Hope

10888478_10203590246578826_910944565872039823_n Be strong, I thought as I silently scolded my quivering voice. Deep breath. Don’t you dare let those eyes water.

“I’m sorry this is your story,” I said to my 13 year-old.

“I’m sorry this is your story, too,” he replied.

My goodness, how does he do this? How does he balance between childhood one minute and manhood the next? I was trying to comfort him, and he let his tenderness spill out, flowing right toward me like a stream I wasn’t expecting.

We were talking about nothing life-threatening. Nothing that would look tragic to someone on the outside. To us, though, the ache we whispered about, the pain that was reaching both our hearts, was real. It was a simple conversation in the car that suddenly turned intimate.


And here we all are — well into the second half of 2015. I had intentions of taking a seat at the table again as we approached mid-year. July 1. It would be a Happy New Year and a Half post, full of reflection and challenge and grace as we pondered where we all were on December 31, 2014… and what we were hoping for on January 1.

But sometimes you literally can’t find words. Sometimes you must wait for your mind and heart to intersect again, in what you know and believe to be true, before you bring words into the equation. And as hard as it is to give yourself grace in the silence, sometimes it’s your season to be quiet. When you can’t find clarity within, it’s certainly hard to join the conversation again — especially that cyber one.

I remember back to last New Year’s Eve. I was weary, carrying burdens that really weren’t mine to carry. I was in the company of dear friends and slipped away for a moment, succumbing to social media numbing myself with social media. And somehow, I stumbled upon this photo of a street called “Hope” victoriously giving direction through the brokenness.

This will be my story in 2015, I determined. I am choosing Hope. A picture says a thousand words, and this would be my voice. So I boldly posted and shared this photo of Hope personified. Thank goodness we can’t see the future, for if we did, we’d be constant cynics.


“They’re really struggling,” I said to my husband recently.

“Who isn’t?!” he replied. It wasn’t said in disgust, but almost in a comforting tone.

I read between the lines. He was speaking truth again. We’re not lone victims, Christan. Our chapters read differently, but we’re all surrounded with the reality that we were made for a different Place.

We’re all kind of aching for something that doesn’t exist here, yes?


Another school year’s about to start. And you know what a whirlwind fall is, as we hold on tightly and watch life quickly unfold into new stories. It’s easy for me, come August, to mentally place myself in the autumn cool and the bustling holidays and another calendar year coming to a close. We blink, and what in the world?! We’re already Christmas shopping after stocking up on pencils and glue sticks and notebooks galore.

But this year I’m choosing to mentally place myself half-way through 2015. Seven months down, five to go. Am I still clinging to Hope? Watch closely, I am preparing something new; it’s happening now, even as I speak, and you’re about to see it. I am preparing a way through the desert; Waters will flow where there had been none. Isaiah 43:19

I’m still so thirsty, and I’m really needing those streams in my desert. I look at my friends, my dear community near and far, and they’re choking on broken relationships and cancer and parenting aches and racial inequity and loneliness and mental illness and more. They need grace to wash it all down. My friends — those I hold dear have carried quite a bit in 2015.

And if I’m not careful, I start doubting in my mind what I know to be true in my heart… I am preparing a way through the desert; Waters will flow where there had been none. 

But in the voice of a child, or in a young teenager this time, I’m reminded that I am seen, and those I love are not forgotten, and Hope really does rise boldly out of the rubble.

“I’m sorry it’s your story, too, Mom.” You see, I was resenting the fact that sometimes you just can’t protect your kids, and out of nowhere, I drank in empathy. And tenderness. And I saw facets of God’s character I had been ignoring.

Whatever it was you were hoping for on January 1, let yourself go back to that place. My intentions are not always yours, explains the Author, and I do not go about things as you do. My thoughts and My ways are above and beyond you… My word will go out and not return to Me empty, but it will do what I wanted; it will accomplish what I determined. Isaiah 55:8-11

And hope will never fail to satisfy our deepest need because the Holy Spirit that was given to us has flooded our hearts. Romans 5:5

Cheers.

When the Journey Gets A Little Complicated

cobblestone

I walk the uneven path, the one that taunts with ice in winter and weeds in spring.

You’ve walked it, too, I think.

The only way to avoid the fragments is to stand still.  But sometimes walking through the ugly is easier than pausing and taking it all in.

I must keep going, for if I rest and ponder, reality will overwhelm.  And it won’t feel like rest at all.  Where’s the rest for the heart?

I was made to journey, and the pull of my soul toward eternity is insatiable.  Is there no other way to the dawn of forever?  No other story written for me?

I take another step, looking down.  I have to see the brokenness.  I have to feel it under me, for as ugly as it is, the fragments are my story.

And what’s living when you avoid what’s true? What type of life jumps ahead to the epilogue, refusing to read the tainted chapters pointing toward redemption? Refusing to reconcile the broken?

To move forward, you must see the ugly.  Must study it.  Must read it over and over again to understand what you’d initially rather ignore.

Ignorance is bliss.  But it’s not wholeness.  

Some days, or even weeks, I crave the shallow perfection and find an empty rhythm.  I ignore my path’s cracks and ponder everyone else’s.  It’s safer to judge or clean up someone else’s mess than look at your own.

But the masked fragments, the broken edges — they just grow more drama.  And they foster weeds so strong, they’ll choke you when you’re not looking.  They’ll choke you when you are.

I beg the Rescuer to smooth it all out, to even the path.

He won’t look away as He watches me from the edge of eternity with a gaze so intense I know I belong to Him.  His eyes smile, but his countenance is serious and strong and full of power, and I know in that moment He’s created me to walk on.

I shake my head as my eyes spill tears, and His eyes — they don’t stop smiling.  But His face is so, so strong and firm.  My fear and my grief don’t change Him.  My longing doesn’t change His countenance of peace.  Or His intensity.

He nods — ever so slightly — and I step forward.  His gaze pulls me on and whispers, “The ending will find fulfillment only when the fragments come together.”

And in that moment I remember.  This is My body that’s broken for you.

How quickly I forget.  He’s choked on bitterness and judgment and confusion before.  His broken body hung in fragments, and it haunts my thoughts. I forgot.  My goodness, I forgot for a moment.

What’s resurrection without the dying?  What’s redemption without the unraveling?  What’s everlasting peace without the broken, uneven path leading me there?

The Eternal sustains all who stumble on their way. For those who are broken down, God is near. He raises them up in hope.  Psalm 145:14

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