- by trusting You with my unknown, i am actually just submitting to what You can see. all the things that scare me about the unknown are already known by You.
- Your goodness binds my wandering heart to You. not Your anger, not Your condemnation, not Your judgment, not Your disappointment. but Your goodness.
- my mantra when thinking about grad school this week: keep your eyes open, hold tight to your convictions, give it all you’ve got, be resolute, and love without stopping. [1 Cor 16: 13-14]
There’s no comparison between the present hard times and the coming good times. The created world itself can hardly wait for what’s coming next.
Just think what God’s gift poured through one man, Jesus Christ, will do! There’s no comparison between that death-dealing sin and this generous, life-giving gift. The verdict on that one sin was the death sentence; the verdict on the many sins that followed was this wonderful life sentence.
All sin can do is threaten us with death, and that’s the end of it. Grace, because God is putting everything together again through the Messiah, invites us into life – a life that goes on and on and on – world without end.
now that school has started, all the studying i’m doing to make up for the studying i didn’t do in undergrad is forcing me to sit for hours at a time.
and it’s good because i get to think and process. i’m learning for the first time what it means to allow what i’m thinking and feeling to fully sink in instead of rushing to slap bandaids over anything i think i shouldn’t be feeling. this slower pace of life makes it easier to sort out the junk in my head and heart that isn’t truth or life-giving. it opens up space for His voice to be heard.
it seems like every week i get a new song from Him. this week’s song:
If I told you this was only gonna hurt
If I warned you that the fire’s gonna burn
Would you walk in?
Would you let me do it first?
Do it all in the name of love
Would you let me lead you even when you’re blind?
In the darkness, in the middle of the night
In the silence, when there’s no one by your side
Would you call in the name of love?
If I told you we could bathe in all the lights
Would you rise up, come and meet me in the sky?
Would you trust me when you’re jumping from the heights?
Would you fall in the name of love?
When there’s madness, when there’s poison in your head
When the sadness leaves you broken in your bed
I will hold you in the depths of your despair
And it’s all in the name of love
I wanna testify
Scream in the holy light
You bring me back to life
And it’s all in the name of love
and just like each of the other songs He’s given me this summer, this has been what my soul needed, just at the right time.
three months ago, i wouldn’t have dreamed of being okay with where i am emotionally today. i was obsessed with being carefree and happy and in control of where my heart went. subconsciously making myself believe i was always okay made life efficient and easy. i couldn’t imagine anything other than waking up knowing i could tackle the day ahead of me, just like i did yesterday and just like i would tomorrow. i judged others who didn’t operate the same way i did because i was convinced my way was the best.
numbness was my good friend. i hadn’t felt pain in a long time. and from what i remembered, pain was an outside evil to be avoided, not a feeling that crushed from within when no one else was watching. the heart is pretty dang good at protecting itself – so good that, before you know it, you don’t realize you’ve shut out everything that could ever hurt you, including the good things that must happen in order for your heart to come alive.
since he broke things off a few months ago, i feel like the physical heart that’s sitting inside of my chest has expanded by 3 inches all around. when i’m sad, it pushes against my sternum. when i’m aching, it suddenly gains 10 pounds and weighs like a ton of bricks on top of everything else inside me. when something happens that resonates deep within, my heart starts pumping blood faster and i feel it begin to throb frantically.
but the thing is, never in my life have i felt more alive. through it all, He really has been bringing me back to life and He is more real to me than He’s ever been before. it’s a scary thing not to be god of how i am inside but i’m beginning to actually like it. when Christians talk about God’s destiny for your life and how His plans for you are better than your own, i’ve always tended to imagine giving up external parts of myself. dying to myself meant a different career path, wearing different clothes, relating to people differently. which can all be true, but it also means surrendering the internal.
and for me, that means letting go of trying to control how i feel (or don’t feel). trying to contain God in my head doesn’t cut it; He wants to move into my heart. the first step to freedom is coming to grips with the reality of your ugliness – but how was i to know how my soul was doing if i had no idea what was going on with it ever since i stuffed it 30 feet below ground twelve years ago?
but now. He wants to show me how to stop lying to my heart and teach me to trust what He wants to do with me. and because He is God and i am not, He’s got something for me that’s better than boxing myself up inside an emotional island.
God knew what He was doing from the very beginning. He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love him along the same lines as the life of His Son. The Son stands first in the line of humanity he restored. We see the original and intended shape of our lives there in him.
Have you ever come on anything quite like this extravagant generosity of God, this deep, deep wisdom? It’s way over our heads. We’ll never figure it out.
Is there anyone around who can explain God? Anyone smart enough to tell him what to do? Anyone who has done him such a huge favor that God has to ask his advice?
The Messiah puts everything right for those who trust him to do it.
Say the welcoming word to God – “Jesus is my Master” – doing in us what he did in raising Jesus from the dead. That’s it. You’re not “doing” anything; you’re simply calling out to God, trusting him to do it for you. That’s salvation.
it’s a weird thing for me to get to say, but: i kind of like this new way of doing things. it’s annoyingly uncomfortable at times, but it’s also freeing. you know how there are some things in life that make you think, wow that was totally supposed to happen because it just feels and looks right? well, this process of Jesus tuning my heart to look like His by leading me down a path of surrender feels right because it is right. my heart becoming whole is how it was intended to be. it’s a good feeling. it’s a great feeling.
Jesus, You are so good to me.
Can you imagine the breathtaking recovery life makes, sovereign life, in those who grasp with both hands this wildly extravagant life-gift, this grand setting-everything-right, that the one man Jesus Christ provides?
They’re holding on, not because of what they think they’re going to get out of it, but because they’re convinced of God’s grace and purpose in choosing them. If they were only thinking of their own immediate self-interest, they would have left long ago. The chosen ones of God were those who let God pursue his interest in them, and as a result received his stamp of legitimacy.
today was a good day for me. yesterday wasn’t so good, and neither was the day before it. it’s easier to find joy in what He says He’s doing within me on better days like this one, i know.
but Jesus – what i want is to be someone whose pursuit and ultimate reward are not your good gifts. i want to be a girl whose one desire is to be Yours and for You to be mine. when the brokenness inside me comes knocking, i want to be sitting up high with you. i want You to be my strong tower, my safe refuge, my green pasture. You, and not what You allow to happen to me. You, and not my circumstances, both external and internal. You, and not the memory of what was and the possibility of what could be.
You – because You and only You – are my beautiful inheritance.
Everything comes from him; Everything happens through him; Everything ends up in him.
Always glory. Always praise. Yes. Yes. Yes.
when you lose something you can’t replace
when you love someone but it goes to waste
when you’re too in love to let it go
if you never try you’ll never know
just what you’re worth
[fix you by coldplay]
just how many times do i have to let go until i don’t have to let go anymore?
yesterday i thought, the worst part about this is that i’m in the middle of a process. that being in this place means raw emotion, pain, and aches no one will ever truly understand except myself.
and yet. the best thing about this is also that this is a process. which means this is not the end. one day this will be over. the best is yet to come.
though You slay me
yet i will praise You
though You take from me
i will bless Your name
though You ruin me
still I will worship
sing a song to the one who’s all i need
-shane & shane
because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.
healing is a process. it’s a process that involves more than just a few ingredients. and sometimes it doesn’t look like carefully measuring out each cup and teaspoon before putting it into the oven to bake for 25 minutes at 400 degrees fahrenheit.
no, this healing thing is a slow cooker. for me, at least. inside, a bunch of random things are thrown together. anger before worship. then hurt mixed in with surrender. pride and impatience and disbelief seasoned with grace that leads to repentance and dependence on You. sitting in the sadness after realizing i was suppressing the pain for a little too long. it’s good days and then some bad. and then it’s me thinking i’m almost done with this all and ready to move on to the next thing before You and i discover the flavor’s really uneven in this one spot and we have to do this all over again.
it’s frustrating because it can feel lonely sometimes. because whatever’s happening is happening inside. no one else will know just what is taking place. no one else will understand just what i’m experiencing. as much as i can let others in on the next update and ask them to pick up the lid and add in a pinch of encouragement and a dash of prayer, it’s impossible for anyone to really see everything going on underneath the surface.
but You knew that, didn’t You. You knew that no one else would be able to see straight through into my pain, into my innermost thoughts and understand every second of each bittersweet memory. except You.
in the silence, in the noise, in the suffering, You want to cultivate an intimacy with me that teaches me what it means to be Yours and only Yours. to strip me of my self-sufficiency and inability to stop relying on myself. to show me how to align my heart so that it beats to the rhythm of Yours. You wait until i’m tired of talking, until i’m done telling You lies. You wait until the room is finally empty and all we’re left with is my broken heart and the sound of Your voice. until i’m ready to listen.
what’s next, Father? what then?
we dance, my child. we dance.
will it be worth it?
oh, so worth it.
payton still doesn’t know how to spell my name, sad.
control is a funny thing.
the older i get and the more i experience life, i learn that i have both more and less control over myself, other people, and the circumstances around us all.
i learn that i am a drop in the bucket, a vapor in the wind, a flower quickly fading, a grain of sand, a piece of the puzzle. who i am and everything i have is a complex combination of the attitudes, desires, decisions, mistakes, victories, struggles, joys, beginnings, and ends of a billion other forces in this universe we all exist in.
forces: my family, your family, your family’s family, your doctor, my old dentist, (thank God for) my new dentist, my kindergarten teacher, the U.S. army, the French army, the cash me ousside girl, Mila Kunis, my cousin’s hairdresser, the dangerous way shrubbery sometimes blocks your view when you’re trying to make a left turn, the dog park that forever stunk until the apartment complex finally decided to rip it up and turn that space into a patio, the administration of my university, the queen of Lebanon, the 1950s American ideology of the feminine mystique, the Great Pyramids of Giza, the tornadoes that wrecked houses and lives in North Texas last year, the amount my church collected from the offering last Sunday, the stranger who sat next to me at Starbucks this afternoon, the newest drug the FDA approved this morning, the weather, nature, time, animals, natural disasters, the stock market, Satan (yeah, he gets in the way sometimes), popular media, the government, the healthcare system, fashion trends, rich people, poor people, educated people, people who never finished the third grade, my future grandchildren, your great-grand uncle.
every moment you and i live in is, at the time that it happened, at the tail end of an infinitely long series of events made possible by a million gazillion trillion forces at work.
too many little forces to count.
they’re little, because there’s one big force holding them all together. cutting through the chaos, the good, the bad, the joys, the sorrows. making a story, painting a picture, growing a garden, healing the broken, redeeming the unredeemable, finding the lost, breaking every chain. this force is bigger than i can ever imagine, this force is bolder than i can ever hope for, this force is more alive and real than i often believe. this force is a person. my God. my Savior. my Friend. my Lord.
outside of time, my God makes the impossible possible and the possible impossible. He says i am finished but also, at the same time, a work in progress. He says i have nothing to offer but that my heart – as proud, twisted, selfish, and confused as it often is – brings him unspeakable measures of delight. He says to focus on the things that are above and to deny myself but He comes to my side and hears my every cry even before it escapes my mouth. He is concerned about big things. He is about changing the world and saving nations. But He stopped and sat next to me when i woke up in my bed yesterday and covered my face in my hands because my heart hurt. He held me in His arms when i sat at church later that morning, chest heavy from the ache i felt keenly inside. the ache of having to lose something, someone. the ache of knowing and having to accept a change in how you relate to me and i relate to you.
i didn’t expect you. i didn’t know there was more to you than the lanky, obnoxious grad student in my classes who didn’t know how to shut up. i had never really paid much attention to you. i thought i knew who you were, but i was wrong. i didn’t know you had a story, that you were different. i didn’t know you would see me and think that i was different. i couldn’t predict you would look past what everyone else saw when they looked at me–and see what made me, me. you were my biggest surprise.
i thought i knew what i was looking for. i had an image, albeit fuzzy, of what that was in my mind. you didn’t come anywhere close to fitting that description. and yet – i fell for you. i fell pretty hard. i fell in love with your heart.
your heart is strong, your heart is pure, your heart is humble. it is wise beyond its years but so hopeful and trusting almost to the point of innocence. it believes all things, hopes all things. it’s suffered much but refuses to close itself off to the one Force who can protect it best. your heart doesn’t believe in shortcuts and knows that true beauty is forged out of fire, out of the waiting, out of the testing, out of the prayers. your heart is beautiful.
you couldn’t understand why i “gave you a chance”, but i, on the other hand, found myself unable to resist you. you are rare. you are special. you are one in a million. you took my breath away. you stole my heart and then broke it for its first time.
i don’t know what the future holds. i don’t know if i will look back on this in two days, two years, or two decades and think this is the stupidest thing i’ve ever written and be ashamed. i don’t know if we will end up together or not. and i know you don’t know either. but He knows. He is, at this very moment, spinning together a million little forces on behalf of you, on behalf of me, on behalf of this world, on behalf of His glory. He asked me if i wanted to see His glory, and today i promised Him i did. and so i give up control. control over who and what you mean to me. control over my heart, over my emotions. i trust that He is good. i trust His ways are better. i trust that He cares for me just as He cares for you.
i trust that He’s doing a good work in you and that He’s doing a good work in me, too. remember how i said control was a funny thing? well here’s why: i control whether or not i let Him do that good work in me. i control my response to His grace and His mercy overflowing onto me. i control whether i will let Him lead me by gentle and still waters. i control if i will allow Him to show me something wonderful and bigger than i could ever imagine. it is my prayer that i allow Him to mold me into everything i was created to be – today, tomorrow, forever.
and wherever you are right now, i pray the same is true for you, too.