Corkscrews and broken record players

There’s a cyclical aspect to grief.

The visual that comes to my mind is more of a corkscrew than a perfect circle though. Maybe that’s it… Maybe grief is a corkscrew that winds deeper and deeper into my heart over time. With each birthday of a lost loved one or the anniversary of their death, I feel myself returning nearly full-circle to the pain and discontentment I felt in my heart a year ago. But those feelings are ever so slightly different this time around…

At each turn, I find myself saying the same phrase I’ve said a million times: I want to be done grieving. And yet, I’m not. I’m still not done.

May was brimming with birthdays and anniversaries of days I’d rather not have engrained in my mind. This month has brought about much celebrating and mourning– so many twists of that metaphorical corkscrew. With each near-circle, the Lord has reached new depths of my heart, bringing about fresh pain while using that pain to expose my own sin, cynicism, pride, and bitterness.

It’s good though, this cyclical process, the screwing in and stripping away… It’s “capital G Good”, “type-2 Good” if I can borrow from the idea of “type-2 fun” and twist it to create a concept. It’s Good not because it feels good (because it doesn’t). It’s Good because as painful as the corkscrew drilling down into my heart is, and for as much as I grimace and cry, I can feel the Lord tenderly speaking healing over my wounds and fears in His timing.

He continues to prove Himself as the Great Physician, even when my wounds seem to deepen or the grief I so desperately want to be over compounds.

As I’ve walked through this month of intermingled celebration and mourning, there have been days where I have found myself a broken record player saying/ screaming/ silently cursing the words that filled my journal and conversations this time last year:

I don’t understand.

I still don’t understand.

I don’t understand the brokenness. I don’t understand this pain. I don’t understand death and separation and the finality of each that sinks in on a new level every day.

I don’t understand why this is Your plan, God.

Yet there, in the screaming and beside my silent cold shoulder He has faithfully met me this month, bringing words of truth from Hope When It Hurts (a devotional on suffering that has been my path back to Jesus many mornings throughout this messy season).

“‘My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are My ways your ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.’ (Isaiah 55:8-9)

If God always acted in ways that made sense to us, then He certainly wouldn’t have sent His sinless Son to die in our place, offering us complete forgiveness and acceptance freely through Christ before anyone even asked Him to (Romans 5:8).”

In a plot twist of sorts, on the year anniversary of Kevin’s death, with another turn of the metaphorical corkscrew, I found myself on my knees in the grass outside of Denver General Hospital, weeping and terrified. Twenty minutes before I had received the news that my grandfather– the anchor of our family– had had a stroke. And on a day where the grief already felt like a bit too much, the corkscrew went deeper into my heart and pushed me to my knees. Outside of that hospital in the middle of downtown Denver, my broken record brain repeated my familiar song through tears yet again:

I don’t understand.

Nearly a week removed from that day, the Truth remains that I don’t need to understand; I likely never will.

This week as I’ve sat in a hospital room next to my dozing grandfather, I’ve played one of his favorite jazz records over my phone speaker. In those moments, I’ve closed my eyes and held his hand, pretending we’re in his basement listening to that record play over his beautiful antique phonograph, instead of in a room full of beeping machines.

In those moments, and the moments between, I’ve struggled to make the choice to replace my own broken-record-inner-monologue with Truth. The reality is that I have struggled against the root of bitterness this week (month) [year]. My prayers have been funky and nonsensical, an inconsistent mix of submission, confession, expletives, and stabs at thankfulness that my God isn’t one Who operates within the scope of my understanding.

The other reality within all of this is that I don’t know how this story will continue on.

I don’t know why the Lord has placed me back in a situation so similar to that of the last week of May 2016. I don’t understand why He has me asking roughly the same question I was asking this time last year as I was preparing to leave for Cambodia: “What if someone else I love dies when I go to Asia?”

I really, truly don’t understand.

But by His grace I am finding peace in fits and starts through the Truth that the most illogical events on earth brought about my greatest Good when my perfect Jesus died on the cross, then rose three days later.

(And in the moments when the corkscrew turns and I simply can’t be the one to fight for that Truth, I’m learning to turn on worship music and allow Him to be the One to become the answer to my questions.)

“Because I spoke of things I do not understand, things too Wonderful for me. Although I had no right to ask, my God knelt and answered me.” -Ghost Ship, “Where Were You”

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Steam & shame: Unexpected gospel lessons in a 200 degree room

“My girls want me to “steam” with them today. AKA how people in the villages traditionally bathe. Together. In a 200-something-degree room. Did I mention: Together. As in: With. Other. People. Can we just talk about the fact that Jesus is pushing on ALL of my insecurities in Alaska?! I didn’t sign up for this. Help.”

While I understand that discussing public bathing may be running the risk of over sharing here, I beg you to stick with me…

You see, I sent that text message to friend back in Colorado last fall on the afternoon I was introduced to the “maqii” (or steam).

One of my sweet Native friends, Yvette, had come to TLC the week before to present for our Native culture night. She spoke to two very different groups within the ten or so of us seated around the table:

To my native students, she explained the intricacies and traditions of her people, the Dena’ina— a people group with incredibly similar customs to my Yup’ik and Aleut students. She told them the legends that her grandmother had told her—legends involving the ‘powers’ of bears and eagles and other wild creatures that are so intertwined with almost every aspect of Native culture. She told stories about growing up in the nearby village of Nondalton, as well as tales of the family legacy she carries on by drying and canning hundreds of salmon every summer and butchering moose in the fall. I sat at the end of the table and watched as the students I was just getting to know shook their heads and smiled their sweet, shy smiles of understanding and agreement as she spoke.

Then to those of us Alaskan newbs, she explained everything from Akutaq (Native “ice cream” consisting of frozen berries, fish, Crisco, and sugar), to what a normal day would look like for someone living in a traditional village. I leaned back in my chair, drinking in everything she said.

nativeculturenight
Yvette with the 2015-2016 TLC students

“Where I come from, and when I was growing up, all of the women and all of the men of a family would bathe with their respective genders, together in a steam bath.”

She paused to laugh at my awkwardness as I nearly fell sideways out of my chair from shock, then embarrassment.

“When I tell non-Natives that, I get really uncomfortable or horrified looks… kinda like the way Kacy’s looking at me.”

All of my students immediately glanced my way and smirked as I turned a shade of red I thought was impossible for Mexicans to turn. Thankfully Yvette let me off the hook and quickly continued on.

“The steam was a place of vulnerability—where the elder women would talk amongst themselves or pass down knowledge to younger girls. There wasn’t a single topic that was shameful or off-limits in the steam; that was how we were raised. But I’ve noticed that something has changed in the generations that have come after mine.

The younger women, they don’t want to steam with the older women any more. They find it more awkward and less of a part of our culture. I think it has a lot to do with the fact that young women have more pressure these days to be or look a certain way… And just like they don’t steam with the older women, the girls don’t talk to the older women the way we used to when we were kids. There’s a disconnect within our people between the generations. There is a segregation because of shame.

Our young women don’t feel comfortable in their own skin. They don’t feel comfortable enough with who they are (or aren’t) to ask the hard questions of life or receive the potentially uncomfortable wisdom of an elder. It makes me sad to see the way shame is stealing our people.”

As I processed Yvette’s words within the “honor-versus-shame” Native culture of TLC, my perspective and definition of shame began to shift. Over time I came to realize that at its core shame is a deep-seeded feeling of not being good enough, a feeling that proceeds to tell us that we are defined by our lack, rather than our bounty and beauty in Christ. A feeling that the enemy uses to steal our identities in Christ and lead us away from the Lord.

Whether we are willing to admit it or not, we all struggle with feelings of not being good enough, smart enough, thin enough, x-y-z enough everyday.

Some of this shame and our wrestle with “enough-ness” stems directly from lies that we’ve been told by our instantly photoshop-able culture. There’s an influx of subliminal messages about “health” standards (physical, mental, spiritual, or otherwise) nearly everywhere we look and the temptation to compare ourselves, then shame ourselves when we fall short of these often unrealistic standards can be all-consuming.

But there’s another type of shame—what many counselors would call “legitimate shame”.

This feeling stems from engaging in activities we know aren’t healthy for us, or don’t fall in line with our morals or beliefs about who God is or who we’ve been created to be, then falling prey to hopelessness when we contrast our imperfections and shortcomings with a perfect God.

We all wrestle with shame (“legitimate” or otherwise) due to our sin and imperfect, fallen decision making and that of others. But, despite what the world or the one trying to destroy us may try to lead us to believe, Yvette’s poignant words have been a constant reminder that to me that as believers we don’t need to sit isolated in either of these types of shame.

Yes, as Romans 3:23 tells us, “we’ve all fallen short of the glory of God” because we’re sinners, but what I constantly need to remind myself is that the Gospel doesn’t end there.

Within our wrestle with sin and shame we have two choices:

1) We can allow our sin, shame, and fears to define and confine us

OR

2) We can trust that Jesus is who He says He is– the loving Savior of the world, sent to reunite us with our Heavenly Father– and trust in the grace He freely offered us on the cross while we were still messy and broken, drowning in the sin that rightfully shamed us. And by accepting, then living in His love, we can allow Him to loosen the bonds of shame that seek to keep us defined by our lack of perfection.

It’s easy (okay, easier) for me to express this a year, some perspective, and several steams after the fact, but as I sat around the TLC table, listening to Yvette speak about the cultural power of the steam bath and the bondage of shame last fall, I bristled internally and thought, There is nooooo wayyyyy I’m ever going to sit in a hot room, physically exposed for an hour, exposing the inmost fears and insecurities of my heart with other women. No. Way. After all, Jesus came so that I wouldn’t have to suffer through hell… and all of that sounds like my personal hell.

So, when my TLC girls asked me to steam with them last November, I’m fairly certain I made the same terrified face I’d made at Native culture night. “Suuuuuuuuure….” I hesitated, using all of my emotional energy to turn my grimace into a semi-excited smile. As my girls went to pack their bags for the steam, I immediately grabbed my phone and fired off the panicked text above to Kitty.

In that moment, the shame and insecurity I felt about my awkward, lanky body and my fearful heart being exposed was fighting to confine me and keep me separated from my girls and my new friend. This illegitimate shame based in insecurity had me sucked so far into my own brain that I couldn’t hear God gently telling me the same thing He’s told me everyday for the nine years I’ve walked with Him:

You are mine. You are loved. You are beautiful. I created you to be uniquely you. You are enough. Do you hear me? You are enough. You have nothing to be ashamed of. I have died for your sins. I have taken on your filth. You are clean. You are pure. You are my beloved bride. You are enough because of who I am.

And that is the truth that I am fighting tooth and nail to keep at the forefront of my mind these days.

Because the truth is we need not be ashamed of exposure and vulnerability– not before God and not before one another– because Christ has seen the depths of our sinful hearts and yet in His infinite love for us He still took on the weight of our sin and died, abolishing the line between us and God that allowed for sin and shame’s power to confine us.

So, brothers and sisters, whatever shame you are fighting today, “legitimate” or otherwise, may you know that in it you are unconditionally loved. May you know in the marrow of your bones that your sin is not what defines you if you have invited Christ to wash you white as snow. 

Your mess is His, and if I may be so bold, your mess can be mine too. You are I are both imperfect and insecure, my dear. We’re in this battle together.

And in that, may we be a generation of Christians who believe so strongly in the redemptive power of Christ that we offer our hearts and minds completely to Him, allowing Him to break the segregation and confines of shame in our lives. May we sit with each other over coffee (or in 200-something degree rooms) and confess our imperfections and insecurities, reveling in the fact that we, the beloved ones of a perfect God, have already been washed clean.

 

How deep is Your love?

I took the summer “off” from writing. My reasoning was complicated:

1)  Most days I honestly didn’t have words to articulate the mixed bag of hope/ pain/ joy/ nausea/ excitement/ roller-coaster-y grief that my heart had become as I transitioned from Alaska to Iowa to Colorado to (and through) Asia and back again.

2) Traveling through 18 homes / hotels in 5 countries and 7 states in 2 1/2 months felt exactly like the run-on sentence that this is; it was exhausting. Plus, that much transition didn’t exactly lend to a stable internet connection or quiet writing space.

3) And probably most intentionally, my absence from writing was due to the fact that I had the glorious opportunity to stop analyzing the world around me for a while and simply experience the Lord’s beauty in it first hand.

And experience it to the fullest, I did.

I now know what it’s like to run through knee deep flood waters in a Cambodian city late at night shouting, “We’re on a mission! We’re gonna die…” all while laughing hysterically. Our insane laughter was partially because we were being splashed by motos (barely) passing us with a foot margin and partially because I was nervous about stepping onto a downed power line in the murky water below me and electrocuting myself to death.

That night as lightening crackled in the sky overhead, I ran through the streets of Phnom Penh with my co-leader and one of our 16-year old students. Our student had heard the Lord ask him to donate his guitar and book of worship music to a college-age sister-in-Christ (whom he had met only once) so she could start a worship school in a country where only 1% of the population knows Christ; he was thrilled that the Lord had called him to partner with her endeavor and couldn’t even wait until morning to selflessly give up his prized possession.

We arrived at her apartment sopping wet that night and stood in the rain, throwing pebbles at her window, screaming, “Ravii! Ravii come to the window! It’s the Alaskans! Come down! We have a gift for you!” as though we were in a movie or something. Eventually she emerged from the front door and stood with her jaw dropped as my student presented her with the guitar and sheet music. “God is good,” were the only words she said. I stood back and smiled as she stared at the guitar in her hands, saying those words over and over and over again.

IMG_5909I now know the depth of laughter that can cross language barriers when you’ve been befriended by a tiny first grade Thai girl who has chosen you to color with her on the sidelines of her friends’ game of tag because her club foot doesn’t allow her to run. Conversely, I know how absolutely hopeless it feels to stare into her deep brown eyes and pray for her foot to be miraculously healed, only to see that God clearly has other plans for her. At least, for the time being.

This summer the Lord turned strangers on cross-country flights into new friends. He blessed me with the opportunity to hear their stories of courage and redemption as they’ve escaped realities of war I don’t even want to imagine.

There were nights where I sat silently, holding three different women– all of whom are incredibly dear to my heart– as they cried and grappled with the unexpected death of family members. There simply aren’t words in those situations, no matter how frequently they come your way.

IMG_5880Throughout June I prayed as I stood in the Indian ocean, above the border walls of “closed” countries, in school yards, in markets, and under surging waterfalls. In those moments I heard the Lord speak louder than ever before. But I’ve also been face down on the floor, begging Him to speak and heard nothing but silence in return.

The list of things I saw the Lord do this summer seems infinite. While I wish with everything in me that I could relay those stories to those of you reading this… I simply can’t.

There aren’t enough words in the English language for me to explain just how deep and powerful the Love of Jesus has proven itself to be in my life; there aren’t words to do the glory of the Lord justice.

The best way I can explain these last few months (or really, this last year) is to say that adventuring in the benevolent affection of the Father for any period of time is a lot like what I would imagine scuba diving to the deepest depths of the sea to be. There are things down there that don’t (and won’t) make sense to those who have only ever swam near the shoreline or sat in the ocean in a boat.

In my imagination and this metaphor there are fish with lights hanging off of their faces Finding-Nemo-style and majestic unnamed organisms few people have ever seen. Similarly, in reality, there is spiritual battle and victory in Christ, pain and miraculous healing that does take place (even if I’m not the one to see it), and abundantly more grace than I could ever convey.

I understand that as I write this, my words could come off arrogantly, but please know that is not my heart. I long for you to don your own scuba gear and dive into the deep, dark metaphorical waters and explore them with the Lord so you too can see and experience the things mere words cannot explain. For those types of experiences aren’t likely to happen in our comfort zones where we feel safe or from boats where can see the shore.

The risk associated with following the Lord to unfamiliar, deep, dark places is great– regardless of what that looks like for you. But I dare say the risk of not going, of being lulled into complacency and comfort, or “staying put” because of fear, is much greater. 

Because yes, adventure is out there, but adventure for the sake of itself is not the point.

The ‘point’ can be found only in Jesus’ Love and it is beyond what my heart can comprehend or my brain can explain. All I know is that we begin to discover the depths of Christ’s love when we’re willing to go to the deep places where we feel like our faith may fail.

(In fact, your faith likely will fail. Mine did, more times than I would ever care to admit. Like the night before I boarded the plane to Asia when I dumped everything I owned on the floor of the Yarrow House and bawled, asking God the scariest series of questions I’ve ever asked in my life. Alas, that is a story for another time…)

But our loving Abba-Father? Our Jesus? He will never fail you.

His love only deepens, the further you dive in.

“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of His glory may grant you to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith– that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

(Ephesians 3:14-21)

I believe Love (and tacos) can conquer all

“Kacy, sometimes you open your mouth and say something, and I gasp. Because you get it. You’ve been there. Somehow you’ve lived parts of my story I thought no one person would ever understand.”

It was ironic to read those words in a note from one of my students this last week, given the fact that one of my worst fears in moving to Alaska was that I would never be able to relate to my new students. After all, what could I—a Brown, wild child, ex-hoodrat—possibly have in common with Native Alaskan teenagers from bush villages?

I was terrified coming here. I was scared that we would never find common ground, they wouldn’t like Mexican food… Or even worse, that my students simply wouldn’t like me. Could an approval junkie like me handle (and live in) that kind of rejection?

By the grace of God, my students and I have found more common ground than I could have ever hoped for in the last two months. (And after introducing my students to Mexican food and explaining that you don’t put soy sauce on Spanish rice, they’ve taken to my cooking. Even if they still spell quesadillas “Kacy-diaz”. Baby steps, right?)

Every night once my students are in bed, I lay down and scroll through a few online newspapers and my social media streams. In the last two weeks, I’ve watched in horror as terrorist attacks and subsequent political debates have unfolded on my tiny iPhone screen. As I lay under my blankets, in my warm bed in the middle-of-nowhere Alaska, my heart breaks for the world that we live in.

After all, I live in what could arguably be one of the safest places in the world.

Every morning I wake up in a village where the post master knows me by name and calls me to tell me when I have a package to pick up. I live in a place so safe and so quaint that if I’m hiking when the “grocery plane” lands, my neighbors put away my groceries for me; it’s just what we do here because this village is a family who lives for Jesus.

It kills me to read the news and be reminded that this is not the way of the world.

It pains my sappy heart to know that fear is driving hatred, racism, exclusion, and perpetuating foreign and domestic terrorism. But I suppose I shouldn’t be shocked… after all, as Carl Medearis (one of my favorite “Christian” authors) says, perfect fear casts out all love. Oh, wait… No, something is wrong there.

That isn’t the way of Jesus…

No, Jesus confronts fear with His perfect love. In fact, He confronted more than fear in His life (and death). Jesus confronted racism, sexism, pain, and shame all throughout His earthly ministry, but He did so specifically when He shared the Gospel with a Samaritan woman at a well in John 4:

“So Jesus came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the field that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there; so Jesus, wearied as He was from His journey, was sitting beside the well around the sixth hour.

A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, ‘Give me a drink.’ The Samaritan woman said to Him, ‘How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?’ (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, ‘If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked Him and He would have given you Living Water.’ The woman said to Him, ‘Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get such Living Water? Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us this well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock. Jesus said to her, ‘Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.’ The woman said to him, ‘Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come to draw water.’” (John 4:5-15)

Jesus challenged man-made boundaries of racism here by talking to a Samaritan. *Gasp!* Then He got really risqué and pushed aside cultural taboos by crossing gender barriers and talking to a Samaritan woman. Even His disciples knew this was a big deal: “Just then, His disciples came back. They marveled that He was talking with a woman, but no one said, ’What do you seek?’ or, ‘Why are you talking with her?’” (John 4:27) They marveled at the fact that Jesus was loving someone so different from Himself… so foreign, so “lowly”.

Now, there’s speculation over whether this woman truly was an unlucky widow (several times over) or whether she was an adulterer or prostitute; We can speculate all we want on the facts here, but we will likely never know this side of heaven.

As a fellow woman, I can deduce however, that this woman likely wrestled with fear and shame if she had gone through that much deep, relational upheaval in her lifetime. And Jesus, knowing the depths of her heart more than I could ever begin to speculate, still chose to enter into her fear, shame, and brokenness to offer her the Kingdom of God anyway, even with the complicating circumstances of her nationality and gender.

I read this chunk of scripture and it causes me to pause. Every. Stinkin’. Time.

If this is the way of Jesus… And Christians are followers of Jesus… And I consider myself to be a Christian… What am I doing? What am I valuing in life if I find myself unwilling to cross uncomfortable barriers to love the ones He loved first?

If we as Christians claim to follow Christ, but are unwilling to follow Him across political, social, and man-made lines today in 2015, we are following something… but I dare say it isn’t Jesus.

Let me say it again: Jesus confronted the brokenness of the world with Love.

In the midst of the horrific headlines regarding terrorism and the political debate the rages on over the futures of refugees– real human beings what our world needs is the love of Christ.

We don’t need another political mandate, stricter man-made laws, or bloodshed to retaliate for bloodshed.

We need to love.

And we will never be able to love those whom we are afraid (or unwilling) to get to know. The Lord has shown me this first hand time and time again through scripture, and through moving me to the middle of the wilderness to do life with people that I thought couldn’t be more different from me, but whom He adores.

“Those people” whoever “they” are?

“They” are beautiful.

“Their” culture is rich with lessons, just waiting to be learned and loved.

“They” have been created in the image of God, just like you and me.

“They” need Jesus just as badly as you and me.

(“They” probably like Mexican food just as much as you, my students, and I do. [Just sayin’… I believe Jesus and tacos can unite the world…])

We’re all human, which unfortunately means we’re all a bit screwed up. But Christ came in PERFECT LOVE and died for all of us, that we might turn to Him and die to our sinful selves. To die to ourselves is to live for Him, and I don’t know about you, but it seems like living for the Jesus of the Bible means to love the people He has placed around us and love them as we love ourselves.

Scripture tells us the truths that His perfect love casts out fear and His strength is perfected in our weakness. But we, as the followers of Christ Jesus, have to be willing to humble ourselves and be His hands and feet; we have to be willing to invite in our poor and needy neighbors– those who live right down the road and (hold onto your seats) those who are foreign. 

Jesus was not an example of discrimination or exclusion, and thus I struggle to believe that we should walk those paths.

What would it look like for you to truly love those” people today? (“Those people”– whoever they are– probably aren’t as scary as you think. Trust me; I live in a house full of people I was terrified to meet.)

“By this we know love, that He laid down His life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in Him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.”

“There is no fear in love, for perfect love casts out fear.”

(1 John 3:18, 4:18)

When lightening strikes

10RainThere’s a phenomenon that occurs between a father and a daughter during a storm that one of my coworkers at the Street School recounted several times this last year.

When it rains in the afternoon, my 4-year-old always knows exactly where I am. She stands a few feet away at the window with her siblings, their faces smushed against the glass watching the rain blow sideways outside. They watch in sheer awe at the power of the storm. They ooooh and ahhhh at the thunder and lightening– until it cracks on the street right in front of our house. 

Before I can blink, my daughter becomes a scarf– her arms and legs somehow both wrapped around my neck as I lounge on the sofa and laugh.

She knows the storm is still raging just feet away on the other side of that window, but she also knows that she is safe in her daddy’s arms. Such is the case with all daytime thunder storms.

But when a storm breaks out in the middle of the night and the claps of thunder wake her, it’s a different story.

Our bedrooms are only separated by a 3-foot hallway, and yet when thunder breaks in the middle of the night, you can just about bet that it will be followed by a small, squeaky voice yelling across the hall.

“Daaaaddddddyyyyy?! Daddy, where are you?!”

I usually flip on the light and see Tenley’s little silhouette standing just feet away in her bedroom door– paralyzed by fear.

Fear of the dark, the noise, the unexpected wake-up call.

In these moments in the middle of the night, she rarely runs to me. Instead, she stands in her doorway, in her sister’s too-big nightgown, with tears running down her face and her arms outstretched for me.

“Come here. You’re okay. You’re safe with me.” I groggily beckon her forward with my hands. In an instant, she’s my scarf again– arms and legs entangled with mine as I hug her and wipe away her tears.

She knows she’s safe in her father’s arms.

~

Wednesday evening I sat in the rocking chair on my front porch and watched lightning spread over Denver. As I watched the light show and felt the thunder in my chest, I thought back to the metaphor of Tenley and Chris and mentally cataloged all the times throughout this incredibly rainy month that fear has stopped me dead in my tracks.

Like Tenley, I’ve allowed myself to be paralyzed by fear too many times lately. I’ve stopped, just feet away from my Heavenly Father with tears streaming down my face and my arms slightly outstretched, yet feeling incapable of running to my safe place.

I’ve never really been one to struggle with fear, but over the last month there have been days where my fears have consumed me.

Fear of rejection.

Fear of change and the unknown.

Fear of the darkness.

Fear of jumping into things too quickly.

Fear of not moving quickly enough and missing the boat on opportunities.

Fear of catching a bad case of revertigo and getting sucked back into less than Christ-like habits from my past.

Irrational fears and completely rational fears.

We’ve all got them– these fears that seem to cement our feet to the floor and keep us from running to God when the storm gets too crazy or too close for comfort.

These fears, if we let them, will leave us feeling just out of the reach of our Heavenly Father.

They will lead us to doubt His sovereignty and goodness. They will become a breeding ground for lies from the enemy– lies that seem to tell us that God doesn’t love us because He’s not “actively” rescuing us from our fears.

But I believe that He doesn’t rescue us all the time because He wants us to run through the fear, into His arms.

He wants us to run to Him through the storm– both in the daylight and in the darkness.

I get it. It’s terrifying and counter-intuitive to quiet yourself before God in the midst of a life-hurricane and submit our fears to Him. I would much rather over-process things to death and try to find a logical solution to my problems than pray and listen, but that is what we are called to do.

That is where we will find safety in our Father’s arms.

What is your reaction when the lightening strikes?

~

“The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”

Deuteronomy 31:8