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Interior Nature

Not one ounce of the blood in my body belongs to me; not one breath nor one heart beat. I pray that this realization may quench me all the days of my life in order for me to saturate you in love.

Loneliness looked upon me with a stark cold stare. She mocked me. She spoke words of abuse over me. 

Loneliness was the tip of a stern finger pointing at my flaws. A finger so large and demanding of my attention that it blurred the face of its owner—a being I barely recognized who grinned and laughed at my every move. 

I sank into her words and danced into a sorrowful pose at the sound of her voice. 

But when courage came and brought me to the face of my taunter,
I saw layers of skin peeling back from her body and shredded fragments sprinkled over her eyes. 

When I dusted her face and cleaned off her body, I saw eyes the color of wood. Twigs were springing from the center and green leaves softly coming through the buds. 

I saw hair like honey, dripping thoughts of substance and truth, leaving behind drops of sugar as the wind blew and strands swiveled through her mouth. 

She had feet that were small and bent to the curve of the Earth, ready to walk and push pack the dirt. 

Her chest  was rising and falling with breath from above. 

When I looked back to her accusing hand, I saw that it was held out, frozen in place as if it had been trying to grasp something. 

It wasn’t a finger mocking my flaws; It was an arm reaching for my embrace. 

When I came close I saw clearly that the mocker was me. Blinded by layers of flesh and debris. Loneliness the window through which I saw my life, was only a mirror set to give me sight.

Loneliness looked upon me with a stark cold stare. She mocked me. She spoke words of abuse over me.

Loneliness was the tip of a stern finger pointing at my flaws. A finger so large and demanding of my attention that it blurred the face of its owner—a being I barely recognized who grinned and laughed at my every move.

I sank into her words and danced into a sorrowful pose at the sound of her voice.

But when courage came and brought me to the face of my taunter,
I saw layers of skin peeling back from her body and shredded fragments sprinkled over her eyes.

When I dusted her face and cleaned off her body, I saw eyes the color of wood. Twigs were springing from the center and green leaves softly coming through the buds.

I saw hair like honey, dripping thoughts of substance and truth, leaving behind drops of sugar as the wind blew and strands swiveled through her mouth.

She had feet that were small and bent to the curve of the Earth, ready to walk and push pack the dirt.

Her chest was rising and falling with breath from above.

When I looked back to her accusing hand, I saw that it was held out, frozen in place as if it had been trying to grasp something.

It wasn’t a finger mocking my flaws; It was an arm reaching for my embrace.

When I came close I saw clearly that the mocker was me. Blinded by layers of flesh and debris. Loneliness the window through which I saw my life, was only a mirror set to give me sight.

The Run of Solitude

I’m writing another post on healing. I’m not coming with a magic potion on how to be healed. I’m not coming to proclaim that it is done and over and healing is in the past.

This time I’m coming to write about where healing finds me right now.

I’ve realized what angst I’ve had for the last few years to be healed (and I think that’s a healthy desire). Ever since I’ve been aware that I am wounded, I’ve thought up a million visions in my head of standing before people, telling them of everything God did to heal me and praising him for the wonderful testimony of grace that he has been able to display in my life. Over and over I see these moments and I literally can’t wait to live out of my wholeness in Christ just so that I can be a witness to everything good that Christ is.

But the truth is I’m not there. I may have written stories of my tiny steps to get closer to there. I’ve told myself and my friends a billion times that I’m over it. I’ve spoken truth in Christ wanting eagerly to believe it and declaring it as reality over my life. Sometimes I talk to people and tell them what I think they want to hear and what I would like to hear coming from myself. But the truth is that isn’t always the reality.

Sometimes I still wake up in the middle of the night overwhelmed with emotion and I can do nothing by cry and ask God why I’m still stuck here, in this intermediate phase of half-healing. Why can’t I just jump to the finish line and be done with this part of life?

But I’ve realized I can’t jump to that finish line. I’m still running the race, and there is a path I need to get through before that finish line is before me. I don’t get it. I don’t know why I have to go through a really long, uncomfortable and drawn out healing process. I don’t know why God doesn’t snap his fingers at my every well-intended and honest prayer. But whatever the reason is, I have to keep choosing to believe that there is something for me here. Years from now I might be able to write a true, honest-to-God blog about how I overcame this now. But that time isn’t now.

Now is the time for my faith and character to be built up. God is working on that tiny little faith I have that sometimes feels like a rugged thread holding me to Jesus. Now is not the time of abundant fluttery feelings flying through me every time I read a verse or sit in nature. Now is not the time where I sit for hours upon hours praying and singing alone in my room filled to the brim with joy and excitement and inspiration. Now is not the time where I have daily epiphanies and write pages of insight that God has poured over me.

Now is the time where I struggle to understand where exactly God’s voice is. It’s a time where I sit and read the same passage over and over hoping that it’ll strike some chord or some excitement. It’s the time where I plead daily for a tiny expression of God’s being in a way that will move me. It’s a time where I understand people a lot better and a time where I can relate to humanity a little more. It’s a time where I’m not just looking to bring Jesus to lost and broken souls, but a time where I know what it feels like to be a lost and broken soul. It’s a time of a lot of questions with really hard answers. It’s a time that makes me want to both give up on Christianity and a time that makes me want to learn more and study hard to know who this being is that I’ve placed all of myself into.

It’s a time where not a lot is certain; a time where God has pulled away most of the people who were closest to me. It’s a time where he has uprooted me out of everything I loved and thrived off of and placed me in a spread out community that I’m still struggling to connect to and build friendships in. It’s a time that pokes at my same deeply imbedded weaknesses and asks me over and over how I’m going to respond. It pushes my anger and speaks into my demands for other people’s love and affection over my life. It brings me to the sobering reality that there is little I can really do to make anything happen.

There’s little I can do to change the heart of man. There’s little I can do to change my own heart.

When I ran my first half marathon, I remember running the first three or four miles at a whole minute per mile faster than I had trained. I was excited. Thousands of people were all excited next to me. My best friend and training partner was next to me. We were all happy to be there and happy to be running the race we had trained for so long to do.

I remember seeing beautiful parts of Atlanta that I didn’t even know existed. It all felt like a dream.

And then I remember getting tired. I remember slowing down. I remember losing sight of Angie. I remember looking at the road ahead and seeing really big hills and hoping with everything inside me that the course would turn before the incline got too steep for me.

Sometimes it did turn, and I was thankful to run a little longer on flat ground. Sometimes it turned and the hill was even steeper than the one I was already dreading.

And you know what I did in those moments? I just kept running. I ran incredibly slow. I’m pretty sure people were walking that half marathon faster than my jogging at some points. But I had trained for so long and I knew there was no way I would get to the end of that race feeling accomplished if I didn’t complete the one goal I had given myself—to not walk any part of that half marathon.

And I remember the joy I felt when I saw that finish line and knew it was almost over. I always knew there would be an end. I measured my progress every second of my run. I knew exactly how much I had done and how much I had left to go. But sometimes those miles felt soooo long. Some miles flew by and others felt like they would never end. I knew there was a finish line, but it just seemed to be taking a long time to get here. Sometimes I wanted to just sprint so I could get there faster, but there wasn’t enough energy in me to support that speed. And I knew I would just crumble if I went too hard in too short a period. But there was something about seeing that finish line and knowing that the moment I had dreamed about and trained for months was finally coming to life. It is a moment I will treasure in my heart forever.

That experience gave me a whole new appreciation for my body and for my diligence. I’m not a runner. I’m not athletic. I’ve never really been good at anything that requires the use of my body. Running that half marathon taught me that I could accomplished way more than what I had let myself dream of doing.

The following year I had set smaller running goals that focused more on my diligence and speed then on distance. I spent the summer in Ann Arbor and I told myself that I would commit to running at least one mile, five days a week, for the entire eleven weeks that I was there.

I’ve made a lot of commitments to myself. I’ve made a lot of running commitments. I can honestly say there are few that I have ever kept.

But that summer I ran five days a week for eleven weeks. I ran two or three miles most days, rain or shine. I cut my fastest mile by over two minutes. I brought my 5K pace down by two minutes per mile. I felt proud and determined to be a better runner. I hadn’t ran over three miles since that first half marathon almost a year before. But one day a friend texted me and asked me to join him for a half marathon that was just three weeks away. For some crazy reason, I agreed. I knew I wasn’t ready, but I figured if I had done it once I could do it again. So I started increasing my distance by two or three miles a day. I went from 3 mile long runs to 12 mile long runs in just two weeks. One week before the half marathon, I could already tell I was pushing my body way too hard. But I wasn’t backing out. I drove to Columbus, Ohio the day before the half marathon unsure of if I should go through with it. I found out that the friend who had invited me to run with him was no longer running the race. I still decided to do it.

Waking up the morning of my second half marathon was very different then the first. I was alone. I didn’t feel well rested. I got lost and almost didn’t make it to the start site. I stood there at the start confused and unsure of it I was in the right place. There weren’t as many people running. The horn was blown and I started running. It didn’t take long before we were all spaced out running at our individual paces. I was the only one running at my pace. I couldn’t see the people in front of me and I couldn’t see the people behind me. It was the longest 2.5 hours of my life. I ran the first three miles at a faster pace than I had planned, and then I quickly started crashing. From mile 6 and on I think I was “running” at a 13 or 14 minute per mile pace. On top of how tired and lonely I was, I was angry because they didn’t close the roads that we were running on and I had to grudgingly run with the consciousness and fear of getting hit by cars passing by. I couldn’t wait to finally get to that finish line and see my sister and Felipe cheering for me. I couldn’t wait for my painful solitude to be over. I REALLY considered walking that race, but somehow I always felt just enough strength to keep going. When I finally got to the finish line, I looked and looked for my sister and friend so that they could give me that final cheer, but they weren’t there. There was no one there to celebrate the ending of that misery that I chose to put myself through. I finally saw them a few minutes after I had finished running; they got my snacks and refreshments and helped me stretch. But the truth is they weren’t there at that moment that I really wanted them to be there. Thankfully the rest of that day was spent sleeping through the ten hour car ride back to Georgia while my sister steered the way.

Life right now is like that second half marathon. I’ve done the first one. I’ve accomplished things, overcome sins, that I never thought I could do. More properly said, I’ve learned that Jesus can accomplish those things in me. But I took on a little too much, I put myself at the front line of sin and deception and thought myself a little stronger than I actually was. I’m still running this race. I’m still in the middle of that second half marathon. For whatever reason, God has chosen that this one will be a long stretch I do on my own. There aren’t a bunch of people around to cheer me every second of the way. And there are a lot of obstacles flying past me that are capable of doing some serious damage to my soul. I don’t always feel like I can keep going. Sometimes it feels like that finish line is so far away and I wish I could just fly to it. I’m not running as fast as I would like to be, but I don’t have enough energy to run faster. Each day I’m gifted with just enough strength to keep going, at whatever pace I can move at. As long as I keep throwing myself forward, I know that God will continue to place solid ground under my feet. He will continue to be the food that I need to supply my energy and the water that quenches my thirst at the end of every hard and long mile.

One day I’ll make it to this finish line. And I’ll know full well the struggle that comes with bad preparation and foolishly relying on my own strength for something that only God can do in me.

Maybe there will be other races after that. But so far I’ve only lived through these first two. I’m thinking of running a third half marathon; I’ll let you know how that goes and what God teaches me through it. But for now, I’m content knowing there is a finish line that I will make it to. And more importantly I’m happy knowing that it will be followed by a ten hour long car ride where someone else can drive and I can sleep.

One Year In The Perimeter

One year ago, Atlanta became the city name I saw written next to my address. It became the place I woke up in every morning and the rumbling I heard every night as I laid in bed to go to sleep.  

It is hard to believe how much has changed inside of me over this last year. The girl who walked into this Atlanta apartment one year ago had layers of hurt and confusion built up inside. She was filled with rage and revenge and was not quite prepared for the year ahead.

This last year living in Atlanta has been a time that God divinely purposed for me to face the neediness I had developed towards people to fulfill me. I say had, but truly it’s still something I struggle through and am learning to bring before God.

The first few months became a series of realizing that most of the dreams I had safely guarded and treasured were all crumbling before me. Some of them crumbled because they were faulty and out of my control. But others crumbled because my heart was wrapped in bitterness and deceit and I really didn’t know how to keep hoping for good things.

When I first moved here, I had just stopped talking to my ex-boyfriend regularly and was starting a new graduate program. My church had been thinking about starting a congregation in the city, and it turned out to be just two miles down on the very same street that I was living on.

Church planting had been a dream of mine for so long. I had dreamed about investing my hours into bringing the many blessings of life in Christ to a community of people that hadn’t tapped into it yet. Despite what my dreams had been in the past, the emotional state that I was in when I moved caused me to despise the fact that the church plant was happening so close to me. I was a wreck emotionally; I was so busy with school; I just didn’t feel like there was anything I could give to anybody. It didn’t seem possible to back out without admitting to everybody that I was just a confused twenty-one year old who didn’t know how to live life, so I joined and began serving on the worship team.

It was the very first Sunday that our new church was going to hold a service, and I woke up, still drunk from the night before, in an unfamiliar room with my clothes covered in vomit and urine. Sobering up in time to drive home, get ready, and make it to church didn’t seem likely, so I called out of that first Sunday.  

With two dreams down, I poured myself into school as the last thing I had going for me. I had just enough time for work, homework and sleep and not much else. It turns out that wasn’t really going for me either, and dream number three died.

 Quitting graduate school put a halt on constant business and abruptly ushered me into free time. Way too much free time for someone who hadn’t had any in a few months. It felt like a big seductive billboard luring me in to remind me that I am alone. I started realizing how busy everyone else had become. Coming home most days to a dimly lit apartment that didn’t have my family or a husband waiting to exchange stories about the day kinda sucked. If I’m honest, it still kinda sucks.

Post-college life has been a serious adjustment. All those people who had once been readily available to hang out every night of the week are now doing other things with their lives, and most of them are two hours and ten gas dollars away. I have wished so many times to run back to the suburbs—to find a way to move back into my parents’ house—just to be able to come home to people who spend their days thinking about me and who are genuinely interested in all the stupid things that happen throughout my day. I’ve had to face the reality that I’m not going to be a super star twenty three year old that makes a lot of money and has it all together. And after being such a big advocate for young marriages, I realize that will never be me. Most, if not all, of my twenties will probably be spent in the absence of a committed significant other. It wasn’t intuitive to me, but I’ve had to choose to believe that all those things are not only okay, but that they are good for me.  

In learning to see that billboard of alone time as something God-sent, I am now able to see all of the good things that he is doing through it. I am forced to run to him for fulfillment because there really is no one and nothing else available to serve as my fulfilment. I also, for the first time in my life, have both the time and emotional energy to invest into the development of other people’s spiritual lives.

Discipleship has always been something that God has pressed on my heart. In high school and college, I always tried to give my time and make myself available to doing Bible studies with younger girls and tried to make sure that they knew they were cared about. As much as I may have wanted it, it was always something I had to force into my schedule. It always felt like a sacrifice I was making to choose to take time away from working, studying and hanging out with my friends to do Bible studies with a new believer.

But now God has set me in such a perfect place for it. I’m in Atlanta with a church plant aiming to connect people into a new community. For the first time, I don’t just want those people in my community because I know it’s good for them, but because I actually want godly friends who don’t live an hour away. It’s not this huge sacrifice I am making; it’s just something I eagerly want to do.  

In preparing for this, I ordered a new Bible study last week. When I tore that package open and perused through my new Bible study material, I was filled with joy and excitement to start sharing this with new believers. There was just one problem—there was no one to do it with. Having been part of a previous church plant, I’ve learned that discipleship isn’t something I can force people into and it’s not something I am in control of, so I started praying that if God wanted me to invest time into this, he would send me someone willing to learn and to grow in him. Just a few days later, someone came up to me at church and told me that he’s been in contact with a woman we had witnessed to a few weeks back and she wants us to come over and do Bible studies with her.

It is such a joy to look back and see the place that God has brought me out of and to experience the joy that comes from a life lived trusting his goodness and his sovereignty. Many of my old dreams died, but now I have a clean slate. I get to watch God replace the old dreams with new, refined dreams. I get to look forward to the future with a better taste of the risks I’m taking in doing so. I am thankful for all of the good that has been and is being produced through the tension of living through lonely seasons. I am thankful that I’m not that girl wasting my nights on fleeting pleasures in effort to replace my eternal purpose. Most of all, I am thankful that I learned I don’t have to live my life forcing everything into place, I just have to faithfully run to God and trust him as I take small steps of obedience. God does the work of making me stand firm in him, but I will only experience his power and joy when I trust him enough to let him lead me.

 “For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God. Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come… Not that we lord it over your faith, but we work with you for your joy, because it is by faith you stand firm.”

2 Corinthians 1:20-22, 24

How Friendship Can Powerfully Display the Heart of God

Today’s blog is meant to be an altar, of the sorts they built in the Old Testament, to remember God’s faithfulness.

This week I am so incredibly grateful for my friendships.

I’ve cried to an embarrassingly large number of people about all my doubts, fears and frustrations. I’ve had really stupid, five-year-old like bad attitudes. I’ve fought back as people have tried to be there for me and point out the error in my thinking.

Through all my stupidity, I am inexpressibly grateful for those people who have been willing to duke it out with my emotions, to lovingly rebuke me and to take the hit of my false accusations. I’m so grateful to have people in my life who are willing to tell me exactly the opposite of what I want to hear.

I’m also thankful for the way they promote vulnerability and never turn me away in the moments when I am raw and real and not only speaking all the positive thoughts that I think people want to hear.

Three conversations happened this week that I think will be pivotal in what the next step of my life will look like. All three people probably touched on the same things, but I think God purposely honed in on one point at a time through each conversation.

The first was a conversation with an old friend who opened up about difficult moments she had in her journey with Christ and how he first had her face those strongholds and then how he delivered her into healing. This served me in two ways. First of all, it is so, so, so refreshing to hear someone say, “Lydia, I have been where you are and I can promise you that it does not have to stay like that forever. Healing is real, and I am confident that you will find it because I experienced it in my life.”

Similarly, it confronted my doubt. I have been dwelling on this doubt. Serious doubt. Thinking over and over that maybe I have just brainwashed myself into thinking healing is real. Maybe things never change. Have I ever really experienced God’s power in that way? Maybe I’m just hoping for something that’s not real because it feels good to believe it’s real.

I absolutely needed, and need, to be reminded that healing is real, and that God’s power and intervention is real.

It’s like a little hook from God that motivates me to continue pursuing and receiving that power in my own life.

The second conversation was with a friend who sat through a lot of back and forth between me defending my emotions and explaining why I feel the way I feel and him offering me alternative viewpoints and explaining why what I’m allowing myself to believe might be wrong. But you know what? That didn’t really take me anywhere. And he knew that enough to stop and call me out on the real issue—the way I allow other people’s opinions of me to define my worth.

It’s something I didn’t realize until last year. I thought it was normal; I thought it was right. It was just what always came natural to me. If people didn’t want to spend time with me because of the actions I did wrong, then it must mean that I am not worthy of spending time with. If they preferred to spend time with other friends over me, it must mean that whoever I am isn’t worth it enough to elicit a desire in them to spend time with me. If they always choose to work instead of spend time with me, then I must not be important to them and they must not see me as worth it.

You get the point.

Someone choosing to give their time and emotions to other things over me has nothing to do with my worth. I want to invest my time in learning how to establish and believe that my worth is exclusively defined by what God has spoken into and over me. It’s not something that has come natural to me in the past, but I want to choose to believe it from a spirit that has been made new in Christ and from a soul that is learning to fully live out my righteousness in Christ.

The third conversation I had was with a friend that I had unhealthily unleashed a lot of my hurt and bitterness onto through a lot of harsh and cutting words. I fully expected that she would turn me away when I asked to go over her house and talk. But she gladly opened her door to me and welcomed me in. She listened to me cry for an hour as I listed all the ways I felt hurt by her and by other people. She gently explained why those things happened and what was going on in her life. She offered to put effort into working with me and changing the actions that were hurting me. And then she exposed the heart of my emotional instability by pointing out toxic thinking patterns I have that will keep me obsessive and stuck in the same place for as long as I let them rule in my mind.

It reminded me of 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 that says:

"For though we live in the body, we do not wage war in an unspiritual way, since the weapons of our warfare are not worldly, but are powerful through God for the demolition of strongholds. We demolish arguments and every high-minded thing that is raised up against the knowledge of God, taking every thought captive to obey Christ."

God had to feed me these three points in this order. He had to affirm his power in my life for healing to occur. He had to secure my worth in him. And he had to show me what practical step to take in order to see that power move in my life.

How beautiful it is that he used his body to do this.

How blessed I am to be part of a community that is living out these verses in Colossians 3, diligently accepting the renewal that comes with the new self in Christ and bearing with me, forgiving me, and teaching and admonishing me with wisdom.

"Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator…Bear with each other and forgive one another… And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts."

Friends having conversations served as such a beautiful display of Christ actively working in and speaking through his children, his bride, and his physical body on planet Earth.

What a grand opportunity it is to make yourself vulnerable to community and be open to receiving such tangible pieces of his grace.

Though daily I may doubt, God is always persistent in pursuing me and calling me deep into his heart.

This is my altar, the place I come back to when I need to be reminded that God is faithful.

Eternal Healing

I spent 2013 in brokenness. I’m tired of talking about it. I’m tired of throwing pity parties for myself. And I’m really sorry I let myself stay in that state of selfishness for so long.

But this is what I have learned about the healing I sought for so long to force in my own life:

Healing didn’t come by making a list of all my problems and figuring out how to solve them.

It didn’t come by well crafted prayer in hopes of persuading God to give me what I wanted.

It didn’t come by regretting everything I had done wrong and wishing I had been a little less evil.

It didn’t come by thinking about my hurt over and over hoping it might disappear.

It also didn’t come by spending every waking moment of my life doing something to avoid an emotional break down.

It didn’t come by trying to change the way I acted around people in order to gain their approval.

It didn’t come by holding people to all their faults and demanding respect.

Healing didn’t come by having friends and family who could relate perfectly to me and deal with my wounded emotions.

Healing definitely didn’t come in the months I spent bitter at God refusing to acknowledge him because he didn’t give me what I wanted.

So how did it come?

Healing came as I faced the reality of Jesus. As I admitted to him (and continue to admit) all the ways I don’t trust him, and receive the truth that he speaks to me about who he is.

Healing comes as I remember that there is something much bigger, purer and more worthy happening than the way I feel when I wake up in the morning.

Healing comes when I read verses like these in 1 Corinthians 7,

"The time is limited, so from now on…those who weep as though they did not weep, those who rejoice as though they did not rejoice…For this world in its current form is passing away."

This world will end, and the many things that engage my emotions and consume me will end. When all that fades, the only the only thing left of value will be Jesus carrying me (and the rest of his body) into the presence of God to live out the rest of eternity.

And guess what? I have the blessing of living that life right now.

"This is eternal life: that they may know You, the only true God, and the One You have sent — Jesus Christ." John 17:3

Why waste all my energy on trying to fix myself and be happy when I can spend it on knowing God and the one he sent?

He can do a much better job at fixing me when I am still before him, attentive to his thoughts and walking in the steps he leads, instead of out hurting myself more trying to perform all kind of surgeries I am not trained to do.

What a blessing it is for me to be able to sit and write from a heart that is restored in Jesus. And what a blessing it is to sit in perfect peace knowing there is a God who will go with me where ever life takes me.

For many years I lived life in fear of what future pain I might have to endure, carefully making every decision to try to avoid it.

But I thank God for giving me the confidence in him to know that I will never find myself in a place too dark for his grace to guide me through.

Jesus is worthy of all my praise.

Truth

There is one underlying principal that drives my entire life, and that is the pursuit of truth.

It drives me to extreme levels. It pushes me towards Jesus. It fuels my passion for science. It compels me to experiment and devote my time to learning how to most adequately express myself. It causes me to sound harsh when communicating with others. It is the reason I feel a sting inside when others won’t share their lives with me. It is the reason I turn into an altered, sub-human form of Lydia when asked to keep secrets from the world.

Truth is the one thing I value above all else. 

An Ode to 2013

A soft, cold farewell I bid you this day.
With the cool winter breeze still whipping my face.
Barren we started, barren we lay.

Your temperament changed me, with each cycle of light.
A dawn to dusk that was little in time,
And a dusk to dawn so overbearing in rhyme.
As the sunlight grew longer, and the tempest grew fair,
The temperature around me became a graceful air.

With reason to dream and hold wishful thoughts,
I was soon alerted that the night was too dull.
Daylight grew shorter bowing down to its god,
The darkness ruled and gave birth to its spawn.

It happened too slowly for the notice of eye,
But harshly it spoke vision to my sight.

A dreamers dream, settling its debt,
Falling with glory and distasteful threat.
The vision is clear, of longer nights,
As the day rolls slowly into the tide.
Of winds and mist drawing pain to the eye,
Causing this sailor to shut out the light.

A slumber once peaceful, now cradled by death.
Rocking me gently with the waves of regret.

To you I bid a final farewell,
A year that left me at the bottom of this well.
Feeding me water that could never be replaced,
Then leaving me heaving with dirt to my face.
Your poison ran dry, a joy I can never erase.
Your poison ran dry, a pain I can never face.

Group Texting

Today I’m owning up to being a product of my generation. Sometimes I cringe when people write about texting in the blog world or when they describe it as a sign of the progression of their romantic relationships. But it’s the reality of the world we live in. And it’s my reality too.

At the start of this year our friends discovered the joys of group texting. 

It was a magical escape from mundane life. It was a beautiful way to laugh with your friends all day long. It became a place where we didn’t need to be our fake internet selves.

I consider technology and media an okay form of communication with friends. I don’t think it takes away from my actual in-person relationships (as almost all have both components to them). I can have conversations in person and I can have conversations in written form. I can be deep in person and I can be deep in written form. I can laugh in person and I can laugh in written form. 

But the reality is that we sometimes have a filtered-self we present through physical interactions with people, and we also have a (maybe even more) filtered-self we present through social media. The point is that we found a replacement social media where we could pull down a lot of the filters and laugh with each other about things we’re normally too embarrassed to admit are actually funny. I don’t want to be known as the girl who shares 10,000 memes on Facebook. But, they really are funny. And I really like sharing them with my friends.

Anyway, with the joys of group-text, there were also some trials. We kind of went through stages of a relationship. We loved talking to each other every second and laughing. Then a few months in we discovered everyone had different things they were trying to get out of our interactions with each other. Some people only wanted to make jokes. Some people wanted to talk about Jesus. Some people didn’t want texts coming in all day. Some people didn’t like to reply. Some people got offended when they didn’t reply. We even took “a break.” Each person at different times voiced frustration and desire to “leave the group.” And that was a break-up threat—because we all agreed that, “If one person leaves, we all leave.” 

The hype died down for a while and I think we’ve found a healthy balance of not making it an everyday thing but still keeping the door open for that form of communication.

All of this is a long introduction to say that last night I visited something I had saved from August 7th—a trying time in our group-texting relationship (mostly because of me). They all sent good things about each of us, but it was my turn for a break from the group, and I didn’t reply. So last night I smiled as I read through them and decided to contribute three months later.

From Angie

Lydia: An artist, caring, so so driven, intelligent, easy to talk to, has great music taste, great person to be silly with (I don’t care if ppl find it annoying), brave (saves me from ugly bugs), adventurous, has a beautiful voice, cares to have deep and real friendships, and has been there for me in the good and the bad.

Chancho: FRIENDLY, great uncle, nice to everyone around around him and so fun to work with!!! Miss it more than you know! Loves peace, makes me a better friend. l enjoy your Hispanic side because its very much like mine (music-wise and food-wise: bandeja paisa 😋). I am never too embarrassed to cry about my life to you. Not many people get to see that part of me. And Gives good advise in return!

Natalie: so wise, born to be a leader, good at conversations, talented, volleyball star, funny, and capable of making a boring environment into a fun and exciting one. Cares genuinely for the people around her.

Jeff: funny, loves knowledge, and has so much potential to be someone great in life, has amazing style and can pull of any hair cut. Loves to pray ;), good at making the ladies in the family happy. Your jokes make me laugh out loud most of the time when I’m alone! Haha


From Jeff

Juan: you’re a great guy with a great heart, you have a soft vibe that is very welcoming and easy to warm up to, you definitely make friends with everyone you encounter , you’re not someone that I feel like I have to some how earn their friendship , you just seem to volunteer it which is awesome.

Natalie: I love your free spirit; you seem so harmonious and care free. I love your sense of humor, ‘specially because it can be just as dumb and goofy as mine. You have an amazing balance if being ridiculously silly and tremendously deep and profound. You always seem to have a heart of encouragement and genuineness.

Angie: You’re so approachable and warm; you’re very jolly and have a joyful way about yourself; you have a very evident care and appreciation for others, definitely putting your friends before yourself; I see generosity and kindness in you.

Lydia: You’re so not afraid to let people know what you think, and let them know what you think over and over and over no matter what they think. You’re so ready to be vulnerable and build real bonds and friendships, you have to be deep. You strive for a more real and  purposeful understanding of life. You put your heart in the things around you weather they be people or things you do and always try and remove superficiality but always be real.

From Natalie 

Jeff: You have an amazing style and you are innovative and looking for new ways to advance.

Lydia: You are the only person I know who loves what they do so passionately and so incredibly smart.

Angie: You have a heart that breaks for injustice and you put the needs of those you love before your own.

Juan: You are so incredibly social. Everyone you meet instantly falls in love with you.

From Juan

Jeff: you’re hilarious

Natalie: you’re so talented

Angie: you’re very compassionate

Lydia: you’re very caring!

From Lydia

Angie: Your awe for the world is incredible. Instead of carrying a rough edge where most people feel like they need to pretend like they know what they’re doing, you can just sit back, be amazed and ask questions. And you are strong. Instead of crumbling in moments that are emotionally demanding you always move forward. You have courage to face whatever comes before you with the hope of Christ.

Jeff: I think it’s cool that you talk to your mom and care about her in tangible ways. Also that you have a journal you’re not embarrassed about. Not all guys can be in tune with their emotions, and it’s nice to be friends with one who is. You’re still on my list for favorite dancing partners. And whether or not you still believe it, I really enjoy being friends with someone who shares in a lot of my personality.

Nata: You’re a little bit of everything. You’re strong when you need to be, gentle when you need to be and determined yet able to be flexible. You ponder life and know how to be silly about it. You know when to let things go.

Juan: You have a good heart that shines through everything you do. Your hunger for righteousness is genuine. And you are literally the most encouraging person I know.

*I admit, I fixed a few typos and sentence structures. But don’t worry, I left some error to leave room for personality to come out ;)

My Feelings.

This is me giving an honest assessment of where I stand today, November 5, 2013, as I live out the twenty-second year of my life.

I stand in brokenness. I carry so many fears about my future. I feel overwhelmed by lies and deception that Satan throws at me. I’m unable to have normal conversations without obsessing that people might find me annoying, or that I’m talking too much, or I’m saying things that aren’t relevant to them.

I lived most of my life happy and free. And I mean that very genuinely.
Having rooted myself in Jesus from a very early age, I always felt very confident in my personality. There were times when I felt misunderstood, but I didn’t take that to mean that there was something wrong with me.

At sixteen I began learning about God’s grace. I had carried sins up to this point that were part of my life for as long as I could remember life. Things I kept private. Things I was embarrassed of. And things I forced myself to reach out to people and get help because of. But I quickly realized nobody could change me. Nobody could make me stop sinning. The fear of having to confess my sin to someone after committing it wasn’t stronger than the power of sin over my life. It wasn’t a good alternative. Being held accountable for my sins didn’t make me stop sinning. Punishing myself for my sins didn’t make me stop sinning (I would literally make myself fast the next day after committing particular sins. This was partly done as punishment and partly as a way to force myself to spend more time with Jesus in order that his power would make me stop sinning. That didn’t help).  Setting restrictions to avoid places I’d be tempted didn’t help. At a ripe young age of seventeen, I think God did a pretty good job at delivering the message that my own will power was not stronger than sin. And none of those other things were stronger than sin.

And I remember it very clearly—one night crying and telling God, “This isn’t working. There is nothing left for me to try.”

For the next year, every time I was tempted I would just tell God, “I love you. I want something different for my future than what this sin will bring. I know you still love me and accept me regardless of how I react right now, and I thank you that your power is enough to deliver me in this moment.” It was beautiful. I loved living in complete dependence on God. I loved knowing that he was my righteousness.

And then I entered a serious relationship. I felt ready and able. I had a vision of what a godly relationship looked like, and I was eager to live that out. I was—almost—convinced this was sent from God and believed I was exercising my faith in him by stepping into a relationship he had brought to me.

Something weird happened—something I didn’t anticipate or prepare for. My flesh happened. It felt like new sins just kept coming up left and right. Things I had done in the past and things I had never imagined I’d even come close to wanting. Before I really knew what was happening I found myself in complete shock that I was capable of so much ugliness. And I responded to that ugliness in even uglier ways. I opened doors for Satan to attack my worth. There were so many times it literally felt like an oppressive spirit would come over me and tell me to act in certain ways. It would tell me I was worthless or that God was disappointed in me. It would cause me to mistreat people. It led me into deep and very sick manipulation. It made a path for my rebellion to take over in ways I had never imagined that it could. There were so many times I remember feeling like I was just living in complete darkness. I would constantly tell myself, “at least this is so bad right now that there’s no chance it will get worse.” But it always got worse.

I felt worthless on so many levels.
When people who didn’t know what was going on in my life complimented me, my brain automatically deflected it saying, “They don’t know you, Lydia. They don’t know how evil you are.”

Many times I would confess things to people because I just felt like they needed to know how bad I was. I felt wrong for walking around making people think I was good when I wasn’t.

Unfortunately my at-the-time boyfriend took much of the weight of my self-hatred. I think it was a coping mechanism for me. I felt out of control of myself, so if I could just control something in my life—if I could control him and make him do everything I wanted—then maybe I would be happy again.

Fortunately God intervened and started cutting unhealthy things out of my life. Some of that came through breaking up with my ex-boyfriend.  

I spent many months growing, or maybe they were just months I convinced myself I was growing. 

When my ex made the decision to move on with his life without me, I quickly realized a prominent portion of my self-worth had been placed in his opinion of me. Why? Mostly because he had seen the darkest places in me. If he didn’t want me, nobody would want me. No one else’s opinion mattered, because he was the only one who knew how truly evil I was; him not accepting me meant my darkness was too dark for anyone to love.

So I’ve lived out of that for the last months of my life—angry at God for not coming through in ways that I wanted him to and angry at myself for not being able to live up to the standard of being a respectable human being.

I’ve been scared to be hopeful because I’m even more scared of being let down.

But I’m taking steps to heal. They’re baby steps that usually end in tumbling back down. Sometimes I get overwhelmed looking at my future and realizing that these character flaws will come back and try to crash me to the ground again. My rebellious spirit, my manipulative tendencies—they’re not just going to go away. They will try to make their way to the surface in every relationship that is important to me. But I have no choice but to acknowledge that any progress that happens in my life from here on is absolutely accredited to the power of God’s grace. It’s a choice I have to make every day—to choose to place the tiny, little bit of faith I have into a God I don’t completely understand.

In the least I know that my efforts to hold life together are completely futile and he is much more capable of handling it. 

Asking for my inheritance before my father died
I’m eating with the pigs
You lured me with your guise

The story says you’ll celebrate me
But I’m feeling too out of breath
To climb the wall before me
Separating me from death

Give me just a minute
To bury what is left
You say the dead can bury what is dead
I see them digging beneath me
Offering me a home
The distance is now greater
As I sink into their hole

This task before me, daunting 
I can’t possibly climb that high

But if you fill the gap beneath me
You can make steps for me to climb

My home is not a wasteland
To nurture death to souls
My home a place of refuge
Being filled with treasured gold

The inheritance I wanted
Can only come with death
And instead of letting my father pay it
I took the price instead

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