Reading in the Dark

I‘m not gonna lie, it’s been a rough week.

Sometimes I get really stuck in the dark and I cannot see the way ahead. There are a lot of lies that whisper to me when the lights go out. It makes my head much like a haunted house and a heavy rock of grief, stress and fear sits on my chest and it actually feels harder to breath.

This morning during corporate worship I was desperate to get away from myself and see God. I picked up my Bible and opened to Isaiah because I remembered some good stuff in there where God says who he is in a very direct way.

Isaiah 43 has been an important chapter to me for the past ten years. Before doing the School of Biblical Studies, I had a hard time reading the Bible at all. Except for Isaiah 43. My struggle was that I couldn’t see how any of the words were really for me… people talked about “claiming the promises of God,” but I couldn’t see how any of those promises were for me…

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I’m Only Sleeping

I‘m pretty sure I have jet lag every morning of my life.

I go to bed at night trying to tattoo into my mind the excitement I want to feel when my alarm goes off. In the morning, just a little too early, the cell phone song cuts through a thick fog of dreams, disturbing and addictive dreams. Whatever I thought the night before no longer ever existed. Coming up out of the water of sleep, my eyes sting and I suck in handfuls of air trying to find my phone in the dark. I sit up after turning the noise off and I take breaths that come from somewhere deep, like my body is the earth and some hidden cavern holds life, miles and miles from the surface.

Sometimes I check the media on my phone, little slices of affirmation or conflict that I feel dully, but feel more than understand. If I have enough wisdom, I refrain from looking at my phone because I know that all of those panting dogs will wait.

I blink, blink, close my eyes reminding them what it’s like to be awake. “Be awake!” I try to shout to my insides because they weigh so much more than usual…

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Holler

If I could create a drawing that described this year, it would probably be a comic strip. The whole thing would be a roller coaster ride.

After sitting here thinking for a while, I realize that describing the pictures I would draw is probably less effective than just describing the year itself.

January: This was a month of great elation. I had just completed the School of Biblical Studies, which is a marathon of studying for 9 months. I had puffy, bluish skin under my eyes and a great big smile on my face.

February: I went home for 6 weeks to “raise support.” I put it in quotes because that is not as concrete an activity as some might make it out to be. Basically I hung out with my friends, made new friends, and spoke to a few groups of people about the work I feel called to do as a Missionary….

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The Cycle of Surrender

There are predictable stages to my cycles of growth. Unfortunately several of these stages are so disorienting that each time they occur I feel like Alice sliding down the rabbit hole. And they are only predictable in retrospect. I guess that means they aren’t predictable, but identifiable.

I get lost in my head sometimes. Some places are dark and foreboding. Some thoughts are loud and overbearing and sometimes they lie.

I don’t mean that I “hear voices,” but my own voice, or the echoes in my memory of things other people have said- sometimes these become more vivid than the real world around me….

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Here With Me

For a while now I have been feeling… for lack of a better word… desperate. This isn’t the only thing I’ve been feeling but it has been a pervasive emotion. This morning I woke up early, my will overpowering the desire I had to just keep sleeping and while I was going about my usual routine to get ready I was mentally standing before God with my shoulders bowed and my hands lifted up.

“Help.”

“Help me, God.”

“Be here, God.”

This prayer to ask God to “be here” is a little funny because where is he not? Every time I pray this (and I pray it a lot), I end up amending my prayer to say, “God, give me the grace to be here with you.”….

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Flee From Cookie Immorality

I‘m back on the wagon.

By that, I mean, I’ve stopped eating sugar…. again. It’s possibly comparable to, say, trying to quit smoking in Ireland or  trying to not eat bread in Germany.

Sugar. Is. Everywhere.

I successfully gave up sugar last year for about 5 months. And then earlier this year I gave it up for Lent. 

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Whenever I talk about this to people they invariably suggest moderation. It’s a good suggestion (and a popular one). Unfortunately, sugar is my trigger to not eat in moderation… so if I just choose one day a week to eat sugar? I spend the two days after that fighting with all of my being to not eat sugar. Whereas, if I never eat it, then I have a much easier time resisting. Not only that, but my cravings in general are reduced…..

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Demolition

I remember years ago that I felt like I was being deconstructed. Lately it’s much more like aggressive demolition.

How do I explain that?

Here is the interesting juxtaposition happening… reading through New Testament letters- all of them eloquently hammering home the reality that Jesus is enough. Jesus is the final word on what God thinks of me. I cannot earn His love. I don’t have to. I have His love. Book after book, page after page, this point is being shouted…..

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Relentless Mercies

Today was so incredible and I’m not sure if I can put it into words that will do it justice.

For a start, last night was not good. Bad zombie nightmare and then no sleeping… bad dreams  for my roommate as well and for the kid who lives next door to us (my roommate heard him screaming after she woke up from her nightmare).

But when I woke up very early to work out, I was full of excitement. I refused to let a bad night influence such a day as today.

Just in the introductions this morning I felt an almost overwhelming gratitude rising up in me. I admit I got choked up several times.
Then during worship (which involves the whole base) they all prayed for us students and our staff. I had four different people pray for me things that God has been speaking to me in the last few weeks- using specific words He had used to me. I just stood with my head bowed, nodding and crying because again, God is so good and faithful and generous. He speaks and all of His plans are good….

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Words with a Pulse

I‘m undergoing some serious change here. I want to put it into words and share it but I’m not sure where to start.

One thing God is doing is making His word (you know, the Bible) like this living, breathing creature I carry around in my purse. I open it and it SPEAKS. Have you ever read a book that described something so vividly that you could picture it like a scene played out before you in 3D? It’s kind of like that, only it’s like I look at the words on the page (usually I’m reminded of a small piece- a phrase like “for the joy set before him”… and so I go to see what the words around the phrase mean) and it’s like they are being spoken into my ear and piercing deep into my heart.

The other day I was watching part of this video series called The Truth Project  and the guy quoted Philippians 3:7-11. As soon as I heard this (verses I’ve heard many times in the past) I practically jumped up and shouted.
Now you probably think I’m crazy but it struck me as exactly where I am and what I want.

Exactly….

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let us press on

Depression does funny things to the mind. Maybe funny isn’t the right word.
I have certain certainties in my mind and I know I’m not just having a bad day when those certainties pop up like a broken photo link in my heart and mind.

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But maybe there are good things to be found in the land of emptiness and question marks and broken links. It definitely leads me to pay closer attention, ask deeper questions, walk more gently with my feet, pray more thoughtfully.
Am I just repeating the things I always pray? Am I handing people comfort or advice out of some prepackaged place in my head?
Am I listening?

I am listening.
And tired, too. And restless….

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