Defined

It’s a Monday morning, a holiday, and I am hit with the realization that everyone in my family is currently with their significant others. Here I am, though, with my textbooks and Bible and worship music and the rain falling outside the open door.

You know the moment? The one where you could sink into comparison, into staring at the green grass on the other side of the fence?

And for the first time in so long, I realize something I’ve always known but have a hard time acknowledging:

I am so far from being alone. The chairs may be empty across the table from me, my companions books instead –

but I am wholly complete. I am wholly me. I do not need another to define me –

for I am already defined.

I’ll tell you the days singleness is hard, and I’ll tell you the days it’s wonderful. But no matter the day, if it’s a hard or good one – that truth doesn’t change. I am wholly complete. I am already defined. A daughter of the King.

Do you take the time to notice how He meets you? In the sound of falling rain, in the absence of another? Do you notice how the Psalms meet your longings and you joys, and that life can hold them both? I want you to know you are allowed to long for a relationship – but do not let that longing define you.

Because you are already defined.

You are defined by the One who made you. You are defined by the way you laugh, and the things that make you crumple to the ground in sadness. You are defined by the way your smile reaches your eyes, and the way your hands hold another. You are defined by the way babies wrapped in your arms make your heart sing. You are defined by your kindness, your strength, your gentleness.

Those things make you, you. Not an empty chair. Not the quietness of a room. Not the questions from a family member, asking if you’ve brought someone home – and your answer should never be a no,

it should be a yes.

You’ve brought you. 

And that, sweet friend, will always be enough.

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.

Dear Twenty-Seven-Year Old

Dear you,

 

You’ve been twenty-seven for two days now, and today it’s a snowstorm. The roads are thick with white slush and the sun has long since disappeared behind the grey clouds. It’s quiet except for the sound of the scraping of shovels outside the open door. That’s the thing about snow, it always causes us to pause. Probably why you love it so much. The idea that there are things beyond us, that shape us, and derail our best laid plans, but usually for the better. When it’s anything beyond a snowstorm, your need for control and certainty causes you to clench your fists and your heart for awhile.

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Last year was quite the wild ride. I think we can both agree that so much happened in just 365 short days. But here you are – a year later – and at night, when the world quiets, and it’s just you and your duvet and your God, you’re wondering if you really know how to hear His voice.

You write her the email and you ask it plainly: how do you know? How do you know how to hear Him? How do you know when it’s His voice – speaking louder than my own?

And this is the thing, girl: right now, it’s dark, and it’s grey, and there’s a lot of snow all over the place. It’s shaking things up. The plans you made have slipped away. It’s causing you to stop – and pause. But that doesn’t mean you can forget.

And so in the midst of this snowstorm, this is what you need to remember: that this past year taught you that God is a storyteller, and a lover of words. His ways are not your own, but they are far better. And He is this grand God, a father of the weary, the one who holds the pen and only gives good gifts. And I’m telling you: those good gifts don’t come just in the shape of happy and full days, when the sun hits your face along the beach in just the right way, or the full moon – your favorite – falls on the day you were born. No. They also come in the shape of holy and heartwrenching days, too. They come in the shape of unexpected conversations. Of endings. Of tearful drives along Lakeshore Boulevard. When He takes away the things you think you want the most.

Because God is a God who knows your heart. And He knows what makes you feel alive. Full moons. Words. And the storyteller God know the way to your heart is through a good story.

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And He won’t ever fail to write a beautiful story in your life.

But the best stories make you laugh and cry. Make you weep and rejoice. Do not disdain the small. God only breaks you for His purposes. For this chapter. To set the setting for the next page.

Do not forget, girl! Do not forget you are shaped by the One who knows your heart and the way your green-sometimes-blue eyes laugh and the way they cry. Do not forget, in the midst of a snowstorm, the way He delighted you on the mountains of El Salvador. Do not forget the way your plans changed and in slipped His and you were astounded at the way He loves. Do not forget that the full moon, the sweet reminder of His faithfulness to you, appeared again and again when you needed the reminder the most.

There are no accidents. There are no coincidences.

There is only a beautiful story, written by a Grand Author, with a beautiful role written just for you. Always remember that.

Lovingly,

Yours.

the little things.

imageI think sadness reminds us to notice the little things. Grief can be paralyzing. You notice the heaviness in your face as you force yourself to lift your lips into a smile. You notice the way the bricks are speckled and grooved because you can’t focus on anything but the wall in front of you. You notice the bright colour of green vines that sprawl up the building and you thank God that beauty still, always, exists.

And mostly you remember the sound of your breathing, shaky, but constant in a new world that’s not.

And that’s enough. That’s the redemption you can cling to, that in a new world that’s feeling a little more broken than it was yesterday, there is always, always, the little things.

Half Moons

I’m outside, a half moon before me, wrapped in a fleece blanket. This is my happy place.

I found this place a few dozen moons ago, on a rooftop overlooking Asamankese. Those were a hard few months. I was stretched and sucker punched in ways I don’t know if I’ve even grasped, yet. I talk about those days. Some days I regret leaving. Other days I breathe a prayer of thanks. But mostly, I remember the moon.

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Almost every night, after we’d eaten and the night had dropped quickly, we’d climb up onto the roof with our Bibles and an iPod and maybe a blanket. We’d sit on the scratchy cement roof, the scuffling of lizards making their way away from our spot, and we’d talk. We’d pray. Sometimes we’d sit in silence. Sometimes I would be alone, and other times the three of us would gather together. But consistently, always, there was the night sky, and there was God.

In that place on that roof, with the smell of smoke thick in the air and the sounds of dishes being washed in tin basins around us, I learned a simple lesson: when life seems like it’s the hardest thing to do, my eyes need to turn back to the One who put me here in the first place. When my eyes are on Him – not on what’s around me – it’s then I can finally breathe.

And so when I’m in that place again, when things are falling around me and I’m drowning, I go back to the place I know He’ll be. I sit at His feet and I stare at the moon and I am reminded.

It’s been a sign of His faithfulness in some of the hardest and best of seasons. It was a full moon the night she walked down the aisle and a chapter of our childhood was closed. It was a full moon when I showered in the dark of a Senegalese night on a trip I thought I’d never take. I could whisper to you every night that when I needed the reminder, and looked outside, the reminder was there.

And so tonight, it’s a half moon as I wrap myself in a fleece blanket and ask God why I am still here and she is not.

And He reminds me to breathe.

And He reminds me that I need Him more than I need answers.

That I need presence more than I need words.

And so I thank Him for the adventure, the life ahead of me, the days stretched long and the peace that surrounds me. He is good and He is faithful,

just as He is faithful to let night fall and a small ray of moonlight dance across my face.