Thanks To Vegas

I spent this morning praying the same thing over and over: Lord, what do I do?

In the wake of yet another confusing, terrifying, heart shattering tragedy, I’m left empty-handed and full-hearted, longing to know how to make a difference for those who are grieving, even as I grieve.

I log into Facebook to see the instant politicization of these lost lives.

Gun control! One side chants.

Anything can be a weapon! The other responds.

I am tempted to respond. Tempted to take my stance. Tempted to try and solve the problem, yet again.

I’m a student of the human mind & the human system. These attacks leave me desperate to understand. Desperate to fix it. Desperate to see us all come to a common place of sorrow & compassion.

Instead I see people tearing at each other, condemning each other. I see politicians using these events as a platform. I see justifications and racist media representations of the aggressor & exploitation of the victims. I see traumatic videos shared callously with empty, emoji ridden captions.

I want to throw up & scream & cry & hold the hand of Jesus.

So today, I prayed. & I got an answer.

I am fighting a battle that’s already been won. I’m fighting against a world that’s already so broken only One can fix it, & He already has.. the time just hasn’t come to see it fulfilled yet.

I’ve struggled with feeling like my faith is a cop-out. I fear being seen as complacent, I fear losing my sense & drive for justice. So I share information & reminders, I write about my convictions, & I hope my words don’t fall on deaf ears. But in the end, I can’t change anyone. I can’t prevent mass shootings. I can’t prevent people driving others down. I can’t prevent people being stabbed. I can’t prevent rape. I can’t prevent poverty. I can’t prevent police brutality. Yet, I have poured my energy into attempting to fix these things, so much so that I’ve had none left to pour into doing the most important thing there is: loving others.

It was seeing so many people searching for their family member or friend that made me realize I never know if I’ll be the last unfriendly face someone sees. I have no control over the last moments of someone’s life — but I have control over the moments I leave in someone’s life. What if I’m the angry person honking my horn at someone on the freeway because they didn’t merge fast enough and they are hit by a drunk driver on their way home? What if I’m the irritated customer rushing my cashier who is killed by her abusive boyfriend when she gets home late from her shift? What if I’m the sour face in the waiting room before the other patient passes away from surgery complications?

These people will never care about my social media campaigns for safe driving, for domestic violence advocacy, for better health care. But in those small moments, they’ll care that I didn’t take the same amount of time to share a meme as to make an effort to look at the bigger picture and let go of my own frustrations and give grace. Give love.

Thanks to Vegas, I’m done with politics. I’m done with spending my energy trying to convince others to change. I’m done trying to fix a world that’s out of my control.

I’m just going to love hard. Im going to smile and encourage my cashier, the stranger next to me in the produce aisle, the lady sitting next to me at the doctor’s office. I’m going to let go of my need to be everywhere doing everything at once & breathe.

We’ve been told to live like every moment is our last.

But what if we lived like every moment is the last for those around us?

Thanks to Vegas, I’m going to try.

xoxo, B

A Dangerous Love

Anyone who knows me personally, knows my story, has followed this blog should know without a doubt by now that Jesus is my everything. I have been chronicling my faith journey for a while now, sharing various struggles and triumphs that I have encountered, hoping that my daily walk will encourage someone somewhere. But recently, I have been seriously struggling with how to write to a world that is falling apart around me — my own life included in the chaos.

As a believer, I want to have an answer for the hard questions. But all too often, I feel as though I fail far too often to every have a voice. I follow these amazing women on Instagram whose faith seems double or triple my own, whose pictures are always perfectly hipster, and whose motherhood seems so serene. I understand that on social media we put our best foot forward and I watch their lives with a grain of salt, but still! Can’t some of their inspiration rub off on me? Some of their lighthearted messages or their glittery outlook on life? How am I supposed to be a light in the world when I’m as dark and twisty as Meredith Grey?

I have always desired to live a transparent life. I am a very very private person by necessity, but at heart, I am an open book. My whole life I’ve worn my heart on my sleeve and allowed myself to be vulnerable {sometimes at great personal cost} because I love big. And when you love big, you want people to know your story and who you are so that they know they can trust you to love them too.

This blog has served an amazing purpose of allowing me to sort out feelings that I didn’t understand until I put words to them. It has allowed me to channel my grief and my fear and find hope from my circumstances. It has allowed me to share the huge moments when God has shown up and I’m left in awe again. And through all of those mostly dark, twisty and sometimes joyful moments, there has been one common thought: love.

In the last two weeks, I’ve been slowly realizing the wounds I have covered up for years now. I have had to come to terms with the fact that I can write all I want about healing and grace {both of which I have truly encountered} but no amount of writing is going to make up for refraining from taking action in moving my life forward. Since I left my college campus in 2013, I have been uncertain of everything. What career do I pursue? When do I finish? Is this the right choice? How do I juggle motherhood, marriage, career, and passion? Where is my passion? What do I love?

And in the last year, everything started unraveling.

From health problems, to car problems, to home problems, to stressful jobs, teething toddler, empty bank accounts, miscommunication, etc. I have been in survival mode for over a year, and this week, for the first time since I was in college, I have been able to take the time to be quiet, be still, and to hear God speak.

God uses music to reach my heart a lot of the time, and most recently, music by Lauren Daigle, specifically the song “loyal”. The first verse says:

I could never earn Your heart

I could never reach that far

But You have pulled me close

You’ve never let me go

I’m safe forever in Your arms

Your promises I cannot break

And I know You will never change

Isn’t that a powerful image? That despite our complete and utter inability to earn God’s love, He chooses to draw us near. We cannot break His promises. He promises to never leave us or forsake us {Deut. 31:6} — nothing we do can change that. For me, as a very literal person, this is huge. All these moments in my life that I have felt like a failure, all these moments that I have felt alone, He was there. His love is “loyal, more faithful than the rising sun, this love for me I can’t outrun,” and as a runner, believe me, I have tried.

The other song that’s been dear to my heart is by Hillsong United “touch the sky”. My favorite line is:

What treasure waits within Your scars

This gift of freedom gold can’t buy

I bought the world and sold my heart

You traded heaven to have me again

As someone who has sought acceptance from and been sensitive to the opinions of the world her whole life, this is powerful. Jesus traded heaven for me. For me. I have known the story forever, but this week, with all my pondering, that thought took on new meaning. My voice has meaning. My words have meaning. Heaven doesn’t even compare to the love Christ has for me. For all of us.

So, when I pause and remember that we are called to love like Jesus loves… What a huge, scary thought. Because Jesus loves big. Jesus lived transparently. He sat and ate with lepers, prostitutes, thieves, maybe even homosexuals — the Bible doesn’t say. Jesus’s love was the kind that knew no boundaries. As Christians, we like our boundaries: sin and not sin. Good and bad. Wrong and right. Black and white. But Jesus didn’t love like that, He loved us so much that while we were still sinners He died on the cross {rom. 5:8}. That’s a dangerous love. That’s a love that others will judge. That’s a love that causes a God to leave heaven and become man so that we would have a way there.

And that’s how I want to love. I am determined to love dangerously, leaving behind the criticism of people who err on the side of caution. If Jesus loved me with abandon, I will love others with abandon. If He gave up everything to show us the way to heaven, far be it from me to do any less for others.

I feel as though I know my calling now. Even though careers and life will always change, I am forever called to love. To be reminded of that gives me a renewed perspective on comparing my life to anyone else’s and on going forward. I am treasured. I am loved. And maybe I will always be dark and twisty, but at least I know I can love big because I am loved bigger.

xoxo, B