Category: writing

a little love story

There was a moment when I had to face my past. I came face to face with all the mistakes I had made, all the hurts I had caused…All the things I had done wrong. It was a few days after my 21st birthday. I encountered God authentically and quietly for the first time in my life. It was just him and me on my couch without all the fanfare of retreats, or camps, or passionate sermons. There was no epic high–or the resulting crash. Just an honest look. There’s a verse in Scripture that talks about the kindness of God leading us to repentance. I experienced, lived and breathed that here. He looked at me and said, “this is me, Sarah. This is my work in you. Not your works or your hands or your effort. Just me. Let me do this in you.”

So I wrote it all out. Every time I had betrayed the one I love, every stolen moment, every time I craved something else and said, “your love isn’t good enough.” It was all there–stacked against me.

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And when it was over, when the tears had quieted, I turned to my fiance–I held up the broken words to him. I asked him if he wanted to read these things because in the moments written on these pages I had betrayed him too. I had cut him deeply–taken a knife to his heart and spat in the face of his love for me. Some of these moments he knew about. Some he didn’t. And here they all were, written down.

It was a moment of confession and deep intimacy–and I was scared that he would see me for what I really was. He looked at me, and he looked at the offering in my hands and he said, “I don’t need to see that.” At the time I remember this immense feeling of relief that my darkest moments could stay a little less visible.

Now I see it as freedom. He loved me and he saw me for who I am–not what I had done. He stood by me in these moments and he didn’t call me anything less than beloved. He had brought me into his heart four…five…six years before, and no one could remove me–not even me. He held me when I didn’t want to be held. Protected me when I resented him. And through all of this strove to show me my value to him. He spoke love over me. He said I mattered to him.

And in the moments of darkness when I’m fighting for breath, he stays.

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In many ways I am still fighting him. I don’t believe that I am enough. I don’t believe that no matter what he will stay with me. Because why would he? And so I wrestle through the darkness to find this light. To believe both my husband and my God when they say I am worthy and loved. Because in some ways I “get” I was worth dying for–but I don’t believe that I’m worth staying for. Does that make sense?

And in almost every way imaginable Doug shows me over and over again that I am worth staying for. He stands by my side when I’m facing past hurts and he’s bearing the brunt of it. And he fails me, sweet baby Jesus, he fails. We can talk about my birthday last year, or Christmas this year. We can talk about the broken promises and the times he was “a human being having a human moment,” as my dear friend likes to describe our humanity. But he stays standing beside me, fighting with me and for me and learning and trying to find the best way to love me. And this to me, more than any other thing in my life has been the gospel. Sermons are great, retreats can be useful. But it takes the hands and feet of Jesus to show a broken girl how beautiful and loved she is just because he says so.

We get to be the hands and feet of Christ to a sad and hurting world, and this is a glimpse of what can happen when we are walking that well. We get to call broken things healed. Dead things alive. Hopeless things full of hope. We get to light up the darkness. We are the beacon in this fallen broken world–a beacon of hope and light and love.

We got married six months after this. It will be ten years on June 19th–a day famous in Texas for a different reason. But special to us because it was the day I stood before my husband for the first time, feeling loved and chosen. This was the beginning of walking in that  new identity.

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sixteen years later…

I think it was cold. It was January 14th, so it must have been. But it’s Texas so maybe it was one of those random 70 degree days in the middle of winter. But I’m certain I was wearing his red letter jacket with the off white sleeves. He lettered in band. Pretty damn nerdy–but he liked me and that’s all that mattered. I stole his jacket every chance I got–even when I had another boyfriend.

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I think it’s gone. Tossed out in a moment of deep cleaning and organization. I didn’t want to be nostalgic or cling to the past. I tried to forget and bury the pieces that carried so much shame. A letter jacket transported me to some of the darkest places in my life–I was ruthless and purged it.

But that day the jacket was warmth and hope and possibility. He towered over me even then, already six feet and three inches. His arm was slung across my shoulders pulling me close to him, hip to hip as we walked. We were at the playground at the school six houses down from my house. He led me around the back, to a clump of trees. I performed a play on the stage over there in fifth grade modeled after “The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle.” He held my hand and butterflies pounded in my stomach. I was worried my palms were slick with sweat. I had warts too back then that plagued me and I was embarrassed for him to notice the one on the fleshy part of my hand below my thumb.

He stopped and pulled me close, hugging me for a moment and then asked the question that I think had been on his mind for a month.

“Will you be my girlfriend?”

“Yes.”

And he reached into his jeans pocket (except if it was warm at all he would have been in denim black shorts with calf high socks and sneakers) and pulled out a coke tab which he slid into my hand. I owed him a kiss for that, which I allowed him to take.We lingered there for a few moments–shy and all sorts of awkward. And then we began the journey back to my house where I would have to tell my mom and sisters about my new boyfriend.

This isn’t an easy story to share. I have spent years discarding and burying it because I hate that fourteen year old girl. I want nothing to do with her, and I don’t want to remember her or be like her. She was self-righteous, filled with anger, and desperate for both attention and acceptance. She did whatever it took to get those things for herself.

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But even in that time, someone called her loved and has stood with her and fought for her for sixteen years.

I decided this story is one worth telling. I wouldn’t say he’s my soul-mate, but there is a steadfastness here that made me fall in love with him and I need to remember that.  Like the jacket I so ruthlessly discarded, I need to remember what it meant first instead of what I called it later. I need to remember the warmth, the hope, and the possibility–the bits of goodness that flicker in and out through that time.I need to go back to my dark and find the light.

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one word 2014

“When was the last time you wrote?”

“Oh, it’s been awhile. I haven’t written since June–not really.”

“Well…why aren’t you swimming, little fish?”

Her hands pressed gently and deeply into my muscles, soothing aches and tension, but her words went even deeper–past skin, muscle, and bone sinking into my center. In that moment I felt known and loved.

Why aren’t you breathing, little one?

Why aren’t you doing what you were created to do?

She is one of the few who has been brave enough to ask this question. To probe gently and deeply into my soul and trudge through the muck to try and find the truth that my heart needs to hear. Because in the rush of life sometimes it’s easier to be the mom, the wife, the friend, the book worm than it is to be me. And this–it’s as easy as sitting down and putting pen to page. It’s as hard as sitting down and putting pen to page. Because I can’t hide from myself here. All the parts of me are opened up and exposed. This is sacred space and the muse won’t allow me to write to tickle ears; and she certainly won’t let me hide behind platitudes and finely turned phrases. She’s a rough mistress–a task master. She brings to light what I would prefer stayed buried.

So I buried the words. I could feel them stuck in my throat, drowning me as I tried to pretend that I was fine. But, then the ones who call me family and beloved and valuable refused to let me stay hidden and buried. They coaxed and encouraged and spoke new words over me. They called me something different, something new. I don’t wear as many scars on my body as some. But I carry ones written deeply on my heart–that can suffocate and drown and overwhelm me. And the one word* chosen for me this year was “healed”. It came from a friend who spoke it as a possibility–and it didn’t let me go.  I’m not quite sure what that means or what journey we will take together–but for the first time in a long time I have this hope and this desire to believe that there is more than the wounds and scars. So I breathe and I follow.

“Why aren’t you swimming, little fish?”

Why aren’t you writing, little one–like you were created to?

I’m trying…

*for more information about one word visit oneword365.com

 

just a cute post

We watched the car zoom into the exit lane, and then back out. It was my exit so  I moved into the space. At the last second the blue Nissan pulled back in front of me, speeding down the exit ramp.

“Jeez!”

“He doesn’t know where he’s going, but wherever it is, he’s sure happy to be going there.”

“Whatever he does, he does with alacrity.”

I laughed at our different responses. I loved how we could all see the same thing and paint a different picture. And I’ve been pondering that word–alacrity–since last Sunday. I’m familiar with it, but it’s not one I hear very often. And I enjoy the way it sounds in my mind and on my tongue.

Alacrity–brisk and cheerful readiness

I had a moment the other day where I wondered if I would ever actually write a book. I love writing, but creating whole worlds and lives and characters is overwhelming. It is really hard to do it well. It takes time and energy I just cannot summon right now. But I want to try.

And as I fumble for the words to explain how that one word changed me I know I will fail. But I want to try. I want to tell you about the characters in my head. I want to share with you what they’re doing, why they love the way they love and fight the way they fight. But it’s just so damn hard to put them into words to capture the scope and breadth of them. I feel like I’m taking a giant and in trying to capture it, making it an ant. And then you’ll look at me and say, “It’s just a stupid ant. What’s the big deal?” And then I’ll die a little inside.

But alacrity. Maybe I need to wait in brisk and cheerful readiness until the words and characters grow up inside my head and then when they’re ready they’ll step forth onto the page with trepidation. And then maybe together we’ll become more confident as I keep them incubated. And then eventually maybe those little bits of what Kyler calls “scribble scrabble” will turn into sentences that turn into paragraphs that turn into pages. Sometimes I feel like I have to do this NOW or it’s never going to happen. But maybe the answer is to just write and blog and jot and then somewhere along the way I’ll find the story that I want to tell. And words like alacrity will slip off my tongue and I will captivate you–because I waited in brisk and cheerful readiness for the right time.

And in the meantime we’re doing things like this (and yes that’s a pirate in the middle with orange fingernail polish because…alacrity)

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