Thursday, May 21, 2015

All Things Through Christ: When Reality and Dreams Collide

I just got off the phone with my mama. All I could say was "I'm sad." She encouraged me to turn on worship music and figure out what was going on. As I have considered, and poured my heart out, I realized, sad is the wrong word. I am more overwhelmed. My reality and my dreams have collided. My life verse is Philippians 4:13 "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength." And lately, He has been asking me to do some things that I keep thinking I absolutely can't.
Years of surgeries, years of fear, years of lies spoken, years of acting out in dysfunctional behavior because I felt worthless have all taught me to guard myself, to do it alone, to not want.
When Jesus wooed my heart, He asked me to dream, to love, to hope, to surrender.
And lately it's like I can't.
Because down deep where it matters, the wounded little girl I was whispers. "Everything is a fight. You're not worth a lot, none of your dreams are meant to come true."
About 6 months ago I didn't get a job I desperately wanted. Weeping in the car because it was yet another dream I regretted dreaming, my mama asked me a question. "Sarah, there has to be something else, something you want to do with your life, what is it?
Through tears I whispered, "I want to move overseas and teach ESL." We mourned the seeming impossibility of that dream and I continued working on my Masters.
Fast forward 6 months. My daddy ran into someone who is over one of the orphanages we support at Beltway and she asked if he knew any ESL teachers When he told her that I was certified she remembered meeting me and because she has a son with Cerebral Palsy she totally understood what that was like. She encouraged daddy to talk to me about visiting their Hati site to see if that was something I would want to do long term. I instantly said yes and about a month later all of the details were finalized. I leave for Hati in a month to visit for a week and see if it's something I want to do when I graduate  in December. Disclaimer: I may go and decide I have no desire to be that far away from my family, but the fact that I even have the opportunity to consider it leaves me on the verge of tears.
As awed as I am at God's faithfulness, fear has began to creep in. Not about my ESL dream, about this other dream. Because as faithful as He has been in this season, there is another dream I have been dreaming that scares me more than any other dream I have ever dreamed. And I am mad at Him because He keeps asking me to surrender it, and trust Him. And I'm scared.
With all that I am I want a family. I want to be a mom. I want to be a wife. I want to say vows. I want to not have to be strong all the time.
And I don't want to want these things.

Because I am scared. As faithful as He has been with the ESL thing my heart still feels broken in so many ways because of the insanely bumpy road it took to get here. And I keep thinking, I can't dream like this again. It hurts too much.
But here's the deal, in so many little ways, when I'm paying attention, He tells me I can. I can trust Him with this part of my heart too,
Ways like Berkley calling me "Mama" because she wants to pretend like she's my darling.
Like Ellie saying "Up I hold you." And getting her out of her crib.
Like the way they want to help me put on my brace, and ride my walker, and the way after I babysat for a few hours the other day B said "Aunt Sarah, you did such a wonderful job today, you did so many new things all by yourself."
Like the way for the first time ever I feel like I am actually capable of falling in love, which I swore for a decade was impossible.
But I keep telling Jesus, "I can't. I can't live this alive, I can't."
And he whispers "This is what I made you for."
And he uses Geoffrey saying "You can absolutely be a mom, I don't know why you would ever doubt that." And Joel saying "You are the strongest woman I have ever met."
And Sarah, precious Sarah, taking me in her home every day to show me how to be a Christ like wife and mom.
And I think sometimes I get overwhelmed because for the first time ever I am realizing what it means to truly live.
Wholeheartedly, completely, vulnerable.
And as crazy emotional as I am I keep remembering who I used to be
And I feel Jesus whisper, "We have got this. You can do it."
It's an overwhelming feeling when the God of the Universe loves you enough to give you your dreams and whisper that He's proud of you.
So even when it's hard and I am sore and sad and overwhelmed and broken
My heart rests in the sweet promise
Of all things.
Even dreaming.

Monday, May 11, 2015

The Truth About Regret, Fear, and the Prayer I Wish I Never Prayed

I have been putting off writing this post for weeks because it makes me vulnerable, it shows my real, it is something I feel like other people need to know too. I know this because of the major fear I have in writing it. I always know I need to write something if I am scared to write it because it is usually the enemy telling me what I have to say isn't worth it, or is too honest...or that I am not worth it. But in my pursuit to overcome, this is a part of my testimony I feel like people need to know.

When I first began to write I made the Lord a promise that if He would allow me to write (with a pen like all my friends) everything I ever wrote would be an attempt to bring Him glory. This post is a result of that promise.

Freshman year one of my leaders urged us to think about what we wanted in a marriage, and for a future. I told her that I didn't want marriage - and at that stage I didn't even know if I wanted to live (though I didn't tell her that). She told me to think about one thing I was sure I wanted, and pray for that...being the writer and reader I am, I only knew one thing beyond doubt, I wanted my life to be a story.  I wanted crazy plot twists, I wanted character depth, I wanted to have no idea what was coming next. I wanted a story. And if I was going to marry someone, and have a long life I wanted it to be something I never saw coming.

And man has He delivered. I never have any idea what in the world is happening in my life, and I know it's because I asked Him to make my life a story. Sometimes, that's a prayer I wish I didn't pray. Especially lately. If I am being totally honest, this is the most confusing, painful, incredible, alive season I have ever experienced.

I am bold in a lot of things, my clothes, my mouth, my tattoos, all point to a brave girl. But honestly? I spend a lot of my time terrified. I have to walk carefully so that I don't regret who I was. I was rebellious, angry, hurtful, and so so guarded. And I hurt a lot of people because I was drowning in my own pain.

This past year I made a conscious choice, the choice to live with my heart awake. And in so doing, I experienced a level of grace and brokenness I didn't even know was possible. Love, real, true, forever kind of love is a risk. And, sometimes, when you jump, you get hurt. And, I have definitely gotten hurt.

I have wanted to wrap my nieces in bubble wrap so they never get hurt, to take back saying those words, because they make you vulnerable. But here's what I have realized love only hurts because I have chosen to live alive. I have chosen to risk.
And sometimes, the shut off little girl I used to be whispers, "you were so much safer by yourself, so much safer not caring."

And she's right. But being safe, is not living, it's existing.

And I lose everything I stand for if I don't risk love.

When I was praying about all of this I felt the Lord whisper, "I know you hurt, but do you remember when you felt absolutely nothing? When you numbed yourself so completely nothing and no one else mattered? This time you hurt because you're alive, and Sarah, life is the destiny I have for you, full life, with all of its emotions.

So in spite of the tears and pain of this season, I choose to love others, wholly, completely, with all that I am. Because I am alive, and this season is still life - and life abundant. I write all of this to say, when regret sneaks in, I will remember who I used to be, so that I can remember that love is a risk worth taking.

And Jesus came that I can have life, and have it, to the full. I have a choice, and today, I choose life.