omg this is so awesome! Im excited to do more!
I once heard that men are like buses. If you miss one, another one will come along in a few minutes. I thought it was funny. But I haven’t known it to be true. Not the bus that actually runs on all tires and has an engine that works and is profitable. Sure the broken ones come along, but you see them coming and get out of the way.
In my life, there were two buses I missed that I should have gotten on. Two men I should have married. One right after high school and one I met after college. Both would have loved me well, treated me with respect, humor and care. Men that would have been great dads. Both would have been a Johnny Cash/June Carter kind of need-for-each-other type of relationship. But with the first one, I pushed away from the table too soon. Felt like my world would just get too small if I stayed. I’d still be living in MN. I would have kids. I may not have had the chances I’ve had to fall in love with so many things to the degree that I have. The chances I’ve had to see the world. Interact with it. Change it in some small way, hopefully for the better. The second guy, I never really gave a chance to. We were in love, the kind of love where you get to be silly and familiar and home with someone, but I refused to acknowledge it….you know in the classic, I won’t jump in unless you jump in too scenario. I didn’t want to play the fool. He married someone else and has beautiful children with her. A whole life I watch play out online.
The thing that I’ve found out though, as I’ve gotten older and more single, if such a thing exists, is that playing the fool, is where the action is—that’s the best and hardest and most fulfilling part of a relationship. Sometimes it’s what you risk that helps you realize what you need. And I should have risked more. I should have maybe been willing to let the world be a little smaller but more full of love. Romantic love that is. I’ve gotten nothing but abundance in my friends who love me well. Better than I deserve. But you know what I mean.
A song got me thinking about relationships today. And it’s been stuck with me ever since. A fool for love? I haven’t been one often enough. I remember a quote in a movie…I think it was, embarrassingly, Country Strong. Gwenyth Paltrow’s character says to an up and coming country singer, “You just fall in love. Fall in love with as many things as you possibly can.” And so that’s the life I try to lead. The one where I love my work. The one where I love my friends. The one where I’m present, truly present, when in a conversation.The one that just bought a 1957 guitar and plans to remember how to play it. The one that will ask my dear friend gigi to spread some of my ashes in florence, italy after I die—-so that I will always be a part of that place that is such a part of me.
So, after just recovering from another single holiday, a pact has been made: gigi and I are starting a new tradition of spending each and every new year’s eve somewhere in the world, in another country. And if we get the grand pleasure of being foolish enough to fall in love with men who are foolish enough to love us back, then they can join us. And if foolishness is not in my future, then I’ll just fall in love…with as many things as possible.
i turned 38 last week. (shameless plug for you to contact me and sing something) but 38 doesn’t look at all like i thought it would. or maybe i dont look at all like i thought i would at 38. i’m not living the life i’d envisioned…kids, husband, fenced in back yard for a chocolate lab…you know. that life. i’d always wanted that life. and now i’m 38 and doubting its possibility.
also the number unnerves me a bit. 38. two years from 40. how could i be almost 40? when did that happen? but when i would say stuff like that to my aunt mil, who was in her late 90’s, i think of her response: oh, julie, you’re just so young…so young. i try to keep that in there, that reminder she would write to me in letters. but some days are easier than others.
i am lucky, really. really lucky. i have seen the world, over the last 13 years, seeing and interacting with things that not many people get too. i have had the joy of leading people into a deeper ministry to the poor and watched as they “got it”, which made my heart smile. i have filled up 1 1/2 passports and am most thankful for the italian stamp and my friend gigi who made it happen. i have stood in front of art that made me think, art that made me feel, art that made me cry. i have made rough sketches of the inside walls of the community area of the vatican. I have smelled the Sistine chapel.
i am lucky to have a group of friends in my life that i call family. and lucky to have a family that i can call friends.
but this year i’d like to make some changes. i’d like to be less afraid. afraid in general. i’d like to finish my book. and i’d like to get it published. i’d like to be stronger and say the thing in the moment that needs to be said but that will bring woundedness initally.
This year, I’d like to take control of things that have been controlling me. This year, I’d like to keep my goldfish alive. And this year. i’d like to master the miracle that is dry shampoo.
this year, i want to look inward and act outward. “act, act in the living present” henry wadsworth longfellow would tell me. This year i want to learn to be good at some things that for whatever reason i haven’t tried. i crave new experiences and new friends, although i’ll keep the level 5’s close.
This year i’ll try to be more like my friends Shawna and Eli, who love and receive love fluidly. Who say the hard thing or the thoughtful thing that makes me better for the conversation. always better. those kinds of people you hang onto.
This year, id like to file away my paperwork instead of letting it pile up. and this year, i really want to know god’s heart about my station in life. why he has me here and what for? This year i’d like to continue to learn to “be”—-just be. Stand up straight and “be”.
Thanks to those of you who walk this life w/ me day in and day out. my heart is yours. and my footsteps are hopefully gods. and my life? we’ll just have to wait and see who that belongs to.
so i’m single. i’m 37. i have no kids. why is that a tough group of phrases to write down and string together? dno. just is. i always wanted kids. thought i’d be a good parent to them. wanted my house and life filled up w/ their mess and their noise and their schedules and their wonder. then life just kept to seem happening to and in and around me and kids just never came into the picture. i chose not to MAKE them come into the picture by going out an adopting…i didnt want to be a single mom, although i’ve seen it done heroically.
‘kids’ just hasn’t happened for me.
and the older i’ve gotten, the more foreign the little drunk looking impersonators feel to me—as they totter and stumble their way through the lives they’re just beginning. i forget the babies heads that smell like lavender and vanilla and clean soap. i forget the clear, unabashed honesty of a kid. i forget the shaping of lives that comes along w/ having kids and what a beautiful responsibility that is. maybe it’s not that i forget it, i think in fact i’m being spared from it. saved from having to feel it right now…well, really, in these last few years.
i work for a child development organization and visit a lot of kids in the developing world each year. and each one fascinates me. and i know what kinds of questions to ask those kids…how to engage. but sometimes, whether due to my lack of spanish or due to my lack of familiarity, i can run through my litany of questions quite quickly and then am stuck just trying to make a kid laugh at a silly american woman.
but all those kids overseas always ask me one question. it seems their paramount curiosity and i brace myself for it each time: “so, do you have kids?” i’ve learned that one in spanish. learned it clearly. i know exactly what they’re “saying” when i say no and their eyes kind of widen in confusion. ‘how could she be a lady and not have kids? isn’t that what ladies do?’ then they ask the next question: do you have a husband? i’ve learned that question too. but what i haven’t learned is how to explain in my broken spanish, that i’ve just been waiting for the right guy to have the right kids with. that it’s been a decision in my life to not repeat mistakes i’ve watched play over and over of rushing into something just so i can say i have it. what i haven’t learned how to explain is that i, as a woman, can somehow be complete without all of that. maybe i can’t explain it b/c i’m not fully sure i believe it myself.
most days that’s not true. most days i’m very happy w/ my lack of kids, that i’m on my own schedule. that no one wakes me up at night. that i can drive my car wherever i want to and listen to the music that i want to at whatever volume i prefer. but if i’m honest, i’ll tell you that most days i think god really saves my heart by turning it a little bit from kids. i dont coo at babies all that much. i watch as toddlers pull themselves up on tables and dont really clap for them that loudly when they do it. i listen to teenagers w/ all their certainty discuss what life really means and roll my eyes w/ the knowledge that only time and age can lend.
i used too, you know. coo at babies. smile at every toddler. see the potential in teenagers. but at some point that feeling just disappeared. and maybe it took my hope along with it…or perhaps the other way around. either way, i stopped being enchanted with children.
i love the ones my friends have b/c you’re supposed to love your friends children and i love my friends and these little bundles have just become the most important things in their lives, so it’s important to get to know them. but i dont get to know them b/c they’re kids. i get to know them b/c they’re intimately attached to people i love.
so…when it all boils down to it, i think reflects a deep kindness of god, really. i think god arrested my development in this whole kid area. in everything relating to kids. i think he took away my desire for them for this season, so that i dont ache when i see them or see my friends lives with them. i think he just kind of put his hand over my soul and said, ‘not this one. not this topic. not this wound. this will keep her just a little too broken if it doesn’t come through.’ and so i’ve walked through my life these last few years w/ an indifferent stance towards kids.
i went into my favorite coffee shop to get some work done and was wearing a blank tank top and a black maxi skirt. as i started to unpack my laptop this little 4 year old looking little girl walked over to me. i glanced around, thinking, ‘who does this kid belong to and where are they?’. she was wearing a pink tutu and had a pink shirt and a pink hat that had a bunch of flowers on it. “i think your dress is pretty”, she shyly stated. i looked kind of stunned, i’m sure. logic kicked in. a) technically, i’m not wearing a dress b) nothing is that pretty about what i’m wearing. and then i realized this child was paying me a compliment—frankly, the best one i’d gotten in quite a few days, and so i said thank you and she looked down and smiled.
i scanned the room again for who she belonged to and saw an overwhelmed looking mom standing at the counter ordering coffee: diaper bag over one shoulder, smaller child on her other hip. yep, probably belongs to her, i thought. and then i looked back at the kid. “i like your hat, it’s very pretty”, i said. she held it up for me to inspect more closely, “my mommy bought it for me.” we talked about that hat and her mommy for about 30 seconds and then she waved goodbye to me and went to meet her bedraggled looking mother.
and while i wasn’t moved to drop and give birth to one, my heart fluttered a little flutter at the thought of kids, which hasn’t happened in quite some time. as the day wore on, i told a couple friends about her, this darling little child, who walked her little way into my big world and said hello.
my heart kind of covered over as the day wore on but she remained a bright spot in it. maybe i’ll have one of those little pink tutu wearing engaging little girls one of those days. but maybe i wont. a decision i feel that defines me and in many ways i have no power to affect. strange. what we as women do to ourselves in this area. what society has done to us in this area.
but this isnt that season for me. so for now, i’ll enjoy my disposable income, read books at my leisure that dont involve saying the words ‘goodnight’ and ‘moon’ (even though that is a MAGICAL book) and throw myself into my passions. and if god is kind enough to grant me access to that particular locker room someday, i’m sure he’ll change my heart. and i’m sure i’ll be glad. but for today, i’m glad it’s not bent thusly. that ache might overwhelm me.
so as far as tonight is concerned, i’ll go out to dinner w/ friends and then take a long drive w/ the windows down and listen to a brilliant live record from john mayer as loud as my speakers will go. b/c that is where i am in life and i’m completely at peace with it…for the moment.
i feel the need for some softness in my life right now. i’m a bit weary of the sharp edges and the careful conversations and the short fuses attached to big bombs. i’m craving the soft parts of life, of relationship, of wonder. i’m aching for some generosity of heart. some caution in the approach. some of the salve that comes w/ soaking in a strong, quiet, concentrated, intentional tenderness.
we live in a hard world full of hard people, hard experiences, hard places. hardness seems everywhere. even, though loathe to admit it, i find it often within my own heart. but today, it seemed to sneak up on me, this acute need for softness. like that word had never occurred to me as a way to say it, but that’s it: softness.
but if i’d been paying attention, the need has been building for quite some time.
i’ve never been a fan of sarcasm. never a fan of humor at someone else’s expense. never a fan of the fast slung flow of words that come from a quick temper. never a fan of carelessness of any kind when it comes to hearts or friendships or words. i dont surround the deep parts of myself w/ people that those words above describe. not the really deep parts. maybe b/c i’m afraid it will rub off on me (because it always tends to), maybe because it stings my heart too much (and too many stings can kill you), maybe because i just see a lot of brokenness right now and, it might be the woman in me, but i feel a need for a soft response to it. i feel the need for the benefit of the doubt. i feel the need…the deep need…for affirmation in the face of hardness. affirmation…seems like such a soft word to describe one of the most powerful acts that exists.
i laughed today with my team. hard. and it felt good. i spoke with a friend who was driving to rhode island and we laughed about the life we’ve shared. really laughed. hard. and he encouraged me to write, which was kind of like a ministry to me today—telling me that he thinks i have something to say. i spoke with a dear friend who lets me talk. in one of those ways that i have to remind myself to stop talking and ask her questions—which is kind of healing, to be frank. i had a friend ask me how i was today. i had a boss who waited for me when the rest of my team had left and let us jump in a cab to save my aching shin splints from the uphill 8 block walk—which felt generous and kind-hearted. a softness i needed today. and in the face of all that softness today it struck me that i was a little weary of the hard. a little weary of the tough spots people i love are in. a little weary of not being able to just stand still and be who i am and melt into the people around me. you can’t really melt into hard. you need softness.
i need softness.
i think i do a good job of offering it to those in my life. and maybe i’m too tenderhearted to not get it back in return. but while relationships are work, and according to artist david wilcox are “really good work”, i feel like they shouldn’t be sharp. i shouldn’t walk away a little bloodier, a little wearier, a little more unsettled after every conversation. it’s too hard. and i dont want hard right now. hard work? sure. bring it on. hardness in how you relate to my heart and speak to me and thus to it? i can’t always bear it. i try. i really try. but sometimes i just need the thing being said to be more gently stated. i just need words that are thought through before spoken and then are spoken with not just the transaction of those words in mind but also with an awareness of how those words hit my heart.
i ache for my friend kate in colorado. who is one of the most generous-hearted lover of people i have ever known. to sit across a table from her is nothing short of healing with how she holds your heart cautiously in her hands and mirrors you back in a light you never really deserved in the first place. and i’ve decided i need more of that in my life. and i need to pull back from the sharp for awhile and find the soft.
i need to offer the soft and seek out and lean into the soft. the world is just too hard without it.
yesterday i had a pedicure. i try to keep up with them because i think icky feet are…well, icky. anyone who gets their feet done with any sort of regularity will tell you that the nervous moments come when mere seconds after finishing the paint job, they’ll try to put a flip flop on your foot. one little slip and the job is destroyed…they have to start all over.
as they were trying this little manuever yesterday my friend rebekah said, ‘would you mind waiting a bit to get them a little more dry?’ the small little vietnamese girl looked at her and said, ‘no, i can do this. but you need to not move and look away’. we’ve had a lot of pedicures together and had never heard that phrase. so i asked her about it.
‘it’s simple”, she said. “if you look at me putting the shoe on, you’ll try to help. when you try to ‘help’ you’ll inevitably bang your toes on the strap of a flip flop and then you’ll wreck them. if you hold completely still and look away, i can do what i need to do and it’ll end up perfect.”
and you know what? she was right. as i watched her deftly slip rebekah’s flip flop on, i wondered if that’s not somehow god feels with me. he does a great polish job, gets something how he wants it and then like a dirty mouth and handed toddler, i clamber out of the high chair before i can be fully washed up. and then my dirty hands create more of a mess out of something that was set to be lovely.
sometimes i think god just says ‘dont move and look away’. not because he doesn’t want us to see but b/c there is an implicit surrender in the statement. ‘even if i look i will likely screw it up, so i will look away, i will trust that you can do better. and i will not move as i dont want to disrupt the magic you’re trying to perform in my life.’
sometimes i think god is like that. and me? i’m the epitome of the squirrley toddler…twisting, fussing, screaming in bursts and then running like hell when my feet hit the ground-fighting for my indepence. fighting against surrender. i’m sure he sighs that exasperated parent sigh and comes after me. he gets me in the chair again and starts anew.
but i wonder how much more of my life would be perfectly polished if i spent more time in that prone position—that surrender of ‘dont move and look away’. but sometimes that relationship with god is very similar to getting your toes done. you’ve got to be vulnerable every 3 weeks or so to have them look their best…and i think with god you’ve got to spend more time vulnerable than not. more time trusting than controlling. more stillness and less vision. more dependence and less independence. things that seem to fly against my very nature.
but then again, i do so like a well polished toe.
there’s a song that bebo norman put out a number of years ago entitled this. “borrow mine”. the idea of a friend w/ lost hope, or an inside of a soul ravaged by war and internal cannon fire or something that felt too dark to raise their head up under. that’s when, you could “borrow mine”until you had yours back. until you could heal. until the light shone once again.
but let’s be honest. sometimes those days dont come. sometimes the light doesn’t shine—at least not where you’re looking for it. some days, it’s just too hard. i’ve got a friend in that spot right now. he’s lost hope, which a dangerous and somehow easy thing to lose. one moment it’s in your heart, the next you’re afraid of it, the next you’ve walked away from it completely. b/c the amazing feeling that hope produces is sneaky like that: it can hurt you. it can bust you wide open w/ vulnerability. b/c once you’ve dared yourself enough to start to believe in it, it can wane. circumstances change, life changes, people change as all of those things do and will. the one constant.
sometimes life is about clutching onto the faith and the hands of the people around us, who will believe our dreams for us for a little bit, who will hope our hopes for us while our heads hang low, who will sit with us, when life is so heavy we simply can’t stand up any longer.
i bought a painting last weekend—a huge one, about the size of a twin sized bed—of one hand not just reaching down towards another that is reaching up, no. it is GRASPING that other hand—wrists locked. and it reminds me of the idea of “borrowing” someone else’s strength on the days i can’t do it alone. that’s why i bought it. to remind me to grab on when hope wanes and discouragement is the only language i understand.
so my friends, may i offer up what i have to you. when you have need, you can “borrow mine.” and when i have need? can i borrow yours? b/c i think it’s in the mutual leaning and learning of each other and of ourselves that real growth and relationship happen.
thanks to bebo for the lyric and tune and thank you itunes for a “shuffle” feature that landed me right into the middle of it tonight.
“You can borrow mine
When your hope is gone
When you can’t go on
‘Cause the world will not defeat you
When we’re side by side
When your faith is hard to find
You can borrow mine”—bebo norman, “Borrow Mine”
I’m feeling a little cracked these days. A little…not worse for…but more worn from the wear. June – August are the busiest times in my work life and when I’m answering an email, another ten come in. I feel underwater and over-traveled and a bit cracked open. See where the light of vulnerability is shining? that place of need now visible? Yeah, that’s the part I don’t like to show off too much. I don’t like the seams to be seen that hold me—fragilely some days—together.
I present to you exhibit A: I went to the U2 show here in Nashville a couple weeks ago. It was a show I’ve always wanted to go to. Always, desperately, wanted to experience. real rock stars, with real stage command and and real passion about what they’re doing. Oh. And the stage was 167 ft tall. I mean, where’s the downside, right? The thing is, it was outside. In Nashville. In July. As I sat in the sun and had it bake me for four hours (opening band, beating the crowds, resetting of the stage for u2), I started to not feel well. A little woozy, let’s call it. And then the crowd started pressing in on me. I shook my head, sweat pouring all over my body, and thought, it’ll get cooler. There’s a breeze if I stand. So I stood. And then u2 took the stage, like gods I might add, and everyone stood and the breeze disappeared. I was covered under the hot blanket of a crowd and had to sit down. You know that feeling you get when it dawns on you that you’re about to puke? You know the one. That queasy, clammy, “just try to keep swallowing” kind of feeling. As I stood back up I was awash in that feeling. I stretched for a breeze but was meet w/ the screams of the concert goers around me. And that’s when I knew it. I have to leave this show. I had to talk myself through all the steps. Julie. Sit down. Julie. Pick up your purse. Julie, step up onto the bleachers that no one is sitting on anymore and put one foot in front of the other.
Did I do that? No, I sat and texted my friend Katie who was working the show and said, I think I’m going to pass out. She texted back and said she had medics on the radio, did I want them? No, I said. No. Sitting there, covered in sweat but cold, 2 songs into the u2 show I knew I was going to puke and ruin all these peoples evenings…the amazing evening I was hoping to have, they were in the middle of. So I did it. I reached down, I picked up my purse and stood up and wobbled. Up onto the bleacher I stepped and felt my legs go out. The people around me caught me and I stumbled, literally holding onto shoulders and hands that were there and reached out for me across that bleacher and then down the stairs.
Everyone probably thought I was drunk. But I knew I was in trouble. I stumbled to a vendor and bought a gatorade. I went into the bathroom and threw up. My friends, may you never know the kind of humiliation it involves to fall to your knees in a gross stadium bathroom full of flushing and washing and just lose it. Worried restroom goers offered help. I waved my hand into the air of my enclosed stall and said, No, I’d be fine. No.
I eventually got off the floor and stumbled out of the bathroom. u2 was starting their 3rd song as I looked up and saw a first aid sign, full of latex gloved staff standing there waiting. No, I told myself. I just need to get to my car, then I’ll be fine. It was as I stepped past the first aid station that I heard my name: “Julie Johnson”. It was my friend Matt Turner (@jesusneedsnewpr). I blinked a few blinks and he was like, “are you okay? You look terrible”. No, I’m not doing well, I admitted. I’ve just got to get to my car and get home. He offered to walk me to my car, but I knew once you exited you couldn’t re-enter and that’s not the kind of sacrifice you ask a friend to make. No, I said. Thanks but I got it.
So, in all my sweat and humiliation, I realized I had parked by my friend Lisa in a neighborhood I wasn’t familiar w/ so had to google maps a location near where I thought I was parked. But then my eyes were blurry and I can never figure out which damn direction to walk when I’m using my iphone map. But I knew I just had to get to my car. I just had to get there and according to my gps, it was about a mile away.
I walked drinking the gatorade, step by step and stopped every couple blocks to rest. “I just need to make it to my car. If I can just get to my car”. As I walked I heard u2 giving the show of their lives. A mile out and I could still hear it plain as day and my heart was broken a bit.
It was then when I didn’t think I could make it. That I would just sit on the street and wait to feel better, that a car pulled up. A kind looking old couple who were asking for directions. I gave them the directions, as I had my phone already gps’d into the area we were and realized their route would have taken me almost directly to my car. Did I ask them for help? You can probably see this coming….but no. I did not ask for help. I just kept walking. Well, it was more of a stumble, but still.
After the mile walk, the heartbreak of the missed show and the humiliating bout in the bathroom, I finally made it to my car—gatorade long gone. Damn it, I thought, I should have bought two. So I called my mom, who is a nurse, and she explained something about heat exhaustion or heat stroke I don’t really remember. But told me to wait it out in the AC in my car and then see if I could drive to a hospital. But I ignored her and started driving. I just had to get home. That was my new goal. She told me to, at the very least, stop at a convenience store buy some orange juice and some more gatorade—get some sugar and electrolytes heading into my body. Which I did.
And I got home. Finally.
Had a temp of 101, after an hour in air conditioning and ice packs on the back of my neck, so I imagine it was higher at the show.
In reflection, I was that joke we have all heard about the guy in a flood who is on the roof of his house and is asking God for help. A boat goes by and asks if he needs help. He says no, god will come. A helicopter comes by, hey down there, need a ride out? No, the man says, God will come rescue me. Something else, that I forget, comes by and he says, no God will rescue me. Standing at the pearly gates he says to god, ‘why did I die? What am I doing here? I prayed for your help?” and god exasperatedly says to him: DUDE. (I may be paraphrasing) I sent you a boat. I sent you a helicopter. I sent you (whatever that other thing was) and you didn’t take all three! What more can I do?!
I had katie willing to get on the radio. I had a first aid station I should have stopped at. I had @jesusneedsnewpr offering to walk me to my car (he called a couple days later to check in saying I’d looked pretty rough). I had a kind old couple stop ME in the middle of a road I was stumbling down and didn’t ask for them to drop me off. No. I did it myself. Stubbornly and stupidly did it myself.
I did the same thing in college. Last day of school, campus cleared out. I went to a professors office to return a book he’d loaned me, fell down the stairs on my way out and sprained my ankle. It was a basketball –sized thing immediately. I sat at the bottom of the stairs and had to face facts: I had a 4 hour drive home and I just wanted to get there. So I hopped to my car (4 blocks), propped my foot up on the dashboard (you’re supposed to elevate, I hear) and drove the 4 hours home. I had to stop for gas and there wasn’t pay at the pump then (how old am i??), so I had to hop inside in terrible pain. But I made it home to a mother who took one look at me and took me to a dr.
So it’s a long story to say I’m thinking about cracks lately. How much I hate to ask for help, to my detriment but hopefully not my demise.
My friend Eli carries my Christmas tree upstairs and down every year and every year I feel terrible for asking him to do it. But he’s never complained, even though I know it’s a bitch to handle and there are lots of stairs. And every time he does it, I know he would hate me to say, but I feel a little crack showing. I’m just not that good at weakness. I’m just not good at it. Even though I’m terribly afflicted with it in so many ways, I’m just not good at it. I’m not good at reaching for and asking for and accepting help when I’m in a bad spot. I don’t like to show my cracks.
But the thing I’m on the edge of realizing is that the cracks are where the beauty is. The brokenness of letting someone help you when you can’t do it on your own. The powerful act of leaning. When Eli carries my tree up? It’s me leaning a bit. And I’m not comfortable w/ it, but it makes my life better. And he’s kind enough to not make me feel terrible for the asking, so the lean is a bit easier. Those who know me well, who live my life w/ me, put up with this part of me. Nay, they balance this part of life for me. Busting into my isolation and my house w/ unlooked for latte’s and conversations. They sit across tables from me and ask how I’m doing. they patiently listen to my brave answer and smile and nod in all the right places. And then they ask how I’m REALLY doing. And then I really tell them. But they’ve gotta want it. I don’t volunteer weakness easily. I’ll volunteer the good pictures any day but the weak stuff? You’ve got to earn. In fact, I don’t volunteer weakness ever. It’s being in relationship with me and knowing me well enough to know when I’m hiding pain and not mentioning it. When I’m pushing against a wall w/ everything I have and it’s not moving. When I’m in a dark hole and can’t find the strength to even look up to see if light exists. When I’m at my weakest, darkest, most humiliating place, somehow God shows up. But he doesn’t always looks like what I think “God” would look like. He looks like latte’s and christmas trees and friends who hold me together with their sincere interest in where my heart and mind are. Cracks and all. Maybe even more because of the cracks. The thing I’m learning right now, is that the beauty is truly in the brokenness. In the weakness. In the vulnerability. In not trying to cover what everyone who really knows me already sees.
One of my favorite song lyrics is: “God made me on a long thin limb, to make sure I’d remember him.” God knew that about me, that I wouldn’t be great w/ asking for help or w/ the leaning part. He knew I’d be stubborn and independent and if he’d put me on a stronger branch, I probably would walk through this world toughing it out more than I do. A little more certain of the things that make me less certain when my footing isn’t as strong. So I’ll stand here on this limb b/c the sway of the wind that moves it reminds me I’m not in control. That I need to hold on. And I’ll love those people who are strong enough to love me when I’m hard to love. As for the u2 show? I’ll see if I can’t catch them in some other city at some other show. Sure, that I’ll have the time of my life. And maybe I’ll bring a fan this time.