those three words

 

I always thought that those three words, I love you, were the hinge upon which love rested.

Without them, it was absent – and so I’ve spent a lifetime sprinkling those words in conversations, written at the end of letters, and slipped into hugs goodbye.

And there’s nothing wrong with those words. They are beautiful, and truthful, and carry a heart of meaning. But I wonder if maybe we spend so much time waiting for someone to tell us they love us –

when they’ve already shown us. And we’re so busy listening that we forget to see, too.

Love was never meant to be relegated to three words. It was always meant to be a life lived sacrificed. 

Love is devoid of meaning if there is no action. Words only tell us so much – but a life lived sacrificed teaches us that love is found in spite of and because of

those three words.

It shows up when one drives an hour to bring you the spare keys.

It’s found in the embrace of holding close enough so that your tears mix with theirs.

And it’s found when laughter intermingles with your own, because joy is best felt when its shared.

I wonder if love is best received with hands held open – rather than waiting for those three words. Because maybe then we’ll realize that life is one big love story,

and there will always be enough love,

with or without those three words.

 

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happy.

On a table in the corner we both sit. Words are sparse, and we both know that we aren’t the same as the last time we stood in front of each other. You’re quiet; I’m quiet. Deep breaths – we sit in the weariness together.

For just a small moment, we are quiet.

Until we speak. Slowly. Surely. Heart pieces laid on the table, brokenness shared. We break bread,

breaking,

and we drink

drinking

all lavished in grace.

We break and we drink, hold open hands, receiving His grace. Some days His grace is like water in a dry desert. Today is one of those days.

When I walked by him earlier that morning, he pulled me in for a hug and tucked me under his arm for what seemed but just a moment. “You look happy,” he said to me, his only words, as I walked away. Happy? Joy?

And I think, hours later — breaking bread,

broken.

Drinking wine,

lavished in grace.

Some days – maybe most days – we are broken to meet the Healer. Parched to drink in His grace.

His words still echo in my ear and I hold them close to hear them again.

Happy?

Yes, I finally whisper to myself. Happy.

What would you say?

Fingers wrapped around the steaming brew, I’d find my eyes. The big ones that strangers stop and comment on, the ones that I can’t quite decide if they are blue or green or somewhere in between. I’d lean forward – listening for the words spoken and the things left unsaid. Reading between the lines.

I’d reach across the table – grasping the dry hands I can’t seem to bring back to life. And I think that I’d cry, too.

screen-shot-2016-12-21-at-11-34-39-pmI wouldn’t tell you the words you tend to say, the words that are harsh and that tell you to wipe away the tears and stifle the cries. I’d tell you to feel it. I’d tell you to reach into that heart of yours, and grab the sharp pieces, and let them have their way with you.

And then I’d tell you

I’m sorry.

I’m so sorry for the mess you’re sitting in right now.

But I’d also tell you this –

The mess doesn’t make you less beautiful. The confusion doesn’t make you less sure. The unplanned road ahead of you doesn’t make you lost.

It makes you human.

And there’s something so wonderfully human about being in the desert. Of aching for the water. Of searching for the hidden places. I want to be in that place with you.

Let’s search for the water together.

Two are always better than one, anyways. Walk into the dry land just a bit further – 

you don’t know the oasis your heart might find.

In the Passenger Seat

I watch the condos slip by us, one by one. A Christmas tree glistens through the glass windows, and I have to smile. October 30 – too soon? Never. 

I see the couple in the car that we pass, and I wonder when they fell in love. Was it a whirlwind romance or was it a story built out of a million moments? Another car makes its way by us, and I watch the woman grip the steering wheel and frown. What wearies her heart tonight?

I am used to the driver’s seat. I am used to the feeling of the wheel beneath my hands, my eyes on the road before me. I don’t usually find myself in the passenger seat, watching the world pass me by. I study the streets of this city as we drive over them, watching the lights and thinking of the times I walked their sidewalks. I see the buildings, the windows, the dark sky illuminated by a million city lights.

I miss it all when I hold the steering wheel.

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Do you see what happens when you let go and ride in the passenger seat? I hear His whisper in amidst my thoughts and the heart beneath my shirt that beats wildly.

My eyes are on the story that is passing me by.

I really don’t like letting go.

He answers me back in the images that I see, the billboards and lights and beauty painted across the cityscape. It isn’t really even about the city beside me. But look at what happens when you do. You see this whole world you missed before. You see the Gifts.

Can you count it all as joy?

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He’s been asking me that since yesterday.

Can I let go and count it all joy?

I want to shake my head and tell Him no. I want to tell Him I can’t add it to the list of good things, and count it as joy, and whisper thanks as I offer Him back what’s His. But tears stream down instead.

“Yes,” I say. “Yes. I’ll count it all joy.”

The Remembering

On a night when I feel less than remembered, when I feel despair and the familiar pangs of depression, the memories of him I’d left behind –

He asks me – reminds me –

“Think of all the ways that I have remembered you.”

I get out of the rowded room, the loud voices blending together into a sound that churns my stomach. I slip out into the darkness, finding a chair and sitting down. I want to cry. Is it the echoing of God’s question that brims my eyes with tears? Is it my shame at losing sight of the truth that He always remembers?

The cicadas and crickets sing songs to me. A dog barks in the distance. Lights of San Salvador flicker below me in the valley.

Today we wandered places where lives were taken. Murdered. Massacred. Horrors, I am sure, so many did not think they would live through. Did they expect to lose their lives that day at Romero’s funeral? Or when one government challenged another? Did they think, in that moment, that God had forgotten them? Or that He had remembered them?

Did they echo the question I echo so often,

God – do you remember me?

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We walked through a church unlike any other I had seen before. Long and high, the building arched across with stained glass stretching along the walls and roof. Slits of glass letting in a rainbow of colours. It was a sea of yellows and blues and greens and reds and purples – dancing shadows across the building. We were told the colours symbolize God’s love – His remembering. God’s love, dancing in colours across the floor, the floor where blood was shed and bullet holes still remain in the door.

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Did those colours in that moment remind them that they were Remembered? Or did their questions alongside the bullets echo in the sanctuary?

I have not watched someone die, nor heard the sound of gunshots fill the air. I have only suffered my own loss and heartache that pales in comparison.

And yet, even with stories so different, I wonder if our questions are similar.

“Do you remember?”

I flip through the stained Bible, with odds and ends tucked in pages, ink long since faded through the thin pages. I find the story again. The story of Hannah. I meet her in these pages so often that I can sometimes picture her kneeling, sometimes feel her tears because they are so like my own. A woman who wept bitterly to the Lord for a son – a woman who, years after years, made each trip to the temple, filled that place with her tears, and laid her heart bare to the One who created her.

I see her cry for a son. But what is far louder – is her cry for God to remember her.

To see her. To know her. To speak to her. To grasp her open hands.

God does remember her. He gives her the son she cries out to Him for. But shortly after, she returns the boy to the temple to serve – and I wonder if it’s because the cry of her soul was not just for a son.

Her heart’s cry was for God to remember her. That was the point.

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I run my fingers over the words again and again – “And God remembered her.” I am nearly convinced: is the question of wanting God to remember us the big question beneath everything else? In loss? In disappointment? In fear? Brokenness? Our hearts cry out to Him – God, where are you? Do you remember me?

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And so I go back to His question, to look for ways in which He has remembered me with love. I list them off:

Quiet time. Cool nights. Luggage that made it. Song of cicadas. Sweet rice and crunchy chicken. Dew drops on leaves. Conor of stained glass dancing on face. Smell of a hundred fires drifting up the hills. The taste of bananas fresh from the branch. Twenty cent washrooms in sight of a full bladder.

And I am reminded:

He remembers. Over and over again, He remembers. He sees. He loves.

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God only gives good gifts. I am so quick to forget.

I pray even in their last breaths, their moments, that they felt remembered. They saw Him in the chaos, in the fall of colour as sun slipped through. That they saw Him remembering in the way He protected, the way He saved, in smiles and in tears and last breaths.

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I keep finding myself back here, asking. And He just keeps on remembering. Maybe it will be a question I will whisper all through my life. And in the tears and in the smiles, I’ll keep listing the good gifts,

the Love,

The remembering.IMG_6308

Ask the Hard Questions

“Are you happy, Angie?”

We sat across from each other, our shared pizza the only thing between us. The question had filled the easy silence between us, and I looked at her across the table. My eyes welled with tears before I even had a chance to speak, and I was reminded how so often our bodies know our souls sometimes better than our minds do. Continue reading “Ask the Hard Questions”

Brick by Brick

Sometimes I spend too much of my time building up little walls around me to protect me from hurt.

Brick by brick I lay them down. They are things like

cynicism

walking away when I should stay

hiding behind anything that protects my imperfections from peeking through

relationships that fill the loneliness void but do nothing to fill my heart

I don’t know if you are anything like me. But sometimes I peek over the walls and I wonder what life is like on the other side. I wonder what life is like when you risk getting your heart hurt to know that you did everything you could to win his heart. I wonder what life might be like if I stayed even though the protective part of me is whispering to myself to run. I wonder what life might be like if I created healthy boundaries with others, even if it might mean losing them in the process.

Continue reading “Brick by Brick”