Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for You.
-1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
And this is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.
-1 John 5:14-15
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
And call upon Me in the day of trouble; I shall rescue you, and you will honor Me.”
The LORD is near to all who call upon Him, To all who call upon Him in truth.
Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praises. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him.
Lord, I’m trying.
I’m not ready for her to die. Things are moving too fast and I can’t keep up. I can’t wrap my head around it.
She has cancer. It will kill her.
I keep thinking about her offer that I come work for her. That I could just come spend time with her and get her organized. And part of me knows I could never accept that. But part of me wishes I had.
And I’m terrified for my mom.
Everything blows up all at once.
I started this blog a year ago.
To bring a small, dim light to the darkest pieces of my soul. To heal from the cracks and the wreckage that is left from weathering storm after storm. To clean out the dust and the dirt from the corners of my broken heart. To allow myself to finally, finally really let my guard down and breathe. To be me, without fear of what that meant to anyone else. Without thought as to who would care enough to stay and who would disappear.
It was a safe place. Somewhere I could write whatever I wanted, about whatever I wanted. Somewhere I could just be. I didn’t even tell anyone about it for months. I had a few readers occasionally but no one I knew. It wasn’t for them. It was for me. It’s always, always just been for me. The letters, the statements, the conversation. This blog is not where I came to write what I couldn’t say to others. It’s where I came to find voice for the words that I couldn’t say to myself. When I was so broken. When I was so low. This was the place I used to put the pieces back together. To pick myself up and dust myself off and keep on moving forward when, quite frankly, I just wanted to quit. I wasn’t afraid here. After all that has happened. After all the demons and the people that have chased me and hurt me, here I was finally safe. From them. From myself.
It’s not safe here anymore.
I see these views from that place I wanted so badly to be –although, if we’re honest, the only place I really wanted to be was with you — and I can’t be honest about who I am now or what I’m feeling because I keep wondering if it’s you. Or if it’s an intruder.
See, you I let in by choice. Too fast, maybe. Too trusting, clearly. But I wanted you there. You told me to let my walls down. That you wanted to help me. You told me you wanted to hear my nightmares and my story and that you wanted to protect me from the things and the people that hurt me so badly in the past. You wanted to be different. But some of the things that came into my life along with you were not things or people I wanted inside. And all of a sudden this place wasn’t my safe house anymore.
And now I wonder if I need to stop. If it’s you. I wonder if you want to know what’s in my head. If it’s fair for you to know what’s in my head when I literally am wandering blind. And if it’s not. The thought of someone knowing my mind and my heart is scary. Especially when I fear it will be used against me. My own words, a weapon that could destroy me.
And I don’t want them to seem like a weapon. This is not a battlefield but a place of refuge. I don’t come here to engage in warfare, nor do I come here to manipulate or deceive. This is where I come to lay it all out and make sense of it all.
So where am I supposed to go now?
I’ve never learned to not touch the flame.
I see it burning right there in front of me and the desire of my heart is it’s warmth so I leap forward, hand outstretched and then, somehow, I’m always surprised when I’m burned.
It hurts the same every time. Years of scarring do not hide the pain, in fact, each time I feel a new burn, the ache doubles, reminding me of the old scars, the old imperfections.
It wasn’t always so dark. Marcella looked up at the sky frowning as she stepped onto the platform. She could remember days as a child when the sun had lit up the entire sky. She remembered it’s warmth against her skin, the way it glowed, even when she squeezed her eyes shut. She remembered running under it’s blaze and lying in the tall cool grass with Lou, seeking shade, never appreciating the glory it brought into their days. But the sun had set years ago and had emerged behind a cloud of smog and pollution. It hung in the sky, shining dimly at best, leaving the world in a haze.
Her eyes followed the trail of people as they headed down off the platform moving forward to those who were waiting for them with arms opened. Everywhere her head turned, Marcella saw reunions and joyful greetings. She cast her eyes down at her feet and took a deep breath in. “One foot in front of the other Marcy.” She could hear Lou’s voice more clearly than she could hear her own. Lou had a way with words, she’d always seemed to be able to voice the exact thing that needed to be said. Often times, Marcy didn’t realize anything was missing until Lou filled the space.
Marcella readjusted her hand-bag over her shoulder and and set off down the platform. Her suitcase was light in her hand as she weaved her way through the crowds of people smiling and greeting one another. She heard bits of conversations as she walked.
“The house just wasn’t the same without you” one woman said to a man as she tugged a child near to her, before he could wander down the tracks.
“…if ever the sun was to shine like it used to.” An older man looked up at the sky.
“…I’m sure they’ve forgotten to do as I asked…” a woman rushed by her towards the town followed by a man who was shaking his head laughing.
Marcella smiled. This town was miles away from her own but each person she saw reminded her of someone from home. “That’s the thing about leaving Marcy. You always seem to carry the people you meet along with you.” Lou’s voice echoed in her head but Marcy’s smile faded. There were certain people she was determined to leave behind.
She wandered into the small town down what seemed to be the only well lit road which weaved back and forth through shops that were closing for the evening. She peered into their dim windows, trying to remember where things were in case she decided to stay more than a few days. In the window of a secondhand clothing store there hung a sign that read: “Room for Rent, ask Shopkeeper”. Marcella’s heart jumped and she knocked on the window hurriedly, hoping that she wouldn’t be too late.
She jumped back in surprise when a face appeared in the dusty glass across from hers. An older woman peered through at Marcella who pointed to the sign, smiling, and trying to look pleasant. “Hello!” she called through the glass. “I wanted to inquire about the room if it’s not too late.” The woman stepped back and looked Marcella up and down and then, as quickly as she had appeared, she was gone. Marcella’s heart sank. She hadn’t made adequate plans for how to make it through the night and ever since the pollution had dulled the sun, it had become less safe to stay out after dark.
She glanced around her, worried for the first time since setting out on this adventure. She turned towards the street and was about to step off the curb when behind her, she heard the unmistakable click from the lock of the door to the shop followed by a bell chiming. Then, before she could turn back, a voice called out “Well? If you’re going to want the room you’re going to have to come in sooner or later.”
I keep reminding myself that just because I know something will end doesn’t mean I shouldn’t enjoy it at the time. I keep telling myself that just because it’s over now doesn’t mean I have to be sad.
I’m trying to look back and be happy. Because I really enjoyed every minute of it. The ups and the downs. And I wish it wasn’t over now but I’m learning to be okay with it. That’s what you wanted.
I’m trying to focus on myself and my life here and how I can be present.
But days like today–full of bad news–are just so disappointing. All I want to do is go home and see your face and have you tell me it’s okay. You made my days so much better.
“I know you’ve heard this all before
When I’m down and crying on the floor
Singing, “I want you and nothing more”
But I’m breaking in my heart tonight
I’ve tried to stand, I’ve tried to fight
But I cannot see without your light
No I cannot breathe without you”
The song “Home” by Phil Wickham has been playing on repeat for me tonight. There’s just something about this song that captures the picture of my life. Wandering, stumbling, finding myself feeling lost, trying to make my way back to the Father who somehow still loves me and is somehow still waiting for me with open arms. It doesn’t make any sense. And the further I fall, the further I feel from God, the bigger the Gospel gets. The larger what He has done for me seems. It just doesn’t make sense. Why does God want me? Why does He love me?
“When I saw you I was ashamed
You were pure and I was stained
But you ran to me and you called my name
There were tears of joy upon your face”
I don’t know what it is that keeps me running. I don’t understand why I allow my sinful nature to win again and again. I keep thinking of that line in Come Thou Fount Of Every Blessing “prone to wander, Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love.”
I’ve been running my whole life. From expectations when they seemed to high. From my family when I thought I couldn’t be what they wanted. From my friends when we started to let each other down. From people who loved me when I felt I had nothing left to give them. From the chance to change because I was afraid I would fail. From God.
I wander away and get lost, waking up to find myself in situations that I didn’t ever intend to be in. I look at the picture of my life and wonder how it got so messy. But years of running left me with only a few paths left to take.
And still, when I come back, He’s right there. He tells me He always was. And His arms are wide open.
“I want to feel you now like I felt you then
Strip away my calloused heart
Set your arrow at your mark
Can you take me back to where you are”
It’s my constant, unceasing prayer that The Lord would make my heart more like His. That there would be more of Him and less of me in every area of my life. I’m tired of wandering. I’m tired of running. I welcome His open arms. And all I want is to find rest and shelter within them, to just barricade myself inside them and never leave again. I’m doing everything I can, fighting in every way I know how to remain here in His embrace.
If God has to take everything I have — every person I love or care for, every speck of pride, every sense of self accomplishment — if He has to take it all so that I can see Him standing before me, loving me exactly as I am, then I hope He takes every bit of it. Until I learn to see Him before me, in front of all other things or people.
The Lord keeps making it so clear that He is right here. That He knows my doubts, my fears — that He knows my thoughts and sees my heart breaking. He knows. And He’s here.
Last night I was reading one of my favorite book series and in the very first chapter was the John 10:10 “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” Tonight I sat on my couch and turned on a message from my home church from January. To my surprise, this was one of the verse’s being taught on. As soon as the pastor read these words I just could feel The Lord compelling me to listen.
It was like He took me by both shoulders and looked into my face and said “I’m here. I see. I care.” The most terrifying and wonderful words.
Towards the end of the message, the Pastor looked up, and said “He speaks, we know His voice and He says ‘I know you, you know me and I will guide you through this.’ Whether it’s disappointment, or a separation, or a struggle, or discontentment with your kids. Whether you have a problem at work, whether you’re angry, whatever it is, and wherever you are, Jesus your good Shepard will guide you through.”
Hearing those words I broke down and cried. To know that God sees my heart so clearly and so lovingly speaks directly to me. It’s just so amazing that He’s still there. After all I’ve done, that He could still love me, is mind boggling.
He knew that I would read that book last night. He knew I would do something I never do and listen to a message from my home church. He knew.
The pastor was talking about how The Lord speaks to us through His word. I pulled out my phone and turned on an app I have called “The Word” which shows an image and has a short devotional on the back. It opened to yesterday’s verse which said “I am with you and will keep you wherever you go.” Genesis 28:15 When I opened today’s, I saw a picture with the simple word “Reedemed.” across it. The devotional for this was based on Isaiah 43:1 which says “But now, this is what the Lord says — he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: ‘Do not fear for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.”
“Christ is your redeemer and you have indeed been redeemed in Him through the finished work of the cross. Redemption. Atonement. Restoration. Yours in Jesus name. The redemptive work of the cross is complete…It is not half done, it’s not dependent on your works – it is complete and full. It’s something that was designed for you long before you were born, and that you receive the very moment you accept Christ into your heart. Lost to found. Spiritually bankrupt to saved and rescued. Christ’s redeeming power is so full that you aren’t just redeemed then left on your own…He calls you by name, singles you out, and gives His full attention to your heart. He calls you His own just like a parent does a child, and then walks with you every step, every day, no matter what. His redemption seeping into and soaking up all our days. Claim it today. Don’t live trying to work your way into redemption, but with a humble and thankful confidence, own it and walk it out.”
How wonderful it is to have a Father who sees our hearts so clearly.
Who will stay with us all the time even when we ignore that He’s with us.
Who will speak to you until you throw off whatever it is that is holding you back –until you open His word and accept that it’s for you.
Who’s voice becomes known as you read more until you can hear Him anywhere you go.
Who sat with me on a Sunday night, where I sat in my living room, feeling so alone, until I looked up and saw Him and sitting right next to me.
Who is always right here.
For the record, the reason I call it “chasing God” is because He constantly seems to be far in the distance.
I’m not perfect, nowhere near. I never will be and I never meant to pretend to be.