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.

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Dancing to the Beat of my Heart

Today I found myself sitting in a coffee shop, the Bible open across from me, and a latte safely snug between my hands. This moment was profound to me. Not because of my love for coffee, or because the walls were painted my favorite turquoise.

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No, it was profound because in many ways, I didn’t recognize the person I’ve become.

There was a time where I refused to be alone in my own company. I couldn’t go out and eat alone. I didn’t walk to school alone. I certainly wouldn’t live alone. And in one moment two years ago, on a rooftop in Ghana, I realized a horribly ugly truth: I did not love myself. In fact, I loathed most parts of me. And I resolved on that rooftop that I wanted to see myself as my Creator sees me: beautiful, loved, unique. Because how heartbreaking is it if I avoid the one person I can know the best – myself? How could I hope for others to love me, if I alone wasn’t willing to? And what did my lack of love for myself say about the Creator – the One who knit me together, who designed me, who calls me His beloved?

On that rooftop I cried because my heart broke. Because I knew that God wanted me to love what He’d created and died for.

Everyday it’s a journey. I wrestle with choosing to believe who I am in Christ instead of who my insecurities say I am. I wrestle against the idea that pride is loving ourselves and being confident in the things we excel at. That’s not true. Being prideful is finding our identity in those things, not humbly thanking God for them.

I seek the things that I love – and if I want to, I do them alone. I visit the park alone I love so much. I wander the market. I sip coffee in a new coffee shop. I hope someday to have someone to do those things with – but either way, I want to love being with just me. I want to know the person that God has created – to understand what it means that I am made in His Image, to understand the things He’s created that make my heart dance. I want to dance to the beat of my heart.

I think as we understand the created, we too understand the Creator. We are missing a characteristic of the Lord if we deny understanding who we are. Because we’ll see His fingerprints in the very way He designed our heart to beat.

So I’m quietly rejoicing for that moment today. I’m rejoicing that as God forms us into new creation – that slowly, I am being given a new heart to love. To deeply love God, to love others, and to love myself.

Find that person.

It was a late afternoon. The smell of fresh coffee lingered in the air, and I lingered in the doorway with it. I made small talk as I am apt to do when stalling; and although I knew in her eyes she knew what I was doing, I did it anyways. When my words finally ran out, I finally crossed the room, sinking into the sofa across from her.

“So how are you?” she asks me in her quiet way. Her words are an invitation to me; they are the warm, safe blanket I am seeking. Before I even answer her, I can feel the tears brimming in my eyes and I fight the urge to look away from her. “Not good,” I reply, and my voice cracks.

“I know you aren’t,” she says softly, her face reflective of the tears that have appeared in my eyes. There’s a moment of silence but the silence is anything but quiet. It’s proclaiming the grace I am desperately seeking; it’s showing me the heart I have been searching for just to simply listen.

I was searching for someone to hold my brokenness in their hands and to not allow me to stay that way, but to hold my hand as I step forward. To allow me to share the dark parts of me; to confess the sins I hide deep in my heart. But even more than that, I was searching for someone to love me in spite of my darkness.

And although I know Christ loves us that way, He also calls us to love one another in that manner. And sometimes finding someone who loves in the gracious way He does is hard.

But, on that afternoon with the smell of coffee in the air, I found it. I experienced grace. What a beautiful thing, because although admitting how we fall seems like such a failure, what Jesus does through grace is transform it into a sign of redemption.

I say all of this to say,

find that person. 

Seek out that person who will love like Christ does, and confess your sins. Unconfessed sins are a powerful tool in the hands of the Enemy. He uses them against us. But confessed sins are a powerful tool in the hands of the Lord, because He uses them for testimonies.

Find that space. Find the space in which you can be known, the dark, gritty, ugly parts and all.

Because when grace invades those ugly parts? God uses even that to bring Him glory.

“Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” (James 5:16)

Kindness In Its Rarest Form

There’s a man who walks the streets of our town. He wears an oversized coat, giant rain boots, and always carries a garbage bag. With thick glasses and an unruly mop of white hair, he walks through the town, picking up garbage and chatting with whoever crosses his path.

This man has fascinated me since we’ve moved here. I’ve only been home a handful of times since the move, but I’m curious to know his story. What is it that causes him to pour kindness into the community around him? As far as I know, years ago he and his wife and daughter were in a car accident. He lost both his wife and daughter on that fateful day.

And now, he fills his time serving the community. Just this afternoon, he walked by our home, noticed a dishcloth that had fallen off the line, picked it up and came over to hang it back up in its rightful spot. I watched him from the window limber slowly over, his age showing as he made his way across our porch. And I couldn’t help but swell with gratitude for the small act of kindness towards my family.

It’s just a dishcloth, maybe. But it made me think about the acts of kindness I do. Do I look for thanks? Do I do them to be noticed, to be appreciated for my good works? It seems to me that this man shows kindness without ever asking for thanks. He does it without regard for whether or not there is a woman peering at him through a window noticing as he walks up to her porch; he does it not so I would run out and thank him. It was selfless. It was pure. And it was kindness in a rare form.

He doesn’t even know it, but by picking up that dishcloth he challenged me to pursue kindness in that rare form. To show kindness not because one deserves it; not because I deserve thanks in return. But show kindness because it is rare. Because it is precious. Because it is lovely.

Ephesians 6:7 – With good will render service, as to the Lord, and not to men.”

For He First Loved Me

They broke me.


I will never forget what the pain of selfishness causes.

They can tell me over and over again how proud they are of me, what a wonderful woman I have become, but in the end, part of me desires to spite them. To be a horrible person. To yell instead of speak softly. To fail in every one of my classes. To show them in every way that they broke me to the very core of my being. To show them that they stole what meant the most to me in this world, and I will never forget it.

I want them to know what it feels like to know the people in your life who are here to protect you, to give you security, to give you shelter in this turmoil of life, weren’t there. I want them to know what it is like to see the people you love with all your heart harden their hearts and become different people.

I want them to know that missing them, who they were, missing what was stolen from me causes me to weep at night. I want them to know it. I want to break them as they have broken me, for maybe in doing so they will finally realize what they’ve done.

I just want them to feel. I want them to act. I want them to see. I want them to hear.

Can’t they see how this mistake, how this sin, how this selfishness, how this pride has broken their very own flesh? Has destroyed my heart in pieces? Has taken my security, my hope, my family?

Yet they sit silently. They act as if nothing has changed, when the very world we live in has shattered.

Are they so foolish as to not hear the cry of the broken? Their own child, weeping alone at night? How can they turn a deaf ear, a blind ear, to their own flesh and blood that was created out of their love?

But yet, there is a whisper that softly says, “Grace.”

And I turn my ear away.

It whispers still. “Forgiveness.”

And I resist.

It urgently insists, “Love keeps no record of wrongs.”
And I cry, “But of course it does – they need to know. They need to know what they’ve done to me.”

But still the voice replies, “Forgive as I have forgiven you.”
And I shake and tremble, for the Voice is true. He calls me to a higher place, but the road to that place is so hard. But I will walk it, I will stumble to the place that He has called me to. I will persevere to the place of forgiveness, the place where grace will permeate every word I speak to them. I will love, no matter how hard, not matter the tears I will cry, for He first loved me.