Vulnerable

Do not let the world

 

Vulnerability.

It’s one of my favorite topics. I think I experienced my first real glimpse of it right as Brene was making it her anthem, and I ran with it. Because there’s so much good to it. After years of holding onto burdens that weren’t mine, and secrets that very much were, experiencing freedom by letting others help carry them was life changing. I realized that allowing people come along side me, while also being able to sit in that same space with them, changed friendships, work environments, and just every relationship in general.

It went against every grain in me, to live more honestly, and I don’t think I’ve shied away from writing about the internal struggle of craving vulnerability, but also wanting to have all my loose ends tied up in a nice bow.

I liked being vulnerable, because it’s worked for me. Because I’ve seen first hand what letting down walls and sharing struggles does. It helps you feel less alone, and helps you understand someone else’s perspective and worldview. It deepens relationships, and lessens confusion.

But what happens when it doesn’t? 

For years, it wasn’t even something that crossed my mind. It was choice, obviously, but it only had good results. Sure, it’s hard getting past the initial openness, but after that the beauty of connections arrives.

Be more open = get closer to others. Simple.

But recently, I’ve been in seasons and settings where it just doesn’t. It’s just not that easy. Vulnerability isn’t always the break through I thought was. It’s sometimes met with awkward stares and confused faces. I thought this was something everyone wanted? I’ve found myself crawling back into my natural tendency not to share, keeping to myself, and handling hardships on my own. I’ve defaulted back into my feelings, and if it doesn’t feel safe to share, I won’t.

I write this, because I can’t be alone. I can’t be the only one who is sometimes thinking and feeling Why isn’t this working? Where’s the deeper level? Where’s the break though?

Vulnerability wouldn’t be hard if it always got us the clarity we wanted. I’m learning, it just as much lives in the small but steady efforts, and as it does in the major break throughs. It takes, patience, it takes courage, and it takes you continuing to fight to make it exist.

My plea to you and me is to not get give up trying to break down walls and jump over fences (pun intended), to get to that place with people. To keep showing up and fighting against ourselves to stay isolated with our thoughts and struggles.

To allow others to see the hard and messy sides, and trusting that those moments will count towards deeper connections.

Advertisements

Tables

Tables

A few months ago they needed volunteers to host a group every month for a new ministry called Tables. It’s essentially generations of women getting together monthly to talk about Jesus. And as someone who knows everything about scripture, I graciously offered to host. LOL Just Kidding, making sure y’all were paying attention. I was basically like “please pick me to have people come and tell me more because I need this!”

The other night, when talking about discipleship, we started talking about how our views on God have changed over the years.

One of the ladies mentioned that she was raised in a home that was very legalistic. She said it took her while to break away from the feeling that God wasn’t mad at her and that when bad things happened to her, it wasn’t because she was being punished.

She said, “I experienced so much freedom, when I finally realized no good thing I did I could make God love me more than he already does, and no mistake I made would make him love me any less.”

Sometimes life moves so fast that I tend to forget this very basic concept. I forget it’s a gift. I get in the “measure up” mode and want to do all the things I can to earn it. That as a believer, I’m already loved in a whole and complete way, no strings attached.

Hannah B. left the Bachelor on Monday (sorry, not sorry if you haven’t watched it, you are more than two days late and it’s free game now). She’s crazy as all get out and has a smile a mile wide but the girl got DEEP leaving The Bachelor on Monday.

“ I will not allow myself to not feel chosen every single day”

I know we’ve heard this a million times. But we’re also easily influenced by a world harping on us that it’s the opposite.

So this isn’t long; it isn’t wordy. It’s just some truth you may need to hear again.

This is for you, for the someone out there who’s exhausted from trying to play the part and be the right thing. Who’s tirelessly trying to make amends with the wrongs they’e done. No more amount of good will make the Father love you anymore, because he loves you that much.

And for those who feel unforgivable, who feel hypocritical, and who feel unlovable – no amount of mistakes can keep you from the Father loving you any less.

No good thing you do can make God love you more than he already does, and no mistake you make will make him love you any less.”

You are loved, and you are chosen and you can live without the pressure of continuing to measure up.

Single

Single

Ah! A post about being Single, on Valentine’s Day, written by a married person. Aren’t you dying to read this??

But I was single for hot second and I think that makes me qualified to write on the subject. Or it may not, but it’s my blog and I can write what I want.

I got married last year, and with that comes a lot of new experiences. I didn’t have a job in the beginning and we had to figure out the ends and outs of insurance. My car died and we had to buy a new one. We sold and bought a new home.

During the changes, a lot of well meaning people told me things like:

  • “You registered for your gifts? You’re so grown up!”
  • “This is the real, adult stuff”
  • “What can I say, being all grown up is hard”
  • “You have a mortgage now, this makes you officially an adult!”

I know they meant well. But I heard it so often, and it made me a little confused. If I was just now becoming an adult, what was I doing all those years before? Wearing my Target #adulting shirts and living in some middle ground, just waiting to grow up?

Because even though I just did all these “big” things, I’ve felt like an adult for years. And it felt weird to me that some people didn’t view it that way.

I felt pretty grown up when my entire apartment flooded and we had deal with management, rental insurance, all while having to move everything out within few hours.

I felt pretty mature leading a group of college students to Brazil for a week (and we all came back alive, in one piece, and 10lbs+ heavier from the Pao de Queijo).

And when I was a director and oversaw an entire education department, with employees who had really hard personalities and really hard stories.

Or when I decided to leave an organization that meant the world to me. There was no one else there to tell me I had outgrown my role and needed to go. That was me, deciding for myself.

Marriage can be hard, sure. But do you know what’s easier now? Um, things like insurance, taxes, walking into crowded parties not alone, and let’s be honest, moving furniture and hanging heavy pieces on the walls. You always have someone in your corner, always helping with the logistics or technical. A live-in sounding board for all major decisions, and double checking the fine print.

When you’re on your own, you don’t have that.

You read through the new hire papers on your own. You pour yourself a glass of wine and hope you got everything right as you work through Turbo Tax. You convince yourself that staying in is not an option and you go to party you’ve been debating about, by yourself. And you pull out the 40 year old drill your dad gave you and you hang your own curtains.

And I know you don’t need my stamp of approval on days like this. You don’t need someone to tell you any of those things.

But maybe you just need a little validation that you’re doing it. You’re doing all those things that you didn’t think you could do on your own. Really– think about 3 years ago, 5 years ago, 10 years ago. Aren’t you proud of how brave you’ve been on your own?

You’re out there looking through applications and figuring out grad school.

You’re building up your career exactly way you wanting to.

You’re reading through medical diagnosis, bills, and carrying heavy, heavy burdens.

You’re buying houses and changing jobs and traveling the world, and you’re doing it on your own.

I hope in this place in life – whether it’s the one you wanted or one you’d never thought you’d be in- you know that you’re just as much doing the real, hard things as your friend on Facebook who post about her 3 kids. You’re just as much an adult even if you’re still paying rent, or you’ve yet to buy a Instapot ( honestly, I haven’t either).

I hope that while your waiting on the all things you are waiting on, you at least take time to look back and see how far you’ve actually come. And that you’re proud of things you have today because of the work, patience and prayers of yesterday.

And how much best there is to come.

The Prodigal Son’s Siblings

FullSizeRender

Catchy title, huh?

I need to preface quickly that my brother is not the Prodigal Son. And although he did get a cell phone the same time time I did (but he’s 3 years younger), and his curfew was a lot later than mine — he’s definitely not a prodigal child.

Although the cell phone thing just brought up another wave of emotions, but it’s fine.

This is about all of us who’ve desperately tried to cover our scars and hurts, all while getting frustrated at the “sinners” who’ve come back, been really honest and get all the recognition. Those of us who get mad when someone comes back to the faith, while it feels like we’ve been holding down the fort the whole time. The ones who’ve gotten really good at playing the game, giving church answers, and being offended when someone else breaks that mold.

As the oldest child, oldest grandchild and a girl, for a large part of my life I was the first to do all the things. First to go to school, to play a sport, to go to college, to move away, etc. I like to say I’m a first born ENFP. Because I’m not type-A, but when it comes to doing the right thing or looking to part, I can easy mold into that. There’s this extra responsibility to have things together.

Especially when it came to church. I knew the answers to give that made me look like everything was okay, even if it wasn’t. I knew that the more honest you were, the more weird you were, and I did not want that. I wanted to fit in, be normal, and learned the answers or tactics that kept me in that seat. And unfortunately that crutch followed me all the way through college.

Early into my time in Atlanta, I ended up leading small group. It was the first time I’d really led anyone my age, but I was ready. I had led, been apart of small groups since I was in elementary school, and felt perfectly capable to walk others through a study.

But I was very unprepared for honesty that followed. Two of the girls in the group were just getting back into church. Two others had never been apart of a small group before. And not long into the group, they opened up about real struggles, real questions about sin, and how far they felt from Jesus.

They talked about their weekends and what all they did. They talked about boyfriends. They told me things you weren’t suppose to tell your small group, much less the leader.

Hello! Don’t you guys know the vocabulary? If you’re doing things with your boyfriend, then tell the group your “struggling” so no one ask questions. If you feel bad about going to the bars every night, tell me your worried about the crowd your hanging around, not that you feel guilty about the 7 shots you consumed.

And for the love, if you didn’t do the lesson, at least pretend like you know part of it – don’t openly admit you never looked at the chapter. This is a place to come and look very shiny and pretend you did the study so you won’t get in trouble, right? 

Wrong. So completely wrong.

That was the beautiful part, they didn’t know the churchy answers or the perfectly crafted ways to avoid talking about sin. They didn’t know the unspoken ( and untrue) rule that you need to clean up your story up before you could talk about it. They didn’t know any of these “rules”. Honestly was all they knew. Hard questions were all they had to give. And as the leader, my barrier of vulnerability started crashing down.

Revelations 3:16 says “So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.” This verse took on a new meaning for me that year. I realized I was trying so hard not to rock the boat, and not get too deep into my story or sin, that I wasn’t even being truthful with it anymore. I never realized how bright and spotless I was trying to make my self look to the Lord, and it took girls who knew nothing but honesty to show me how off my thought processes was. They taught me what it was like to actually come before the Lord with my sin. Not in the package with the pretty bow where it looked acceptable from the outside. The real raw stuff.

If your like me, you’ve spent years perfecting sentences and twisting words to make your sin seem “less”. I still fight the urge to have everything clean and polished before I bring it before my Savior and it’s hard to be honest with where you are.

But thats what the Lord wants. The doubting questions, the sin struggles, the apathy towards grace – all of it.

He wants to hear our hearts. The hard, messy parts included.

THIRTY

screenshot2019-01-31at10.52.25am

When I left my job a few years ago, I was walking away from almost 7 years worth of memories and comfort. On my last day they got me a cookie cake and on it was the quote:

“Beginnings are usually scary and endings are usually sad, but it’s the middle that counts. You have to remember this when you find yourself at the beginning.” (Also cookie cake and quotes? #known)

In a few days, I’m trading my twenties out for a new decade. For a lot of reasons, I’m actually really excited to step into my 30’s. As much as I enjoyed the last decade, I feel like I’m outgrowing it in a way. I think there’s a unspoken platform you receive just because of your age. You’re a little less timid and a little more confident that you have something to offer.  There’s some bravery + apathy (the good kind) that’s happened over the past few years and I’ve heard your 30’s propel you even more towards that; finding your place and caring a little less of what others may think of you being there.

Also apparently your skin gets bad and your metabolism slows down significantly, but I choose not to dwell not those things (and I’m actively praying against them). 

But before leave I should let you know, I really really loved my 20’s. I really learned what it was like be on my own, made some massive mistakes (the word massive is key, they were no small stumbles), learned strengths of mine that I never knew existed and learned weaknesses in a space that let me fail gracefully. I met countless people who shaped the way I think, and created a bit more empathy in my heart.

So to those of you at the Beginning, it gets So.Much.Better. Just wait. Real life, can be so much better than college. To all my almost graduates fearing graduation – The world tries to trick you by telling you you’re leaving the best four years of your life behind. But I can assure you, you’re stepping into some pretty good ones too. I can definitely tell you this at 29 with life feeling somewhat put together – but I would have told you the same thing at 24. Sure it’s scary, but the good scary. There’s so many good things hidden behind the wall of the unexpected and unknown.

If you’re in the Middle, this is the good part. Or maybe it’s the hard part. Maybe it doesn’t feel like it right now, because you’re at job that you loathe or in an apartment you hate. Somedays you feel ahead of everything, and some days you feel like everyone else is passing you. But where there are gaps, there’s a need for Jesus. The Lord will fill in the inadequate spaces in ways, that from the world’s perspective, doesn’t seem to work. I written about him meeting my needs for counseling and providing me with opportunities to serve in Brazil, all while I making very very little money. The Lord shows up in the places where we aren’t enough. It’s where the magic is.

And if you headed towards the End of the decade, I feel that transition with you. The one where you try to hold everything close before it slips through. But it doesn’t work like that. I tried to squeeze out all of Atlanta before I moved home, but you just can’t bottle it up and take it with you. Same with the years of summer nights in the North Georgia mountains  — Moments just happen. You’ll miss them if your trying so hard to hang onto them. Don’t wish for how it was or how it will be; stay present in the now.

I’ve made a lot of mistakes (I know I had you fooled – I seem so flawless!) and this post isn’t to tell you how well I’ve lived the past few years. These lessons are from the bottom. And yours will be too. All the moments weren’t shiny. There were tears and struggles, ER visits and setbacks. Those will be in your story too.

But overall, I’m actually really proud of the last decade – I stayed present, felt the falls, rejoiced on the mountain tops and created a community of people who sat with me at the top and at the bottom.

I hope I can say the same for the next decade.

Hello Thirty – I’m very excited for what you have in store.

Also on a totally unrelated note – if anyone has any face cream recommendation that would be greatly appreciated

The Art of Walking Away

tumblr_nfv7m9wnhp1qhmhdfo1_500“You have to be willing to walk away” Josh repeated, for the 4th time on our way to Chinatown.

He’s not just a pretty face, this one.

He’s seen what’s about to happen first hand, two years earlier.  He knows I grossly overpaid for a purse that lasted me about month before Louis Vuitton looked more like Louix Vtoigoriugin.

He knows that while I come with my strengths, I tend to have little more trouble with things like: saying yes when I should said no; realizing some things really are just business and not personal; and walking away from habits or choices- or in this case deals-that just aren’t good for me.

[ and can we not talk about it-  I bought a fake purse. YES I DID IT, and it’s really not even a top 10 life regret so just, ok?]

Unfortunately, this wasn’t the last time he’s had to repeat those words to me. We recently sold our home and bought a new one. The whole process is not for the faint of heart.  Or for those who “need things immediately”.  You look at house after house, and when you find one, yours has to sell. Then it’s not the right price, or the offers to low to sell yours.

If you’re like me – it can be difficult to say no, or not right now, or understand the value in waiting. Because of the haste, our willingness to overlook some major red flags can be a blind spot. Things as small as paying to much for something trivial or I know don’t know, almost actually buy a house with a train right behind it. Of course I’m not talking about my decisions. I made these up….

The art of learning to accept  the no, or  the not right now – It’s hard.

A few years ago for lent, I gave up social media. Just for a break, for some breathing room. Not forever – it came back to me – but there’s healthy space in giving yourself a chance to think, to heal, or to get your thoughts together, away from the masses of content. I am not, and will never be a hater of social media (i.e. it’s how you got here), but I think evaluating how we spend our time ( energy, money, etc) is good practice.

We’ve barely tapped in to the new year. It’s filled with hopeful beginnings and new words and promised plans.

Yet, some of us are over here still hanging onto our old routines that so clearly aren’t getting us anywhere.

Know your limits. Know your values. Know your direction ( all things I’m preaching to myself as well). Hold fast to patience as you remind yourself of the end goal.  You’re not too late change some choices, walk away from decisions or habits not good for you, and add in the good ones to this new year.

Wemmicks

Wemmicks

A few years ( more like a lifetime ago) I was in play. Yes, Yes. I took Drama as an elective. And no, I didn’t play Jane Eyre. Or Belle. Or Dorothy.

I was a Wemmick…. which is basically some sort of wooden figurine (I’m waiting for a call from Hollywood any day now).

And judging by the picture above I’m pretty sure I was in middle school when I was in this play. So the fact that there are teenagers nowadays who can contour their face and do their hair baffles me, because I seem a little too content over here being a Wemmick; having yet to use a straightener, and wearing one of those tiny bubble shirts that use to be cool.

But I’m a sucker for children’s stories with a grander theme. So it’s no surprise that children’s books, especially Christmas ones, have a similar effect.

Polar Express; I hope I’m 80 and can still hear the bell.

The Crippled Lamb; His disability led him to the Creator.

The Grinch; He learned the meaning of Christmas and his heart grew 3 sizes ( yes, I know the monologue. I told you, Hollywood should be reaching out soon). 

So maybe as a lonely, lost 7th grader, I understood the underlying message of this story and that’s why I’m smiling so big?

Maybe. But probably just excited about the bubble shirt.

“You are Special” by Max Lucado is about The Wemmicks, a group of, um, people? who spend their days plastering others with Stars and Dots. If you are good, beautiful, funny or rich –  you get Stars. If you mess up, embarrass yourself or have imperfections – they give you Dots.

The Wemmicks devote all their time to this.

What a weird plot. What people group would spend all their time giving people Stars and Dots, or hearts and comments to friends and strangers alike….

Yeah, crazy.

Eventually the main character meets someone who has no Dots and no Stars. She’s just her. He learns later the reason she has no Dots or Stars, is because other people’s opinions – her status, her flaws, her mistakes, her successes – don’t matter to her. And because they don’t matter, the compliments and the insults don’t effect her. The dots and stars don’t stick, because she doesn’t let their opinions hold enough weight.

“The stickers only stick if they matter to you. The more you trust…..the less you care about their stickers.”

We are coming up on a season where it’s easy to compare. It’s easy to feel left behind, not far enough along, or not good enough. It’s really easy because there’s pictures all over the place to point it out. To remind us that if we want stars, we have to post enough to look like it’s all together. And to avoid dots, we have to push down the pain, put on smile and pretend to be okay.

As magical and sparkly as this season is, it can leave a lot of us feeling like we haven’t measured up:

It could be watching, even from a far, someone else get the things you want – the marriage with the pretty Christmas cards, the house with pretty wreath, the baby pictures with Santa.

It could be the Holidays serve as a reminder of all the things you didn’t get checked off on your list this year. All things you were going to do, but failed to.

It can be interacting with family who, even if they mean well, can create added pressure and hurt, to an all already unknown future.

Or it could just be that you bought a cheap Christmas tree last year that looks rather puny in your new house, but you know if you wait until January they will be on sale, but you really just want to buy one now, because what will all the people who come over think?? Wait, okay getting too personal.

It’s the big and it’s the small. It’s the dots and it’s the stars.

And it only sticks if you let it matter to you.

Remain in the Truth that you are where you need to be. Rest this season, in the fact that you are enough.

Enjoy the remaining parts of this year knowing that you bring worth to the table.

Carpool Karaoke

joy-is-a-decision-a-really-brave-one-about-how-you-are-going-to-respond-to-life-quote-1 2

Carpool Karaoke –— Well, our version anyway. The same amount of singing and life conversations, but with a few less (actually none what so ever) celebrities. So kind of?

Years ago myself, along with 4 other girls, created a carpool. All of us lived in the Northside and we worked in the Southside, so almost everyday, we ended up commuting the 40 miles to and from work.

And there we were. All so very single and so very ready to be dating, engaged, and married. Ready to be living the dream with our husbands in imaginary houses with the picket fence. Except that our realities were apartments with loud neighbors, houses with one bathroom, boys who wouldn’t commit and families who sometimes so lovingly reminded us of all the things we were not. 

All of us, except Sara.

Included in our carpool was our bright, sassy friend Sara. She’s kind of like the old wise neighbor of the main character in a movie. Or the fun bartender with insight into your mixed up life. She’s like your friends mom, who they can’t really appreciate because she’s their mom, but you soak up everything they say. Also why am I describing her like she’s old and gone? Sorry. She’s very much alive and well.

Sara’s larger-than-life personality made her stories all the more richer as we listened to everything she had to say.  She was only about 4 years older than us, but she was beautiful and amusing and provided wisdom that made it fun to learn from. Any story was more exciting when Sara told it. She was and is one of the most positive people I’ve ever known. She’d worked in fashion before working with us and had the coolest clothes (I sound like a middle schooler, but like, she’s just cool ok?). She radiated so much life and hope into our little office. She was married to Chase and when they were together you didn’t want to stand too close because Blake and Ryan would have looked dull compared to those two. Sara would tell us stories about how they met and how he proposed and we would swoon over her stories and her life.

One of Sara’ s contributions to carpool, aside from letting us ride in her fancy new Lexus, was introducing us to the Eric Church song, “Over When It’s Over”. The amount of times we sang that song would make Eric proud and James Corden embarrassed that I compared his show to our attempts to belt this song. But we didn’t care. It applied to past relationships and new flames and for years it became a tradition to play it every few weeks, just for the sake of it.

And somewhere between the lines about daggers and Marlboro Lights, space was created for all of us to be a little more honest about the past and the present, and the real and the hard.

One thing you need to know is that Sara and Chase had been trying for two years to get pregnant. Sara found out earlier that year that she only had about a 50% chance of being able to conceive. She watched best friends and sorority sisters and real sisters get pregnant, and she wanted more than anything to have what they had.

And there we were, 20 somethings living on non-profit salaries, in apartments and houses that we could barely afford, and not as far along as we thought we should be. And here was beautiful Sara married to handsome Chase who in our eyes had it all, all the while watching them wait for something else.

And the unspoken truth of the season was no matter where you are or no matter what part of the journey you’re in: everyone is waiting for something.

I wonder if we will ever realize that the thing we want so badly in this moment won’t make us whole. It won’t make us content. It won’t take away the anxiety of the “what ifs”. Eventually we will want something else. It’s such a vicious and draining cycle. I think we still, after years and countless examples of watching it not be true, continue in the thinking that the grass is greener over there.  

  • If I just had this job or this car or this life, everything would be so much easier.
  • Well obviously if my life looked like theirs, I would be constantly worried.
  • If life had just gone according my plan, I wouldn’t feel so terribly lost, terribly confused, and terribly tired of trying.

And let me remind you again, I’m over here preaching to choir. Reminding us, that grasping contentment and joy in the present, is far more important that spending all our energy grasping at that next step.

We’ll never have everything we want exactly when we want it. We know that, but somewhere between the long days, months, and years of walking through it, we can lose sight of it. 

All these years later, Sara and Chase are parents to a precious baby girl. But in the season of life we lived together in carpool, that outcome wasn’t always a guarantee. 

Sara and Chase were an example to us on how to wait well. Behind close doors I’m sure they would both beg to differ, but as people who walked very closely with them, they were models of what it looked like to live with a hope and a purpose bigger than our momentary thoughts, feelings and circumstances.

What it looked like to hurt, and what it looked like to trust and what it looked like to live with Joy, even when life doesn’t look like what you thought. 

If we’re not careful, we’ll miss the lessons because we stayed so busy wishing for things we weren’t suppose to have yet. And if we can move past the discontentment, the present is a truly beautiful place to be. 

Counseling

IMG_4960

I haven’t shied away that I had some bumps along the way in the my early 20s. Bumps? Potholes? Giant Disasters? Okay, not my brightest moments, you get it. 

 A few years back I was past all of it, but I was also left with a lot of it. And sometimes, even us – feeling-emotional-processing all the timers – don’t always know what to do with the baggage we carry around. I wanted to be open, but I didn’t really have the tools to get there. 

 And sometimes we all need some help getting to where we know we want to go. 

 I made a vow to myself to be more honest (read here for more on that journey), and with that came a call to obedience. And I knew in order to do anything with my story, I had to first heal from my story. 

The day I made the video for my baptism, I sat next to a girl in church who mentioned counseling. She mentioned it so casually I wanted to cry because I was so desperate for a name, a contact, someone I could trust. I had been to a counselor before. At a church and in secret, because I didn’t want anyone to know about it. She was great, she was, but sometimes it’s hard for someone to help you, when your still in the pit. I also tried another one when I first moved to Atlanta, but that one wasn’t the right fit either.

My new friend happily gave me her counselor’s name, who then referred me to her colleague because she was all booked up at the time. Coincidence? Never. My experience was the perfect fit for where I was and gave me the tools/strength/bravery to get where I wanted to go. I went to counseling a lot that year, but I haven’t been nearly as much in the years following. Maybe that the thing about it, it’s seasonal, and it’s different lengths for everybody.

And listen, I get it. It’s expensive. If you’re like me, I’d rather buy new shoes at DSW ( or 6 at Target) then pay for a session where I will hurt and cry and I’ll leave with my mascara looking like I just worked in the coal mines.

 Years ago I remember sitting next to this guy at a church event. He told me and the rest of the lunch table this story about his financial woes and how a few months back someone had given him a check for just the right amount for his rent that month. Wow! So Amazing! 

 And it left me thinking how no one ever gave me a check for the right amount for my last Target run (gah, I talk about Target too much).

 However, years later I was an intern (making very little money), living in Atlanta ( a very expensive city) and desperately needing counseling. And there was no mailbox moment. There were no checks handed out in the perfect amount or random strangers giving me cash on the streets.

 But I will say this, I never lacked that year. I never couldn’t pay rent or went without food. I don’t even remember having to cut back ( maybe to Target). But the point is when you know the Lord is calling you somewhere, He doesn’t leave you on your own to get there. He provides. It looks different for everyone but he never leaves us stranded.

 I’m not saying God is going to miraculously put the exact amount in your bank account. But I’m not going to say He won’t. I will say, when he ask you to obey – he just asked that you take the first step. And then the next. And then the next. Psalms 119:105  says ” You word is a lamp unto my feet and light unto my path” A lamp unto our feet. Not, “Here’s the whole way/plan/map.”  Nope, just a lamp right up near your feet, guiding your next steps. 

 On my third counseling appointment, this poor woman had heard ( and seen via tears) my darkest moments. Because anyone reading this thinking about counseling should know, that’s what the first sessions are like. They are you telling them why you are there and if you’re me, then you cry. A lot. (God bless the Thinkers, I hear you can tell your whole life story and never shed a tear. Jealous). 

 Anyway on my third visit, my sweet counselor pulled out a piece of paper. She said “Rebecca, I was reading a book the other day and this phrase jumped out at me and seems to describe all the things you’ve been telling me. So I wrote it down for you.”

 Terrified, surprised, and crying probably, I listened as she read what she wrote on the piece of paper: 

|| Shame is basically the fear of being unlovable – it’s the total opposite of owning our story and feeling worthy. In fact, the definition of shame is: The instantly painful feel or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging. Shame keeps worthiness away by convincing us that owning our stories will lead to people thinking less of us.

Shame = Fear -Brene Brown, Gifts of Imperfections ||

 I still have that piece of paper in my wallet today. I want the reminder that in that moment, I interacted with the Divine. I want it as close to me as I can at all times. I never want to forget what it felt like to be known, and to know wholeheartedly that the hurt, the tears, and the ugly cry faces where not in vain. 

 Because of the hours I spent in that chair, the clearer the path came. 

The more hope became real to me and the more hope I then give to someone else. 

That though sin runs deep in our lives and in our stories, His grace is so much more. 

To profess that there is real freedom and that the burden you carry so tightly behind you – you can let down.

 Jesus + Counseling make me better. End of story. My advice for anyone toying with the idea is do it. With your whole heart. With an open heart.

 And maybe the theme isn’t counseling. Maybe its obedience ( which my lessons so often are because I’m so often not). Maybe it’s obeying the next step. 

 And trusting the little lamp guiding our feet.