there are days.

There are days when I feel like I just can’t. go. on.

Days when the walls close in around me and all I want is to get in my car and drive, drive until the state name is new and the accents are different and I don’t recognize a thing, and I can make a new start.

Days when my carefully constructed lie of control and perfection and put-together-ness crumbles all around me and I’m left staring at the dust wondering which brick caved first. Days when my heart is too overwhelmed and my head is too full already and my hands are too empty. Days when I look at my calender, my to-do list, my terrifyingly big and blank and far-too-close future and it makes me want to run, hide, scream because everything is just too big and I am just too small.

Days when I’m not sure I can face tomorrow, days that I know will be filled with not enough sleep and too much stress.

You have those days, don’t you?

Because I do. And I usually try and hide them. Organize everything terrifying my brain into a neat checklist, smile and say I’m fine, and begin to rebuild that wall of perfection and control because even when it falls down, I don’t want you to know.

So far, this has not worked out so well.

I have pushed through those days and I have acted strong and I have said I’m fine, I’m just tired and I’m good, just busy more times than I can count. I act strong and I push through and it all goes along great until I can’t do it anymore, can’t push through and can’t act strong, and then suddenly one day it’s 1 am and I’m having a complete, total, ugly-crying breakdown in a friend’s car because I can’t do everything and shouldn’t I be able to?

(the answer is no.)

Sometimes, I think these are the days God smiles. These days He looks down at me and my silly little stupid wall, my illusions and delusions and He just laughs. And He waits.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

Waits for me to say that I can’t do this. That tomorrow is too overwhelming, that I can’t handle it. That I am not perfect and I am not in control and Abba, where are you because I need you now.

He is there. He is right there, always and evermore, whispering into my heart, my grace is sufficient, child.

These are the days He likes because these are the days I admit, finally, that I need Him. Admit my powerlessness, my faults and failures and just plain humanness.

He likes it because these days, I move out of the way. These days I step aside and let God take control. These days, I am reminded how big He is, how much He loves me, how much He promises good to me.

These days, His power is made perfect because I finally admit my weakness.

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to my someday daughter, who may or may not be a bishop.

another open letter to my hypothetical daughter, and to every girl who is everything but hypothetical.

Dearest daughter,

Yesterday, the Church of England measure to allow for women bishops did not pass.

I don’t know where I stand on this matter, honestly. Egalitarian or complementarian? I’m not sure what term to slip on, and I don’t know if I really want to wear either of them. For that matter, I think taking the whole, vast spectrum of thought about gender roles, equality, and leadership in the church and boiling it down to two little words – pick one – means those words will be inadequate.

(Words are tricky, darling. Know this – words have power and beauty, they can create life and hope and joy. But they can be slippery and complicated and entirely impossible sometimes. Keep that in mind.)

All this to say: I don’t know, really, how I feel about this yet. I’m not an expert. I haven’t done the research, studied the Scripture, carefully weighed argument. Do women belong in leadership positions, should be allowed to be bishops? This Church that I have come alongside, whose traditions I have come to love, where I have cast in my lot, at least for the time being – they say no.

And I don’t quite know what to say in response.

But this I know: that someday, daughter, you will come along. You will be beautiful and special and blessed and unique. And you will be gifted, dear one. Given a talent, a passion, a gift from the Lord that you are to cherish, nurture, grow. A gift to share, a gift to use for Him, a gift to glorify His name and make Him known.

What if it’s teaching? What if it’s preaching? What if it’s leadership?

Will I have to look into the face of my one-day, some-day daughter, and tell her that yes, you are gifted with leadership, called to the episcopate, but no – you are not allowed.

This thought breaks my heart. Perhaps the one side is right, that women should not be in positions of leadership over men – but I cannot reconcile that thought to my heart. Because I know that there are women gifted to rise up and lead, to shepherd and protect. I can’t believe that this gift is given only to men, that this calling is taken away from my gender because of our gender.

Maybe by the time you receive this calling, things will be different. Perhaps then, women will be able to be teach, preach, lead.

Maybe this is not my daughter’s gift, my daughter’s calling. Maybe she is not called to lead, not called to be a bishop, but maybe there is another little girl who is.

And to her I would say: cherish that gift. Nurture it.

You, full to bursting with love for the Lord. Full of passion and steady in faith. You who have a desire to guide and teach and prepare the way. You who want only to make His name known.

Do it. Make His name known.

Sing His praises and dance in His joy. Speak the truth in love to whoever will listen. Declare His glory to the heavens and the earth, and let no one stop you. If you can do it within the Church, do it there. Do it everywhere.

Take your bursting heart, take your gifts, and run with them, child. For this I know, that He has begun a good work in you and He will bring it to completion. Inside the church walls or out.

Love, your someday mother.

you don’t get a Google Map for this.

I like directions.

I like knowing where I’m going. If I’m driving, you better believe I looked at the map already (and even if I’m not driving, there’s a good chance I still did). I’ll Google Maps the address, study the street names, copy down the directions, plug in the GPS and – for good measure – make sure there’s a paper map in the car.

I like to know where I’m going, how I’m getting there. How long it will take and what’s going to happen on the way.

But let’s be honest – I barely know what I’m doing tomorrow. I don’t have a five-year plan, I don’t have post-grad career aspirations. I don’t have a 10-step outline for the rest of my life. And God didn’t give me a Google Map.

(I keep hoping that someday, somehow, the heavens will open, a mighty hand will reach down, and  I’ll be handed turn-by-turn directions for the rest of my life.)

Turn left at Loneliness. Continue straight through Heartbreak and Hurt. Take a right into Sadness and drive, just keep driving.

What would you do if God gave you all the directions?  Dictate them to Siri and listen as she tells you where to turn? Pin that map up on your wall or tape it inside your binder. Follow them faithfully and never question?

I wouldn’t. Oh heck no.

I’d be trying to find a shortcut. I’d be picking a different street, finding a better route. I’d take a highlighter to that map before you can quote Jeremiah 29:11 at me. I’d cross out and draw arrows and scribble all over God’s route. I’d rearrange the directions of my life.

I’d spend less time on Loneliness. Skip Sadness. Give the towns of Heartbreak and Hurt a wide berth. I’d spend more time on the roads of Comfort and Contentment. I’d find the shortest, easiest route that takes me straight to Happily Ever After.

It’s a good thing I don’t get a Google Map for my life, because I would screw up God’s plans in a heartbeat. I’d change them and tweak them. Because I am stubborn and foolish, because I can barely unclench my hold on my life enough to let Him in. Because I think I know best.

Which – by the way – I don’t.

I don’t have the map. I can’t see the end, don’t know where I’m going. Don’t know that all my time driving down Loneliness will teach me how to turn to God. That visiting Heartbreak and Hurt will give me strength and courage. That I’ll drive into Sadness and keep driving, but one day I’ll drive right out of it, and then I’ll be able to promise every girl still inside that yes, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. 

I’ll have to take His path. Do my best to follow each direction as He gives it to me. Step by step, turn by turn, I’ll make it through.

I’ll pass through the Valley of the Shadow of Death and come out at the other end, find myself in the midst of Healing and Joy. Move on to Growth and Change. And keep driving, driving towards the adventure on the horizon.

give me faith.

 
give me faith
to trust what You say
that You’re good 
and Your love is great
 

Faith & Trust are so hard for me. It should be simple: God is all-powerful, all-knowing, and He is good.

Why would I not place my life in His hands?

because I have been hurt. because I have been rejected and forgotten, ignored and insulted. and I have hurt, I have rejected and forgotten and ignored and insulted.

We all have; that’s what happens. That’s how it goes in this world where we are all broken, all hurt. We try to love with our imperfect hearts but inevitably, I will hurt you and you will hurt me.

So we build up our walls and become wary. We decided that trust is hard to earn and easy to lose. We put our faith in money, jobs, ourselves – anything but anyone else, because everyone else fails us.

but God is something so different. He loves perfectly, He never fails. All He has ever done is prove Himself trustworthy, over and over again. and still I doubt.

I hesitate and question. I try it my way. I think I can do it alone.

I can’t put all my faith, all my trust in Him – I can’t hand Him my heart completely – because what happens if He breaks it?

He never will. He promises He will never leave me nor forsake me, He will never stop loving me. He is not the business of hurting. He declares healing, hope, joy over my life.

Joy I long for. Hope I can cling too. Healing I so desperately need.

so I’m learning to trust. step by step, day by day. in the small things and the large things. Offering my heart up piece by piece, bit by bit, for Him to hold.

I’m broken inside
I give you my life
all I am, I surrender
 

I don’t have words for the girl with the broken heart

I’m not good with words. I stumble and trip over my sentences like a 13-year-old in her first high heels. I loathe public speaking with a passion and am awkwardly terrible at small talk with new people.

And I never know what to say to the girl who’s crying.

To the friend who doesn’t think she’s worthy of respect and love. To the college student lost in the sea of papers, homework, growing up, plans for the future. To the girl with a broken heart so fresh she doesn’t think it’ll ever mend. To the beautiful woman who can only see everything that is wrong with her.

I have no words for her.

Every single girl I know has been hurt by words. Beaten down, battered and bruised. Abused by words that hurt, words that cut right into her soul. Words that say that she doesn’t deserve a relationship. Words that say she isn’t beautiful unless she is a size zero, and maybe not even then. Words that teach her to hide herself, to smile when she wants to cry, to be only what other people want from her.

My heart breaks for that girl, for every girl. I want to love her. I want to find every teenager I can, hide her away from this world, and tell her that she is beautiful and cherished and valued and so, so loved.

But I can’t find the words.

I don’t have words for the 11-year-old that makes a joke about being fat. That joke stabs my heart and I ache for her, knowing that behind that joke is an insecurity my words can never erase. But it doesn’t matter, because the words don’t come, because I don’t know how to tell her that she is beautiful. Not beautiful in the way that the word has been cheapened, slapped on everything from dresses to cupcakes to mediocre art projects. No, she is beautiful because she was made by the One who defines beauty. She is beautiful because she is, because she exists. Because she is a living, breathing miracle, full of heart and mind and spirit and excitement.

But the words don’t come. Because how can I tell that 11-year-old not to listen to the lies when I listen to them too?

How can I speak truth into her heart when I’m still trying to believe it in mine?

So I am left speechless, and all I can do is hug her closer to me and whisper a silent prayer that some day she will see her beauty.

I don’t have words for the girl that has been so hurt. The girl with a string of broken relationships, the girl who is overwhelmed by the unknown future, the girl that has let loneliness move into her heart and set up residence.

In that moment, Jeremiah 29:11 seems trite. “Fearfully and wonderfully made” feels like a cliche. We’ll leave a 10-foot berth around the Proverbs 31 woman at times like this. And I don’t have the words to tell you how beautiful you are. To tell you that your future is safe and sound in someone else’s hands and you don’t have to worry about it. To tell you that loneliness will move out eventually and your heart will become home to house-guests that are much more gracious.  To tell you that you are loved beyond what you could ever know.

So I’ll respond to the midnight text and let you cry into my shirt. I’ll make you a cup of tea, I’ll bring the ice cream. I’ll sit on the swing set at 1 a.m. and listen. I’ll wrap my arms around you and hold you tight, praying that I’ll find the words to tell you the truth. Maybe if I can find the words for you, I’ll start to believe it, too.