The best way over is through.

Green and grey and blue bins are piled high into the cobwebbed corners of a muggy basement. Truckloads drive some away every so often. She sits in a faded chair, hands on her knees, lips puckered, staring at the grey-green sea of bins; memories and dreams that hadn’t happened for her yet are being divided and conquered and sent away to belong to someone else or be buried in a dumpster.

She was going to have a showroom, you know. She was going to cut and paste and weave and make her wreaths and sell her home goods. That’s why she bought the big house for one, the house with the big basement and the side hall with the low swinging chandeliers. They’d been married for 34 years, but then he was gone, and she was going to buy a house with a showroom.

Every so often, someone finds a bin full of his things. We all take a break to look at the lost treasures. I find a bin full of photos from when I was only five; there’s one with my uncle who’s been gone for almost three Octobers now; he’s holding me, and my eyes are still blue, and I notice the freckles on his face. I forgot that he had freckles on his face.

I wonder if her son’s freckles and her husband’s old things are why she has so many bins now.

As I tucked the photo of my uncle and I away into a pile of things that I would like to keep, I imagine I’d do the same as she has.

Wouldn’t we all? Haven’t I already?

Surely there have been corners of myself filled with bins stacked high, memories and hopes that I hadn’t figured out how to sort away with. Even now, aren’t there some parts of me that don’t know what to do with the things I’ve held onto over the years.

She has bins labeled, “Christmas glasses,” and “Easter pillows,” and “Halloween houses.” We’re there to help her figure out what to keep and what to get rid of. I haven’t seen some of these things in the almost seventeen years that my grandfather has been gone. Yet, I still hear her protest, “No, I should really keep that.” Then comes that part that slows us down, the part where we have to all really talk it out with her about whether or not she’ll actually every use it again:

“This has been in this exact same box for seventeen years.”

“You haven’t touched this in fifteen years, will you ever put it out for Thanksgiving again?” 

“Okay, let’s talk about what you’ll do with it if you were to take it out and start using it again.” 

And so on and so forth.

Most of the time, she comes to the realization that she hasn’t touched it in so long that she wouldn’t have known if it had gone missing or not and so it’s best to just get rid of it.

And I think of my bins. They are toppling over with things that I have held onto just because I had held onto them so tightly once before.

They’ve got their own kinds of labels written on the side, too. Over the years, I’ve tried to call them something else, tried to dust them off. I’ve brought some out into the light and unpacked them on a blog or in fast cars zooming down the highway or on my mother’s closet floor. Others have been shoved back into the darkest corners, given over to the rats to chew through.

I’m full of secrets, haunts, memories, and hopes, and the truth is — I’m full of some things that I’m not scared of and that I don’t hope for anymore at all. I’m full of things that are taking up space just because I made some space for them in the first place and dubbed them as worth keeping at some point.

And oh, the times I find myself digging through the bins, insisting that I need to keep the things that don’t fit anywhere anymore.

When we first opened the doors of her basement, we barely even had enough room for walking. It’s been two days, and now there’s space to somersault, to play, to run if we wanted, to build and to create and to imagine what could be — there’s space for new things.

A once terrifying reality of emptiness inside myself has now become an overwhelming anticipation of new. 

Let it hurt, let it matter, let it go.

A lesson in being grateful and learning how to become unimportant.

Today, I’m going to be honest about something.

Today, I’m going to be honest about what I do for a living.

I work in the marketing department for a company that makes and sells wheelchair vans. You know, the ones you see in handicap parking spots with the motorized ramp that extends out of it?

 
My official job title is “Social Media Manager.” 

Seven months ago, I tweeted about how I could use the extra prayer for the job hunting and interviewing process. Because I wanted to marry Greg, and I’d need a flow of income to do that.

 
I tried branding myself: I made the graphics, started putting a portfolio together, looked into selling a book of all the poems I haven’t shared with the world yet, joined all of the freelance websites, downloaded the Indeed.com app onto my phone. I did all the things that looked like the life I had lived before God had called me out. Searching for a full time job was a full time job in itself. 

And this wheelchair van company was the only company that reached out.

When I finally started working here, people who’d been praying for me asked where I had landed a job, and I avoided answering. 
So here’s the truth: I use my words to help sell wheelchair vans. 

And it has been one of the most transformative, difficult seasons of my life.

 
There’s nothing sexy about 9-5. Little girls don’t dream about one day getting to sit where I sit. 

The other night, I was having dinner with a friend I used to work with in Atlanta and she said, “It’s weird, ya know? You go from being one thing where you’re recognized and strangers know you, and then you just get forgotten.”

 
To be forgotten wounds the soul deeply. 
And I have undeniably found myself submerged in a season of irrelevance where my pride was the first thing to take a hard hit. 
The thing is: I want to be a good adult. I want to be a good pastor’s wife. I want open hands and a spirit that will rise to all the places God has called me to. 

But what about the dessert? What about becoming a good listener before I can live in what God has planned?

 
God has surely taught me how to be unimportant. He has taught me how to be alone and even sat back while I felt crazy for stepping out into the places He’s lead me. He has taught me how to sit in the passenger seat and how to play the understudy well. 

It’s just that, if we’re doing this whole honesty thing today — today I feel boring and tired. Flat. So I sit and pin photos of purple hair and try to figure out when I can get my next tattoo, flipping through these immature outlets that I know are a quick fix to make me feel exciting again.

Greg met me when I had white hair and wore all black and had a fake nose ring. He met me when I was somewhere between coming to terms with all the things that made me bitter and stepping into a life lived for Him. 

And the sad thing is that, the more my life becomes less of my own and more of something that is entirely managed by Him, the more nostalgia tries to reign me back in. The more my own ghost shows up to remind me of who I was before, like I’d already attained the best version of myself. The more I feel like I was prettier, thinner, with better hair and even funnier.

 
So how’d I get through the past 7 months? 

Gratefulness.

All that I am becoming now is an echo of God’s heartbeat. I don’t move without Him, and I cannot leave Him again. I have this life with Greg that I wouldn’t have been able to have had I not shed my old skin. 

Usually, I don’t write until I’ve come out of something and have a lesson to offer up for the next person. I don’t ever want to share my words unless it’s to say, “Me, too,” for someone.

 
But I think today is about being honest. About calling myself out. Because that’s how we fight the dark, isn’t it? We point out its lies and tricks. 

So, being honest: I have to remind myself daily that out of all the places God could have taken me when my spirit was finally humble enough to listen, He chose here. At a wheelchair van company. Teaching me how to be unimportant. Teaching me how to let Him live this life for me, in place of all I used to be or wanted to be.

 
And my, “Me, too” for now, until I can see the whole picture? 

Do you feel like you’re drowning in all the change? Do you feel like you have to die to self daily? Do you feel like the only way to stay sane is to remind yourself that God is here and He’s still staying faithful in the ways He’s given you things to be grateful for, even in the dessert? Do you feel boring and flat and like somehow you were better before even if you were unhappy and lost? Do you feel like there aren’t any traces of even the parts you used to like about yourself?

 
Me, too.

But how “good” could those parts have been if God is still trying to transition them out? And yeah, don’t forget how unhappy you were before. Now you’re moving uphill. That’s why it’s taking the breath out of you.

Love at any cost is worth the bargain. 

“I can’t wait for you to meet the girl that you can’t possibly imagine hurting. I can’t wait until you meet the girl that you just can’t let sit in her pain cause it hurts you too much. I can’t wait until you meet the girl that you can’t imagine ever doing this to. I can’t wait for you to find that.” 

And that was my get-outta-jail-free card for the boys that broke my heart and made me feel like I wasn’t worth respecting. My excuse was simple: I just wasn’t that girl for them. If I was, my pain would cut them so deeply that it would stir a rise to action in them. 

This excuse was fueled by the belief– the blind, here-and-now-minded hope– that when I met the right guy, I’d find rest; I’d find joy and bliss and he’d never let me hurt and loving each other would be seamless without any bumps or frays; I’d find the boy that connected all my dots and gave answers to doubting questions– a boy who’d make sense of all the pain and unfinished stories. 

I thought that I’d meet the boy who would make me okay, who’d make all that I wanted to change about my life OKAY. 

That’s what marriage looked like for me. It was what the ring and the knee and the forever promise all illuded to– fixed. Better. Finally at one hundred percent. 

Needless to say, I was pretty shell-shocked when engagement wasn’t this beautiful, dreamy thing of a road to walk down when it finally happened to me. You can imagine the surprise that found me dumbfounded and bewildered when we both still managed to hurl ugly words at one another without even a second thought. 

If I’m being honest, engagement was one of the most fulfilling, ache-filled seasons of my life. As a little girl, I probably daydreamed more about my engagement than my wedding itself. And to say that battling disappointment and frustration when engagement turned out to be an uphill trek in the sleet and thick mudd and the last thing I expected when I imagined being engaged to the love of my life– to say it wore me out and took a toll on me physically, emotionally, and spiritually would be an understatement. 

Loving Greg is a dream. Being loved by him is an overwhelming honor that leaves me speechless every time I get to wake up next to him in the morning. I’m almost three weeks into my marriage, and it’s honestly the best choice I’ve ever made– choosing Greg. And choosing to choose him every day. He is my backbone and my last burst of energy when I’m down in the dumps. He’s my slow Saturday mornings and the lighthouse that draws me back in when my mind is storming. I love him more every single day. I wouldn’t have ever not chosen this life.

But love, if you’re the girl with the heaviness wrapped around your shoulders like a hand-me-down back-pack, throwing all of your hope like an anchor into marriage because you think that’s going to be your escape— then let me be the first to stop you right now. Because I’ve run ahead of us hopeful hearts, and I’ve seen what’s coming. 

The problem is, the right guy isn’t going to come with a flashing red neon sign above his head that shouts, “IT’S HIM!!” 

You’re still going to fight with him.

He’s still going to break your heart.

You’re still going to let your ugly show it’s fangs and say things you wish you could take back.

You’re still going to wonder, even in the thick of engagement and wedding planning and premarital counseling, if you’re even going to make it. 

You’ll still make up reasons in your head about how and why it’s not going to work out. 

You’ll still ask him if he’s sure when he asks you to spend the rest of your life with him. 

And that’s the reality of engagement that people don’t warn you about. 

It’s not your rescue. It’s not your safety net. 

Because, no, he won’t come with the “It’s me, I’m here,” sign. 

You won’t know it’s him by all the ways he shows up or says exactly the right thing or makes everything better as soon as the storm clouds roll in. You won’t know it’s him because you’re his only choice or because he tells you he loves you after the first week of casual dates. No, that won’t all happen for you when you meet the right guy.

But you know how you will know it’s him? 

You’ll know he’s the right one when you’re sitting in the passenger seat while your car is parked outside his house before dinner with his parents, and you’re almost in tears because your hands are full of all the deflated expectations that reality didn’t meet. You’ll be telling him how you just had always wanted to find the guy who would hurt when you hurt, who wouldn’t let you sit in the pain. You’ll be talking with your hands, trying to explain, trying to take control back of the situation when you realize — thats not his job.

It’s not anyone’s job.

That’s what Jesus did. 

You’ll know he’s the right one when being loved by him points out the Kingdom shaped hole in your life that you’ve been waiting for “the right one” to fill, a hole that won’t ever be patched up until you stand in the Light. 

Jesus didn’t let me sit in the pain. He did something about it. He couldn’t stay seated at the right hand of the Father and continue to watch my life play out the way He saw its doomed storyline unfolding– and so He came. The help from heaven. 

Engagement and marriage and finding the one you’ve been waiting for is a lot of wonderful things, but it’s not our rescue. It’s not our heaven, the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s not even the thing we can hold onto to justify the pain. 

You’ll know he’s the right one when, for the first time, you stop looking to him to rescue you and instead find Jesus at the end of all your questions. 

When God’s Faithfulness is Painful.

We forget God. Life gets comfortable and we forget God. It’s a cycle the people of God have been stuck in since the very first two humans. Even when He does so much good and wins our battles and answers even the silent prayers, we forget Him without even a second thought. The book of 1 Samuel is calling out the forgetfulness in me, today. When the people of Israel finally got the earthly king they’d asked the Heavenly Majesty for, Samuel reminded them of what happened last time the Israelites had forgotten God in the Promised Land: they’d been sold into slavery and died in wars for other nations. 

And I am struck with the way things usually play out in my life: I forget, I go on without Him, and I watch my life unravel in a dysfunctional downward spiral. It is only when the pain comes that my heart is reminded that there is One who is higher than I.

How sweet that our King is an all-knowing, all-seeing King who is graceful in spite of what He knows and sees. How wondrous and mesmerizing is He, that He planned ahead for our forgetfulness and knew just how to draw us back to Him — it makes you look at all the hurt and lostness and rough patches just a little differently, doesn’t it? 

When we forget God, He remains faithful still, even if that faithfulness looks painful; that pain reminds us that we have somewhere to turn — to Him.

Maybe this is how we learn thankfulness: re-wiring our hearts to see the traces of faithfulness in all the pain.


Been stuck in 1 Samuel, intrigued by the things chapters 9-12 reveal about King Saul’s character at the cusp of his reign. He had gone out to search for donkeys his father had lost when he happened upon Samuel, who told him that he was chosen by God to become King of Israel. Naturally, it confused Saul, and he responded to the news with objections: didn’t God know who he was? Where he’d come from? He was a nobody from a small town. He questioned His worth, and he in turn questioned God’s will. 

I wonder what our lives would look like if we saw ourselves the way God does, what our lives would look like if we realigned our self-worth to be in tune with His plan, how our lives would flourish if we said, “Yes, Lord,” instead of, “God, are you sure? I’m not worth it.” Maybe, viewing ourself the way God sees us breeds opportunities to step into His will and the things He’s called us to that we’d otherwise turn down.

I wonder what our lives would look like if we chased our donkeys with everything we have in us. What if we set out whole heartedly down the path before us without giving up, even when we don’t find what we’re looking for right out the gate? After all, Saul was appointed the first King of Israel when he was searching for some lost donkeys. What’s your donkey look like right now? The job you don’t love but need? The class you wished you’d dropped? The waiting to hear from God so that you can finally step into your calling and forget all the other seemingly “pointless” steps of the journey? Maybe the path you’ve been sent down right now is intended to lead you towards immeasurably more than what you that you were originally sent out for.

Here’s to speaking God-thoughts of grace over ourselves so that we boldly step up to the plate when He calls us out into the light we’ve been waiting to walk into. Here’s to not quitting the chase after our donkey. #happytuesday

For the British Boy with Blue Eyes: Your Poem is Going to Hang in my New Home

Today, I thought of the boy who rewrote that poem of mine.

It’s hung on my mirror for the past two years, and now it has been packed and unpacked with the rest of my things that were moved into my new future home. 

There may not be another reader more familiar with my poems and darkness and bitterness and aspirations than he. For three years, he was my unofficial editing partner. When the professor would ask us to pass our stories or poems, our eyes would meet in a rhythm and we’d pass our papers like secrets.

 
It was my junior year when I wrote that poem about a heartless beast. And he rewrote it with hope. With all of my frantic questions like “You read my blog??” and, “Who is this about??” it never once occurred to me that he thought my heart was silly. Walking down the stairs after class he said, “I just want you to know that not everyone is bad.” 

With his poem for me now sitting in the home I’ll move into with Greg in a week, I wonder where he is now. The last time we spoke was after he graduated and left me at that little school in the mountains; we said we’d always be thankful for the internet and the chance to always watch what would happen with each other’s lives.

 
And I wonder what he would think of me now. 

The girl he said could only write, “grey things.”

 
What would he think of my poems now? Would he stand up and clap? Would we share a smile and not have words for one another? 

I’d imagine he’d laugh and say, “I told you so.”

 
And maybe he sits in his quaint England home an ocean away and smirks at his computer screen to see just how far I’ve come, how far these words have come. 

How strange that I sit and read emails from anonymous strangers from all over the world, bleeding their secrets out onto a website in hopes that the right person will read their words– how strange that now I’m the one who so deeply wants to take a shot out into the void, to find him and wave my joy in front of him, screaming, “Look, look! I did it. I wrote a different story. I didn’t see it then, but I get what you were saying now. Thank you, thank, thank you.”

 
I’d tell him that not everyone is bad. I’d tell him I didn’t believe him, but I know better now. I’d ask him if he’s proud of me. I’d ask him if he likes my new story. 
—-

Our last semester together before he graduated, we had a creative writing class that spring. His poem was already hanging in my room at this point. 

The first day, he took a seat next to me. Fumbling through my back pack for my books, I heard him say, “So. Will I be reading any hopeful stories from you this semester?”

 
Blowing the hair out of my face and finally heaving the books up on to my desk, I smiled. 

“Maybe.
 
If something inspires me.
 
We’ll see.”
 

Sometimes people can be ebenzers of how far we’ve come and what God has done. My ebenezer just happens to be a British boy with blue eyes who makes redemption feel like a poem. 

And now I can tell the rest of the world that not all people are bad.

 

Little sister, I should’ve told you. 

I drive while she sleeps in the back seat.

 

She wants to hold a boy’s hand and have a New Years Eve kiss. She wants to travel the country and ask strangers her questions to get their stories on tape. She’s lonely and doesn’t trust and wants someone to prove her cynical heart wrong. 

She’s heard my stories. She’s watched me fall and scrape my knees against my broken hopes. She knows the face of every boy who’s stolen kisses from me since I was 13, and she blames their mistakes for her loneliness. She’s put on my bitterness like a hand-me-down sweater, and she keeps friends at arms length from all the times she’s watched me pull the wrong ones too close.

I thought of her last year riding down the highway somewhere in South Carolina in the car with two new friends who wanted to know who I was in high school and what I liked to drink at Starbucks. That was when I had thought I’d gotten it right, thought I’d captured some hope to bring back to her.

I told you that you weren’t alone and begged you not to dehumanize the hearts you encounter. I told you that you weren’t the only lover out there and tried to encourage you to hold out hope for your South Carolina highway ride; tried to tell you that after all the years you spent begging God to give you someone who would stay– you’d find them in that car when you weren’t looking so hard anymore.

 
I should’ve told you a different story. 
I didn’t know who I was trying to convince– you or myself. 

Little sister, I wrote you a letter last January, and I think I’ve learned a few more things:

 
You should know that it’s okay to be alone. You’re going to think that means there’s something wrong with you and that you need to change, to be normal. But it’s okay to be alone. If you don’t fit in, be thankful: this world is full of backstabbers and fighters and fakes and hustlers and we all always change our minds and end up becoming best friends with the people we said we couldn’t stand and we’re all far too self-centered; we forget what we say and take things back. This place is full of people playing dress up, trying to fit in, trying to do right by themselves but making it look like something else– just do right by Him. There won’t be a lot of people standing there with you, but He’ll be there, and the people running the same race will be a lot safer to pull close.

You should know that it’s okay that you don’t want to go to college. Plenty of people don’t go to college. Plenty of people want to quit college. Plenty of people aren’t built for college. Just don’t blame it on God; don’t play the “God told me not to” card. Because what you want to do instead of school– that’s something you’re built for. That’s something that you can talk about and inspire everyone with your passion. Heck, there’s no telling how many people you’ll get volunteering to tag along with you in this life when you’re honest about the things you really love.

 
You should know that growing up doesn’t fix things. I tried to tell you that it’d all get better when you start to settle into life, but nothing changes. You still lose people and you still fear losing people. You can still be wrong about your opinions and heartbreakers and friends. I wish I could go back to that car in South Carolina and tell you the pretty story about how I waited so long to buckle myself into that seat and rest in finding my people, but I don’t have those people anymore. 

You should know that it’s not about any of those things. The loneliness. The feeling that there’s something wrong with you. The waiting and the hoping. The first kisses. It’s not about staying or people.

 
I should’ve told you more about Jesus. 

I should’ve made that my story, our story.

 
I should’ve told you about what it’s like to get mad at Him and how He still waits for you. 

I should’ve told you more about the feast He set out for me when I finally came back home.

I should’ve told you about how He stays. 

I should’ve told you about all the little ways He uniquely romanced my heart, how He reminded me He was there.

 
I should’ve told you about all the lonely places I found Him hiding in.

I should’ve told you more about the notes I took at Passion Conference and the way I highlighted the story of the woman at the well seven different ways and how many church services left me crying in a bathroom.

 
I should’ve told you more about what it felt like to feel love and peace and grace from Him when it was hard to breathe, hard to forgive, hard to extend an olive branch. 

I should’ve told you less about the pain and more about the ways He made it better.

 
I shouldn’t have tried to tell you how worthy you are and should’ve tried to tell you to stop focusing on the pain and the loneliness and your hopes and yourself– I should’ve told you to look up and keep staring at Him. 

I should’ve told you to look at Jesus more.

 
You should know it gets better. No, the lonely doesn’t leave and the anxiety comes back in the happiest of times, but it all does get better. Just not in the ways you think or hope. It sort of sneaks up on you until one day it’s less about the hole in your chest and more about the holes in His hands. A year will flatten you and rebuild you, because He promises to rebuild. You won’t get left undone or alone or hating yourself. You’ll have Him. 

He should’ve been the hope I’ve been trying to give you.