Tag Archives: Grace

The Year of Dessert First

All my friends have been posting photos of their year from Facebook. I’ve always been more of a words person, so here is my year in words.

photo

I didn’t write much this year. I started out 2014 unemployed and depressed, scared that I may never want to write again. While at first this terrified me, I found God whispering something new to me, in the midst of my own silence.

Live My love story.

I started this blog a few years back specifically to “Write My Love Story,” to share the story of God’s audacious love in my life. I didn’t know how to experience God apart from writing. Writing is prayer. Writing is life. For me, at least.

But I’d lost writing. And, consequently, it felt like I lost God.

In this year of silence. Of words not typed out on pages or scribbled across receipts. I lost my writing, but I found I didn’t lose me.

I don’t have to write for my life to be real. For my prayers to be real. I don’t have to write at all to be a person. To be loved. To have worth.

The life can just be mine. The thoughts just mine.

If I had to pick a title for my year, I would call it “The Year of Dessert First.” Not that I skipped all the healthy things or the hard work, but it’s been a year of grace, where first accepting the dessert, the gifts, the grace, leads to health and wholeness, recovery. 

Processed with VSCOcam with m3 preset

I could list all of my accomplishments of 2014: starting a graduate program in Linguistics, teaching a university level course, securing myself a boyfriend. But those are just the outside trappings. I stand back almost bewildered that this is my life now. I did nothing to deserve this. To earn this. And that’s the beauty of it.

When I look back on my year, the moments I cherish most, the feats I’m most proud of have nothing to do with a college acceptance letter or my relationship status.

I’m proud that I persevered. That I continued with counseling even when it seemed nothing was improving. That I started a grad program even though I had no idea if I would have enough energy to even get out of bed in the morning, let alone do homework or attend classes. I’m proud that I had the privilege to invest in the lives of Alzheimer’s patients as a caregiver in a last ditch employment attempt. I’m proud that I traveled to Israel and Palestine and let everyday peacemakers teach me something about grace. I’m proud of the moments I let my friends in, let them cry with me, sit with me, mourn with me and hope with me.

With my boyfriend, I’m not boastful in my relationship status, but deeply moved by what he’s taught me about grace and self-acceptance. I’m thankful for every moment he makes me feel that I am enough. Just as I am.

I feel resurrected.

This woman of words is at a loss to express the healing that’s taken place. The peace I know.

That phrase from the song, In Christ Alone, seems to say it best:

What heights of love, what depths of peace,

            when fears are stilled, when strivings cease!

There’s a contentment within me that I never imagined possible. Not because I worked my ass off for self-love and self-acceptance as I have in the past. In fact, I didn’t try at all. And I think that’s the best medicine a recovering perfectionist can encounter. And I don’t mean this as a formula. Not a how-to-get-over-depression-and-love-yourself DIY manual. But as my story of God’s undeniable grace in my life this year.

10525977_768235618144_1507728508712168670_n

grace from the disgrace

beauty from the ashes.

stillness to dancing.

And so I enter 2015, happily dancing and enjoying dessert.

Tagged , , ,

A still, small lantern of rising hopes

Sunday night. The sun had dipped below the clouds and the volcano, painting the sky darker and darker shades of gray as the minutes passed by until I was left, book light and journal in hand, in the calm, dark air.

I can’t say why, but I felt the call. I heard a voice that said to wait, to stop, to put away the cell phone and the computer and the distractions, to ditch trivia night and salsa dancing, and step out on the terrace and just be.

IMG_2301

 “Go out and stand on the [terrace] in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”

Soon the lightening started and the dazzling flashes bounced off the clouds and the silhouette of the volcano.

I’d been avoiding it: Reflecting. Writing. Reviewing. Examining.

I’d been examining my life much like a flash of lightening—quickly and briefly and unsustained.

If I really examined my life, I’d be disappointed, I feared. I thought by now my Spanish would be better and my friendships deeper. I thought I’d feel awake and alive and adventurous. Instead, most times, I feel lonely and small. Disconnected and disconcerted.

So I’ve been numbing, tuning out, taking the insight to change like a flash of lightening, here one minute in radiant glory, back in stagnant darkness the next.

I sat a few moments more, breathing in the cool air and reviewing my journal from the last four months, scared of what I would find—or of the changes and growth and life I wouldn’t find.

220px-Spider-Firework-Omiya-Japan

And then the fireworks started. No kidding. Not just little homemade things, but Disneyland caliber explosions boomed and sizzled against the twilight sky. Like the dramatic adventure I thought my life would be. And in the darkness between bursts, weeping willow shapes burned against the canvas of the sky, burned into my brain—the remnants of the dreams I once saw so clearly—the adventure, the learning, the restoration of joy. Quick and bright and burning, and then darkness.

And then the show was over. Back to silence. Back to breathing.

And then, as if a lightening show and fireworks were not enough for one night, a tiny Japanese lantern–just one–with its silent, soft flame ascended into the sky, past my terrace over the rooftops and away into the distance.

A small, sustained light of rising hope.

I’ve got say He pulled out all the stops to point me to the miracle, the magic. To help me realize not in a flash of understanding, but in a slowly burning brighter and brighter awareness that this was a holy moment, a magic night, a sacred space, a sacred life.

That He is here. That His voice is the one that calls with love and grace.

And when I open not just my journal, but my heart to the feelings I’ve buried deep within, to the hopes and fears and disappointments, when I finally have the courage to stop and be honest, be real, be present—He will meet me in those moments.

I don’t have to listen to the lies and the cries anymore that say:

Don’t be alone.

Don’t think.

Don’t stop.

If you stop, the guilt, the sadness, the loneliness, the regrets will engulf you.

“BUT THAT IS NOT TRUE”, the still small voice said as the lantern climbed into the sky.

lantern

“If you stop–stop your striving, your avoiding and distracting and numbing–if you stop before me,

IT IS GRACE THAT WILL ENGULF YOU.”

Not guilt. Not shame. Not a voice of condemnation. But my love and grace.

And it caught me between my ribs, a pinch, a pulse, and it burned throughout my being, rose up to my heart, my hopes.

I am loved. There is nothing but grace for me, nothing but hope.

I can’t help but write it say it shout it share it.

He spoke Love. He rekindled my heart. Stirred my hopes.

Not in the flashing lightening.

Not in the roar of fireworks.

But with a still, small lantern of rising hopes, glowing softly in the inky sky.

***

Have you ever experienced an invitation to stop and be engulfed by grace?

 

Tagged , , , , , ,