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.

exchanging the good for the best

Most days I write poetically, but sometimes the truth is not easy to paint beautiful: life, in all it’s glory and wonder, sometimes brings days that make you ache. You groan when you realize the stress you carry makes your muscles taught beneath your skin. You measure calories because your waist gets in the way when you bend and it’s hard to remember a supple waist does not make you unworthy of love. There are days that seem monotonous, long, heavy … and you come home to an empty apartment and you can’t decide if it fills you with joy or loneliness. Maybe, it’s both.

I’ve been learning these days though that the salve to these heart wounds are not the things of this world. You might already know this – I hope you do. But I write this to you in case there is something in front of you that is good –

but not best.

There’s a story in that Bible of yours, the story I love to read, of a woman and man who longed for a child. I can tell you this: there’s going to be a lot of times when you long for a child. But your child might be a job, or his heart, or that dream. And you’ll weep over it. It will be what you pray for – or maybe, what you are too scared to pray for.

There are going to be days when you long for it so deeply you’ll do what the world tells you to in order to get it.

And I can’t tell you that it’s wrong. It actually, might be ‘good.’

But it won’t be best.

And you see – those two I told you about? They did what their culture told them was good in order to get what their heart longed for.

But it was not best.

And I’m going to tell you right now: good will seem okay. Good will seem … doable. But I think you’ll know, even if it’s deep down in your bones that it just ain’t best. Jesus, He gives us eyes to see it.

You’ll cling though – you are human and I am human and we like the things we see. I wish I could tell you it’s easy, to give up the good for the best. It’s not. It’s horribly painful.

But this is what I can promise you: you come out refined. You come out broken – but somehow, beautifully whole.

I don’t know all of God’s goodness, but I have tasted and seen and know that He is good. And sometimes God gives us a taste in the good to know what His best will be like – even far grander than we can imagine.

So cling to Him – wait for the best – and offer Him the good.

Like that man, in that Bible, you’ll come down from the offering and know that He is indeed, the God who provides.

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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On Writing

You ask me to tell you about my writing. Wherever we end up – after church in the chairs, or on that picnic blanket, or over text – you always ask. You’re always in my corner, cheering me on and reading my words, and I hope you’ll always be in that corner with me.

I don’t know much about writing but I can tell you the way it makes me feel: it makes me feel as if puzzle pieces are slipping into place. I have this feeling, and maybe one day I’ll find out I’m wrong about this, but when ink meets the page you are standing on holy ground. You need to break open; it’s not an option. Unless there are pieces of you in between your words, they will be shallow and empty. No one likes a wading pool. We always want the silky, navy water that disappears into the horizon, and that’s what you must be. You must be the water that holds both the mystery and familiarity: the sound of the waves you hear in the shells and the depth of the ocean you feel in your bones.

You must be willing to lay bare the broken pieces to see Redemption in them. To write requires a vulnerability, a willingness to invite others into the brokenness with you.

An invitation which (and this is the part that often stings)

may or may not be accepted.

But we must write and extend the invitation anyways.

To write is the solace you slip into when chaos bounces around you. To write is to learn what you know and what you long to know, and the places where you feel lost. It is to feel the humanity of grief and joy and discover that we all break. We all heal. And we all just don’t want to do it alone.

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Because isn’t that what we are all really searching for, seeking Someone to meet us in our loneliness?

And maybe that is what writing is: putting pen to page and discovering our loneliness is just a masked invitation, a hand held out, a whisper in our darkness. We don’t have to be alone. We aren’t alone. We are all just puzzle pieces waiting to click into place, and words help us do that. Words help us see the things we missed … or maybe the things we just didn’t want to see.

And that’s the beauty in it. So can I tell you how to write? No. But I can tell you that when you do, and you feel those puzzle pieces clicking into place,

you’ll feel like you’re coming home.

 

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.

my why.

This month in Angelic Magazine I wrote a vulnerable piece about being a child of divorce. It was birthed out of a moment at my dad’s wedding, post-vows and post-reception. Just me, God, and my broken story.

I knew it would hurt some people to read it. I fought with myself over a desire to water down the hurt, and truly, I’m not sure which side won. I also fought with the words that kept wanting to whisper, “I’m sorry.” For being broken, for being hurt, for being unhappy that two people had chosen lives apart from one another.

And from those words, and conversations with others, I’ve wrestled with my why.

Why do I write here?

Why do I scrawl words in my journal? 

Does my story matter?

And the thing I’ve been learning is this: if I apologize for my words, I may as well apologize for my story. And then I may as well apologize for me.

For being me.

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The sometimes broken, always being redeemed, me.

The one who is hurt by her parents’ divorce.

The one who is hurt because he walked away.

The one who still takes pills because she refuses to let depression win. 

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I strive for perfection in my words but what matters more is sharing my voice. I do not want to apologize for my voice anymore. I do not want to wait until the broken pieces are glued back together so that no one else cuts themselves on the edges.

Because here is the thing: we cannot heal on our own. I can only cling to hope when I acknowledge my brokenness and my need to be rescued out of it. And hope is the thing that binds us all together, the rope that leads us to Jesus and His redemption.

Healing is messy. We’re going to get hurt. We are going to get offended. We’re going to get it wrong.

But I can’t heal unless I invite others into the mess. You can’t heal unless you invite others into your mess. And the way I make sense of the mess is to scrawl words across a page, when I realize my words are not meant to be hidden, to be watered down, to be tucked behind an apology. Because my story is your story and unless we start sharing our stories, we’ll remain in our corners:

broken and bleeding alone.

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So this is my promise to stop apologizing. I promise to keep writing words on pages. And I promise to keep inviting you to the table,

to break bread and break open

to carry our burdens and broken pieces

together.

Hallowed.

I buy myself flowers a lot. Sometimes I find them in the clearance section of the supermarket, somedays I find them in Greektown in a big green bucket along the sidewalk. They always find their way to the same spot: on my desk, in the glass vase, next to my typewriter.

I’m learning that the spaces I cultivate matters. Even just to write those words across this page I can feel a tightness in my chest. Does it? the ever-present cynical asks. Does it matter if I create a space I feel welcomed, wanted, creative?

I think it does. I’m learning it does.

Because when we stop to put flowers in a vase, and watch the light filter through the thin petals, we invite God into the mundane. When I open the windows to hear the breeze through the trees and the rain bounce off the roof, I stop and invite God into the moment. When I turn off the distractions on a screen and spend time creating my meal, and watching the way the knife slices through the coloured peppers:

it invites joy into that space.

And I need more of it. I need more of joy, and I need more of God.

Each Tuesday night I’ve been spending in an old Presbyterian church downtown, with an Anglican priest up front, teaching on the Lord’s prayer. In that space, age and denomination and gender don’t matter. He breaks the prayer down, word by word, and invites God into the simple prayer He taught. Simple yet so profound. He reminds us to begin and end our day with the prayer, the way the Lord taught, and I’ve been doing it.

The things I’ve shied away from – discipline, recitation, repetition – there is a life I have found in those things. Because it’s in those spaces we can invite God in, invite Him to breath life where there was none. He alone aids us to see what was hidden before.

And it happens most when I invite Him in, whisper His name, in the places I least expect Him to be. Like flowers on a desk. Rainstorms. Cut peppers simmering on the stove. Repeated words, morning and night.

Although I know God is in all places, as the psalmist eloquently reminds us – I think He becomes most apparent to us when we acknowledge Him. And I’m learning there is great strength in our weakness when we take the time to invite Him in. When we hallow His name.

And so I continue, as the sun breaks open the day and as it draws it to a close, whispering those words:

Our Father, who art in heaven,

hallowed be thy name.

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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.

Dancing Along the Way

I watch the dandelions dance across the air, little white tufts floating lazily above me. I’ve never seen them like this before. I can’t stop staring, mesmerized by the way the air lifts them up, twirls them around and spins them out to dance.

Everywhere you look they are dancing. Atop the trees above the ravine; in between the leafy branches that lead down to darkness. They dance against the peach of the summer horizon, and gently graze my skin. They rest a moment until they are off again.

I can’t help but wish that I was as open to dancing through this life as the dandelions are, letting the wind take them where they may. Without a care in the world, trusting the journey instead of the destination.

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She told me today, with her thick brown curls spiralling in a myriad of directions, the sound of a dozen classmates around us –

that she’s learned to trust the journey.

I leaned in closer, watching her brown eyes behind her glasses, but getting distracted by the way her hands moved with her words. They’d echoed around me, taken residence up in my heart, and I couldn’t shake her eyes and her words all day.

Learning to trust the journey.

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And so I watch the dandelions dance across the air, little white tufts floating lazily above me. Dancing across my balcony and my sky and I can’t help but hear her words again. With each swirl of a dandelion, each delicate dance into the unknown,

I’m mesmerized.

And I want to be her, and I want to be the dandelions –

trusting the journey.

Unaware of just where I might end up.

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But sure that somehow, someway,

I’ll get there –

and maybe the point isn’t so much landing

but dancing along the way.