking our own hearts, something that once came easy and freely. we could not do it. we destroyed ourselves, ripping our own heart to shreds. we were left broken and convinced that our childlike life was a mirage, a mere time built from the hopes of our imagination, of our rose colored glasses, a time good only because we could not see the truth. and this truth is that life is ugly, filthy, dirty, and dark. we thought we found the truth and this false truth enslaved us.
and then……we wake up.
truth. it’s a glimpse. one night, you’re deep in work on your computer, worry line crinkled between your eyes, fear rooted deep in your heart. suddenly, your husband grabs your hand and whispers in your ear. he wants to go night swimming. something you haven’t done in years. you hem and haw and you whine about work being left undone. but he carries you to the lake anyway. you know it’s freezing, but he makes you count to three and you both cannonball.
it’s a glimpse.
as you emerge from the icy water, life swings into place again. you gaze at the stars and feel the cold seep into your bones and look at your sweetheart through eyelashes of teardrops and lake water. the big picture can wait. there is only now. there is beauty. and every second is a lifetime and every person is made for love. the gray has passed away and the night is not black, but shades of purple, and blue, and made up of a glorious light that can only be seen when the night is there to reveal it. our childlike wonder grew scabbed over with darkness. but darkness cannot put it out. the light will creep through. this night. more nights. it will creep through until you break, and you will wonder why you break and why you hurt and why you know there is more, but it is because beauty is growing again, stronger than the first time and with an understanding of what it costs.
you were a child once. but then you knew darkness. and darkness taught you the freedom of light. and then you were a child once more, living in the truth of darkness defeated.
I remember that, as a child, I was so confident in who I was. So sure of my purpose. So utterly okay with myself, so much so that I would do crazy things, things like speaking, things like traveling, things like writing. I was fearless in the best possible way.
But over the last few years, fearlessness was lost. I have spent the last three years desperately trying to find it again. Trying to figure out if it was just a mirage childhood paints over each of us, or if it was truly a quality my creator endowed into my spirit. As I searched and prayed for this quality again, I tried to understand how I lost it. What had severed my connection with the bravery of having an understood identity? This is the conclusion I have come to:
Fearlessness was lost when I started associating who I am with where I measured against other people.
Comparisons were sucking the life right out of me.
As I grew into an adult, I taught my heart ever so subconsciously that other people were doing bigger, better, grander things and gosh darn it, if I couldn't top it, my life was pretty much a big fat failure.
I became a comparison junky. I stopped placing my identity in the person God had called me to be, and started placing it in the fact that people were out to overshadow my success. When we do this, other people become a threat to us and we slowly start to lose our sense of purpose.
You might not struggle with this....but in a world of social media craziness....it's kind of hard not to. We get bombarded with people's "best" 24/7, and for a person who struggles with perfectionism, I set a standard over my life that is impossible to fulfill. And when I can't fulfill it, I get mad, I get fearful, and I get lost.
Some ways to tell if you're stuck in comparisons?
1. People who compare become upset at other people's success.
You might not understand why. Your head might even know it's wrong, but your heart can't help but to feel twinges of misery when you see someone's amazing Instagram pictures, or FB statuses, or awesome tweets. It's the "ugh" feeling of.....'cool for them, but why not me?" You might not be visibly or actively wishing for their demise, but your heart is not rooting for them. This is dangerous, because God does call us to root for other people. We are called to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength AND love others. There in and of itself lies hints of our identity and our purpose. If we aren't rooting for other people, half of our identity is lost. When half your identity is lost, you're going to be walking around wondering why you have no joy, why you have no strength, why you have no fearlessness.
2. People who compare are not willing to give credit to others.
Let's face it. You work hard. Really hard. And when someone compliments you, it feels good. It gives you a sense of self assurance, a sense of worth, a sense of satisfaction. What happens when someone compliments someone else for something you might have had a part in? That can be really rough. Those moments are when I learn the most about my character. Along those same lines, are you actively looking for ways to point to others, to honor others, to give credit to how they've attributed to your wins? Hey look, if we aren't willing to admit that others had a part in our success, we will lose every time. If you don't pay honor to those who helped build your success you might get ahead, but you are also going to go horribly and utterly alone.
3. People who compare place themselves in circle of friends where they can be the top dog/the smartest/the best, rather than aligning themselves with people that can teach them, grow them, and have gone before them.
When you suffer from the comparison game, you often position yourself for the short term win. And when I say 'short term win,' I mean that you position yourself to win a small footrace, rather than training for the Olympics. I love a quote from John Maxwell that says something along the lines of, "if you're at the top of your class, you're probably in the wrong class." It can be scary moving to a new class where everyone is more experienced, more intelligent, and wiser than you. Don't let it threaten you. You will grow more than ever before and growth will lead you to purpose. You were meant to run in the Olympics, so stop running that silly footrace.
4. People who compare suffer from discouragement, exhaustion, and the feeling of always wanting to give up.
It's because you are running the wrong race that secretly goes in a circle. When we compare, we run the race of accomplishment, a race that goes nowhere. But we are called to run the race of purpose. A life ran toward purpose understands that no other person is in their race. Hoping for another’s success does not diminish your own success, just like insulting another’s success does not increase your own. We are called to a purpose that no one else can fulfill. It might take us quite a while to run it, but that's okay. When you're running toward purpose and you know that everyone's rooting for you [not competing against you] running hard becomes a whole lot easier (and more fun too!). If you can understand this, you'll be confident in your steps. Sure in your stride. Understanding of your identity.
Nothing illustrates a life lead with purpose like the life of John the Baptist. Called from a young age to be the forerunner of Jesus, proclaiming his name and preparing hearts for his grace, it could have been pretty easy for John the Baptist to become jealous and give up his purpose. He had a pretty good thing going with publicity and crowds and all that jazz.....and then Jesus came on the scene and John's ministry got smaller and seemingly less awesome. How would we have reacted to something like this? Someone taking our name, taking our crowds, taking our ministry, our position? The little fame we've got going on through Twitter already has us freaking out.......so how would we have dealt with John's situation?
You see, John knew his true purpose. He just keeps pointing to Jesus. He actually says "He must increase, but I must decrease." Holy mackeral, can I just have this quality please?? How do we start to attain the sense of destiny and humility that John the Baptist has? Here are a few quick things I've noticed about John the Baptist that are helping me deal with comparisons in my own life:
1. John the Baptist never stops giving honor where honor is due.
John knows who gave him the word to preach and he attributes none of it to himself. If it's not his, he can never lose it. Eternal destiny can never be taken from us. God gave him his gifting and John points it all right back to him. John never compares himself to others or to Jesus, John knows exactly who he is and what he's there for, and that is enough. Let's give honor to Jesus for what he's given us and then honor those around us who have been part of our success.
2. John the Baptist knows his purpose and his purpose is to point to Jesus' success.
His purpose is to make the way for Jesus coming after him. His purpose rested solely on the lifting up of another. Is that not what we are called to do on this Earth? Can we start to position ourselves to point to Jesus and point to others.....and stop always jumping up and down, yelling "me! me! me!"?
3. John the Baptist was bold, John the Baptist knew he had a unique message, John the Baptist was fearless.
The above two points allow us to be bold and from this boldness, we will reap joy and fulfillment. You know why John could afford to be so bold? Because he gave honor where it was due and he knew what his purpose was. John wasn't afraid of another's success, because he knew that within that person's success was his destiny. John positioned himself to point to God and to point to others...... and this yielded boldness. Out of this boldness comes joy and fulfillment, worth and fearlessness.
As we each discover what our purpose is, we must understand that at the core of it all lies our calling to love God and love others. If our lives do not exemplify this, we have missed our purpose. When we love God and root for one another, we free ourselves from the threat of comparisons. Fearfulness will cease and we will begin to live a life of growth, joy, and of purpose.
As I grow up, I find myself wishing so hard to be a child again. As I age, my personality traits become more extreme: workaholic, driven, obsessive, perfectionist. Traits that can certainly be given as a blessing, but can be used as a curse if I am not careful. And with my drivenness comes another repercussion that I knew not when I was young: anxiety & fear.
As a child, I was carefree and so in love with Jesus. So unhindered by the things of the world, because I was not forced to truly live in the world. But as we become adults, living in this world becomes important and we begin to find our place in society….often taking on the traits that society breeds.
I have found that the more driven I become, the more anxious I am. Lately, I have struggled with this more than ever. I manage a lot of people within my company and we are growing, so there is always something to fix. It could be 10pm at night and I could be watching a movie with Ryan, but still I feel this urge within me to forever check my email, to forever fix things, to answer asks, to keep working because something in me finds false value in that.
And when I do these things, I am very vulnerable to Satan’s attacks because I am not working out of a balanced overflow of God’s rest in my life. He attacks me by using anxiety - a feeling that causes us to have no hope for the future and to wish the certain event we are fearing to be over. But if I were to haveanxiety over multiple things - my job, my tumblr, my lack of organization.... am I not just wishing all of these things away? Hoping they will all be over so I don’t have to feel fear anymore? What sadness to wish your life away because of fear.
Anxiousness can be at the root of many problems. It can cause you to act in ways that are normally not yourself, because really you are just reacting out of fear that is rooted deep in your life.
As I was reading the word the other day, I came across a verse that I hadn’t noticed before. In John 16, Jesus is speaking to his disciples about his death and how they will experience great sadness……but there will come a time after his resurrection when it changes. In verse 22 he says that after his resurrection, "no one will take your joy away.”
This verse is rich with implication that there is a permanent joy that will come after Christ’s resurrection. This will happen when they are given the gift of the Holy Spirit. Reading this verse was a little lightbulb for me. So often I justify my anxiousness as just the suffering of what it means to live on earth. I really can lie to myself and forget that I truly have control over the way fear sucks the joy right out of me. I should be fighting for that joy.
What Jesus is saying in this verse is that a time is now here where we can always have hope….because the essence of hope lives inside of us now as the Holy Spirit. So when sin comes and sadness comes, your permanent joy should well up inside of you.
This is crazy amazing to me.
I have joy living inside of me, etched into my DNA, hoping always, living wildly free in the love of my savior.
But how do I access this joy? When I get over-obsessive about my job, or worried about how pointless I feel my situation is, it is easy to build a cage around my mind, almost protecting these anxious thoughts….because sin feeds off of it. How do we break that cage down and allow the joy that is within us to bubble over?
Some things that God’s really been teaching me lately are these three things:
1. Thanksgiving changes things.
When I stop worrying about my worry problem and just start thanking God for stuff in instead…..my heart changes.
Philippians 4:6-7 says "Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”
It can be a cliche verse in the Christian world, but this verse seriously holds the key to setting me, and perhaps you, free to lead a life that is etched with permanent joy. How do we not worry about anything? We pray. How do we pray? With thanksgiving.
We see Jesus demonstrate this time and time again. When he spoke with his Father his prayers were rich with thanksgiving. This thanksgiving is what changes our hearts. It breaks the stone away until our heart becomes flesh again.
When I allow fear and anxiety to creep into my life, I can almost feel my heart become stone. I do not want to pray. I don’t really care about anything except myself. I can scream and cry and beg for change in my life, but my own heart only really changes when I stop yelling thousands and thousands of words and just utter the small phrase in my hoarse voice - ‘thank you.’
Thanksgiving allows the flood gates to open and it gives you a vision and a hope for your future. Thanksgiving through prayer allows the peace of God to guard your heart and your mind. It will destroy the fear that tries to creep in and it will allow the permanent joy, which is given to you by the Spirit, to flourish.
I challenge you to take a week and just thank God. Worship him for what he is done in your life. I guarantee that you will be so busy noticing the beautiful things God’s given you in your life that you will start to forget how to be anxious.
2. Rest changes things.
This is a discipline. This is hard. In our culture we are taught that rest = lazy. We are one of the most overworked cultures of the world and our media and our technology is teaching us that we don’t ever have to turn off.
This is so hurtful to our hearts. I have felt the effects of this in my life and it has wreaked havoc. I bounce from work task to work task, getting more done than most and priding myself on it. When I get home, I run to the gym. Then, I get on my tumblr, I answer asks and write blogs and stay busy. Even when Ryan comes home and wants to rest, I often need to find something to do while just sitting on the couch. I play with my phone. I check my Facebook. And our culture glorifies this trait as the mark of a well put together and successful woman. But this causes destruction. If your success does not yield growth, joy, and the presence of God in your life.....it is not success.
God himself taught us in the beginning of Genesis that rest is important. Not just physical rest, but mental rest too. The battle is all in the spiritual world, so shouldn’t we think it was important to rest our hearts and our minds as well?
Hebrews 4:9-11 says, "There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His. Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience.”
Without rest, we fall into disobedience. Why? Because we do not have time to be in God’s presence, to let our hearts heal and refresh, and to refocus our hearts on the hope and permanent joy that the Spirit has put within us.
The idea of rest means that you take time away from your job, from technology, from busyness, and you allow Jesus to heal your heart.
As I put up structure in my life for this, I have decided to only work 5 days a week. On Saturday, I try to take that day as a day of rest. I go read a book. I go on a hike and pray. I do something my heart loves that is away from media, technology, phones, work, emails, and I just allow my heart to be a child again. On Sunday, I give that day back to the Lord as a day to serve and thank him for what he has done for me. (and I have accountability in my life to make sure I keep doing this....it's way too easy to try to go back to being busy just to be busy!)
With this implemented in my life, my heart feels more childlike than ever before. I can work hard through out the week without fear, without exhaustion, without the idea that I am drowning, and I can rest assured that Saturday is a day where I will be a little kid again, where my heart will be ministered to by the Spirit and my permanent joy will rise, giving me strength for the week ahead.
3. His presence changes thing.
In Psalm 16:11 it says, "You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”
In Jesus’ presence there is fullness of joy. When we allow for rest, we are able to also rest in his presence. He is then able to show us who we really are. This life is one reality. But there is a whole other reality, the true reality, of who we are really called to be in the spiritual. As we enter into thanksgiving and we implement rest, we need to learn to just stay in his presence…..because that's where we will see who we were meant to be and the hope that is to come for us. This will always well up a permanent joy inside of us, as our perspective will change and our hearts will begin to see the freedom we were called to walk in.
Faced with the life that the world presents to us, fear and anxiety and worry are normal things, things that any hard-working person should have to deal with. Right? I don’t think so anymore.
As I begin allowing thanksgiving to become a lifestyle, as I begin to take time to rest and be the child I used to be, as I take time to just be with Jesus and allow him to speak to my heart……there I find fullness of joy. The joy he talked about with his disciples. The kind of joy that stems from hope that is from his grace. That joy no one, no man or spiritual force, can ever, ever, ever take away from me.
Love bears all things.
the most beautiful words of the chapter, not because they make me feel good, but because they show me a truth that i need to be forever reminded of. in times of need, in times of anger, in times of rage, these words are glanced over. my heart refusing to understand the pain it will have to go through to carry this command out, the self i will have to give up.
love is not to feel good. or beautiful. or whole. or romantic. love is not just pretty country weddings. handwritten vows. love is not rosy flowers, intimate love making, many children, or years of commitment. pieces are found in these things, but they are not the full story. love is not all for me. love is to bear. love is to fight. love is to hold another up no matter the cost. love is to wrap wounds. to take poison out. to see the bleeding, ragged, oozing flesh and to find the maker's beauty somewhere inside.
we’re driving in the car and holding hands. ryan makes a comment about how much money we made that week. i withdraw my hand and snap something ugly, ugly words to wound. because that is what i seem to do best.
his next words break me. “you know I am for you….right? I am for you. Any comment I ever make is never aimed to hurt your heart. I am for you, I will fight for your happiness, even in small things. You never seem to believe it. Please believe it."
love bears all things. he bears all things. he is teaching me how. his heart shows me Jesus’ heart. his heart shows me all i need to know about this little scripture, this Pauline thought, this command that is full of grace. thousands of years ago, another man showed me the way i should love. He saw my rotting flesh and never blinked. He walked toward me, ignoring the stench, the eyesore I was, formed from a badly distorted image of Him, twisted by an evilness that grew from the garden.
i gave off serpent smell. but He came toward me anyway. He lay at my feet and sobbed. He whispered to me, before i was even made pure, and He said “I am for you. I am for you. I am for you. I will bear this." to the disgust of the so-called "pure ones", he touched my wounds, making himself impure, completely dirty by my disease, He let the filth drip onto His own skin. and with His touch, my skin was white. He bore me. the weight of my wounds. He held me up while i was still sinking down into the serpent’s home.
it is the serpent’s lie that twists Ryan’s words in my ear. it is the serpent’s lie that does not allow me to believe someone would hold me even with my wounds. but I must believe it. everything hinges on this.
Ryan grasps my hand, tears in his eyes, and begs me to hear him. His fingers find my wet lashes and a head lowered in shame. I am for you. I am for you. I am for you. I will bear your weight. I will fight for you. His words soak into me, music that grows because it is truth. you cannot silence truth that is spoken aloud.
He is for me. my savior first, and He is the one who taught Ryan the way of this grace. the most beautiful knowledge in the world. my wounds will never overtake me. love is to bear wounds. love is to bear sin. not to shield this sin, but to instead shield the sinner. because Jesus did. He took its weight. Jesus is teaching me. Ryan is teaching me. and I understand. our love is not for soft kisses, midnight snuggles, whispered ‘i love yous,’ though those things are there to show love in other ways. but our love is first to show Jesus. and Jesus was a wound dresser, a sin bearer, a shame taker, a shield against enemy fire, a heart healer.
marriage is for ryan to bear my brokenness and to take me to Jesus.
marriage is for me to bear ryan’s brokenness and take him to Jesus.
one of my favorites lines to the church of Corinth. love bears all things. i have received a beautiful lifetime to practice what my savior did for me. in grace, i can bear all things, because it was first done for me.
i remember as a little girl being so disgusted with grown ups that settled down and got married, thinking that it was the epitome of surrender, the white flag of youth. i vowed to be peter pan always and to never grow up.
but then i found you. and to marry you was to become your tiger lilly. and to settle down was to build our tree house. and for the rest of our days we will fight pirates and mermaids, we will perfect our cock crows and our fencing skills, we will find the lost boys and we will care for them. to be with you is to never grow old. to be with you is to grow young again and to have someone holding my hand into the greatest of all adventures.
i will love you through the muck and darkness of your sin. and you will love me through the disfigurements that human life has gifted to me. and perhaps the most beautiful thing of all is the fact that we can look at each other, covered in mud and filth, and see Jesus shining through. i love you because i love him.
Hey, friend! I'm Chelsie!
Stay a while and get comfy. <3