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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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.

 

 

 

you are more than your broken heart

Dear sweet girl,

There’s a chapter in your life, a chapter that’s found its way into many girls’ stories. You fell deeply for a man who promised you dreams and full moons and laughter in the middle of washing dishes. And you believed it all (and rightly so). You opened your heart, you handed him the key, until one day he returned it. You discovered the man who held you while you cried, grabbed your hand to pray – he wasn’t who you thought he was, and now you’ve got this key you’re holding so tightly, and the empty words nestled at your feet.

The thing is, though, you have this opportunity to build something with them. They don’t have to stay there, staring up at you, reminding you of the heartbreak and the ending and the feelings of deception. You get to take them and make them into something beautiful. You get to tell the story of having loved and lost and how it didn’t destroy you. You’re still standing. You’re still breathing. You’re still putting one foot in front of the other.

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You get to choose to listen to the Words of your Father who calls you

loved

cherished

seen.

You get to take that story and wear your scars proudly, reminding the world around you that one person’s actions do not define you.

Always be proud that your words are true. Always be sure your love leaves people changed. Always let your scars be a reminder to handle another’s heart gently, surely, carefully, truly.

You are more than your broken heart. You are more than empty promises. You are one who is loved beyond measure. One who is cherished. One who is seen.

Do not let the key in your hand convince you to hold it closer. But truly believe it was never meant for him to hold after all. There will be one who will hold it, who will speak words and mean them,

who will never hand it back to you.

You are far braver than you can imagine. The brave are the ones who get in the arena,

fall,

and get back up again.

Always yours,

a.

Safe

There’s going to be a lot of things that won’t make sense to you.

There will be plans set aside, a heart that feels broken, a bank account that’s mostly empty, and an unmapped future – except for those leftovers in the fridge.

You’ll sit on your bed, the elephant patchwork quilt underneath you, and you’ll sit in silence for awhile because a friend suggests you do it. It’s time to listen, she’ll say.

And your mind will keep wandering, and you’ll try to focus on the beeswax candle that is flickering in the corner. But that doesn’t work. And so you rub the frayed edges of the elephants, and you curl into yourself, and you whisper some words because silence is too heavy. And it’s a half hour of you struggling, of you trying so desperately to listen, until there’s only one word that’s whispered to you in the silence: safe.

Safe.

You realize a lot of the unknown, and the pain, and the unmapped future is all simply, unsafe.

And you keep putting a lot of your hopes, and your plans, and your hands cling to all of the things – feeling as if you figure it all out, you’ll finally feel safe.

Oh girl. That’s not how it works (although, you’re stubborn, and sometimes a little controlling, so I’m sure you’ll keep trying).

Unless you place it all in the hands of the One who is safe – you’ll keep wrestling. You’ll keep coming up empty. You’ll keep feeling frayed, and on edge, and lost. The only place you are ever fully safe is in His hands. In that silence. The only place your plans, and your heart break, and your empty bank account, and your unmapped future –

are truly safe – 

are in the hands of the Only One who is.

Keep wandering into the silence. Keep wandering into the unknown. Keep letting your heart break.

For it is in the unsafe places – 

we find that we are truly, always safe –

in the arms of the One who holds us close.

 

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.

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.

The Blanket

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There’s a blanket on our white couch, blue and white, folded haphazardly on the side of the armrest. It’s quite imperfect. There are two strips of colour in the middle that are slightly smaller than the rest. There’s a missed stitch somewhere that you can notice if you’re looking just right. The blanket was started and torn apart about three times, and the pattern evolved almost as much. It wasn’t just a labour of love, this blanket of mine; it was an offering.

It became prayers stitched in while the big blue hook made it’s way under and over, and under again. It was tears mixed in with the remnants of yarn left behind as it moved across the white couch. Questions were murmured amongst the whispers of praise. I asked Him to meet me when the blanket was finished, each stitch done, beautiful in its imperfection. Would He answer the questions I kept laying down at His feet?

He doesn’t. He just gives me more of Himself.

And I am wondering if the times when He is silent – when He makes His peace more palpable, and His presence more visible in the tears and the laughter and the warm breeze that breaks in through blinds in the middle of the night –

I am wondering if, then, you and I don’t really need an answer. We don’t really need the steps ahead of us illuminated in quite the way we think we do.

I am wondering if His silence and presence are really a whisper –

A whisper that you’re on Holy Ground.

I’ve given you all you need to take the steps forward. To make the decision. To choose the path to walk down. I’ve given it all to you because I am all you need, in every moment, in every decision, in every unknown. I’ve given you a mind and a heart and tears and feet and all you need to do is move, sweet girl. Just move. Take it all in, with a deep breath and a shuddering cry, and just move. Knowing I desire more to be the answer, then to give you an answer. 

That’s all you really need to know right now. Take all that I’ve given you – those eyes that see, that mind that thinks, that heart that feels – and go. Do. Decide. Commit.

And go fully –

Knowing I’m right beside you as you do.

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.

Blank Pages

It is always the blank page that is terrifying to me. The beginning. When there’s emptiness, needing to be filled, where does one start? How does one know what is to come, where the words will take you, what they will say?

It starts with one letter, one word, until there’s a paragraph. And then you find that there’s a page. Sometimes the words come quietly, softly, until they’ve filled the emptiness with something whole. Other days – the words come slowly, painfully – and it is more of a laboured journey than a discovery of something beautiful.

I’ve been staring at blank pages a lot lately. Each day that there is a deadline scrawled across my agenda. Afraid to start. Putting it off until time is ticking by and I am desperate to place words on page.

Why do I do that? Why do I fear the emptiness and the unknown?

There is something stark about the blank pages in life. Blank pages haven’t just been on my screen; life has felt a lot empty these days. A lot of unknowns. A lot of sitting in the waiting room of life.

Sometimes I feel like that little cursor, blinking, staring blindly up at me. Sometimes life feels much like these blank pages. I am waiting. Afraid to put words on paper – yet everything in this soul of mine is desperate to fill pages with words and see stories unfold.

It’s the beginning that causes me to sit still, to worry, to wonder.

She asks us in the quietness of the classroom – wearied minds, tired eyes, students entering the end that seems so far away – how have we been looking at this world? What concepts, what perceptions have been shaping how we view what’s before us? 

I bow my head as she reads Scripture and it washes over this broken soul. A broken soul so in need of a Saviour, a Saviour to shape and change these ways in which I view this world.

Hope instead of despair.

Faith instead of discouragement.

Joy instead of cynicism.

I pull out the chalks that night, sketching something across rough paper. The next morning I lay in bed far too long dreaming and hugging blankets closer. When I shower, I stop to feel each drop hitting my body. What am I missing in these moments? I ask myself – rushing, tackling The List, never quite reaching the level of Perfection I clearly outline in the sand?

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Dying trees peer up through the window as I ready for the day, snow melting it’s way down the ravine behind our building and I stare up at the whitened sky above. Oh to be alive, I think. I reach hands overhead and stretch each muscle. Am I really living when I look at blank pages and fear the beginning? Am I really living when I am in the waiting room and refuse to leave? Refuse to find joy in the season of sitting, of waiting, of unknown?

Doesn’t God promise to be here, too?

Doesn’t He promise He’s here in the waiting, in the humble beginnings, in each letter, in each word – in each step forward even when we don’t know where we are going?

Soul weary, my prayer: oh Lord, make me a lover of humble beginnings. Of unknowns. Change this broken heart to rejoice in the waiting – in these seasons of blind faith, knowing that it is in the darkness you are always passing by, in the trembling – You are always passing by
.

 

 

Inconvenienced.

Our ability to love will lie right in our willingness to be inconvenienced.

Her words echo in the messy bedroom, unfolded clothes on my bed and a half organized desk beside me.

Our ability to love will lie right in our willingness to be inconvenienced.

I must confess I am not willing to be inconvenienced most days. Most days I list the things to do in the small little box in my agenda, and if things fall in between them I am not always so eager to move the list around.

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I carry grocery bags to the apartment and I barely muster a hello to the neighbour that lives down the hall.

I chat with the Italian man in line at the art gallery, but only until the warm hand I want to hold falls back beside me and I choose him instead.

I could talk to the student beside me, but I find my phone and an empty hallway until class begins again.

I say all of this not to add a burden to my heart, or another to-do on my list – but I just never want to get lost only seeing myself and missing the others.

I don’t want to be so stuck in my life that I miss. the. others.

This heart needs to be inconvenienced. In a new world, with so much to do, I need it to be broken to remind me of what this life is about. I need eyes to look deep into and see the soul that lies within.

(I am terrified of this prayer. I am terrified to ask Him to turn my face to see their eyes instead of my life. I am terrified of what it might cost.)

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And yet I can pray no other prayer than to ask God to inconvenience me. To interrupt my plans and my life to let me see. 

Somehow I think I’ll find more of Him in those moments. In conversations with strangers. Into what I don’t know, the messy places of peoples’ hearts I am afraid to venture into.

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“When we stop looking at people in the eyes, we dehumanize them into projects,” Eugene Cho said into our echoing chapel days ago. I don’t want to stop looking at people in the eyes. Tears brimmed my eyes when he said those words and they echo in my ears still today.

Lord – inconvenience me – 

and may I always be one who stops to look people in the eyes

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