Tag Archives: Grace

The Only Cure For Despair

8 Jun

Every human is confronted with the same decisions: believe the dark thoughts or cast them out. And I am realizing that intersection faced multiple times a day is really what makes or breaks a life.

I am reminded again, you can have the whole world but lose your soul.

Money is an illusion. Adventure can be miserable. Traveling doesn’t bring you peace. Neither does having a beautiful, loving family.

The reality of human nature is this: nothing is ever enough.

We grasp at the stars with hands that can’t hold anything, it’s always just within our reach.

Happiness. Fame. Romantic love. Success. Amazing experiences.

They fade in color like anything left out in the sun too long.

We are the desert wanderers, watching miracles happen next to us and forgetting in a day, never arriving to the promise land we’re camped right outside of.

We are dust and we can’t get back to the ground fast enough.

Meaninglessness, meaninglessness.

If we’re honest, we all face the reality of the futility of it all.

Some of us ignore the pressing truth. We numb ourselves with pictures and noise, bury ourselves in stuff and other’s drama. We curb the appetite of despair just enough to get us to the next high.

Some of us fall completely into the darkness and let it engulf is. We give up all hope and decide to leave. The world is shocked for a moment, then keeping spinning.

But some of us. Some of us touch the light on the other side, grasp it like a rescue rope.

Some of us have tasted Love and know everything else is bitter. And know matter how often we forget, we have this Hope.

A Reason.

A Meaning.

Beyond the easily combustible stuff.

Beyond fickle emotions or the next best thing.

Beyond the broken parts of our mind telling us it’s not worth it.

Beyond this world that is slowly expiring.

And it’s not even some intangible thing we have to conjure up or repeat enough phrases or read enough or attend the right church or seminar.

IT is a actually HIM.

A whispered name that stands firm when all the walls around us are knocked down.

A nest, untouched in a hurricane.

The only real reason for carrying on.

Jesus.

So we moved forward, with Light on our faces and Hope in our hearts.

Knowing what the world needs.

Knowing what we need.

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Rest, Child

22 May

When I was a child, growing up in rural New Hampshire, I always loved lilacs. There was one house in particular which had a yard covered in lilac bushes, and whenever we’d pass it, I’d say to myself, one day I’ll have a yard covered in lilac bushes.

After growing up, moving to Texas and traveling, I’d forgotten about this sweet, delicate, purple flower. Until the other day when I realized the large unknown bushes lining the fence in our backyard had blossomed.

I know it seems crazy to some people, but I still believe Jesus wants to take us on a beautiful adventure, full of wonder, awe, and even danger at times. And I can’t imagine living any other way.

When I was 22, I sat in a stuffy bus that reeked of cigarette smoke, on a dark road in western China. I cried tears of overwhelming joy because I felt God whisper in the stillness,

“I want to give you the world.”

I spent a few years feeling lost and forgetting who I was. I tried so hard to “figure out life,” I forgot the inheritance that is already mine.

I bought this book the other day. I probably would never have if I hadn’t found it on clearance at Hobby Lobby. I don’t really read much anymore, my attention span is shot and my mom-brain seems to barely comprehend anything. But I remembered how reading Shauna’s words in the past felt like an instant heart-connection, like my older, cooler self was writing to a younger me.

Last night I got hit with a stomach bug, so today I am recovering. It forced me to stop, be still, leave the dishes and laundry and get groceries delivered. I sit outside alone in the quiet while my kids rest, and breathe in the sweet lilac sent while reading some life-giving words.

You don’t have to be so busy.


Stop.


Remember who you are.


Remember what you have.

Rest, child.

And I remember it’s in the stillness in each day that I find myself at peace.

I am loved, so deeply

And I’ve been given the world.

Sometimes that looks like a grand adventure in another country, or finding a new home 1,000 miles away. Sometimes it’s my beautiful, frustrating, incredible children, and all the big and small moments with them. Sometimes it looks like the right thing on sale or reading the right words.

Sometimes it looks like a tiny, purple flower.

Enough For Today

14 Dec

Moments of clarity come, falling into my heart like snow, covering the dust and dirt, the anxiety and confusion, creating a new landscape of white.

I am thankful. Deep down in my bones.

My boot-covered feet crunch as I walk across our lawn to the mailbox, making new footprints in the white powder. I inhale deeply, let the cold in, let myself rest in the fleeting stillness.

I am here.

I am alive.

And it’s a beautiful thing.

The sky is already darkening, even though it’s only 3:30. I forgot how early it gets dark in the north. But I don’t mind it. The twinkling lights shine bright all over our neighborhood, a symbol that never gets cliche. My daughter points them out as we drive, never tired of the magic.

It’s hard to believe still, this is my life.

Lately I’ve been trying to get out of my head. To stop and take it all in, without the distractions, with all of my senses. My kids are brilliant at this. It’s all they know. Now, here. THIS moment.

I don’t want to miss it.

But I don’t want to obsess about not missing it either. Anxiety is sneaky and takes many forms. I am beginning to recognize the start of that spiral, when I back myself into a corner and refuse to see what’s right in front of me. My head takes me on an nightmare-ish ride.

I forget that I can stop the car anytime. I can get out and say,

“Not today. Today is a gift. Today is mine. Today is Yours.”

When the worry piles and piles in heaps till I feel like I can’t breathe, I stop and shake myself off and realIze I always had the breath, I just had to find it.

There is no lack.

This truth comes often lately, piercing through anything in my flesh, breaking open things to let the light in.

I have everything I need: physically, emotionally, spiritually. I am not waiting for the elusive one day, that day is here, now.

Even when the old familiar stresses push their way into my day, and I feel that urge to distract myself out of it, I know the only way out is thankfulness that puts me in the center of the present.

There is honey in the rock.

I take a moment to count my blessings. Because it’s anything but cliche.

It’s life.

Surprising friendships. Good people. Music that heals. A warm kitchen: nourishing food. My son’s sloppy wet kisses (heaven meeting earth.) Conversations with my daughter that leave me astounded. When she makes her brother belly laugh. My husband’s steady, faithful, unwavering love. Not dreading the holidays. New traditions. Coffee, always. Remembering why we celebrate: a baby born in the humblest of places, a moment in time changing everything forever.

Knowing we are home.

Really we don’t need much

Just strength to believe

There’s honey in the rock,

There’s more than we see

In these patches of joy

These stretches of sorrow

There’s enough for today

There will be enough tomorrow

(Sara Groves, Enough)

I Fight Anxiety Through Taking Back Words

22 Mar

I’ve had this phrase rolling around my head lately.

I keep pushing it back, telling myself I am ok.

I say it to myself when I wake up in the morning and an immediate feeling of dread washes over me, like I did something terribly wrong but I can’t remember what it was.

When I am literally sick to my stomach and can’t eat because I am anticipating an uncomfortable social situation in my mind, rolling it over and over until I don’t know how to think about anything else.

“I really struggle with anxiety.”

It’s taken me 30 years to say it.
I don’t know what that means, necessarily.
I don’t want label myself.
Or limit myself.
Or pretend I am a mental health professional.

But somehow, admitting it gives it less power.

Whatever it is, I don’t have to let it control me.

I remember all the moments I thought fear had won.

All the tense, churning feelings in my gut.
All the obsessive replays of stupid conversations the other person probably never remembered.

That intense feeling like I am a problem.

Like I am inconveniencing people.
Like I don’t need to ruffle any feathers.

Panicking over a tiny social interaction.

Practicing in my head what I am going to say to someone, even if I’ve known them for years.

Repeating these conversations over and over in my head until I feel sick.

You sounds so stupid. 

Who are you to do this?

Words, betraying me.

This has been me… for as long as I can remember.

Not to say it’s always torture.
There have been moments of triumph.
Moments of victory.
Of letting go and conquering my fears.

Of doing what’s uncomfortable and talking to people I don’t know.
Picking up the phone.
Speaking up.
Speaking out, boldly.
Proclaiming truth.
Doing what I never thought I could do.

But lately, I feel like I am going backwards.
Maybe it’s just a culmination of life right now, or me just being tired from “adulting” but lately I feel I hardly go a moment without feeling the intense weight of anxiety.

Like I am always doing something wrong.
Like the it’s only a matter of time before the world figures out I am a fraud.

Like I have nothing to give.
Like I am 30, but I feel more like I am 4 years old, hiding in a dark closet shaking with fear.

Yet, I get up.
I rise again.
I whisper a feeble prayer.
I push through my day.
I do what I have to do.
I speak when I don’t want to speak.
I make effort to connect with people when I just want to crawl into myself.
When it feels too hard to function.

I write, this.

I fight anxiety through creating with words.

I take them back and make them my own.

I hear whispers of goodness and grace through the sentences that come out as I let go and let myself be honest.

makeart

I come to “the breaking point.”
And as tears flow,
I know

In my weakness His strength is made perfect.

I know,

He chooses the weak things of the world to shame the strong.

I embrace Grace.

I know
Every day  is a choice to believe I am who my creator says I am:
Brave.
Confident.

I matter.
I have a voice.

I am not how I feel.
I am not whatever thing is plaguing me,
Be it my own imagination or a real diagnosis.

I am not my fears.
I am not my anxiety.

These words, go beyond anything I feel

Straight from the the burning heart of love and truth:

I am simply loved.

Finding Jesus In the Chaos of Religion

6 Aug

Have you ever felt fed up with “The Church?”

I have.

I have walked out of services and cried in the parking lot.

I have sat through sermons feeling sick to my stomach.

I have been betrayed and lied to,

used and abused.

I have seen Jesus in some of the dirtiest and sin-filled places, but I’ve had a hard time finding him in “organized” Christianity.

I have ranted and raved about hypocrisy.

I have pointed fingers and condemned.

I have thrown my bible across the room, cussed out God, and almost walked away from the whole thing.

But Jesus never found offense in my frustration.

He loved me through all of it.

Even when I mocked his bride and hated her at times.

(And realized I was just raging against myself.)

I have gone to the opposite side and come back around.

I have found grace.

I have accepted that (all) people are infinitely broken and unconditionally loved.

(Including myself)

I have learned that I already have everything I’ve been working so hard to obtain.

I have found freedom amidst the chaos of man-made religion, in the simplicity of Jesus.

And I wrote a book about it, with a friend of mine.

It’s a bit of his story, and a bit of mine.

bookcomments

It’s a (strange) journey through religion into the heart of Jesus.

You might find yourself in this story too.

If you’ve ever felt “burnt out” by Christianity.

If you’ve ever been hurt by people who love God.

If you’ve ever wanted to say “screw it all” and run away,

But Jesus keeps bringing you back.

This book is for you.

Because sometimes we have to fall into pieces before we can fall into peace.

And sometimes we have to tear down in order to rebuild.

And there is always hope in the rubble.

fallintopeace

From a Battle Cry to a Peaceful Sigh

21 Apr

I had never felt such a deep sense of purpose as when Ron Luce announced in 2005 that we had 4-5 years to save the world.

I was 19, an intern at Teen Mania Ministries just finishing my first year. I was full of fire, wide-eyed and ready for more action.

According to his passionate “statistic” laden speech, if we didn’t get the teens of our country saved in the next few years, then America would become a post-christian culture where only 4% of the population would claim they believed in Jesus. And that would be the moral downfall of our nation and the rest of the world.

I had always felt that beneath my fear and self-loathing, maybe I was destined for something great.

I knew I was going to be a writer, but writing wasn’t enough.

I wanted immediate results.

The world was dying and needed me.

After all, what else was going to give me purpose?

What else was going to give me worth?

I felt the stirring, maybe the same stirring young men have when signing up for war.

The need to be a part of something greater than myself.

It was, after all, a spiritual war, or so they told us over and over.

Our weapons were prayer, but prayer wasn’t enough.

Our tactic was large Christian youth events, but that wasn’t enough.

They needed to be the biggest, the best, the most relevant, in order to snatch the young people of America from the moral decline of of our once god-fearing country, the sexualization promoted by MTV and Victoria Secrets, and the violence made “cool” by Grand Theft Auto.

This “spiritual war” quickly transitioned into a cultural one.

It wasn’t until I was on my last year touring on the road after three years, that I began to realize:

This had nothing to do with Jesus.

But if I couldn’t save the world by telling teens to turn to God and away from distractions and sin, what was my purpose?

I forgot I was a writer somewhere along the lines. But my experiences haunted me, crept through me, and just wouldn’t leave me alone. They had to be told.

At first, the words came out the only way I was conditioned to let them: as a rallying cry.

I wanted my stories to move people out of their “comfortable christianity” to do something.

But I was still trying to change everything.

The main issue was, I didn’t yet realize Jesus already had.

I remembered being in a van, riding back to my hotel in San Francisco. We were expecting 20,000 to attend our huge youth rally at the Giants Stadium that weekend.

It was the height of the Battle Cry movement, and the media was angry, which made us even more excited,

“It means we are making a difference! We are being persecuted! Yay!”

People lined up on the city hall steps to hold a rally and pray. There was nothing specifically said against homosexuality, but the residents of the city felt like our choice of location spoke very loudly- after all, those were the same historic steps where homosexual marriage took place.

It sure looked like we were there to fight a cultural war. I didn’t recognize it at the time because I was smack dab in the middle of it.

I was just trying to do God’s work.

So there I was, driving down the road that ran in front of the city hall steps. On my left on the steps were my people, a passionate group of young teenagers and youth pastors, praying and singing worship songs, speaking over a bullhorn about taking back America for God.

On the other side, was them. Protestors. Supporters of the LGBT community. Atheists. Liberal media. Transvestites dressed as nuns.

I felt sick. Dizzy looking from side to side.

I wondered if Jesus were there, where he would stand.

We drove by quickly, and I was relieved to be in the van, to avoid participating.

Something was wrong, fundamentally, deep down.

I had spoken a gay nun earlier, at another California event. We had an honest conversation and it really put some things into perspective for me. The funny thing was, the sign he was holding said, “God is love.” I don’t remember much specifically about the conversation, only that we were interrupted several times by youth pastors wanting to put their two cents in.

Something was wrong.

And it wasn’t just Teen Mania.

It was me.

Jesus never pushed people aside in the name of  “standing up for truth.”

He was truth, and demonstrated it in his actions, with his loving words.

The ones he spoke harshly against were the ones who put morality over people.

The ones who valued their “cause” over individuals.

He did not bother fighting a cultural war.

He realized who the real enemy was.

He never even claimed his “rights.”

He knew his citizenship was first and foremost heaven.

I’ve known all this for some time, but do I really believe it? It’s so much easier to value “stone-cold, hard truth,”  because it’s tangible. The law feels easier.

When it comes to belief, it’s a little scarier.

You can’t control another’s beliefs. You can’t even know them, really.

Jesus said once, “Your only sin is that you don’t believe.”

Which makes sense because what we believe about Jesus and God is the single most important thing about us. I mean, that is life, to know Jesus, and how can you know what you don’t believe in?

Also, what we believe about ourselves matters greatly. Because if we don’t believe Jesus has given us all things, we won’t act out of that. Instead, we’ll think we have try to behave and avoid sin by focusing on all our flaws and trying really, really hard to be good. Ridiculous, right?

………..cricket……………

So what we believe matters greatly. I think we can create our entire reality based on what we think about.

Negativity attracts negativity.

In the same way, positive thinking attract positive things.

But that is not the end of the story.

There is this thing called grace, and in one way, it turns the whole system on it’s back.

Or, as Bono so wonderfully put it,

Grace, she travels outside of karma.

But at the same time it makes the whole thing truer than true.

Grace is a gift. And that gift is all things pertaining to anything positive: life and love.

But in order to take that gift, you must first know that you do not have to pay for it, and believe that even though it may seem to good to be true, it is.

Now, isn’t that a better purpose? I don’t have to save the world. In order to really “make a difference” I simply feel compelled to speak and write the truth of what Jesus has already accomplished:

All. Things.

Now I can rest.

Sigh.

Breathe out.

Be at peace.

That is my purpose. To love and be loved and rest in his grace. 

I know this now. I wish I could go back and tell twenty-year-old me that. I wish I could sit down with her and calm her anxious and zealous heart. I’d tell her she doesn’t have to break her back working for a ministry, volunteering her time, burning herself out pouring out to the world.

I’d tell her she doesn’t have to choose sides.

I’d tell her she is free. That Jesus has already redeemed. That grace is truly enough.

I’d tell her,

The war that your fighting has already been won. 

(Sleeping at Last)

I Know You.

28 Jun

I know you.

You think you are the only one who wakes up from a disturbing dream, and sinks back into the feeling that you don’t really want to be awake today.

You feel crazy when you start crying when fresh coffee cascades all over the counter. There is some kind of leak in your french press and you can’t find it.  This faithful friend is suddenly your enemy, determined to ruin your day.

You hate it when you get the urge to check your phone, but you do it anyways. Sometimes you do it so many times you feel sick. You tell yourself you are just making sure no one is trying to reach you, a text or even a simple “like” giving you a split second thrill, only to be replaced with loneliness.

I know you get online to try to drown out the unanswered questions in your mind.  You scroll through hundreds of pictures of colorful home decor and genius healthy recipes because you feel like you are lacking something.

I know you’re just around thirty and feel like that means your life should look like something else.

Like children in school, a mortgage and a career.

Like creating successful art and living independently in a beautiful, foreign city.

Like not constantly second guessing yourself.

Like not still being afraid to talk to people.

I know you look at old photographs of yourself with both a loathing and an envy, remembering the time you were so:

Naive.

Free.

Insecure.

Passionate.

Messy.

Then you shake your head, because even though you feel like a completely different person, the old one is in you, buried beneath experiences that have left you jaded.

But you are still yourself. You can’t escape that.

You think you are the only one who has let their dream die,  just watched it shrivel up in front of you. You could have resuscitated it, but fear got in the way.

“No… it can’t be mine. It can’t be real. It will never happen anyway.”

Sometimes, you feel the ghosts of those dreams hitting your gut from the inside, a pregnant flutter that comes from a line in a TV show or a billboard from a travel agency.

You know resurrection is possible, but not yet.

I know what you’re waiting for:

The Next Best Thing. 

Emotional Healing.

Marriage.

Moving.

More Money.

A Spiritual Awakening.

A different situation than the one you’re in.

I know you believe 90% of the time that’s where your happiness lives, and I know that the other 10% is spent with your internal eyes open, screaming at the rest yourself to WAKE UP.

I know you don’t want to spend your life distracted. You want meaningful relationships, you want to make a difference, you want to love yourself, love others and love God.

I know you’re tired of the formulas to achieve these things, the step-by-step instructions from people who seems to have all this and more just dropped into their lap.

I know your  jealousy for these people keeps you from seeing what they are really saying. You either vilify them or put then on a pedestal.

But in the end, it does nothing but drive a wider rift in your “us vs. them” mentality.

There is NO “us vs. them.”

I know you, because you are me.

You are all of us.

The greatest lie is that you are alone, that what you are experiencing is unique to you.

We are conditioned  to think of ourselves as separate, and so become emotionally vacant.

But this.

This is the human experience.

We grow up, lose our wild eyes and become slaves to worry.

We always want what we don’t have.

We compare, we criticize and we think we are different and alone, not good enough, too emotional, too fat, too weak to kick our addictions.

We search, we run away,  we stay put out of fear.

We love, our hearts break, we question God, we stop faking it.

We’d do anything to see our dreams come true, if not in our lifetime then our children’s or grandchildren’s.

We want our time on earth to mean something more. 

More than our years spent here. More than our words. More than numbers or old photos.

And somewhere in-between all of our experiences, all our pain and joy and “figuring things out,”

We come to see,  Life itself is grace.

and when we are really awake, that becomes enough.

listen

I Love Jesus, But Sometimes I am an Atheist

26 Mar

The most terrible acts in the world happen when human beings treat each other as less than human.

A Chinese orphanage where special needs children had their limbs tied to hard kitchen chairs and left alone all day to stare at the walls.

A dirty room on the top of a brothel in India, where girls lay sleeping, fragile and exhausted from another night of abuse.

The cries of a young girl as she was taken down the stairs to a basement, by a man who was supposed to be caring for her while her parents were away.

Many look and say, “How could God let this happen?”

And even more deadly, religion says, “Everything happens for a reason.”

If I had a communion shot glass of wine for every time someone carelessly attached the phrase “God’s Will” to someone terrible, I’d be slurring my words right now.

I used to believe suffering made us better, so God must cause it. It was not for us to understand, only embrace. God wants to “break” us, and He will do whatever it took to get us to rely on him.

I imagine a mother or father using similar phrases as they abuse their children, all in the name of “love.”

This is not love.

I don’t believe in this god anymore.

I can’t.

I don’t believe in a god who would orchestrate horrific pain, destruction, and death.

Light and dark can’t mix.

I don’t believe in a god that picks and chooses whom he loves and whom he disregards.

Love is not true if it has conditions.

I don’t believe in a god who controls your fate, who is nothing more than a cruel puppet master putting on a show.

Love does not force its will or manipulate, but allows freedom of choice.

I don’t believe in a god who is looking for ways that we don’t measure up, who is constantly pushing us to try harder and be better.

Love doesn’t force or condemn or have an agenda to change someone.

People usually have a valid reason for not believing in god.

I don’t blame them.

But my God is pure love, acceptance, grace and beauty.

My God, in his love has given us control over the earth and our lives. Even though He risked us screwing everything up, it was the only way to offer freedom.

My God always gives good gifts, always redeems, always makes things new.

My God is found in the eyes of the abused prostitute, in the compassionate activist who rescues her, in the bread she is given to nourish her frail body.

He is in the laugh of a special needs orphan tied to a chair as the sunlight pours through the cracks in the walls.

He is in the words of the little girl who is restored and redeemed and telling her story.

My God writes the book of our lives with us, bringing adventure, romance, and surprise endings.

godwrites

So, sometimes I am an atheist.
Because I refuse to believe in the god religion has created.

But Jesus—I can’t help but believe in and love him.

An Open Letter of Apology (To Anyone I Gave Religion Instead of Love)

7 Feb

Hi,

It’s me, Brooke. I am a gorgeous mess, an abstract soul, a work of art some people can’t decipher.

In the past I was full of fear and insecurity. I hated myself. I remember making a mental list of all the things that would have to change to become “normal.” Some things were in my power to fix, some were out of my control. I was only five or six years old.

I always knew God was real, and that he loved me, but somewhere along the lines I adopted the suffocating belief system that he would love me more if I was better.

If I was holier. If I was normal.

Given the option at eighteen to pick between the dirty, crooked, path I saw myself heading down, and the pristine holiness I thought was attainable, I took the latter. I threw myself into a lifestyle of dedication and purity,  of prayer and sacrifice.

I just wanted to be better.

I just wanted God.

I know during those roller coaster years of losing the parts of me I hated, and reinventing myself to be who I thought I needed to be, I alienated you.

For this I am deeply sorry.

I am sorry for thinking your sin was worse than mine because it came out in your actions instead of just dwelling alone in your head.

I am sorry for judging and giving you a formula prescription instead of really listening to your story.

I am sorry for believing my righteousness was connected to my rightness.

I am sorry for giving you law instead of love.

I  am sorry for blindly following others, for allowing myself to become a robot.

I am sorry for being afraid of truth that dressed a little differently then what I was used to.

I am sorry for making it “us vs. them” and for putting you in the “them” category.

I am sorry for preaching Jesus’ love but living like a Pharisee.

I think about how I used to view the world, and it seems like I don’t even speak the same language.

Before, everything was cause and effect, an eye for an eye, reaping and sowing.

Now, I know there is nothing I can do to make me better.

This is the Good News.

It’s not persuading someone of some historical facts, or convincing someone they are broken and need fixing.

We are all beyond broken.

We are dead.

Then life comes in, and everything changes.

This life is purely gratuitous.

It’s more than we could ever need. We don’t have to polish it up. We don’t have to add anything to it.

We miraculously become complete.

Believing this is how I finally learned to love myself.

So, while I can’t erase those years of living under bondage  and putting chains on you with my words and actions,

By grace, I will now write and speak only of freedom and grace.

Where you go from here is up to you.

Sometimes these things seem too good to be true, but that’s exactly what makes them true.

So please, forgive me.

Please, throw out anything that doesn’t bring life, especially religion.

Embrace Jesus who is love and grace, and be free.

Love,

Brooke

field

Tiny Lights, Tea Cups and Snowflakes

27 Dec

The other night I went to a Chinese Lantern Festival in Dallas. I walked through scenes that looked like something out of Alice and Wonderland or Willy Wonka. Beautiful lit-up sculptures looked ordinary until you got closer and realized they were made of out teacups or thousands of tiny vials filled with colored water.

Chinese Dragon made out of China

Things look different when they are filled with light. 

At 2 am Christmas day I cried tears of frustration during a rainstorm while sitting in my car in the middle of the road on a hill about a mile from my apartment, after in my busyness of last minute christmassy to-do’s, I  forgot to get gas. Then I laughed for awhile, because what else can you do while waiting there helplessly for your rescuer?

Stranded.

Later in the morning I cried again in the shower after hearing my families voices on the phone, water running over my head, mixing with my tears making them obsolete.  And I thought on how I bury my emotions, how I talk myself out of missing people, how I think I can make it alone.

“Sometimes you need to let people take care of you,”

A wise, close friend spoke, a simple statement in the context of a simple conversation, but it hit my chest and exploded in my heart.

Sometimes you need to let other’s light illuminate your own dark places. 

And I drove on Christmas day through rain, thinking melancholy thoughts, trying to allow joy in, wondering about the hows and whens of unforeseen days. Everything outside was soaked and shivering, grey and cold.

And I almost stopped breathing as I exited off the treacherous highway to a familiar road, the closest thing to a consistent home I have had in my inconsistent life the past few years. In a moment of unexpected Christmas magic, raindrops turned to white flakes, as if by exiting I had entered some secret portal into a giant snow globe. The white stuck to the ground, cleansing the surroundings and allowing hope to barrel into my heart, like a child flying down a hill on a sled.

I let the day unwrap before me, a gift of exquisite design in the form of familiar faces, breaking crescent rolls, warm and smooth choclate-y drinks, hugs, unexpected laughter and kind words.

I allowed my mind to dwell on these moments, to shove out the age-old worries and fears, anxiousness about life’s timing.

From now all your troubles will be out of sight. 

And I appreciate that Christmas is at the end of the year, because it is, in a way I understand more and more, a wrapping up of a year of bounty, a celebration of light and color, a glimpse of hope for the coming year.

We all know the story behind it like we know the over-sung tunes, but how this story of grace unfolds looks differently.

Sometimes it looks like thousands of ordinary household dishes, sculpted carefully together and lit up with lights to make something extraordinary.

Sometimes it looks like waiting in the pouring rain at 2 am and realizing yet again I am helpless on my own.

Sometimes it looks like pure white covering a barren ground,

or one tiny twinkling light, a part of a strand of a thousand, overcoming the darkness.

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