I’m looking at myself as though it was ten years past. I’m liking myself with an understanding that I was naïve, and I still had to grow. When I pulled into the driveway, when Adele came on the radio and I sang the song. When memories from the same day flashed through my mind. When my mom called and it hurt me to have to turn the radio down. When I left it with just enough volume to feel a pull of emotions, a tingling in my ear, to listen to the song over her voice. When I realized this was not the music I used to pride myself on—this was not the independent musician striving to change the world by feeding it pure art. This was an “artist” who purchased a song and used her body and her voice to buy her fame. And that’s when I realized I had changed. I am changing. It’s not the first time this thought came to me. It’s not the first time I soaked it in. But sometimes the same repeated actions and thoughts have a way of making me feel as though it was the first time. So today this felt like the first time. Although it was slightly better than the first time, for it carried more weight with it. It sank in a little deeper. I liked it a little bit more.
I realized why I liked the music on the radio. I looked back on that very moment from a version of me that had aged just a bit more. And I thought to myself—she liked that music because for the first time, she had tasted what those sounds meant. A tiny piece of her was familiar with it. It was no longer foreign. It felt a little bit like home. This in-between life—the one my older self understood—was spoken about in those songs. Songs that may have been evil. Songs that depicted ugly pictures. The in-between me was comforted. She saw in her mind an image, and she saw in her heart that she had been engulfed in that image.
I used to like grotesque artwork because I was numb to life. But now I like it because I understand that it was in that place that I was brought to life.
[[I just want to be clear that I was not talking about Adele as the “artist”]]
On this day I sit on a log easily swayed. I cling to as if reaching the firm center. On this day I sit on this log. Firm, hard, and able to carry my weight. I enjoy this. What once was a tree. What once was too high to reach. Today I can walk on it. I can feel it curve beneath my feet. I feel it as it lifts and falls with the water. Moving up and down. Side to side. Engines rumbling near by. The water in motion, with crisps moving on its surface. A mighty force pushing from inside. The water moves me, though I am not touching it. The water moves me to the beat of the engines. It moves me by the speed of the boat. The water refreshes me, though I have yet to touch it. I have yet to drink it. In fear it will poison me and leave me pleading for life.
It takes a long time to kill a man. Fifty-five years at least. Until he breaks down, starts to look underground, and go off and get him some peace.
I want to die a lot quicker than that if it’s my only way out.
I’ve been counting up the cost, getting up on that cross; wanna know what this is all about.
Father time steals our days like a thief. There’s no price that I wouldn’t pay to get some relief. I’ve become the empty shell of a man I like so well. I am a living, breathing hell; come on and resurrect me.
I tried to drown the pain with a friend of mine; it didn’t seem to help.
Oh, she’s got a pretty face with a wedding lace, but I’m still waking up with myself.
I know what it means to choke it down, driving ‘til your legs get weak.
I know what it’s like on a Saturday night to be alone in a crowded street.
Father time steals our days like a thief. There’s no price that I haven’t paid to get some relief. I’ve become the shell of a man I can’t begin to even understand. Have I forgotten who I am? Come on and resurrect me
Mercy mercy, bring me to my knees. As the morning, calls to light the dark in me.
Heaven’s story, breathing life into my bones. Spirit lift me, from this wasteland lead me home.
Now I find my life in Yours.
My eyes on Your name.
Arrest my heart from it’s reckless path; release the chains in me.
Awake my soul to the hope You hold; Your grace is all I need.
Humble glory, chose to carry all my shame. Rendered worthy, in the shadow of Your Name.
Gracious fury, written in my Savior’s scars. Mercy mercy,
now engraved upon my heart
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Jesus is so comforting.
This last year has been a whirlwind of questioning everything in my life. What I am supposed to be doing? Who I am supposed to be doing it with? What does it mean to be a Christian? What is Jesus really like? Does God approve of my life? Is he disappointed in me? Should I even seek comfort from him, or should I endure pain and suffering on my own?
There have been times when I’ve felt alone.
I think I can safely say there have been times when I have felt loneliness deeper than anything I had previously experienced.
There have been times where I experienced rejection in ways I never really imagined experiencing it. The kind of rejection you try and do everything possible to change but eventually fall flat on your face realizing you’re just not in control of everything.
That’s what this year has been for me—realizing I am not in control of anything.
Having grown up in a Christian environment, that sounds a little cliché to me. I’ve known that my whole life. I’ve heard people say it a million times. I’m not in control. I can’t change people. I can’t really change myself. Only Jesus is powerful enough to do that.
But I guess I never really knew it. And I guess in order to know it my head-strong, stubborn self had to hit five thousand walls to figure it out.
And all in that time I felt like such a failure. Like I wasn’t good enough because I couldn’t make everything work out. I couldn’t make myself act the way I was supposed to act. I couldn’t make other people act in the way they were supposed to act. I couldn’t accept and love genuinely.
I felt like I deserved the pain that came from things falling apart, because I wasn’t good enough to keep them together.
And I felt that God wanted me to feel the full weight of that pain. I was too embarrassed to go to him for comfort. Because I wasn’t good enough to keep it all together.
But God is faithful, and he has brought me full circle. I can find comfort in him because I am not good enough to keep it all together and he is. He is willing and able to carry my pain. He’s not surprised at my failures. He’s not shocked by my sin. The only one surprised here was me.
He has brought me to a place where all I can do is look at him and say, “I am done trying to manipulate and change.” And he has promised me that he will be the one to give life to all the areas I only see death.
Look how they say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope has perished; we are cut off.’Therefore, prophesy and say to them: This is what the Lord God says: I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them, My people, and lead you into the land of Israel. You will know that I am Yahweh, My people, when I open your graves and bring you up from them.I will put My Spirit in you, and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I am Yahweh. I have spoken, and I will do it.” This is the declaration of the Lord.
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A word of silence, a word with tone,
a word that left me on my own.
A word worth speaking, a word worth dreaming,
has left me dragging on my bones.
A scent so sweet, a breath so deep,
a whirling with my feet.
Now to the ground, in deep despair,
a whirling as I weep.
A word so cold, a word of stone,
a word so hard to break.
A word so rough, it’s barely enough,
a word so hard to take.
A word of stuff, a word of love,
a word that felt like home.
The word has turned, the word I learned,
and finely it has shown.
My worst regret, my deepest fret,
a dream I dream alone.
Of you and I,
of you and me,
of charm without deceit.
Of you and I,
of you and me,
of life without this fiend.
There are times that walk from you like some passing afternoon
Summer warmed the open window of her honeymoon
And she chose a yard to burn but the ground remembers her
Wooden spoons, her children stir her Bougainvillea blooms
There are things that drift away like our endless, numbered days
Autumn blew the quilt right off the perfect bed she made
And she’s chosen to believe in the hymns her mother sings
Sunday pulls its children from their piles of fallen leaves
There are sailing ships that pass all our bodies in the grass
Springtime calls her children ‘till she let’s them go at last
And she’s chosen where to be, though she’s lost her wedding ring
Somewhere near her misplaced jar of Bougainvillea seeds
There are things we can’t recall, blind as night that finds us all
Winter tucks her children in, her fragile china dolls
But my hands remember hers, rolling ‘round the shaded ferns
Naked arms, her secrets still like songs I’d never learned
There are names across the sea, only now I do believe
Sometimes, with the windows closed, she’ll sit and think of me
But she’ll mend his tattered clothes and they’ll kiss as if they know
A baby sleeps in all our bones, so scared to be alone
I had this thought today:
Crying is like birthing a child. Your body knows there is something that it must push out, and it is long and painful. But when it is complete, there is a beautiful, pure baby born; a pure heart that couldn’t have been born otherwise. Or maybe the correct framing would be this—that mourning produces a faith refined by the fire.
As the soul grieves in deep, miserable pain, it’s easy to forget the goal. Yes, God promises to heal the brokenhearted and set captives free (Isaiah 61), but Christ also promises to bring trials to bring us to complete, genuine faith (1 Peter 1). 1 Peter also states that we endure these trials because we are being protected by God, through faith, for our salvation. This faith in Jesus allows us to enter into the presence of God, and it carries us through all the way to salvation. That faith must be proven genuine so that it can “result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” But right now, we endure with joy because we know that we are “receiving the goal of your (our) faith, the salvation of your (our) souls” (1 Peter 1).
What does enduring with joy look like?
1st and 2nd Corinthians show a beautiful example of this. In 1st Corinthians Paul rebuked the church in Corinth for their sin. In 2 Corinthians 7 Paul says he regretted his rebuke because he saw that it caused the church grief. But at the final result he was glad. He recognized that God had willed this grieving to bring repentance. The church had two options—to grieve the worldly way (forgetting that Christ is sovereign and that there is a sure, worthy reward), or to grieve the godly way—to keep the goal of salvation before them in order to receive the reward of bringing honor to Jesus.1 Paul rejoiced that they had chosen the godly way, “For you were grieved as God willed, so that you didn’t experience any loss from us. For godly grief produces a repentance not to be regretted and leading to salvation, but worldly grief produces death” (2 Corinthians 7:9-10). They chose to turn their sadness into life in God rather than soak in self-pity and pride which would end up in death. This is what their repentant spirit looked like, “For consider how much diligence this very thing—this grieving as God wills—has produced in you: what a desire to clear yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what deep longing, what zeal, what justice! In every way you showed yourselves to be pure in this matter” (2 Corinthians 7:11).
Purity was born from their diligence in mourning; purity in faith and in soul was born and must now be nurtured and grown.2 The baby delivered through tears is the salvation of our souls.
Today, as I enter a season of mourning, I will choose to grieve diligently. I will surround myself with people who will remind me of the goal—of Christ. I will release onto Him all fear, frustration, and confusion. I will choose to do this each day until it can be said of me that my grieving has produced a desire to clear myself, zeal, and justice. I will choose this each day until I have shown myself to be pure in this matter. And then I will continue to look at Christ as my reward, my fulfiller, and my utmost authority until my soul has been completely sanctified and I can look at him face to face.
I choose to labor in pain in order that my child could be purity rather than death (James 1:13-15).
1There is no passage which speaks exactly about what godly or worldly sorrow look like. But God has revealed to me at this moment that the key point for me is to keep my sight on him rather than myself.
2I had a really cool thought as I re-read what I wrote. I don’t know why I wrote that the baby of pure faith must be nurtured and must grow, but I had this thought: that heaven will be a place for this growth. We will enter as already pure, and we will spend the rest of eternity growing stronger in this purity through fellowship with God.
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I want to gasp and breathe you in.
You are like an ocean, and I was swimming in it.
But now you’re pouring me out.
And you’ve picked me up by my toes,
Dangling me over dried, cracked land.
And all I can do is throw up.
Because your salt is still lining my stomach.
It has been providing the ions which rise and fall with each impulse.
Those impulses, which send electricity running through my body.
They are gone, and now there is pain.
I remember when you first struck the back of my throat,
And I started to gag.
Ever since then, I am plagued by nausea.
My stomach has started to back it up,
With each day bringing violent purging.
And now I stand here, hunched over, with my face to the ground,
With my stomach rejecting everything that ever had to do with you.
No longer is there any true substance coming out,
But first there was stomach acid which burned the lining of my lips,
Just your name spilling through them was enough to inflict pain,
And now there is nothing.
Just the same motions.
The same pain.
The same contractions of my stomach muscles trying to expunge the poison which once filled it.
Now there is no more poison,
But I have built a habit of living like this.
I am bulimic and cannot allow my body to receive anyone else.
Because the second I swallow, the pain arises.
And I just throw up again.
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By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter.He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward
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