mourning motherhood

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For as long as I can remember, Mother’s Day service at the church I grew up in always looked the same. The pastor would ask the moms in the room to stand up. They would, and everyone would clap. Then he would proceed to figure out which mom had the most kids by asking women to sit down if they had less than X number of children. By process of elimination, our congregation would celebrate the mother of the most children and she would be presented with a beautiful floral arrangement. Then the same process would occur to figure out which mom was the oldest AND which mom was the youngest, and both would receive a flower to take home and set as a center piece for Sunday dinner.

We were in the business of celebrating moms.

From an early age I knew that to be celebrated as a woman I needed to have children.

And I don’t say that in a prideful way.
I’m not fishing for applause, nor do I intend to have an “everyone come see how good I look!” attitude.

Simply put, I knew my value in the church and society would increase as soon as I had a kid.

So imagine 17-year-old Kayla mapping her life out.
Married by 22, 23 at the latest.
First child by 25, cause ya know…let’s be married for at least a couple of years before we have kids.
Be done growing my brood by 32.

And here I am.
Almost 29.
No marriage.
No kids.

The dreams I had for myself 12 years ago left unfulfilled.

And I’m not the only one. I know many people who have had to mourn the loss of the dreams they had for themselves. Whether focused on marriage, career, being a parent…whatever it may be. We all have things that we desire that have not come to pass.

And it’s okay to mourn those things.
It’s okay to feel deep sorrow for something you’ve never had.
To feel a sense of loss and sadness over something that was never yours to begin with is okay. In fact, I think it’s natural.

Especially when we’ve believed the lie that the thing we’re mourning is somehow attached to our value.

And yes, it is a lie. Straight from the mouth of the enemy.
It’s a lie for anyone, anywhere, in any context to tell you (or even show you by their reaction, or lack of) that your value is tied to an.y.thing other than Jesus.

If you find yourself with people – or in a community – that try to tell you that you can’t be fully who you are because you don’t have a husband/child/higher paying job/boots with the fur, you lovingly tell them to shut the H up.*

Be with people who, along with the Holy Spirit, help redeem the lies that have been spoken into your life.

A BIG PRAISE & AMEN for the way God has softened the ground of my heart and given me so many people who speak truth over my life. And not only speak it, but by their actions are in the process of redeeming so much of what has been broken over the years.

People who:

  • 2 weeks after their child is born and we’re in a crowded room say, “Here, take him while I go do something…” And let me snuggle their little one for what feels like an eternity.
  • trust me enough to stay overnight with their kids so they can go on a marriage retreat.
  • are honest with me when I ask them what it’s like to raise three boys and how they teach their kids to live off their own faith and not mom & dad’s.
  • invite me into their lives by sharing the joyous news of a new baby and remind me that they want me to be a part of their kid’s life.
  • let me sit on the floor of their nursery while they put their baby to sleep.
  • tell me that they feel safe and comfortable when I hold their daughter and, as I walk up, basically throw her at me because their arms need a break.
  • affirm the voice that I have with their kids and trust that I love their children and want to point them to Jesus.
  • when I ask them about their lives, they don’t just talk about their kids. They talk about themselves. Because that’s what I’ve asked about. And we can share life as people whose identities are rooted in Jesus, not the other labels that we carry.

You see, I’ve mourned “natural” motherhood for myself up to this point in my life. But I don’t really have to mourn all of what motherhood is because I have people in my life that value me. Kayla. They see me and love me and affirm who God has made me to be. They call me to good and ask me to do the same of them, and their kids.

For all the non-mom’s out there today, or any day really, know that it’s okay to feel sad. It’s okay to mourn that which you do not have. But also know that it’s okay to fight for community that not only allows, but asks, for you to live out the way God has made you as woman. Whatever that might look like.

And know that if we were to be in a church together and the pastor asked all the mom’s to stand up, I would clap for them, but then I would stand up and shout, “All women, rise!” and I would throw out candy because that’s usually better than flowers anyways 🙂

*but seriously, do it lovingly, not with anger or bitterness or trying to beat them at their own game. and if you need to take a beat, call me, then chat with them about it, feel free!

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worst case scenario

new life belongs to those that are in Him..png

Have you ever seen the movie Inside Out?
If not, stop what you’re doing, go watch it, then come back and finish reading this blog.

Go ahead.

I’ll wait.

….

Awesome. Welcome back.

l.o.v.e. that movie. So so much. It’s funny. It makes me feel good. And there’s finally an animated character other than Pocahontas that I can relate to. Her name is Sadness.

Sadness is…well…sad. She likes to point out the dread in everything. She makes the other emotions aware of the worst case scenario in an attempt to be helpful throughout their shenanigans.

One of my favorites to illustrate the point even further:

Sadness: It’s long-term memory…you’ll get lost in there!
Joy: C’mon! Think positive!
Sadness: Okay…I’m positive you’ll get lost in there!

I’ve been known to say very similar things in my lifetime.

ANYWAYS.

I can be like Sadness sometimes. I have this superpower of always being able to play out the worst case scenario, no matter the situation, in about .41 seconds.

It’s a gift, I tell ya.

But recently I’ve been thinking a lot more about what my actual worst case scenario is.
God originally planted this little whisper in my ear about a year ago, but He has been speaking it louder and louder over the past few weeks.

And here it is:

In Christ, my worst case scenario is redemption and resurrection in to new life.

That’s it.
The worst thing that could actually happen to me is new life.
Redemption.
Resurrection.
Eternity with the One who created me, sustains me, and loves me with a steadfast, everlasting love.

This doesn’t mean that I won’t feel the effects of sin and brokenness in our world.
I do feel them.
I feel them for myself.
I feel them for others.
I/we experience that which we were not originally meant to experience: death.

But.
Guess what comes after death.

Resurrection.
New life.
Complete wholeness, the way it was meant to be.

This Holy Week, in reading through the multiple accounts of Jesus the Christ’s death, it’s clear that He dies.

He has to.

When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

John 19:30

When he cried out “it is finished” on the cross, the Greek word is “tetelestai” – literally meaning to bring to a close, to complete, to fulfill.

The Savior of the world declared it was finished and gave up his spirit.
He declared the reign of darkness had ended.
Light has come.
His complete work had been accomplished.

And he died.

But…Sunday is coming.
Resurrection is His.
New life belongs to those that are in Him.

In Christ, my worst case scenario is redemption and resurrection in to new life.

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my silence vs. God (psalm 33)

psalm 33

I’ve had writer’s block for a few weeks now.
When I say “writer’s block” what I mean is “laziness.”

I just haven’t put in the discipline. Which seems to be a theme over the past few months. Not just in writing, but sometimes in life.

I came across this note in my phone from September 6, 2017: “My silence won’t keep God from being God.”

I truly have zero context around why I wrote this note in my phone on that night. I mean, it’s good truth, but I have no clue what inspired that truth to come out. ‘Cept Holy Spirit, of course.

Then, I come to tonight, and by my meticulous bookkeeping abilities (meaning I can look on a website and see what the last psalm I wrote about was…) I see that up in the order of psalms is numero thirty-three. All about the steadfast love of the Lord.

Remember when I said that discipline is hard for me sometimes?
Remember when I said that my silence won’t keep God from being God?

I can get into this mode of thinking that if I give God the cold shoulder He’ll shape up and bend toward my preferences and desires. That, if I give Him the silent treatment, He’ll start paying more attention to me. I get frustrated and stubborn, wondering why He just won’t figure.it.outand get with my program.

My hope moves away from God and toward my silence.
I put my trust in my passive aggressiveness and cease to rely on the steadfast love of the Lord.
I lose joy because my mind is more affixed to my name than His holy one.

Then I read a note from 6 months ago.
And read a psalm that is all about God and not about me.

And I’m reminded that my silence doesn’t keep God from being God.
It doesn’t keep Him from being sovereign over all creation.
It doesn’t keep Him from pursuing me.
It doesn’t keep Him from giving me love and grace and mercy, moment by moment throughout each day.

Our soul waits for the Lord;
He is our help and our shield.
For our heart is glad in Him,
because we trust in His holy name.
Let Your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us,
even as we hope in you.

psalm 33:20-22

I’m so glad that even in my silence, God’s steadfast love doesn’t leave me. I
t is always upon me, always helping me.

Lord, may Your steadfast love always be upon me, especially when I’m a silent little punk who thinks she can have hope in something other than You.

 

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teamwork makes the dream work

teamwork makes the dream work.png

 

Happy Valentine’s Day, lovers!

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That’s all I have to contribute to the holiday.

Now.

I was at a conference this past weekend. Some of you may know about it. It’s called the if:Gathering. You can learn more about it here. I enjoyed the time I got to spend with some ladies from my church and came away with quite a bit to think about.

The structure of the conference was: listen to a teaching, talk about it at your table, eat some snacks, repeat. One of the questions that was asked at our table was, What is my dream for my people and my place?

The first thing that came to mind was: team.

Now, being the washed-up athlete that I am, that might not be surprising to most. But more importantly than what first came to mind was the images and feelings I got while I thought through it a little more.

My junior and senior year’s of high school basketball were some of the most fun I had as a player of the sports. It was so much fun to be on the court with my best friends, competing together and having the time of our lives.

One image that kept coming up over and over again this past weekend was our inbound plays – in particular, under-the-basket inbounds plays my senior year.

My friend Brandi and I had the best chemistry under the basket. As guard, I was responsible for getting the ball in play. If the play was busted, Brandi just knew where to cut and when to cut, and I knew she would always be there. I could no-look-bounce-pass Mr. Spaulding into the lane, Brandi would snatch that sucker up, and the LadyCats would have 2 more points added to their total. I never worried about a 5-second violation because I knew Brandi would be there.

We even played in a three-on-three tournament a few years later and did the same. dang. thang. My teammate was there for me.

Knowing each other that well didn’t just occur after one day of practice. We sweat together, bled together, went through hell week together. (side note: have you ever had 2 weeks of Christmas break practice with NO GAMES to play?! it’s the worst. you want to quit everything and just go home to eat Christmas candy.)

And that’s what I want from my people and my place.

I want my team.

I want us to be there for each other.
To anticipate one another’s moves.
To remind and ensure each other that, even if the play is busted, we’ve got each other’s backs. We don’t need to worry about hell week by ourselves because our teammates will be there in it with us.

A year ago I wrote about standing on holy ground with others. How there is something sacred about holding someone else’s story with them. And I’m so thankful that’s how my team has formed.

I know my team holds my story and I feel so thankful that they allow me to hold theirs.
I know we all stand on holy ground with and for one another.
I know that the sacredness we share in spiritual friendship is rare, and I hope I never take it for granted.

Whatever my dream is – or ends up being – I know it’ll be easier to chase because of the stellar team I’ve got on my sideline.

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psalm 32

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Here I go, here I go, here I go again….gurls what’s my weakness?

Getting back in the rhythm of writing.

But, here we are, writing again in the psalms.

Once again I find myself in the middle of David’s writing. Although, if I’m honest with myself, I am more prone to skip over the first 2 sentences.

I often skip the blessing and go straight to the groaning.

I feel the heaviness of my sin and the withering of my soul when I let my iniquity keep me away from God for too long.

But the beauty of this psalm – and many psalms – is that we aren’t left in the heat of summer. We are reminded that God is still God and He is still good. He is still the One that forgives the iniquity of my sin and all He asks of me is to come to Him.

That’s it.

Just show up.

And in the showing up I can be glad because His steadfast, never-ending, unconditional love is not only offered to me, it surrounds me. Like…I can’t get away from it.

So, instead of hiding from my great Savior, I will choose, like David, to make Him my hiding place – the great Light of the world where darkness cannot be found.

Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.
Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.
For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.
For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.

I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.

Therefore let everyone who is godly offer prayer to you at a time when you may be found; surely in the rush of great waters, they shall not reach him.
You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with shouts of deliverance.

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.
Be no like horse or a mule, without understanding, which must be curbed with bit and bridle, or it will not stay near you.
Many are the sorrows of the wicked, but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the Lord.
Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!

 

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2017 – the year of joy

2017 - joy

A few years ago instead of making a bunch of resolutions at the beginning of a new year, I resolved to instead choose a word representing my desire for what the year could bring or what I hope God would specifically shape in my heart over a 365 day period.

2016 was the year of dwelling.
2017 was the year of joy.

In many ways 2017 has sucked.*

Amy Poehler writes in her book, Yes, Please, “Imagine spreading everything you care about on a blanket and then tossing the whole thing up in the air. The process of divorce is about loading up that blanket, throwing it up, watching it all spin, and worrying what stuff will break when it lands.”

Now, obviously, I have never been divorced. Or married.
But in a lot of ways, 2017 was a year of loading up the blanket, tossing it in the air, and seeing what would happen when things landed.

Friendships shifted in ways I didn’t expect.
I experienced spiritual warfare in the most personal, physical way that I have never experienced before.
The hope of a budding relationship and a life of non-singleness didn’t pan out the way I thought it would.

And that’s just, like, 17% of the past year.

But…

God didn’t leave me.

While some friendships shifted away, others moved even closer and grew even deeper.
In the midst of the battlefield, Jesus took up His sword and fought on my behalf.
God showed me, yet again, that He alone is the true lover of my whole self.

God didn’t leave me without.

And that’s why it truly was the year of joy.

On the outside looking in, it probably wouldn’t be labeled a joyful year.

But on the inside, I know in the core of who I am, that joy is not defined by my circumstances.

For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. – Romans 14:17

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.  – James 1:2-4

(Jesus speaking, after talking about abiding in Him) These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. – John 15:11

You see, my joy – by God’s grace – is Him. It is a deep, abiding truth that He will never leave me or forsake me. That in Christ, I am loved and known and treasured, and in turn can love and know and treasure the One who has come to set the captive free.

I don’t think my journey with joy is over – but I do think that in the midst of all the tossing, this is what has landed: the joy of the Lord is my strength.

 

 

*but also, my baby sister got married and is now going to also have a baby of her own, SO THAT’S REALLY COOL!

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o come emmanuel

o come Emmanuel

I’ve had a lot of conversations over the last couple of weeks about Christmas. Shocker, right?! I’ve shared many words with friends (not the game) about not missing Jesus in the midst of this season.

Which kinda makes me want to barf just saying that. Cause I despise clichés. And hanging a banner of “Jesus is the Reason for the Season” makes the blood run cold in my body.

I have some things to work through.

But. My point remains.

It is so easy to speed through the few weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas, hitting up all the parties, wrapping all the gifts, making all the cookies. It is so easy to miss Emmanuel – God with us – during this time of year.

I very vividly remember the first time I didn’t have a “major” gift on my Christmas list. When I say “major,” I basically mean that I grew out of wanting the kewlest toy of the year. I had books and movies on my wish list and some people didn’t think that was enough. They thought they had to spend so much money and make sure I had the exact same number of gifts as my sister so we would know they loved us equally.

It breaks my heart to think that we can’t be content with celebrating the coming of the Messiah – the long-awaited One descending to His people. And to know that I am not always content with the greatest gift of all – King Jesus.
That in this time of advent – of longing for the One who will come and set all things right – we spend much of our longing on ripping paper off of a box to find a gift that we will probably forget about in 4 months.

What my friend and I have been talking about is this: how do we not miss Jesus? How do we express gratitude and faithfulness to the God who came to be with His people?

My sweet friend Emily recently shared the song O Come O Come Emmanuel on Facebook, which also happens to be my all time favorite Christmas song (that I wish we sang all year long). It truly makes me weepy:

O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice, rejoice, Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny
From depths of Hell Thy people save
And give them victory o’er the grave
Rejoice, rejoice, Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel

O come, Thou Day-Spring
Come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death’s dark shadows put to flight
Rejoice, rejoice, Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel

I think this is how we don’t miss Him.

We sing songs with one another that remind us of the great anticipation that comes with Christmas morning – Jesus has come and death’s dark shadows have been put to flight.
We put priority on relationships over materials.
We have dinners and go to parties and make cookies with real live humans and thank God for the gifts He has given in friendship.

We remember that God has been faithful to send His Son Jesus to His people.
We worship the One who has come to thee.
We rejoice in the confident hope that Emmanuel shall come once again – just as He said He would – to set all things right and ransom His people back unto Himself once and for all.

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living my truth

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So, I gotta be honest. This phrase drives me bonkers.

Like, legitimately might be my biggest pet peeve with people these days.

“Living my truth” seems to be the kool kid phrase of our culture right now. When celebrities/public figures/people with influence are asked questions in interviews about an.y.thing. that could have a moral standard attached to it, they typically respond with something along the lines of, “Well, I just think it’s really important for us to find our truth and live that out. Ya know, just, living in your own truth can bring you so much happiness and freedom.”

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Yes, Anna. Stop that. Stop that right now.

Although, she’s probably said it too…sigh…

ANYWAYS. Back to my rant.

My issue with this whole “find your truth and live it thing” is that we can’t ALL decide what truth is. I don’t get to decide the 100% actuality of a thing.

And I think my biggest hangup with the whole dang thang is that we pick and choose what we want to be true in order to serve our own selfish desires and fleeting pleasures.

If I decide that the truest truth is that Mexican food is the truest form of good food and that you are a demon-spawn if you don’t like it, and you disagree with me, who is right? Does your inability to realize truth in its highest form (my truth, that is) remove your rights/value/dignity as a human?

(I mean, in this case probably because Mexican food is delicious)

NO. Absolutely not.

Because guess what…that isn’t truth. It isn’t an indisputable fact.

Chinese food is good.
Pizza is good.
Queso is…wait….queso is Mexican. Never mind.

My point is, I cannot be the final decision maker when it comes to truth. Nor do I WANT to be the final decision maker. I feel like we are all so inadequate at deciding ANYTHING, especially what truth is. Mainly because we are all so fickle and selfish and just…well…ill equipped.

We were made by the only arbiter of truth, and that is God Himself.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things (including truth) were made through Him, and without Him was not any thing (including truth) made that was made.

John 1:1-3

If we submit to God as the Creator of all that we see and know, we have to submit to Him as the Creator of truth as well.

We don’t get to only submit to parts of God’s commands and character. His Word was not given as a mere suggestion on how to live your best life now.

No. His Word was/is given as the truest form of truth we can know. Jesus was given as the complete embodiment of Truth – so that we might have a Savior from our sinful ways and an Example of how to submit to the One whose truth gives life and freedom.

Submission to God and His actual truth does not lay heavy bondage on my life.
Living in a world (even if it’s my own world in my head) where I get to choose truth and it changes all of the time — that is what causes bondage, and anxiety, and heartbreak, and disillusionment, and, well, a lost and weary soul.

Submission to God, instead, frees us up to rest in knowing His truth will lead to life everlasting, it never changes, and that it is for my good and His glory. Living in God’s truth frees me from living a lie of working my way into His grace.

I’d rather live in the truth of the Creator who has been faithful throughout history than try to figure out my own truth every morning.

Man. What a friggin burden to bear. I’ll let Someone else tell me what truth is.

It just seems easier — more life-giving — that way.

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psalm 31 – the wrap up

psalm 31 pt3

But I trust in you, O Lord; I say, “You are my God.”
My times are in your hand. (v14)

Make your face shine on your servant; save me in your steadfast love! (v16)

O Lord, let me not be put to shame, for I call upon you (v17)

Oh, how abundant is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you and worked for those who take refuge in you (v19)

Love the Lord, all you his saints! The Lord preserves the faithful and abundantly repays the one who acts in pride. Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the Lord! (v23-24)

It has been a long time since I’ve sat down at a keyboard to write a blog. Having been away for so long, it can feel a bit overwhelming to start back up again — the task can seem a little daunting.

And that’s sometimes what it can feel like when I’ve been away from Jesus for too long.

Looking back over my life I see the ebb-and-flows of my relationship with Christ. I can reminisce about my adolescence, college years, and early adulthood and recall times where I intentionally stayed far from Jesus because it just seemed too overwhelming to show up with Him again. The task was unsettling. Mainly because I twisted the whole “saved by grace through faith alone” thing and turned it in to “saved by making sure I’ve got my crap together, and then present myself as clean and whole before this righteous, holy God.”

I made redemption my game rather than receiving it as Christ’s finished work.

As my dad would say, that is so bass akwards.

If I don’t start writing again, then I’ll never write again.
If we don’t just come back to Jesus, then we’ll never come back to Jesus.

The doing of the thing is the thing.

Oh how thankful I am that our God does not turn His back on those He loves. How gracious is the One who preserves the faithful!

What I love about the back half of this psalm is that the writer is not afraid to enter in to the overwhelming, daunting task of presenting himself as…well…himself, to God. He just does. With beauty and honesty and humanity.

And God is faithful.

He is faithful to look beyond our feeble attempts to work our way into salvation and accept us because of what Christ did on the cross.
He is faithful to see how overwhelming this life can be for us, and so He enters in the only way the Savior and Redeemer of the world can — He shows up for us and with us in great, unimaginable ways.
He is faithful to shine His light upon us and save us with His steadfast love.

It might be overwhelming and seem a little unnerving, but the good news is that Jesus doesn’t wait at the end of the road for us. He meets us where we are, takes us by the hand, and walks the road with us — defeating any enemy that gets in our way, presenting us in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that we might be holy and without blemish before God.

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psalm 31 – pt. 2

psalm 31 pt2

I hate those who pay regard to worthless idols, but I trust in the Lord.
I will rejoice and be glad in your steadfast love, because you have seen my affliction; you have known the distress of my soul, and you have not delivered me into the hand of the enemy; you have set my feet in a broad place.
Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in distress; my eye is wasted from grief; my soul and my body also.
For my life is spent with sorrow, and my years with sighing; my strength fails because of my iniquity, and my bones waste away.

vs. 6-10

Ever heard the phrase, misery loves company?

Well, often, my misery finds great company with people like David.
Yeah, we know, Kayla. You’ve mentioned that about a million times before.

But for real.
To have someone like David – a “hero” of the faith – write words like those above bring me great relief.
To have the, “Wait, you too?” realization is such a comfort – whether in Scripture or with friends.

You know the distress of my soul…

We even find the, “Wait, you too?” with God.

He knows the distress of my soul.

What a weird space it is to be in with the Creator and Sustainer of all that we see and know, knowing the very distresses of my soul.

He knows all of the dirty little corners of who I am, and instead of handing me over to the enemy, He draws me even closer to Himself, convincing my heart that He sees me and still loves me.

In the midst of my heated outpouring of frustration and anger, He’s there.
When I’m acting petty and selfish, He’s there.
When I slander His creation, He is still there.

We’ve been asking a version of this question at my church for quite a while now: Can Jesus love even me?

And the answer, every.dang.time, is an overwhelming: YES.

He sees me, knows me, and loves me – because of His faithfulness. Because of His love.

And so, even in the midst of my affliction, I can – and will – rejoice and be glad in His steadfast love.

 

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