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Bonnie Gray Christian Blog and Commentary

Bonnie Gray

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Bonnie Gray is an inspiring Christian writer and blogger, offering encouragement to keep faith fresh in the daily grind. Her writing springs from the belief that the beauty of faith often takes place when life goes off script. Bonnie is founder of Faith Barista and featured writer for DaySpring’s (in)courage site for women. Her writing is nationally syndicated and has been spotlighted on Christianity Today and McClatchy-Tribune News Services. Her search for God's calling has brought her to thrive through a variety of life transitions. She is a pastoral ministry graduate of Peninsula Bible Church in California, past missionary, and ministry entrepreneur launching a 30's singles ministry and workshops on Bible Study, Prayer, and Leadership. Prior to becoming a writer, Bonnie led a successful career in high tech as engineering and marketing manager, leading teams to deliver innovative products for Fortune 100 companies for 13 years. Bonnie is a passionate speaker serving up shots of faith in everyday life. She lives in the heart of Silicon Valley, California with her techie husband Eric, wrangling two boys on their homestead.


photo credit: faithbarista.com {beauty in unexpected places. petals wet in spring}

I don't want to be one of those people.

Someone who is afraid.

Someone who can't deal with hard things.

Someone who has failed to overcome the things that could make me fall down.

But, here I was, unable to deny that -- I am afraid.

I'm discouraged and I can't find my way.

What I'm really trying to say -- what I'm terrified to face is this -- I can't make my place in this world.

And I'm afraid you're going to walk away from me.

You're going to turn your face away and shake your head.

And leave me here.

All alone.

Place of Empty

These are the words I found myself speaking in the dark room of my soul nearly two years ago.

When my panic attacks first began.

You would've never known I had truly felt this way. Because quite honestly, I had never allowed myself to stay in this place of empty for very long.

All my life, I've nurtured a determination to do whatever I could to never come close to this place of alonenness. I am a child of light. Why would I want to face into darkness? I believed that faith was relegated to creating a safe place for myself in this world and for the ones I love.

I never imagined that faith in Jesus is exactly what it takes to enter into this place of truth and vulnerability -- this place of empty.

By the grace of God, Jesus knew it wasn't time for me to fully be in that place for most of my life. Jesus gave me a growing faith to survive and empowered me to have great joy to do lots wonderful and beautiful things with Him -- and for Him -- to serve and love Him.

He's given me a deep passion to serve others, to enjoy people and extend an open heart of friendship, comfort and encouragement wherever I go.

But, Jesus somehow led me on a path He knew would place me at the doorway of fear and confusion.

Jesus knew I was strong enough to finally face the parts of me He wanted to love back to life: my wounded self.

And Jesus knew that I would no longer be able to provide for myself, using the strength and hope I've always drawn from.

He knew that I would no longer be able to create a safe place for myself in this world any longer.

Jesus knows because he's been there himself.

This place of alone.

This place of empty.

Heartsick

Did Jesus have panic attacks in the garden of Gethsamane?

I think maybe he could have.

"And being in agony... his sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground." Luke 22:44.

Jesus had escaped to a private place where He felt safe. It was there Matthew tells us "Jesus fell on His face and prayed, saying "My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me." (Matt. 26:39)

The Gospel of Mark gives us a private moment into Jesus we rarely talk about: "He began to be very distressed and troubled."

Overwhelmed by anxiety, Jesus confides to Peter, James and John. "My soul is deeply grieved to the point of death." (Mk.14:33,34) Jesus is utterly heartsick, down where pain has never reached before.

No Other Way

Even though Jesus was in total control of His choice to become the scapegoat for sin, Jesus cried out, "Abba! Father! All things are possible for You; remove this cup from Me...". (Mk.14:36)

If there was any other way out, He wished for it then.

But there wasn't any other way.

His cry has been my cry. God, please. Anything but this. Isn't there any other way?

Jesus knew He had to face the toughest journey: brokenness.

Even though Jesus placed Himself willingly in God's rescue plan before the beginning of time, Jesus stepped into the place of empty. (Phil. 2:5-8)

I imagine Jesus falling to the ground, struggling to breathe, choking waves of tears, his body shaking, hot from crying his eyes out, his chest hurting from the intensity -- and I ask, "How did you do it Jesus? How can I endure something so dark when I am not you?"

He Answers

Jesus answers me by allowing me to hear His voice -- thick with sadness -- crying in the garden of Gethsamne. "... yet not my will, but Yours be done." (Matt. 26:39, Mk 14:26, Lk 22:42)

You can accept this Bonnie --

because I know how it feels when God's plan leads the world to see you as wounded. Broken.

I will give you the courage to accept this. You don't have to be strong. I will be strong for you.

Jesus points me to the scene of his betrayal, when Peter tried to stop Jesus from walking down the path of weakness, "Put the sword into the sheath; the cup which the Father has given Me, shall I not drink it?" (Jn 18:11)

You can swallow this cup Bonnie --

because I drank from it myself. You don't have to fight it. It's time to drink it.

You can feel afraid with me. I will hold you and love you through it.

I look into Jesus' eyes. His gaze is aching. Tender with my pain.

In the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus said, "Not my will...". Jesus had a will -- and it was contrary to God's will -- in that moment of suffering (Heb.5:7-10).

It is comforting because even as I took this cup in my hand, I didn't want it.

Jesus understands this tension.

He understands my dilemma and how it makes me feel ashamed because of it.

Time and Again

Unlike me, Jesus did not sin in His temptation to avoid the place of empty.

Jesus surrenders and says, "Not my will, but Yours be done."

I too want to be resolute like Jesus and face the reality of hard things. But, I want to do this act just once -- when in fact, it's time and again we fall and rise with Jesus.

From sun up to sun down, Jesus walks with us.

When we can't make a place for ourselves in this world, Jesus gently whispers --

Come here.

Into my arms.

You can always stay here. With me.

I am your place.

Forever.

Are you finding yourself holding a cup that you don't want to drink?

You don't have to want the cup in order to take it.

And drink it.

With Jesus.

Jesus folds your hand into His today.

Let's embrace the reality of what has happened -- what is happening -- and what needs to happen.

This is a new kind of obedience, one that our sweet Lord Jesus learned to embraced himself as well.

We don't have to be ashamed.

A Place For Us

No matter what is hurt or broken -- whether it's our childhood, a relationship, career, marriage, our children, health, finances or ministry -- our dreams or opportunities -- this place of empty is never out of His reach.

There is a place for us.

Jesus gathers us into His arms where we are truly safe. Safe to experience our traumas, safe to be real, loved and accepted.

I'm smiling, as I show you my tears. We're kindreds, you and me. We are both stepping into a place of vulnerability, so that we can feel the touch of His healing.

This is where Jesus is shining through -- with new strength and new hope -- to walk in new ways in this world.

You and I -- we are one of those people.

We are safe, hidden in the heart of Jesus.

You and I -- we have a story to tell.

Yes, you and I -- He's prepared a place for us -- the most beautiful place in this world.

It's Jesus in us.

"This hope we have as an anchor of the soul,
a hope both sure and steadfast
and one which enters within the veil [our hearts],
where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us..."
Hebrews 6:19-20

~~~~~

Where has the journey of faith led you today -- what is the cup before you?

What is Jesus saying to you in this place?

Pull up a chair and stay awhile. Share a comment below.

~~~~~

{ Today’s post is part of Bonnie Gray's  Lent-inspired reflections called {The Journey} series. Click here for read the entire series.  Lent means "The Way of the Cross".  In other words, Lent is "The Journey". May the quiet space here in this blog post provide a moment for you -- as we explore these Journey-Inspired prompts together.}  

Written by Bonnie Gray, the Faith Barista, author of Finding Spiritual Whitespace: Awakening Your Soul To Rest. (Revell Books. Pre-order today. Release date: June 3, 2014.)   

Finding Spiritual Whitespace guides readers on a journey to create space in life to slow down, feed their souls, draw closer to God and enjoy rest.  Through heart-breaking honesty and practical insight, Bonnie chronicles her unexpected journey through anxiety and painful memories, to discover a better story for her life, one that makes room for God, for beauty and rest, right in the midst of our stress-frayed everyday lives. 

Bonnie Gray is the soulful writer behind FaithBarista.com serving up shots of faith for the daily grind.  She is a contributor at DaySpring (in)courage and her writing has been spotighted by Christianity Today and nationally syndicated through McClatchy-Tribune News Services. After graduating from UCLA, Bonnie served as a missionary, ministry entrepreneur, and Silicon Valley high-tech professional. She lives in Northern California with her husband, Eric, and their two sons.

** Don't miss! ** If you are new to Faith Barista, I'd like welcome you here.Click to subscribe by email and get each post in this series served up hot and fresh directly in your mailbox.


photocredit: faithbarista.com {two brothers before sunset}

 

Everyone needs someone.

This is a beautiful, lonely, hard, and easy truth.

Beautiful if you have someone.

Lonely if you don't.

Hard for the times you'd rather not need.

Easy for the times when someone you need -- needs you too.

You might look at me -- getting ready to birth a book in print very soon.

And you might think I ought to be so happy.

I am.

But, I also want to confide in you.

Even Though

I want to tell you that the journey to really being you -- the journey to really finding your voice may inevitably lead you back to parts of your story -- people, experiences, conversations or situations -- that you'd rather avoid.

Where you've been rejected.  Where you decided to hide. To be safe rather than vulnerable and real.

You may have to make some hard decisions where there are no desirable outcomes. You may have to take up a cross that's been hard to bear.

Maybe like me, in order to follow God where He wants to take you, you will need to go through suffering. Loss.

Even though you know God is with you,

and even though you know faith will get you through,

you cannot avoid the hardness of the journey.

Even though there is much to be thankful for you -- and your heart is truly grateful for all the ways God is walking with you -- you cannot deny the weight of the cross on your shoulders.

The hardness of the journey doesn't mean you're on the wrong path.

Who Am I

As each week passes by, the pressures that come along the journey stepping out with my story have been steadily increasing. I've been having to face a lot of hard decisions, deadlines, while doing a tremendous amount of writing, more than I've done in the two years I've been on the journey to heal from anxiety and panic attacks.

All the while, voices from my past grow louder, fears press in closer, and I don't feel so well. 

It's too hard.  Who am I to think I can make this journey?

After Jesus was beaten on the head by the reed the Roman soldiers put in his hand to mock him as king, after they crushed a crown of thorns into his head, and after they had flogged him with whips, Jesus was thrown out of the Praetorium.

The Pretorium was the governors hall, where Pontius Pilate gave Jesus the death sentence, where the soldiers assaulted Jesus emotionally, hurling unspeakable wounding words targeted to bring shame and humiliation.

It wasn't enough to break his body.

They wanted to break His heart and His spirit with their words.

Need Someone

After this takes place in the secrecy of the Praetorium, Jesus is expected to take his first steps through the Via Dolorosa. In front of everyone.

"When they led Him away, they seized a man, 
Simon of Cyrene, coming in from the country,
and placed on him the cross to carry behind Jesus."
Luke 23:26


My friend Kevin Marks in his Stations-of-the-Cross reflection writes, "Following his beating, it's likely Jesus could not physically carry the cross all the way to Calvary."

Jesus needed someone.

In that moment, a man whose journey somehow crossed his path was pulled in to help him.

Kevin continues -- "We don't know if Simon even knew who Jesus was. Did they even exchange any words? All we know is that an ordinary person helped the Savior.  Through one simple, understated act, became part of the journey with Jesus."

And I'm reminded.

It's okay to need someone.

When the cross is too heavy to carry, but we still want to be faithful to see the journey through, needing someone isn't a shameful thing.

Kindreds

My therapist tells me experiencing anxiety is not cause for alarm. I'm headed in the right direction -- following my heart -- speaking in my full voice -- with Jesus. And with others.

He tells me if I went back to hiding and staying safe, I would experience no anxiety.

So, I think of Jesus and I imagine how His steps on the Via Dolorosa were soaked in anxiety, physically disorienting suffering, and emotional anguish against the sea of voices.

And I think of Simon who walked that hard stretch of broken road alongside him.

I close my eyes. And I think of all the Simons who have quietly crossed my path -- without my awareness God led them to help carry my cross when I could not carry it further any longer. And I feel a lump rising in my throat, different than the one that tells me to be afraid.  

My soul remembers I can make this journey ahead. Because there are kindreds walking this journey who understand.  Friends who went from being strangers to become brothers and sisters.  Friends who have made space in their lives to help me.  So, that I didn't have to journey so alone.

You know, words have been my trusted companions for many seasons of my life as a little girl.  I thought words were only a solitary comfort for me. But, He's transformed words to become a bridge from my heart to yours.  

Wherever you may happen to be, as you read this post, you are my Simons-of-words, carrying the burden with me, swapping stories and reading in between the lines.  We are fellow sojourners of faith with Jesus.

Take A Moment

Who are the Simons in your life that have won a special place in your personal history?

Who has carried your cross? Who has helped you in your life, whether in your spiritual journey or otherwise?

Who has prayed for you? Who has been there for you?

Who has been your Simon?

None of us can make it through this life alone. Even Jesus journeyed with trusted friends, many of which were killed because of their association with Him.

Take a moment and think of someone who has helped you along your journey.

Picture them. What they said. How they said it. What they did. How they did it.

Close your eyes and think of them.  Pray for them. As you do, thank God for them. Ask God to bless and protect them.

As you feel prompted, write them an email.  Or walk over to your drawer, find note card, pick up your pen and write them a message of thanks to them.

Take a moment to thank these understated people who have helped you climb the hill of life.

A Beautiful Truth

And if you're struggling to think of a Simon, yet longing to need one, dare to let someone know of your need.  Someone safe.  Someone who has walked a journey similar to yours.  

Pull someone into your story, so they can help you carry and lighten the burden.

I'm going to be sending today's post to some Simons in my life. And thanking them.

Because they've transformed my need for someone to become a beautiful truth.

And I'm no longer so lonely in my heart anymore.

We all need someone.

That needing is good because it creates space for God to enter in. And love us through others.

Thank you Jesus for walking the lonely road, so I don't have to walk lonely anymore. You've made it okay for me to need someone.  I'm thinking of you.  Thank you. I love you. You are beautiful to me. Amen.

~~~~~~

Take a moment to be present in this moment.

Pull up a chair. Share a comment below. As you feel prompted.

~~~~~

{ Today’s post is part of Bonnie Gray's  Lent-inspired reflections called {The Journey} series. Click here for read the entire series.  Lent means "The Way of the Cross".  In other words, Lent is "The Journey". May the quiet space here in this blog post provide a moment for you -- as we explore these Journey-Inspired prompts together.}  

Written by Bonnie Gray, the Faith Barista, author of Finding Spiritual Whitespace: Awakening Your Soul To Rest. (Revell Books. Pre-order today. Release date: June 3, 2014.)   

Finding Spiritual Whitespace guides readers on a journey to create space in life to slow down, feed their souls, draw closer to God and enjoy rest.  Through heart-breaking honesty and practical insight, Bonnie chronicles her unexpected journey through anxiety and painful memories, to discover a better story for her life, one that makes room for God, for beauty and rest, right in the midst of our stress-frayed everyday lives. 

Bonnie Gray is the soulful writer behind FaithBarista.com serving up shots of faith for the daily grind.  She is a contributor at DaySpring (in)courage and her writing has been spotighted by Christianity Today and nationally syndicated through McClatchy-Tribune News Services. After graduating from UCLA, Bonnie served as a missionary, ministry entrepreneur, and Silicon Valley high-tech professional. She lives in Northern California with her husband, Eric, and their two sons.

** Don't miss! ** If you are new to Faith Barista, I'd like welcome you here.Click to subscribe by email and get each post in this series served up hot and fresh directly in your mailbox.


{In the heart of every person lies the quiet bloom of a little child.}

 

She looked so cute. As a button.

She sparkled dancing brown eyes that smiled, a dimple on her left cheek, as wispy strands of soft chestnut hair pulled up in ponytail fringed her sweet face.

"She's five," my friend Amy* whispered back when I asked her silently with my mouth how old this little girl was.

"You're soooo cute! 'You know that?" I turned back to say to the little girl playfully, stooping down to crinkle my nose and let out a giggle to match hers. 

She's bashful, but not shy. 

I knew that behind her sunshine smile, laid a story I did not need to hear, in order to know it would be hard.

Special

My friend Amy is a foster parent. And this little girl with slender wrists and pint-sized legs was a new house guest I hadn't met before.

"What your name?" I asked.

She twisted and turned and told me quietly.

"Oh... what a beautiful name..." I cooed.

"I love your cardigan. Pink looks pretty on you... and look at your shoes.  Mary Jane's in pink glitter!" I ask her if pink's her favorite color. She nods.  Pink and turquoise are tied as my two favorites, I tell her in return.

"We went shopping yesterday...  And she picked out her own clothes... " Amy chimes in, standing nearby.

"Well, you did a great job!  You look beautiful." And as she beamed with pride,  I asked her if I could give her a hug.

As I wrapped my arms around her, I didn't know if I'd get to see her next time.  Because you never know how long a child stays or passes through.  

So, I looked deep into her eyes until I felt her soul look into mine.

And then, I told her as tenderly as I could. 

Jesus loves you very much, sweetheart.

You are a very special little girl.  Don't you ever forget that.

You are special.

And she smiled.

Maybe

I couldn't stop thinking of Special Little Girl when I went home.

I cried because she was so young. I cried because it broke my heart imagining her all by herself in this big wide world.  Without a home.  Without someone to turn to.  Who would call her their very cherished own.

I cried because there is a part of me who is learning to come home too.

I cried because in the same breath, I know there will always be a piece of me that will never quite be home. Because we're all just passing through in this pilgrimage of faith.

Maybe that is why Jesus had to share one last meal with his friends before he had to die.

Maybe when Jesus looked into the eyes of everyone he had been living, traveling, sleeping alongside and eating with -- and celebrating three birthdays alongside -- he saw the little boys and girls hidden within each of them.

He knew they would feel scared, lonely and abandoned -- when they would wake up one morning and find Him gone. When they would walk into the bedroom where Jesus usually slept and see the bed lay bare, too neatly folded and empty.

Remember

Jesus probably felt so troubled and yet, the best way He could think of to spend the last night together was to wash their feet, break some bread, and lift up a cup.

To put their sandals back on for them and then rest at a table together. To share a meal. And make an oath.

He made a new promise they had never, ever heard anyone make to them.

They would be reunited one day.

It was a blood promise.  And He would give up his own body to be battered and bruised -- to be thrown to the side and lashed open -- in order to keep his promise.

Remember me.

Jesus whispered.

Whenever you eat this bread… of brokenness...

Whenever you drink from this cup… of life pouring out...

Remember me.

 

A Thousand Pieces

Next time I saw Amy, I asked her.  "How is Special Little Girl?"

"Oh, Bonnie…" my friend sadly confided. "Her mother came for her visit… and it was just awful."

"What happened?" I was afraid to ask.

"You know what she did?"  Amy asked, anger tinging her words.

"What?" I couldn't imagine.

"She took one look at Special Little Girl… looked her up and down… and the first things she said to her was -- 'You look stupid.'"

And my heart broke into a thousand pieces right then in there for Special Little Girl.

I find out that Special Little Girl will soon have no family to belong to.  She is going to be "terminated" from her family. The courts had taken her away from her mother, only to have her father beat her. Then she was passed to her aunt and uncles -- and then to her grandparents.  They all beat her. When she arrived at my friend Amy's house, her legs held shadows of lashes across them.

Where are you, God?

How can you let this happen?

It's too evil and too wrong for you to allow this to happen.

How can you stand it?!

When I told my husband Eric, his heart broke into a thousand pieces too. And together we prayed for Special Little Girl.

Please Lord Jesus, take care of her.  Find her a new home.

Send loving people to adopt her. Protect her in the secret place inside until that day.

I Promise

As I wrestled with feelings of anger and sadness, my heart kept returning to a room lit by the quiet flames one dark night. Where Jesus was hiding secretly away with the disciples, as He said his last words --

Remember me.

I promise.

I am coming back for you.

I'm not going to leave you orphans.

You belong to me.

I promise.

And I see the lashings on his back, his legs, and even his face. How people who should have loved him put a robe on his back and spit on him and said he looked stupid.

How His heart broke in a thousand pieces.

And I try very hard to remember. The truth.

Jesus remembers. You. And Me.

Jesus remembers Special Little Girl.

Sooner than later, I pray.

Help Special Little Girl find a home. 

Sooner than later, Jesus.

The Next Time

The next time I take the cup and swallow the wine.

The next time I place the bread on my tongue, I am going to remember Jesus. And Special Little Girl. And long for His promise to come true.

Sooner than later. For all of us.

For in the heart of every man or woman lies the quiet bloom of a little boy or girl.

We are all on the journey -- in different ways -- to find our hearts' true homes.

Loved and cherished in the heart of Jesus.

Special little boys.

Special litle girls.

 

"I sought the Lord, and He answered me,
And delivered me from all my fears.

They looked to Him and were radiant,
And their faces will never be ashamed.

This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him
And saved him out of all his troubles.

The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him,
And rescues them.

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
And saves those who are crushed in spirit." 

~ Psalm 34:4-7, 18

"He heals the brokenhearted
and binds up their wounds…

He sustains the humble
but casts the wicked to the ground."
~ Psalm 147

 

~~~~~

Is there a promise you're holding onto… to come true for you?

Pull up a chair.  Share a comment below.

This is a quiet place for you and me.

~~~~~  

{If you know a friend who is doing the hard soul work of foster parenting} Send them an email, give them a hug, or gift them with a Starbuck's card to bring them a smile. Let them know the heart and homes they're opening up to the little boys and girls makes a real difference.

Having processed memories from my past, I know the power of even a stranger's beautiful words spoken to me.  Random gestures from others are remembered -- forging beautiful, deep and lasting signatures of Jesus' voice, hands and heart into my memories.  

Those memories can even be unspoken, but they were all felt. They have made my story beautiful and loved, standing out more powerfully among the broken pieces.

{So, the next time you see a child} smile, say hello, and let the love in your heart touch them through that simple gesture.

{And for all of you who parent little ones and work with children} be encouraged to know how very significant you are. You hold a very special place in a child's heart. Jesus is touching that child through you.

~~~~~

New 4-Week Series:  {The Journey}

For the four weeks leading up to Easter, I'm selecting soulful prompts to reflect movements in Lent.  Lent means "The Way of the Cross".  In other words, Lent is "The Journey". I hope this quiet space here in this blog post provides a moment for you -- as we explore these Journey-Inspired prompts together. Let's do this. You and me. Us and together. Let's swap some stories.

{ Today’s post is part of Bonnie Gray's {The Journey} series. Click here for read the entire series. }

Written by Bonnie Gray, the Faith Barista, author of Finding Spiritual Whitespace: Awakening Your Soul To Rest. (Revell Books. Pre-order today. Release date: June 3, 2014.)   

Finding Spiritual Whitespace guides readers on a journey to create space in life to slow down, feed their souls, draw closer to God and enjoy rest.  Through heart-breaking honesty and practical insight, Bonnie chronicles her unexpected journey through anxiety and painful memories, to discover a better story for her life, one that makes room for God, for beauty and rest, right in the midst of our stress-frayed everyday lives. 

Bonnie Gray is the soulful writer behind FaithBarista.com serving up shots of faith for the daily grind.  She is a contributor at DaySpring (in)courage and her writing has been spotighted by Christianity Today and nationally syndicated through McClatchy-Tribune News Services. After graduating from UCLA, Bonnie served as a missionary, ministry entrepreneur, and Silicon Valley high-tech professional. She lives in Northern California with her husband, Eric, and their two sons.

** Don't miss! ** If you are new to Faith Barista, I'd like welcome you here.Click to subscribe by email and get each post in this series served up hot and fresh directly in your mailbox.

(*) Amy is not her real name. Amy is the name I gave my friend in today's blog post to protect her privacy and the Special Little Girl.


(photo credit: nicole pierce photography)
 

I had just finished proofing the final book pages last week.

In the page-proof stage of getting a manuscript to print, all edits have already been made and mistakes have been corrected.  The goal of reviewing page proofs is confirming page layout, pagination and catching final egregious errors that might have strayed from the sieve of the editor's red pen.

The time to tweak a word, remove any sentences that have been sitting on the fence, or add any more words have passed.

That secret writing space within me, where no one is in the room as I write except Jesus and me and the ever faithful imagined close confidante is now giving way to a very public space.  Suddenly, the reality of what is about to happen gripped me.

I won't be able to take a single word back.

I was exhilarated, sad and scared at the same time. I am saying goodbye to never hiding again.  My memories are going to become a part of you very soon.  And your memories will become a part of me too.  As we meet between the pages of a book.

Behind Every Lost Dream

Together, we are going to be taking a journey together.  And my heart bursts at the joy of it all.  

Is it true? This secret beautiful place where everything is real inside me is now going to be shared -- as others find their voice speaking their stories too?

I decided to go out and get some whitespace -- time alone to feed my soul.

I went outside to take a walk. It had been raining the day before. First rainfall here in Silicon Valley in the new year.

The air was still moist and the sky a moving palette of gray, white and blue. I was walking on a trail near my house. It was very quiet. The winter brisk air felt good against my skin.

As my body started getting into the rhythm of the walk, my mind traveled back into memories drenched fresh, from chain-proofing the design pages for hours.

A college-age looking guy in a blue t-shirt and jeans walking his dog walked towards me on the trail.  I looked down as he walked past. Absorbed in my own world, I didn't want to make eye contact.

As I looked back and saw he was gone, the trail in front of me was clear.  No one was in sight for a long stretch. And then, I began to cry.

Because in the journey of writing this book to you, I've lost some dreams, alongside some other dreams that have been found

And now as those broken dreams will soon breathe their first breath in print, they will always be a part of my story.

But, behind every lost dream lies a new dream waiting to be found.

I'm choosing to believe God is taking them all and transforming it into a new journey -- that is more beautiful than the broken ones.

I realize joy and sorrow are two sides of the same coin.

That I can't fully be held in the embrace of one without allowing myself to embrace the other.

Yet in the moment, I felt ashamed of the parts of my story where I feel unloved.

Bocce

As the sorrow struck deep, I suddenly heard a very loud barking.  So loud, it jumped into my heart and blasted past the tears.

I looked up and saw that the dog that had passed me moments earlier, was now ahead of me. A golden labrador, with charcoal eyes sparkling under soft eyebrows, a cute black nose and floppy ears was whimpering, yelping and frantically trying to pull away from his owner.

The owner and the dog had apparently passed by me on his walk back while I was eyes-closed crying.

But, now, the college guy was pulling with all his weight on the leash of his four-legged walking companion. 

But the dog was no longer walking. 

He was jumping, trying to propel himself forward by might.

Towards me.

I wasn't sure if he was really looking at me, my eyes blurred from tears.

I tried to move out of his line of sight, figuring he saw a bird or a cat scurrying somewhere behind me.  Or was it a poodle he caught wind of somewhere nearby?

As I zig zagged a bit, the dog did not take his eyes off me.  The muscles in his legs taut, his bark piercingly loud and insistent.

"Does he want me to pet him?!" I yell over to the owner across the barking.

"I'm sorry!  I'm sorry!" the college guy yelled back apologetically bearing down on with all his might in a tug of war on the dog's collar.

"I think he wants me to pet him!" I yell again.

The college guy can't hear me.  He's trying to control his dog.  "I don't know why he's like this!… Bocce!!  Bocce!!"  He hollers. "What's wrong with you?!"

I knew.  Once I heard his name, I rushed over to Bocce.

"Bocce!" I cried tears fresh again.  "You know, don't you, Bocce?" I reached out my hand gently to see if he'll lick it. "You know I'm sad ,don't you?"

Bocce circles me, whimpers more quietly now. Settles down a little bit.  But, still frantically pacing back and forth around me.

"Are you sad?" Bocce's owner asks me.

I nod, as I try to pet Bocce.  I don't want to talk.

"Why?  Why are you so sad?" College Guy asks me. "If you want to talk about it, I'm a good listener…"

Tears start streaming and I can't seem to wipe them away with my arm.

"Did someone pass away?…" No, I shake my head. I take a second glance at College Guy. He looks like Bocce a bit.  Kind.

"I'm sad... because of a dream I've always had… in my past... I just realized.  It's never going to come true."  And I start sobbing like a little girl lost in the pasta aisle at the grocery store.

"Oh, don't cry…" College Guy says.  Bocce starts loud barking whimpering yelps at me again. Jumping like crazy.

"It's okay, Bocce…" I tell my new furry friend. I open my hand to smooth him across his back. "Let's take a walk…"

Then College Guy, Bocce and I begin to walk together. I tell my story. And I ask about his as well.

What We Were Made For

In a stretch of a trail lined with tall sweeping trees, Bocce listened quietly to us while exploring bushes, sniffing dirt, sticks and what-not off beaten the path.

As College Guy and I swap stories, my heart swells.

Because I understood something deep and real: sorrow makes the path wider for others to join you.

Because behind every dream lost lies dreams that sorrow cannot erase. Sorrow leads us on a journey to find all that we were made for: love, joy, hope, and faith.

As I lowered my head in prayer at night on Ash Wednesday, picturing Jesus staring ahead at a trail he had to walk alone one cold day, I understand very deeply how much He loves me.

Journey

Jesus tasted the heartache of dreams lost as he walked one last journey -- placing one foot in front of the other, feeling the choking sorrow of each step to the cross -- so that you and I don't have to take the same journey alone.

You and I.

We are standing six weeks from the day Jesus found Himself in the embrace of sorrow on a cross, so that He can embrace us today, so we can find ourselves held in the safety of His love.

Sorrow and passion. {Journey.}

For Jesus, sorrow and passion led Him on a journey that brought us closer to Him in a completely new way. For the first time ever.

Could sorrow and passion lead us to the same sacred place with each other?

My heart is coming alive with every story that I'm living.  With every story you are living.

I'm on a new journey with Jesus. I am becoming more real.  

And I'm not alone anymore.

Here together.  Where we swap stories. The ones unspoken.

The ones we are able to express quietly in our journals, in our prayers.

In quiet moments when we confide between friends, husbands and wives, mothers, fathers and children.

Even with strangers.

I'll never forget how Jesus sent me Bocce. To give me a hug.

To tell me my story is worth telling.

Because it is leading me to find others who have stories too.

"Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go back to the Father. Having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end." ~ John 13:1

~~~~~

What is the journey you're on?

How is Jesus showing up in unexpected ways on your journey?

Pull up a chair. I'm listening. Share a comment below.

~~~~~

New 4-Week Series:  {The Journey}

For the four weeks leading up to Easter, I'm selecting soulful prompts to reflect movements in Lent.  Lent means "The Way of the Cross".  In other words, Lent is "The Journey". I hope this quiet space here in this blog post provides a moment for you -- as we explore these Journey-Inspired prompts together. Let's do this. You and me. Us and together. Let's swap some stories.

{ Today’s post is part of Bonnie Gray's {The Journey} series. Click here for read the entire series. }

Written by Bonnie Gray, the Faith Barista, author of Finding Spiritual Whitespace: Awakening Your Soul To Rest. (Revell Books. Pre-order today. Release date: June 3, 2014.)   

Finding Spiritual Whitespace guides readers on a journey to create space in life to slow down, feed their souls, draw closer to God and enjoy rest.  Through heart-breaking honesty and practical insight, Bonnie chronicles her unexpected journey through anxiety and painful memories, to discover a better story for her life, one that makes room for God, for beauty and rest, right in the midst of our stress-frayed everyday lives. 

Bonnie Gray is the soulful writer behind FaithBarista.com serving up shots of faith for the daily grind.  She is a contributor at DaySpring (in)courage and her writing has been spotighted by Christianity Today and nationally syndicated through McClatchy-Tribune News Services. After graduating from UCLA, Bonnie served as a missionary, ministry entrepreneur, and Silicon Valley high-tech professional. She lives in Northern California with her husband, Eric, and their two sons.

** Don't miss! ** If you are new to Faith Barista, I'd like welcome you here.Click to subscribe by email and get each post in this series served up hot and fresh directly in your mailbox.

{photo credit: nicole.pierce.photography via flickr}

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Example: "Gen 1:1" "John 3" "Moses" "trust"
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