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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Waiting in the Cistern

She says to me that when she hears the word waiting, she thinks of me. Psalm 40, I’d shared it in class the other day – the images of David crying out from the cistern – waiting.

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The Hebrew word translated is that David had waited 

and waited.

And waited.

I laugh a little when she tells me that. And yet, this season of Lent – a season of waiting – I am indeed, waiting. But aren’t we all?

Aren’t we all waiting on an answer? A dream? A rope, finally, let down into the cistern?

And I’ve been thinking this season – can we wait well? Can we see these seasons, these ever present months, and years, of waiting – can we wait well?

Can I fix my eyes on the One who promises to build a garden in the dry and weary land? The One who breaths life into dry bones?

Can I find life in the cistern? The thing about cisterns, is that the more you try to climb out of them, the more that you sink deeper. Waiting … life in the cistern … requires stillness. Requires emptying yourself. Requires recognizing your utter helplessness, and weakness, that you cannot be rescued on your own.

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I cling to the words these days – the ones that breath life into waiting. I pour tears out, knowing they are captured in a bottle. I sit in joy and excitement – knowing that God is doing a good thing. That if we didn’t have seasons of waiting –

we wouldn’t know seasons of answers.

‘There are years that ask questions,

And years that answer.

As lent continues – I draw close to the Answer, reminding myself that it is in the darkness when He passes by. These seasons of waiting – He is ever present.

 

Entrust

She sends me the email on a fall day, when the yellow leaves are crunching beneath my boots. The stroller in front of me, I feel the vibration and I open her words.

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Entrust. The word stands out in the middle of her email, a soft but firm reminder: you’ve got to entrust Him with this. 

It’s not what I want to hear because the truth is: I do not know what entrusting even means. What does it mean to hand over to God the things I hold most close? What does it mean to see that all these things – these gifts – are His anyways?

The leaves dance wildly at my feet, and I push the stroller forward and I tuck her words close to mull them over. And I remember her addition at the end of the email:

“But remember to enjoy, sweet girl.

You’ve got this.”

Months later, there’s snow in place of golden leaves. Instead of her words staring up at me, there’s the small voice of His, asking me to entrust. To lay the Isaac down on the altar. To trust the Promiser instead of the promise.

And I wonder again at her words. What it looks like to even entrust what I hold close to Him.

I search for the word in Greek, in Hebrew, in the concordance and lexicons until the notes in my journal are long and in depth. From the Greek word pistis, to entrust means to be persuaded. A gift from God, unable to be produced by people.

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To entrust to Him –

literally means to be persuaded by an act only God can do. 

And because I am a chronic forgetter – I so often forget all that He has shown me, all that He has done, and the ways in which He so persuades me to place my trust in Him. To entrust my plans, my dreams, my love in the only place they are safe – in His hands.

So I pray – for I cannot do this on my own – to entrust what I hold close to Him.

“Persuade me,” I scrawl across my journal, tears brimming.

“Persuade me to entrust you with it.”

And the exchange – of laying it on the altar – is far more painful that imagined. But there is something beautiful in the persuasion, in the exchange, as God reveals love in a way only He can do.

Pills of Grace

Little yellow pills of grace, I call them. I tell her about them as we walk along James Street, heels hurting our feet, fall wind blowing our hair around us.

I tell her the story of the nurse’s hand, of the time I resisted swallowing those pills, of the way that I thank Jesus His hand isn’t absent from any doctor’s written prescription.

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Somehow in this Body of Believers we forget that our brokenness won’t always be made Whole this side of heaven.

I think honouring Jesus can be found in tears and in staying under the covers because the world is too heavy today. I also think Jesus is honoured when I swallow my pills, climb out of bed, and laugh because I feel joy again.

My story might not be your story. You story might be that your cross is to carry the heaviness of depression and offer it to Jesus each day you make yourself climb out of that bed. And I would never tell you that you’re wrong, sweet friend because when our heart’s desire is to Honour our Maker, how can I fault you in the way that you do that? Your story is your story, and I promise to listen and meet you as you share that with me.

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And I hope you’ll offer me that same space. Won’t you meet me there, too?

Because my story is that Jesus’ hand of redemption sometimes finds itself holding bright yellow pills. Bright pills that seek to fix this brain of mine that was birthed into a broken world that won’t be fully healed this side of heaven. Somehow, though, there’s healing in this brokenness. Somehow I am given eyes to see Life again. Somehow, I get out of bed with hope blazing at these fingertips and feet that can walk towards that Light again.

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Jesus works in mysterious ways. He brings Healing in the least likely of places.

And for me –

Healing is found each morning I open that pill bottle and swallow my pride and accept His grace. Grace that He’s found even in this. Grace that His arms have me –

that I am not my depression,

but a Child of the King.

 

Moons & Shadows

I have to tell you about the moon.

It’s been orange, and white, and somewhere in between. It’s stood prominently against the backdrop of the sky, casting a glow on my skin and the world around me. Bright and true, I’ve been impressed with it’s presence. Profound in it’s beauty, surrounded by darkness. It needs the darkness to stand true.

That’s what I keep thinking about. How the brightness is dependent on the darkness around it.

It’s steady, you know? It’s always there, even when I can’t see it. I watch it as it appears again, slivers until it’s full. And I watch it each night as it disappears for days, until it returns. Prominent again. Full. Breaking up the shadows, showering us in hues of colours that don’t exist outside of the night sky.

And I come back to that thought, that my beloved moon needs the darkness around it. It needs it. Or maybe it is the light that redeems it. It wouldn’t be bright without it. It wouldn’t show the craters, and the crescents, and the glowing flecks of light surrounding it. It wouldn’t be the moon without the dark sky around it. 

And I can’t shake it.

I can’t fathom how we need the darkness in our lives to see the light. 

In this can I thank Him? In this, can I thank Him for the darkness? In Him, can I trust that He can redeem the darkness to reflect the light far greater than the light could shine on its own?

Is it all a part of a grander picture, far greater than I can or will ever see?

Can I find Him in it?

I meet Him there, as I always do, beneath the moon. Blanket around me, words and tears mixed, light sifting through the black of the tree branches. And I need to find Him in it. I need to see Him in it. It’s my prayer, whispered over and over again: Let me see You. I feel as if I am the woman alongside the road, grasping to touch His cloak. My hands are reaching, God. My eyes are straining. It’s a desperation, a grasp, that He’s found even where I least expect Him to be.

Mostly there.

And when I find Him, the robe grasped between my fingers, my sorrow and gratitude mix together. Separate and yet together, light and darkness,

redeemed.

And finally, I breathe, for I know. He is in it. In the trenches beside me, He is there. Although I am surprised by Him, He is not by me. 

And it is in the surprise that joy seeps in. Like my moon, casting shadows, and sending hues to dance across the night sky, so does His presence.

And the darkness is no longer the same. 

 

I Don’t Either.

“I don’t want her to go.” She looks at me, tears in her eyes, and I can only imagine what it must feel like to see her daughter laying in the hospital bed before her.

My heart is breaking as my hand reaches for her shoulder. “I don’t either.” I don’t even know if my words feel as broken as I do, but I look at my sweet friend lying on the bed, her body struggling with every breath, and I feel the weight of my words. I don’t either.

I haven’t had enough time with you. I haven’t had enough walks along the river, and I haven’t talked to you about all my questions I wrestle with. I haven’t heard enough of your stories of the crazy people you have to chase down the hallways at work. I haven’t held enough warm drinks with you across the Starbucks table from me.

Mostly I am afraid I haven’t memorized your smile enough. Mostly I am afraid I will forget what it’s like to hear your laugh or see you greet me as I walk in the doors.

But what I won’t forget is the way you love, sweet friend. With arms open wide, just like Jesus, welcome and open and no shred of judgment. You just get it, the messy, dark places and the rays of joy. You’ve understood what it means to reach for joy and it to be out of reach. You got my darkness, friend, which is so much more than most people. And you let me know, over, and over, and over again that I wasn’t alone. I wish I could convey to you what that has meant to me.

I haven’t gotten to be your friend long enough, sweet friend. You are a gem. You’ve taught me more of what it means to brave scars and tattoos and be who you are because that’s enough. Jesus makes it enough.

And it’s because of Him that we get to laugh together again. I can’t wait for that day, when you will be free of this horrible disease and life will glow from your eyes to the tips of your toes. Until that day, sweet friend, I will remember you when I paint and crochet and wander into places we visited. Thank you for walking with me through my dark places and thank you for encouraging me to be brave and hope and love who I am. I will buy flowers for myself and each time I will remember you telling me to just do it. Just buy the flowers because we may be single, but we will rock it. And we will love who we are.

I am honoured to know you, sweet friend. Thank you for making me a better person. I will keep loving you, keep praying for you on this side of heaven as long as God graces us with more days with you. And I will keep telling Him that I don’t want you to go, either.

Dear you: I’m sorry.

One time, when I was young and in Sunday school, someone taught me the diagram of the cross. There was an image, a stick person on one side, and a chasm in between him and in big capital letters, G-O-D. It was only with the cross, drawn in the chasm to create a bridge, that we could live in right relationship with God.

It was that famous napkin theology. The one you could draw easily in that moment of questioning, in the midst of the conversation with the stranger, who finally has seen the light and wants to be saved from their sin and hell.

And that is truth. It is truth that Jesus came to save us, in the only way possible, by dying on that cross and rising again so we could live in right relationship with Him.

But … I’m afraid in my speaking of salvation from hell, and in my understanding of the point of salvation to save us from hell … that I’ve missed the point.

That yes, Jesus came to save us from hell – but even moreso He came to make us whole. Continue reading “Dear you: I’m sorry.”

Redeeming the Time

The other day I found my first wrinkle. I mentioned this to a few people, and there was mostly laughter … after all, I’m only 24. Wrinkles? Really? They are a thing of the future.

But to be honest … I had a moment of knowing that, yes, I am dying.

We all are.

We are working our way to the end, to our final moment, and yet we’re always trying to fight against it.

We fight against the clock and yet it’s the only thing out of our control. We paste creams on our faces, we inject chemicals into our bodies, we stitch up loose skin as if those things will win us the battle against time.

Continue reading “Redeeming the Time”

Reflections on Senegal

This morning, just like every morning before work, I pulled out my bag of coffee beans and ground a few fresh tablespoons. I’m a coffee snob, I fully admit. And I love my fresh pressed coffee. But today, I’m missing Nescafe. And sweet tea.



It’s a forty minute commute to work, and normally I’m thankful for the silence of the drive. I listen to sermons and music and as usual, my mind doesn’t rest. But today I’m missing sun drenched paths and shouts of “Kasu-may!”

I’m back to my North American food, with lasagna for lunch and salad for dinner. But really, all I’m craving is yassa. I want that fresh fish and vegetables and rice with a group of people surrounding the dish.

I’m thankful for my hot bath. Yet I’m yearning for that bucket shower underneath the African starry sky.
I wish I could sit with everyone of you over a cup of coffee and share my heart and share my stories. 
Every day while in the village we had the opportunity to share Christ in conversations and actions and showing the Jesus film. I felt the love of Christ overflowing in my heart for these people; the moment I met them I wished I could in some way convey to them how loved they were. In so many ways they reminded me how loved I was: I was amazed at how God’s character shone through their simple acknowledgement of every person who passes. They shake hands, greet with their greeting, and continue on. I wondered at what our lives would be like if we had that simple acknowledgement of those we pass that we matter. That we aren’t just someone walking by. And I love that God thinks of us like that; He always stops. Always. 
We had the opportunity to lead unbelievers to Christ. And it was amazing to see the Lord bring healing to one of them, to hear that she was able to walk by herself after being unable to even leave the house without assistance. God is good, and faithful.
Every meal we ate there was shared. Fish and vegetables and rice were placed in a large dish, and five or six gathered around. (Except for that one time that we must’ve fed 100 children after one of the screenings of the Jesus film. There was that. I’ll have to tell you about that one day, about seeing so many children crowded around multiple dishes and how in some way, it stirred our hearts in a way words can’t describe). There was something simply profound about eating together. We’ve missed that in our culture, you know. We eat alone and we eat quickly and we forget how life wasn’t meant to be done alone, but to be done together. We really should stop more, and just simply share a meal. I wonder how lives and families would be changed if we simply stopped.
I realized while there that there is a boldness in knowing you are there to serve and share with a purpose; I am wrestling with how to take that boldness home. How do I live my life as a witness to Christ not only in actions, but in words here, too? As we sat on one of our last days with the Believers in the village, we talked about how these Believers would be challenged in their walk. It wouldn’t be easy, one of our team members sadly warned. And it wouldn’t. When these Believers chose to change their lives, and follow the Lord and abandon all other fetishes and idols, their physical and societal lives were put on the line. It’s not a battle of flesh and blood; it’s a spiritual battle. They were wrestling with what it means to abandon all else and follow Christ, to truly live their lives according to the Word. It was a sombering reminder to me. It’s too easy here, in our western world, to live lukewarm. Our lives may not be truly threatened. But how important it is that we too, live lives worthy of the calling placed on them. That we live our lives worthy of the One who died in our place.
As I am reflecting, and hopefully coming out of my jet-lagged state, I am prayerfully committing every precious moment to memory. You might know that I love talking about things that make my heart dance. Throughout this trip, so many things made my heart jump for joy. Conversations about love and faith and God’s call for women. The full moon and stars. Reminders from strangers and new friends that God wants you to dream big and take those leaps of faith, that He creates your heart and hopes and dreams for a purpose far grander than you can imagine. 
I prayed to be a blessing to those I met, but I never imagined how much they would be a blessing to me too. I left a piece of my heart with those people, and I simply can’t wait to go back.