I love flowers that feel like flowers, and horses that smell like horses, and hugs that are tight and hold. I love a landscape untouched by development. I love finding the purity in things, finding what makes things exactly what they are, seeking the truest representation of a thing that seems to capture the essence of its kind. I love when people are honest with me, like a morning a few weeks ago when my chemistry professor told me before class started that I looked “smug”.
Plants know how to grow…animals know how to act…where’s my certainty? Why do I get hung up on choices? I find myself in moments, holding my breath, wondering exactly which direction my next step should take…
This element of choice, this stressful momentous day-by-day breathing action, it wears on me. Responsibility to be self, to openly honestly live outside my own walls, is hard like I’ve never seen cats struggling to decide what to do next, or flowers opening leaves halfway and then drawing them back in uncertainty.
And to compound that, to be who I am is the only thing I know for sure I’m supposed to do. I feel like relaxing should be easy and I’m failing at the only calling that is certain. Rest is different from laziness and I can’t seem to find the balance…
People talk about “the journey” [of life] like it’s a trail that you walk on. It’s more like a lake, murky waters, and swimming eventually gets to you to the other side, but who knows what section of coastline you’re aiming for? Who said there was a definitive, right-or-wrong end? And I submerge. Often. Swimming is much harder and slower than walking. Muscles aren’t naturally ready to swim.
Why didn’t Christ promise an easy life once you decided to walk with Him? What is there about the murk and splashes and overwhelming amount of it all that strengthens people while breaking them down? This paradox, this being poor in spirit that brings you the kingdom of heaven. This paradox, that those with nothing but praises to offer, and raw aching need, will be given everything. Jesus didn’t want a bunch of flaky followers. He didn’t promise an easy way out…He delights in the praise of His people, but praises coming from people who have everything and need nothing ring hollow. If I’m already full, I have nowhere to go. Giving thanks in all things won’t happen if it’s easily done or won and taken for granted.
Being about to be married (married?!) only magnifies these things. I find no certainty in myself when I’m trying to contemplate vows, a holy white dress, a honeymoon with no shame, a ring with a diamond, a man who looks right into me and still can give me a hug that’s tight and that holds. How to hug a puddle? – this was the question of last Tuesday, when I was getting over being sick and so stressed with things to DO that I couldn’t DO any of them. Stress is the worst enemy of my striving to be thankful. I love this quote from Ann Voskamp ( here’s her blog: http://www.aholyexperience.com/): “[A] sloppy brush of thanksgiving over everything leaves me truly thankful for very few things…”
I’m 22 days away from being married. (I’m reeling with the magnitude of that statement right now…it’s a good thing there’s a cat curled up sleeping on my lap, which is almost as good as a hug.) I’m about to go to a bridal shower – for me. People are buying gifts. They’re smiling at Josh and I and praying for us and eating dinner with us and hugging us at church on Sundays when we’re realizing we’ve only got 4 more church services as single people…3 more church services…2 more…it’s crazy! To those of you who are, thank you thank you thank you. I can’t put into words how blessed Josh and I feel as we’re down to 3 weeks. I don’t think any other couple has ever been SO blessed with support and love and encouragement. We’re both struggling into who God is calling us together to be and we have no idea what that looks like and I, at least, am a simple puddled mess without him to hug me and make sure I stay standing on my feet when the wind blows. This love from him and God is vastly different and far more amazing than I could have imagined. It’s sure and strong to lean against and runs true to the very core of us and God and what life means…and yes, it’s murky and deep and I have to learn to swim, but it’s the only thing worth doing.
When I thank Josh for the hugs, and the smiles, and the Joshness of Josh, I can feel the love moving across. When he smiles at me and tells me to go study chemistry (because…I have to…), I can feel the love moving across. It’s this taste, this hazy foreshadowing, of Jesus.
Psalm 22 was read yesterday during the Good Friday service. It’s the one that starts with “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” that Jesus cries out on the cross, with the whole psalm behind His words…this psalm that reads: “I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint, my heart is like wax…my tongue sticks to my jaws, you lay me in the dust of death.”
The third verse of that psalm is praise. It’s incongruous, out-of-place, shocking, bizarre…but in context of life, it makes sense. A man seemingly in the throes of death is holding to the one thing he knows beyond all else, and you can feel the love move across.
“Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel.” -Psalm 22:3 ESV
There’s a footnote: “Or dwelling in the praises [of Israel].”
In the 22 days coming, lips will whisper praise and love will move…