For the days when you want to be anywhere but here.

Mama said there would be days like this. But sometimes days turn into weeks and weeks into months and one day his or her comment will all but push you over the edge, and you'll walk in the front door a crying mess. You'll wonder what in the world you were thinking saying yes to something like this, and if you had only known, you would have politely said thank you, but no thank you. You dread the emails, the phone calls, the well meant inquiries from people who know you've struggled just to make it through the day, because let's be honest, you're still struggling just to make it through the day, and to even think about what tomorrow may hold is enough to make you want to walk out the door without so much as a goodbye or it was nice knowing you.

There will be days like this, my mama said, when it seems like nothing you do is good enough, but the world keeps tacking things onto your to do list like it's no big thing; like your whole life revolves around making them happy, no matter how thinly you've spread yourself. Never mind that you have a home and a family and its everything that you can do just to keep it together under the weight of all the responsibility.

Hot liquid salt will roll like tiny raging grief tsunamis, and the truth is, all you want is to just be better: a better wife, a better friend, a better daughter, a better sister, a better homemaker. Some days the should be's and the have to be's and the need to be's choke the life from the truth of who you were created to be.

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You were never meant to carry the weight of the world. The stanzas of a familiar old tune recall that He's got the whole world in His hand. And if He's got the whole world, He's got you, because last time I checked, no one has ever survived floating around in space without oxygen or food or warmth. You are not a martian.

You might be in the wilderness. 

There's an old adage -- something about whatever God leads you to, He will bring you through. He never leaves you where He found you. The wilderness is God's slow cooker, and perhaps the only way to reach the finish line is to come to the altar with our rawness, our readiness to be seasoned with what He is preparing to teach us on the journey.

The people who tell you that this life with Jesus is easy are lying. They're the ones who could never expose their broken parts. With or without Jesus, this life will break you. With or without Jesus, you will spend a night writhing in tears on the kitchen floor because everything has fallen apart and you don't know how you got here or how to put your life back together again. With or without Jesus, you will be broken, but when you're walking through the wilderness with Christ, love and grace and joy and peace and hope are what shine through the cracks. When you walk through the wilderness with Christ, the pain is never wasted.

It isn't ever that He has caused the pain, no, our brokenness breaks the very heart of God. And so the Word became flesh and came down into all of our wildernesses and said I am the Way. I have given you purpose, I have gone before you, I know what you were created for...

a life of abundance.

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This wilderness? It only lasts for a moment. The wilderness is where we learn to live radical trust, the wilderness is where we learn surrender. The wilderness reminds us that comfort doesn't come from temporal things, but an eternal Person. This place only exists as a reminder that the world is not our home.

 

Everything.

I am quietly reminded tonight of the words of the Father (the Hope, the Good One,) who says “everything I have is yours.” What amazing grace, to live in light of this. He who clothes the lilies and feeds every bird of the air and beast of the earth gave of His very essence to make a way for me. As I sit in the dark, joy silently fills my cup beyond the brim. Peace, strength, wisdom, love, dignity, freedom, victory, truth, every providence is mine. The beauty of the altar is that one might come to be emptied and filled. In the presence of God, there is fullness of joy. What can heal this sickness, fill the cracks, mend the wound, mitigate the distance and dissonance. I crave more of Christ and less of me. I feel the quiet coming, and though it creeps slowly, it is certain. This peace that passes a feeble understanding that was never meant to be a foundation. My bones thirst for it, surrounded by the winter, the promise of what is new coming to life. “Behold, I am doing a new thing,” says the Lord. The earth is not worried. The very rocks know His name. Not my will, but Yours. God will be good. He will fulfill His promise.

When I think of the bare nakedness of winter, the notion that I can simply breathe in peace is overwhelming. What must it look like to exist fully within grace, to move with all the authority of heaven, everything that belongs to a King Creator? All the residual anxiety leads me to rush to fill the gaps of silence. But He is not in the emergency of the earthquake. He is not in the consuming rush of the blaze. He is in the still and small whisper, inviting me into the moment, beckoning me to come and lay down all that makes me heavy, leaving it to the light of His grace. How much more does the Father long to be gracious to His children, whom He conceived for the simple pleasure of communion. These are the green pastures and the still waters, even in the dead of winter. Manna in a frozen desert. Every single moment, wrapped up in the quiet fullness of joy. Though there are no leaves on the trees, though our skeletons shake in the wind, not my will, but Yours.

Like the earth, I must begin again, here in the quiet space between what is known and what remains hidden to the moment. Here, where I am called to be still. Here, where there is boundless mercy, relentless grace. Here, where everything is made beautiful in its time. Here, where there is fullness of joy.

Selah.

Namesake.

Somewhere along the way, my soul must have known what it meant to worship. My name tells me that I am consecrated to God. Consecrated: made and declared sacred, set apart with the dedication of service. Consecrated: to change the elements of bread and wine into the Eucharist. I never knew my name could be so full, and I think to myself that it is nearly ridiculous. A full name for an empty person, a person with holes and scars and bags under the eyes and white knuckles. To say that my life as I know it is unfit for such a definition would be an understatement. I once told a friend that the times in my life that I have wanted to die have been brought about by the exhaustion from the cycle of brokenness. He told me that perseverance is the willingness to cooperate and remain under pressure. How does a vessel full of cracks truly withstand pressure? How do I truly open my hands to this God who leads me to walk through the trials of the fire, not only receiving that which he gives, but also releasing all of the best laid plans that I cling desperately to? How do I look even death in the face, and plead “not my will, but Yours?” My life has been shaped by an instability which has fertilized and germinated a monstrous anxiety. The enemy is so much greater than me.

No - greater is he that is in me, that drives me, that loves me, the one I am consecrated to. That is the promise. I believe, but help my unbelief. Has there ever been a more honest prayer? There are parts of myself that I don’t really want to hand over, but they only drown with me when I take my eyes away from the one who came to redefine this life. After all this time, I still do not understand what it means to truly be, and let that be enough. I don’t trust this God who tells me that I don’t have to do anything but exist in order to merit his truest, unfathomable affection. Surely, I must have to live up to some obscene level of expectation. And every other graceless standard leaves me entirely alone and full of self loathing.

I’ve written a lot of freedom and the cessation of striving, but that never meant I knew how to make that happen. Simply knowing about someone was never enough to make them personal. Can I really be sustained on what I do not know? What love the Father must have, to allow me to trade my brokenness for daily bread, to lay myself aside and see each moment for what it truly is - an opportunity to react fully and well to the truth of who he is every day. He is still the God who makes a way where there is none. He is not asleep at the wheel. The refuge of his presence  is never hidden from me.

Yes, I believe, but help me in my unbelief. Help me to untangle myself from the lies and pick up the pieces of my brokenness. Grace, help me last another day, and give me just enough strength to pick up the tools to lay the foundation.

So be it.