Lies Cannot Drive Out Lies, Only Truth Can Do That

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Here’s the thing:

If you scroll through my instagram from the last five months, I can guarantee that you will see happy, uplifting posts. Rarely digging below the surface. Rarely touching on issues of the heart.

Social media has this way of covering up all the darkness in our life. It’s simple; we apply filters to the pictures and in turn, filter our lives of anything that doesn’t match our aesthetic.

Online we are scarcely honest with others, let alone ourselves. It is not something that gets shared. It doesn’t get the likes. Instead we write pretty poetic words and hide behind the screen.

I’m breaking that. I am going to be really truthful in the post. I hope you’ll stick around.

This past semester was the hardest group of months I have ever faced.

I had just returned from a fantastic summer working at a camp with the most amazing kids and fellow staff members. God was integrated into every aspect of my day and I was feeling so close to him.

Then I arrived back to school. My college is a Christian liberal arts school. It is wonderful. I honestly thank my university for the ways that it has grown me the past three years.

But things got tricky. I was in withdrawal from the community that I had over the summer but was also tired of the lying that had taken hold of my heart. I had been working for years on the idea of reconciling myself and my faith and I finally felt like I had achieved that.

So, in October, I came out. I posted on Facebook that I was unveiling the masks in my life. That there was a facet of my identity that had been hidden for far too long.

I am a Christian

and I am gay.

I thought freedom awaited me after revealing that truth.

But instead, I got messages that told me I was an abomination. Telling me I would burn in hell. That my opinion on this matter was not as equally valid as others. That people like me, who held the belief that our identity could be multifaceted, were underdeveloped.

I held a strong front. I interacted with those who openly stated their defiance to my claim and I tried to do that cordially. I met with peers, I excused their naivety and ignorance– the hurtful statements that they made and the ways that they dismissed my hurt.

I met with leaders of my school. The president of student life, of the college, of Student Government. I wanted to know how my peers could be acting in these ways, how they could be so isolating, and how my university could stand by while this all occurred.

My college did an okay job at starting discourse. There were public conversations on the changing of the covenant language to be more minority inclusive (especially in the area of LGBTQA+ youth). Professors gave talks. But still, the student voice felt muffled.

 

and I pushed others away because I couldn’t stand the feeling of not being heard or seen or valid.

 

We were throwing ourselves against an iceberg and it didn’t seem to ever move.

You can only throw yourself into something before the isolation and the pain of your breaking point is met.

I was diagnosed with severe depression before Christmas and started medication early January.

There is a stigma around medication that makes me cringe. There is a stigma that makes me want to pull my hair, scream into the void, and flush my medication down the drain.

But, I have an imbalance in my brain. The medication allows the proper amount of serotonin to be produced. It allows me to swing my legs over the side of my bed. It allows me to go to class, to get back into the conversations, to actually empathize and care about other people.

Medication is not bad. It does not zombify all people. Instead, my medication allows me to fight back against my depression. To fully embrace the person I know I am inside.

 

I’ve been praying this past week for God to break me.

That may seem drastic and insane and crazy but let me tell you why it needed to happen.

I started praying this prayer because I had built up myself into some sort of hard-hearted pirate who didn’t need anything underneath her feet but the pedestal I had built myself. I started praying this prayer because I needed God to break me down and then to build me up from bone, to make breath enter me so that I will come to life and know that He is God (Ezekiel 37:5).

 

And I am not sure yet how much I will break. I am not sure in what ways this play out. But I know that He is the source of my strength and I want to be able to stand only because it is on the rock of His salvation.

This past semester was hard and testing and trying. But without it, I doubt I would have been able to stand up so tall today and talk about love and reconciliation and prayer.

We need to love each other so much right now. With hate and darkness and not-knowing surrounding the United States right now, we need to love each other fiercely.

Because as Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. said “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Dear Future Daughter (Vol. 2)

12/13/16

Part 1

Last time I wrote you, I told you about Joy and Despair. I told you to feel things… even when you don’t want to. Maybe even especially when you don’t want to.

This time, I don’t have a pretty little story for you. I’m sorry babygirl. Sometimes, I think of stories and go to write them down and the words don’t come.

There will be days when the words don’t come.

There will be days when the words don’t come and you will feel like your whole purpose has disappeared. You will feel distant and you will push those who care away.

On those days, pull people closer. Pull them to you so tightly you can hear the wild bird of a heartbeat raging in their chest. Pull them so tight you can feel humanity bridging itself back together.

Part two.

There will days, my angel, when the words might come but, you will wrestle with yourself to even understand if you are actually feeling the contradictions inside you. Because you are a mess of contradictions all tied up pretty with a shiny red bow. And that is okay. That is human.

It is human to be happy one second, to be eating at the table with Joy, only to find that Despair was sitting in the living room the whole time. Invite Despair to sit with you. He gets lonely sometimes, just like you.

Joy will flash him a sad smile and say “Despair, don’t you want some hot cocoa? It’s snowy and cold and grey out. We need to keep our spirits up.”

Despair will snort. “What’s the use, Joy? Do you really think that a cup of hot drink will change that it’s hard to get out of bed? And you–” he’ll whisper, turning to face you, “how did you do it? How’d you get out bed?”

Part Three.

You need to answer Despair honestly. Tell him the truth, sweetheart. Tell him about how the snow falling down so steady and light makes it easier to breathe, makes it easier to go outside because you feel the sharp intake of your breath.

Tell him how some days it’s actually a war inside your head to sit yourself up, swing your legs over the edge of your mattress, and stand. Tell him how sometimes you don’t. Sometimes, the darkness will win. And the words won’t come. And you will feel so alone.

Joy will set her hand on your shoulder now. She will sigh. Because even Joy knows that some days are hard. She knows. She fights to keep Hope around too.

Part Four.

Babygirl, keep your head up. This sounds pessimistic, but right now I am fighting. To stay afloat. To stay breathing. To stay Hopeful and smiling and holding onto Silver Linings. You’ll have those days too. You’ll have those seasons.

You will fight. Harder. Because I am a worrier, but you are a warrior. You will grasp Hope tightly and I will be there every step of the way, braiding silver linings into your hair.

You’ll be okay sweetheart. I promise you, you will be okay.

Part Five.

But don’t feel like you need to be. It is okay to not be okay, angel. It is okay to be broken and unsteady and unsure.

It is okay to feel your feet slipping under the weight of everything you are carrying. To know that on  the bad days, you need to curl up under heavy blankets and have a friend hold you together when you are breaking apart. It is okay to feel your feet give way. It is okay to feel small and insignificant.

But know that you are curled up in that bed with lies. It is time to wake up and tell the lies to leave. Tell them to get out. Tell them that they are no longer welcome, nope. Go home and don’t call again.

It is okay to not be okay… as long as you work on being okay again. Because you will be. I promise.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Part 1

Last time I wrote you, I told you about Joy and Despair. I told you to feel things… even when you don’t want to. Maybe even especially when you don’t want to.

This time, I don’t have a pretty little story for you. I’m sorry babygirl. Sometimes, I think of stories and go to write them down and the words don’t come.

There will be days when the words don’t come.

There will be days when the words don’t come and you will feel like your whole purpose has disappeared. You will feel distant and you will push those who care away.

On those days, pull people closer. Pull them to you so tightly you can hear the wild bird of a heartbeat raging in their chest. Pull them so tight you can feel humanity bridging itself back together.

Part two.

There will days, my angel, when the words might come but, you will wrestle with yourself to even understand if you are actually feeling the contradictions inside you. Because you are a mess of contradictions all tied up pretty with a shiny red bow. And that is okay. That is human.

It is human to be happy one second, to be eating at the table with Joy, only to find that Despair was sitting in the living room the whole time. Invite Despair to sit with you. He gets lonely sometimes, just like you.

Joy will flash him a sad smile and say “Despair, don’t you want some hot cocoa? It’s snowy and cold and grey out. We need to keep our spirits up.”

Despair will snort. “What’s the use, Joy? Do you really think that a cup of hot drink will change that it’s hard to get out of bed? And you–” he’ll whisper, turning to face you, “how did you do it? How’d you get out bed?”

Part Three.

You need to answer Despair honestly. Tell him the truth, sweetheart. Tell him about how the snow falling down so steady and light makes it easier to breathe, makes it easier to go outside because you feel the sharp intake of your breath.

Tell him how some days it’s actually a war inside your head to sit yourself up, swing your legs over the edge of your mattress, and stand. Tell him how sometimes you don’t. Sometimes, the darkness will win. And the words won’t come. And you will feel so alone.

Joy will set her hand on your shoulder now. She will sigh. Because even Joy knows that some days are hard. She knows. She fights to keep Hope around too.

Part Four.

Babygirl, keep your head up. This sounds pessimistic, but right now I am fighting. To stay afloat. To stay breathing. To stay Hopeful and smiling and holding onto Silver Linings. You’ll have those days too. You’ll have those seasons.

You will fight. Harder. Because I am a worrier, but you are a warrior. You will grasp Hope tightly and I will be there every step of the way, braiding silver linings into your hair.

You’ll be okay sweetheart. I promise you, you will be okay.

Part Five.

But don’t feel like you need to be. It is okay to not be okay, angel. It is okay to be broken and unsteady and unsure.

It is okay to feel your feet slipping under the weight of everything you are carrying. To know that on  the bad days, you need to curl up under heavy blankets and have a friend hold you together when you are breaking apart. It is okay to feel your feet give way. It is okay to feel small and insignificant.

But know that you are curled up in that bed with lies. It is time to wake up and tell the lies to leave. Tell them to get out. Tell them that they are no longer welcome, nope. Go home and don’t call again.

It is okay to not be okay… as long as you work on being okay again. Because you will be. I promise.

 

Issues of the Heart. Part 1.

10/21/16

I think the church is having a major heart problem right now. Maybe this heart problem is just confined to my college campus, maybe it’s not. Either way, I feel the need to personally talk about it and address it. I feel the need because it has become a part of my story and my journey and my life.

I’m going to preface this with scripture . Mark 12:30-31 says “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
No. Greater. Commandment.

 

None, zilch, nada.

 

There is nothing we are called to above loving God and above loving our neighbor.

I think we struggle with the latter. I think we have a hard time loving those who are different. The weird neighbor, the one who looks like us but has that secret—the one thing that we don’t talk about.

I’m guess I’m the weird neighbor. I have a not-so-secret-anymore secret. It’s out. People know. They talk. Assumptions get made. And honestly—the church is doing a shitty job at loving us. They are being prejudice, and extending hate over grace, and being flat out cruel.

They aren’t loving their neighbors as they love themselves because anyone who wants to feel the way that I am being made to feel needs to work on other things first.

They are making me feel dehumanized. Every message. Every insinuated post. They are making a naturally extroverted verbal process shrink inside her head and stay there.

They are making me feel invalid. Like my stance doesn’t matter. Like there is a right and wrong. It’s like because I hold the belief that I do—I am not worth hearing out. Or if they seek out conversation it’s to shove their belief down my throat or make me feel like I am somehow at fault for my view. I feel like I’m being shoved inside a box. I feel like I am being condemned.

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

Romans 8:1 promises us that we are free from condemnation through Christ Jesus. We all are and we are supposed to love our neighbors.

I am instantly reminded of the story in John 8, the one with the woman who is being charged with adultery. The people of the town are about to stone her for her actions. I feel like that woman. I can imagine the fear in her heart, the way it resembles an iron fist wrapping around her ventricles and atriums, choking off her life but yet she still has to go about her days. She had to stand there and accept her fate. I feel like I am frozen and having to accept my fate.

That’s not right. And I find hope in the rest of this story. I find comfort, like I often do, in the words of Jesus. I find comfort in the implications of the line ““Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Because they couldn’t. They couldn’t throw a single stone.

Loving your neighbor means exchanging stones for grace. Exchanging stones for buckets and buckets of grace and just when you think you’re on the right track, request more grace.

I think we get caught up in the moment, of the reactions, of the feelings that we don’t match against truth. We speak out in anger and pride and self-righteousness.

But to love God with all our heart and body and soul and mind means to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.

Sin is a heart problem, love is not.

I’m going to say that one more time, because it’s important.

Sin is a heart problem, love is not.

Sin destroys. Sin is dark and secretive and addictive.

Love wins. Love is light and joyful and freeing.

I have sin in my life that I struggle with. I am an idolater. I place things on pedestals and let them take the place of God. I think that is one of my many sins, it’s definitely the root of many of my sins. I sin every day when I lie, lust, speak out in anger, give into my prideful thoughts, etc.

Love is not a sin. Love is waking up every single day and deciding that you are going to choose someone over and over again. Love is vulnerability and intimacy and support. It’s talking about the dark things and the light things and the medium things. It’s talking about all the things and then putting Christ at the center of everything. Love is good. Love is patient. Love is kind.

So once again I’ll say this: Sin is a heart problem but, my dear, love is not.

And I am so thankful that is so.

 

Fine China

9/29/16

(pic credit)

“Thank you for sharing your fine china, sister.”

When I was younger my mother would take me to thrift stores. I’ve always been fascinated with them, the aisles on aisles of things left behind and forgotten, the shelves full of lost things.

My favorite items in these stores were plates and cups. The way they were all created differently but had a similar purpose, to be used and to help us. I would find myself running fingers along the edges of plates and staring through the tops of cups and mugs, trying to lose myself in the curves and designs. The finer the china, the most I was enamored with it.

There was one cup I remember most. It was small and white, with dark green foliage wrapping around the base and sides of the cup. The handle was broken in half, but the cup still looked perfect. I don’t know what it was about that cup, but it look like it was suppose to be that way. I didn’t think less of the cup because it was broken, I didn’t think I would hide this china away either– keeping it safe until a special time.

Sometimes, I think our walks with God resemble the hiding away of fine china.

I met with my spiritual mentor yesterday. It was our first meeting, we were still in that awkward ‘getting to know you’ stage. I opened up way more than I was expecting to. But why is that so? Why was I going into this intentional time already prepared to filter the way that I appear? We should not be afraid of our broken handles.

So I met with her. And I told her about all the darkness that lies in the corners of my life, I opened up about the deepest of struggles– some that I haven’t even told those around me I’m dealing with.

We can’t live hiding away all the fine china of our lives. We need to open up the cupboards, bring out the plates and cups and teapots– regardless of the chips, scratches, and broken handles– and share them around the table with our friends and fellow brothers and sisters.



I’m going to say it again: we should not be afraid of our broken handles.



Sometimes I wonder why God gave me the battles that he gave me: why I grew up in the household I did, the struggle I have with food, my issues with control. I wonder why I had all the cracks in my handles that led it to breaking. But really, those things aren’t the most important thing. They aren’t the foliage on the side of my mug. They are just the rugged edge of the broken handle.

My foliage is dense and lush. It decorates me in a way that is unique: I am a musician and actress, I love heart to hearts with people, I write because sometimes the words won’t come out, and I enjoy warm coffee every day. It decorates me in ways that unite me with others: I am a daughter and a sister, I am a child of God, and I have a heart for youth ministry.

We can’t hide our fine china away. We need to share it, we need to share our brokenness with others. You need to know you are not alone. I promise you, you aren’t alone.

Tunnel Vision

9/11/16

There are times when I feel like I see my life through a peep hole in a door.

My vision is tunneled and I can’t see past what’s right in front of me. Right now, I am trying not to look past what’s right in front of me.

I am trying to see the good in everything around me. I am trying to expand this tunnel vision inch by inch but the more I try to push against the view, the more it backfires and it shrinks.

I feel stuck in a box that is closing in on me. Labels and stereotypes and stigmas. Everything I thought I had escaped when I surrendered this part of my life (you can ask me about this if you’d like, but I’ll probably not write about it) to Christ is crashing into me and I’m stuck looking at life through a peep hole.

I’m going to be honest here.

I hate the verse “come to me all who are weary and I will give you rest.” I hate “for my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Because honestly (and pardon my French) that is all the fucking time.

I am always tired and weary and my back always aches from the metaphorical weight I am lugging around with me. I am constantly worn-out by the load that this life deals out to us.

So yeah, I like the idea of giving my suitcases full of baggage to Christ. I like the idea that I can feel light and easy and care-free. But in reality I think you need to admit that the world is so broken every day, but also request that you have the strength and peace to move through it as effortlessly as possible. This process is a lot more like a daily cup of coffee: You need to pour yourself a cup of grace, and some days you’ll need two.

There will be days when your vision is tunneled and you can only see the things that are heavy-laden. There will be days when sitting in your room by yourself for two hours feels like an eternity. There will be days when the silence is too thick and you can’t hear yourself think over the static.

On days like this, step back. Stop looking for an alternative way around things. Just feel. Just feel all the things that you are feeling. It’s okay to hurt. It’s okay to not know whether you’re feeling too much or not at all. It’s okay. You are okay.

On days like this, make sure to pour a little extra grace in your cup.

Make sure to give it to yourself, that’s not selfish. That’s not narcissistic. That’s being human and knowing that loving yourself is the only way you’re going to be able to love others better.

There are times when I feel like I see my life through a peep hole in a door. My vision is tunneled and I can’t see past what’s right in front of me. Right now, I am trying not to look past what’s right in front of me.

Right now, I am trying to extend grace to myself and love myself despite the persecution I am facing. Right now, I am trying to find comfort in a yoke that is easy and a burden that is light. I am trying to find rest.

We’re okay.

We will be okay.

I promise.

Joy will come in the morning.

Press on.

Keep pressing on.

>> a prayer to share:

Lord, help me find comfort in the fact that you walked this earth and faced persecution and still you can say “my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” I pray that you extend the grace of your love to me Father, that you extend this peace and this light to me. Help me to rest, God. Help me to rest and to give rest to others. Amen. <<

Weeds Into Flowers: God Created Us To Be More Than Small

9/2/16

(Pic Credit: Mapleridge Ranch)

In the past seven months, I’ve been praying a prayer to be smaller.

I think the need to be smaller comes from a society that tries to shut us up inside a box of labels they deem appropriate for us. The smaller you are, the less labels they can fit onto your packaging tape.

Seven months ago my box would have read Christian, depressed, anxious, anorexic, hypocrite. Part of living inside that box meant that I identified with those labels. I identified myself as a mess of a human that was struggling to keep her head above the darkness that surrounded her.

I know that I write a lot about the darkness. But I have this firm belief that if we don’t even acknowledge something then it has the power to grow stronger roots and take hold of our life. I never want to let the darkness take hold of my life again so I’m going to focus on the ways out, on the light that shines unto my path like a mid-day sun.

This past summer I was working with a woman who spoke love like it boils over in her bones. She could tell when I was not okay and she always knew the words to say, and when words weren’t necessary. Making others feel like they mattered was a second nature to this girl and helping me see that truth was something she took on as a challenge for the summer.

It took me most of the first 4 weeks of this 6-week camp to really realize I was not okay. To realize that there was a fear deep-rooted in my heart and I was riding shotgun to it.

All these lies that tell us that we are not worthy or capable or adequate all comes down to the fact that we are riding shotgun to fear. And riding shotgun is something that I seem to do often.

I think this all really boils to down to fear.

In the root of my smallness and desire to have things that are bigger than myself rests fear, all snuggled up like he owns one of the rooms in my heart. Fear doesn’t play no games neither. He gets right to the point and whispers lies and uncertainties into your ears at night, or when you would least expect him too.

In the bible there are many occasions when followers of God were frightened and let fear drive their life but my favorite is found in Matthew—when Jesus walks on water. You see, the disciples were fine out there on that boat, but then they saw Jesus and were terrified because they thought he was a ghost.

I’d be lying if I didn’t say my fear is a fear of ghosts per say. Not specters that haunt us from ‘the other side” but ghosts that have brown eyes and a crooked smile, ghosts that look like dancing across a stage with grace and confidence. Ghosts that came in so subtly but then left abruptly, ripping a chunk of my life out and taking it with them. I am afraid of these pieces. What losing them meant and what it means to go forward without them.

I think we all have these pieces of us we carry. These ghosts that cause us all so much fear. We need to let go of the past. The things that we are holding so tightly to that aren’t letting us blossom into our full potential.

Today, I had to perform in front of twenty-ish of my peers. This is not something I have ever done, not solo anyways. I was so caught up thinking about the ways that it would go wrong, the ways I wouldn’t measure up to the rest of the class. I, once again, let fear in and let it shrink me.

Did I perform? Yes.

Was it the best I’ve ever sang? No.

But was it an honest representation of where I am in my life? Yes.

Because I struggle with anxiety and the ghosts that I do, of course something this vulnerable was going to be hard. 

Life is going to be hard.

It’s not about the storms that we go through, it’s about the way that we fare through the torrent seas.

I am a mess of a human. But God still shows up. Jesus still walks on water and approaches me in whatever boat I am in. Whatever the state of my life, He is  a l w a y s  f a i t h f u l.

I need to stop existing in the ways that are expected to be smothered. was not created to be small, though in the grand scheme I am. I was not made to walk the main road, so I’ll take the narrow path. There are so many more things to me than meets the eye and through all 20 years of my life I am still learning and finding myself. And that astounds me. That there are so many different things to learn about a single human and we are all constantly changing, like weeds into wishing flowers.

Fight Song. Part 2.

8/11/16



“You have to learn to give yourself grace.” 


The white noise of the coffee shop surrounded us and I sat there, uncomfortable with the thought of that. Of Grace. Of giving it to myself. She just stared at me, so sure of that advice, like to came from the marrow of her bones– giving grace is the thing she’s made of. So why couldn’t I be made of it too?


I looked away from her. I couldn’t bear to stare into the truth of that statement. But for good measure she repeated it: “you have to. You have to give yourself grace.” 

—-

This summer I struggled more with anxiety/depression than I have before. I worked at a summer camp and I was surrounded by more people like her, people who dish out grace to themselves and others like it’s candy. Like it’s the thing that they’re made of. 


I struggled with comparison a lot more too. I was constantly looking at my co-counselors and beating myself up because I wasn’t them. I wasn’t the counselor who thought to start the game at Flex Time. I didn’t have an amazing one-on-one today. I didn’t get to speak the gospel to someone. 


And I let that eat me up inside. I started to doubt that I was there for a reason, started to doubt the power of the Lord, and His love if I’m being honest. I was so focused on how I wasn’t measuring up that I forgot to look at how He has already measured up for me, how He loves me because He wants to, not because of the things that I’ve done or have done or will do. So I struggled. I had anxiety attacks and sob fests and broke so many times I am honestly shocked that I was still standing at the end of the summer. And I think it all goes back to my friend Comparison. 


Comparison, as I was told, is the killer of joy. 


Joy is a tough topic for me. Maybe it’s because I don’t actually recall a time when I can remember feeling full of joy. Or maybe it’s because I don’t want to feel joy. 


That’s something hard for me to admit, but I learned this summer that admitting things is a real step in the direction of His heart. Because if I can say it to myself, then I can say it to Him. If I can be real with myself for just a minute, then I can be real with Him too. This life is just a series of moments where we choose to be real. And raw. And present. 


—- 


It took me all summer to get the weeds uprooted from my heart.

There was a speaker at this camp who talked about pulling up weeds and then having them growing up because he wasn’t grabbing them from the root.  I think life is a lot like that. We all have these lies that grow like weeds in our hearts and we need to uproot them. 


So I narrowed it down to two weeds: 1) I don’t deserve love & 2) I don’t deserve grace. 


I know that those are two hard things to move past, but I desperately want to and I know that with God all things are possible.  I finally broke into the arms of my camp mom and sobbed for a good 30 minutes about how I want to love myself. About how I want to see myself in the ways that God sees me. I finally took that first step. 


And I think that’s a step towards grace. I think I’m spoon-feeding myself grace daily, slowly becoming okay with the fact that I may not be okay. And that is fine. People need time and we need love and we need grace. 


I may have taken a long time to get here, but 20 years is a long time to waste being enemies with the person looking back at me in the mirror. 


From here on out, I’m pursuing hope, love, and grace. I’m pursuing a life that is flooded with faith and with being who I was created to be.  So much so that God is all people see when they look at me. 


“you have to learn to give yourself grace.” 


and then you have to learn how to live with it reflecting out in all you do.

Fight Song. Part 1.

4/26/16


I let the darkness win on Sunday. 

I let the darkness win but that doesn’t mean that I am the darkness. I am not. I am not. I am not. 


There are days when the darkness is all we know. There are people who can speak truth into your life but you are not going to hear anything unless you want to. You will be deaf to the good news as long as you continue to dip your feet into the stream of all things bad for you. 


There will be days when the darkness seems to be your only friend. When the people you rely on and enjoy spending time with will spend time with someone else. There are more people in their orbit than you and there are more people in your orbit than them. Don’t confine people in boxes. Don’t keep them captive from the world. We all know the story of Rapunzel, nothing ends well when we keep people locked up in a hypothetical tower. 


There will be days when the darkness makes you feel like Rapunzel. There are days when the tower seems too tall and you can’t reach the ground despite how long your hair has gotten. Don’t forget to look up. Don’t forget to look to the sky when you are fascinated with keeping your feet on the ground. Sure, the ground is safe. But, the sky holds hope in it’s hands. 


Some days, the darkness will win. Some days. 

But the other days are more important. The days when the darkness gets muffled and you feel light and seen and heard. Those are the days to cherish. Those are the days to look right in the face and say “I am happy when you are around, but I want to feel you all the time.” 


And you can ask for that. You can pray to that God way up in the sky and ask Him for good things. It’s allowed. It’s wanted, even. God wants good things for us. 

This is something I struggle with. I hate the thought that God would want to give me good things when I consciously and constantly sin and mess up and fall short. I hate that God singles each and every one of us out and asks “what is it you want? what is it that makes your heart flutter?” 


I don’t like being the center of attention. I don’t like when people ask what I want before others. Sure, there are desires that rest in the nooks and crannies of my soul, but I am not going to shout them from mountains to the creator of the universe.


But why shouldn’t I? Why shouldn’t you? The fact that we are allowed to approach the throne of God with our desires is something that I think we take for granted a lot of the time. It’s something I think we just do, we go through the motions of prayer a lot of the time and I am going to write a lot more about prayer as God continues to teach and break and grow me in that area. 


So why shouldn’t you ask God for good things? Maybe you feel unworthy. Inadequate. Small. Maybe you are fearful. Quiet. Tongue-tied.  But that doesn’t mean that you let the darkness win by staying silent. That doesn’t mean that you give up and slip deeper into the stream of all things bad for you. Fight the good fight. Swim for the light. 


I think that our society likes to focus a lot on the darkness and the victory, but I’d like to focus more on the battle. 


I’d like to focus more on the times when you feel ignored and invisible and weak. I’d like to bring to attention the times that you break down at 3 a.m. but also when you need to hide at 4:15 p.m. because you can’t stop the tears from coming. When the fight gets too much, that’s where we should focus.


Too many times, people are fighting fights alone that they shouldn’t be. Addictions, Mental Illness, Identities. Things that people should feel safe to tell their close circles but don’t because society tells us we should be redeemed or that we are the lost cause. There is no middle ground and I am fed up with that. 


Life is a battle of dark and light. 

Life is a fight between good and evil

Life is grey and ambiguous and hard to discern. 




It’s not about the way that life is, it’s about the way that you get through the fight. 


It’s about the way that you continue to stand up no matter how many times you get knocked down. It’s about the way that you come beside those who are broken and how you help them rise to their potential. Not for the praise. Not for the likes. Not for the recognition. Do it for God’s glory and because people are worth fighting for. 


No matter what else you care about: People are worth the fight. 

I Am Not Alone

1/27/16

This post is going to be brutally honest.

I’m actually more afraid to be writing this piece than I am to fail out of college. I think it’s just because the thought of saying these things out loud make them real and I don’t want them to be real.

The thing is, I’ve been writing this blog for you and that isn’t what I want this blog to be. I need it because I have a voice that is worth hearing. I may not believe that on most days, but it’s true and I need to repeat it, especially on days like today when I am shaking while clicking on letters.

So like I said, this post is going to be vulnerable— because we like to fluff things up. Everything has to have aesthetic, and be perfect. We are expected to be “hipster” and “have our life together” on social media. It has to look like that from the outside looking in.

My life is not perfect. My life never has been and never will be. So I’ll say it again, and feel free to say it with me: my life is not perfect. But, there are perfect moments: playing at my grandmother’s farm when I was younger, my first time on stage, my first kiss, my first love, when I met my best friend, riding wheeled chairs down a sloped hallway. But there is also hurt: when my friend committed suicide, when my grandmother died, when I injured my knee and ruined possibilities, moving every few years, being bullied, being abused. So yeah, my life is not perfect, but it is filled with perfect moments.

Yet, no matter how hard we try to focus on the positive moments, the bad always come creeping in. And it’s okay sometimes, we need to see the ugly to appreciate the beautiful. But when you focus on the negative too much, it can get hard to see the good at all, it can get hard to breathe—I find myself struggling to breathe.

Depression has this way of asphyxiating any living thing that he can get his hands on. He shows up at your door like the ex-boyfriend who is trying to persuade you to take him back. And you could say no, you know that you could… but you don’t, his presence is too intoxicating for that. You have some weird addiction to the sadness. Or maybe, you’re just not used to joy. Being joyful scares you.

So I welcomed Depression into my home. Told him to take off his shoes and make himself comfortable. And let me tell you— he knows how to make a home out of anywhere and at night, depression can get chatty, like somehow this is a sleepover between best friends. He’ll call up his friend Anxiety and they’ll talk your ear off all night long.

I wasn’t sleeping, wasn’t eating, wasn’t thinking positively about anything and yet, I still smiled… I tried so hard to convince others and myself that I was fine. I am far from fine. I fell so much further into myself than I ever have before and the enemy was feeding me lies of unworthiness. I began to lose sight of the truth. The bible became a book that hurt me to read, I would get queasy when people would bring up God’s name in a conversation. It was like the guy who left you, like he left you hard. I felt so abandoned by God and I didn’t want to let go of Him, but I was also so hurt by Him that I denied Him like Peter did. I began to feel so inadequate, burdensome even.

So I pulled away from my closest friends. How could I bring them into this? How could I bring them down with me? They were all so happy or had things of their own to deal with… I couldn’t burden them with my problems. I turned to an unhealthy option, a path I thought I had been redeemed from. I got lost in the woods of relapse and still haven’t gotten my footing back yet.

I am not out of the woods yet.

I am not out of the woods and I am not in the clear but I am grateful for friends who have wandered in with flashlights to remind me of who I am and where I am. And I am thankful for a God who has created me and created the woods I am stumbling through blindly.

So these past two months have gotten progressively more messy, broken, and human. But I will not apologize for that. I will not apologize for crying for hours, for needing people and God and help. I will not apologize for my feelings because they make me human and they make me alive. But I will apologize for the consequences of my reactions to the feelings. I will apologize for hurting people unintentionally, and letting people down, and for hiding it from people. I am truly sorry because being a Christian means living in fellowship and community and that means being vulnerable with the people within that circle. I should rely more on that love.

I am sorry for the pain I caused other but I can’t apologize for mental illness and addictions. I am seeking help, I am confiding within my community. I think that there is this stigma to romanticize the struggle that people with mental illness and addictions and issues go through. I don’t want to come off that way, I want to make it clear that I fight for my life every time that a stray negative thought crosses my mind, I fight for my life every time I get triggered, I fight for my life every time that I relapse with self-harm and my eating disorder. There is nothing romantic in that. But I will admit that there is hope in healing, in recovery. There is hope in being any way redeemed—which we are, by the blood of Jesus Christ.

So when the lies swirl around you and tell you, on repeat, that you are alone, know that you are never alone. Did you hear that babycakes? Say it with me:

I am not alone. I am not alone. My life is not perfect, but there are perfect moments to live for. I am never alone.

Untitled Vol. 1

12/15/15

I thought I was redeemed of all addictions until you came sweeping into my life and breathed yourself like heroin into my system. The worst part is I enjoy the high each time, more and more. Each inhale of your breath. Each injection of your presence. They each drag me deeper and deeper still.

I think that we have this habit of taking people aside and claiming them as our own. Even we don’t have a right to them, even when we know we shouldn’t.

I have this habit of taking you aside and making you mine. I have this habit of making you toxic and then blaming you for everything. I am sorry for that. I know I am toxic too. Some chemicals shouldn’t mix and baby, we are explosive.

There is this theory I have, about love: I think we don’t necessarily fall in love. I think we can choose love. And that love is a choice you make every day when you wake up and go “That human? They are mine and I am theirs. As long as we both shall live.”

I think love comes in waves. And today it is a riptide pulling me under and I am sinking farther away from the surface into everything that you are. It hurts, to be in the thick and thin of the pain. But I also know my limbs will fight. My limbs and body will fight to the surface and my breath will struggle until I survive.

When it comes to love, I think we all hope for the happily ever after. I am starting to believe that those aren’t real, I’ve given up on fairytales and have woken up to the reality. It’s true, what Stephen Chbosky said “we accept the love we think we deserve.” I have stopped believing I deserve any kind of love so it’s not shocking that everything I enter into is toxic.

And it’s not your fault you chose them over me. It’s not your fault or mine, it’s just reality. I just wish you saw me in the saw light that you see them, did I not shine? Did I shoot across the sky like a shooting star? I am sorry, I am a dwindling flame on a melted candle… just breathe away from going out.

Love has this way of choking the very thing that breathed life into it. I am sitting here, choking on saltwater, and wishing you could see me drown.