Let Your Heart Bleed

In a sea of new faces and new places, I fumble my way through everything unknown and unfamiliar. And I have become aware of this ache, one that sits just below my chest, pulsing longing & desire & questions. It’s the ache of missing. It’s heavy and unexpected and it has caused my blue eyes to paint too many salt-soaked emotions down my cheeks.

Josh Groban, a man with the voice of the angel, recently came out with a new album. Listening to the songs on repeat, this one lyric always swims around in my head and I ponder it quietly. He sings:

“I don’t take it lightly, the trouble that I’ve gone through to get you to know who I am.”

He’s singing about the ending of a relationship, the unravelling of two hearts that have learned the crevices of one another. Because it takes time for two souls to learn one another. It’s not simply a I just stubbed my toe and move on with it kind of deal, but a I fell down the stairs and I’m leaving stains behind of the skin & blood of my heart. Because you have invested, exposed the damaged & sacred places of yourself. When you say goodbye to someone, you leave behind drops of your bleeding heart embedded in theirs.

Do I really have to do this again? let more people in, crack open my bruised heart, take the time to show them the things I hold dear & the dreams I have & the things that make me laugh until tears crawl down my cheeks.

I have poured out so much of me into the relationships I left back home. and I thought I could just leave them behind and plunge head first into a sea of thousands of new faces?

Every relationship has the fundamental component of learning the other person: their humour, their wide-eyed dreams, the things stored in their heart, the stories that shape the core of who they are, and all the things that make their face curl into a smile & make their spirit bubble with joy.

And like all the best things, relationships unfold slowly. Not always steady, sometimes rocky, but every interaction & conversation teaches us something new.

It takes time to know people, it is a gradual process in which you discover, have experiences and begin to do life alongside them. You don’t learn someone overnight, and we will never reach a point in which you can place someone in a box and boldly say, I know exactly who you are. Because there are things we may never know and things we will never understand unless we literately morph into the soul & body of that person for several years.

I miss the people that know me. I miss people who understand my humour & understand my heart without requiring explanation of my past.

This tear-soaked face that looks back at me in the mirror, yes that fragile & wondering face, it is the face of a girl who has whispered the same question every day for the last three weeks: What am I doing here?

A whispered answer: Mikayla, you are here for a reason. I have you here to invest and pour out and bleed yourself into this new place. To get to know many more beautiful souls because you just might find someone special or someone who needs you or someone who can teach you something valuable.

In this life, we are going to collide with many faces in the places we go & things that we do. Even though it can be painful & it’s rarely easy to let your heart bleed, investing in the people around you is always worth it.

Knowing someone, and them knowing you. And not just knowing, but understanding- that is a beautiful gift to be sought after. It should be pursued, and those who find those people, who connect with other souls- oh they are blessed. Because we were created for relationships & not to do this life alone, but together and intertwined with other beating, bleeding hearts.

love, mikayla

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Don’t Live In a Box

“Ah, I know exactly what kind of girl you are.”

Excuse me?
What an presumptuous thing to say.
How dare you.

I want to lean over the table and grab the collar of his shirt, and shout fierce and indignant: you do not know me. You have no right to say such things. You can’t “know” someone after an hour spent in a McDonald’s booth, talking over fries & baked apple pies.

You don’t know the stories that make me who I am, you don’t know how I’ve hurt & struggled. you don’t know where I’ve been, the people I hold dear to me or the memories that shape each crevice of my heart.

And if you think you can wrap me around your finger like that- think you know all about me- without caring enough to get to know who I am, well then, you certainly aren’t what I’m looking for.

People are not like math, and they certainly aren’t like chemistry.

They cannot be pegged to a formula, calculated with variable and numbers. They cannot be bonded by molecules or expected to react according to a fundamental theory. Combining brown hair + blue eyes + athletic + kind + firstborn + male, will not create the same reaction each time.

We, humans, just ain’t that simple & predictable.

And for anyone who thinks we are: did you know the human brain is known as the most sophisticated thing in the universe? Our hearts pumps 2,000 gallons of blood per day, we are made up of 7,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 (7 octillion) atoms, and our skin has self-healing capabilities.

We must stop putting people into boxes.

It is not possible to compress hearts bursting out of chests, personalities too big for a single adjective, souls mysterious & unique, all into neatly shaped squares. We get labels slapped on us like paint thrown on a wall. You will be yellow, no changing that. You are an athlete. You are a writer. You are funny. You are a leader. But wait. What if I want to be an amalgamation of yellow, blue & green? The world says, no, just stay in your box where all is safe and simple.

And then there is the most tender label of them all, the one loaded with judgement & opinions & assumptions:
I’m a Christian.
Oh, your one of those. One of those narrow mind people, who’s only goal is to get me saved.
We have centuries of brokenness that add scars to our history. Of people who have been burned by the church. Of people who have been deeply scarred by those who claim faith. Of people who sleep around Friday night and sing praises to Jesus Sunday morning. We are imperfect people, trying to make sense of a messy world.

It is a hard label to wear.. We get judgements and opinions stapled to our sleeves before we have a chance to show them that this faith we have is real, and so rich in grace, and we are out here to live wildly for Him.

I say enough is enough. Can we make a unanimous decision to throw away labels and squares forever?

Enough of trying to be like some made up idea of cool or beautiful or interesting. Enough confining ourselves to boxes. Enough stuffing other people in boxes. Who are you? You are you. You are (insert name here) __________________. 100% you. a picture of a thousand dreams and stories to tell. No specific colour because we humans are a portrait of modern art. Canvases of every colour splashed and painted on, lines and circles and dots creating marvellous patterns of you. Living wildly and widely and loudly in our own skin.

If we are striving to be the most adorable or the most funny or the most intelligent or the most friendly, we are always going to fall short. We will always endlessly be pointing at people, thinking or saying, I’m not as funny as them. Or I’m not as beautiful as them. Or I’m not as smart as them. In trying to be enough, we will forever find that we are not enough.

I’ll echo Hilary’s words:
hearts are too beautiful to spend on a word like enough, on a measurement, on a tangled illusion.

Instead of being enough, go be you. Chase what you love without fear of what a single person on this earth thinks, because our frail, humanly judgements mean squat when we consider what life is really about. Live free of expectation & labels. Be bold in the wondrous soul God has given you.

love, mikayla

You Just Are

“How are you really doing?” I dared to ask the question, uncertain if I even wanted to hear the answer.

“All want is to have him back, here with me..” She whispered quietly one night on a long, dark car ride back home.

My heart lurches some place unknown and unfamiliar. What to say?
Sorry he really wont be coming back or it's going to be okay or the bible promised... or I understand how you feel, when really I don't even know the first thing about loss.

Because I have no idea what it means to lose a father, to have someone you love dearly die.

At this, words elude me and I have no idea what I can offer. And I have come to believe that it is in these moments, where there is really nothing to be said. Words can do marvelous things but in some situations, there isn’t a word or a neatly constructed sentence in the world that can lessen the pain, change the situation or make it any better. It is in these moments when it seems that there is no perfect way to be- that there is no right way of orchestrating my words or actions. And so in the midst of the not-knowing and the pain that lingers so tangibly you feel you could reach out and touch it with your finger tips, right there- you just are.

You wade through the silence beside your friend. Maybe you take their hand and hold it firmly, or place a gentle hand on their shoulder, a simple gesture just so they know you are there and aren’t going anywhere. Or other times, you just sit or stand with them and you don’t leave. You stay firmly planted beside them as they try to make sense of the grief.

Moments like these, you just are.

Grief is a strange thing. It is a heavy cloud that looms over, changing from day to day, even moment to moment. Some days she is right with me laughing and talking in the same old familiar way we have, and other days I can see how the grief lingers heavy. Her eyes tell me more than her words; they crinkle with hurt and hold all the unanswered questions. But how to navigate the cloud of grief? She asks, maybe not in so many words, but she wonders about how to mourn or feel or how much to try to move on. And I don’t know anymore than she does, probably even less.

C.S Lewis writes in A Grief Observed:
“Aren’t all these notes the senseless writings of a man who won’t accept the fact that there is nothing we can do with suffering except to suffer it?”

The only way to navigate that cloud of grief is through. All one can do is keep walking, keep on voyaging forward. Through the confusion, through the pain, through the sorrow, through the deep emotion. Eventually one will arrive at a place where the sky is a little more clear, a little brighter. Where things will make a bit more sense, or at least, there will be an acceptance of the not understanding.

Then, in those times- when words have lost their power and frankly, you have no idea what you could possibly do to help the cloud of grief disappear- just be. Because I think that is best you can do when life throws you those awful yet oddly precious moments; where you have the opportunity to stand beside those who have come face to face with the toughest of what life has to offer.

love, mikayla

Goodbyes

The tune haunts me as it plays it’s way through my mind.

It taunts me, “why do all good things come to an end, come to an end?” That old Nelly Furtado song.

It’s true.
Why does it seem that everything good and beautiful comes to an end?

I’ve asked this question a lot this year. As everything is changing and people are leaving, I’m being thrown into a new season of life whether I’m ready for it or not. Sometimes change happens so slowly, so gradually, that you hardly even notice things becoming different. But then, sometimes change happens so fast. And all of a sudden you feel like you’re thrust into something you don’t quite feel ready for. This is how I felt about graduating.

I wasn’t ready to leave, I wasn’t ready to say goodbye. I love my high school; with it’s carpeted floors stained with the footprints of all the people I had spent the last four years with and it’s concrete walls enclosing the countless memories of those years. After I walked across that stage in my blue gown and graduation cap, the tassel waving around my face, the last few weeks went by so fast. I remember blinking, and then all of a sudden, I found myself on the last day of school scribbling words into yearbooks- Knowing this was the final signing. And I was right there, trying somehow to capture all of the last four years and all I wanted to say to people about who they are and about their future, into one tiny paragraph in the corner of the page. That day was a celebration for most, but no, not for me. I was close to tears that day, as I was forced to say far too many goodbyes knowing that no matter what I wrote or they wrote about keeping in touch or “hanging out,” I really wouldn’t see most of these people again.

I wonder why I find it such a harsh reality. I think it is because the saying goodbye – the moving on from a place you have invested so much of your heart in and have come to cherish and love – that seems to be the way of life.

We go wonderful places, experiences marvellous things, meet beautiful people and then we have to leave. Maybe we go to camp for the summer or to Europe to travel or work at Starbucks for a year or attend University for four years or live in this house or spend 10 years volunteering at a orphanage or spend one blissful summer day at the lake. No matter what it is, one day, just like that, we will leave these things behind and move on to something else.

Its hard because I know that this is something that will never change. When I think of the future, where I might go and who I might meet, I know I’ll have to say more goodbyes. The more I do and the more I invest, the more I have to leave behind.

In some moments I so desperately wish I could freeze the world, and stay exactly where I am and keep everything exactly how it is. I wish I could stay there for as long as I would like, until I am finally ready to move on. Why does it so often feel like we are ripped away from something, taken away before we are ready to leave?

As I’ve been thinking about all of this, I came across a post from one of my favorite blogs out there (thewildlove). What I came across was this:

I think that’s the way of the world, the way that I have trouble with – that what we cherish we must somehow release.
I remembered that the act of holding is, must be, an act of release.

It really is the way of the world. But I will tell you something I have come to find- I’ll stand firm, look you in the eye, and I tell you with vibrant honesty – that I am glad that it is hard. I have learned to be okay, even be grateful for the tough goodbyes. The hard indicates so much to the beautiful truth: that I have loved deeply that which I tearfully say goodbye to. I wouldn’t want it any other way. I aspire to be blessed enough to go somewhere, to do things, to meet people, that break my heart to leave.

Reading my own words, it does sounds a little backwards. But oh it is true. I believe it’s one of the most difficult parts of life: the loving and the letting go. But I have been learning that we can not live in a place where we live desperate to try and hold on to things of the past. If we attempt to hold people too close or cling too much to what has past, we forget to live in the now.

As much as I dread the leaving, the hard goodbyes – I want to be someone who invests in people, who pours out her heart to each place she goes. I want to be someone who keeps giving and loving, even if when she does it will make the eventual goodbye more painful. To love enough that the goodbye hurts- that is something to treasure.

love, mikayla

Refreshed

I crawl into the bed at the end of the day, thankful to be under the warm blankets. They mean rest and peace, even if just for a short time. With my old package of matches, I light the sweet scented candles beside my bed. They illuminate the room with their flickering flame and give me just enough light to read the words on my bible. It lays open above my pillow, and I attempt to read it’s words. I know I should, I know I need to. But a powerful force pulls on my eyelids and I can’t help it when my eyes slowly shut.

I viciously shake my head, and will myself to stay awake and focus on the ink words printed across the silver pages. I begin to notice that I’ve read the same sentence 20 times and it’s meaning still escapes me. I’m trying, I’m trying but I’m just so tired. My body demands that I let it sleep. I let my eyes close, and decide to attempt talking to God instead but I find myself slipping in and out of consciousnesses again. I cannot deprive my tired body any longer. I drop my bible to the floor and it hits with an echoing thud, reminding me that once again, I have failed. The instant my head meets the pillow, I am gone.

I repeat this pattern day after day, unable to utter a word in prayer or read the words in my bible. Because I am tired, worn out, sleep deprived and there simply does not seem to be enough time. I spend my day running fast from one activity to the next. Running, always running. Desperately trying to make the most of the time I have, because the minutes relentless tick by. The clock never stops. The world continues to spin and spin, and time continues to pass me by.

And it terrifies me.

Time is so precious and I must not waste a moment of it. This is why I go through my days desperate to fill up every moment, trying tirelessly to live a life that’s worthwhile. As determined as I am, my efforts wear me thin. They render me exhausted, to the point where I no longer have the energy to spend time with the one who gave me life in the first place. In my desperate attempts to conquer the ever churning clock, I forfeit time with the one who makes my life worth living.

It is irony at it’s finest. The very thing I push out of my neat and tidy schedule, is the very thing I need to face each day. Time with Jesus is essential. It rejuvenates, it heals, it inspires, it teaches, it refreshes our weary hearts. It fills us up to we can be sent out. His word, His presence, it is my fuel. Without, I am simply running on empty. No wonder I find myself burnt out and exhausted. How do I expect to function when my gas gauge is below empty?

-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.

Today I went on a walk with God. I forgot work and sports and the pressing deadlines and my neglected to-do list, and I committed some time to Him. I talked to Him, I listened. I was still in His presence and I read His word. And to my surprise and delight, He refreshed my soul. He rejuvenated my tired heart, my weary mind and thread-bare faith. I needed that time with Him so desperately, it had been far too long.

Speaking to my worn-out heart, He brought me to Isaiah 55:

“Come, all you who are thirsty,
come to the waters…
Why spend money on what is not bread,
and your labor on what does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,
and you will delight in the richest of fare.”

In this chasm of time, let us invest in what satisfies. In the midst of the running and the trying, let us seek His presence. I know it’s hard and time is ticking. Our desperation to make the most of our short lives, causes it to be so hard to spend time with Him. But it is so necessary, so vital. We need to be refilled. We need to be re-energized. And we need to be refreshed.

love, mikayla

Trust Me

As I dig my fingers into the sand and stare into the Okanagan sky lit up with more stars than I’m ever used to seeing, I realize that I’m stuck. Not physically, because I’m sitting in beach sand, not sinking sand, but stuck in my faith. I’ve spent this year under the illusion that there exists a way for me to hold you at arms length and keep you somewhere safe where you won’t mess with my heart or my dreams.

Because the truth is, I don't trust you yet.

How can I give your all my desires, all my dreams, all my heart, and trust that you will truly do what’s best with them? How can I believe that, even when it hurts and it’s hard, you are doing something more wonderful that I can see? And how can I trust that if you send me somewhere, even if I really don’t want to go there, it is the best place I could possibly be?

My heart has been demanding answers to these hard questions for a long time. I need to know. I need to believe that I can really trust you.

On this night, as I stare at the lake and behold the stars, I am suddenly aware of how very small I am. It dawns on me that maybe, I don’t really even understand my own desires. That somehow, I don’t even understand my own heart. & I realize that the work you are doing on my heart, so often seems like nothing but a messy array of joy and then pain, of love and then rejection. I have such a hard time seeing it but I know your work is good, oh I know. Sometimes it seems like nothing but hurt, but you are mending me. Sometimes it seems like chaos, but you are molding me. Sometimes it seems like confusion but you are teaching me.

I understand a whole lot less than I think I do, about myself and what I want and who you are. I echo some words I once read, I do not understand one thing in this world. Not one. When I whisper those words, there are days they feel so achingly true. With so many lingering questions and prodding thoughts, I feel like I do not understand anything.

But He does.

He knitted me together. He made my heart, he made my mind, he orchestrated my body so that it functions. He understands things about me that I don’t even understand. He knows more about my heart than I do: the way it seems to long and ache, and cry out for meaning. I might not understand, but He does.

So perhaps I can trust Him to hold my heart. To let Him enclose his strong, knowing hands around everything I am, and trust that He will not crush me underneath his great strength. To try and do it all on my own would be foolish, masochistic even. After all, do I trust myself or the maker of the heavens, earth and every living breathing human being?

Trust me, He whispers.

And just maybe I can.

love, mikayla