Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Sticks and Stones may Break my Bones

But words will break my heart (a bit more honest, no?).  I wonder at what age we realize that the schoolyard taunt is completely wrong.  I was a sensitive child (now a sensitive adult), so I'm sure I shed my fair share of tears over hurt feelings in elementary school.  But it wasn't until 6th grade that I realized just how deeply words can cut.  That particular offense isn't important, but for years afterward I could hear the hurtful words in my head every time I looked in the mirror.  Even now, some eighteen years later, I remember the sting.

There's a lot written about our "inner critic," that voice that constantly criticizes us (especially women, it seems) and tells us we're not good enough.  In my case, though, my inner critic doesn't make things up, it takes things that have actually been said to me or about me and taunts me with them endlessly.  I would give just about anything to erase the memories of harsh words, or at least erase the scars they cause.  But I know that I, too, have probably caused my own fair share of pain.  I can be sharp-tongued, and I was quite the smart-ass when I was younger.  If the words I mutter in secret (like my car) were ever made public, I would be mortified...and most people would be shocked. 

Unfortunately, no matter how many complimentary or encouraging things are said to us, we remember the insults more.  They stick with us seemingly forever, voicing themselves in vulnerable moments, whenever we most need to hear just the opposite.  Also unfortunately, our capacity to hurt and be hurt by words doesn't end when we graduate from high school.  In a weak (and supremely foolish and stupid) moment, I recently attempted to make peace with someone who hurt me.  The response I received was dismissive, contemptuous, and almost hateful.  It left me feeling worthless.  Unlike a flesh wound, it won't just heal over in a few days.  It's going to stick with me for a long time.  I would've preferred being ignored.

God is concerned with our tongues--out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.  Who we are is revealed by what we say.  And words are powerful--powerful to heal and powerful to destroy.

Thankfully, God doesn't believe I'm worthless.  Instead, He thinks I'm worth dying for.  My Creator, King and Savior has adopted me into His family, calls me His beautiful daughter, and loves me more than I can ever possibly believe.  I have His inheritance and His presence forevermore.  He knows everything about me; I am precious to Him.  He knit me together in my mother's womb.  He counts the hairs on my head.  His is a tender, passionate, jealous, gentle, powerful love.  A love that delights in me, quiets my restless heart and rejoices over me with singing.  A love that conquers all, even my deepest wounds.

Monday, July 25, 2011

What Happens After?

What happens after love has died and all that’s left are the scars?
What happens after the hurtful words have been heard?
What happens after the person you gave your heart to discards it like trash?
What happens after your dreams crumble?
What happens after the anger has dissolved and the tears have been shed?
What happens after you realize you lost yourself in someone else?

If I gave my heart away, am I now nothing but an empty shell?
Am I just a ghost of the girl who once was?

Or maybe…

Emptiness is the beginning of being filled.
The death of one dream means the birth of new ones.
The girl who lost herself can be found again.

My heart never belonged to me; it was always and still is the possession of the One who made it.

I can’t be put together unless I’m broken.

Treasures are found in darkness, deep beneath the earth.
Pearls are formed in secret places from grains of sand.

What comes after is the rest of this glorious, Christ-filled life, stained with tears but still joyful. 

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Puppy Adolescense

My sweet Molly has become a teenager.

She likes to try to go places she's not allowed (like bubble baths):

 She's directly disobedient (and a little bit destructive):

She spends way too much time in front of the mirror:

Monday, July 11, 2011

Beauty and the Beast (Sort Of)

I had an absolutely sublime Sunday afternoon yesterday.  I spent several hours floating in the middle of a rock quarry lake in Durham that I didn’t even know existed until yesterday (this fact is slightly embarrassing as Durham is my hometown).  This relaxing, blissful afternoon was spent in the company of friends underneath a cerulean sky amidst Carolina pines (it was a James Taylor kind of day).  I went home with a song in my heart to the One who graces me with such good gifts and provides beauty to my life.
                I was also reminded yesterday of the brokenness that exists in and among all of us.  I have recently created brokenness in a handful of situations around me.  Yesterday, I had a conversation with a friend about the brokenness in her own family, as well as about concerns we both had for a mutual friend.  Another friend called me last night because her romantic relationship is newly broken.  And I received a text from someone else asking for prayer for brokenness in a friendship.  These aren’t extreme examples.  I don’t live in the middle of abject poverty or deal with victims of heinous crimes or injustice on a daily basis.  These are all people living “normal” lives in normal cities and towns in America, just like me.  And yet people hurt us and we hurt people, and relationships of all kinds are hard, and life is messy and broken.  We sin and are sinned against.  We are called to apologize and to forgive.  There are orphans among us, widows too, and people who do not know where their next meal is coming from. 
                But somehow, in the middle of all this brokenness, God is still good.  I do not understand it.  I don’t know what the whole beautiful tapestry of my life, of all of our lives, will look like when it is unfurled.  I do not know why my heart can break over the pain of people that I love the same day that I am astounded by all that God has rained down upon my life.  It is contradictory and crazy and topsy-turvy.  I am thankful and joyful for sublime moments, laughter, wonder, water, prayer.  I am angered and confused by lies, injustice, cruelty, carelessness, pain—in my own life and in others.’  I do not understand how these things can coexist on the same planet, on the same day, in the same hour, in the same heart.  But I do know that I worship a risen Creator who brings beauty out of brokenness, joy out of sorrow, laughter out of tears. And I will learn to sing a new song in the dark as well as in the light.