Seen. Heard. Known.

I’ve been lying low for 27 days (I’d say I’ve been in isolation that long except that 20 days ago I did get to hug a rebel friend…so I technically haven’t been totally isolated for the full 27…but mostly) and I have all the thoughts, so I’m back on my blog to process and share.

During these lonely days, I’m thinking a lot about relational losses and the ways we long for human connection and relationships. I miss my people. Part of me just misses people in general, but mostly I miss my people…the ones that when I’m with them, I feel most like me…the people who just get me.

As a military brat, this longing has felt permanent. I lived places only long enough to have people to miss. In adulthood, I’ve maintained the pattern (a classic TCK move) and struggled to connect in ways that truly allow me to feel understood.

At the root of these longings are the three things I think people most crave in relationships: to be seen, to be heard, and to be known.

I’m reading Exodus, and those same words keep showing up across the pages as I learn more of who God is. God is not a distant ruler zapping us with lightning for going too long without reading our Bible or for swearing out loud. God is near and intimate and closer than our closest friends. In Exodus 3 Moses encounters God in the burning bush (great story, go read it) and then as God is talking to Moses, he says: I have seen my people suffering, I have heard them cry out, I know their sufferings, and I have come to deliver them (the Christina paraphrase).

7 Then the Lord said, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings, 8 and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites.

Throughout Exodus (and the Bible at large), God tells His people He sees them, He hears them, and He knows their situation/story/life. Exodus 4:31 recounts the Israelites’ response when they learned that God had seen them and paid attention.

31 The people believed, and when they heard that the Lord had paid attention to them and that he had seen their misery, they knelt low and worshiped.

When they felt most like themselves, when they felt like God got them, when they knew they were fully understood, they worshiped. I get it, I absolutely adore the people who I feel like actually get me.

My joyful friend in Grad school saw her purpose in serving college students to be someone who can allow others to feel seen, known, and loved. She sets out to meet these fundamental longings in others while helping them meet the One who fully sees, fully knows, and fully loves all of us. She is so loved by so many because she genuinely loves others so well by seeing and hearing and knowing them. This is what it looks like to follow God’s example.

God sees. God hears. God knows. And God comes to deliver. I’m praying this Holy week that you would deeply know the truth of our God who sees and hears and knows and comes to deliver. God sees you and hears you and knows you today and chose, years ago, to come down in the form of a person through Jesus Christ to live perfectly on this earth, die a brutal death on the cross and rise again so that you and I never have to experience the true isolation and suffering of death.

Today I still miss my people and I’m grateful for the relationships to miss and the ways we can stay connected across distance. But more than that, I’m grateful that God is present with me now, and not just ethereally, but really, truly present. He is here and he sees me (sitting alone in my apartment), and he hears me (talking to myself, crying when I’m sad, or laughing hysterically because I’ve reached a point where everything’s funny), and he knows me (and my motivations, thoughts, and judgments). My God who sees, hears, and knows me also loves me dearly and will come to deliver me (from my fears, my isolation, scary illnesses, and more) in this life or the next.

A few weeks back I ran across this song on the way to church and was struck by the truth and the beauty of sweet, little Lucy singing along. Be encouraged. God sees you. God hears you. God knows you.

 

When Hurting Helps

Wounds cut deep pathways through me. Blood ran, not mine, but His. His blood ran over and through each painful piece. He grieved with me. He suffered for me. Each cut begged for more blood to spill. And freely it flowed.

His mercies have been healing waters that gently flowed over deep wounds, stinging at first, then soothing. Restoration came. On the surface, the cuts healed. The gaps were sealed. The voids were filled. Scabs replaced open, oozing wounds. Restoration was perceived. I wanted to believe that the healing was complete, however, each time I moved into those places of pain, each time I bent the site of a laceration, the crevice would open again. Blood would drizzle, puss would leak, but each time the lesion was opened, the discharge and accompanying distress was lessened. Stopping all movement tempted me, but moving through the pain was the only way to prevent muscle atrophy. The process of cleansing cuts and sores became routine in a way that steadied me. Some days the process yielded relief, while other days it produced tears.

He was the blood, the byproduct of the wounding. He was the cleansing water, the soothing ointment, and the poignant antiseptic, the treatment of the injury. He was the hand to hold through the aching, the shoulder to cry on amidst the pain, and the great rescuer to scoop me up and hold me close until the affliction subsided. He tenderly attended to my tenderness at the site of each gash.

Total restoration may never happen in this broken world, but the process has begun. Pain will not be a roadblock on this journey. Though pain can bring attention to an injury, it must never be given the power to inhibit healing. This recovery road is rocky, but there are caring communities and restful streams scattered along the way. There is also a great companion, a healing buddy, to journey alongside me. He runs ahead to clear the way, he offers protection by watching my back, and he holds me hand when I feel like I can’t take another step. I am never alone.

Each hard has been graced with love, more love than I would ever have known if I never experienced such scathing. I have always believed a special bond emerges through shared suffering. What joy to have forged such a bond with my sweet Jesus.

“Suffering isn’t a mistake, and it isn’t the absence of God’s goodness, because He is present in pain.” – Kara Tippetts

Courage, dear heart

Last night I shared. I opened my heart and exposed my wrestling; I disclosed an ache that keeps me up at night.

I woke up exemplifying what Brene Brown terms a ‘vulnerability hangover’ – the feelings of ‘why did I share so much?’ and just generally feeling yuck – physically sick – caused by the emotional energy exerted to share. I even took a half day off work.

“Courage is a heart word. The root of the word courage is cor – the Latin word for heart. In one of its earliest forms, the word courage meant “To speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart.” Over time, this definition has changed, and today, we typically associate courage with heroic and brave deeds. But in my opinion, this definition fails to recognize the inner strength and level of commitment required for us to actually speak honestly and openly about who we are and about our experiences — good and bad. Speaking from our hearts is what I think of as ordinary courage.”-brene brown

To my people – I want to say thank you. Thank you for your courage in asking the hard questions. Thank you for your courage in sharing, vulnerably, the wrestling you face. Thank you for staying up into the depths of the night to be light amid much darkness. Thank you for lending your strength in communication to my inadequate words. Thank you for your empathy and absolute lack of condemning judgement. Thank you for pushing me to pray expectantly, hope persistently, and press on fiercely. You are my family, my community, my people. You are my safe place. You encourage me to be courageous. Thank you.

Consider Reading The Hardest Peace

I love to read both of these sweet blogs (Mundane Faithfulness and And Babies Don’t Keep), so I was pretty excited when The Hardest Peace was reviewed on “And Babies Don’t Keep“. You know the kind of excited you get when two of your great friends meet and become friends?  I also had one of these moments of excitement when I read in Kara’s book that she read and loved A Severe Mercy, one of few books I’ve read and one of even fewer books that I’ve loved!

Not that I think Kristi’s review wasn’t good enough, but I also want to recommend this book and Kara’s blog, Mundane Faithfulness. This is not a cancer book, this is a book about God showing up bigger than the hard shows up in your life, this is a book about living a story different from the one you expected, this is a story about real life. Real life is messy and Kara doesn’t shy away from that truth, she finds Jesus in the midst of the mess.

When I met Kara at her book launch, she looked me in the eyes with such grace and kindness and said, “life is hard and marriage is hard, but God is so, so good”.  These words echo in my mind through every hard that I walk through (or attempt to walk around/avoid).

Consider reading Kara’s book.  In some ways it is hard to read and can be a struggle to turn the page and read more heartache, but it is also so good and encouraging and the honest, grace-filled, truths about Jesus make the book hard to put down.  Some days, I yearn for authentic, biblical community and I read Kara’s words and feel met…met by a sweet friend who understands the ache of unmet expectations…met by grace and truth…but most importantly, met by Jesus.  The Jesus that Kara shares about is alive, kind, and real.  Kara shares authentically about the precious savior who is big enough to hold the whole world in his hands, but intimate enough to hold your hand in His.

I can’t say enough good things about Kara’s book and the way it will point you toward a spectacular God who cares about you, personally, so I will end by saying once more that I highly recommend her book (this recommendation comes from someone who barely reads, so you know its good).

It’s been a while

It’s been a while since I’ve put words to my thoughts.  Sometimes that task just feels too hard.  Sometimes I feel like if I jump into the biggest of hard places, I’ll never find my way back out.  These are just feelings though because I know that if I dig down deep I’ll find the strength to face the hardest parts and I know that the strength I find will not be my own, but will be that of my mighty Savior.  He can trudge through my mess and pull me along to the other side, no matter how far away that may be

In the hardest hard places of life there is hope.  My sweetest friend in college would challenge me to find God’s tangible love in each day.  This friend was remarkably gifted at asking questions and when she asked me each week how God tangibly loved me, I felt like she was asking to know me in the deepest way.  I’ll be honest, I have not looked for God’s graces in this way in so long.  If she asked me today how I’ve seen God tangibly love me, I would be ashamed to admit that instead I have chosen the scavenger hunt of despair.  I have spent more days than not the last several months picking out the worst parts of my hard to complain about and wallow in.  This week though, I was reminded of the importance of finding the gifts, the graces, the tangible loving of my God.

Here are some joys:
-The sweet hugs from my guy
-My guy asking for a back-scratch or head-scratch (he told a friend this summer that he likes back-scratches even more than chocolate…this is huge for my sweet-tooth of a husband)
-God’s timing in bringing us friends in this stage of life, incredible lifer friends
-Encouraging words from others at the perfect moments
-Venues like this, my journal, crafting, and chatting that are therapeutic for my heart
-Littles, watching sweet littles run around make my heart happy
-A new-found love of reading
-Dairy-free baked goods that taste great
-Colorado Sunsets