Prayer in the Night

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I’m done searching for a miracle.

Done asking for fixed things.

I won’t plead with You any longer to release these bruises from my bones.

Or to lift the ink from my heartskin.

I don’t need restoration like I need to know You.

So, don’t take away this achiness.

Don’t let Lonely leave.

I hate her.

More than I’ve ever hated anyone.

But, You said she can stay-

So, she can’t be that bad.

Keep me here.

Trapped in a world I can’t see clearly…

Fuck my eyesight.

Because, there’s nothing worth seeing if I cannot see it with You.

You see in darkness as you see in light…

Will you see enough for me?

Let all I have lost remain lost.

Cast away into the infinity of finiteness.

What is any of it worth, if I am lost from You?

It hurts.

Oh it hurts.

To love with this mess of a chest.

The imperfect trying to love the imperfect will always be imperfect.

The imperfect trying to love the Perfect? It too will always be imperfect.

But You the Perfect, loving the imperfect, will always be Perfect.

So, Leave me in the pit.

In this groaning flesh.

In this sickness.

In the inexhaustible pain of existing here…

Just please don’t leave my side.

Miracles won’t help me now.

One thrilling, blood-tingling, impossible happening,

Would leave me cold just the same as the mundane.

It could never be enough.

I need a lasting happening.

Happening and moving constantly from one ache to the next.

I need a True Love.

A Transformational, Supernatural, All-consuming fire.

You.

Will You be enough for me?

 

Midnights

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I reside at 11:59,

Sincerely, ms. imperfect

This is the mantra that played in the head of a lost and wandering teenager.

Me.

If we’re being specific.

I wrote these words in a poem when I was 17. Heck, I put them on my lock screen!

I was so convinced that there were some things I could not have simply because I was me.

It felt like I was stuck at the last minute of the last day.

Getting so close to the edge of something new and wonderful and brave… but never being able to pass over into it.

Into tomorrow.

It’s like there has never been a 12 on my clock.

It seems as though everyone else has been living in another realm. On a different time table.

Leaving me behind in the place and time I cannot escape.

Where others live in perfect circles, I live in a sliver –

The space between 11:59 and 12:00 midnight.

You see, I hate endings.

Always have, always will.

Whether it’s a TV series, a song, a dessert, a book, an experience, a season, a year, a friendship… I fucking hate endings.

When it’s all over and memories that are much more taste-less rush into the spaces instead…

And you wouldn’t know it just by looking at me, but I’ve always been a cynic.

Keeping a dark garden in my world of summer colors.

I’ve never dressed in all black or worn heavy eyeliner, but death is one of my favorite subjects.

The ultimate fascination.

The ultimate ending.

My favorite thing to joke about even.

And that’s why there is not a 12 on my clock…

I can only ever see the end.

But, I’m getting older now.

I’m saying goodbye to more and more.

Seeing the ending of everything I knew come to pass again and again. And my epiphany is this–

I’ve been living like things should never end. Like things should just always be how they always were.

But, maybe they SHOULD end. Not just that they DO end but that they SHOULD end.

I don’t have to like it.

But, I do have to accept that the end is a part of the beginning and the middle.

To experience the joy of beginnings and the contentment of middles, you must have the glorious, tricky, fantastically atrocious heartache of the end.

We like to say things like “forever”.

We like to say “never”.

Less popular however are “When it’s over” or “After”.

I’ve been living like there is no “After”.

But there’s always an after.

“After this job”, “After this car”, “After this friend”, maybe even “After this life”.

You should never go into anything assuming that it will simply always be, because it won’t be, and more importantly, it shouldn’t be.

Endings are tragic.

They hurt.

Yes they hurt.

But fighting them only makes it worse. Avoiding them pauses the ache, but the end will play itself out.

Try though you might to stop it, endings are a necessary evil.

I don’t like it, but I must make peace with it to thrive in this life.

I recently got a tiny tattoo on my wrist. (pictured in my previous post) It’s just three tiny arrowheads pointing forward. Reminding me that there is more than this.

There is more than just the end.

And it’s mine.

It’s all of ours if we can just be brave enough to let go of that tiny sliver of space we are living in.

My clock has never had a 12, so I’m drawing one in.

Because it’s all for me.

The midnights, the newness, the love, the cyclical beauty of dying just to be reborn again, and again, and again.

It is all there for the living.

Tattoo

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Time heals all?

Not of this sort…

 

You.

 

The only eternity that matters anymore.

 

I danced with a needle,

 

You took up a pen.

 

You would choose paper, but I would choose…

 

SKIN.

 

Forever.

“What a fool!” “What a fool!”

 

I cried to the Savior.

“Wash me clean!”

 

But this was no stain like I had at thirteen…

 

Scarred.

 

Needle scraped skin of insides unwritten,

 

How could I not know you’d forsake my “Forgiven”?

 

Oh how I’ve steel-scrubbed my heart-skin,

 

Just striving to wash you away.

 

And turning my face from the canvas,

 

Trying to remember it blank.

 

But on and on you are with me,

 

Long after the needle has scathed,

 

For I would choose skin and you would choose…

 

Paper.

 

On paper you penciled me in.

 

To-do today,

DONE tomorrow.

 

If you etch within margins, you can skip the sorrow.

 

You.

 

Bored like a child.

Blind to the value.

Scared of a pinprick.

Me.

 

Thrilled.

 

Longing to learn.

 

Beholding priceless treasure.

 

Committed to the art,

 

Yes! Even though it burned.

 

And fuck, I regret you.

 

I finally do.

 

My killer, my friend.

 

My eternal tattoo.

A YEAR WITHOUT FAITH

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God.

If you’d asked me a little over a year ago about God, I could have told you.

For 8 years, God, Jesus, and Christianity were the main focus of my life.

I believed.

I did all the things.

Studying, praying, attending church services 3 times a week unwaveringly, and even taking a very public platform to propagate the message of Jesus Christ to others.

I was the perfect “good girl”. Especially to those who didn’t know me but knew the image of me that was portrayed.

I never liked it that way. I knew very well that I was not worthy of the pedestal I was thrust upon.

I wanted to be seen.

Understood.

Not as the “good girl”, but for the person I really was.

I envisioned a life where I loved God and served people on a deeper level while also being loved through my own wildly outrageous failings as a human being. (Rather than having those failings wished away or ignored)

It was my deepest desire to show that love to others as well.

So, I made the intensely difficult decision to step out of the spotlight and into the quieter pursuit of community and behind the scenes work.

I had every intention of building this new life I had envisioned.

I would get involved in a local church, volunteer, travel, write, and discover more of God and more of myself in Christ.

…And then the unspeakable happened to my heart.

It was a massacre like nothing I had ever experienced before in my life, and it left me questioning EVERYTHING I believed.

Is there a God?

If there is, how could He not save me from this?

Why are my prayers not enough?

If this is my fault, where is His mercy?

Where does faith come from?

Does He even care?

How can I do all of these things He expects me to do?

Is He really who He says He is, and if so how can I get to Him?

Do I even want to get to Him?

Why did He make me?

Why did He make anything? Because it seems so pointless and so selfish…

I was so angry at God and so conflicted with these questions and so very, very alone as I tried to hang onto my beliefs.

My year of more meaning became a year without faith.

No faith in God, no faith in people, no faith in hope for me.

I studied worldviews and gave audience to atheism, naturalism, postmodernism, and transcendentalism.

Truly, some days all that kept me reaching for God was fear of losing my soul, not out of reason or trust.

I became twisted. Hateful. Self-loving.

It was F*** me and F*** the world like the angst-y teenager I thought I’d left far behind.

Yet, in all of my writhing, I saw people.

I mean, I saw people.

I saw Atheists, Muslims, Gay people, Transcendentalists, Politicians, Criminals, and especially Christians.

And I realized so clearly that we are all simply doing the best we can with the information we have been given, but we have all been given different information.

Whether through DNA or circumstance not a one of us in unbiased in our beliefs.

All of the questions about God and all that He entails therefore, cannot be answered by any one of us.

No religion, including Christianity, has all of the answers either.

Christians will say that Jesus IS the answer. And that may be true, but even if you follow Him to the point of martyrdom as some do, He would still keep some mysteries of the universe to Himself, as they are perhaps not ours to know.

It scared me to question God at first.

Who am I to point my finger at the Creator and say things like “Why have you made me? I’d rather not have been made”. But now that I have wrestled, I truly believe that Jesus is it for me.

Life seems unbearable without the hope of something better. There is much pain here.

Our bodies will fail us, our friends will fail us, our families will fail us, our religions will fail us, our possessions will fail us, our fame will fail us, our works will fail us, our talents will fail us, our goodness will fail us. And we indeed will fail ourselves sometimes without even realizing it.

People are complicated and confused and broken.

I need to believe in something that will not fail me even if it turns out not to be true. And that I believe is true for everyone. It seems to me, that Jesus is the safest place to land and that there is in fact evidence that He IS true.

For those that do not draw the same conclusion as I do, I do not judge you nor do I blame you nor do I think you are an evil person for doing so.

I especially hope that the drawing of differing conclusions does not divide us. It makes more sense to me that it would UNITE us. Having respect for the fact that we all had to do some serious work, wrestling, and thinking to arrive at our individual conclusions.

We all must question and never stop until we’re satisfied with legitimate reasons. No matter the path you follow, there will be consequences, pain, more questions… and hopefully ultimate peace.

From all of my questioning I am a better human being who very much just wants to explore truth with my fellow human beings.

I want to listen intently and compassionately to every doubter of the Christian faith. Not dismissing their questions but validating them and answering them as completely and comprehensively as possible as a fellow confused human who has plenty of questions herself.

No one needs a superficial conversion. No one needs fake faith or “good enough” strength.

Whatever conclusion you draw about this life, question it. Wrestle with it. Be certain it stands. It will take time, tears, more time, work, uncomfortable conversations, and unanswered prayers, but it is worth it.

One

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Ah, Star Trek.

My first Sci-Fi love.

When I explain what Star Trek is to non-Trekkies, I simply say- “Star Trek is not about starships, planets, or aliens, It’s about people”.

That tends to surprise people because of course all of the wormholes, phasers and Klingons are much more flashy than the subtleties of humanity.

But, then again, maybe not.

As a 13-year old girl in a new town, in a new school, with no friends, the quieter story of people being people was the most gripping aspect of the show.

I especially loved all of the characters who didn’t fit in…

So many of them didn’t.

One of the most compelling of these characters is Seven of Nine from Star Trek Voyager. Born human, she was taken, brainwashed, and assimilated into the Borg collective at the age of 6 years old.

Through a certain chain of events she was rescued by captain Janeway and liberated from the collective after many years. For the remainder of the show she must work to regain her humanity and discover her identity.

She was brilliant, innovative, talented, and assertive. Not to mention the fact that she was drop-dead gorgeous even with her Borg implants.

She had it all. She always kept it together, but even in all of her perfection she struggled with a deep loneliness that she herself could not define.

I see myself in her story even more at 23.

I’ve escaped my own collective.

I know what It’s like to leave the only thing, the only tribe you know. To have to reinvent yourself. To realize that perfection isn’t what you really want after all.

Truly, all we want is to be human together.

Which, for Seven and I, is much more difficult than it seems.

If I had a Borg designation it would have been “Three of Three”.

It is a terrifying and completely isolating moment when you realize that you have become simply “One”.

One voice.

One decision maker.

One movie ticket.

One chair at a restaurant.

Especially for someone who had grown accustomed to and relied on the voices of the others.

Seven never gained back the entirety of her humanity. She remained always on the outside, if only by a smidge.

Human alone.

Because sometimes, that is simply the lot One is given.

Sugar Spice and Everything Nice

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Have you ever done something a little crazy in a good way?

Like, “Omygosh, no one is gonna see this coming from me because I didn’t even see it coming!”

Maybe it was a decision, or a change of direction. Something that thrilled your curiosities, and pushed you out of your comfort zone. Something that was completely uncharacteristic.

Well, all of those feelings, that’s exactly how I felt when I decided to take up martial arts.

I’ve always been known for being weak. I’ve been called “skinny” more times than I can count, even after I started lifting weights.

And don’t even get me started on my lack of coordination! I am the antonym of the word “graceful”. So, when I found myself in a room with a bunch of black belts for the first time all I could think was- “What am I doing here?”

My first week of training for Modern Arnis, I took off my shoes before stepping onto the training mat, and to my horror discovered that I was wearing my bright pink Blossom PowerPuff Girl socks!

Picture it for a moment: I’m inside of this obscure club tucked away in an ally, surrounded by punching bags, rattan sticks, and four other people dressed in black and decorated with tattoos; the floor is blood-stained, and I have the cutest cartoon character known to man on the tops of my feet.

Talk about embarrassing!

Thankfully, they were mostly merciful about it. Haha!

Now that I’ve been training for a few months though, I realize that those were the perfect socks to wear that day.

My love for the PowerPuff Girls is no secret. The original show first came out when I was a little girl, and I immediately related to them. As cheesy as it sounds, they were huge role models for me and were a representation of the woman I wanted to become.

I wanted to be sweet like Bubbles, confident like Blossom, and tough like Buttercup. I wanted to be feminine but also self-reliant and strong.

The PowerPuff Girls embody that. They are small and girly, but they also save their town against impossibly large creatures and the evilest of threats.

So yeah, I’m small. I’m cute. I’ve got blue eyes, long lashes, and a sensitive soul. I cry over squished spiders, and I like pretty things. I’ve also got callouses, scars, and bruises. I love sweat. And I’m learning how to throw a good punch.

And even though I’m not a little girl anymore, those adorable, colorful, butt-kicking, monster-slaying PowerPuffs still inspire me.

They taught me that you don’t have to sacrifice your softer parts in order to be strong. They proved to my seven-year old psyche that tiny can be mighty, and that has stuck with me.

So, go ahead and call me skinny if you want.

Accuse me of being scrawny in body and you would find me guilty. But accuse me of being scrawny in heart and you will find no evidence. Because I am resilient through and through.

 

Breaking Faith

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I never thought it would happen to me…

Ever since I was a young teenager, the stories have been carved into my impressionable mind.

The stories of the backsliders, the ones who dropped out of church, the ones the world got a hold of…

They were not good stories. Some of them died young. Some of them became unrecognizable. Most of them were never heard from again.

And with every shocking and horrific tale from the pulpit I promised myself that I would never be one of them.

I wanted to be the one who stayed.

But, as it turns out, none of us are very good at keeping promises.

I am the backslider.

The dropout.

Unrecognizable.

How I got here is complicated.

It started with a leap of faith, but it ended with a betrayal I never saw coming.

The whole story is not one for paper, but I can sum it up for you:

I cared about someone, they abandoned me, it destroyed me, and when I sought healing from the God of my youth, it was nowhere to be found.

It didn’t happen overnight. I held on for a long time. But slowly my faith started cracking.

I prayed and nothing happened. So I prayed less.

I sang at the top of my lungs, hands raised, but nothing happened. So I praised less.

The Word seemed to me powerless to stop the pain. So I read less.

First it was one missed service. Then another. Then another.

And there was no one there to stop it.

I am not proud that I have become this. I am desperately confused, lonely, and ashamed.

But once faith is broken, how can it ever be put back together? If I must have faith to even approach the Healer, how can I be healed?

I’m thinking tonight of the impotent man at the pool of Bethesda.

How his faith must have been broken too.

How he watched everyone else receive their healing while he lay helpless to help himself.

He thought that the pool was the only way to healing. But Jesus didn’t put him in the pool…

And I think maybe, Jesus isn’t just the Heal-ER but the Heal- ING.

And maybe if I keep waiting, He will find me.

But oh how cold I’ve grown. How angry. How prideful. How distrusting.

Breaking faith.

That’s why backsliders slide.

It’s not because we are horrible people, it’s because we are broken ones. Our realities turned inside out from the beatings of a cruel world.

Hoping desperately that God really will rescue us, but never quite being able to believe that it will happen.

I don’t know the answers here.

I don’t know why cruelty exists in the name of love.

I don’t know why God heals some and not others.

I don’t know why separation is a better solution than compromise.

I don’t know why the innocent suffer.

All I know is that I must write my story.

However ugly it gets.

And today, this is it.

Twenty-Two Things I’ve Learned From 22

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It’s my birthday again!

(AKA the most important day in American History :))

I’m 23 today… it’s one of those ages you never imagine being. Like turning 37 or 48. It’s not an exciting or super significant birthday, but boy am I glad it’s here!

Around this time every July, I start getting a sense of what the theme of the year is going to be for me.

For 21 my theme was “Brave”, for 22 it was “New”, both of which turned out to be extremely accurate. When I was 21 I made the bravest decision of my life, and then at 22 I executed that decision and it changed everything.

I got a completely new life.

A new job, a new hobby, a new perspective, and most importantly, a new fire within myself.

Some changes though, were not so positive.

This past year, I lost someone incredibly dear to me for reasons I still cannot understand. And that changed me too.

All of the faith I had left after my bravery poured from my body, escaping with the tears. And without faith, all that mattered was surviving.

So I did that. I survived.

I replaced the faith with steel, with hardness, with pain, grit and swear words. 22 was the most unimaginably painful year of my life, but I made it.

I became a warrior.

Fighting always for myself.

I now know my fierceness.

And because I have known it, I respect myself as a veteran of war.

22 took something from me that cannot be replaced, but then it gave me something that can never be taken away.

And now, thinking about 23 all that comes to mind is the word “happy”.

This will be my year of contentment, of thankfulness, and of re-planting the faith that was so brutally beaten out of me.

With that being said, I’d still like to say a proper goodbye to the year that changed everything. So, here are Twenty-Two things I learned from year 22. May I remember them well!

1. Taylor Swift and Peanut Butter can’t fix EVERYTHING but they can fix MOST things.

2. When a heart breaks, it don’t break even.

3. Siblings are one of the greatest gifts that God gives.

4. Loyalty is not a two way street.img_1262

5. Doing brave things doesn’t mean you aren’t afraid.

6. Summer always comes again.

7. Being young isn’t easy, but neither is being old.

8. People are something to be experienced, worlds to be explored.

9. The Mom is the angel of the family.

10. It is better to be impractical than to give up on an aspiration.

11. You can be your subjective view of “perfect” and still fail and lose miserably.

12. Never give up on yourself.

13. Tattoos hurt.

14. Sometimes a year can’t fill a jar.

15. Dreams, relationships, and sanity are all incredibly fragile.

16. Stretching is actually super important.

17. Delivering pizza in the snowpocalypse does not guarantee amazing tips.

18. You’ve gotta fall apart in order to build yourself better.

19. Everyone has to choose whether or not love is worth the pain, but no one really knows what the right choice is. (Cuz let’s be honest, who cares what a guy with a name like “Alfred” says)

20. Healing is possible.

21. You are only a victim if you allow yourself to be.

22. Everything will be all right if we just keep dancin’ like we’re 22. ❤

The Back of the Line

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I am a white belt in Tang Soo Do.

I’ve been a white belt for 2 ½ months.

My initial motivations for wanting to practice martial arts were numerous. Some reasons were physical, some were personal, and some were even a little silly. For instance, I wanted to be one step closer to being a Legend on the CW’s Legends of Tomorrow. Haha!

At the beginning and ending of every class, everyone gets into lines with all of the higher belts in the front line and all of the lower belts in the back. It’s hierarchical so, being the only white belt, my place is tacked onto the very end of the very last line.

And it’s one of my favorite places to be.

I know that might sound a little strange. Like, obviously the goal is to move up to the front of the line little by little year by year as you go up in rank.

But the truth is, I’m truly happy to be in the back of the line. Because for one thing, I can watch and see what everyone else is doing when I get confused!

But, more than that I’m proud.

Proud that I’m in the line at all.

Every time I stand in that place it’s a victory. Especially given that previous versions of myself would have never had the courage to stand there.

And so far, I’ve learned a lot from the back of the line.

I didn’t know how much I needed to be in that place until I got there. The back of the line is not a place for negativity or doubt, unlike so many of the other places I find myself in.

Instead, it’s filled with optimism, respect, inspiration, and room for growth.

Some days, getting to go to class and standing in the back of that line are the only things that make me feel ok again. In the midst of stress and grief and the persistent negativity that tends to invade my mind, I’ve got a place of focus.

So I’ll keep putting on that uniform and tying that white belt around my waist and striving to better myself from the inside out.

Today, right now, I just want to be the best white belt I can be and soak it all in from the back of the line. 😉 ❤

Unbroken

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I love music.

Not in the – “oh, this is a catchy song!” kind of way, but more in the – take me anywhere slowly, wrapped up in thrills, romancing with my soul kind of way. I could get lost in a song. It’s like each one is an alternate dimension, whisking me away on some ephemeral journey that lasts a lifetime within.

One of my favorite artists is a British alternative singer called Birdy. Her songs reserved for days of not being understood. Songs reserved for crying out all of my hopes, fears, and introverted passions. My very favorite song of hers is a lyrical masterpiece called “Unbroken.”

The first time I heard it, I felt like it had been written out of a breath I’d breathed. It was my song somehow. And it found me unbroken.

It was my quiet anthem in the dead of night. My reminder to keep my head up. A promise to myself to remain unbroken. But, then this happened. And now I will never be unbroken again.

I never used to understand why grown-ups were so serious. Where did that glimmer in their eyes run off to anyways? I couldn’t imagine why they were in such a wonder-less mood all the time. Today though, I know exactly why.

It’s this little thing called heartbreak.

There will come a day for all of us when we die at the mercy of caring about someone else. When that happens, you have no choice but to become something different.

Most of us turn into callouses, never to be scathed by such an evil again. Transforming into this guarded, untouchable, robot of a person is my greatest fear. But it’s also my greatest fear NOT to.

In reality, I know can’t fight it. It’s happening whether I want it to or not. My eyes are done glimmering. My nose will begin to love the smell of the grind more than it loves anyone or anything around it. And whatever it is that’s left in my chest, it’s not a heart.

So, now that song means something quite different to me. It’s not about being unbroken. Because no one stays that way for long. Instead, it is a call to strength from the things that used to be unbroken.

Yeah, your eyes don’t shine anymore, but they did once. And THAT can’t be taken away. Yeah, you gave it all. But it isn’t gone; it’s all right there where you left it. No, you’ll never be that beautifully innocent, heart-wide open child again. But she’s still alive.

Somewhere in the past, she lives. Unbroken.