Sunday, October 15, 2017

the storm



you ask me if I am afraid

“terrified,” I laugh
you ask me why I am laughing
I tug on my messy braids
I can’t think of a response

we watch the clouds gather in the sky
I see a storm in your eyes too
the rain begins to fall
gentle at first, and then a downpour

I’m shivering
your fingers drum against the pavement
I tilt my head back and close my eyes
you say something but the roar of thunder drowns you out

“so much for quiet,” I mumble
you don’t reply
stray curls stick to my face and I pry them off
“did you hear me?” you ask

“nope”
you look at me, that storm churning in your gaze
“I said that you can’t be brave if you’re not afraid”
a kind of soft thunder is reflected in your voice—

low but awakening—
I blink water from my eyes
“who are you kidding?” I whisper
“I’m not brave and you should know that”

"I'm not kidding," you say
 another clap of thunder
rain drips from my fingertips
yours cease their drumming

"I'm not brave," I repeat
"I wasn't saying that"
"then what were you saying?"
 "I was saying that you have a choice to make"

I twist my hoodie strings around my finger and sigh
"If you think,” I say
"that I have a choice in being afraid or not
then you’re wrong"

dark clouds flash with lightning
again, it's reflected in your eyes
i wonder what goes on behind them
"I don't think that," you murmur

"I think that you have a choice in bravery
in choosing to act despite your fear
I think that being afraid is what motivates people to do great things
because would it really be bravery if you never had fear to hold you back?"

 I stare back at you
your words soak into my mind like the rain into the grass
you lean forward, elbows on your knees,
watching the angry sky

"I guess," I say
"but if you act despite your fear
that still means you have to defeat it
you have to—"
 I fumble for a word on the tip of my tongue

"conquer it”
you lean back and turn to me again
 a smile plays on your lips
you make a fist and drive it gently to the ground

"you have to conquer it, overcome it, refuse to let it control you"
I watch the water slipping into the cracks between the pavement
"i'm not strong enough for that”
“me neither, but that’s where God comes in"

I follow your eyes back to the sky
I think about the storm above my head and the earth beneath my hands
I think about the clouds and the lightning and the rolling thunder
I think about you and me and everything behind our eyes

I think about the creator behind it all
I think about my heart belonging to him
there is fear pulsing through me
but there is also his strength

my thoughts run out of my mouth until my lungs beg for air
I take a deep breath and taste the storm
I let it out, and this time I ask you if you’re afraid
you hesitate before answering

“terrified” is your honest reply
I smile
“that’s okay,” I tell you
“you can’t be brave if you’re not afraid”

the storm rages on
the world is shaky and uncertain around us
but this time when you look at me
I see oceans

I stretch my hands to the sky and think about courage instead of fear
Friday, October 6, 2017

hold onto this


she keeps pushing forward
she keeps moving on
she keeps laughing and smiling
living life the way she believes 
she should be living it

but at the end of the day
with devices and distractions tucked away
only an empty room to keep her company
the noise grows thick inside her mind,
and exhaustion creeps into her soul

when she talks too much in a day she feels empty afterwards
like her words were snatched from her mouth
like she will never get them back
like when her words leave her heart and her lips they turn
meaningless

or maybe the words she is brave enough to say
are meaningless

she is brave enough to crack jokes with the crowd
brave enough to talk about clothes or the weather
brave enough to have silly conversations that don't go anywhere
brave enough to recycle words that
everyone else uses

it's tiring
because
it isn't her

she's hungry for honesty

when she spends a day where nothing meaningful is accomplished
she stares in the mirror and the face staring back appears scattered,
broken apart,
words wasted,
moments wasted,
thrown away

she starves for purpose,
but when she looks around at the other teenagers
they're all starving for different things
and when she tries to speak her mind
they watch her with mockery in their eyes

criticism hurts,
even if they only think it
because she can read their faces

at the end of the day she wants to crawl away
and socialization seems meaningless

they're all her age but
they don't understand her

every now and then she tries to act like them,
paints a mask identical to the one they all wear,
fits it over her heart,
locks it up,
but when she tries that she feels sick to her stomach
she sees that shattered person when she looks in the mirror

she sees blurryface
hollowed eyes sick of pretending
blurry identity, blurry confidence

doubt is blurryface's best friend,
and he knocks at her door
he enters without wiping his feet

the mask she puts on wears a smile, but
when she wears the mask it doesn't just alter the outside,
but what is underneath too,
erasing her real smile
erasing her joyful eyes

why would you replace true joy with fake happiness
just because fake happiness is what everyone else is wearing?

when she doesn't see the honesty in herself
she panics
when she loses sight of herself, caught up in trying to be like the crowd
she's terrified

she prays for a pure heart and an honest spirit
she prays for wisdom and a heart to love
she prays for fire in her soul and blind trust to guide her steps
but when she walks onto the battlefield
she looks around and sees people that don't seem to care,
or say they care and she trusts that they do,
but she tries to talk to them about what matters
and they're distracted

aw, look, a teenager who says she loves Jesus
how cute

just wait and watch
we'll paste a teenage stereotype to her face;
she'll get starved for attention
she'll get starved for pleasure
she'll get starved for this world
she'll get snatched up and wrapped up
and pulled in by society and all its pretty lies,
because
of course
a girl so young
couldn't actually
be serious
about this whole
"Jesus thing"
right?

she trips up and messes up and she feels them all watching
she feels their expectations boxing her in
she raises her voice and they drown her out
they don't seem to pay her attention unless she puts on the mask

and every time she puts on the mask
when it comes the time to take it off, when she's alone in that silent bedroom,
the reality of what she has done settles in and wraps icy fingers around her throat,
whispers uncertainties into her ears, invites doubt into the house of her mind,
because if she tries to live by the world's standards then the lies appear valid and believable
and darkness suddenly has the power to creep in and feed and grow and suddenly
she is staring into the mirror and wondering if she amounts to anything
at all

when she attempts to live by the world's standards
she is never enough

she feels their eyes on her
she's uncomfortable in her own skin
she wonders what they are thinking of her
wishes she could turn invisible,
or dig a hole and crawl away
just disappear for a bit

being alone is wonderful because no one is watching her then
she longs for real connections where she can be herself,
instead of constantly wondering what they are thinking of her

expectation is the prison she keeps finding herself trapped in
she tries different keys but none of them work
she's claustrophobic of the cell and it's driving her insane
she's not as simple as she tries to be
she's standing in a crowd of people but they don't know her mind like they know her smile
she has dreams of changing the world but the world doesn't want to be changed

when she's honest with herself she knows
that her worst fear is fitting in
but some days she seems to be doing just that
like she grew tired and society fitted her into place

at times she doesn't recall letting doubt in but 
she walks into the house of her mind seeking solitude
and he's sprawled across the couch in her living room
he meets her eyes with a cruel smile and a cold laugh,
and in seconds he's up and flying through the rooms,
choking her faith, her memories, her confidence
with filthy blackened hands

she chases him but 
he's not leaving anytime soon

they seem to expect her to be just like them
and they don't understand when she removes the mask and crushes it with her hands
they don't understand when she tries to be honest
they don't understand her 
she doesn't even understand herself

but at the end of the day
when she stands in the middle of that empty room
with space to breathe
God will meet her exactly where she is
blurryface or not
and she knows that

he understands

better than they do
better than she does

he created her 
he saved her
he is with her when she can't feel him
he is with her when she is pretending and with her when she isn't
he is with her when she is doing fine and with her when she's breaking down
he is with her when her feet are sure on the path and with her when she's stumbling

he understands
he gets her
he cares

and when she is with him
he silences fear
he kicks out doubt
he wraps her in peace and assurance

when she looks in the mirror she is no longer blurry
she is whole and she is firm,
certain that she is no longer a slave to fear
or a slave to the world
but certain that she is a child of God

and that is enough
///

there is so much noise in this world and i hear it all the time. i think and i think and i think and i think until my head is screaming and my heart is sore and i get so confused, and when i try to sort it all out i don't even know where to start. so when you are doubting and when you are confused and when you are unstable and uncertain, you can be certain in who you are because of who your God is, and my friend, that is your firm foundation. you are unshakable when you remain standing on that ground. the world can throw everything it's got at you. it can take you through crazy rough waters, mountains the human eye labels as impossible to move, storms that seem to never end,
but it cannot change who you are in Christ.
hold onto this.
Saturday, September 9, 2017

color

 

She was four years old, and she painted herself as if her skin and clothes were a canvas. It was fun, she thought, to see the colors bursting. Swirls and lines, twisting shapes and curves and dots and sometimes the letters she had learned about from her siblings. She lost track of time, immersed in the act of creating art. Immersed in the colors and immersed in the lines.

She lost track of time, but she heard the car pull into the driveway. She heard the car door slam shut. She heard the front door open, heard heavy boots stamping out snow into the rug, heard the raspy cough and keys flung from careless hands onto the tile counter. The little girl’s eyes widened and the markers ceased their work. She tilted her head down and surveyed what she had done. A soft gasp emitted from her lips as the realization dawned that her daddy probably would not like the art. That her daddy usually didn’t like her ideas. That her daddy would probably yell. And her daddy hadn’t yelled in a long time.

Tears caressed painted cheeks. Trembling hands slid the paints beneath her bed, the paints she had found in a sibling's bedroom and wasn't supposed to have. She heard her daddy’s footsteps against the stairs, heard her sisters and brothers rushing to welcome him home. She curled up in a beanbag in the corner of the room and buried her tear-stained face into colorful hands. Silently, fearfully, the little girl waited.

Her name was called, but she didn’t respond.

The door was cracked open.

"There you are," her daddy said.

She recognized the whisper of his bare feet across the carpet, but kept her fingers glued to her face and her legs curled to her chest. He sat down beside her with a faint sigh. There was a dreadful silence that seemed to drag on forever as he took in the drawings all over her skin. The little girl clapped her hands over her ears and waited for her daddy to grow angry with her.

"What is this?" he asked, and his voice sounded tired.

The little girl spread her fingers. Two watery brown eyes peered up at him through the spaces.

"My art," she murmured. "Pretty colors."

"Messy colors." He shook his head, his mouth set in a grim line. "This is going to take forever to scrub off of you."

"My art," she repeated firmly, lifting her chin. She removed her hands from her face and wiped at her tears. "You mad, daddy?"

"No. I'm disappointed." He groaned softly and rubbed the bridge of his nose. The little girl frowned. Her daddy always did this when he was stressed. She noted the way his shoulders weighed down, the heaviness in his voice. Happiness had been drained from him, and the little girl knew it.

"You need more color," she insisted, sitting up and stretching a chubby finger to her daddy's face. Giggling, she painted a streak of blue across his cheek.

"Hey." He drew back, his hands flying to his face and wiping at the paint. He looked down at his hands and the blue on his fingertips. She saw another chance and took it immediately, lunging at him and pressing her painted fingers to his arms, then diving back into her beanbag with hesitant, breathy laughter.

"Hey!" he said, louder. For a few brief seconds, annoyance crossed his face. But then something changed. Her daddy's eyes met hers and roved over her colorful skin, clothes, tear-tracks, and the messy brown hair streaked with every color of the rainbow. Her daddy's eyes met hers, and they filled with something soft and smiling and warm. Then he was laughing and pulling her into his arms, mussing her crazy hair and letting her smear a colorful mess all over his face and shirt. The little girl retrieved the paints from beneath her bed, plunging and soaking her hands and pressing them against her daddy's smile. The room filled with sounds of laughter and a little girl's happy shrieks.

That evening, a tired man forgot how heavy his shoulders were. He forgot his never-ending checklist, the pains in his lower back, and stress that dragged so heavily on his spirit.

That evening, a tired man remembered only the brightness of his little girl's smile, the laughter in her eyes, and the color she painted where life had turned him gray.
Wednesday, September 6, 2017

whisper


there is a whisper in the dead of the night
breathing against my skin and spiraling through the cold air
dancing in the moonbeams slanting through the windows
snatching my breath away
and with it, i think
my mind spills out into empty space

but there is no ink staining my palms tonight
maybe tomorrow
but in this moment there is only my drumming heartbeat
and the whisper that dangles above my eyelids

it floods inside
it fills my lungs
it paints a new picture over hazy, blurry lines of insecurity
brushstrokes of color where the world has left me gray

it blossoms a peace i can't explain
a rooted, tranquil understanding that
i am not alone

 

"Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. 
He will not leave you or forsake you." 
| Deuteronomy 31:6 |
Saturday, September 2, 2017

honestly


There’s sunshine in the air and sadness in your eyes. I’m trying to smile at you, but  h o n e s t l y  my heart is breaking. I want to hug you tightly until it’s all okay. I want to chase away everything that is causing you pain. I’m dying to show you how much you are worth. Dying to tell you that all you have to do right now is hold on. Keep breathing. I wish you could see yourself through my eyes. I wish you could see all that I see in you.

I wish
I wish
I wish

I wish you could understand
I wish you could grasp how important you are
I wish you could step into my shoes, for just a minute, and look at yourself through my eyes

You stand at arm’s length away from me, but I feel I couldn’t reach you if I tried. Your voice is silent, but I know your mind. I read your eyes like an open book, though lately you keep shutting the pages on me. I don’t understand, how the words that slip from your tongue sound like they belong to someone else. I miss you in a way I can’t explain. I get so desperate sometimes when we talk, I feel like empty things just tumble from my lips and mean nothing to you. Eventually I grow quiet and still beside you, searching with my eyes and taking in everything you can’t put into words.

I have been filled to the brim with heartache, but I have a tendency to smile at you anyway. Maybe it’s a sad smile. Maybe it’s a smile that says it isn’t okay, but it’s going to be. Maybe it’s a smile that says I miss your smile.

I don’t know
I don’t know
I don’t know

I just know that I smile at you
I just know that sometimes you smile back
And when you smile, even if it’s a sad smile,
It makes the world a little brighter
And I wish you could know that

There’s wind in my hair and laughter in my voice. You make me laugh just by being you, even when you’re sad inside. Sometimes I make you laugh too. I have hope in my heart and I’m dying to share it with you. When I tell you I’m praying for you, I mean it. When I tell you I’m here for you, I mean it. But I am young and I am human and sometimes I feel like I don’t make a difference at all in your life. I don’t understand this painful feeling of helplessness. Watching you fall and trying trying trying to catch you but you pass right through me every time. I feel small, invisible, lost in this permanent state of transparency.

It hurts to see you hurting. Sometimes I cry, when I’m alone, because I’m thinking of you being alone and how you told me you cry a lot. I cry because I’m thinking of you and how you told me you don’t see a point to your life anymore. I cry because I’m thinking of how much meaning there is inside of you and how you don’t see it. I cry because I have something you don’t and I want you to have it too, but you don’t want it.

I cry because you’re loved, but you don’t believe it.

There’s a breeze in my hair and a storm in your eyes. Your mind is somewhere far away. There’s so much I want to share with you, but you never actually listen to me.

So I smile at you. Maybe it’s a sad smile. Maybe it’s a hopeful smile. Maybe it’s both.

I wish you would believe me when I tell you that no matter who leaves, I never will.

///
i’m bursting at the seams with inability. 

helplessness shoves me to the brink of insanity. feeling like i have so much to say, but i open my mouth and only dust spills out. backtracking at everything i’ve said wrong. apologizing profusely. wanting to crawl into a hole and disappear but i care i care i care so much, i can’t keep silent. opening my mouth and shutting it again. tying my words up in a messy little bundle and locking them away inside of myself, opening my ears, truly listening to you. letting you talk when you need to talk. being told i could never understand. trying to find a way to say maybe i don’t understand, but i love you, my dear friend, and it hurts it hurts it hurts to not be able to do more for you. i can never find the right words for you.



i’m not enough for you alone. i’m not enough for anyone alone. i am human and i am also a broken being and i also mess up, so please please please don’t look at me. i don’t want attention for myself. just follow my hand when I point to a savior who can do everything i cannot. look at him, the savior who can fill you in a way that no human ever could. you can lean on me all you want, and i will always be a shoulder for you. i will fight with you, there in the foxhole beside you. but i am small and i am human and i will fall down and i will make mistakes and please don’t expect perfection because you will never receive that from me. honestly, truthfully, i can’t. but he can. he will be there for you in the darkest night. he will fill the hole inside of you that nothing, nothing, nothing else ever could. i can only hope that when i love you, you get a glimpse of his love because i want to be overflowing with it. 

i am human and i have cracks and flaws and i try i try i try but i’m not anywhere near perfect. but i see so much in you that you don’t see. i know how much you are truly loved. i know a thousand times over that you are worth SO / MUCH / MORE than you could ever imagine. but i can repeat this to you for the rest of your life and it won’t change a thing if you don’t believe it, so i pray so hard that you will. today. tomorrow. maybe one day when all i am to you is a faded, forgotten memory of an imperfect person who tried and tried and tried—

maybe then you will know. maybe then you will lift your eyes to the light i’m dying to point you too. i don’t care when it is, but i care that it happens. because i care about you, but most importantly, because HE cares about you. i just deeply want for you to know him.


speaking as the girl with words spilling out of her brain, and 
fingers clutching tightly to the hope in her hands, 
this is my honest cry. 

i wrote this awhile ago and i wasn’t going to post it. then i realized that this is raw honesty and i want to be a voice of raw honesty, so i did.
Saturday, August 26, 2017

through all of it


i knew you when you were a little girl,
and i watched you dance in the sunshine.
your laugh was music to my ears,
your smile the prettiest portrait.

i knew you when you were a little girl,
and i watched you fall and scrape your knees.
your cries were the saddest song,
your tear tracks the imprints on my heart.

i knew you before you knew yourself;
i knew you the moment your smile changed
from an overflow of the joy inside
to a mask that concealed the pain.

  i knew you when you didn’t know me,
  when you built your walls and turned your back
  when you ran from me and hid your face
  when you thought every trace of that little girl was gone.

  i knew you because i knew your heart,
  and oh, how i stretched my hands out to you.
  i knew you when you were in the deepest pain,
  i knew you when it wasn’t okay.

  i knew you when you thought you were alone
  i knew the things that went on in your mind
  i knew the cries that couldn’t make it past your lips
  i knew you when you thought no one ever would.

  my heart laughed with yours, child,
  and my heart cried with yours too.
  my heart listened to your heart
  and it tugged and wrestled and reached for it.


i know you now,
wherever you are,
feeling alone in the emptiness of your bedroom
feeling alone in a crowd of people.

i know you now,
and i’m reaching out with the unfathomable love i have for you
the love i have always had for you
the love i will never stop having for you.

because, my child,
i know you
i love you
through all of it.



life is a journey, and there’s plenty of bumps in the road. one minute you’re in the sky, the next you’re on the ground. one minute your shoulders are shaking with heart-wrenching sobs, the next with uncontainable laughter. one minute you’re walking on water, the next you’re drowning beneath the waves. it’s an adventure. there are hills and valleys, ups and downs. there are seasons. memories. good and bad. happy and sad. sometimes it feels like some wild rollercoaster ride with the most unpredictable twists and turns. but you know what? through it all, our creator is there. we fill him with joy, and we fill him with pain. his love for us is overwhelming. he listens to our prayers and desires a relationship with each of us. how amazing is that? he wants to spend eternity with us. he wants to spend now with us too. he wants to be there for us, traveling this road beside us, dancing with us in the light and holding us in the darkness. sometimes our feet get tired and we’re crying that we just can’t do it anymore. and he’s there to carry us through the storm. through all of it, his love never fails. 

i am not the author of my story. i am still young and learning, but i have cried and i have laughed. i have tried to do it alone and found myself with empty hands. i have wide-open eyes and reasons to smile, and the biggest one is that i have been r e d e e m e d . set free. no longer in chains. i am not perfect, and i never will be. i still make mistakes. i stumble and fall and get frustrated and confused and sometimes i lose my way a little bit (or a lot). but he never lets go of me. he’s always patient with me, always calling me back to his open arms. sometimes life isn’t fun, and sometimes i can’t find happiness. because things are hard. because happiness is temporary and not fulfilling. but i can always find joy and peace, even through tears. even through hardship. i can look to the cross and there’s my hope. there’s my purpose. there’s my joy. when the voices of the world get overwhelming, i can open my bible and hear the voice of truth. 

there’s a lot i love about life and a lot i don’t love about life, but i’m going to run this race. and the day i do cross the finish line, i want people to read my story and see my Savior written all over the pages. truly, he’s in every chapter, the chapters that make me smile and the chapters that make me cry. he’s the reason each chapter has meaning. every. single. one.

you are never alone, my friend. he loves you and he’s with you,
through all of it.
Thursday, August 24, 2017

till the whole world hears


i don’t care what they say,
i'm reaching for the skies
there’s a fire in my heart
and you can see it in my eyes

cause I am reaching, reaching
growing, growing
crashing, crashing
but every time He picks me up
i'm stronger than before,
with bruises on my bones
but a fire in my soul

my savior put that fire there,
and there’s passion racing in my veins,
a kind of joy inside of me
that no one can steal, 
a type of love, love, love 
i want to overflow from my lips
because i could give it all away
and I would never be emptied

i have tasted the world,
tried to fill the hole inside,
always left empty and wanting,
but in my savior i find everlasting peace
in the midst of chaos

yes, i can let go of my shame
because every day He calls my name,
fills my days with purpose and meaning,
a new start when earth’s satisfactions are fleeting

this road is hard
and i stumble and fall,
but He is there to help me up when i call,
ready to piece back together my shattered heart
because through Him, i am a new creation

so i laugh in the face of the future,
stretch my fingers to the sky 
and i’ll dance when the rain pours down,
because this fire inside of me cannot be quenched

i don’t care what they say,
i don’t care what they think,
He created me to be the person i am,
and that’s something they will never change

cause i am reaching, reaching
growing, growing
learning, learning
and when i gaze at the stars
i think of it all:

how my God is so great
and how i am His child
and here I am
and here you are
and look, we’ve made it this far,
and won’t you dance with me?
beneath the stars, 
we can sing about our God 
and the fires He has set in our hearts

let’s sing
till the whole world hears our voices
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.  
| Romans 15:13 |