It was our third anniversary and my parents gave us their last weekend at their timeshare in Lake Tahoe. While we'd never experienced the glorious beauty of the west lake, in every mention of where we were going, people would rave. I mean raaaaave about it's beauty.
It'll make you think of heaven, one friend said. Especially when the water is still and glassy.
If only I'd known how much prophecy was percolating in her words.
We checked in, grabbed some dinner, and then decided to take a little drive around the lake.
Now, those of you who've been to Lake Tahoe know that "little" and "lake" aren't quite companions.
We drove in silence for the first 30 minutes, both lost in our own thoughts about the last three years. Another 30 minutes passed of small talk about how beautiful the lake really was. Then I blurted, How big is this lake?!"
And then I started crying.
And then Tyson, like the average guy, was utterly and totally confused.
You see, when we began our drive around the lake, I remembered my friends words about heaven and glassy and stillness.Man, it does look like heaven. Or at least what we perceive heaven to be. I can't wait for heaven. I can't wait for the Ctrl+Alt+Dlt button on life. Although I love my life, I know heaven will be greater.
Wait, how do I know that? How I do know God is just going to start everything over? That goes against everything we know about Him. He is a Creator, an architect, a designer and a lover of beautiful things. He takes His time. He owns time. (Click to tweet.)
So what would cause me to think that in the new heaven and new earth, all things will cease to exist as they currently are?
Tradition maybe? Bible flannel graphs? End times debacles and Armageddon tales?
But if what I know about my God, the Creator, is true, then He is currently making all things new. Without obliterating them first.
Which means, speaking directly into my situation, He is making me new.
Which means, He is making Ty new too. Right now.
That's when the tear broke the dam of responsibility.
I am not responsible for my husband’s holiness. God is.
At the time, his sin seemed way worse than mine, because, well, I had a scale by which I measured them. No matter my good intentions. Up until that point, I was so focused on purging him and "helping him," I lost sight of him. I was so focused on thehim sin was clinging to and not the him God created. The eternal parts of him. The parts that matter.
The husband. The musician. The artist. The man of his word. The integrity. The loyal. The steadfast. The committed. The fighter. The hard-worker. The warrior. The victor.
Focusing on the temporal was prohibiting my view of the eternal. The beautiful, magnificent, mind blowing eternal. (Click it to tweet it.)
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This is why I wept. I started to get uncomfortable with the silence because my thoughts were so far ahead of me, into a territory of faith and grace I'd only wished for, and I was afraid to talk about it. Especially with my husband.
Why? Because he knew me. He knew my prones and wanderings. He knew my fear and my lashes.
And what I was mulling over for the last hour had gone from curious contemplation to a big-huge-marriage-turning confession.
Babe, are you ok? He asked.
No, I'm not okay. I need to apologize to you for the last three years.
I was faking forgiveness as best I could. I tried to control situations and circumstances as "preventative" measures for this man of God I'd married. And while I liked to think it was all for him, it was actually because I was terrified of losing my fairytale. My Christian fairytale.
Until the lake.
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I'm sorry, I mustered through the ugly crying. I'm so sorry for only seeing the temporal ugly fading parts of you and completely missing the eternal parts of you. I'm sorry for holding so tightly to your holiness and not giving you freedom in our marriage. I'm sorry for holding your sin over your head in the most Christian way possible.
I'm done. No more. I want to be a safe place for you from this moment forward.
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That day, we were set free. Again.
And now that I think about it, I'm going to refer to that day as our second marriage.
We committed again. We laughed again. And we continued on our marital journey with fresh faces and clean hands.
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This post is written in response to a scarred part of my life. I share it freely for the purpose of encouragement and restoration. If you've experience sexual abuse and would like to chat, you can send me a message through Facebook.
I use to shutter at the sight of your name. Something inside of my spirit would wilt, cower, turn away whenever I encountered anything or anyone that reminded me of you.
I would lay awake at night, wondering if I was safe. If my mother and brother and sister were safe. Reading that sentence back now it seems silly really. But back then, you were my worst nightmare.
But not for the reason you might think.
I wasn't afraid of you because I thought you were a monster, though most would say otherwise. And it wasn’t because I thought you were dangerous or lethal, though some might argue you were.
I was afraid of you because of what you weren’t. You weren’t who you said you were. You weren’t the safe place you were supposed to be. I was afraid because your failure damaged that sacred place in me.
I was afraid of you because you were the hand behind the gaping wound I have in one of the deepest parts of my soul. My being. I would never be the same because of you.
Or so I thought. For a long time. As a child I thought I’d never recover. As a child, thinking juvenile thoughts with naive limitations, I thought I’d never be the same again. I was damaged. And it was you that damaged me.
He is bigger.
He is bigger than you and me and them.
He shattered the glass ceiling on healing. He very gently took down the brick walls I had built around redemption. He taught me strength and courage through the vulnerability and humility of my mother. He loved me, like a Father should, through the hands and wisdom and heart of my father. And He showed me the magnetic and supernatural of forgiveness through my husband.
Forgiveness. A power unmatched by any court or weapon or earthly force. And yet, it is accessible by all. Even me.
I've been called to forgive much because I've been forgiven of much. Thank you Jesus for that unwavering truth.
You see, forgiveness breaks chains, both physically and emotionally. Forgiveness shatters anger and resentment.
So I am not afraid of you anymore, because I choose to live free.
I am not afraid of you anymore because I forgive you.
For the sake of my redemption and yours as well.
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She was more awake today. More alert at the details that surrounded her. Pigeons pecking crumbs in the courtyard. The siren of emergency vehicles whizzing by. The man lifting his cigarette as we stood at the crosswalk.
Her eyes were wide today. We walked along the boardwalk pier and I could almost see her mind reeling. The blue. The waves. The foam. The bigness.
We've been to the ocean as a family of three more times than not. Living a dozen miles from the sand and sea has made us regulars in this little place. Venice beach is our favorite.
But today, today it was like she saw it for the first time.
"You see the water baby girl?" We'd ask, knowing her response wouldn't be verbal. "That's the ocean. The big blue ocean. It's pretty huh?"
As I stared and clicked away her facial expressions, I got excited about so many other things she has yet to see, taste, smell and touch. A forest. A mountain of snow. A fire made just for smores. A zoo filled with animals she's only been read to about.
And then my mind did something I'm finding a little too familiar these days. It skipped passed the good parts to the bad parts. As beautiful as this world is, it will crush her someday. Or at least try to.
It will push her around and call her names. It will tell her she's not good enough, not pretty enough, not smart or adequate enough.
And she will cry. And I will cry. And cry. And cry.
She will break, probably more than once.
Just the thought of her chubby ever present smile fading because life happened makes my insides knot up.
I'll just lock her in her room forever, so nothing bad can ever happen. But thanks to the foresight of Disney's fairytales, we know the will of a girl cannot be contained to the top of a tower.
I've been asking God to give me a promise for Baby Girl Mo's life. A verse or proverb I can pray over her that will foster courage and strength and beauty; more for my sake than hers.
And then I read this this morning:
"Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go." (Joshua 1:9)
Which cross-referenced to this:
"If the LORD delights in a man's way, he makes [her] steps firm; though [she] stumble, [she] will not fall, for the LORD upholds [her] with his hand. I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread. " (Psalm 34:22-23)
And then I got giddy.
She's not ours. I mean she is, but she's not fully. She's His! Our girl belongs to the Creator of the Universe, the same God that commanded and empowered giant armies, the One who raised up strong leaders out of nothing and gave them huge callings!
She is safest in His arms. Not ours.
She was purposed for His mission. Not ours.
She is more loved by Him than us. As impossible as that seems.
But so are we.
We are more loved by Him than anyone else. ( < Click to tweet)
Thank you Jesus! I prayed.
Thank you that we get to be the one to hold her and wipe her tears and bandage her battle scars. Thank you for trusting her to us so we may see and experience Your grace and love in a more tangible way.
Thank you for letting us help mold this precious little being. We'll try not to screw it up.
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I use to write because I had something to say. It wasn't always good or important, nor did every word really make sense. But it was something. With more questions than statements, writing has always been something I do because I have to. I have to.
Journalling was my sole writing outlet, before technology took over the world. I have boxes of old journals I've kept since high school. Every time we move, Ty asks, "Are you sure you need all of these? Seems a little over zealous."
I'm the girl who has more journals than time to actually write in them. It's a collection of sorts. Yea, that's what we'll call it.
Journalling became a habit at a young age when my parents bought me my first big girl Bible and a journal. I think I was 9. I felt so grown up. I remember seeing all the women come in for Bible study with their journals and Bibles in hand. One was never without the other. It was as if they were one big bulky book.
But the women in that room weren't just Bible study buddies. They were phileo friends. Friends that did life, all of life, together. Even the ugly parts. One's husband wasn't a Christian, and let the world know. The other's husband was from a different country and belief system. The other was locked in her house by her husband so she couldn't go to Bible study. And the last one was my mother, a new divorcee desperate for a sisterhood. All with children. All broken.
Journalling, to them, became the heartbeat of their gatherings. They'd bring their thoughts from the week into one place, lay them out on the table, and pray over each one. Over the next two decades, those prayers, answered and unanswered, would bind them together with a love so deep, so rich, so full of hope and substance.
They didn't journal because it was a cute, cool hobby to pass time. They journalled because they had to.
They had something to say, something to offer one another amidst their own brokeness. Even if it came out in bite sized pieces.
Regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it. Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way. (Colossians 3:14-17 MSG)
I want that.
So I keep a journal and fill it with my everyday ramblings, my scattered rabbit trails, my haunting questions and my deepest cries.
I keep it in hopes that someday, when my very own sisterhood comes together, maybe even here in this blog space, I'll have something to offer. I keep it in hopes that it adds even the tiniest bit of faith to her spirit.
And I'd encourage you to do the same. No matter how dramatic or predictable you feel your life is, you have a story that someone needs to hear. You have learned lessons the hard way and someone needs your wisdom. But they can't hear it unless you tell it.
So write. Paint. Make music. Tell your story in whatever way brings you the most joy and do it vigorously and freely. Do it for your sisterhood.
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