when hope gets lost

i think there is an expectation* that a retreat or missions trip creates a spiritual high that returns with you and lingers for a few days post trip.

and while i had long let go of that expectation, i find myself curious at an opposite effect happening post-lake champion. instead of feeling spiritually high, i am feeling spiritually turned off. starting saturday night it’s like i keep hearing these thoughts to just leave the faith, just quit. and tonight at small group, the topic of suicide came up a few different times and instead of being shocked and grieved, i related.

i don’t want to call this a spiritual attack, out of fear or over-spiritualising things, but i don’t want to ignore that as a possibility for my recent hopelessness and relapse into depression.

i know i’ve been disassociated from life lately. i’m trying, i really am. it’s just hard when hope gets lost.

 

*i have long loved and personally subscribe to the following two pithy statements: “expect the worst, hope for the best, and accept whatever happens;” & “expectations breed resentments.”

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// i know what it feels like…

written: 11 December 2012; based upon a dream i had had that previous night. posting it now because i had a similar dream the night before last. 

Her knees had healing scrapes and she wore a guarded smile. I don’t know what I said to get her attention, but she sat down on the curb and looked me in the eyes. I am you, at age twenty-two. Her eyes widened, but I could tell that she believed me. Children are impressive that way, at eleven she accepted the statement that I still had trouble believing. But then again, I had just spend time talking to our six year old self so maybe this wasn’t too bizarre. I took my younger self by the hands and asked if everything was okay. My twenty-two year old memory was hazy when it thought back to this eleven year old sitting in front of me. She looked me in the eyes and then down at the pavement. There was a secret too great for words. We let it be a mystery and I felt the words rise up in my throat and come out flowing, “please talk about it darling. It will save you so much heartache if you open yourself up to someone and let this secret out.”

It was a strange thing, these words that seemed to flow from the depths of my heart. The same strange feeling had come through my voice when I told my six year old self that I loved her and let down my hair to let her see that she would be beautiful someday. I whispered that she was loved and treasured.

But back to the eleven year old in front of me. She let her backpack fall over in the grass next to her and studied me carefully. For whatever odd reason she didn’t ask me any questions about her future, but only waiting silently for me to continue. I helped her stand up and led her down the hill to the playground. In my mind I wanted to show her the spinning swing, but I had forgotten that it was a modern design and did not exist for her eleven year old self. But then something magical had occurred and the playground looked like the playground of my college years.

We spun and we laughed and slowly my eleven year old began to blossom. Her smiled stretched across her face and I felt my heart healing inside my own chest. This is what freedom feels like. We nurture the child and tell her that it will be okay. We reach into her and show her that she is beautiful. My eleven year old self looks at me and we are both dizzy as we saunter over to the grass and collapse, staring up at the blue sky and white clouds. She tells me the scientific name for these particular clouds while I point out their shapes. I have long forgotten this middle school knowledge. We laugh and the world spins all around us. Little me looks at me and whispers, “I know what it feels like to be the fly trapped in the spider’s web.”

I whisper back, “I know what it feels like to be the caged bird.”

It’s silly code but we understand each other and I am proud of her for breaking the silence. I take her hand and we lay in the grass until the clouds directly above us move to the corner of the sky. Soon I will have to go, but first I work on middle school math problems and kiss her good-bye with a promise that she is free. Somehow I know she will have a surreal experience very soon of our Creator and his vast love.

names.

do you ever feel like your name is not your own? when someone calls you, it takes a moment to realize they are talking to you. when you hear your name spoken, there is no connection. when it comes out of your mouth, it tastes wrong. it’s a pretty name, but it’s not your name.

i’ve changed my name several times over the years* (on social media, because that’s where i was free and able to, free and able to create my authentic/ideal self).

names are weird. they identify us, but do they really? it’s a label given to us before we are who we are. what if we don’t like our name? what if it tastes weird on our tongue? what do you do?

long story short: names are hard. i am really drawn to the name eden. emmy is nice too, but that’s the name of my inner child/younger self. i don’t know who i am anymore (i don’t think i ever did).

*names i’ve used with the most longevity: hallelujah/hally, remy, sophia/sofia (middle name).

also, i’ve been really drawn to the name emmy/emi, but that is the name of my inner child/younger self. i’ve also been drawn to the name eden.

// i am.

written: monday 09 february 2015 @ 9:41pm

i am peach pits and wildflowers that didn’t bloom. i am seeds that people neglected to water. i grew anyway, but i grew crooked and wretched. i am much-afraid. i am a cracked vessel. i am a bruised apple. i am the scritch-scratchy tongue of a wild cat. i am untouched colouring books. i am blue and purple and turquoise crayons. i am the woman at the well. i am the girl who used to see faeries and angels. i am the girl who used to dance. i am flowing skirts and steaming mugs of hot tea. i am still deciding which fig looks the sweetest. i am confused. i was born upside down and i never got turned around. i am easily corrupted. i am breaking free. i am losing. i am gaining. i am learning. i am sunrises. i am i am i am.

who am i?

come up leaning on your beloved

written circa march 2013

Will you help me elicit the words you have given me, allow them to come out from their corners in the delicate hiding places of my mind? They are shy, the words I must write. This is why we whisper, so as not to frighten the syllables that have come to play. Did you know that they are a timid bunch? A harsh ‘shush’ condemns while a willowy ‘shhhh’ sounds like the sea and brings healing calm.

Words in themselves are just a combination of syllables, morphemes and graphemes, it’s the way we draw them forth that gives them meaning. Deepest meaning comes from the heart of the Author and everything else is translation.

Breathe in, breathe out. Sink down into the clouds and let the Word come to you. Be still, darling. I know it gets crowded in your head and the slow motion is just a hallucination for really things are spinning faster than a carnival ride and you just want it to stop.

So you break open the flesh, hoping another outlet will slow down the speech and it does, but it has the dreadful side effect of leaving scars and bringing forth the melancholy. It is a false promise beloved. It promises peace, but brings fear and a need for more, more thoughts instead of the Word of comfort and hope.

I am who I am and I have called you healed. My mercies are new each and every morning and I touch my own scarred places to your heart wounds and it’s warm here, healing balm for your spirit. My blood was shed. My blood is sufficient. I have transfused my blood to you, redemption.

You are set free. Let the words come out of their scared places and testify. Your words are now washed and I love when you whisper your story because you speak Truth about what I have done and that helps heal the souls of the world. I am using your talents darling-one. You are a penholder in my story, give glory to the One who was pierced, the One who writes, the One who unfolds. I breathe my words into you by the very Word and I have redeemed you from the depths of Sheol.

Come up, arise little one. Talitha Cumi. Come up learning on your beloved.

trust falls

written circa march 2013
and so so so relevant still.

I remember trust falls in 6th grade up at our school’s retreat center. I remember revisiting them again when they gathered all of us awkward freshman into the gym for Peer Leaders – a sorry excuse to miss gym for bonding with our classmates and learning how to trust and rely on one another.

Those moments when the group leader announced trust falls I’d feel my skin go cold and clammy. My head would start to spin in six different directions: from “I want to do this, to test and see if they’ll catch me” to “I don’t want to do this; I can’t, I can’t, I can’t.” Standing in the old gym I’d slink to the back of the crowd and appear composed when inside I was weeping and screaming and falling apart.

I never did trust falls, at any time. I tried them when I was alone though. To see if I could trust myself at first, then to see if I could trust God. I’d stand on my chair, or I’d lift myself onto my tiptoes on the diving board facing the wrong way. I’d give myself permission to fall. I’d start letting go, but always I’d catch myself. Never let myself truly go. I always had the soft bed to land on, the knowledge that I could stop the falling and jump up if things got to scary. Surrender was in my vocabulary, but it wasn’t in my heart.

No one will catch me, I reasoned. So after these experiments (that sometimes I still conduct) I vowed to always have a safety net. Keep this much money in the bank and don’t dip below the magic number, stop after this and that, don’t get too close to people, remember to push them away. Don’t ever let anyone in fully. I got so good at locking the whole truth away, that I forgot who I was myself. If you’re going to jump, make sure you installed the net yourself.

Recently God has been revealing to me the closed-fisted, heart walled up girl that I still am. The girl who would rather be alone and figure everything out then just take things day-by-day, the girl who wants to drive the shard of broken glass down her arm after being in community. God, in his divine perfection pointed out to me – with all the bluntness of the Almighty – that I have a problem with control. I want to be in control always. When I am not in control I despair, I cry, I run. Through the compassionate words of a friend and the letters strung together in the Word, and then again in the book I am currently reading God has shown me just how my need for control is keeping me stuck, is keeping me in the pit, is keeping me from being a true disciple and member of the body of Christ.

But, may I ask… how do you let go of control? How do you learn to surrender fully? The Word says, in numerous places, that God is trustworthy… so why do I still hesitate when there is not safety net – that I know about? Will I one day be able to trust fall into the arms of the one who created the universe, the one with nail scarred hands and arms wide open?

Help me oh Heavenly Father, to know true peace in full surrender.

holes to holy

written circa february 2013

My Sunday-school classroom has a toy where you put shapes into their respective holes. The red square goes in the square hole, the pink triangle into the triangle-shaped hole. The kids all love this toy and enjoy figuring out which hole is the key to getting their piece inside the box.

As I have come to see, these children may just be teaching me more that I am teaching them. God is showing me more through them than the other way around, as I had once believed. As I watch each child struggle to put the diamond into the rectangular or the oval hole I am reminded of how I have tried to put this or than into my own empty spaces. As I see the delight on these precious little faces as they match the hole to the correct shape I am reminded of my Savior’s face when I allow Him to remove the poison I’d been filling myself with and allow what really belongs there – his own substance – to flood my being.

We all have holes. They are in different places and are different sizes, but nonetheless they are all places where we lack. We try to fill them will different things, but in the end our unique holes all need the same thing: the grace-driven love of Jesus Christ, his substance, his blood, his unique, tender, healing touch.

Two summers ago when my mom developed MRSA from a spider bite she only discovered this virus by a gaping hole that opened up on the back of her knee. To me, this is what I think of when I think of my own holes. Different places in my body, different areas on my heart, have these open sores and deep caverns. They weep, the bleed, and they hurt; and I try to fill them with stuff. I have tried to fill my holes with the touch and approval of naked men, with anything that money can buy, with knowledge, with alcohol, with food, to heal them by starving myself and hoping they’d disappear. I stick my finger inside these open wounds just to feel alive and see my hands covered in blood. But my blood doesn’t heal, it can only clot. All I was doing was further infecting what I would be unable to heal on my own.

I need the antiseptic of Jesus’ blood to cleanse me. I need the image of Jesus on that cross – taking my sin and shame upon himself – to remember who and who alone heals and fills. When I tried to fix myself on my own I just gave myself more holes and a worsening infection. The holes opened and oozed. But when I finally came to Jesus, saw how the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had been pursuing me, my holes were cleansed and slowly they were filled in with what is holy. What once nearly killed me became bruises – battle scars to remind me of where I have been and marks to show others that I am not perfect but continually being restored and made whole in Christ alone. Soli Deo Gloria.

We all have our holes. We all have our bruises and scares. We all have a story. Let the master craftsman in. We will all be limping to the table of eternal feasting and grace, and it’s okay. We carry our bruises in different places, but only as a reminder to what once was and what Christ has done. Where are your holes and how have you tried filling them? Do you know how much God loves you and wants to be The Great Physician to heal your wounds?