in-between faith

in the valley of the in-between
after letting go of former things or finishing well something proper
waiting for the next right thing
inhaling the weight of this unpredictable life
exhaling the fear of nothing coming again
inhaling the emptiness
exhaling the ambient loneliness ever present
i find faint comfort in darling phrases
this too shall pass
the lord is my shepherd I lack nothing
what is mine will not pass me by

instead of accepting and feeding the wallow
instead I dare to fan the flame of my pale faith
until it deepens and darkens
roots in my body so the truth
of my enoughness has already arrived even if nothing is to change
of my hope of what is to come is about to change everything

Lent 2022: Under the Banner of Annoyance

I came home after a 16 mile run and I’m running behind to go to church service. The last thing I want to find is an occupied bathroom, and worst a roommate who takes his sweet time in it. I’m seething in my spirit, aching in my body, and positive he’s taking longer because he knows I need the restroom.

^^What do I gain by thinking that his bathroom usage was a personal affront to me? What do I gain by thinking that folks are not mindful? What do I gain by thinking the world is out to get me?

It gives me permission to be PISSED. It gives me permission to not be as kind as I should be. It gives me permission to armor up and fight the next person who looks at me wrong.

I am highly sensitive and I get irritated so easily. Because under my quickness to get annoyed is my grip on control — things need to be according to MY timeline, people need to act according to how I THINK, in my brain.

I wish I could say, now that I know, now that I’ve verbalized my flaw, I am ready to let go and surrender. Quite the opposite, now that I know, I feel myself doubling down on my need to control and my fear of surrender. I’m afraid that when I let go, I won’t be able to put the lid back on. I’m afraid that if I surrender my agenda, and the story that the world is against me, I’ll need to show up even more. When you show up more, you risk getting hurt more… but you also risk more joy and discovery.

I think I loved the pandemic emotions because I was allowed to be sad and scared without having to explain myself. I mean, look outside. But now that the pandemic is falling to the background and the world is opening up again, I see myself putting on the mask of happy and gratitude, when I’m just desperate to be sad and be disappointed. I believe you can be sad and disappointed without self-pity, and I want to be that, without having to explain myself, without having to first give a disclaimer of joy.

I love my sadness and fear because I’m sensitive and vulnerable and easily affected by the feels of the world. Now I want to be comfortable to exist in that without the gearing up to fend off people that want to fix me or make me feel better. I want to be confident enough in myself that how you see me isn’t as important as me living honestly.

Advent: Day 2

I think we should scrap from our repertoire, how old are you?, (unless there is a biological-time-sensitive-related response). After I respond with my age, first I get the the slightest of pauses, then for the most part, though I’m not sure for how much longer, it is then followed up with, oh you still’ve got time or oh you’re young, don’t worry about that! It’s as if my age placed me in this system of time + milestone expectations, and for the time being, I’m still falling within my “window of time.” The worry for me can subside, if for a bit. The anxiety on my behalf, can fade, momentarily. I have once again received a soft stamp of YOU HAVE NOT COMPLETELY FAILED YET! With the silent but ever present, BUT REMEMBER, YOU DON’T HAVE ALL DAY, ALL LIFE, GET ON IT!

Or maybe all that preamble rambling exists because I am very self-conscious of my age. Because I do have ambient fear that my time is running out — to have a partner and travel before having a baby, to even have a biological baby, to play a teenager on TV, to drink merrily and wake up without a killer migraine. Because there are many things I want to accomplish and achieve before my parents are too old to celebrate with me. Because every time I turn on the TV or read the news, all the gold medalists, literally and figuratively, are younger than me.

Waiting with full awareness of a ticking clock can be full of anxiety. Each passing minute can feel like another minute that didn’t fulfill a desire. Each coming minute can be full of pressure and expectation. Each present minute is just the cream in the middle that we don’t even enjoy. I can’t tell you to simply, enjoy the present moment, even though that is literally what must do otherwise you’ll waste your life obsessing and worrying. Thing is enjoying the present moment is pretty damn scary & brave. It’s allowing yourself to take in the space and people around you at every moment. It’s giving yourself permission not to stress about what’s about to come, which requires a trust in timing. It’s embracing all that comes up in each moment, because when you pause and revel like this, a lot comes up. Smells. Sensations. Surprises. And when this happens, you are reminded how damn human you are, how porous and how fragile and how powerful.

So every time you are tempted to stress and compare, and figure out your placement in this timeline of should’s, I encourage you to feel your feet on the floor or your butt on the chair, take a deep breath and take it all in.

What are you surrounded by?

What are you full of?

What just surprised you? And now! And now!

Lent Day 3: I give up The Need to Keep it Together

Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.

Isaiah 58:8-9

There is dark so light can break through. There is hurt so healing can appear. There are moments of lapse in judgment and poor behavior so righteousness can once again shine through. There is fear so the glory of God can push me to take my next step. There is my need for help that leads to my call to God. I let go of only holding onto what’s to come without acknowledging how I feel right now. I do not need to be okay right now. I do not need to look okay. I do not need to collect myself. I get to accept, embrace, be angry, be sad, be needing right now in this moment. Because my breakthrough comes when I realize this part of myself — the part that is messy, scared, lonely, angry — is just as beautiful. I give up needing to present only the side of me that works for the people around me. I give up spending energy trying to make those around me comfortable when I am shriveling up inside. I allow myself to be all in, in the pain with hope for the joy, in the sadness with expectation of the renewal, in the fear knowing if I dare to take just one step in faith, I will fly.

The choice within

In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory.

Ephesians 1:11-12

We have been predestined to demonstrate God’s glory. Whether I live by faith or live in fear, I display God’s glory. Which is more fun? Whether I live generously or live stingy, I display God’s glory. Which makes life more delicious? Whether I live knowing my worth or live in constant self-doubt, I display God’s glory. Which inspires others? Whether I believing in God or live skeptical of anything outside of me, I display God’s glory. Which makes the next day more appealing? We are predestined to display God’s glory but you have the choice to decide how to carry that out. The outcome is the same: unity of heaven & earth, and hope triumphs over evil.

Blessed in the Mess

My heart is in anguish within me; the terrors of death have fallen on me. Fear and trembling have beset me; horror has overwhelmed me. I said, ‘Oh, that I had the wings of a dove! I would fly away and be at rest. I would flee far away and stay in the desert; I would hurry to my place of shelter, far from the tempest and storm.’
As for me, I call to God, and the Lord saves me. Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and he hears my voice. He rescues me unharmed from the battle waged against me, even though many oppose me. God, who is enthroned from of old, who does not change — he will hear them and humble them, because they have no fear of God.
Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken. But you, God, will bring down the wicked into the pit of decay; the bloodthirsty and deceitful will not live out half their days. But as for me, I trust in you.

Psalm 55

Exhaustion brews in the air. Dreaming of escaping the exhaustion takes even more work. How can I rest right here? How can I rest in the midst of my heart feeling anguish? How can I rest in the center of fear and trembling?

Try not to run away. Try not to flee. Cry out, yes, but escape, no. Cry out every hour. Cast the burdens. Cast the fears. Cast the things you care about down. Those are weighing you down. Those are holding you back. Those are trapping you in the exhaustion and the circumstances.

You will not be shaken even as the waves come crashing near. You will make it even when it feels like your legs might give way. You will be carried because that is the kind of God that is looking after us. God is unchanging even as we storm in with all our mess. He takes that mess and shows us how we can be blessed.

The Focus in Faith

Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, ‘Lord, who is going to betray you.’ When Peter saw him, he asked, ‘Lord, what about him?’ Jesus answered, ‘If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.’

John 21:20-22

Peter was literally brought back into the fold of Jesus, the most intimate and vulnerable of recommitments, before he quickly turned his focus to the other disciple John. Peter was ready to be called into deep responsibility — to feed the sheep — yet when he got word of how he was going to die, he needed to turn his focus elsewhere and get away from whatever feelings he was having in the moment. Fear? Insecurity? Unworthiness?

We may be down for Jesus’ purpose in our lives until we experience the depths of intimacy and specificity it has on each of us. It is so exposing and vulnerable, that it can push us to quickly turn the focus away from our hearts. It can sound so intense and unreal that we need to hear what it’s going to be like for others, to simply not feel alone in our fears or inadequacies.

When do you catch yourself thinking, what about them? When do you fall prey to comparison and getting wrapped up in where others will end up? When something feels unfair and overwhelming, how do you cope? Do you address those feelings or do you look out and point the finger at things/people that are not even part of your issue?

I pray you know that God has a special and particular calling for your life. If you know this, then you might be scared. You might have all kinds of feelings. Come back to the intimacy of God, to his gentleness and continual mercies. Focus on your beautiful journey. Don’t let the devil make you feel small or bitter for having a purpose and place that is hard and uncomfortable. That place is where you require the most faith and focus.

Brené Brown – courage

I feel sick.

That’s what courage feels like.

But it feels so uncomfortable.

That’s what brave feels like.

But do you feel alive?

Embracing the brave and afraid

Not allowing the pull into fear to win

over but standing between and looking ahead at the hope

of an aliveness that frees and allows all of your worth to be set out before the valiant seas

Courage is our call in life

for it brings us out of harm and strife with a sense of gentleness and compassion for others

Courage is the tip of the berg and under the water is the rooted wilderness of vulnerability

Ability to stand in the risk, uncertainty and exposure of emotions

Ability to stand tall and know yet still your worth is secure

and even if I disappoint, even if I fail, even if I am marred and kicked, I can stand up again and say

I was in the arena–

Sh*t Christians Don’t Say: Dis-honor Ma & Pa

Honor your mother and father. One of the 10 commandments. Growing up hearing this over and over again, against the backdrop of a father who tried to kill me with a chair and a mother who shamed me for how dark my skin is, was difficult. Honor your mother and father. I would look up passages and search and ask to see if there was any way around this commandment. How could I honor people who harmed me? How could I continue to honor those that made me feel invisible and small?

When I tell people I’m not close to my family, people say I get that, me too. Then those same people proceed to share how they’re going on vacay with their family or how their dad sent them an article to read. I am not close to my family. They don’t ask me questions. They don’t know when I’m sad. We sit quietly at home, like true strangers in the facade of relatedness.

When I tell people, I don’t like my family. I often get, they’re doing the best they can. If you want to, you can. They’re parents etc. I’m a grown woman and my drunk dad told me I’m a disappointment and he’s been tolerating me. I’m a grown woman and as I leave to go back to LA, my dad doesn’t make eye contact with me, but instead as I’m leaving, says I’m a liar. I have no integrity. Yeah. I had written him a card saying when I was in New York I would take him out to eat. I forgot and I didn’t follow through. That’s my fault. But instead of bringing it up, he aggressively calls me a liar and shamed me as I leave. And the only reason why I know it has something to do with this meal promise is because my mom later sends me 15 voice mails about how I failed there. Yes. I didn’t follow through and fine, I lied. I made a promise and I failed. But is the way to deal with me to shame me, yell at me and make me truly never want to take him out for a meal? Also why does he want that when he doesn’t even talk to me when I’m home? He does nothing but mutter under his breath how I suck and then drink. It’s not even 9am.

When I tell people, I hate my family, I feel judged. I believe people think I’m being dramatic and callous. My parents are immigrants who sacrificed so much for me. And now there is never room for me to hate them. At what point am I no longer held to this filial obligation for something I had no control over? How much shame, fear and anger must I endure for me to have enough reason to draw my boundaries.

Honor your mother and father. I feel shame around that commandment. I feel that I will never do that enough. Is me coming home every time even after such horrific times, good enough? That’s my version of forgiveness but I can’t forget. It’s in my body. I’m miserable when I’m home. I want to cry but there’s no where to cry and as I’m writing this on the subway, I have to be careful that the floodgates don’t suddenly open.

How do I DIStance myself and not DisHonor? Does that make you more comfortable? If I never see my parents again, I really would not be sad. They haven’t been part of my life. When I think of my blood family, I am filled with grief, hurt, sadness and fear. I don’t like who I become. I don’t like how trapped I feel. Am I allowed to DISHonor my parents? Truth is, they probably already see me as a dishonorable dishonest daughter.