My Summer in the South: Fireflies and an Aching Heart.

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“When I study and understand my life story, I can then join God as a coauthor. I don’t have to settle for merely being a reader of my life; God calls me to be a writer of my future.” – Dan. B Allender, To Be Told

I’m spending my summer in the south! … Well, technically I’m in North Carolina for the month of July, but “Summer in the South” sounds more exciting, doesn’t it?

So far, I’ve managed to survive the crazy humidity, Carolina thunderstorms, and slow-paced living, but what I’m most excited about are fireflies!

My childhood story begins in Nebraska. When I was a kid, we spent sticky summer nights at Grandma and Grandpa’s house in Yorktown, Iowa. The 4th of July meant corn on the cob and shooting fireworks with my cousins in the front yard of the country house Mom grew up in. We’d drink Coca-Cola from glass bottles and chased fireflies in the dark, hoping to catch one in an old mason jar with holes punctured in the lid. Fireflies were always my favorite.

I was reminded of these blissful summer nights tonight as I was walking alone through the neighborhood. I came across a bend in the road at the end of a field and I saw the tiniest, faintest blinking lights.

Fireflies!

I smiled.

As I flashbacked to Iowan summers, I wished my nieces were with me, mason jars in hand. I wished my friends from Arizona were with me, especially those who had never seen fireflies before. I wished my people in Seattle were with me.

I stopped.

The sudden realization of my alone-ness crept up on me and my heart began to ache. I literally felt an aching in my chest. My natural instinct was to repress, close up my emotions, and continue my walk down the road. However, this past year has taught me a lot of things, one of which is self care. So, I slowly pulled my hands over my chest. I breathed. I held my aching heart. I allowed myself to feel.

I felt alone. I felt sadness. I felt grief and a little bit of shame. I felt anger. I felt joy. I felt a myriad emotions welling up inside of me, and I began to cry. As I watched the fireflies dance across the grassy landscape, tears rolled down my cheeks and I wept.

I wanted someone there. I wanted someone to share this moment with me. I wanted someone special, someone who knew the deepest parts of my soul. Someone who’s seen me at my best and my worst, but has chosen to stick around and fight. I wanted to breathe in this moment with a soul that was linked to mine.

But…I was alone.

So, I cried.

I cried for my alone-ness. I cried for my aching heart. I cried over unmet desire. I cried over past mistakes and failures. I cried over an unresolved mess I left in Seattle — a broken relationship, a lost friend.

In that beautiful moment of grief, I felt the world, but I realized how much of my life’s story I have yet to write. By allowing myself to feel, to mourn, to experience intense emotion as fireflies swirled around me, I am rewriting and editing my tale.

Instead of reliving the same story over and over, repeating the same patterns of my youth, I get to rewrite my narrative.

I get to tell a new story…one that includes the magic of fireflies.

“Listen to your stories. They reveal a pattern of roles that you’ve played throughout your life.” – Dan B. Allender, To Be Told

Year One: This Work is F***ing Hard.

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***CAUTION! Strong language is used in this post.***

Yesterday brought the completion of my first year of graduate school at The Seattle School of Theology & Psychology, and let me tell you this…

This work is fucking hard.

I’m not talking about the papers that were written or the projects that were presented to classrooms full of bored-out-of-their-mind faces. I’m not talking about the endless amounts of reading and countless research articles I’ve looked up on EBSCO. I’m not talking about the lectures or the mindblowing words of wisdom that come from the mouths of the prophets and priests that are my professors.

I’m talking about the gut wrenching, earth shattering, pull-the-floor-out-from-under-me, soul work that has broken my heart into a thousand pieces.

This work is fucking hard.

I can easily rush to hope and wrap this up with a, “God is so good!” or a, “Our Creator is molding me into something beautiful!” both of which have come out of my mouth in the past week.

No!

I refuse to wrap this up with a shiny bow, pretending it’s not terrible and awful and soul crushing. I refuse to put any niceties or cliches on this work. I refuse to smile like a plastic doll. Perfect, pretty, and pristine. I refuse to pursue hope too quickly, rushing through the discomfort and the pain of suffering.

Instead, I choose to lament. I choose to sit in the shittyness of this mess that is called brokenness. I choose to grieve the hurt and the pain that have been repressed for decades, cast aside into a dark corner of my heart. I choose to cry for hours. I choose to listen to sad music and sob into endless boxes of Kleenex. I choose to get angry…a raging, righteous anger, with guttural screams of intensity. I choose to stay in the grief as I mourn the trauma I experienced in my life.

This work is FUCKING HARD!

I choose to ask questions…

Why the hell did this have to happen to me?

Does he even know how much he’s hurt me?

Why do I feel so unloved and unwanted?

I choose to weep with a God who saw abuse and darkness unfold as it was happening. A God who wept and cried out for me when harm was taking place. A God who mourns with me. A God who laments with me. A God who sobs and rages on my behalf and in my defense. I choose to let His arms wrap me up as I refuse to climb out of this pit of despair. Instead, He climbs in and chooses to sit in the pit with me.

68 days. I have 68 days until Year Two begins. I have 68 days to reflect and process the hard work I’ve done this year. 68 days to grieve. 68 days to hope. 68 days to continue this journey in the wilderness.

I am so fucking proud of myself.

A Lost Relationship and Grief.

 

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“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven” – Ecclesiastes 3:1

I let go of many things moving to Seattle almost a year ago. I said, “Goodbye,” to many friendships, severing ties with some people, fully knowing I would never see many of them again. I maintained the important relationships and continue to be blessed by their presence in my life, albeit distant and sporadic in communication. After moving so many times in my adult life, I have learned the art of letting go and moving on. Maybe I learned this art all too well?

Since coming to the Emerald City and starting this work, I have learned much, gained much, and lost much. This work I am doing is costing me greatly. It is costing me my life.

In protecting my personal growth and process during my time at The Seattle School, I recently released my grip on two deeply meaningful relationships in my life. I let both of these relationships go, with open hands. I stopped chasing, I stopped pursuing, and I stepped back completely. I let go of expectations and assumptions, and distanced myself in the hope that growth would occur in the separation and time apart. Simply put…

It was time for me to move on.

God was yearning to heal my heart, but this would never happen if I held onto the band-aids that were covering a very deep, gaping hole in my heart.

One of these relationships left without a trace and without a word. The other stuck around and made it abundantly and beautifully clear that they were still there, standing at the door, waiting for me to open it whenever I was ready.

Both of these responses surprised me.

The lost relationship surprised me in the way I was treated after I stepped away. You never know how someone feels about you until you say, “Goodbye.” It turns out, I didn’t mean a whole lot to them after all. I didn’t mean enough for them to pursue or wait for me. I didn’t mean enough for them to even notice I was gone. They didn’t care enough to hold on.

They didn’t want me.

The other surprised me with the amount of care I didn’t know they had for me. I didn’t know I meant so much to them. I didn’t know I was worthy of their fight for me. I didn’t know I was loved so deeply that breaking relationship wasn’t an option.

They cared enough to wait.

Letting go of something doesn’t always mean the other will go away…but, sometimes it does.

As much as I rejoice over a relationship that is on pause, my heart is deeply grieving the relationship that is lost. Tearful mornings and sorrowful evenings sandwich my day with lament and heartache. The prophet in me makes it easy to find the beauty and hope in suffering, to imagine the possibilities of a beautiful and bright future ahead. Yet to fully heal from this lost relationship, I must allow myself to forgo hope and stick with sorrow, at least for a time. Grieving takes time and time heals all wounds, so as I continue this journey, I am savoring each moment of sadness, for each moment brings me closer to healing.

My heart is broken in two places: relationship lost and the realization that I am not wanted. I am not worthy of pursuit, which I so deeply crave. I yearn to be pursued, but the only way this void in my heart can be healed is to be pursued by the healing One; the One who chases after me with ferocious tenacity; the One who never fails at wooing my heart and turning brokenness into beauty.

This relationship lost may not want me, but I have an eternal Father who does.

“Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near.” – James 5:7-8

The Voices We Hear.

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“And I know that I can survive. I will walk through fire to save my life. And I want it, I want my life so bad, I’m doing everything I can. You did not break me, I’m still fighting for peace.” – Sia, Elastic Heart

I am surprised at how often I hear the voice of the enemy, the enemy that comes only to steal and kill and destroy (John 10:10).
These voices, these lies of discouragement, sorrow, and abuse, come throughout my day like a sly and cunning fox. Suddenly, I am left feeling less-than. I am left feeling worthless, useless. I am left feeling completely destroyed and defeated. By the time I realize these voices are not good, not my own, nor from God, it’s too late and the damage is done.

I’m left in a puddle of despair.

Unlike these sly, trickster, abusive voices of the enemy, God’s voice is good and beautiful, loving, warm, and encouraging. God’s voice isn’t as easy to identify. God’s voice is quiet. God’s voice is soft. It’s a voice that requires seeking, a voice that requires stillness. Yet, when I hear this voice, it breaks me into a thousand pieces and I melt into love and peace.

The voice of God can break me, but I know He will put me back together again.

Since beginning my work in grad school, I have been hearing the voice of the enemy far too loudly and I have been listening far too often. “You are too broken…You have too much darkness…Once people know who you really are, they will leave you…You are not enough…You are too much.” The dark voice goes on and on, reminding me of my weaknesses and my sin, stealing my joy and destroying my goodness.

The last thing the enemy wants is for me to realize these voices are not my own. The enemy seeks to kill and destroy. The enemy knows my weak spots and my insecurities, and uses them against me.

Hearing the voice of God takes work, it takes intention, and it takes lots and lots of prayer. I often sit in my bedroom, light a candle from St. Brigid (I’m falling in love with Celtic Spirituality!) and pray for God to reveal to me what’s true. Lately, hearing His voice has become easier. The scales from my eyes have lifted and my ears are able to hear the smallest, stillest, most peaceful voice I have ever known.

“Be still. I am with you. I will never leave you, nor forsake you. You are mine. I am still working here.”

The voice of God washes over me like a waterfall of peace, and I know. I know He is there. I know I am protected. I know the difference between the voice of the enemy — large, brash, abrupt, pervasive — and the voice of God — quiet, soft, still, peaceful.

I still hear the voice of the enemy, clawing its way back into the crevices of my soul. There are days when I don’t have the power or strength to tell the enemy to “Fuck off!” There are days when I wallow in pain and suffering, struck down by words, yet somehow God has a way of reminding me of His goodness. Whether it’s a friend sending me a random text message, a song or Bible verse that gets stuck in my head, or a sudden urge to stop, pray, and listen to God, He always has a way of bringing me back.

God is always speaking to us, but we don’t stop to listen.

Regardless of what the enemy tries to feed me, the truth is, I am worthy. I have so much to offer. I am loved and cherished and known by a mighty God who will never leave me nor forsake me. I am beautiful. I am strong. I am worth the fight.

The enemy is lying to you. The enemy wants you to wallow in pain and sorrow, to forget your worth and forget your righteous, saintly position as a son or daughter of a mighty King. The enemy wants you to lose your identity in Christ, to fall away from the love we have in Him, and continue believing the lies we are told. The enemy is a real motherfucker!

I cannot fight this battle for you, but I can encourage you and tell you…

You are loved.

You are worthy.

You are seen, yet you are not cast out.

My hope and prayer is for you to realize your value and see the beauty God sees in you, the beauty I see in you. You are worth the fight.

Knowing the Heart.

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“Take delight in the Lord,
    and he will give you the desires of your heart.” – Psalm 37:4 (NIV)

It’s Friday night and like any good grad student, I’m avoiding my homework and procrastinating on the heaping amounts of reading I have to do before Monday.

Instead, I’m listening to Miles Davis.

“It Never Entered My Mind.” My favorite.

As I listen to Miles play into peaceful contentment, I am taken to a place of desire — a place that is terrifying for me.

Knowing desire comes from knowing the heart.

I have spent a big chunk of the last decade avoiding my heart. She has led me astray far too many times for her to be reliable. She’s brought me joy, yes, but there were so many days when all she brought was sorrow. She is either spot-on or dead wrong, but never in the middle. I have trusted her in the past, but it always ended in gut-wrenching, heartbreaking pain.

I cannot trust my heart.

So, how can I trust desire?

How do I know naming the desires of my heart won’t end in the same way — pain?

As I dive head-first into discovering my self worth and value, and how much I actually have to offer, I have also been reaquainted with my heart. We’ve been spending quite a bit of time together. I have heard her grief. I sat with her while she cried out in mourning, sobbing over the “could have’s” and the “not yet’s.” I listened as she screamed in rage and anger over our past.

It has taken months, but I am beginning to understand where my heart is coming from. I am beginning to know her — her emotions that seem random and sporadic, but are simply part of her story; her tendency to flutter around certain boys; her fondness and care for one in particular; her peace when Miles Davis is playing and everything in the world has been set straight.

As I continue knowing my heart, I have realized the weight of the desires she has carried. As I name each one of these desires, the burden becomes lighter and she is free to love in the best possible ways. Yet there lies a significant amount of fear in not knowing whether these desires will truly be fulfilled, despite what the Psalmist wrote.

Knowing desire comes from knowing the heart, yet what happens when desire itself is too dangerous to hold?

Tales of a Smother.

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In the darkness I will meet my creators.
They will all agree, I’m a suffocator. — “Smother” by Daughter

If you know me at all, you know I love using metaphors. Metaphorizing my experience helps me wrap my brain around and name what’s happening in the chaos inside me.

Recently, I was talking with a friend about naming the anxiety I feel in relationships. Kelsey in a relationship — whether it be romantic, friendship, or otherwise — is like playing a life-sized game of Chess. Every piece has its place. I know where each knight, bishop, and pawn will move and when. I’m always ten steps ahead, trying to gauge and control the future outcome of the game. Regardless of who wins or loses, it’s always my responsibility and I’m left to pick up the pieces. Rather than protecting the King and moving to attack my opponent, each piece needs to be as close to the Queen as possible, to protect her and keep her safe.

Interacting with others in this way is something I learned from the trauma in my life.

Through the help of my therapist, I have developed the strength to name the emotional and sexual abuse I have experienced. However, while abuse happened to me, I was taught the only person to blame for this harm was me. I was taught the trauma in my life was the sole responsibility of me. I was taught that I was the reason people hurt me and left, therefore I am the one responsible for cleaning up the mess. Imagine a 5-year old girl taking the blame for those who abused her — Mea culpa, “It’s all my fault.”

These lessons taught me that the only way to protect my wounded heart is to keep people as close as possible — for protection and safety, and to gauge their emotions and forecast when they would hurt me again. “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer,” was the only way I felt I had any control in my life. If abuse happened, it was much easier to blame myself, clean up the mess, and draw closer to my abuser, to watch for the signs of oncoming harm and brace myself against the violence. Like my Chess metaphor, the safe people in my life became the knights and bishops that protected me — the Queen.

This is how I became a Smother.

Being a Smother is not only painful (and annoying) for those closest to me, it’s also painful for me. I am ridden with anxiety as I attempt to control the proximity of those around me, hoping that by keeping them close, I can prevent them from hurting me or running away. Instead, the opposite happens and I suffocate the relationship, smothering it to death. I end up feeling alone, heartbroken, and used.

Being a Smother feels like the world’s problems, emotions, and circumstances are solely on my shoulders. Mea culpa. Whether someone close to me is having a bad day, something out of my control happens at work, or someone glances in my direction the wrong way, I feel like it’s my fault and my responsibility to make it better and to fix it.

Bearing the burden of everyone’s emotions and problems is exhausting.

I feel shame and embarrassment around being a Smother. I am ashamed that this is the woman I have become. My hope in identifying my suffocating ways is that naming these patterns will bring me closer to healing and change.

The risk in all of this is relationship. By keeping people close to me, I risk suffocating the friendship. However, by letting go, stepping back, and allowing the relationship to breathe, I risk they will run away and bail completely. Giving space to the other goes against my being, however I am beginning to realize this is the only way I can salvage my relationships and change my Smothering ways. Some may run away, but the ones who care for me the most will stick around.

Being a Smother is ugly. Being suffocated by a Smother is ugly. Nobody wins in the tales of a Smother.

I understand becoming a Smother was a way I could protect myself when I was a little girl, however this defense mechanism no longer serves me. Rather, it harms me and in turn I harm those around me. The little girl inside me no longer needs to horde the people around her and keep them as close as she possibly can, controlling and manipulating them like the pieces on a Chess board. This little girl is not responsible for the emotions and problems of those around her. This little girl can finally let go, relax, and trust that those who love her won’t hurt her and will stick around.

I am grateful for this protective armor. I am thankful for this little girl’s strength, bravery, and cunning ability to create a defense around her for protection and safety. However, it’s time I set aside my Smothering ways and learn a new way of relating. This is an intensely difficult process that is filled with grief, mourning, and pain, yet with small changes over time, healing can occur.

For those of you who have a Smother in your life, my hope is this post gives you a bit of insight into the world of a suffocator. Be kind. Be compassionate. Be gentle with your Smother. They were taught how to relate in this way, however they can change with lots of love, patience, and therapy. Assure them and remind them of your presence. Don’t be afraid to hold to your boundaries. Boundaries are a beautiful thing and your Smother needs to know this.

For those of you who have experienced the Smother in me, I am sorry. I am sorry for holding on too tightly, for suffocating you, and not letting you breathe. I am sorry for stepping over boundaries, pursuing and pushing, and not giving you space. I ask for love, patience, and compassion as I continue this journey to shed my suffocating ways. The Smother in me is finally being put to rest.

***If you feel you are a Smother, struggle with anxiety around relationships, or are experiencing abuse, please seek the help of a licensed therapist. There is hope for you through the help of someone who’s trained in the areas of attachment style, anxiety, trauma, and abuse.***

An Invitation into the Wilderness.

This post was originally written for my graduate school, The Seattle School of Theology & Psychology, about being in the wilderness. It was a blessing to write and an honor to receive some of the feedback from readers, so I decided to post it here as well. To read the original post, click here.

Over the past few months, I have been invited to step into the wilderness…alone.

This barren land is a place of searching and longing. It’s a place where the deepest and darkest traumas of my past, the tragic stories that have been carefully hidden for decades, are uncovered and seen. This wilderness is a place where God isn’t just the One who extended the invitation, but the One who has never left my side.

There is something so beautifully tragic about journeying in the wilderness. Death comes before life in this place.

When I first began this journey, I imagined myself in the desert. I imagined rolling hills of the hottest, driest sand stretching for miles and miles, with no sign of an oasis. The dusty air filled my lungs and there were moments when I could not take another breath. Uncovering my past was excruciating. The pain blinded and bound me, and I was unable to move, unable to take another step. There was too much hurt, too much harm, and too many wounds that were being excavated from the depths of my heart, and I could go no further.

God was nowhere to be seen, yet I could hear a reassuring voice in the distance—”Keep going, my daughter. I am here. I am working.”

As my journey continues, my capacity to hold these painful moments has grown. The tragic stories that had never been spoken of before have now been told and retold countless times, making them easier to hold. I now imagine myself in the luscious forests of the Pacific Northwest. Instead of trekking on the dry, hot, desert sand that blistered my feet and dried up my lungs, I now walk on the soft, mossy floor of the most green, life-filled forest I could ever imagine. The trees overhead are a canopy for my soul, offering comfort and protection. The soft rain sprinkles overhead like a faucet of life as blessings are poured over my wounded heart.

In this wilderness, I am still alone, yet God is everywhere. God is walking beside me, holding my hand and wooing my heart, leading me to a place of healing—”Keep going, my daughter. I am here. I am still working.”

I am terrified of the work I am doing because it is changing everything. This work, this journey in the wilderness, is altering the very fabric of my existence. Everything I thought I knew about myself has been shattered. Everything I thought I knew about my family has been crushed. Everything I thought I knew about God has shifted.

There are parts of me that are dying, but death must occur for new life to spring forth. These dying parts are the unseen places the enemy has been hiding, slowly destroying me, lying to me, and stealing me away. These deep crevices were once created to protect my heart, yet they are no longer needed and are instead being used against me. Death must occur, yet death is still death.

Death is agonizing. Death is violent. Death is not quick. Death is not easy.

On my journey in the wilderness, I have come to experience death in a way no man or woman should endure, however I have also experienced the most abundant life I have ever lived. I have challenged the enemy’s lies. I have cast out the enemy’s words. I have been given a new name and a strong voice, and I am becoming the woman I was intended to be before Creation. I am brave. I am courageous. I am worth this fight. I am beautiful and strong, and lovingly, thoughtfully, and intentionally created by a mighty King.

I continue my walk in the wilderness, across the mossy floor of the forest, and along with the sprinkling rain overhead, the birds chirping in the trees, and the sound of my heart beating, I continue to hear, “Keep going, my daughter. I am here. I am working.”

Psalm 37 :: Delight in the Lord.

I must admit that I find myself at a fork in the proverbial road.

I have two options: continue walking down a particularly challenging, painful, and strenuous path — one that may or may not lead to a beautiful destination…or, change directions and begin a new journey, down a path whose destination is known. I think we have all found ourselves standing at this particular fork in our own journeys, yet how do we choose which path to take?

Again, I find myself drawn to the Psalms, specifically Psalm 37. Granted, most of this song is about the ways of the wicked vs. the ways of the righteous (it’s pretty depressing, TBH), but there are so many nuggets of wisdom deep inside the crevices of these words of David — a man after God’s own heart.

Delight yourself in the Lord,
    and he will give you the desires of your heart. – Psalm 37:4

What does it mean to “delight yourself in the Lord”?

Delighting in the Lord = Finding pleasure in God alone.

Simply put, delighting in the Lord is seeking God as our Source for life, for our everything. When we stop delighting in the Lord, we place other gods before Him. When we stop delighting in the Lord, we lose sight of the goodness He has in store for us. Delighting in the Lord may not help me make my decision, but when I wholeheartedly seek the face of God — my Redeemer, my Constant, my Provider — He will give me the desires of my heart. Naming the desires of our heart takes some serious courage, yet delighting in the Lord is an even tougher challenge.

“Commit your way to the Lord;
    trust in him, and he will act.” – Psalm 37:5

Once again, when we commit our way (our path) to God, trusting in His goodness, He will take action. Regardless of which path I choose to take, God will move. God will act. God will bless. God will lead.

God desires our trust more than He desires our perfection.

We don’t need to be perfect.

I’ll say that again…

WE DON’T NEED TO BE PERFECT!

We don’t need to do good. We don’t need to act out of obligation or spiritual pressure, to be “holy”. We don’t need to make all the “right” choices, ensuring we’re choosing the right path God has planned for us. We don’t need to strive for perfection. God simply desires our trust in Him, that He will move in His perfect timing.

Stop striving and start trusting.

“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him.” – Psalm 37:7

This. This is a spiritual 2×4 that smacks my impatient heart over the head. Not only is God asking me to trust in Him, He is asking me to be still. For the woman who’s lived in five different states over the past 10 years, being still and waiting patiently is like herding cats.

I find myself praying everyday for God to speak to me and this is what I hear…

“Be still.”

“Wait.”

“I am working here.”

Not all decisions need to be made today, however my impatience instills such an intense level of urgency that I feel like I need to decide NOW. Sitting still is not a practice I’m accustomed to living. I like knowing. I like moving. I like action.

…but, waiting?

I am not good at waiting, yet I can see the beauty in stillness. There is beauty in waiting expectantly for God to move. There is beauty in knowing and trusting that God will take action when the timing is right.

Whether you find yourself on the precipice of a new adventure, struggling to trust in God where you’re at, or in the discernment process like myself, my encouragement for you is to seek, trust, and be still in God alone. My hope for us all is that He will direct our path and walk with us on this journey.

Psalm 32 :: A Change of Heart.

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
    I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.” – Psalm 32:8

Wounds have affected a dear friendship of mine.

I had inflicted these wounds and they were inflicted on me.

There is nothing more tragic than a friendship tearing apart, and this particular friendship had been torn to shreds by our own hurtful hands. I found myself in a place of despair, seeking reconciliation and restoration that would never come without the aid of a Savior. As a woman filled with shame, hurt, anger, and sorrow, I turned to Psalm 32.

Blessed is the one
    whose transgressions are forgiven,
    whose sins are covered.
Blessed is the one
    whose sin the Lord does not count against them
    and in whose spirit is no deceit.” – Psalm 32:1-2

Forgiveness first comes from the forgiveness of a Savior. Violations against the other are absolved. Sin is covered by the blood of the Lamb. My sin is no longer counted against me and I am set free, restored back to Creation, reunited in relationship with the Almighty. In my shame, these words from Psalm 32 were a solvent to my wounded soul, a healing balm for my broken heart.

Not only am I forgiven by a Savior, I am blessed.

I am sacred.

I am pursued by a King and desired.

I am loved. 

“When I kept silent,
    my bones wasted away
    through my groaning all day long.
For day and night
    your hand was heavy on me;
my strength was sapped
    as in the heat of summer.” – Psalm 32:3-4

I had been forgiven. My friend had been forgiven. However, the healing power of forgiveness does not remove the pain in waiting for reconciliation.

My friends, it is exhausting waiting for reconciliation.

Waiting; unable to restore what had been broken; unable to speak peace and love into the other’s soul; unable to approach the other, in fear of being turned away in anger and dismay. There is heaviness in the waiting. There is a groaning of the soul in staying, hoping the other will turn towards you and mend the bond.

Yet, there is beauty in the wait. There is beauty in hoping for restoration. There is beauty in holding out for the day redemption is finally claimed.

Hope is risky.

There’s an element of dangerous hope in the tragic discipline of waiting.

You are my hiding place;
    you will protect me from trouble
    and surround me with songs of deliverance.” – Psalm 32:7

In my waiting, God had become my hiding place, my protection, my source of goodness and healing. In my waiting for restoration, God sang over me the beautiful songs of love and kindness, gentleness and peace. In my waiting, my sorrow turned into joy and my anger turned into compassion.

Waiting was no longer a burden, but a gift. For in this time of waiting came peace, patience, understanding, and genuine love for my friend.

“…the Lord’s unfailing love
    surrounds the one who trusts in him.” – Psalm 32:10b

I learned to trust. I learned to trust God.

…and, I had a change of heart.

Rejoice in the Lord and be glad, you righteous;
    sing, all you who are upright in heart!” – Psalm 32:11

In a beautiful moment of mutual submission, humility, and forgiveness, reconciliation finally happened with my friend, however wounds are still healing in both our hearts. It may take weeks, months, or years for our friendship to be completely restored. Sadly, it may never happen at all, however I continue to dangerously hope and trust that God has creative plans for this friend and I.

For our Lord can do immeasurably more than we could ever imagine.

Shame and Grief.

I find myself staring down the barrel of a loaded gun.

I’ve spent my whole adult life distracting myself from the grief I feel over a part of me that I have never allowed myself to fully name or know. Whenever I began to put words around this desire — to name this bit of me that has been repressed and hidden for years — I would break down in heaving sobs and uncontrollable sadness. Yet, instead of allowing myself to continue to do the work of naming this yearning and bear these overwhelming emotions, I would instead pick myself up from the ground, suppress my sadness, and find something to distract myself with: unhealthy relationships, dominating the workforce, becoming a spiritual leader, and so on… Yet, no distraction could deter me from eventually putting words around my desires and facing my demons.

The loaded gun? Naming this desire comes with a super-sized helping of shame.

The embarrassment I feel around this particular desire comes from a place deep within my relational past. Whenever I began to voice this part of me, I was faced with family members who downplayed my desires, encouraging me with Christianese, cliche statements — “Don’t worry, Kelsey! You worry too much!” or “Trust in God,” which sounds affirming, yet doesn’t provide much stock for the one who finds it difficult to trust at all. I was also faced with the unhealthy men I chose to be in relationship with, who cast away my desires in order to avoid their own soul work — “Don’t say that. You’re coming off desperate.” or “Nobody wants a woman like that.” Clearly, shame and embarrassment go hand-in-hand with naming the desires of my heart.

Being at The Seattle School has forced me to not only stare down the barrel of this loaded gun — naming my desire — but pull the trigger and relinquish myself from the shame I feel.

As I come to realize the weight I’ve been carrying all these years and the burden I bore, I also face a time of mourning. Relinquishing the reins of shame comes with an immense load of grief over the realization that what my heart yearns for may never come to be.

I hope that the desires of my heart come to fruition someday.

I grieve because it has yet to happen.

As I learn to allow myself to name desire and welcome the yearning in my heart, the shame and embarrassment I feel dissipates, day by day. As I learn to allow myself to feel sadness, anxiety, grief, and intense pain in the mourning, my hope grows.

Hope is risky.

Shame is ungodly.

Grief is imperative.

For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
    the Lord bestows favor and honor;
no good thing does he withhold
    from those whose walk is blameless. – Psalm 84:11 (NIV)