the difference of a year

It’s a marvelous thing to keep a journal. Little moments and nuances that might be forgotten are carefully and tenderly documented to create space for all the soft “I’d nearly forgotten about that” and “Has it been that long?” that have piled up in our minds.

2013 07-20 Journal Entry

It’s also the worst because it’s unfiltered and unedited–it’s raw. It’s hard to doctor things up and make them presentable when you’re heartbroken, when you’re at the end of your rope, whenever you’ve seen one of your dreams pass you by. That’s about as vulnerable and unattractive as you’ll ever see me, honestly.

I’ve been pretty blunt in the past on here about my frustrations with still being put in Naples, unsure where to go next, etc. Even still, I was able to present my genuine disappointment as a humorous anecdote or wax poetic about it all in a way that made me feel like a misunderstood artist or something.

I recently went through my old journal from last year and I cringed at almost every word I’d written, more from an awareness of how cynical and angry I really was. I never realized how lonely and how separated from everyone I felt; when you constantly operate in an emotional deficit it’s almost impossible to imagine that you’re actually missing out on anything.

It’s remarkable to me the difference that a year brings.

First of all, at this point last year I was considering moving away to Los Angeles because I was really done with the Naples scene. I was tired of the routine and tired of feeling isolated and, really, who loves telling other people that they’re living at home with their parents at 24/25 year old? (I still don’t love that part, but if I can’t afford being on my own yet and my parents are graciously letting me stay in my bedroom at home, it feels foolish not to take advantage of that.)

Really the issue wasn’t even my life or the way it was–it was honestly decent. I was working a lot, two jobs, and dancing. I spent time with a few friends here or there. Church was still really hard for me, as it had been since I arrived back in the States. I think it both reminded me too much of my life in Tanzania and simultaneously dragged me away from it with all it’s differences and the fact that it was always in English and never full of impatient little ones tugging at my hair and my journal. It felt cold and far away, which made God feel cold and far away. I honestly avoided church for several months. I wrote in my journal once about church, “I think the most difficult part about seeing you these days is that there was a time when seeing you meant I’d see Him”. 

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Still in that waiting stage—I feel it so deeply but I can’t put my finger on it exactly. What is coming next? I’m interested in knowing the next step.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

I think of my stubborn declaration to any anyone who’ll listen about how I will never give anyone permission and power to affect me again. But there’s something about that. I’ve heard that meekness and humility, like you had, Jesus, mean putting yourself at the mercy of others even when they don’t deserve it.

I’m trying to remember the last time that I gave someone permission to affect me; I think I just don’t trust myself because I seem to pick the worst people to cut slack for. The last time I opened up to someone new last year they immediately brought an unsafe person into the equation and it was a headache. That didn’t make me want to try to get to know any more new people in the area.

I have a lot of strong opinions about relationships—all relationships. They seem to be time fillers that insecure people use to make decisions and prioritize for some odd reason.

When I think of [romantic] relationships, for me I think of being scrutinized and shamed for my interests / decisions. I think of dressing up pet monkeys and training dogs to sit on command. I think of expectations that everyone has and being a disappointment. I think of becoming invisible and losing my personality and not liking myself. I think of shame and lust and anxiety. I think of everything I hate. I think of shackles and lost ambition and settling.

… Is there anything I’m actually missing out on with this stuff?

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Jesus, I can almost taste the freedom. When am I free to leave? How much longer do I have to serve this sentence? It’s been 17 months since I came back. How long am I going to have to make due here in this wasteland? I’m being super ungrateful, but for real.

I still clung to Jesus–I always come back to Him in the end. He’s like the lover I fight with and ignore sometimes but still come home to every night, if somewhat ashamed of myself. Thank God that He’s long suffering and kind because I really was such a brat. But I was a brat because I was mourning deeply the loss of the future I’d imagined for myself. Grief has a way of draining all life and light out of things.

I spent months doing what I knew to do (although not doing it perfect by any stretch): reach for Jesus in your lack. Reach for Him in your loneliness. Keep your chin up–things could get better, but better to live without expectation because then you’ll never get disappointed. It is not glamorous or worthy of reclaim, but it has kept me safe from harm for the past few years.

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When I went to Haiti back in April of this year, nearly to the day, since I wrote these broken and painful entries last year, our team was on our final worship night of the trip. It was hot and muggy in open air church at the bottom of the Mission of Hope campus in Titanyen, and truthfully I was there more obedient than “feeling it”.

I don’t remember anything except that God started talking to me in a way I haven’t felt in ages. You might know the feeling–the one where you feel in in your skull and inside of your ribcage and it’s coming too fast for you to dismiss it as your own rogue thoughts.

He said to me:

You are so determined to prove that I am not a good Father and that I don’t have good things for you when all I’m doing is to prove to that I can take care of you. I do hear you. I am a good Father. Look at yourself–look at your life. You are worshipping me here in Haiti surrounded by believers who love me on a ticket that you didn’t pay for, and you are going home to a job where you’re paid to fight sex trafficking, a loving and supportive family and a good man who loves you completely. How can you say that I am not good to you when I’ve given you all this and myself?

The next part broke me in half:

You have known me in lack and in loneliness for many, many years but you are now going to know me in fullness and in joy. It’s okay. I’m a good Father.

And He’s been right.

It’s an adjustment to not look over my shoulder and to keep myself from constantly imagining all the ways that I could lose my relationship or my job or my life that I’m actually content in–to really hold to the fact that goodness and mercy could actually be following me, not calamity and disappointment. It’s by far the most vulnerable I’ve been in ages and as terrifying as it is, it feels like the final battle that I’ve been avoiding for so long. I’m daring to believe that I could live happily ever after. I could have the life that felt so out of reach for me for years. I could live for Christ in America and not always feel like a failure because my life isn’t showy or remarkable. I can live free and I can actually enjoy good things that Jesus gives me.

I am allowed to have joy. 

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