Advent: Day 4

There’s a kind of waiting that hurts me the most: seeing those I love in their times of waiting. I want to help and know there is really no way for me to help, but to make space. I want to fix and give them a kidney if it would help, but know that would only harm our relationship. I want to cover them with encouragement, even though they often seem to fall short. I hate seeing those I love, not there yet.

And I have to remind myself, there are so many victories and transformations privately happening that can only happen if I let go of control and let them ride this storm. I have to remind myself, I don’t see the full picture. I have to trust that they are much stronger than I know. I have to trust that god’s got them, and gods ways are bajillion times kinder, wiser, more magical than anything I could conjure up. These moments remind me that I am human and I am not alone in my waiting and they are not alone in their waiting. We wait alone, together.

So here’s to my beautiful life partners — you are doing it and I am cheering you on. You are in the thick of it and if you need a hand, I am here with what you need. I want everything for you while knowing not much of what exactly your heart craves. I am here with you. I am here with you in this valley. I pray for you incessantly, when I rise, when I bathe, when I walk, whenever you pop into my mind. I pray that I don’t get in the way of the magic that is about to come your way. I am sending you hugs and hopes and celebratory arms, because you alive, still going for your dream is full of victory. I’m here, waving at you, throwing my cheesy thumbs up. I know a thing or two about waiting, so hey. We wait together.

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!

Advent: Day 1

Advent is anticipation, it’s waiting, it’s knowing that good is coming…and we gotta be patient.

When I’m hangry, the time before my feeding is brutal. I feel like I have lost control of my emotions. I feel like I could bite someone’s head off if they say the wrong thing. I feel pissed and then more pissed because I don’t know why I’m so pissed. When I finally realize it’s because I’m hungry, I get a spurt of light and hope. Ah, a solution!! I forgive myself for the thoughts and feelings and potentially behaviors before my need realization. Sometimes I brave the wait by trying to convince myself the hunger will pass. Actually if you press long enough, the hunger does pass. Other times I immediately go venturing for the food. Now if I’m in search for food, this time is also brutal. Because the solution is clear and feels close, yet too far away. I get focused. I get quiet. I am determined. This is also vulnerable territory because any obstacle can be a land mine. But then when I get that first bite, I am blown away, like heaven has come to meet me in my mouth. I love everyone. I love this food. I am grateful. I forget that I was once upon a time, a minute ago, about to slay and rage. I am simply overcome by this food that I knew would cure me, yet also didn’t fully know would bring me so much life.

Why this story? Because advent can feel like this slew of this and that and pissy attitude, even when you know what’s about to come. Because advent, anticipation, waiting and future promises can bring up a lot of feelings and doubts and land mines? Because you might not even know what this advent uncovers! I know the coming of hope and Justice is damn good and is about to, has come.

But the in between, the moments when your body and the world seem to take over, need to be acknowledged and embraced. It’s okay to be pissy and hungry and longing and disappointed and dissatisfied and excited and impatient and patient and … all of it. Take a breath. Allow for it.

What are you waiting for?

What do you know without a doubt, is going to happen, but just requires some trust in timing?

Can you anticipate good instead of glum? Can you anticipate all your dreams and promises coming true? Can you anticipate god’s YES for you?

God’s got a plan for ya! (Thank you and Fuck you.)

The last thing a person wading through waiting wants to hear is, “God’s got a plan for ya!” “Thank you so much for sweeping right over my present emotional state and desperate cry for help by reflecting some Sunday school truth that only makes YOU feel better! Thank you so much for smacking me in the face with a block of promise that makes God feel disappointing, slow to work and absent. Thank you for ignoring the human in front of you for the desire to be some sort of faithful sounding hero. Thank you so much! Thank you.”

I’m not frustrated by your pithy saying because I don’t believe it. I’m angry and sad because I do believe it so fully while feel like a scared desperate child. Yes and yes. I know God has plan for me. I have to believe that or why bother going on in this world that feels on the verge of a global explosion. I’m angry and sad because when you say, “God’s got a plan for ya,” I am reminded of my inability to control the future, my exhaustion from trying to predict the future and my need for a god who does have a mighty magical plan for me. I am sad and scared and I have great faith that things will pan out. I am angry and tired and hopeful that being present right now leads to the next right thing.

Humans spoon out trash sayings and advice. However if we allow it, egos aside and our radar for best intentions on, even that can become treasure. God has a plan for me. Right now I am feeling eh and expectant in the plan.

Coming Home

Does it feel like everyone is one stare, one shove, one slight away from a breakdown and/or a lashing out? I feel it on the train. I feel it on the streets. I feel that I’m one of the said folks. We’re in the middle of a pandemic that feels like a false tail end of living our best lives and feels like the shoe will drop any minute now which is why we’re living our best lives. Also best lives? Right alongside all this: Climate change. Afghanistan. Banning reproductive rights. Evictions.

So it feels like champagne problems to say I feel lost and gray and restless. I have so much. I’m alive. I have folks who love me. I have a laptop that allows me to blog this post. But can I just have this moment, like the private good cry I had while watching 30 Rock yesterday during the middle of the day?

I wish I could do the thing I love most.
I wish I felt like all the moments till now are just prepping me for something big that’s about to happen.
I wish I didn’t doubt this calling I keep reassuring myself with.
I wish I would just be grateful and happy that I can crash at my parents’ house instead of feeling like I’m trapped.
I wish I had a place I could call home and buy my own plant.
I wish I knew things will work out, whatever that means. I think it feels like a big OH and WOAH and I SEE, NOW!
I wish I felt more seen.
I wish I didn’t think Christians who throw around — “I have the joy of the Lord,” “I will pray for you,” “The Spirit is carrying me through,” and the rest of those phrases that only seem “real” when you’re at the center of that kind of faith-led blessing — were just faking it and unable to meet me in my emotional gray cave.
I wish I really did trust in being present in the moment.
I wish I knew what my next step needs to be.
Because of all deep well of wishes and desires I feel sad and angry and scared.

Yet somehow in my gray and in my self-pity, I happen to still feel God’s presence. When I allow for the anxiety and control to pause, I feel God’s kind love for me. I get a surge of hope that miracles happen. I remember again that the gospel is it, and if I can show God’s love, then today, this moment is a victory.

Faith and God are my most vulnerable spaces because here is where I hold my most doubts and my biggest hope. With God is where I feel most alive and drives me to live my life bravely. With God I feel the most angry and upset that I am not getting my way! (I’m sure it’s for the best….right?) I write this because I need to remind myself it is okay that I still love God even if I don’t look it on the outside or post scripture in my social media. I need God. I am a desperate skeptical human being, and only by the grace of God am I still here. I may not have a physical home I can safely and proudly call mine. I may not have a career that I can proudly and excitedly exclaim. But I have a home in God that I keep coming back to, and for that I am grateful.

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.

Conscience-stricken Action

After Saul returning from pursuing the Philistines, he was told, ‘David is in the Desert of En Gedi.’ So Saul took three thousand able young men from all Israel and set out to look for David and his men near the Crags of the Wild Goats. He came to the sheep pens along the way; a cave was there, and Saul went in to relieve himself. David and his men were far back in the cave. Then men said, ‘This is the day the Lord spoke of when he said to you, ‘I will give your enemy into your hands for you to deal with as you wish.’ Then David crept up unnoticed and cut off a corner of Saul’s robe. Afterward, David was conscience-stricken for having cut off a corner of his robe. He said to his men, ‘The Lord forbid that I should do such a thing to my master, the Lord’s anointed, or lay my hand on him; for he is the anointed of the Lord.’ With these words David sharply rebuked his men and did not allow them to attack Saul. And Saul left the cave and went his way. Then David went out of the cave and called out to Saul, ‘My lord the king!’ When Saul looked behind him, David bowed down and prostrated himself with his face to the ground.

1 Samuel 24:1-8

What does it take for David to let Saul go even though if the places were reversed, David would probably be dead? How does David have this level of faith and compassion, the faith that Saul might receive him after this pardon and the compassion to not kill the person who hates him? Even with Saul’s aggression and hate, David never fell into that bitterness, spite and violence. How did he do that?

David was conscience-stricken. He was so aware of his body and how the Spirit was moving within him. He responded well to what was going on in his guts. David also never lost sight of Saul’s humanity. It takes stripping another’s humanity to enact heartless violence and pain. David still saw Saul as his master and as God’s anointed. David saw Saul better than Saul saw himself. David wasn’t threatened by Saul’s identity and that gave him the trust and love to hold space and give chance to Saul.

How can we hold onto our own identity and humanity while holding space for another’s, especially when the other doesn’t recognize our humanity? How can we extend compassion especially to those who hate us? How can we not lose the heart and compassion and the awareness of the Spirit that is aching within us? How can we assume the absolute best for those who don’t do the same for us? It is scary. It doesn’t make sense in this world. It didn’t make sense in this scene. But this kind of radical, lack of tit-and-tat, intentional forgiveness and unworldly humility change this harden landscape.

Character over circumstance

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

Romans 5:1-5

Circumstances and waves are forever. They will surround us. They will try to frustrate us. They will tempt us to be unkind and to act in ways that divide us rather than bring us together. Circumstances and things outside of our control are givens. They will want our attention. They will want us to give in and be anxious about the future or ashamed of our past. Circumstances and events will try to pull us away from the core that matters.

What grounds us and centers us are the things mentioned here: perseverance, character and hope. If we can filter out circumstances and unexpected waves through these pillars, we’ll realize that taking a breath before responding is always helpful. We’ll see that it’s harder to hold to hope and persevere in character, but the results lead to much better sleep. Come back to character. Come back to the love that is in our hearts that is made possible through the Holy Spirit. Come back to not having to justify yourself. Come back to immutable worth. Come back to the truth that if you can persevere through unwanted circumstances with character, your hope for the world, for others and for yourself feel way more tangible.

Dare you to Hope

Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? And why do you worry about your clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you — you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Matthew 6:25-34

There is a comfort and a familiarity with worrying. There is an acceptance to stress, especially at a time like now. There might even be an expectation to think about all the what if’s and have nots because that aligns with the vibe of the world. I have experienced the guilt of enjoying a moment, of receiving a generous gift, of having a genuine beautiful explosive moment during times of collective sorrow & grief. It feels selfish. It feels inappropriate. It feels like I’m living in a bubble, under a rock and oblivious to how the world is going.

Here’s the truth: the world is hurting. The world has been hurting and the world will continue to hurt. And I pray that our heart will always align with that heartache which drives us to hope and to impact. I pray that the grief and sorrow of this world would propel us to make it better and to make ourselves better. So if this is the reality, can we allow ourselves to also find moments when we don’t have to worry and instead look up at the stars and have an explosive faith that reverberates, I will be okay. Things will be okay? Can we give ourselves permission to enjoy the lilies of the field? Can we give ourselves permission to hope SO BIG that it pushes out the anxiety and fears?

So my exhortation is beyond not worrying. I dare you to enjoy. I dare you to have faith that all things will work out for your good. I dare you to know with all your heart, you will be provided for, especially when it feels empty and lacking right now. I dare you to look at the stars and at the flowers and trust that God loves you even more than those. This is scary. This is vulnerable. To not let worry be our guide but instead to spark the faith and hope in each of us is radical and will make this hurting world a bit more joyful.


And [Hannah] made a vow, saying, ‘Lord Almighty, if you will only look at your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head.’

1 Samuel 1:11

Why would Hannah want something so much only to give it back to God? What’s this immense desire coupled with outrageous promise of surrender? How can one want so much and also keep that want connected to the larger picture?

There is a faith, love and trust required to hold something you love loosely. Each moment is precious. Each moment is meaningful. Because every moment might be the last moment of holding this thing so close. Hannah knew that whatever she received was from God and therefore belonged to God’s purposes. Hannah didn’t just want a son; she wanted a son who’s life was going to be magnificent. She wanted her dreams fulfilled while the world was also impacted by her blessing. She knew that her blessing was to exist to be shared.

So what if it’s not that our desires and wants are too big, but actually not big enough? What if we dream so big it is inevitable that it would require faith and love to endure? What do you want that is so big that it will not only impact you but call into power and presence the purposes of God? Can we dream so so so out of this world that it would feel like God made it happen? Can we dream so big that it would require our priorities and focus to shift towards faith?