Thursday, September 24, 2015

I was talking to my friend earlier tonight and she said something along the lines of, "I feel like I'm carrying too many stories inside of me."
I could only nod, because I'm feeling the same way right now. Too many stories, both mine and others, all loud and frantic inside my brain but unable to be written out in a coherent manner. They attach themselves to the curtains, swing from the chandeliers, misbehave like hooligans. These stories sit inside of me, like murky water, stagnant and unmoving.
As I was walking up the stairs of a tall office building earlier today, picking up a child welfare check for a new volunteer position that I'm really excited about, my friend called me. She asked how I was doing and I sighed, "It's been a hard last couple of days."
I went away over the weekend and the whole time I was there I felt guilty for not being here. Now I'm here, surrounded by the 'normalcy' of school and I can only wish for the freedom of there. I'm never quite feeling settled within myself.
In the last couple of days, the automatic negative thoughts I have are louder. Sometimes they roar and my voice shakes as I howl back, "You're not true!"
I'm more emotional than normal, stumbling around. I apologize for needing constant reassurance, for a sharp tongue that sometimes gets the better of me, for the burden I think I am on those I love, for needing grace and grace and grace.
I'm tired. I have this desire to give and give and give, to pour myself out into things and people that I love - after all, isn't servant hood the reoccurring theme in my classes lately? - and I always forget the little bean dangling from my wrist, the one that tells me I need to take care of myself too.
Tiny things trigger this cascade of emotion. Moments when I'm touched the wrong way, when someone says the wrong thing, when another beautiful girl in the dorm shares her heart with me, a comment said by a well meaning friend. None of these bad things, and certainly not the source of the emotional responses I've been having, and yet when stacked on top of one another, they feel like too much.
I berate myself for not being better at juggling. Then I remember that clowns juggle, and clowns are creepy, and I am grateful I'm not a clown.
I sat in chapel this morning, remembering the yoga challenge I did back in August. I'm still coming to terms with the fact that this is a good body. Not only this literal, physical body, though I'm still learning to redeem that too, but the body of Christ.
I was sitting in class recently and I realized that so much of what I hear and take in, I'm taking in through that 13 year old girl filter. The strongly stubborn Jesus doesn't love me and There is no such thing as a good God. And I'm afraid to say it, because I'm at Bible school after all. Aren't I supposed to be among the super spiritual, the ones that trust God in every trial and never waver? Those are my people, right?
I want those to be my people.
But my faith wavers. Some days I'm not even sure what I believe, or if I believe at all. I don't want to be here, and I don't know why I'm here. I want to pack up everything into my car and drive somewhere far away.
Family issues, struggles in my relationship, health concerns, my past, they come up and I fight the urge to say Consider this trial a pure joy? are you kidding me?
I'm not sure where I stand right now, and that feels like a very powerful thing to say. The movement I can feel happening in this body is exhausting, and strong, and often leaves me breathless. And I'm not sure yet where it will go, or what will happen.
Maybe some day I will have it in me to write all these stories. That was my goal with this blog, the last school year and this one. Instead I'm finding some stories you have to carry with you a good long while before they even make sense, before you can write them out and begin to make peace with them. That's kind of what my stories are like right now.
I'm practicing the giving of grace. I'll carry these stories until they release me. It's all in the process of redeeming. It's exhausting, and uncomfortable, but I whispered the words a long time ago when I decided to become a writer over my stories and I whisper it again over my heart now:
I will carry you

Monday, September 7, 2015


As I packed loaded boxes into the waiting vehicle, I felt it. Not stronger than a twinge but there none the less, a feeling of I don't have this together. And for a moment it was paralyzing. I felt defensive of my mess, ready to curl my body around the dirty dishes, too many clothes and dead flowers as a means of protection.
It's welcome week, my second year at PRBI, and in many ways I can feel this year will be as hard as my first. I'm not a rookie at the moving in, and I already know some of the faces, but my heart still stirs in discomfort and discontent and I can't help but wonder (again) if this is truly where I'm supposed to be.
My heart is rubbed raw from a summer full of putting fists into old wounds and I haven't yet developed the thicker skin it takes to walk into a room with near 100 strangers and not feel like all their judgments and fears aren't directed at you.
I'm craving still quietness, closeness and distance in the same breath, which isn't conducive to welcome week, where the expectations are set for being welcoming and inviting, cultivating community.
The desire rises up in me to turn back to old habits, to cover up the pain instead of finding a way to sit with it, and I have to remind myself that recovery happens every moment, that with every breath I must make the choice to stay present and open instead of returning to those behaviors that no longer serve me.
In these early days, my heart isn't in it. I see the excitement around me, this energy floating around for new experiences and friends and learning that is vibrating with positivity, but I'm not there. I spend time doubting whether or not I should really be here, and then wonder whether or not this doubt is a sign I should walk away. Old memories seem to be lurking on every corner, standing with hats and trench coats inviting me back to their old ways and the strength to refuse is dwindling. I cry, and yell at the people I love the most. And it's hard.
My heart is stretched from the surgical art of opening wounds and I don't see it stopping any time soon and I can barely catch my breath as I wheeze "Can it be over now? I can't take anymore. Let's take a break. We can keep healing and recovering later."
They say if you're not working towards recovery you're working towards staying stuck in addiction, that not moving isn't really keeping you the same but contributing to the going back. 
I'm trying. This welcome week I'm welcoming more than just the freshmen. I'm welcoming pain, welcoming anger, welcoming sadness, welcoming tears and frustration and the unknown and the doubt and depression and addiction and fear. I'm learning to sit with the darkness instead of trying to run from it, even if it's just for twenty seconds at a time.
For these twenty seconds I will just focus on my breath. And then the next twenty, and the next twenty.
I breathe and I picture the light inside my body expanding and contracting, and for that moment I feel alright. I am enough. I have enough. I do enough. It is enough.

"Everything in me is tightening, curling in around this ache. I will lay my heart wide open, like the surface of a lake. Wide open like a lake."

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

August has always held me gently. Soft and strong, it once was a month that held so much pain but now every August quiet reflection and contemplation rises up and washes over me like the gentle breeze. If I could hold on to these sacred days, to the gentleness August brings, I would.
I feel like if August was a person she would be dripping in beads, wearing flowing fabrics and dancing with the puffs of air. Her laugh would sound like wind chimes clinking against one another on the porch long after dark when the air is only slightly rustled.
August, for me, has always felt like coming home, like peeling back the layers and peering into myself and finding things I never really knew I'd left there.
He stood with his guitar, singing in such a way that the air hung off the breath of magic and I knew I wanted to write like that. I wanted my not so elegant prose and poetry to drip off the branches of trees like dew drops, to mesmerize and simultaneously awe those around me. I feel the words inside me, and I want to one day reach that glistening shining spot of successful. I wish I knew what that looked like. But as I watched him play, choking on my words, my fingers aching for a pen, I knew I wanted this. Being an artist suddenly sounded like the most magical thing in the world.
I think as an artist there's always that someone better. There's that someone with a publishing deal, a fully completed manuscript that doesn't suck, with a concert venue or a next show or more followers. I call myself an artist but a lot of the time that feels like me out here, just doing my own thing, sometimes writing good things but a lot of the time writing bad things but always creating. And when there's someone else, someone else on this journey of artistry who is further along up the path than you are, who understands the solitary quest of creating, it's an inspiring and terrifying feeling.
As I watched him play, I also watched his girlfriend. My best friend when I was 4 years old, she reminds me of pieces of the past I almost forgot. She's grown now, and beautiful, and it's easier to think she has this life thing more figured out than I do. Maybe somewhere along the line we grew apart and she got the magical answer key and I got a series of questions. And I'm watching her and remembering when we were young, and how it was supposed to be different but she's here in this life I don't fit into effortlessly anymore. Sometimes I wish I did.
I wish my life was beautiful and grandeur instead of this clunky imitation I'm still learning how to stand inside and come home to at night.
There they are, these two, in the life I thought I was supposed to be living, the one I dreamed about. And he's singing about love and apologies, and I look across at the boy holding my hands. He looks up at me and smiles, and I smile, and I feel so in love in this moment I think my heart will burst out of my chest, will finally break free of the cage it's been contained in for so long and exist as its own vessel of love and light. This life, this love, it's not what I had imagined back when I was a little girl. It's messy, and loud, and not very elegant or graceful. But as I look at it, at him, I know it is the best poetry I have ever written to date. It is my proudest creation, what I never knew I needed. This wild and reckless love is more than enough.
"Love was just an empty room until I felt His heart in you."
The air smelled like coming home. The mountains stood tall to greet me, ready to breathe life into my lungs once again. As we hiked over rocky trails in sandals, unprepared but not unwilling visitors, my heart beat rapidly inside of my chest in a way that made me realize that these hills could do anything to me and it would not be unwelcomed. I think perhaps its genetic, this deep and true love for the wild unknown.
We ate lunch on the patio of this little vegan restaurant, which I loved and he didn't. The waitress had an Australian accent, and the people who passed by on the street were all kinds of foreign and familiar. When he stayed and ate I knew he loved me.
We walked the streets and I drank rich, strong black coffee. Musicians played on street corners. I was enchanted by this city, the way it extended rivers like veins, the way mountain peaks rose like the confidant gaze of the sure and steady. Even in the face of the unknown, it beckoned me to trust. It tickled the delicate underside of my heart, whispering courage into my bones, giving me strength for the journey.
I'm still marveling at how it feels to be accepted into a family not your own. As the girl who grew up with a disjointed illustration of family, the tender process of finding my own is not something I take lightly. The arms outstretched to welcome me, the goodbye hugs that speak of always being welcome here, the opening up of more than a home but a heart, it does not go unnoticed.
And in the final moments when the bags were all packed in the car and hugs were being given, his mother said to me, "You're our girl now too." and I realized what it's like to have homes scattered all around the country. And my heart swells.
The car ride home is long, filled with more undistinguishable moans, sighs and laughs than actual words. We listen to others talk and don't talk to each other. I feel the weight as I try to sort out the big topics in my mind, as I work through the matters of faith I began to give some attention to when August's #thisisagoodbody challenge was taking place, as I think about the huge and important blog post I'm writing. We spend the last hour laughing about nothing. We pull into the driveway exhausted and I'm not sure of the long days before me. I wish to hold on to these final, fleeting moments of summer.