I have recently moved to a new space.
The new blog is: https://herglassdiary.wordpress.com/.
Hope you check it out,
I have recently moved to a new space.
The new blog is: https://herglassdiary.wordpress.com/.
Hope you check it out,
In my last post, I asked the question of how a good God can exist in the midst of Pain:
CLICK HERE TO READ.
Today I want to offer an answer to the Problem of Pain, or at the very least, an explanation. For a question of such magnitude and circumference, there is no easy or perfect answer. Great philosophers and theologians have attempted this question for centuries, mangling through its uncertainty and the depth to which it effects the entirety of humanity. And at the heart of this big question is the desire to show that there may be reasons beyond what we see– that the existence of a good God in the midst of Pain is more than plausible, it is both logical and sensible.
So, here is how I understand the brokenness of a world that is held together by a loving and powerful Father.
I begin with a creator God. He is the one that has always been, existing before all things, enjoying perfect harmony with His two counterparts, son and spirit. In a desire to create, He spoke the very life we know into being and declared all that He had made good. Yet, He wanted His beloved creation to experience love in its fullest, truest form. For love cannot move within restrictions or be held together by form. That is not love.
Thus, He gave His creatures the liberty of having free-will. Giving us the choice to choose to live in fellowship with Him or in denial of Him. Free-will is to possess options, to be unbound by compulsion or force.
Though, we must note: Just because we have been given options does not mean that every option laid before us will lead us to good and beneficial things.
In the garden, a place of unspeakable wonder and unfathomable beauty, there were Adam and Eve and all of creation in their midst. He built the entire garden for them to live and told of them of the one tree they must not eat. Here is the rebellion: One tree amidst thousands of others and they choose to eat its fruit. The fruit is eaten and the consequences of wrong choice enter the world. All creation becomes tainted by this wrong doing, sin has now fractured the once perfect world.
From the beginning, Genesis’ origin, we were designed for our creator God. He built us with purpose, permitting us free-will but knowing that there is always and forever, only one choice that will ever grant us a truly fulfilled and joy-filled life. For we were made to be one with our creator. He carved the flesh and bones that make us who we are; He stamped humanity with qualities of His divinity, sealing us as His workmanship. We have been declared His. So that for as long we do not choose Him, we choose to live as less than who we were created to be and live below our fullest potential.
It is Him who encompasses all goodness, all beauty and all truth. In every instance we do not choose God, we choose the absence of these divine virtues. It is essential to understand that evil is not a “thing” or an entity of its own, rather, it is the direct result of wrong choice. Evil is good gone bad, perfection that is fractured. Without goodness the concept of evil would not be. So we see that even evil relies on the existence of God.
The murderer chooses death over life. The anorexic teenager chooses self exploitation over love of self. The bully choose animosity over kindness. The wife sleeping with another man chooses lust over commitment. The abusive father chooses violence over integrity. The murderer chooses revenge over forgiveness.
Everyday we make our choices. Just as Adam and Eve made their choice back in the Garden.
It seems that we free-willed creatures have the knack of choosing the very thing that causes us the most pain. Time and time again we make up our mind to deny God and choose sin, not only hurting ourselves, but hurting those around us. Just as it was so in the Genesis garden, so it is with us: Our choices have consequences that affect more than just ourselves.
But, when no one sees and no one is effected, what harm is done? you ask. But sin, it blinds, casting darkness on our lives. Through curtains of blindness it can be hard to see, but the thing is, sin always hurts a relationship. Whether it is between you and someone else, you and God, or you and yourself, a relationship is always broken when sin enters.
So in all of this we see that evil is not created by God but it is the result of human wrong choice. Therefore, the Creator is not to be blamed as the origin and perpetrator of evil.
But still you may wonder: If the origin of evil is free will and God is the origin of free will, then isn’t God the origin of evil? To this I say, only as much as parents are the origin of their children’s misdeeds by being their origin. Father of the world gave His children the power to have free choice. Would we prefer that He had made us robots instead of human beings?
The reality is that arguments or objections or not, this is the world we live in. Deceit soaked, pain heavy and suffering immanent, so how do we live in this?
We embrace hope. With everything we are, we cling to the promises of not only a good God, but an intimate and loving God.
And we live in daily remembrance that it is He who suffered first. Drenched in His own blood, scorned violently, bones broken, and left to die with the weight of all sin, what He did on that cross was no joke. Red stained wood and an empty grave changed absolutely everything, shook the foundations of the earth, and brought us a glorious hope we might never have known.
We live in the hope that He is a rebel with a cause. He is the ultimate lover of souls and freer of captives; the One who has come to make all thing new. Though right now the soles of our feet grate against the hard ground of this earth, we may rejoice in the joy to come:
A voice thunders from the Throne: “Look! Look! God has moved into the neighbourhood, making His home with men and women! They’re His people, He’s their God. He’ll wipe every tear from their eyes. Death is gone for good—tears gone, crying gone, pain gone—all the first order of things gone.” He who sits on the Throne declares, “Behold, I am making everything new!” (Rev. 21:3-5 Msg.)
So when pain comes to your home and suffering touches the people most dear to you, where shall you turn? The freedom is ours to yell and object and come into His presence kicking and screaming, and if this is where you are, I promise that He will meet you right there. In the midst of the thrashing, the wild resistance of a child in pain, He will hold you tight as sobs rack your body and the pain threatens to overtake.
I must tell you that I believe in an Artist God who is painting a picture too glorious for us to see. Though in our eyes it seems like a sloppy mess of chaotic colours, shapes and texture, He moves each brush stroke with purpose. He is creating something we know not of, because He is the creator and we are the created. Though we are not just the created, but we are His created. So in our pain, let us hold on to the promise that there is more than meets the eye, that just because we do not see, it does not mean the reason is not there. For He paints with intention. And oh, He is painting something incomprehensibly beautiful.
*This is only a brief overview on the philosophical and emotional Problem of Evil. I did not write this with the intent to write a comprehensive explanation, but to share the answer I have come to understand and truth that has brought peace to me.*
Pain entered our house tonight. In between the mugs of coffee and plates of tuxedo cake, a wall came down and sobs overtook a body. The dinner table held the crumbs of deserts and the tears of a saint.
Oh what to do as the young niece sitting diagonal to my hurting Aunt? My own mother, sister of my Aunt, rushes to her side and holds her tight, stroking the small of her back. My Uncle reaches from the other side and gently cradles her head. I blink back tears, rendered silent by this real-life grief displayed before me. Pain is real and as I watch it mop itself across our dinner table, I think about how frequently, even routinely, it visits this commonplace of our lives. Pulling up a chair at the dinning table, uninvited and unwelcome, the entire table wondering when it will pick up its dishes and leave. No invitation sent, in fact, every wall possible we put up to keep Pain out. A thousand protective mechanisms we employ to avoid its visitation. Don’t get too close, then you can’t get hurt. But, it seems no matter what we do, Pain, it cannot be avoided.
Cancer. The 6-letter word that invokes fear in the strongest of individuals: destroying families, separating lovers, fashioning widows and crushing dreams. Today we are told that nearly anything can be the cause of cancer. Excessive time on the cell phone causes brain cancer. Storing the cell-phone in the bra promotes breast cancer. Drinking coffee increases the risk of cancer. Yet, even those bearing a lifestyle of vegetables and daily yoga find themselves disturbed with the diagnosis of this 6-letter word.
My Aunt is a pillar of strength and one of the fiercest lovers of the Lord I know. And this is the path she walks. Chemotherapy, nausea and a hospital bed, a fight to be fought because as she says: Oh there is so much to live for. As I saw her tears and heard her utter fearful words, it was then I saw that she too is human, subject to this visitation of Pain. Her son asks why; why you mom? And I ask too. Why is it that evil often finds its way to the most beautiful and undeserving of humans?
Innocent children from the villages of Uganda abducted to become child soldiers and sold into the sex trade. Black men and women treated as property solely due to colour of skin, subjected to centuries of enslavement. Young girls sexually abused by their own fathers, irrevocably damaged from the inside out. Parents murdered in their bed by their own flesh and blood; the bullet released by a resentful son. Women kidnapped by men they once trusted and trafficked into a world where they are forced to sell their bodies.
Teenage boys that conspire to deal tampered drugs and commit outrageous mass murders. 100 ft high Tsunamis that kill 230,000 people in fourteen different countries, demolishing cities and reeking havoc. People born into severe poverty, a daily struggle to survive and avoid the many diseases that threaten their existence. Mothers that watch their unborn baby die within their stomachs, the hope of new life fading before her eyes.
We live in a world that drips in evil: We live it. We feel it. Sometimes, sadly, we even embody it.
A friend writes to me: I would never respect your father if he knowingly allowed you to be raped or abused. I would never worship a god that allowed you to be raped and murdered. His words gnaw on my heart and suddenly, I am desperate for a new understanding, desperate for answers.
This problem of Pain.
This problem of Evil.
My Philosophy class spent an entire unit addressing this: Unit 6, the Problem of Evil.
We asked the question, the age old challenge to the existence of God: How can an all-loving, all-powerful and all-good God exist when there is so much evil, pain and suffering in our world???
This is known as the achilles’ heel of Christianity, the hardest question for believers of God to provide answers for. And even as one who builds her life upon this foundation of faith, I too find myself asking this question.
It is more than a philosophical question we can tack logical answers to.
It is more than a heated debate topic.
It is more than an attempt to hurt Christianity.
It is a reality that cannot be brushed aside with classic, nice-sounding Christian phrases. God is in control. Jesus loves you.
Questioning the presence of evil and the reality of suffering is one of the most authentic, human inquiries we can make.
I have seen people reject their faith in the midst of tragedy, rage violently at the God they once revered and praised. More people have abandoned Christianity on the account of this objection than any other reason. How often we see that the reason for unbelief is not an inadequate hypothesis, but an unfaithful lover.
Thus, this problem of evil is of the greatest of relevance. And I believe that it is our duty, as Christ-lovers, to give reason for the existence of God in the midst the suffering, pain and hurt.
It bellows loud and clear, soft and quiet. In between tears and lonely nights and the darkest of places. I paint the question red with the blood of innocent children and black with the cries of injustice. It is a question that begs an answer and I am desperate to find one.
*answer to come in next post*
To Read Not Made To Be Broken – Part 1 Here
I am on my knees on a Monday afternoon. I kneel inside of a chapel with stained glass windows standing strangely dim in the dark of a bitter winter. There is no sunlight illuminating their colours today. No one else occupies this space with me. The room drips in silence. I can’t remember the last time I stood so strikingly still.
Lord, I feel so unworthy. Soul-heavy and asking God the hard questions.
A folded up note paper slips to the floor. I gently unfold it and my eyes read:
I created you.
I love you.
I forgive you.
Nothing can separate you from my love.
I don’t know who scribbled these words and truly, I may never know. But I wept.
I was once told about the tradition of a particular African tribe. And it goes like this.
When a mother knows she is going to have a child, she goes off to sit beneath a tree, and she listens for the song of her child to come. Upon hearing the song of her child, she goes home and teaches it to her husband. When the child is born, she teaches the song to the midwives and older women of the village, and together, they sing the song over the child to welcome it into the world. As the child grows older, many people begin to learn the child’s song, until it is known to the majority of the village.
When the child falls or hurts its knee, someone picks it up and sings its song over it. Likewise, when the child does something wonderful or crosses a milestone in its life, such as puberty or schooling, the village gathers to its song over the individual as a way to honour the child.
If ever along the way the person commits a crime, or an aberrant social act, or simply loses their way, the village does not approach the person with punishment as we most typically do. Instead, the village recognizes that the solution is not punishment but a remembrance of true identity. The village recognizes that their behaviour has gone against their original design; that the person has strayed from their true nature. And so they approach the person with a deep love and they chooset to remind them of their true identity.
Gently, they call the person into the middle of the village. And there, in the midst of the richness of community, the entire village gathers to sing their song over the person. When the individual has forgotten their own song, forgotten who they really are – the village sings their song back to them. They remind the individual of who they are and why they were created. It is here, in the remembrance of identity, that the desire to hurt others fades slowly away.
This, now this, is our calling as friends, family, spouses, lovers and the body of Christ – to constantly sing their song over the person when they have forgotten who they are. To remind each other time and time again, that we are not these broken creatures scrambling on hands and knees for purpose and joy, but we are Sons and Daughters of the King.
Often we spend a lot of time telling the people that we love them, but it is of far greater importance we tell people that the Creator of the world loves them.
Do not let them forget.
Do not let the people you love forget their true identity.
I’ll close with the lyrics of the song Remind Me Who I Am:
“When I lose my way,
and I forget my name,
Remind me who I am.
In the mirror when all I see,
is who I don’t want to be,
Remind me who I am.
In the loneliest places,
when I can’t remember what grace is.
Tell me once again who I am to You,
who I am to You.
Tell me lest I forget who I am to You,
that I belong to You.
I’m the one you love.”
To Read Not Made To Be Broken – Part 2 Here
I just feel broken all the time.
It’s 6:45 am on a Thursday morning and after fifteen minutes of staring blankly at the empty room around me, these are the only words I managed to write down. What more is there to say?
I am learning about the grandeur of grace and the flood of unconditional love, yet in the midst of it all I still feel so very broken. Everything is still messy. I can not escape it.
“It’s really hard to suck all the time.” I over hear these words coming from a girl a few tables away in my school cafeteria. Isn’t it though?
It’s hard to be messed up all the time. It’s hard when every day gives you a new list of the things you surly could have done better. It’s hard when you spent hours sifting through your Facebook news feed, seeing all the new relationships and budding friendships, and still you feel so desperately alone. It’s hard when all the little things seem like a constant reminder that you are not enough. It’s hard when you succumb to the same sin time and time again. It’s hard on those nights when you look at the face in the mirror and yell wildly (I know we’ve all done this): WILL YOU EVER GET IT RIGHT? All those terribly unkind things we say to ourselves, the mistakes that pill up at the door and those things we swear no one will ever know – they weigh heavy. These things are real and the brokenness you feel, that’s real too.
When I live in the middle of this torn-up and fragile world and I too, embody its brokenness, I begin to believe that this is all I will ever know. To me, flesh & bones & all, brokenness is my second nature. The dark places are comfortable, because this is where I’ve spent most of my life.
I know how easy it is to float through the days, believing the Lord is good and Jesus loves me, but all the while, stuffing all the hard things under the rug where they don’t have to be dealt with. We’ve danced around the tears, the loneliness, the addictions, the painful and ugly parts of us, because well, its easier that way. Facing your brokenness is the very definition of hard.
The thing is though- He loves you enough to work on you. To chip away the grim, the sin, and all the damaged parts of you. This is the part that hurts, because essentially when brokenness is our second nature, it feels like a necessary part of us. So that when God begins to carve into those fragile parts of us, it feels as though he is tearing into the very essence of who we are.
But really, who are you???
Why were you created? Why are you this package of flesh & bones, heart & soul? Why are you here on this earth? Why do you have two feet that walk this battered soil? Why are you here?
I am going to tell you a story. It is one you may have long forgotten, along the road of not enough or used or unlovable. But, it’s His story. It’s your story.
A carpenter sits in his workshop, together with his two counterparts. Laughter rings through the air and love spills over into every crevice of the shop. In their companionship, not one thing is amiss. It is the image of perfection and fullness and all things good, beautiful and true.
They have a desire to expand this perfect love, to reflect it in more places. The carpenter and his counterparts decide to create. And so, they spend endless days in that shop: building, carving, and painting. They begin with the form, splashing grandeurs of blue, green and yellow across the canvas- earth, sun and sky created. They build gigantic oceans, mountains and bodies of land. They dot those places with rivers, trees, valleys and caves. They add bright colours of yellow to paint flowers, red to paint berries, and orange to paint leaves. To bring all things together, they instil a divine order of time, measurement, constants of gravity and the charge of an electron – so much so that if one of these things had been altered in the slighted, the universe would not have been able to sustain any form of life.
All this they made- a place for their most prized creation to dwell. To explore, to wander, to marvel. Everything up until then had been a preparation for the crown of creation. On the final day, they created us.
In the workshop, hours were spent sculpting and carving you. The fullness of our triune God spilled over into the creation of you. Reflections of his being and character was built into you – your ability to love, create, have relationships and experience joy. In his workshop he painted your hair, your eyes, and the inner clockworks system of you. He put all the pieces of you together. From the pulse in your chest to the idiosyncratic habits that are unique to you. Like a giddy child creating their lego tower, he delighted in creating you. He instilled in you dreams, passions and talents of all kinds. When all was set in place, he breathed life into your bare bones and brought you into the world he created, all for you. Dancing, singing, clapping and laughing, He rejoiced over you with a joyful song. (Zephaniah 3:17)
Because he was so very pleased with the person he had made, he dusted his hands on his apron and declared it all good. On that day, the King of the world claimed us all as daughters and sons. And oh, the King is enthralled with your beauty.
And this is your original design. Nothing more, nothing less. You were created in the outpouring of love and in the hands of a creator God, who desired to reflect his fullness onto people he could call his children.
This is your true nature. Not all the brokenness of trying to measure up to this idea of beautiful, successful or important. But in Him you are declared: loved. worthy. beautiful. irreplaceable. redeemed. forgiven. wanted. chosen. valuable. daughter. son. healed. royalty. pursued. enough.
I believe in a God who says: I will paint sunsets for you. Everyday. To remind you that I love you.
God does not make junk. So I plead, be kind to yourself.
This is the story a girl who got her heart tangled up in a world she never imagined would welcome her.
I never thought it would be me: the one enraptured by beauty.
The one who is forever searching. High and low, in the sun and rain, on every street corner, in each pair of longing eyes. Who sifts through pages to find it. Who runs out into the middle of a cornfield to see it. Who writes late into the night to create it.
I nod fervently along with C.S. Lewis:
“We do not want merely to see beauty… we want something else which can hardly be put into words- to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it.”
Not only do I want to see beauty but I want to become one with beauty.
I want to create it. To become it. To know it.
You are a writer Mikayla, She told me.
The reality of the words wash over me. Me? No, not I. No, not this very ordinary girl.
But, perhaps. am I?
Maybe my longing to create beauty, the urge that sits right inside of me- can be fulfilled by my stringing of words together.
I take people, moments, nature, objects and all the things we pass by without a second glance- and I sprinkle them with grace. I staple words to the things that have remained silent for too long. The grace of words gives a voice to those things that cry out to be heard.
Language is a gift we too often take for granted. How incredible that we are able to articulate all these emotions and ideas and passions. How amazing it is that combinations of circles and slanted lines can form a letter. Each one with their own sound and each with their own role to play in the complexity of a word. On paper, stitched to a melody or used by our vocal chords- we all, as English speakers, somehow know the pattern & abide by it’s rules.
Never ever, would I have thought words could so capture my heart. That constants & vowels & the simple how of letters sound in combination, could wrap me around their finger. That the combination of nouns, and adjectives and verbs, all strung together in a set of words could somehow tell such beautiful stories. That the art of writing, of capturing things into something so concrete like ink to a paper, like keyboard to a screen, could promise such a purpose.
What keeps me up at night. I wrap myself up in studying their harmony, learning their rhythm, practising their place in paragraphs, in phrases. A desire has been ignited in my soul to not only read and loose myself in pages, but to create beauty of my own. Enthralled with the possibility of creating my own masterpiece of words, designing my own story of the heart & grace.
As though I’ve developed writing epilepsy. Words hit me at any given time, always unpredictable and often inconvenient. The middle of worship on a Sunday morning, I drop into the pew, scramble for my notebook and rush to scribble my thoughts on paper before the disappear from my head. On the tennis court, about to serve and when my mind starts churning. I struggle to win the game as quickly as possible, so I can hurry to my notebook on the change over. Finding the limits of parabolic functions, graphing them into the X and Y axis, when the words come to me. I etch them along the outside margins of my Calculas homework.
All over my school work, my notebook, letters and my phone, I find my thoughts splattered in unfinished sentences and incomplete paragraphs. All the beginning works of beauty and the stirrings of my heart. Because I can never write about emotions, thoughts or stories as well as I can in the height of their being. Talking about how when he talked to you felt like you heart was beating loud enough for people on the other side of the equator to hear and your stomach flip flopped through all the possibilities. Talking about how when your friend said she is considering ending her own life, your heart physically hurt and a cry to injustice screamed inside of you. Talking about how last night, you couldn’t even look in the mirror because you so despised the face that stared back at you.
Because talking about it is never the same as the writing.
I speak but everything feels so trite when it comes spilling out. Suddenly it all seems so insignificant…and unsubstantial…and unimportant. Because the voices are much louder in your head- they scream and pound their fists into the walls of the brain. In your head, they are much more menacing, far more destructive. They break you, they destroy you- they really do. But when all the emotions twisted inside are released into the open air, they change colour. Like blood turns from red to blue.
And the whispering thoughts begin: it’s not actually that big of a deal, his words didn’t hurt that much, the confusion isn’t that real.
When the words come tumbling out- the condemning begins- you shouldn’t have said anything, just keep it inside it’s not that big of a deal, no one really cares.
Even though there are days when you feel like breaking.
Even though some moments you actually do want to die.
Even though last night you meant it when you say you can’t imagine spending one more day on this earth.
In those moments, the winds are blowing 100miles an hour and you cannot hear anything but the torrential downpour and roaring thunder that surrounds you. You fear so fiercely that the crashing waves may truly swept you away with them, and take you to a place where you’ll never be the same again, where you can never make it back whole again. The storm is deafening & menacing in the height of the emotions. But then. just like that. it passes and you feel okay again.
And so this too shall pass.
As things always do, they proceed like this: It hurts and then it is okay. You break and then you mend. The storm rages and then it passes.
And so this is why I write. To somehow take one step closer to beauty & freeze-frame those moments: so I never forget the emotions I felt so strongly at the time and the lessons they teach me about myself & this ever churning, all-too beautiful life.
I’m wandering through the book store nuzzled right in the corner of cobble streets and warm summer air. Losing myself in the world of stories knitted into pages, all different in stature and texture and ink. My eyes scan across the magazine shelf and I focus in on a women’s health magazine, second row from the bottom, three magazines in. It’s title reads: How to Friend Someone in Real Life.
I shake my head. So sad. So tragic. Has our world really come to this? That we need a how-to on building relationships here? Here, in this space that we have come to label as “real life.” Funny how we now need a distinction, a dividing line. One that defines our “real life” separate from our “fake life.” The two: our life behind screens and on-line profiles & our life alive and interacting with face to face people. When shoulders touch in passing, people stutter through their sentences and we can see the blue and green specks flickering in eyes.
We are living in a time where:
there is an adrenaline that comes from new notifications & stress ulcers begin to form awaiting an anticipated text message to light up your phone screen & you are updated on your friend’s personal lives through a mere Facebook news feed.
we can’t go a day without checking social media and suicide rates stand higher than ever. and we see loneliness sweep through our nation like the black plague. It bites and tears, threatens to make you believe that you are truly worthless and alone.
We are living in a fabricated world of Facebook friends, instagram moments and twitter feeds. Walking amidst a bunch of people who are lonelier than ever before.
Often I dream of the society that existed before the presence of technology, a world absent of conversations through screens and personal information displayed on social media. A time when relationships were carved out of the moments spent together and the memories created side by side, where words were exchanged while looking into each other’s eyes. When you could hear the inflection of their voice, see the emotion written across their face and see the language of their body express the ideas & feelings they try to articulate. People did life along side each other- connecting in the rhythm of the daily life and mundane activities. Hearts met when you arrived at a certain place at a certain time- for such a time as this- you were brought there & you know that you would never have found each other if God hadn’t led you to exactly to that place. Because before technology, you couldn’t meet people through a man-made dating site or through the search box of your Facebook account.
Relationships have become more superficial & less real over the years.
Because it’s easier to hide when there’s a screen between you and the other person. You can say the things you want to say, without shaking hands or sweating through t-shirts or stumbling over words. There is safety behind a screen. But there is also loneliness behind a screen.
It’s sad really, when I look at the way social media has shaped the way so many people do relationships.
Let’s get back to the real, the vulnerable, the face to face connection amidst the daily grind of life.
I miss relationships in the true, beautiful way they used to be before we were drowned in a world of social media. We were made to literally walk along side other people, to look in each others eyes and strive to understand why they crinkle during conversations of injustice or light up at the sound of the piano. To hug them tight, and show them how much you care with a gentle squeeze on the shoulder. A world full of people are standing within our fingertips- don’t hold them at arms length & put up screens between you- instead stretch your hands out and invest. Build a relationship that is real and true, uncontaminated by our fabricated world.
Wondering in the quiet of a Sunday night. Is it possible to MAKE yourself care about people?
Can I clench my fists, conjure up all the self-motivation within me, and will myself to care? Can’t I just make myself be passionate about something? Decide the dreams that I want to dream? Make myself be drawn to the people I want to be drawn to?
i want to care, i want to love, i want to dream, i want to be pulled towards certain things. But as much as I want, some things just do not align with the person I was designed to be. You cannot conjure up passion, roll up your sleeves and dive knee deep into a world of something you’d LIKE to love but don’t REALLY have a heart for.
Because those things are already within you. Our dreams & passions & admirations for other people, they are embedded deep in the molecules that make up our hearts. Naturally each one of us are drawn to different things, inclined to pursue different types of people and pursue different things.
We must pursue without shame all those things that stir up our heart quietly. Without fear of what other people think. Without believing the lie that what we are passionate about, is less important than what another person in passionate about. Absolutely confident & steadfast in the passions & dreams God has given you. We were all designed to love different things- we were made to pursue different things.
I was struck by these words:
“They remind me of the moments when it is clear- if I have eyes to see- that the life I am living is not the same as the life that wants to live in me.”
We don’t always see it- too often we are blind, stuck in the comfort of being okay with where we are and the life we live. Comfort is a wonderful thing but it can also be very dangerous. Being too comfortable, we can get stuck. Okay with half-hearted relationships, okay with a decent job, okay with our overweight body. There is nothing worse than the word okay. Okay is just okay. It’s not good, it’s not bad. It’s lukewarm- the worst way to be.
It is on par with:
Tell me, what is she like?
Oh she’s nice.
Nice? That could mean anywhere from incredible to mean to horrid. The word offers absolutely nothing about a person.
Oh she’s really really nice.
Oh so she’s not just nice, she’s really really nice? oh cool.
Actually, that changes nothing. It still remains that you have given someone the most empty compliment out there.
My goal in life to never be described as nice. Call me aggressive, bubbly, crazy, weird, just anything but nice.
The word okay is exactly the same.
My second goal in life is never live a life that is okay. Hard, painful, adventurous, crazy- anything but okay.
Because there are times where I see it. When there is a flicker of realization and we recognize that who we are falls very short of the potential of what we could be, and who we actually do want to be. When our eyes see. When we see that the person we are is far from the person we want to be. These are the moments of clarity- when we see and desire to be more.
There’s got to be something within you that cries out: i’m tired of being okay. i’m tired of settling for alright. i’m tired of just being enough.
I want my life and my character to explode past the words okay and nice.
It breaks my heart when my friend looks at me from the across the table, both hands clutching around the coffee cup, and says, “I’m just trying to get through the week.” When we approach life as something have to just survive….we are miss the whole point. WE WERE NOT MADE TO SURVIVE THIS LIFE BUT TO LIVE THIS LIFE.
There is a enormous, dynamic, life-altering difference between surviving & living. Between just getting by & carpe diem. Between living until it is the end & living like tomorrow could be the end.
It breaks my heart.
Because, listen. You, child of the creator of the universe—
We. You. Me. Us. were made for dancing. were made for gigantic, whale-sized dreams. were made for beauty you know not of. were made for wonderful. were made for incredible. were made to change the world. Every single one of you.
Don’t sell yourself short. Live loud & bursting with colour & exploding past just surviving and okay. Do things that scare you. Be bold. Be brave. Take risks. Dance for Jesus- because your saviour put a song in your soul and a bounce in your feet. You were made for something so indescribably and incomprehensibly wonderful that a word doesn’t even exist for it, because really, who could sum beauty & world-changing & incredible & phenomenon in just one single word? Bam. Today’s your day, you own this day- lets go change the word.
I like to think that if tomorrow I suddenly stopped breathing and fell over dead, somehow the world would stop spinning. Just for a moment. The foundation of the earth would tremble, just slightly, just a little, because I was gone. That if I died, people would cry, people would grieve, people would miss me everyday. And when I’m gone, I would leave behind a emptiness in people’s lives that can only be filled my laughter, my voice, my smile.
I like to imagine that me, little ol’me, actually matters to the world. That my tiny soul weaving in and out of crowds of 6 billion people, is actually significant to the ebb & flow of the world’s tide.
The rock-hard, heart-hitting truth is I will not make the world stop spinning. The world will not notice or care when my soul no longer roams this earth. My once beating heart, will be replaced by the thousands of newly beating hearts born into the world each day.
We are all desperate for some sort of significance, starving for some sense of worth. We are so hungry for value and we look for it in all the wrong places. In the end, it does not come from the things we accomplished or achieved or gained. If we die with everything in the world but have not loved another, have not invested in other people, poured out our hearts in the things that matter, what have we done with our lives?
Without love we are nothing but an element eroding on the surface of the earth, dust in the wind, clouds bouncing in the sky.
My life may not be essential to the foundation of the earth but if I love & invest in one person, maybe there will be someone who’s world will shake when I depart. Even if it is just one individual. Even if just one heart has trouble beating because I’m no longer here. I want to make myself count to just one person. In the end that’s all that matters. We don’t need to matter to the world, we simply need to matter to a few special, close to our heart people.
Today I find myself sick to my stomach full of lies from a world that does not care.
My heart infested, my mind toxic. Believing that my worth comes from people. Believing that my single-relationship status is a reflection of who I am. Believing that God isn’t really worthy of my trust. Believing that somehow I ought to be in control of making things happen & responsible for the salvation of people’s souls.
The lies have got my heart all tangled up in a giant knot of insecurity, worthlessness, doubt and fear. & it is not conducive to your life to live with you heart stuck in a knot.
All our thoughts of: I’m ugly. I’m worthless. No one will ever love me. God can’t be trusted. I must do this on my own. I don’t need grace. We hear these things so often. They become so ingrained in us, that we mistake them for what they truly are. False. Evil. Toxic. LIES.
Adolf Hitler’s words ring true: If you tell a big enough lie and tell it frequently enough, it will be believed.
Fed these lies over and over again, day in and day out, it is no surprise that we begin to fall for them. The crux of their façade tearing into us syllable by syllable, letter by letter. We believe them and before we can see the gleaning silver of their double edged sword and run fast in the other direction, they invade our veins. No longer a mere thought floating around our head but a cold, potent, fact. At worst, they become our mantra- the melody that plays it’s way through our head, guiding our decisions and ultimately eroding our soul.
It sounds dramatic perhaps but I warn you: Lies, they are dangerous- they infect & destroy all things good and beautiful. They distort your perception of the world, God and yourself. Leaving you broken & confused & feeling like nothing but damaged goods.
You try to combat these lies & the internal emptiness they create by filling your life with more. More people. More activities. More achievements. More opportunities. More exercise. More fun-filled Friday nights. More parties with people you’ve never met. But more is not enough. Your efforts just turn into one large pile stacked high with years of trying & striving & attempting & searching but never finding peace & satisfaction & joy. Where does it end?
As people have spoken into my life, I want to tell you, I need you to hear me:
It must end. You must be brave and say no more, not today, not ever. You cannot keep believing this mantra of lies that names you worthless & invaluable & undesirable.
But, dear, I can’t do it for you. It must be you. It must be you to tell those thoughts- all the ones you have believed so deeply for so long- tell them they are garbage & false & label them what they really are: Lies.
I know it isn’t easy. You’ve been programmed your whole life to believe them. Killing these thoughts, it feels like you are killing part of your self. It’s confusing. It’s painful. It’s scary. But without struggle, we will never triumph.
Start by identifying. Declare that what you once saw as truth & fact are actually damaging, dangerous and false.
Next, clothe yourself with rock-solid and beautiful truth. Go find Truth. Chase after her. Pursue her. Give up everything you have to get her. Run up the steps of her house, knock fiercely. Hug her tightly, apologize for neglecting her and tell her how much you have missed her. Invite her to come back and beg her to never leave your side again. Because Truth can save a life. It can bring healing to all the pain caused by the bitter things you believed about yourself and the world. It can redeem the hearts trained to know nothing else but falling short & never ever, being anything close to enough.
Because I dream of seeing a generation set free from lies. I long to see a people who walk in bold step with the Lord, covered by his truth & drowning in his grace. I promise you, Truth, she will save your life. Cherish her & seek after her always.
I’ve been working on this post for weeks, my heart softening and turning. These words I type are the proclamation of the work being done inside me.
You need to know. Here it is:
I understand now. I get it, finally. Not just with the words of my mouth but in my heart, I understand.
It took some time, away from the computer screen & people talking. Bathing in the silence of me, our friendship and all that has taken place in these last months. I curled up in the corner of the airport, my arms hugging tightly around my knees, watching the endless waves of people walk past me. It seems to be that often it takes going away from the place that you’ve always known, away from the town & people that have shaped you, to really understand some things.
We boarded that air plane, and I found my seat located right in the middle of two over-sized woman, squished between them to the point of restricted movement. There was no comfortable way to sleep and I neglected to bring my phone or any other form of entertainment, so I resorted to a long 5 hour stare down with the back of the seat in front of me.
Thinking, contemplating, wondering. My mind going over and over all the events & emotions of the last couple months.
And right there, in the middle of the plane, between the two ladies, tears rolled down my face. The strangled tears soon turned to sobs, luckily my hysterical state was unbeknownst to the ladies beside me who were lost in their own world of sleep and ear-bud music. All this because I saw how much I had hurt you. & I realized how much I have hurt others. The realization physically ached, twisting my inside heart chords together. I never knew that little ol’me had the power to actually hurt people, I had thought who am I that my actions & words really affect people? But with so much distance between me and God, mingled with harboured judgements and bitterness, clouded by selfishness- I neglected the people that I should have been loving most dearly.
And the story goes like this, what will become part of our story- In your time of utmost hard & struggle, (Esther’s For Such a Time as Time), I abandoned you. Instead of care, I showed a disregard to you and what you were going through. Instead of praying for you, I resisted all conversation with God. Instead of wading through the silence with you, I rushed to fill the space with selfish words.
You must know the regret that I have. How I wish I could have been your “hero” during that time. The person who loved you & encouraged you & when glancing back you’d say, I don’t think I would have survived that without you.
But more than anything, it’s very humbling to realize that I was undoubtedly not that person. I was no hero, no great friend, no glamorous Christian. And the thing is, I could never be there for you completely if I am not doing it through the wisdom & patience & love of Christ. Without a constant returning to His word, clinging to feeble words offered in prayer and seeking His face always, how can we ever love people right?
You asked me if I thought my careless attitude was a result of the status of my faith during that time, and I dismissed the question: as if my neglect was rooted in that, as if that was the problem. Oh but you were so right. I was frustrated with God, I hardly wanted anything to do with prayer and that red-leather book- and as a result my heart was cold & careless, caught up in wanting to have fun & enjoy the moments. Hard hearts never accomplish marvellous things.
I have come to see that compassion is not one of my top 5 shining qualities. Goodness, I don’t think it would even make the top 10. I wish, and I have prayed many times, Lord grant me compassion. Let me see the struggle & the hurt and be compelled to to move. Let me be compelled to care, and feel their pain like its my own. When your best friend’s dad dies, you don’t offer words of judgement & malice. You don’t talk their ear off about your petty problems, while their eyes sit before you vacant of joy. Their green colour, starving for hope, desperate for answers.
All our jagged words exchanged. The conversations where we cracked our hearts open and exposed ourselves raw and real. Admissions of hurt and mistakes came tumbling out. Emotions got in the way of handling our words with care and love, instead malice and bitterness coated our words.
I know it’s not enough to say I’m sorry but it’s something. I’m sorry I wasn’t there when you needed someone. I’m sorry I’ve judged you. I’m sorry I’ve treated you with contempt.
But I hope you remember these words: Brothers (and sisters) they may fight, but brothers (and sisters), they work it out.
And we have fought to redeem our friendship. And God has shown us His grace and we are stronger because of all this messiness of the last couple months.
I have learned that when someone you love is in the middle of a hurricane, what you do is: you stay. You pray. You care. You ask. You listen. You love them no matter what.
In the end, it is not about being a hero or receiving praise because you are *the world’s greatest friend.* It’s about being there, 100% committed to exemplifying that quiet love. The knock, your friend answers the door confused because you didn’t call before coming. You offer a hug and step in the door with a box of chocolate in one hand and a movie in the other. The answering of the phone at quarter past 12:00, just because they need a listening ear and someone who cares. The prayers you whisper before bed, begging God to bring healing and grant comfort to your friend. The hours spent searching the bible, attempting to learn how best to love a friend who is wading through grief.
It’s all about the small things. The gentle, patient actions of intentional care and love. It’s doing the things that manifest the love of Christ, even if other’s don’t see it, you still do them because God has given us a call to love. To stick with our brothers and sisters through thick and thin, because joy and friendship is worth fighting for.
I really hope you read this because I wrote it for you. It is what I have learned, and foremost, it is an apology in how I know how to do it best, in words pieced together on a screen.