Forgiveness

She asks me to write the letters, as she holds her notes close and her coffee nearby. “Write down all you’d say if you could,” she’d said. “We can read them here, and you can process.”

Therapists, I think – they’ve got all these tools and yet none of them can save you from the breaking.

I wonder a lot about forgiveness these days and if those words really heal.

I’m sorry.

‘I’m sorry for the ways that I broke you. I’m sorry that I left. I’m sorry I couldn’t be what you need me to be. I’m sorry that I did the best I could – and still, it wasn’t enough.’

I wonder if she were to say it to me, or if he did – if it would change my brokenness? Would those words – only imagined – really heal the heart wounds that years have brought?

I don’t write the letters yet – because I can’t. I can’t go back, and I can’t enter into the wounds, though I know at some point I’ll have to.

And here is one thing, only one thing I know about forgiveness: forgiveness is about creating your ending. Forgiveness is about building the closure you need to let healing begin. Forgiveness is about living in a world of “I’m sorry,” even if you never hear those words spoken.

There is nothing easy about forgiveness. There is nothing easy about being broken. But forgiveness is the only way forward, the only way to begin to hope

that our brokenness doesn’t define us. 

Healing does.

 

 

Myself

It’s a funny thing, going back to the place where we were once beginning.

I remember the night – the newness of putting my arm on your back, standing close to you in the elevator. Leaning against you on the couch. I listened to you as you held the Bible open in your lap, speaking truth and wisdom into the passage. I fell for you a little bit more, in that moment.

I don’t ever long for you, anymore.

But I do sometimes ache over the ending. I do sometimes ache that what once seemed beautiful turned into brokenness.

I laid on the couch tonight, the brown one – not the white one we spent so many nights entwined on – and I thought about time. And I marveled at the fact that what was once so true could seem as if it were a lifetime ago. You, you – you are a lifetime ago.

I’ve spent more days without you now than I did with you, and there’s something profound in it. I think there’s beauty in a softer heart, one that knows heartache. There has to be – because there are meanings in endings too, aren’t there? I once thought that our ending defeated our being, but I’ve learned – it doesn’t. It’s just the ending to a chapter of two people who fell for one another in broken forms and couldn’t find a way to make beauty out of it.

I’ll always love that we tried, though.

And I need to carry that with me, to keep on trying. I want to be one who always tries, who always jumps. I’m glad I cared for you, once. When you walked away, my feelings bounced back. It’s made me stronger –

and it’s made me fall in love with who I am.

And though you’ll never hear me,

I’ll always be whispering to you thanks.

Thanks under full moons, thanks along the waterfront, thanks in the places we once began.

Thank you for letting my heart return to me … for in doing so, I found what I’d been longing for.

Myself.

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Listening to the silence, too

There are some people enter a room, see that it’s empty, and leave.

Others come in, notice the contents as they walk through once, and find their way back to the exit.

Yet, there are the few of us who walk in and hear the silence. We feel the furniture, imagine those who’ve been there, watch how the light falls through the windows and causes the dust to dance. We feel the temperature prick our hairs awake. We notice our bodies, how the room makes them feel. And although everyone has left, something pulls us in to stay awhile. And so we do.

I frustrate myself easily because I stay in rooms people have long since left. I stay in chapters while everyone else has turned the page, not necessarily because I want to but because something pulls me back. I need to feel all that there is to feel, see all that there is to see, understand all that there is to understand.

It’s not that I’m stuck. It’s not that I’m choosing to stay behind.

I just inhabit a body and have a soul that sees and feels things differently. I feel deeply and seek to understand each experience fully and as completely as I can before moving out of the room. I’ve spent a lifetime apologizing, and a lifetime whispering to myself:

it’s okay.

It’s okay to feel things others don’t. It’s okay to see things that others don’t. It’s okay to see others leave the room when you’re still discovering each nook and cranny, staring out the window to take in all that you can see. It’s okay to lay in the middle of the room to listen for all you can hear, for all you can’t,

and for all you wish you could.

You’ll see things others won’t. You’ll feel things others won’t. And many days, that will make you feel a loneliness even in a full room. It’ll be a loneliness that only some will understand: that pull to stay, that pull to see, that pull to feel.

And you’ll want to attach shame to it, and anger too. You’ll want to run away from it, you’ll want to ignore it.

And you might be able to, for a little while. But no mater how much you numb it, how much you ignore it, and how much you try to forget it –

it will remain.

That pull? It’s in your DNA. It’s in your soul.

And you might have to whisper to yourself every day that it’s okay. Maybe more than that: maybe every hour.

But when you do, and you listen to that pull, and you lay down on the floor and stay in that room,

you might realize you’re actually not alone after all. There is One laying there beside you,

listening to the silence, too.

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Helplessness

It’s the words that come on a grey day, the fall temperatures finally making their way through the open window. It’s a week when memories have returned along with the cool temperatures, when you feel as if you’re the same person you were months ago because you can’t figure things out. You can’t even put feelings into words and you come to the Lord with this apology:

I’m sorry for being a broken record. Really, I’m sorry for being broken. Because I’ve failed at figuring things out, and I’ve failed at fixing it all.

But the best part about honest prayers is this:

God reaches down, and He reminds you of the truth your soul needs:

healing always begins with helplessness.

Because the truth is: we cannot heal ourselves. We cannot fix ourselves. It might break you to know this, but this is what I know to be true: it is not until we hold our empty hands up and let the marred hands hold them that true Healing begins.

We cannot invite healing in until we realize we aren’t the ones that usher it into our brokenness.

He is.

And the brokenness we cloak in shame, the tears we get frustrated by – they are all heart longings for the only One who makes us whole.

God.

On Being Enough

It was just a Saturday night. Nothing too special, a day nestled at the end of a long week filled with classes and work and coffee dates. An ordinary week. But it was late, and I was still up, holding a phone I should have plugged in hours earlier to let sleep have its way.

But I didn’t.

So I mindlessly scrolled, through the updates and the photographs until I saw one I shouldn’t have even noticed. But I did. And it was the kind of photograph that reaches down into all of your insecurities, all of the vulnerabilities, all of the places you shove those three words –

I’m. Not. Enough.

And you hear those words, the ones you haven’t listened to in so long, and they are loud. It shakes you to the core. And you cry, shuddering almost – because you believe them.

You believe them. Why wouldn’t you?

And you don’t sleep that night, the tears drying on the pillow cases, and you wake up and you whisper the words out loud to the One who hears you before you even whisper them –

“Why am I not enough, God?” 

And He answers in His way, like He always does. “If you keep thinking this is all about you,” He responds, “you will never be enough.”

And I stop, letting the words echo around me and sink deep into my bruised heart.

Because it’s not about me. It’s not about the ways I fail – because His grace is sufficient.

It’s not about the ways I don’t measure up – because He says I’m redeemed.

It’s not about the unanswered questions – because I AM is the answer.

When I start realizing this life isn’t about me –

that will be when I realize

that I am truly, wholly

enough.

The Opposite of Rejection

The pain of not being chosen is the kind of pain that runs deep. It’s the pain that keeps you up at night, the kind that brings new haircuts, tattoos, tears. Sometimes it happens on a soccer field in fourth grade. Sometimes it happens with that pink slip that you’ve lost your job. Other times it’s their words, casually cruel in the name of being honest, yet you carry them around as if they are a new name:

you’re a mistake.

you’re not enough, or you’re too much.

you’re not worthy.

And you wear that pain around your neck for a long time. Because you believe it to be true, after all, spoken out loud those words cling to you like a static-y sweater. You believe their words are the spoken truth of who you are,

until one day

it’s raining. And there’s a man up front, preaching grace and redemption yet all you can hear are the words you’ve heard spoken. The ones that pierced your soul. You’ve heard them so long you missed the Whisper of truth –

that you are Chosen.

Man calls you a mistake and Christ says, “She’s mine.”

He says you are unworthy and Christ calls out, “I know her by name. I know when she sits and when she rises. I know the numbers of hairs that fall down her back because she was knit together with these fingers.”

And you are hit with a wall of truth: it is often in the rejection of man we discover the acceptance of Christ.

You are beloved, my darling. You are needed and chosen. Do not let the rejection of another determine your worth –

but let it be an opportunity for the grace to seep into the shattered places,

the broken cracks Jesus longs to fill.

 

 

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Ghosts

I’d written the letter in the safe confines of my journal. With the initial written across the page, I wrote the words as they mixed with tears. I’m a letter writer, but some letters are best left unsent.

It had been a movie of all things, on a winter February afternoon, that had made the tears stream and my hands reach for my journal. It was only a few lines spoken to a grieving woman by her friend. “All of us live with ghosts,” she’d said, as she sat on the bed where her friend lay. “We must learn to live with them.

Get up. Eat. Get out there.” And with a pregnant pause I’m sure I’ve added in my memory for effect, she added, “Spring is waiting.”

Spring is waiting.

Sometimes people become ghosts. Dreams become ghosts. Hopes become ghosts.

And there’s a lot of time we find ourselves lying in that bed, holding onto them as if they are real. And we think that if we hang onto those ghosts, and who we were, somehow the world doesn’t change. It won’t go on without us.

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But it does. And we miss it, if we stay with those ghosts. We miss it, if we hold onto the former things.

It wouldn’t be until months later, on a street somewhere in the city, the Holy Spirit would visit and say words that would shake me to the core. “You can’t leave something behind unless you believe what is ahead is far greater.” I get caught up in loss sometimes, you see. Maybe we all do. But I let ghosts cloud my vision and I need to hear those words from that movie months ago:

spring is waiting.

It’s waiting. And spring is beautiful, and glorious, because new life is there. New life that we miss if we hold onto the ghosts.

But the beautiful thing about life is that we learn. We learn to live with the ghosts.  

So get up. Eat. Get out there.

Spring is waiting.

Blending

I vividly remember sitting alongside the shore of the St. Lawrence, listening to the church bells signify the noon. I was wondering if anyone else remembered that day – July 25th – the day the two came together as one and promised a lifetime of love.

Did anyone else notice? Did anyone else, as tears slipped down, offer a prayer of thanks for the beginning to an ending?

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When she first left, I prayed for days, for months, even years. I’d wake up in the middle of the night and I’d lift weary heart and hands to the only Holder of my pain.

Months turned into years. Temporary turned into permanent. And you start to forget what it used to be like. You start to forget what it used to be to use the word parents in the same sentence.

There is a tree outside my window, and at the top, half of it blooms gloriously against the blue sky. The other half a stark contrast, is brown – grey, almost, as leaves no longer bloom.

It’s the visual reminder to me that a part of me has died and a part of me still lives. I don’t always experience the death – but there are moments, days, when the ache in my heart bleeds into my bones and my body remembers in a way my memory fails.

There will be a day soon, when people will gather to celebrate that ending and rejoice in a new beginning. And surely, there is much to rejoice over. Yet I cannot hold one without holding the other. As much as I will rejoice on that day, there will be a part of me that will grieve and weep, too.

And maybe that is okay.

Perhaps there is a way to experience both death and life together, like the tree, and hold them both close. Perhaps there is a way to hold the parts of me – the dead, grey limbs and the long, bushy branches – as parts of the whole,

as brokenness that blends and makes one what was deemed irredeemable.

 

 

 

Recognized Weakness

I want you to know that the dream that you’re holding onto,

          it’s not going to make you Whole.

 I want you to know that the family you long for –

          they will not be your Home.

 I want you to know the person you search for in every crowd –

          you will not be Found when you are finally in their arms.

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And these Truths, the ones you’ll discover as your pen flies across the pages of your book, these Truths will shake you to your core and you’ll come undone.

There will be nothing left to strip away. Because it’s in that moment that you’ll discover you are already Whole. Home. Found. Not because of a dream, or a family, or a person –

but because of Who made you.

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That’s what it means to delight yourself in the Lord – to know that He’s the only One who’ll ever fully satisfy the longings tat keep you up at night, the aches that break you wide open.

Only Him.

But because you’re human, you’ll doubt it. You’ll go back to the dream, the family, the person – and you’ll whisper … if only. And here is the only antidote to those words, to those fateful two words that can lead us down the path we’ve just returned from:

Help me.

As the man prayed, so long ago, in that well-worn book you keep close to your bedside but not close enough to your heart – Lord, help me in my unbelief.

It’s the only way. Because in recognized weakness

lies our strength.

She prays as she walks

On that street –

the one with the busy cars, the summer breeze drifting around, the storm clouds simmering in the distance –

she prays as she walks.

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Her words are a caress, a salve to the sting of words that have made their way into your heart. The more I mark my days the more I see how words build up,

and oh, how they tear down.

And there are times when those words somersault across the field and bruise the very pieces of our heart we hold out willingly.

So willingly.

And until those prayers over that heart, and those words, find their way to you in the middle of that street,

you don’t even realize how you’d written them into your identity. How they’d shaken you to the core. How they’d minimized your worth, your value,

your Created-ness.

The words are an attack on the very Image you bear.

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And He weeps with you, oh how He weeps with you. The One who knit you together, who knows the hairs on your head –

oh how He weeps, too.

The One who’s thoughts are precious towards you –

precious. Gentle, soft, kind. Just like that prayer. Just like her words. Salve to a heartache.

And so she prays as she walks, and there, on that street in the middle of this city, you meet the One who’s thoughts towards you are precious.