A Boring Testimony

You were born into your mother’s arms, loved by her from the moment she knew of your existence. Your father was standing beside her, watching your first breaths. All the pain of their own lives behind them and with them and before them, learning from it all so you could stand on their shoulders and grasp something better than what was handed to them. They would teach you the Gospel. They would teach you of love and show you love. They would talk about grace and when you were too young to understand it, they would show grace to those you loved and those you did not. You would be tempted. So many times you would be tempted towards all that brings pain and darkness and rot, but the Lord would walk beside you, guiding you each time towards what is good and true and beautiful. It wasn’t perfect. You stumbled, you sinned, you scraped your knees, but you never knew what it was to walk as a dead man, distant from all hope, and aching with a selfish and devouring rage.

Before there was water in the oceans or birds in the air, the God that hung the stars knew your name. He wrote a story of redemption that would begin before you entered the world, so many hardened hearts made soft that would one day show you warmth and mercy. So many would give of themselves for you. God himself would give of himself for you. God himself died for you. He chose each hair on your head. Each inch of your skin. He chose the day of your birth and the day of your death and carried you through every love and loss in between. You did nothing to earn it. Nothing to deserve it. Screeching and squirming into the world naked and confused like the rest of us. And yet the one who crafted the land and sea and skies poured compassion over you from the very beginning. And in the end, you returned home to Him. You rested in a Love that was somehow even greater than that immeasurable love shown to you on the day of your birth. Your mother bled for you, cried for you, gave so many years, days, hours, fleeting minutes made up of so many slow daunting seconds all for you, and though you were never wise enough to understand the depth of it, it shaped you so that you could love and walk and give in a way that was so much bigger than yourself. And, even still, her love was weak and broken compared to the Love that would welcome you in the end.

All of it was cosmic, pain and beauty, fury and grace, woven and spoken by a supernatural force with a name and a heart and a joy to be shared and multiplied.

But you never got addicted to drugs or committed any crimes or cursed His name. How uninteresting. And your parents read you bedtime stories and told you about Jesus. How trite. And you prayed from the time you were young until the time you were old. How anticlimactic.

Yes, it was so filled with wonder and compassion. A story divinely orchestrated. But make sure to warn people that it’s rather boring, if they ever ask how you were saved.

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Days of Peace… And of Sounders

This week, while full of blessings, has been a difficult one. Very difficult in fact. And while I intend to take the time to write about it someday, I will not today. Not only do I lack the perspective to do it any sort of justice, I also know that my soul needs something different today. Today is not a day for continuing in the negativity and the hardship. Today is a day to breath, listen to the rain on my windowsill and meditate on days of peace.

For years, I have been one of God’s children, adopted as His own. While I can tell stories of turning points and epiphanies, seasons of doubt and seasons when my faith matured, I cannot tell you the day I was adopted. I don’t know exactly when it happened. I just know that it did. I know that, through no wit or righteousness of my own, God chose me wholly and completely by His grace. I know that His Spirit has been tucked away in the depths of my heart through even my darkest days: Days when I saw death and sickness and abuse. Days when memories of those things came in dark haunting flashes. Days that seemed hopeless, when I knew in my mind that I am young but felt in my soul that I was old and withered.

God never left me during these times. He comforted me by His Spirit and blessed me with loving friends and family to pick up the pieces when I could not. It is after years of His faithfulness in my heart that I can confidently say that there is never a day where some measure of hope cannot be found at the roots of my soul. But that does not mean that every day is cheerful. It does not mean that every day is peaceful. Anyone who knows me well knows that I put a great deal of emphasis on the importance of sorrow and allowing others (and myself) the freedom to grieve. And in knowing grief, in having the courage to look it in the eye and the softness to allow it to be felt, we can also recognize its absence with clarity and gratitude.

I call those days of grief’s absence, days of peace. Even amidst grief there can be peace, but there are some days when peace does not have that competition. Days when somehow, in a world where the air itself can feel heavy, peace manages to take over both inside and out. I was reminded of all this as I opened my laptop this morning and saw pictures that had been posted on February 20th in years past.

The first photo was from one year ago. It is a picture I took of my husband at the memorial service of our close friend. It is a beautiful picture and it was a beautiful day, but it was a difficult day. It was a day in which we were heavy-hearted and we had to look within to find the peace God had stored inside.

The next picture was from three years ago. It is of my mother and her dear friend smiling with their whole faces, squished as tightly as possible beside me and my own dear friend. We were in Seattle at a Sounders game. It was sunny, so beautifully sunny in Seattle of all places. Each person in our group had only two intentions, enjoy the day and love those around us. The peace between all of us was so strong, that any competition it may have had was stomped out before I even noticed it was there.

If you love beyond yourself, and make a point of seeking others who do the same, there will always be days of peace ahead. Days when you do not have to defend your heart against cruelty or work to remind yourself that there is still hope in sadness. There will be days when you do not have to struggle in your soul. And when you are tired, the memory of these days will warm you until you’ve conquered the valley and can rest once again.

Today, gazing at the fresh rain which ripples across the edges of our mostly frozen pond, I remember bright green and blue. I remember my dad’s characteristically subdued but unmistakably bright excitement as we bustled about in the morning to get ready for the game. I remember Rob’s curiosity towards Kendyl’s and my sparkly eyeshadow and the way we laughed when he asked to watch how we put it on. I remembered we laughed even more freely when his face flashed from annoyed to amused upon realizing that I was taking pictures of him, not selfies.

I remember warm scarves and marching and chanting and cheering.

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I remember Dawn and my mom looking out over the sound,  sharing thoughts I couldn’t hear and perhaps they don’t even recall.

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I remember my mother somehow looked even prettier with the Sounders logo on her face and she was delighted, as she always is, by the sunshine.

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And I remember Kendyl’s crows feet as she smiled, lovely little lines on a face that can never seem to help but be lit up with joy. Kendyl and I met on the first day of first grade, and to this day I’ve never met another child who smiles so often and so fully that they’ve earned their laugh lines by age seven.

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And I remember being happy.

And I remember being peaceful.

And I remember my heart;

It was light.