Sometimes the moment feels too much to experience it all at once. The overwhelming rush of love and pain and gratitude and breathtaking humbleness swallow up the space.
There's a little thing about me a few of you know. I wake up on my birthday every year...depressed. I go to bed depressed. I get up December 1st and I'm fine. I continue to dig to find the root. It's not the age. It's not the expectation. It's not current life situation. I've always kept that part of me close. Ashamed. It was a piece of a lie that I held tightly. I was unloved. I was unloveable. I toiled so many days throughout each year trying to earn it. Trying to feel it. I guess on the day I was supposed to receive it, I couldn't.
I went to Woman Camp this past October and I uncovered a lie. But what I found was more than one little deception. Disrupting the patterns of my daily life, being honest about my failures, my heart was exposed. All I could see was my worth being trapped by all the untruths I had continued to believe about myself. It was the beginning of a journey that hasn't been easy.
The fear of rejection cripples me. It makes me work hard to earn your love. It takes the wind out of my sails. It leaves me exhausted and no further along the journey to freedom. Freedom. A word that God continues to whisper to me. "It's so close. Keep going, beloved." I've thought for a long time I knew what He was talking about. I was oh so wrong. The freedom that He promises me is truth. Truth that I am known and I am loved. Truth that I am lovable and worthy and free to be a sinner walking a path towards grace and redemption and reconciliation. Freedom from always getting it right. Freedom from having a good attitude. Freedom from the sin that so easily entangles me.
I've spent the last couple of months afraid of who I was becoming. Who I already was. The work it would take to start changes I didn't know how to make. Answers to questions that were hard to ask.
I told my friends. And my friends covered me. They held hands and protected me. They gave me truth. They gave me their lies and we discounted them together. They came and sat with me in the pit. They met me where I was and loved me in all my brokenness. For that I am eternally grateful.
This birthday, I was greeted with cards from 24 kindergarteners. Wine, a picture filled with our 24 children and beautiful words from my partner-in-crime every weekday. Flowers delivered to school by my sweet friend who knows me all the way through. Calls. Texts. Messages. An over the top dinner with the people I love most who generously give and give and give without a second thought. Graeters and a house filled with children laughing. Going to bed tired and filled with joy.
Last night we had our journey group and they literally filled my cup. A beautiful glass brimming with slips of paper that encourage and sink deep into the parts of my heart that have grown hard. It was actually painful to hear the beautiful things they said. I wanted it to end, but I couldn't drink it all in fast enough. It was truth and it was good and I believed they meant every word. Growth, even when it creates life and is beautiful, still hurts like hell. I literally felt the war happening as ground was taken for the goodness of a God who fights for me. The sweet souls that have sat in this with me for so so long are more than ride or die friends. They are warriors who are going to battle with and for me. Freedom, I'm coming.
Sunday, January 29, 2017
Grief is one of the oddest things I continue to deal with. Today my daddy would have been 68. I wasn't sure what I would be feeling because with grief, emotions change as quickly as the Cincinnati forecast. Today I sat up to start the day and felt the air in my lungs run for dear life. My house was quiet. The time was earlier than I wanted. Why was I awake? And just like that, the tears began to flow. What I wouldn't give to call my daddy and sing to celebrate the man who held my heart so carefully. I was left to imagine him start to sing along to himself. Broken, I pondered what rest would look like for me today. In years past, I've declared war on the January depression efforts of the enemy. I've cooked cupcakes and invited people in to celebrate the man that was so well loved and loved so well. Without my million children here, I didn't have the attitude or energy. Bran so graciously agreed to throw clothes on the kids and meet me at Sugar and Spice for breakfast. As the kids cried for cereal (as I used to do), I thought about how many childhood moments that I completely missed his greatness. As children, we look at each moment as what serves us right then. We look at our parents with eyes that can't see uncertainty of their existence. We can't possibly cherish our blessings because we can't see beyond our now. I didn't know I was privileged to have that man in my life. I didn't know that to have a dad repent to his daughter, for a joke he made or an unkind word he said, was out of the ordinary. I didn't know because that's all I knew. I had a dad for 25 years that most people don't ever get. I had a dad that taught me to love hard and well and even when it made me uncomfortable. I had a dad that told me who I was. I had a dad that showed me how to believe in people. He showed me how to sacrifice for what was right. He taught me how to have uncomfortable conversations. He lived out how to be humble and quiet and how to honor people that hurt you because forgiveness always wins. He showed me grace and taught me mercy. When people pass away, we try to romanticize them or think up kind words to say, no matter the life they lived. This man. This man that taught me that if your tires look clean, your whole car looks clean...the world is less without him. Coffee breath and auto repair stores make me close my eyes and think back to those random days of finding my place wherever he was. Whatever he loved, I loved too. One of the hardest lessons I've learned through this is that my daddy could have never promised me he would never leave me or forsake me. Those were a given. He was human. God, on the other hand, promised me both of those things. And He's held faithful. The first part of that verse says to be strong and courageous. Losing my dad was terrifying as I had never pictured life without him in it. Now, as reality hits where it hurts, I still don't lose hope. Our world is ever crying out for something more. We all feel it. I just have far greater hope in a Father who won't leave me. My dearest friends have now joined me on this path and we walk together. Though it may be unclear what the road looks like ahead, I'm confident in the destination and the Father leading the way. Together we can overcome fear, anger, depression, grief, and uncertainty. Together we are strong.