Fight or Flight.

October 29, 2012 - One Response

You know how in the cartoons, right before the fat firework rockets off the ground it shakes?
Shakes violently because something volatile is happening on the inside, something so powerful that it’ll lift it far, far into the blanket of night sky?

We’re not all that different.
Before we’re propelled out of a plateau there’s usually a catalyst.  And that catalyst more than likely isn’t a nap or a mug of warm milk or a Family Circus comic.

It’s big.
It’s loud.
It’s intense.

And we shake.

There has been a lot of tough stuff not just as of late, but as of always.  Stuff that’s left me sobbing in a bathroom stall, tearing at the walls, laying flat on the tangerine shag carpet of a church floor in the dark.  There have been moments where what’s barely being contained in my skin shakes so violently I don’t know if it’ll propel or push me to drown under the weight of it all.

We’ll strip down and sink under the sweet frothy water of a bath to get clean, but when was the last time we peeled off our layers and hopped into the washing machine? Wrapped our legs & arms around the agitator in koala bear fashion and asked a friend to shut the lid?

When was the last time we walked miles out into the thrashing foam of a storming sea and sank underneath just to get clean?

Never.

We’ll take our lavender & rose scented six inches to get the job done.  No need to get crazy.  The spin cycle would make us sick, and the ocean’s swirling whirlpool would stuff our lungs until we didn’t surface.

I’ve been hiding out the last twenty nine years.
The waves have found me.  So I haven’t gone looking for more.

And on a mundane morning last week it hit me why.

Because God wins in the end.

And in typical Brian Reagan fashion, let me put the em-phasis on the right syl-lable.
Where you might’ve interpreted “Because God wins in the end.”  what my heart has come to believe is more “Because God wins in the end.

The end.

Not in the now.
NOT TODAY.
I have been head-down to the victory of the enemy in every moment, not fighting.
Shaking with a long lit fuse, but refusing to lift off.

And when I dare to lift my chin, it’s to fight the hope that I can hope for anything.
Because since Eden, that snake has lied to us and told us God’s not God.  That He’s not the victor.  That He doesn’t win.

And since the first time I heard I wasn’t worth loving, I believed it.  And He didn’t win.
And since the first time I heard I was a ‘grand disappointment’, I believed it. And He didn’t win.
…The first time I was told my heart was a liability and not an asset.
…The first time I was told that my writing did a great disservice to Jesus.
…The first time I was told I wasn’t pretty enough for someone to want me… that I wouldn’t make a good mom which is why I wasn’t one… that I wouldn’t make a good wife which is why I wasn’t one… that my hurts weren’t real, they were just an excuse…

I believed it.
And He didn’t win.

I mean, ultimately I guess I kept my head down so that I could just get to the end.  The end where He WILL WIN!
The end where He makes everything right and finally destroys the enemy and gathers all His kids up.
The end, where “Every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord!”

And I guess till then, when I can drag out of the torrential tide or pop out of the Whirlpool, I just want to crawl into the placid warmth of my tub.
I’ll clamp my arms around my middle to stop the shaking that might get me world-changing and I’ll just wait. wait. wait.
I’ll just wait it out till the end.
I might end up shriveled like a rain-wrenched raisin, but there will hopefully be a lot less risk and a few less scars.

Last night I re-listened, but maybe this time heard the story of Ruth.
(And if all that name conjures for you is a drunken Real World-er or a baseball legend, I suggest you snag the nearest Old Testament.)

You see this woman Naomi lived in a beautiful city, Bethlehem, with her husband and her two boys… and when drought pushed them out they moved into Moab.
Where it was dark.
And sin-soaked.
Then her husband died.
Then her sons both died.
And there she was left alone and broken-hearted with her two daughters-in-law.
And Ruth, one of those daughters, didn’t leave her side.
And through the chapters she finds love and her mother-in-law finds joy again.
And Ruth gives birth to a son that was the grandpa of King David.

And in the old old pages of Ruth’s life we see God win.
God won when he used Ruth to well love the heart of her bitter mother-in-law, God won when he drew Boaz’s heart to notice her while she worked in a field as nothing all that special, God won when the man that could’ve taken her didn’t so Boaz could, God won when she conceived David’s grandad, and God won most of all when His son was born in the city that so many years before, Christ’s ancestors moved out of.
And it’s that Son, and His Spirit, and Himself that yes will eventually win it all, but HE IS WINNING IN THE NOW.

 

He wins the moment.
He wins the minute.
HE WINS EACH DAY.

He is winning when I’m being body slammed against the beach, and He’s winning even when I don’t feel the victory.  Because there is no second that slips by where the enemy doesn’t quake at the power of Christ.

So shall I sit up from under the tepid tapwater and take a breath, and then a step, and then a leap into the scary future?

YES.

Why would I let myself be convinced by the darkness to stay in the darkness?  Why would I let myself believe the loser when he tells me the winner doesn’t win?

Why would I spend 29 painful years ready to rocket and refusing to do so?

If I believed in a God who fought for me and fights for me still, would I fly?
If I believed in a God who parts seas and moves mountains and creates with words and humbly stretched on skin for us, would I fight?

If I believed in a God who wins, in a love that wins, in the good that wins… would I ignite the sky?

No more hiding.
No more keeping my eyes closed and fists clenched.
No more assuming today is decided.
No more bubble baths to hide out in when there’s a world waiting.
…A world where this very second, the enemy is being defeated!

BECAUSE HE HAS, HE IS, & HE WILL…
WIN.

Kaleidoscope Heart.

October 2, 2012 - 2 Responses

Four rows up from me was this willowy brunette who kept shaking her long silken locks, completely unaware that I was not-so-subtly attempting to burn holes in the back of her head with my slightly-squinted snakelike stare.  And yes, I was an eensy bit comforted at the thought of what she must spend on conditioner every month, but beyond that, I hated her.  Because beyond her greenbean-esque torso and the aforementioned locks of fairy tale proportions, halfway through the church service (…yes all of this hate was happening at church, I know, I know!) halfway through the church service she was handed a comfy grey sweater by her sitting-so-close-boyfriend to slip over her cold shoulders.

I mean, the nerve! Right? I mean, here she is, while I’m trying to leave my junk at the altar and really learn something new about the Lord or the world, or okay, I don’t really remember all of what I was supposed to be stuffing away in my insides to make me more like Jesus, but here she was swishing her perfect hair and letting her boyfriend be all sweet and considerate right in front of me. Well, fifteen feet-ish right in front of me. There she was warm in that cotton-wool blend, being loved, and she probably remembers every word whichever pastor spoke had to say and she probably didn’t even need to bring her Bible because she’s got at least all of the New Testament memorized.

Her and her damn shiny hair.

And it’s not just her that’s done me wrong these last few days, it’s hand-in-hand neighbors, stroller-pushers, fancily-attired diners paired off like they’re on a candle-lit Noah’s Ark… two by two by two by two.
Oh, and the radio.  Damn the radio.  Where are the upbeat songs about salad? or soft baby bunnies? or Switzerland?
Be it twangy or folksy or rap-infused, seems to be three and half minutes of love or sex or worse… both, on a never-ending loop.
…and really all I could use right now is a song about nothing but sunshine and tiny animals and nothing.

Because, and the cat’s already been loosed out of the internet-bag by some well-meaning well wishers… I got my heart broke.

And I’m not okay, and it’s not okay, and broken hope is never okay.
And I’m not alone, and I’m not unique, and ultimately it will be okay.
Okay?

Somewhere inside something so special, the pressure to love was too much for one of us.

And here I am hurt, and broken, and exhausted.
And I’m not alone, and I’m not unique, and ultimately it will be okay.

 

All I’ve ever wanted to do was love BIG. love LOUD. love like CRAZY.
(whispers… and all I’ve ever wanted was to be loved BIG. be loved LOUD. be loved like crazy.)
So when the love you want isn’t there, and it’s not there because of the way you love, because the way you love is too much…
It crushes you.

So you wheel out a barrow of tape & glue & thread, and you get busy pulling out the words of best friends, and the prayers of ones who’ve walked farther through darker darkness, and the hope wrapped up in other people’s dried bouquets and freezer burnt wedding cake and matching gold bands, and you kind of mash up this blanket to wrap up in, or hide under.

We broke up on my birthday.  The day I’d weeks before squeezed my eyes shut tight and thanked God for.  Suddenly the big 2-9 wasn’t so scary, because the leap into the chapter I’ve always shuddered at wasn’t being written alone anymore.  There he was to shop the farmer’s market with and softly kiss (and not-so-softly kiss) and dream with and laugh with and maybe-one-day-when-I-was-enough love with.

But I, true to form, leapt when I should’ve tip-toed.

So after a conversation dissolving in choked back tears on my end and silence on his, with a big, fat, thick cloud of ache sitting squarely on my shoulders, and chest, and back, I got in the shower to scrub all the red out of my face.  Dried off, buttoned-up, and on the road home for a fancy dinner to celebrate a new year of my life.

 
Happy Birthday.

 
And there that fat cloud sat, pressing in and pressing on… a fog the serrated cake knife couldn’t have sawed through.

And I’m not alone, and I’m not unique, and ultimately it will be okay.

The next day, with eyes almost sealed shut, I woke up to sunshine… and another party on the docket.
All I wanted was to stay under the covers with the lights off and water what was rotting.

Albeit cracked, but curled & cuffed, I sat for hours under rustling leaves with loves all around me … there was sugar in our tummies and even sweeter giggles in the air, flowers & thoughtful gifts & penned cards I read later, alone, that called out the hurt, but stayed thankful for the life. My life.

And life is for the living, not the rotting.

Before our perfect picnic, I wasted a few frozen minutes wandering aimlessly through a gift store nearby, thumbing through the love-laden cards I’d already sent him and the ones I never will.  I rounded the corner to a shelf of oddities and jammed a prismatic kid’s kaleidoscope firmly against my right eye.

I stood, very much an adult, with a child’s toy smushed into my face, facing the sun.

And as I stood toward their glass doors, the bits of glitter and shards of sparkle gently, slowly, passed over the lens.
Explosions of color and shape and pattern lazily formed and fell away and regrouped anew… new colors, new shapes, new patterns.

Tiny bits.

Where would the glory be in one full marble passing by the eye-piece?

…one intact blue marble rolling around sure wouldn’t create a handheld fireworks show. Would it?

Stained glass without pieces is just, well, a window.
A mosaic with one tile is more the bathroom floor than a work of art.

Well. Whaddya know?
In a corner gift shop on what should have been a day full of everything that makes the heart full, my heart was broken.
Into tiny bits.

Tiny bits and pieces, and nothing anywhere near whole.

And I’m not alone, and I’m not unique, and ultimately it will be okay.

But while I’m not alone… maybe those little sharp shards are unique… unique to me & my story, just like yours are to you & your story.

What if ‘whole’ wasn’t the point? If ‘happy’ wasn’t the glorious little light show?

Maybe all of our broken parts, and hurts big and small, all of our fallen-apart-hopes, and pains keep gently & slowly passing over the lens of how God sees our life.

Still beautiful.
More beautiful.

When the sun shines through us and the world spins us around, there we are, a handheld fireworks show, much more full & spectacular to behold because we’re in a million pieces, we are each a million different stories, maybe we’re not meant to be whole.

 

 

 

Maybe not whole, but being held together.
Being held together, and maybe becoming something beautiful.

You are not alone. You are unique. And ultimately… it will be okay.

 

Dating a Trailer Park Pastor.

August 27, 2012 - 2 Responses

Tonight over two pints of pale ale, a pair of hazel eyes sparkled to tell me …
“It feels so good not to have my heart broken every day.”

What a fresh, full feeling… to be whole.

***

Last weekend I was back in Michigan with the man who’s got me all tied up in hope & butterflies.

10 months ago he moved into a trailer park.  Since then he has spent countless hours doling out water, snacks, advice, prayers, & love.  Real love.

But more important than the groceries & the get-to-know-ya’s, he is doing what so many of us fail at… ministry that makes it about them and not him.

How much of the time do we do just enough to make ourselves feel better, aware that diving in deeper would make for too many inconveniences?

After a full day last Sunday, we took an armful of leftovers to a family not too far down the street.
3 kids, 1 newborn, & a waddly bulldog-of-my-dreams keeps their house full of chatter and expenses.

They welcomed us in, and beyond being thankful for the dinner in our hands, they were excited to laugh with us and the kids were thrilled to play show & tell.  They handed us coloring pages and science projects and crafts and toys… smiling to share; sweet little happy faces that belied their situation.

Their eldest, a precious almost 6th grade girl asked if I’d like to see her room.
I walked the few steps down the hall, pulled back the fleece blanket that served as her door and stood in disbelief.

…She stood proudly in the center of her tiny bedroom, beaming.

I took my eyes off of her bright face to look around.  …dirty pink walls, barren closet, bed with no sheets.
But there she stood, smiling wide, proud to show me her few prized possessions.

And in that moment my brain wracked to think of ways to gift her.

Why?

Because I had it decided that though she was happy with what she had, she needed more.
Because I wouldn’t be happy if I was her.
Because I’d look around & come up broken-hearted.
Because I made it about me and not about her.

What do we need?

We need to live thankful, blissfully unaware of anything we’re lacking… because maybe as long as we’re clothed & fed & loved… we’re not really lacking.

Maybe instead of the seven dozen items I’ve chalked on a mental list of what-she-can’t-live-without, including glitter polish and fancier dresses… maybe she’s okay.
Maybe it was the dinner and the smiling and the listening and the shared excitement, maybe that’s all I needed to give her.
Maybe that’s all we both needed.

It’s hard for me to believe something’s ‘enough’ if I can’t wrap a bow around it.

Is it just as hard for me to accept that what I’ve got is enough if it doesn’t fill my closet or my mailbox or my bank account or my bed?

Because here I am scrambling, frantic, fretting over bills & balances & schedules & worries & words that’ve not been said but should’ve…
And maybe it’s enough to rock back on my heels and say “It feels so good not to have my heart broken every day.”

Yes indeed… what a fresh, full feeling… to be whole.

Maybe the new friends of my trailer park pastor are showing me what it means to be content.
Maybe there’s a lesson or two to be learned about how to live in a space of gratitude.
Maybe I need to untether myself to the stuff, untie the ribbons around what’s unnecessary, and understand that my needs have been met.

…tonight my head’ll rest somewhere soft, tomorrow my breakfast plate won’t be empty, each day of this new chapter my heart’s been kept safe, my arms have yet to lack loves to wrap around, & today I felt whole.

And maybe, well maybe…

that is much more than enough.

***

Philippians 4:11-12
Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.

She’s Careful Like a Surgeon.

July 30, 2012 - One Response

I’d seen him before in concert, sitting on a couch mere inches from his face… I knew to expect songs that’d make my heart swoon and stories that would cause the awkward giggle-snort to escape before I could pretend to be too cool.

Instead of a restaurant over the canal like the year before, that night found my feet stuck to a beer-splattered hardwood floor in an old church-turned-coffee-house that was roughly the same temperature as a baby chick incubator.

The girls threw their curls up in ponytails, the boys shed their jackets, I snuck around when security wasn’t looking & opened all the windows, and together we rocked & rolled.

Every concert crowd wants to feel special, we blush & cheer at compliments from artists who probably had no idea what city they’d arrived in till about four minutes before walking on stage.

And yet, it was a tad different tonight.
He stepped to the mic and thanked Indy for being a bit of family… for supporting him in droves for at least ten years.
He said that because of the history, the sense of familiarity, he felt comfortable playing the old ones… songs that today’s try-to-hard-hipsters wouldn’t even recognize.

And he strummed, and he opened his mouth, and “She drives down on Sunset, with the windows down, just so she can let it in… she knows he’s far gone now, but there still are pieces, pieces here still left of him.” spilled out.

And that was it.
And I was a goner.

Because, and Hillsong & Enya you’ll just have to forgive me… it’s the one song… the mostly unknown song… that soothes me from the first strum.  I’ve sat alone or driven alone or laid alone and just breathed with those lyrics on repeat for years;  feeling comforted for who-knows-what-reason.
And what reason do any of us really have to explain our favorite song?

But here I was with my feet glued to the maple by a dozen tacky layers of Heineken, not even trying to keep it all in.  I had my hand over my heart and my eyes clenched tight, and my mouth forming around every syllable I had memorized, because in that moment I felt loved totally by surprise.  It’s as if my God just wisped a curl behind my ear and stood with a solid hand on my shoulder while I swayed… that moment was just for me.
I can count on one hand the times I’ve felt a moment was orchestrated just for me.
It’s the sweetest and shakiest and most overwhelming sense I’ve known.

Do we feel the most loved when the love comes as a surprise?

Do bouquets on our birthday feel less special than on just another Tuesday?
Do I expect to hear that I’m pretty when there is glitter & gloss involved, but does it reach deeper in my heart when you’ve seen this dress before?

I’m finding myself stuck in an odd place when it comes to love.

It’s on my mind to love better and it’s on my heart to love well every day, it’s an exhausting constant ribbon of thought that streams through me neverendingly.  I fall apart at the thought that I could’ve done it differently, done it better, done it at all.

And the other night I sat twisting my fingers at the dining room table trying to write out words of love to someone I wanted them to wash over, and I felt so completely inadequate.
Pen capped, I locked my twisting fingers into folded hands, tipped my chin down… and then gave up and put my head flat against the table and stretched my arms out in flailing hand gestures while I talked to God.

My words sped out fast…fast…faster… without time to think about them first…

“I can’t do this.  I am failing.  I don’t know how to do this.  I don’t know how you want me to do this. I don’t feel loved. I don’t feel like I love the right way.  I don’t know if You love me.  I don’t know how to want You to love me.  I don’t love You well.  I desperately want to be loved.  How does this work Lord?
I guess I don’t know because I’ve never felt treasured.”

And that was it.
And I was a goner.

I opened my eyes wide and opened my mouth wide and gasped as if I was coming up for air.

How…wait…what did I…wait…did I…why would…
And before I could talk myself out of it, it hit me.

Truth bubbles up in those honest prayers.  Surprising truths that break our hearts.

I have never felt treasured.

I have felt loved.  I have felt funny.  I have felt heard.  I have been hugged well & gifted well & prayed for well.
But I have never felt adored.

Every little girl deserves that, every grown woman deserves that, every person deserves that.  And to put words to the heavy ache I’ve carried around unnamed for twenty-eight years made me sink.

Why was I not worth treasuring?  Why am I not worth adoring? What have I done wrong? Why am I not enough?

I sobbed.
There, alone at the dining room table on a weeknight.

Does that make you shake your head? Do you feel uncomfortable or awkward at the thought?
Yea… me too.

He’s designed days and minutes full of love, but it’s the in-between weeks & months & years where I feel that love must’ve gotten lost somewhere.
Do you do well holding on to something you felt once until you feel it again.
How do you do it?

How do you assume the best, assume the heart, assume the good without the shivers & butterflies & answers & tenderness, & solidity that comes with the being shown, the being held, the being told?

How do you want to be loved? Or do you want to keep that little secret to yourself?
Because those that really want to love you, well, they’ll figure it out.
Right?

So, what now?
Do I make requests? Do I make demands?

Or do I sit awkwardly waiting for the love to sneak up? Love that’ll make me stand with my hand over my heart & my eyes clenched tight… almost in disbelief that you mean it, all while swimming in fat rolling waves of hope that it’s real…
that it’s true…
that you do…

C’mon Love…

surprise me.

& the Tar Baby.

May 6, 2012 - One Response

Surrounded by them I felt a little lovely chill.  Pages to consume, covers to crinkle back, characters to get fast acquainted with… standing in the bookstore yesterday was like visiting the house of a very old and very best friend.

The only problem is that books & I broke up a long time ago.

This now-blonde curly sue was once a permed dishwater brunette with glasses and crooked teeth and a cowlick straight down the middle of her bangs.  She had homemade clothes and skin so pale some might even say it glowed.

She did however, have much the same personality then that she has now.
Loud.
Chatty.
Bossy.

She was in trouble a lot, and despite the spankings that never seemed to teach much of a lesson, there was one punishment she hated more than any other.

Being grounded.
…from the library.

Yes, ’tis true… the kid hated to be separated from her best friends, whether it be a club of babysitters or Miss Nancy Drew or even the far-too-old-for-her-to-really-understand writings of Erma Bombeck, she couldn’t be away from the other worlds and other lives of her books.

In fact, the rule was that on her weekly trips to the local library, she could only check out as many books as she could carry and still see over.  So she’d hang her arms low and stand high on her tiptoes to get out with a dozen or so.

And at age seven she read the unabridged Anna Karenina, at six it was Little Women, and at five, she beat everyone in the 1st grade by reading 103 books in some contest that earned her a free personal pan pizza.

She kept it up through junior high and high school, reading Christian romance novels like they were sustenance, along with the classics of Dickens and Stevenson and Wilde and Doyle.

In college she transitioned to every book about Jesus and the church and the heart that she could get her hands on.  In fact, her favor of alliteration can be solely contributed to the devouring of Mr. Max Lucado’s every word.

Devotionals, memoirs, biographies of faith… there was a turn to the world of non-fiction, but she always read for the same feeling.  Hope.

She wanted the words to wrap up reasonably, for her attention to be kept, but at the end… whether a woman in the arms of a firefighter on the plains of Texas or a lost soul banking on their new belief… she literally craved the hope.

And then, not too long ago, she… I… realized that their were so many unread books on my desk, on my shelves, littered throughout my house. Books I’d put on birthday lists and begged for at Christmas, books I might have even started, but all unfinished.

Because it was what I used to read for, that I simply can’t stomach anymore.
The hope.

And it’s not just the fictional stories and the famed evangelists; there are dinner conversations I avoid and phone calls I won’t answer because I can’t let any more words of someone else’s realized hope into my ears, making their way to my heart.
I started writing letters to my husband at age 11, and steadfastly kept up with it until two Aprils ago.
There are dreams I had for myself and my life and my future that are mired in hopelessness.

I have gotten each limb and my spirit tangled into the blackest, stickiest, soul-sunkenest tar of hopelessness.

Like the South’s beloved Brer Rabbit, I kept swinging, while the enemy hid just behind the brush, rolling in laughter, waiting till I was immobilzed in his trap.

“The Tar Baby, she said nothing. ‘Fine! Be that way,’ said Brer Rabbit, swinging at the Tar Baby with his free paw. Now both his paws were stuck in the tar, and Brer Fox danced with glee behind the bushes.”

The devil is dancing with glee over me, I tell you that.
A girl who couldn’t live without hope now can’t live with it.

And I guess in a way I find myself hollering for the briar patch, but damn that thing’s gonna sting.

I need every prickly needle to tear away the tar of defeat that I’ve been spun into punch by punch.  I don’t want the faith that God will do only the opposite and most hurtful thing in response to my cries and requests and pleadings.  I don’t want the faith that I won’t be loved until I’m pretty enough to be worth loving.  I don’t want the faith that it will always be like this.  I don’t want the faith that I’m stuck in hopelessnes, and safe there.

So I’ve stepped out to be swung into the briar patch.

And it’s a vulnerable, to-be-honest terrifying place to be.
In four days I won’t have a job anymore.  I chose to step out on faith.  I chose to step out with hope.

And I’m praying for an answer and then direction to the faith in a God who designs with a purpose.

 

Hope in a God who doesn’t waste.
Hope in a God who answers.
Hope in a God who pities the desperate.
Hope in a God who wants us to hope.

 

Maybe soon you’ll see me with my arms hung low, up on my tiptoes, with a dozen or so reasons to hope in my hands, gray eyes barely peeking over.

Here’s hoping.

More.

February 5, 2012 - One Response

This last week saw more than a few days clock over 12 hours at the ol’ grind.
And on the drive home late one night… heavied at leaving in the pre-sunrise darkness & headed back in the post-sunset black, I made the decision to call the person I have not been calling on purpose.  Because I purposely didn’t want to have the tough conversation I knew was waiting for us.

Something about being too tired to fight made it seem like the right time, and I heard gracious words so unlike me start the sparring.
I was inflating the totally defeated and deflated heart in my chest to get the words out that I needed the love I felt was being withheld.  I was trying to express for the millionth time, in yet another roundup of words that this time just might make sense, that I hurt far and deep.  And that I not only don’t want to stop wanting things to get better between us, I don’t know how to not want things to get better between us.

After choking back the awkward kind of tears and trying to hear more of the hard stuff, the voice on the other end said…
“Kate… I want wholer things for you… fuller things… you are more than an injured bird.”

This morning at church, between the worship and the message, I saw a spunky little ponytail-swishing 10-year-old with her coffee mug march with confidence down to the front row.

Before the braces straightened my crooked teeth and the flat iron pulled out my permed curls, I was a scrunchie-festooned, bespectacled kid, and Sunday mornings often found me with a mug of creamed-down coffee too, tromping around like I owned the place, with my little hand raised high to answer every question in the grownups Sunday School class.

My dad took some heat for bringing me I’m sure, but the stickers and coloring pages in the elementary classes weren’t cutting it for chatty Katie.
Afterwards we’d talk God in the car home, at lunch, after lunch, at dinner, and through the week in much the same fashion.  Knowing God and understanding Him might have been ignited by my Frank Peretti books and DC Talk cassettes, but conversation and Bible-reading fueled an insatiable thirst for more.  I was unstoppable.
Obnoxious for sure… but unstoppable.

That confidence in my Jesus waxed & waned over the next few years… seeing upswings in later high school and beauty school, in late nights clearing tables and weekends at women’s conferences.  It’s not steady, this passionate life we’re called to lead.  And while you’d think age would make us stronger and the years that pass would add links to our armor… with every passing minute the messier, the darker, the harder life gets.
This last week a perfectly-ten-fingered-ten-toed 3 day old baby of a friend didn’t make it.
Tuesday will mark the 3rd anniversary of an old friend’s sweet sister going home to heaven.
Next week it’ll be ten years since a beloved’s mom had a Valentine tucked into her cold hand by her little girl before her casket was put in the ground.

Death and tragedy hang in the air.
The sweet moments seem to swing lightly between heartbreaks.  As sugary and as easily dissolved as cotton candy, the ribbon wrapped days aren’t the dates we tattoo or etch into gravestones.

But, but, but there they are! There love is! There kisses and flowers are.  There toddler giggles and glitter is.  There the hands held and the birthdays and the graduations and the triple chocolate cake and the prayers and the songs are.

And after funerals and phone calls full of fear, broken hope and prayers that went unheard or seemingly unanswered, begging and pleading and screaming and weeping, the film of a future wedding and family playing behind eyes filled with cartoon hearts being washed out with enough tears to fill a tub or twelve,  desires dashed and dreams unrealized… we just, well, we just stop flying. Fighting.  Figuring it out.

And I’ll admit, that on many more than one occasion, I’ve just come to a standstill in the middle of the road.  Unsure of which direction I’m going, where the final destination is, why the trip itself is so damn hard.
And I bend my legs underneath me, and just sit down.

And I nod my nose to my knees, wrapped in a tight circle, trying to gather my thoughts… my energy… my bearings.

Here I am. 

Wondering what it means to be more than an injured bird.
Wondering where that ponytail-swishing, at-the-ready-to-answer, toe-to-toe with the grownups little girl is.
Wondering how you mount up with wings like eagles when your heart is cracked and your insides are empty.
Wondering if it’s okay to ask someone to scoop you up and love you well.
Wondering what’d feel like to ask without feeling guilty.

Here I am.
Just sitting in the middle of the road, tight in a tiny knot, afraid that every sweet moment will be met with more of an unyielding enemy, storing up the strength to fight back, and wanting my wasted years returned.

Next week I will twirl the tea roses and the tulips together, tie bows of twine around their stems, and nestle love notes deep between petals… I will buy candied cherries and dark chocolates by the dozen and seal letters with a kiss, I will use gluesticks to adhere sequins to cheesy cards and make sure my loves know they’re loved while longing to sip champagne and kiss softly & deeply the love of my life…
I will let the sugary moment dissolve in my mouth and try desperately not to fear what’s around the corner.

I’ll try to sit up, then stand, then fly.  I will hope against hope that the moments in the middle of the road stored up a strength I can count on.

I’ve seen it done.  I’ve seen faces I know twist into faces I don’t know as they looked on darkness I still don’t understand.  And in the moments and weeks and years since, I’ve seen them sit up, then stand, then fly.

It’s a courageous thing, this living… and I have so many beautiful examples of how it’s done well.
We might have to rest, have to recuperate, have to remind ourselves of how to march with confidence into this life, this every day, not knowing what’s coming.

But we are more than injured birds you & I.

 

 

 

Much more.

Afraid to say it.

January 9, 2012 - 2 Responses

Button those buttons… pull your skirt down… wipe some of that lipstick off… you look desperate.
Don’t say that… don’t sit like that… don’t stare like that… you look desperate.

Don’t cry like that… don’t pray like that… don’t scream like that… you look desperate.

Desperate.
So taboo, eh?  So much judgement wrapped up in one little word.

We want to be confident… self sufficient… strong… not weak, or needy, or anything but okay.

But what if it was the extended belly of a baby desperate for food? Or a single mom desperate for a job? Or a widow desperate for a hand in hers?
Then the desperation might seem a little more, a lot more, forgivable… even understandable.  Wouldn’t it?

But what if you caught me shaking the vending maching with it’s steel claws still latched to my box of Raisinets with the same desperation that a lifeguard shakes a drowning victim who won’t respond?
How sad it’d be if I couldn’t gauge my desperation for a want over the desperation for a need.

Last week a new friend and I discussed religion, our backgrounds, our simple ideas of faith and what it should look like… and he said to me “My girlfriend & I have had a hard time finding a church.  All we are looking for is one that fits our lifestyle and doesn’t make us feel guilty.”

Gulp.

Someone finally said it.

I didn’t know whether to giggle or raise my palm for a high-five or feel kinda (or more than kinda) bad for him.
I mean, I’d never say it, buuuttttt… maybe we want Jesus to be a little more cool.  a little easier. a little more us.

 

 
I sure would like a church that met when I wanted, with the people I liked, in a restored historical building close to my house, a thriving singles ministry where no one was homeschooled, or wore khaki, or had bad haircuts… where they congregation was comfortable swearing over beers after worship and the kids weren’t annoying. 
I’d like a church that let me teach even though my ordination came from the internet… and I’m a girl.  I’d like the guys to be Godlier… more intentional… better leaders.  I’d also like them to be a hell of a lot better about pursuing women, namely me.
I’d like swells of emotional music that made me cry every week and sermons peppered with jokes as well as real life application, using verses from the NKJV in my hands as well as passages from The Message that I sometimes like better.
I’d like a church that made gay people feel welcome and men who cheat on their wives like the scum of the earth.  I’d like a church that didn’t keep tabs on me, but missed me when I wasn’t there.  I’d like a church that helped me get closer to the God I wish God was and not give me more information about a God I’m not sure exists. 

But, I mean, I’d never say that.

I’ve been bouncing around a bit the last six months.  After four years at the church-of-my-dreams, missing only for family vacations and the swine flu, we broke up for a little while.

The weight of obligation was motivating my attendance to services and small group and worship practice more than the joy of truth & growth & Jesus Himself.
So, I flipped a fat switch and stepped back.  I hurt some feelings along the way and got mine hurt too.  A lot of tears shed & a dozen sighs of relief breathed. 
I wasn’t quitting church or quitting God, I was just giving up on feeling guilty all the time for what I wasn’t feeling.

So I tried the Presbyterian church with the stained glass and the hipsters, I fellowshipped at the megachurch with the vneck-clad, blonde-highlighted, ear-pierced worship leader, I even spent a few months at a well-oiled-machine with alliterated ministries and outreaches by the handful… and an orchestra pit.
Nothing fit.

I itched.  I wriggled. I spent a lot of time on my iPhone.

I bet if I would’ve listened to the liturgy of those hipsters, or ignored the Sun-In and listened to the Son, or stopped scanning the theatre style seating for the boys without rings on their left hands, I might have satiated a desperation for the God-hole in my heart to be filled.

But unfortunately, while tapping the toes of my bedazzled suede booties, or leopard-printed calf hair heels, or ensuring that my curls had the right bounce, my lips had the right sheen, my Bible had the right creases, and my left hand had no rings to mislead… I missed my desperation for a need because my desperation for my wants was too loud.

My desperation to get a husband, to get a church that fits, to find a faith that makes me feel good…
…as opposed to the faith that more-often-than-not makes me feel not good at all.

If I took the desperation of my wants and stripped them down, I would find the desperation of needs…
I am desperate to be known.  I am desperate to love.  I am desperate to be loved.  I am desperate to know my God.  I am desperate for an engrossing intimacy in my soul that rivals any longing for touch my skin has ever ached for.  I am desperate to be heard, and understood… and to hear, and understand.

And just like that, I’m not squinting with hateful eyes at the me that wants what she doesn’t have, judging and scoffing and growing impatient as I tell her for the millionth time to button up… but I’m kneeling down to match the eyes of a really empty girl I know all too well that’s desperate to be fed, to grow, to be found.

Where are you itching and wriggling and how do you keep yourself distracted? Who are you attracting and who are you running after? When do we find ourselves turning up hopeful smiles to avoid questions about our irremediable insides? 

What is it about that word… ?  Why can’t we admit it?

Hi.  I’m Kate, … and I’m desperate.

 

***

“She limps on up to the top of a mount,
looks at the faltered harvest,
feels her sweat in the ground and the burn in her nose,
and the knowing in her guts…
Something’s still gonna grow
She ain’t leaving ’till it does.”
Brooke Fraser

 

Oh Isaac.

August 10, 2011 - One Response

I don’t have kids.  Which shouldn’t surprise anyone.  I can barely keep the pantry stocked & my jeans ironed.
(Yes. I iron my jeans.  Take your judgement somewhere else Wrinkles McGee.)

No time for reading the uncreased books stacked in haphazard towers on my perfect West Elm Parsons desk, no time to swipe the remnant’s of Essie’s “Bordeaux” off my nails and dash on a coat or two of OPI’s “Chick Flick Cherry”, no time to shuck the golden Indiana sweet corn that’s being snatched from every farmer’s market crate before I can race to get there… I just don’t have the time. 

No time means a cut back on the dinners & dancing, the glittering rock on my hand means no taking my, or someone else’s pants off, and if you do some quick math… that equation will give you the answer for Kate… no kids.

And it’s not even the lack of wedding bells and Pottery Barn Kids catalogues that are keeping me from the interaction with those tiny biters, because there is plenty of opportunity, trust me.  I have twenty-six, yes you heard that correctly, twenty-six toothless grins staring back at me from the refrigerator door and memo board.  Announcements! First Birthday invites! Shower registries for the bundles the stork hasn’t delivered yet!

They’re everywhere. 
And I love ’em. I do.  (I mostly do.)  But sometimes the screaming and the crying and the inability-to-verbalize-what-hurts/itches/burns/needs/changed/burped/fed drives me crazy.  And that’s when I realize if my someday-husband loves me, really really loves me, then we’ll start with sea monkeys. 
Then a bunny.
Then our bulldogs.
And finally, we’ll make our way to getting our kids from whatever land they were born in.

And by that point, hopefully I’ll have figured out the secret language of kidspeak and how to truly not care about the cashmere that’s now covered in puke.  

…It’s been a tumbly, tired, tear-filled few weeks (months.years.) and it’s funny that we think we can stitch up what’s ripping ragged edges in our hearts, if only we could find the right thread.   (The right 6’4”, tattooed,witty thread…)

2 weeks ago my Friday ended surprisingly at lunchtime and so I spun the Civic’s wheels north towards my best friend’s house for a surprise and a moment to breathe and just be.  We grocery shopped and giggled and made a dinner out of fresh basil from the garden and dessert from a heap of sugar & sweet summer strawberries & hearts cut out of the pie crust. 

After hours of just being us, teasing her hubby and smooching her son, everyone said goodnight and I snuggled into my favorite striped sheets.  The world’s comfiest queen lulled me to sleep quickly but the morning came early with a heat index similar to the surface of the sun and sobs from across the hall.  While Mom showered and Dad got breakfast ready, my sweet baby Graham screamed the day’s arrival like a little Macedonian rooster. 

I threw off the now swelter inducing covers and wiped the blur out of my eyes.  Stumbling the few feet to his door, I told Mum & Pops that I was happy to take soothing duty.  Poor buddy just wanted up & out.  So, my arms reached down and his little hands on mine, we swung around to the rocking chair and settled in for some soft swaying and early morning whispered lullabies.  I sang every word I could think to rhyme with ‘punkin’ & ‘sweetpea’ as I improvised verses that would have made Mother Goose sorely disappointed.  After realizing that the video monitor was still on and Andy & Andrea were probably getting a grand ol’ show, I turned off my freeverse and opted to fill his tiny ears with whatever was on my heart…

“He is jealous for me
Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree
Bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy
When all of a sudden
I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory
And I realize just how beautiful You are
And how great Your affections are for me

And O how He loves us
Oh, O how He loves us
How He loves us all.”

Over and over. and over. and over. and over.

As I rocked, sweet Graham tucked his head between by chin and shoulder, wrapped his perfect tiny fingers around my arm and every muscle in his body seemed to relax. 
And so did mine.

My lashes fluttered down and my toes tipped the chair back and forth at a steady pace while the thread I desperately needed stitched through a ragged hole in my darkened heart. 

I kept singing David Crowder’s words and turned them into prayers for this beloved babe and even tried to muster the will to pray them for myself.
Minute upon minute piled up and still he snuggled in… scooping in even breaths and exhaling in time with me.  I tried to work my voice around the building lump in my throat.

I hadn’t felt so trusted in so long.  I haven’t felt like I have anything to offer.  Unless I’m whittling away at a guest list or mastering the timing of yet another joke, I don’t feel like there’s much about me to love.  But this little life didn’t really need anything from me except to feel safe in my arms and to hear love in my voice.
And the safety and the love I have for him spilled faster than the really, really hot tears that I was keeping locked up while I enjoyed every moment of feeling loved by someone who had no reason to love me if he didn’t want to.

A quarter of an hour later his Dad came to snatch him up and share some sweet time of his own, but I was left with the lump still in my throat and a little more light inside my chest.

The stitches were swung through not with the thread of a towering GQ clad poet-with-a-dark-side, but with the thread of an eleven-month-old who can’t say my name…who weighs roughly the same as a Christmas goose. 

Tonight I turned the wheel back up to Westfield because there was a babysitting snafu.  I was needed for the gap between mom’s commute to work & dad’s commute from.
Happy to do it, my tired eyes turned up a notch when I walked in to find the babe smiling and his beautiful mama dusting parmesan onto a delicious dinner creation.

After my dinner date finished his peas and was wiped clean, I slid him out of his highchair and slid us both out of the back door to a slight sprinkling in the backyard.  The rain barely tapped us as we sat in the grass directly in the stream of golden hour.  As I held tight to the wiggly love of my life and tickled his ears and nose and toes with blades of grass,  feeling more buoyed by his giggles than his limited vocabulary would’ve understood, I started praying out loud over him.  Praying for his growth and health and heart, praying for his mom and his dad that I love so much, praying for him & Jesus to be best friends…

And while I should have probably been concerned with how much I was creeping out the neighbors, you know what sprang to mind so violently it shook me?
Isaac.
Abraham and Isaac.

Abraham walking his beloved up Mount Moriah with the sickest, heaviest heart.
Abraham being asked by God to sacrifice his only son.
Abraham worshipping even though he wasn’t given a reason.
Abraham answering Isaac’s question of “Where is the lamb?”

My locket sans photos of mini-Kates and my arms around a squirming bundle that isn’t even mine and my mind can’t wrap itself around the words from Genesis.

And then, without the Mel Gibson dictated imagery, my head went swimming, mostly unwillingly, to the cross.

His only son.
His love.
His heart walking around outside of His chest.
His boy struggling to stand on broken feet to breathe while he drug his broken skin across bristling beams… pulling up with broken hands to fill lungs behind a broken heart… both in agony to save a broken world… a broken you… a broken me.

And very obviously while I try not to think about what I can’t not think about,  the thread of a Dad is looping in and out of a desperate heart inside a kid who doesn’t have kids.  Who doesn’t really ‘get it” … a daughter who doesn’t remember the grassblade tickling moments with her mom & dad, who doesn’t have someone’s tangible arms tightly keeping her safe now, and who doesn’t trust that anyone ever loved her enough to hurt more than she could just so she wouldn’t have to hurt. 

Maybe on the days I feel patched up enough to laugh, that laugh’ll do for God’s heart what Graham’s sweet giggles do for me.  Maybe someday I will let my breath slow to match His and willingly slow my pace and tuck my head to His shoulder.  Maybe someday I’ll let myself feel safe.

Until I can rally the strength to really, actually believe it’s possible that someone, and above all, Someone, loves me… just a few miles away there is a brown-eyed almost-birthday-boy who has done more to sew the hope of it into my heart than I bet a Junior Mint tinged after-the-first-date-movie-kiss could ever do.

“I would give anything to make you better, I would give anything to point you to free, I would give anything to help you realize, I loved you ’til it killed me.  So my logic wouldn’t hurt you, I know you might blame Me anyway. Well I’m sorry, I’m so sorry you’re not helping yourself to Me.” 
‘Better’ by Brooke Fraser

 

 

Being Written.

July 11, 2011 - Leave a Response

“You don’t lick the empty Pottery Barn plates… because the table setting isn’t the meal.”

 

Words from my beloved pastor this morning.

The dishes aren’t the dinner… the luggage isn’t the vacation… the sunshine alone isn’t what makes summer so grand… the building doesn’t make the church… and the roof & walls don’t make a home.

It seemed a very real illustration while driving back to Windsor Park from Broad Ripple tonight, a grin stretched across my face and cartoon-like heat waves rising from my skin.

My forty-something wedding yesterday was the union of a dear friend’s daughter & son-in-law.  It was sweet in every sense; not because of the perfect cocktails, the heavenly frosted red velvet cake, or the delightful company… but because love hung in the air so palpable you could’ve sipped it along with the champagne.
During the father’s dance with the bride, my stunning friend Carrie walked to the head table and knelt behind her oldest & youngest daughters… looking on with a face full of memories and emotion as her middle baby girl danced with the man Carrie’s loved since she was a teenager. 
She laid her hands on her girls shoulders and whispered words of love in their ears.  That love made the moment full & whole.  Every detail was perfect… the meal and the bouquets and the new wife’s lace keyhole-backed gown, but those details alone weren’t the celebration… the family, the vows, the relationships, the dancing, the joy, the toasts full of tears and giggles… all wrapped together, that was the wedding.

I woke up early this morning, my mussed curls a reminder of the dance floor fiend I’d become the night before.  About a hundred yawns and stretches to get me up before the sun… then it was time to primp and priss for church.  The eyelet ruffle of my long white cotton summer dress swung around my feet and trailed behind me on the stage as I practiced with the rest of the worship team.  As I sang, I closed my eyes and let my heart heavy itself at the somber thought of the unbelievers and the broken and the hurting that would have our lilting words in their ears.  Would God move? Reveal Himself to them? Reveal Himself to me? Because the Tomlin-penned words and the drums aren’t the worship.  Worship is the rising of our hearts & hands & words & insides to gift & bless & honor & revel in our Lord.  And He drew my attention to specific faces while we offered our songs, and I prayed for their insides while my own shook with wanting to know His peace.  As I let my baby greys unfocus and tried to see only the cross in my mind’s eye, I struggled to stay attuned to the Savior who made the church.  Not the programs, the communion crackers, or the Sunday School stickers. 

After the morning’s services it was time to jet home & change dresses, grab the gift, and swing over to the market.  After picking up peach salsa and blue tortilla chips and raspberry tarts I drove a few blocks west to join in a birthday celebration for a beautiful friend who bookended her week with accepting the proposal from the love of her life to donning denim shorts for a hot outdoor bash to gather all the loves of her life into one backyard.  We jumped like banshees in her pink & purple castle bouncehouse, we ate sorbet out of lime shells, we watched her blow out the candles on her birthday apple pie and we wished her love & luck in this next year of life.  Today was fabulous, but it isn’t just the birthdays and the parties that’ve made her life her life.  Nor is it what makes our lives our lives.  It’s the whole kit & caboodle of darkness and light, hissy fits and holidays, families and roommates and paying the bills and concerts and tears and accomplishments… all of it. 

 

It’s all of it.  Life is made up of every person, moment, experience, prayer, song, meal, & kiss.

 

The primping and prissing isn’t all of me.  The lonely nights and the pennies aren’t my whole story.  The moment we’re in is all-too-often how we determine our life to be, when in reality what’ll turn out to be comparable to the unabridged Anna Karenina we’re treating like The Berenstain Bears.  I get stuck on a sentence and broken-hearted over a paragraph and haven’t, in a very long time, stepped back to see the storyboard. 

A friend whose heart I envy wrote me these buoying words last week: “…something that God has been saying to me lately is, “I do not waste time.” We do, I suppose, at times, but He does not. He’s developing the plotlines and the characters and the arc of the story. There’s a verse I’ve been loving lately, I think it’s in 2 Corinthians 1:
 
“He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and He will deliver us again. On Him we have set our hope that He will continue to deliver us…”
 
That sounds like an anthem to me, a testament to the faithfulness of God. He has delivered us, and He will deliver us again. We’re in the middle of the story and we don’t know how it’s going to play out, but on Him we will set our hope, that He will continue to deliver us.”

I’m caught mid-lick of the china while the turkey’s still in the oven. 
In many ways, my table’s set…  the silverware’s properly placed down to the shrimp forks and the soup spoons, but I’m so afraid the plates will stay empty, so quick to assume that this must be it that I look like a fool slurping up nothing. 
The meal’s on it’s way.  Life, in it’s entirety will unfold.  More chapters will be told, God will deliver, people and moments and love will all wrap together and continue writing. 

Yes, right now I am hungry for more… for better… for the page to break and the next chapter to scrawl, but it’s coming… it’s coming…
it’s coming & it’s happened & it’s now.

 

 

Seeya Bo Peep.

June 5, 2011 - Leave a Response

“Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his property to them.  To one he gave five talents of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey.  The man who had received the five talents went at once and put his money to work and gained five more.  So also, the one with the two talents gained two more.  But the man who had received the one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.  After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them.  The man who had received the five talents brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five talents. See, I have gained five more.’  His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’  The man with the two talents also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two talents; see, I have gained two more.’  His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’  Then the man who had received the one talent came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed.  So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’  His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed?  Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.  ‘Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents.  For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.  And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'”
Matthew 25:14-30

 

We all know that five talent guy, right?   The one with the charm and the focus, the one who stayed in the library while we watched some bound-to-let-us-down-or-confuse-us series finale.  It’s the guy who now has his student loans paid off because of the enviable job he got because of how hard he worked at a great college because he got into that college because of his scholarships because he could gosh darn throw/dunk/kick a foot/basket/soccer ball after wheeling senior citizens around at his job at the nursing home before sharpening his pencils to underline every last hidden meaning in one of the unabridged novels of an author you not only couldn’t pronounce, but only had the Cliffsnotes partially glanced at.  It’s that guy.

We “like” the photo of his new office-with-a-view on facebook, we high-five him at the class reunion, we brag about him to our friend’s friend who thinks they’ve got it figured out… “Oh yea? Well my best friend Mr. Five Talents is saving orphans while climbing the Forbes ladder.” 

Do we want to be him? Eh.  We want the credit score and our moniker carved into a snazzy brass nameplate or etched on the frosted pane of a glass door, but do we want to stay late at the office? Take the inevitable risks? Volunteer away our free time?
Not really.  Or at least not any more than we wanted to chime in at a study group over two-steppin’ at a frat party.

(Un)fortunately I am related to not one, not two, not three, not four, but five “Five Talent Guys” …  that’s right … 5/6 of our clan took Matthew, and the Lord, pretty darn seriously when it was time to take what they’d been given and max out their potential for the Kingdom.
I see it in the faces of my Dad’s patients, Mom’s sons, Bob’s degrees and disarming humility, Dave’s, well, life… and ditto for Dan.

You’d think I’d go sheepishly dig up the talent I buried, and get crackin’ at the roulette wheel… or the job fair. 

 

 

But here’s the thing…

 

 

I don’t think I’m doing it wrong.

 

Not too long ago I sipped a lemon-sweet martini and threw my out-of-control lion mane back in laughter, catching up on the lives of friends who were major players, and sometimes the only good things, in a dark season I choose quite often not to revisit.  Life’s funny, and so, even in it’s sometimes sad retelling… there is humor.  But sometimes… there’s just nothing comical about it.

One of my beautiful friends, a woman angelic in her sincerity and kindness, tipped a brave smile while telling us that the son she & her husband have waited and prayed for, will not be coming home to them from Ethiopia this summer even though they had waited.  And prayed. 

And so while she stared down the barrel of a season without what she’d planned for… she said something to me.
“I don’t think we’re going to paint & prepare the nursery… I don’t think I could walk by it every single day.”

No kidding.
I wouldn’t either.

Nor would I be able to walk into a Pottery Barn Kids, or be able to RSVP “yes” to the eleven baby shower invites latticed into my French board, or diaper tots on my church’s changing table.

 

And while in most ways her situation doesn’t completely match or echo where I’m at with my spade and my covered earth, it did give me an image for why I furiously dig instead of deal.

 

I don’t want to look at a glaring representation of broken hope.
I don’t want to hear the word “No.”
I don’t want to fail. I don’t want to hurt. I don’t want to know for sure that I’m not actually as good at __fill in the blank__ as I thought I was.

 

So here’s my genius plan.  … I’ll keep what you give me safe & sound, Jesus, and I’ll feel pretty proud of myself while I tap my toe over the dirt that covers what I’m keeping safe for you.

I’m most definitely not going to see the missing zeroes in my bank statement and run off to full-time ministry in Manhattan.  I am absolutely not going to quit my job, give up my health insurance, and spend my days busily writing out all that swims in my head and heart to finally finish my book.
Listen God, I’m still styling, I’m still building relationships, I’m still telling jokes, I’m still listening, I’m still typing away on my computer keys… just on a smaller, less fear-filled scale.

tap…tap…tap… dirt’s secure… talent’s safe.

 

Plus God… where would I start? Wait… but God, now that I think about it, I do want to start… I want life to start. Wait, God, are you listening? I’m sorry… please don’t let me go wasted.  Remember when we worked as a team? Do you remember the faces of those women when we spoke at the Relate conference? Do you remember the giggles elicited at that styling event? Did you see that e-mail from the girl who was changed from the blog? Wait… wait, please don’t let me go wasted… I didn’t mean to disappoint you, listen, I’m just scared… I’m so scared… God I don’t want to live apart from You and I don’t think I can live unless I use my me-ness, and understand why my pieces were patched together like this.  Quick, help me, I have to get under this sod… but now the shovel seems too heavy and I… no, I, no.  I don’t want to get my hopes up.  I don’t want to try and then realize that apron-strings and undressed mannequins were the best I’d ever do.  Can you help me please? Please? Please God?
I’m so scared.  And so lost. And so tired.  And my life looks like an empty nursery, it exhibits all that’s been hoped for but doesn’t have the gift in it yet so that it makes sense.  My personhood seems like a crib without the babe… just purposeless.

 

 

 

“You’re always afraid to take the first step cause all you see is every negative thing ten miles down the road.”

 

Does anyone else see in Will’s eyes that he’s just so afraid? And that’s why he doesn’t have an answer?
I can bullshit with the best of them too.  I don’t think I’ve ever waxed on about shepherding, but I sure have daydreamed out loud about stand up comedy joke telling, book writing, column contributing, adopted kid parenting, husband loving, and when it comes down to it… I’m not doing any of those things.

Sure, yes, absolutely there is honor in refilling glasses & folding cardigans, but what’s not honorable is doing those things because you are simply too afraid to dig your talent up out of the ground and do what you were created for.

  

 

“Much dreaming and many words are meaningless.  Therefore stand in awe of God.”  Ecclesiastes 5:7