- wonder (bethel music + amanda cook)
- strong in grace (justin rizzo)
- shine (allyson prior + cory asbury)
- wedding dress (derek webb)
- mercy changes everything (ryan stevenson)
- fearless life (the surrendering)
- mercy (laura woodley osman)
- wallflower (laura woodley osman)
- what joy (sarah emerson)
burned out, bedraggled, and broken. these words speak my soul’s cry these past two months.
it was slow at first, the absorption of my life. they asked me to close the young infant room. nothing out of the ordinary. they liked my energy. they liked how i worked with the children. then they moved me to that room as lead teacher. okay, i’m flexible. i’m happy working with newborns-5. then they asked me to take over opening the young infant room, meaning a seven thirty am to six pm work day. okay, it’s temporary. i’ll do it. then some kids moved away and others moved up to the older infant room so they took my assistant. tl:dr i have been working eleven hour days (in a room with three little nine month olds by myself) for the past two and a half months and it is leaving me beyond tired.*
but more than that, there is trauma unhealed painted over by new wounds that are more pressing.
pressing. that’s a good word for it. life is pressing. pressing new memories onto old. pressing new wounds onto old. like stuffing layer after layer of stuff into a too small vessel. but it is no tourniquet.
the sting of failure. the inability to keep from doing what you know you should not. the constant questioning of whether what i struggle with, what i do, with who i am… is valid.
and is it not validation that we are all after? validation from others? from ourself? from God?
yet, when i [we?] receive little crumbs of validation, the words never sink in, it cannot be accepted. compliments are hard.
my old therapist constantly reminded me to “be kind to myself.” and i find her words coming back to me so often, yet i feel so unable to carry out what she so hoped for me.
what i do that seems like kindness is so often unkindness, a chasing after the wind, a filling of myself that will only be purged and punished later.
and God, oh, God, how i wish it were easier to have a relationship with you. and i know the fault lies entirely on my end of things (which does not help matters), but i am so easily swayed and confused. so uncertain of what real love looks like. so sceptical and so afraid to trust.
my identity is uncertain. my heart is numb. it is so easy to think in negatives and numbers. love and kindness and grace are such foreign concepts.
i vomit words because i don’t know what to write, what i need to write. and i promise i am not really this said and despondent (but then, sometimes i am?). i promise i can hold it together (but what if i don’t want to anymore?). i promise i won’t unload all my sob stories and junk onto you (but what if i need to?).
the quiet voice, the one i haven’t heard in many moons, whispers as i type: “stop trying to do this life in your own strength… that’s not how this works.”
and that old voice so true. it is always right. but to truly be submissive, to truly surrender? play acting is one thing. but in truth? in reality? that is terrifying and i am so scared of losing control. of what could and will happen. of letting others into deep and not running away. i left and i left and i cannot run from life forever.
i don’t know. life is hard. it is like playing a game but not having any instructions or rule book. life is a guessing game and i think i am losing.
*don’t get me wrong, i love my job and my kiddos. it’s just a lot right now. and sometimes i feel a bit burned out.
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.”
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?
as i continue to see these tragedies happen day in and day out, as i see and hear people damning, condemning, and speaking only evil on the internet and in real life, i am grieved. i am grieved for the lives cut short, for the people who are being wounded, for the people who are so filled with hate that they have no room for humility to see where they may be wrong.
and i am grieved in my own spirit that i have spoken angry words, that i have spoken things that were mean-spirited. i’m grieved that i have been part of the problem in my words and deeds.
this is my heart breaking for my actions. this is my heart breaking as i realize that i am the rich young ruler, and i no longer want to be. this is my heart breaking for the all the beings of the earth, human and non-human animal, who suffer and are mistreated.
and i want to say that i’m repenting of consumerism. i’m repenting of speaking hate (death). i’m repenting of talking more than listening.
from now on, i’m going to listen more than talk. i’m going to ask more questions. i’m going to give more than i get. i’m going to speak only life. i’m going to speak honestly and with integrity. i’m going to let Jesus be more and myself be less.
“i’m not who you think i am”, (what i really want to say), 11:11 hopes and wishes, a symphony of sound, abandoned buildings, accents, acoustic guitars, adventures&roadtrips, anthropology, apple blossoms, apple cider, aries, art, art journaling, autumn nights, awkwardness, baking, ballet flats, bedroom floors, being completely free, being silent, blood, blowing bubbles, books, broken people, bubbles, butterflies, calligraphy, cats, chai, cheesecake, chopsticks, christianity, coffee in the evenings, collar bones, coloured pencils, coloured sound, colouring books, comfort, compliments, control, correcting grammatical mistakes/spelling errors, crayons, creative writing, creativity, crisp autumn mornings, cupcakes, daisies&daffodils, daydreaming, digital photography, disposable cameras, dreamcatchers, dreams, ducks, extra large mugs, fairy lights, feathers, feeling dizzy, figuring things out, film photography, fingers stained with ink, flowering trees, fluffy clouds, foreign languages, foreign places, forests filled with magic, fresh smoothies, getting lost in novels, god, grass stains, gratitude, green tea, grey, gypsies, handwriting, hazy summer evenings, hip bones, hyacinths, icicles, imaginary friends, imagination, inspiration, instrumental music, introverted souls, jesus, journals, la langue française, lace, laughing, laying in the grass, listening to other people tell their story, lomography, long car rides, long walks, love, lowercase letters, luna lovegood, marvelous things, matcha, mental disorders, meringue, mist, mix tapes, music, new york city, old diaries, old photos, ophelia, organising, paper birds, passenger seats, penpals, perusing bookstores for hours, philosophical discussions, philosophy, photobooths, photography, piano playing, picking fresh fruit and eating it right off the plant, piles of books, play-doh, playing with cameras, playlists, poetry, polaroids, post-it notes, procrastination, prose, psychology, purple, quotes, rain, rainy days, random words, reading, reading by candle light, reading strangers’ blogs, riding bicycles, riding bicycles in skirts, rose red, rose white, sarcasm, scars, secrets, self-improvement, shameless self expression, shapes in clouds, sharpies, sheep, sitting on pavement under street lamps, spirituality, stained glass, starbucks, stars, starry nights, stationary, stepping on crunchy leaves, stickers, stuffed animals, sunrises, sunsets, sushi, swimming at night, swings, talking to myself, tea, tears, tetris, texting, the endless sea, the food network, the smell of a campfire, the smell of new books, the smell of used bookstores, the sound of typing, the sound of wind chimes, thrift stores, thunderstorms, train tracks, typography, unsent letters, vanilla, vintage bicycles, vintage dresses, walking alone in the morning, warm baths, watching people, wildflowers, wonder, words, words from the heart, writing, ★, ♪, ♫ = ♥
2015 was a year of ups and downs, discoveries and questions, recovery and relapse. It was a year that went so quick and so slow at the same time. It was a year that saw me working several different jobs. It was a year for re-kindling relationships and letting go of others.
I learned about myself, about money, about life. I went back to my hometown for the first time in three years and I realised just how much of my heart is still there. I took risks and I stayed quiet. I lived in the fog of deep depression and in the whirling vortex of white-hot mania. I started therapy again. I remembered how to write and how to make art. I worked on starting my own business venture.
I made progress and I failed. I sinned and I fell short. But I learned. I lost my faith and I started slowly working to find it again.
2015 was a year of thinking over doing, of existing over living.
It was a year of loss. But unlike years past, it was a year of growing in the loss and the sin. It was a year of dissociation, viewing my life and loss from above, from which I could gain metacognitive insight into my self. It was a year of new diagnoses and learning more about my various parts and personalities. It was a year of fragmentation and, finally, being able to put into words and voice that disconnection.
2016 will be the year of the heart. It will be a year of practice, of making the abstract concrete. It will be a year of doing.
2016 will be the year where I take the 18-inch journey and mend the broken strings connecting my head and heart. It will be a year of synthesis, bringing together the fractured parts of me, of undoing the compartmentalisation of self and wearing the same face with everyone.
2016 will be a year of honesty. It will be a year spent learning to be honest with myself, with others, and with God.
2016 will be a year of faith. It will be a year of finding faith again, of asking questions and learning to sit and meditate in the Truth. It will be a year of learning to love and be loved. It will be a year of seeking that childlike faith where I can sitting on the lap of Abba and just be.
2016 will be a year of letting go of perfectionism, of letting go of pain and lies. 2016 will be a year spend learning about the full weight and meaning of grace.