Deeper Story

better days

As 2014 drew to a close, I was more than ready to be done with it. It was a hard year, a challenging year, and I wanted nothing more than to kick it to the curb.

But that thought was always quickly followed by this one:

January 1st doesn't bring with it a clean slate and a fresh start like we imagine it does.

I know, I know, I know... My cynicism is flaring up big time. But it's true, isn't it? When the ball drops at midnight on the 31st, the troubles and horrors and heartaches of the year don't miraculously vanish like the monster under the bed does when we turn on the bedroom light.

Nope. Waking up on the first morning of the first day of the first month of the new year is really no different than waking up on the last morning of the last day of the last month of the old year. Nothing really changes when we start the new calendar.

Sad. But true.

Yet we hold fast the idea that there is hope and promise in each January 1st. There's a symbol there that we refuse to let go of—a symbol of change and do-overs and redemption...

And maybe the mirage alone is enough.

Maybe the symbolism carries a sort of placebo effect. Maybe it's exactly what we need to keep putting one foot in front of the other. The hope of better days burns brightest at the start of the new year, and the warmth and light it provides is genuine...even when it comes packaged in a sugar pill.

The new dawn doesn't necessarily signal the end of our Dark Night, but it hits an internal reset button nonetheless. So I'm allowing myself to embrace that, and not letting my jaded heart disregard the sacred significance of the moment.

For all of us who were ready to scrap 2014, I'm shaking off my cynicism and raising my mimosa glass:

To new beginnings, necessary endings, unexpected joys, light breaking, dreams realized, hope restored, and unforeseen love.

But mostly... To better days.

Originally posted on A Deeper Story »

when none of it mattered

I've spent the past few years in a spiritual detox.

In my lifetime, I've heard more sermons than one could ever possibly need, and I've read more Christian books than anyone should ever read. I've done the Sunday-morning-Sunday-night-plus-Wednesday-evening church service thing. I've memorized the verses. I've had the Romans Road and Four Spiritual Laws and Spanish plan of salvation down pat. I've prayer-walked, mission-tripped, youth-grouped, See-Ya-At-The-Poled, 40-day-fasted, preached-and-teached. Baptism? Check. Tongues? Check. Slain in the Spirit (modesty cloth and all)? Check. I've kissed dating goodbye, been a missionary, gotten ordained, run a ministry, and been a pastor's wife (whatever that really means).

Hell, I've even won a Best Christian Witness trophy. (Heh.) (But seriously, I did.)

And when, at 30-something, my entire life fell apart? None of that mattered. None of it.

All that I'd done, all that I'd learned, all that I'd believed, couldn't spare me from the worst pain and deepest heartaches and greatest losses. It couldn't spare me from it, and it didn't comfort me in it.

None of it mattered.

The verses and worship songs and experiences that previously made God feel close, bolstered my faith, and left me feeling held, no longer did. They didn't carry me like they used to. I didn't find solace or strength or support in them anymore.

But there in The Great Sadness, with my heart stripped bare, I discovered God was still undeniably by my side. In the vast darkness, when He wasn't visible at all, and in the boundless sorrow, when I couldn't feel Him at all, and in the deafening quiet, when He wasn't speaking at all, I curiously never felt abandoned (at least not by Him anyway). Even when He felt far, He was still right there in the struggle and sadness and silence with me. Just Him, without all the other religious frills.

Thus began my spiritual detox.

Burned out on church and ministry and Christian leadership, I steered clear of anything that smelled like corporate Christianity for a good long while.

I quit church, stopped reading my Bible, gave up on any real semblance of a prayer life — and you know what? He was big enough to take it. His feelings weren't hurt when I spoke words of doubt instead of faith. He didn't mind when I cried rather than worshipped. He is God enough to handle this human heart of mine. He didn't scold me; He didn't heap "shoulds" or shame on me; He didn't tell me He only helps those who help themselves. 

He just sat in The Great Sadness with me.

As I've emerged out the other side, I've done so with a very different faith. With changed eyes. With an altered heart. The certainty of my faith gave way to uncertainty. Question marks replaced the periods. And yet, I've found a sweet intimacy in the wrestling.  I've discovered a depth of faith that is laced with unbelief.

Breaking my spiritual detox is a slow process. I've only recently returned to church, and — for right now — that's enough. Most Sundays demand a whole lot of bravery to walk, alone, through those doors. So I acknowledge the significance of this seemingly-small step, and I actively work to silence the nagging to-do lists of my former breed of faith.

I'm learning to be content with just sitting here for now — in The Sadness or otherwise — with the God I both question and believe.

Originally posted at A Deeper Story »

just a girl

I'm just a girl.
Standing in front of a boy
Asking him to love her.

We were watching Notting Hill again, this time with our staff team on a getaway weekend. It was near the end—of both the movie and our marriage.

After over a year of him denying the relationship I knew existed, he'd grown brazen and shameless. All day, among our small group of friends, he'd been laughing, joking, whispering, and ostentatiously flirting with her. He couldn't walk by her without touching her arm, flipping her hair, making some flirty remark. I kept looking around, hoping to catch someone else's look of surprise, shock, or horror at what was going on, but he'd long since established that this was just their level of friendship. No one even questioned it or raised an eyebrow.

And then that night, we all sat there, crowded into the rented bungalow's living room, watching Notting Hill. And when it got to that scene at the end? I lost my stuff.  Tears came. And they just kept coming. I finally excused myself and left the room.


I'm just a girl.
Standing in front of a boy
Asking him to love her.

But he refused.

After a decade together, he'd chosen someone else to love instead. His "I do" became "I don't," and he cruelly went so far as to say "I never really did." He turned words into a weapon and declared that he'd never loved me at all, but I know that can't be true.

For all our challenges, and all the hard times, and all the disastrous ways things went wrong in the end, there was a hell of lot of love between us for a hell of a long time. The love had undeniably been in his eyes, in his laugh, in the way we held onto each other through frightening and heartbreaking times. There was love, this I know. So I refuse to believe the hurtful, hateful sentiment he threw at me on his way out of our marriage.

Try as he might, our history could not be rewritten, discarded, or ignored. Whether he likes it or not, he's taken it with him into his new-now and into his surrogate future, just like I have. And I know I am (mostly) better for it.

I'm just a girl.
Standing in front of a boy
Asking him to love her.

With a terrifying sense of deja vu, I find myself there again—looking a man-turned-boy in the eyes and pleading to be loved. What is it that makes me grovel for what should be freely given? I'm still working out that equation—and many more—but I'm not sure I'll ever find the answers despite my best efforts at long division.



I finally excuse myself and leave the room.

Originally published at A Deeper Story. 
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