Dear God: Are you there? It’s me, Madison.

Dear God,

Today, you asked me if I was all in. And I nearly laughed before I realized the weight of the question and started crying. I just don’t know. Some days, when I’m around the right kind of people, I’ll think about how crazy it is that I ever tried to do life without you. Other days, like today, I get very sad and see the different ways that I’m holding on to so many things that don’t look like you; things that I don’t necessarily want to let go of. Comfortable things that hurt.

I mean, isn’t that insane? I know you’re a Father who gives good gifts. I know that you don’t ask us to give things up just for the hell of it. (Bad use of hell? Maybe. Sorry if it was.) And, most of all, I know that you’re all in, all the time. You always have been. From the dawn of creation, you were all in. That’s your thing.

I don’t really know what my thing is yet. Inconsistency, maybe.

I know you already know this, but I am so sad right now. Some days, I slap bandaids on the wounds that I don’t want you to have yet. But, tonight, I ripped them off. Letting them air out, you know? Which is also insane. It’s like I’m standing here with this infected cut, and you’re saying, “One touch from me and it’s healed. One touch. Look how close I am, Madi girl. I can do this.” And then, I’ll back up. It’s hard to give you the familiar things, God. It’s really hard. And, maybe it’s because I don’t fully trust you yet, or that I still haven’t figured out what kind of a Father you are. It’s easy to tell someone that you’re a good Father and that we’re loved by you. But, what exactly does that entail? What are the characteristics of a good Father? Who even are you, God?

There have been many days, recently, that I don’t want to be filled with your Spirit. Being filled with you means dying to myself a little bit more and that means addressing the deep things of my heart that took up residence when I just a child.

Okay, I realize all of this is intense and very honest. But you tell me to come as I am. So, here I am. Your girl. Spilling my stinkin’ guts.

I just found a journal that I had hidden from myself several months ago. It has a total of one bitter little passage written in it.

“…so, at least for tonight, I’d like to be like everyone that can’t feel deeply. I want to be numb. I mean, just a couple of months ago, I was better than I had ever been in my whole life. Things were so good. It was as if I was sailing away from every hurt and pain from my past, waving as we left. New winds played with my hair; salty mists danced on my skin. I was off to a brand new adventure–discovering who, exactly, the Lord had created me to be. Did we have to hit an iceberg so soon??

So, here I am. Shipwrecked.

Alone.

Staring at waters I’ve been avoiding for a long time.

The sun is hot and a swim sounds nice, but I know if I jump in, I’ll come up as a different person. New. Changed. Very unrecognizable.

To be honest, I think I’m just terrified to be recreated. The woman I am now needs people and their approval. She doesn’t want to find out that the Lord is the only One she needs… She doesn’t want to displace her dependency. The woman I am now is timid and apologetic. What if I became someone who walks boldly and without remorse?

What if the Jesus in me pushes people away?

I just don’t know who I am. And, as deep and scary as the waters seem, I think I’m finally ready to find out.”

Here’s the thing, God. I’m scared. I’m really scared. I know how to say the right things when someone asks me, but to be actually transformed by your love scares the hell outta me, quite literally. I have spent 20 years being a child that thought she was a voiceless orphan. And now you’re bringing me to a vulnerable place that will change everything. But, you have always been preparing my heart for this place, haven’t you? So, I know you’re faithful and kind. And if you are faithful and kind in one area, you theoretically should be everywhere else, right?

This whole process hasn’t felt very good. But, maybe it doesn’t need to feel good to be good, you know? Of course you know. You’re God.

So, here’s what I know about you so far: You’re kind. You don’t leave even when I think you should. You don’t like that my wounds hurt me, and you want me to want you to come close. You don’t ask me to give you familiar things because you like taking things from me; you ask me to give you familiar things because they keep me from knowing the fullness of who you are. You were there everytime I asked you where you were. You show me the depths of my heart so that I can be free and a powerful vessel for your kingdom. You created me to look like you, and you will settle for nothing less. You do not force yourself on me, but you are the fierce pursuer of my heart.

And now I have to decide. Am I all in?

oh sleeper

I wish there were enough words to describe what the Lord is doing in my life. But when are there ever? I’m convinced that a thousand blog posts could not do this season justice. There are only sighs of peace, moments of silent wonder, and tears. So, so many tears.

To catch you up, I’ve been lost. Not just, “I think I made a wrong turn back there,” but, “I don’t know who I am and I don’t think I know who God is, either.” And sometimes, when we walk through things, we don’t understand until reminiscing that certain seasons were incredibly weighty & maybe even a little dangerous. But, I knew. I knew and I still couldn’t get myself out of that place. There was never before such an opportune time for hopelessness to settle in and get cozy than in the past few months. And, to be fair, I eventually stopped fighting and let it. When it needed an extra hand to help unpack, I provided both of mine.

For months, I let hopelessness convince me that the grace of God was for more-deserving children. It sounds ridiculous, typing it out. But it’s much easier to believe than the truth, I think. “He has never delighted in the pursuit of your heart, you unfaithful lover,” said my new roommate. “You are prone to wander, and it exhausts him.”

That’s heavy. That is heavy and not mine to carry. And, because I’m not interested in dragging this out, here is the gospel truth: God is good, doesn’t grow weary, goes after the one, and he didn’t want me to stay in that place, either. Even if I didn’t know fully who he was (and is), that is the truth that I was desperate to believe. If there was even the slightest chance that it was true, I was going to rebel against my unwelcome housemate and find out. So, I asked God for transformation–for the renewal of my mind. And, for months, it didn’t seem as though either would come. Nothing appeared to be changing. I was still depressed, still enslaved by my misconceptions of him, and still rooming with debilitating lies.

But then, one morning, I heard his voice.

“Madison… Madison.” Wake up.

I had been physically sleeping when I heard it. I thought someone was in my room, actually. I called out, half in fear, and half in expectation for some sort of logical answer. Who woke me up? Why did they wake me up? Why didn’t I recognize the voice? 

That’s when I heard the rain falling outside my window; the rain that I had been anxiously awaiting for the past fifty days–that’s how long we had been in a drought, where I live. Fifty days without the thing I loved, dearly. I think that’s when I realized, for the first time in my life, I had actually heard the voice of God. I’ve never audibly heard him before that, and I suppose that’s why I didn’t recognize the voice. He woke me up (I thought) so I would be able to enjoy the gift that was steadily falling from the sky. Only a good God who has not stopped sitting on the throne would stir me awake for something like that.

Only a good God would show me that’s not even the half of it.

Why that morning? Why, of all the days and seasons and moments, did God choose that morning to audibly speak to me for the very first time–to literally call me by name? What was so special about those early hours that he had to actually wake me up?

Maybe, he was trying to do more than physically stir me awake. Maybe, he was calling me out of my spiritual slumber and back into life. “Wake up, oh sleeper, rise from the dead.”

If you’ve ever struggled to believe that you are seen and known and wanted by the Father, hear this: the God I had lost hope in and was convinced harbored deep anger towards me loves me so deeply, he wanted to be heard and known as the One who brings resurrection life. He called my name because he has never stopped knowing me. He woke me up with the same voice that told the stars to exist so that I could be stirred from the grave. He’s never stopped asking me to wake up.

The refreshing rain that poured on that blessed morning was a sweet gift, but it doesn’t even compare to what it’s like to finally understand that God is near and wants to be near.

J U S T  A N  F Y I . . . .

I’m clearly on a bit of a journey, here. In just the past six days, alone, the Lord has revealed deep things about his character and heart that have effectively ruined many misconceptions I’ve had about him. It’s been painful…exciting…good. Very good. I know it’s a bit raw (when is it not with me, though), but I’ll more than likely be doing a bit of online journaling throughout this season. If you’re interested in sticking around to see how Jesus continues to wreck my life, this is where you’ll see it documented. Hopefully it’ll relate to a few of you, and, if not, I’m still gonna write about it.

Until next time,

Mads

But your dead will live, LORD; their bodies will rise– let those who dwell in the dust wake up and shout for joy– your dew is like the dew of the morning… // Isaiah 26:19

“who do you say i am?”

When I was a junior in high school, the first of many harsh realities were dropped on my doorstep. I learned that humans inhale and exhale inconsistency; I learned that wounds inflicted upon young hearts scar slowly and with purpose; I learned that sadness is stealthy, grabbing the unsuspecting ones. I remember sitting cross-legged on my bed every night for months, hugging childhood toys to my chest as I choked back tears and flirted with the idea of death. I tried to make myself invisible so as not to bother others with my pain. I wrote angry letters to God, asking why?

I never really talked about it, this season of depression I crawled through. Maybe because I was ashamed, or maybe because I wasn’t willing to address how drastically it affected every piece of me. Maybe, sometimes, misery doesn’t actually love company.

Regardless, I’m here. Four years later, and I’m here.

But, for the past year, I’ve started to relate back to that sad 16 year old girl. Death and I are no longer in an open relationship, mind you. But, I will sometimes stay up with the clock until it reads 4am, crying and praying and questioning the process of becoming new. As it turns out, the Lord will let life hand you the same lessons as before, and they won’t necessarily feel any better than the first time.

About two months ago, you could find me pulled over on the side of the road, crying similarly to someone who had just found out a loved one passed unexpectedly. It was loud, it was ugly, and I couldn’t make it stop. Despair had settled into these dry bones, and it was suddenly exploding out of me.

“What the hell are you doing?!” I yelled at myself. “Stop it, stop it, stop it…”

But, that was out of the question.

I hit my steering wheel, over and over, and once again found myself asking God why? Ranting and raving and asking that age-old question.

“Why?” I sobbed, no longer concerned with holding my tongue. “Why do you love everyone else more than you love me?”

I stopped. Covered my lips with the hand that had just been punching leather. Desperately tried to grab the words and shove them back into my mouth. But, I couldn’t. Jesus said it best: “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34), and what filled mine had finally been revealed.

I had been asking for it, though. Finally, I could see the depths of my brokenness. Finally, root issues dusted themselves off and said, “Here I am!” I did not believe the Father loved me. In fact, I did not believe I was extended the grace that allowed me to even call him Father. To me, he has been “Master.” “Sir,” even. Life has hurt and people have left and disappointments came calling, and I thought it was all because I was being punished for my shortcomings.

From that moment, I have not been able to stop recognizing the way I’ve shaped everything around my skewed image of the Lord. It’s been agony. And it’s kept me awake at night. I am completely unable to do the work that needs to be done in my heart to save me from drowning in everything I once thought was true. It’s gotta be Jesus. It’s just gotta be.

And, I’m starting to figure out, it will be.

I’m learning that my 16 year old struggles might also be my 25 and 35 and 45 year old struggles.

I’m learning that some people, lovely people that you tried to weave into your own timeline of “forever”, will leave with no warning and are happier without you. And that’s God’s grace towards you.

I’m learning that, as a woman who feels deeply, some nights are going to be less for sleep and more for tears. And Psalm 51:17 says that God will not despise that.

I’m learning that, perhaps, the question isn’t why, but Who?

I don’t know, yet. But I’m learning. Oh, am I learning.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” || Ephesians 2:8-9

bowing out

With my hands out to my sides, I took a dramatic bow. From every direction, flowers seemed to fly towards me. “Thank you!” I said loudly, breathlessly. “You’re all too kind! Thank you!” Still, the flowers came. One, in particular, landed at my feet. A daisy. With a small grin and delighted sigh, I picked it up. Daisies are my favorite–how did they know?

I brought the flower to my nose and breathed in its sw-

Sickly sweet smell. What? I looked more closely and realized it had been dead for awhile. It was actually rotting and the smell was more than unpleasant: it made me nauseous. What was going on?

I looked around at the floral assortment surrounding me. All of them, every last petal, both smelled and looked of death. The audience wasn’t pleased, it would seem. With tears in my eyes, I watched as they would carelessly toss their decaying flowers at me and walk out of the building, not looking back.

“Wait!” I pleaded. “I can do better! I was a little off tonight, but now I’m warmed up! Let me perform just one more time for you and see if you don’t love me…it.” Not one person even paused to glance over their shoulder. Soon, it was only me, a garden’s graveyard, and a spotlight that was suddenly overwhelmingly bright.

Click, tap…click, tap…click, tap. Slowly, contemplatively, He came closer. The Director, that is. I heard His shoes against the stage’s slick wood, but I refused to look behind me. I performed well. Click, tap. Surely, surely, He wasn’t here to critique me. Click, tap. I had just given the performance of my life–He should be handing me a bouquet of [fresh] flowers. Click, tap.

“Why are You here?” I asked without turning around.

“Why are you?”

“You know why. I had a performance, tonight. Didn’t You see it? Don’t You see the aftermath?” I choked back a sob.

“Yes, I do. But you weren’t supposed to perform, tonight.”

I blinked. Is that why the audience was angry? Did I accidentally go on during someone else’s performance time? “Wait, is that why-”

“You weren’t ever supposed to perform.”

Another blink. “But, this is what I’m good at. I’m good at putting on a show.”

“You’re good at pretending. You’re good at conforming. You’re good at seeking the approval of man. And I’m here to put a stop to it. This stage is not yours. You don’t have to choose this life.” The click, taps started back up and faded away. Again, I was alone. Just me and a stage that was no longer comfortable for my feet.

He was right, of course. I was no actress, but had taught myself how to be over the past six years. Do I even know how to be authentic anymore? I’ve been so busy striving, so busy pretending. It’s been so much easier to just perform for men and women instead of walk out in the reality of who I am: a woman that doesn’t know Christ nearly as much as she lets on. How was I supposed to be real with that? I mean, I’m about to be a lifegroup leader. I’m a discipler. I’ve got to have it all together, or at least pretend like I do. People are watching!

My performance, though impressive, has been a front. I have been content with pretending to know Jesus and knowing Him from a distance, which, of course, isn’t really knowing Him at all. Come to find out, an actress cannot truly encounter a very genuine God without first bowing out.

I don’t know how to be fully real and I don’t honestly know who my Jesus is. And, I’ve just got to. I’ve just got to.

There, now. The curtains are closing. The seats are empty. My heart is tired. The bulb in the spotlight has burned out. And I’m getting the hell off this stage.

for the weary ones

On April 16th, 2015, the Lord gave me a new name. And I didn’t want it. “You are Leah,” He said. I wanted to pretend like I didn’t hear Him. I’ve longed for Him to rename me like He has done with a few of my friends, but that’s not the name I wanted. Their names translate into beautiful truths like “My delight is in her” or “My beloved one,” but Leah? No. I didn’t want to be Leah.

Leah means “wearied one.”

I didn’t want it. I didn’t want to claim that. Tired tears rolled down my cheeks, but I pretended like they weren’t there. I wanted to rest in my denial, but I couldn’t, not anymore. There’s no rest in pretending. And, as it turns out, I’ve been pretending for a long time. So, weary? Yes. I am. But, it wasn’t until the God who told the stars to exist renamed me that I finally understood the root of the fatigue in my soul.

I’ve always known a little about Leah. She was the older sister to Rachel, given away to Jacob as a trick. You see, he wanted to marry Rachel, the beautiful sister, but instead found that he had been deceived into marrying the ugly one. He worked for an additional seven years so that he could finally be with the one he originally longed for, and it happened. They ended up together, too. And that’s all I really knew of the story. I thought Leah was insignificant in light of her younger sister, so I never paid much attention to her. Until now, that is. Now that I’ve been told I, too, am Leah.

For the past few days, I’ve been dealing with the hurt that accompanied the enlightenment of my new name. “Did You really name me after the ugly sister?” I whimpered. “Are my attempts to convince myself that I’m pretty totally futile? Are You admitting that I am not beautiful?” Again, with the tired tears. My whole life, I have struggled with believing that I am beautiful. Don’t all girls want to be? My younger sister is breathtaking and I’ve always been painfully aware of her beauty. In high school, my closest friends were gorgeous, popular, and desired. To be real, I was none of these. I was just there–present, but not seen. For my college years, I’ve been surrounded by powerful, stunning women of the Lord. They are all physically beautiful. “Fierce,” I sometimes say. Every eye is on them when we walk into a room. I see the way they’re noticed for their beauty. I see the way that I am not. Of course, it would be easy to read this and decide it’s being written out of self-pity or with an ulterior motive to receive compliments. You can choose to believe that’s why I’m writing this, if you want. But, for the Leahs that may be reading this, I know this resonates with you, deeply. So, this is for you. For us.

Since being given a new name, I’ve been doing an in-depth study on the biblical person of Leah. I had to know why this is who the Lord named me after; why I am so weary. So, starting from the beginning [Genesis 29:15-35], we see that, though Leah had delicate, or tender, eyes, Rachel was indeed “more beautiful of form and appearance.” Her beauty drew Jacob to her, but he was tricked into marrying Leah and angry because of it. He did not want or love her. He wanted the beautiful sister. For me, I can so easily imagine how unwanted Leah must have felt. I can see it now, the sisters transitioning into young women and the increasing awareness that Rachel was so much prettier. To me, it makes sense that Leah would use this reality to become a woman that strives and works hard to be loved like her sister was. And that’s what she did. In verses 31 & 32, it’s written that the Lord opened Leah’s womb for she was unloved by Jacob. She gives birth to a son and believes that, surely, her husband will love her now. But, after having another son and yet another, we see that Leah is still hoping Jacob will love her, implying that her striving has been in vain–he, still, does not want her.

Reading all of this, I suddenly understood the weariness. For years and years and years, I have worked towards becoming like the people around me. For every moment I felt inadequate, I would counter that with a moment of striving. I would laugh like her, act interested in the things that interested him, speak up when I should have been quiet, and made myself noticeable so I wouldn’t be overlooked. If I can’t make myself more beautiful, I will make sure I am well-liked. But, I am just tired. My bones ache. My heart is trembling from the exhaustion of my pointless pursuit. Leah? She was not physically beautiful, no. She was unloved because of it. But there’s more to her story. Despite her not being wanted, she was fiercely loyal and fought for her marriage. She knew Jacob did not love her, but she was very aware of Who did. “The Lord has looked upon my affliction… He has heard that I am unloved… Now I will praise the Lord.” Leah was a woman who had her eyes fixed on the God who gave her purpose. She stopped striving for love and took a position of praise, instead.

I am Leah, and it hurts less now. Maybe you’re Leah, too. That’s good. Let’s find ourselves on our knees with thankfulness because of it. We are seen and known and loved by the One who our eyes should be fixed on. Wearied ones, take heart. Sit down. Breathe in, breathe out. We don’t have to strive. You don’t have to strive. I don’t have to strive. With hearts secured by His love, we can finally rest.

stilled & stirred

I am terrified of healing. I am scared of addressing my wounds. I am apprehensive of the unknown that beckons me. (How’s that for an intro?)

Every day, a new hurt is brought to the surface of my heart. And, every day, I am shocked by the things I’ve suppressed. Is the state of my heart really that much worse than what I thought? Am I that broken, Jesus? That tattered and worn? I thought I was whole.

The more I recognized my need for healing, the more I backed away. If I ignore it, it’s not a problem, right? Wrong. So wrong. Because, the truth is, life is not always kind. And life is not always sweet. Sure, it is right now. I am in a new and hopeful season, but the Lord is not letting me off the hook. Some of the punches life has thrown at me left lasting impressions. Jesus sees that, and He wants to grow me. That reality makes my bones quake, guys. It makes me want to hide from Him.

I wish I had been there, at the beginning of creation. When the spirit of the Lord hovered over the waters, I wish I had been on a sailboat, right in the middle of it. Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide, no fear of drowning in the lies that had been an anchor for me. But, I wasn’t there. I don’t have a boat, and I’m terrified of letting my head dip below the surface.

I’m not alone in this, am I? Surely, surely, I am not the only human standing on the shore of the unknown, watching the salty sea flirt with her toes. Tell me, are we standing together? Is the water too cold, too alive for you as well? Baby, we’re missing out, I think. In fact, I am very sure we are.

Over the past six months or so, the Lord has been knocking on the cathedral-style door to my heart. “I know you’re in there,” He’s whispered as He leaned His forehead against the old wood. “You’re scared and hiding, but I am good and here. Won’t you open up? Won’t you let Me in?” Many times, I would just stand on the other side, not making a sound. I could hear the crashing of waves on that side He stood on. I could smell the salt, imagine the glassy sea. But, at the beckoning of adventure, I found myself choking on the fear that held me, keeping me silent. And then, one day, I pressed my back against the door and answered Him. “I know You’re there, and I know You’ve been waiting for awhile. But, oh my God, I have wounds that I’m worried run deeper than Your love for me, deeper than the waters that know Your voice. If I open this door, it won’t be pretty. Don’t You know how dirty I am? How afraid? I have turned these hurts into the clothes that are on my back, and they have become a part of me. I am too far gone for healing.”

I have spent many days and many nights, terrified of the place healing would bring me to. I would be exposed, vulnerable. I would have to completely remove that door to my heart and let the winds of His love wreck every corner. Like a fisherman overwhelmed by the weight of his catch, I would have to drop my safety net. Could I loosen my grip long enough to let go? And if I could, what was I supposed to do with these now empty hands?

Too long. Too long, I have let fear motivate me. Fear of past and future abusers; fear of abandonment and rejection; fear of the unknown that will inevitably meet me in the midst of healing. And as I open the door and step onto the sand, I now know that my portion lies only in the bloodied hands of Christ. “I will lead you by still waters,” He reminds me [Psalm 23:2]. “I will quiet you & all of your fears with My love [Zephaniah 3:17].” These empty hands are learning to hold on to His promises, my steps being established, even as I go deeper into both stilled and stirred waters.

So, yeah. I am scared to admit that I need healing, but I will. Because, as each wound is addressed, I am reminded that everything that has happened to me is for the furtherance of the gospel. I was not alone then and I am not alone now.

Why am I writing this? Honestly, I’m just here to word vomit. But, while I’m at it, let me ask you a question: what’s keeping you from going deeper? What heartache is demanding your affections? What fears, your heart? Scripture says that the Lord is our portion in the land of the living [Psalm 142:5], and as I’m called further into the process of being made whole, I can see no other truth than that. Do you believe it? Are you willing to empty those shaking hands?

“…being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” || Philippians 1:6

to whom it may concern

Breathe in, breathe out. Head up. Soft smile.

Hello, 2015. You give me hope and apprehension, all at the same time.

I’m not usually the “New Years Resolutions” type, but something about today has caught me being rather reflective. Maybe it’s because 2014 chewed me up, spit me out, and then came back for seconds. (And thirds. And fourths.) Or, maybe it’s because, in the process of being eaten alive, everything that once made me who I am had to take a hike and release my heart from its grasp. I didn’t quite become empty; just, new. I’ve got a blank slate to work with.

I guess what I’m trying to say is this: I am not the same woman that I was a year ago. I don’t look the same, think the same, feel the same, or speak the same. I am passionate about different things, and whole in places I never thought would know that kind of peace again. I feel as though many reflections upon oneself are sad, but make no mistake: these words are being typed by someone who is rejoicing for the change.

A year from now, I want to look back and know that I didn’t stop here; that this new person I am now continued to grow and learn and feel and simply become. So, this is a letter to myself and to who I will be in 365 days. Maybe you can make this your own, as well.

Hey, loved one.

How are you? I hope you’re well. No, I hope you’re brilliant. Because, let’s be honest, you’re not always dealt the brilliant moments in this grand adventure we call life, are you? (But, to be fair, who is?) Anyways, I hope that this very moment for you is spectacular. If it’s anything like this moment is for me, you’re reflecting on all of the ways you’ve grown this past year. There better be tears in those eyes of yours, because this is something worth crying about.

I’ve got very high expectations for the person you are now, you know. I’ve spent several days dreaming about what 2015 will mold you into, and, as you read about them here, I pray you’re nodding and smiling and laughing at how ridiculous this letter might be. And that’s okay. We’ve always liked ridiculous. So, let’s get right to it, shall we?

I hope you look more like Jesus. I mean, I know that not every single aspect will be a mirror image, and I know that heart of yours isn’t quite whole. But I hope every second of every day is consumed by this one thought: “How can I become more Christlike?” In 2014, you were introduced to the magnitude of that question and had just started to scratch the surface of discovering the heart of the Father. Now, I hope you can smile that crooked soft smile of yours and say, “I think I’m starting to get it.” I hope people can look at you and see Him. I hope they talk to you and hear Him. I hope His name is made known to each person you meet. That’s your mission, your calling. And, I hope you are more passionate about it, every day.

I hope you have trekked to the top of the mountain that we call “FEAR” and declared that you are no longer bound by its chains. My prayer, dear girl, is that bravery has made an everlasting home in your bones, because it was always supposed to live there. Always. Life is terrifying, but you are not so easily swayed by strong winds and raging seas, not anymore. I hope that, now, you don’t even hesitate when you step out onto the water.

I hope you haven’t forgotten that 2014 was the year your heart was truly and properly broken. That will always be important for you to remember, because it was in the midst of heartache that you bloomed. Like a desert flower being soaked by its first rain, you bloomed. Nothing ever prepares us for that kind of hurt, but Jesus was so faithful. Do you remember? He was there on the floor that you collapsed onto, and He was the one that coaxed you to stand back up when it was time. You stood up as a different girl, too. You rose from those ashes, stronger and healthier and more whole than you had ever been in your entire life. That’s what happens when you’re thrown at the cross, of course. You don’t come away the same. And, while we’re on this subject, I hope you’re much better than me at placing your dependency on Christ rather than the imperfect love of a man. I am still trying to figure out how to be a young woman that doesn’t let rejection slow her down, as well as a woman that is content with the Lord’s timing. I’m terrible at it, of course. I fall easily and have yet to be fortunate enough to meet someone that is willing to catch me. And, though I’m aware it’s not the end of the world, it’s still so hard. So, I hope you’re better at it, by now. I hope you are so much more patient than I could ever even dream of being.

I hope you’re more selfless and graceful and fierce in the ways that you love. Seriously. When opportunities to serve present themselves, you better be the first to say, “Here I am.” When someone wrongs you, please be the kingdom-seeking woman that forgives without a second thought. When there is love to be given, I hope you are the one that gives it, freely. This what I want for you. I want you to walk out the love you’ve received and use it to breathe life into broken and dark places. You have always been set aside as a light, babe. I hope you’re brighter now than you ever have been in this chaotic life you’ve been given.

Lastly, I hope you are still letting yourself feel things. I know it hurts. I know you are burdened by the way your heart works. I know you can’t help but love quickly & deeply. And, I know that it feels like a curse 99% of the time. That’s a lie. To feel anything, at all, is a gift. And what an honor it is to be given something as precious as the ability to empathize and see and hear and love and pursue and be intentional and forgive and hurt and break and give grace. Right now, I don’t do any of it perfectly. But I am learning that feeling everything is not bad, and I think that’s a pretty good start. I sincerely hope that by the time you read this, a lot of progress has been made on that front.

There’s so much I hope for you. For me. I can’t even begin to fit it all into this letter, but I pray I won’t have to. Anyways, I hope you’re at peace with who you are and who you’re becoming and where you’ve been and where you’re going. There are some pretty big mountains ahead of you, but you’ve always liked hiking. See you on the other side.

Much love,

Me