There is always light.

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I started to blog today with approximately 2 percent of an idea of what to write. Being uninspired isn’t the worst thing in the world, but it leaves a lot of room for voices – 

“Make sure it’s profound. People are reading these things, you know. If you want them to keep reading, you better make it good. Don’t be repetitive; If you’re a broken record, surely you’re a flake.”

That’s the thing – there are times in life when you’re just living, doing what you love, and enjoying where you’re at; but there are other times when the audience is all you see. 

How would we perceive apart from pressure? What do we view as important because we’ve collected the opinions of others and decided that certain things matter and certain things don’t? How would we live if we were unaware of the audience? If we assumed the best about people’s assumptions of us?
Very rarely are people as critical as we think – the crowd is often made up of more cheerleaders and oblivious life wanderers than critics (the critics just seem to scream the loudest). How would we live if our eyes were open to how many people were for us? Or better yet, if we committed to living authentically despite the few that put us down or disagreed?

 

I’m hungry for people that are comfortable in their own skin. It is incredibly disarming to be in the presence of people who don’t believe they have anything to prove; it’s almost like their life is saying “It’s okay! You don’t have to convince me either. I’d love to know who you really are.”
We are on an incredible journey of learning that who we are is already more than enough – that it’s actually the very thing people are longing to see. The more at home we feel with ourselves, the more we call others home. 

 

So apart from the pressure and the awareness of an audience, what would I want to tell the world on this blogging Monday? 
To keep on dreaming, even when it’s scary and your dreams seem to get heavy. Keep on hoping, when everything around you screams that you’re setting yourself up for disappointment by doing so. Preserve your fairy tale heart that believes in nothing but perfect redemption and dreams coming true. Keep on hoping when the light at the end of the tunnel has been snuffed out and you’re left in the dark. Light never leaves – it will be found somewhere. Love always hopes, always perseveres, and always wins. There may be suffering and death, but redemption has been promised the final word.

“I’m redeeming everything.”

This is round one of blogging on an iPad. I say that to give my disclaimer in case there are some really strange autocorrected words that end up being inappropriate..You’ve been warned.

Now to abruptly switch gears.

I talked with a few friends last night, and we realized that so many of us have been head to head with disappointment and a heart growing more weary moment by moment.

Disappointment is the scariest thing.. Scary because there are imprints of where faith used to be; faith that you wish you could get back, but it doesn’t return no matter how hard you try.

Disappointment is scary because it suggests that everything you’ve believed and clung to about hope and things working out for your good was actually a lie all along.. And that reality is riddled with let downs, lack of passion and excitement, and little vision. It’s hard to dream when you’re disappointed, and it’s hard to hear good news. Defenses immediately go up – don’t believe the best, don’t expect much, shrink those dreams down to size, protect yourself from ever feeling this way again.

You jumped, expecting to be caught, and although you haven’t hit the pavement, you surely haven’t been caught either, and no one likes to free fall.

The great news about disappointment is that it’s not bigger than light, or stronger than love. It may overstay its welcome and seem to have moved in permanently, but hope’s endurance always lasts longer.

I saw a picture this weekend during worship; I was outside on a rolling hill, but the grass was really yellow (the yellow it gets in the summertime when rain hasn’t fallen for weeks) There were places on the field that had even been burned, and it looked impossible for anything to ever grow in those areas again. I had been sowing and sowing into the yellow, dry, lifeless ground for a very long time with no result.

Then, The Lord strolled up and started waving his hand over the land – he was singing “I’m redeeming everything!” And every place the shadow of his hand fell, a garden sprouted up. Nothing that had been sown was wasted. The burnt, impossible places were now the most beautiful parts of the garden.

He is the giver of hope and the one who makes us brave again. He gives us strength to believe and makes it all worth it. He never withholds any good thing and hope always wins – if hope isn’t winning, it isn’t the end.

“God can’t help but write a fantastic story.” -shoutout to Sarah Roach

God loves justice – he loves repaying his kids for the things that they’ve sown and given in his name. He loves to cut us some slack and give us even more than we worked for.

“God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people.” Hebrews 6:10 image

Wool Sweaters and Creative Giftings

This is round one of blogging in a coffee shop and I’ve never been happier.
There’s something about sunny days, never-before-worn sundresses, and laptops in Camino that just make you feel spectacularly creative. 

My heart is super full from a weekend full of special events. One of my great friends got married and had the best dance party ever (nothing says great wedding like an amazing dance party).. and I had the privilege of playing music at a benefit concert with friends for friends.

In a weekend full of music I felt both high highs and low lows.

There are people I know that think I am great – before I even open my mouth to play, sing, whatever – I know that I will get a positive response from them. Coincidentally, I always play better in front of those people. As a matter of fact, sometimes my ability to create, worship, etc. is better in their presence than it is when I am by myself with no one to encourage or criticize. 
// Isn’t honor a crazy thing? That we can call out the greatness we see in people and they can be 120 percent who they have believed themselves to be. We can honor one another, and in that environment, find that we are truer versions of ourselves than we’ve ever been. 

There are other people that are much more gifted than me. I’m not fishing for compliments or playing the false humility card – they can play multiple instruments, play with anyone, and know theory like the back of their hand. I don’t. It’s not to say that I won’t ever be just as awesome, but right now, if I was asked to play with a big shot musician or transpose my song into Ab, I’d probably have some sort of mental breakdown. 

Usually, when I’m around people that are better than me, I automatically assume that they can see right through me.
If my talent in front of people that love me were a thick, wool sweater that covered me, comforted me, and made me feel trendy, it would be immediately transformed into a wrinkled, paper thin shirt full of holes. Exposed, looked down on, unprepared and unimpressive. 
I start performing that way, too – more mistakes, more apologies, and way more embarrassment. 

What was once a fun, free, safe place to dwell turns into a pressure filled, anxious, ‘what-were-you-thinking-ever-assuming-you-belonged-here’ environment. 

That’s not to say that really talented people are mean bullies who want you to feel bad about yourself – 9.75 times out of ten, the last thing any good-hearted, well meaning human being would want to do is make you feel stupid.

 

So let me set the stage for you..

It’s yesterday afternoon, and we arrive at the location where the benefit concert will be taking place. We’re opening the show, so no pressure to be epic. We walk into what I believe will be an empty stage to quickly sound check and run through the songs we had practiced. 
What we -actually- walked into was a 10 person, ridiculously talented, ‘doing this thing a whole lot more and a whole lot longer than me’ band. 

What was I thinking? Panicked and paralyzed, the last thing I wanted to do was play music. Things are so much safer on the sidelines. 
With each song they practiced, things got a little worse internally. I was thankful for the sound level that prevented a lot of conversation, although my anxiety still managed to leak out a fair amount.

 

You know how things go in the movies? You freak out, think the world is over, and then miraculously, everything explodes with glory. 

I’d had way too many freak outs before to know that unfortunately, thinking that the world is over is not a guarantee that glory bombs will explode. 
So you tell yourself all of the spiritual things “I’m afraid because God has called me to do this. I’m actually created for this – I’m doing something the enemy is threatened by when I worship.”

Always true. Sometimes comforting.

 

But you know what happened this time? My wool sweater stayed on; stayed trendy, stayed thick. 
I didn’t feel myself shrivel up and shut down. These musicians were great, but I was too. And above greatness, my worship was acceptable. 
(Here is where I’d like to state that the 10 person band was so kind and welcoming. That always helps.. Also, I had great friends who were consistently encouraging all day long. There’s strength in numbers and in encouragement; no one is super human.)

 

I’m convinced that the times we feel like the best versions of ourselves are the times that we see who we really are. It’s human nature to assume that the insecure, full of anxiety, miserably failing person is who we normally are, and that the confident, happy times are just coincidence (or something that we’re growing into and will eventually, hopefully, some day be). I’d like to argue the opposite – that we’re already every bit the person that we wish that we were. That in those moments when we feel secure, confident, and free to create, our eyes are opened to what everyone else can already see. Image

When the storm doesn’t calm, the mountain doesn’t move, and winter sticks around for awhile.

“Some truths keep growing taller than giants, some truths take our breath away… and some truths get tired, the longer we wait.” -Sleeping At Last (of course)

I’ve experienced the faithfulness of God. I know what it’s like for things to get really bad, to pray and cry, and then to watch him make everything better again. Even in high school, I watched him remain faithful from silly teenage boyfriends to a broken, shambled church getting completely restored.
Those are incredible memories that I can look back on, be thankful for, and even be reminded of what He’s like.

But sometimes winter lasts much longer than we anticipate – lasts much longer than we believe our capacity is to withstand the cold.

I’m pretty stubborn when it comes to the realm of exercise. I may have not done anything to get my heart rate up for a significant amount of time, but if I’m running with you, I will try my hardest to push through all of that and not let you know that I’m hurting. Gospel Zumba? I don’t want anyone knowing, especially the Zumba instructor, that I’m about to pass out and my lungs are on fire – I might talk about it afterward and hurt for days, but I don’t want anyone knowing in the midst of the workout.

I think we can get like that when crappy stuff happens in our lives – whether that be external drama with other people, or internal tornadoes of inadequacy, abandonment.. you name it. “I can handle this for awhile.. I can ride out the internal tornado until I get around people and forget about it. I can pray and believe for my finances to get better or to see healing in my family.” We might even be pretty determined and hold out for an impressive amount of time.
But there comes a point when your strength runs out.. when you start to wonder if you’re holding out for nothing.. if things are ever going to get better, or if this is just the way it’s going to be forever. And can you really handle it if life will be like this indefinitely?
At the end of the day, in the middle of the run, you’ve told yourself a million times that you’re almost there and that the finish line is coming up quick.. but sometimes it doesn’t come. At the end of the day, your endurance is admirable, but you haven’t been training for a marathon, and your body can only handle so much.

Sometimes you find yourself entirely broken, faithless, scraping the bottom of the barrel for some sort of hope or courage to keep going.. remembering who you were in the days where you believed that the Lord would come through and then he did. What happened to your heart? What happened to him?

I have found so much comfort lately in hearing people say ‘Sometimes life just sucks.. and it’s okay.’
That statement doesn’t give excuses to wallow in self pity or teach you to anticipate awful things all of the time. It takes away blame and guilt for not ‘feeling better by now.’ It opens our ears to hear more from the Lord than just how to get out of the place we’re in. (Maybe the things he wants to speak seem irrelevant to where you’re at, but they’re the very thing your heart needs)
Sometimes the storm doesn’t calm and your boat gets wet, but it’s not because you’re a bad sailor – it’s because anyone in the middle of your storm would have a waterlogged boat.
He knows that. He knows your limits, your capacities, and when your lungs feel like they’re going to explode, even when you don’t want anyone to know it. He knows when you’re weary and longing for the finish line that never seems to appear.

There’s a scene in the Voyage of the Dawn Treader where Lucy is having a conversation with one of the girls who lost her mother to the green mist.
Lucy says “Don’t worry – we’ll find your mother. Aslan will help us.”
The girl replies “Aslan didn’t keep her from getting taken.”
And Lucy replies again “Aslan will help us.”

When the storm doesn’t calm, the mountain doesn’t move, and winter sticks around for awhile, it doesn’t mean Aslan isn’t coming or helping. If the storm is lasting much longer than anticipated, he could be saying “Sweet one, I see your weary heart, but there are things that I can do, parts of me you would never see in any other setting. I’m faithful, I’ll make it worth it. I know that these truths have grown tired with time, but they’ll never change. It’s okay that you feel faithless – just lean into me. I’m still faithful when you’re faithless.”

winteryall