Saturday, February 22, 2014

One Year

Yesterday was a bit of a milestone for me. Okay, more than a bit. It was undoubtedly my favorite of all my milestones so far. Yesterday was my one year.

One year since I conquered depression. It's crazy having made it this far.

I remember so vividly lying in my bed, unable to move because I was so sick. My face hurt because I'd been crying so much, I hadn't had anything to eat or drink in over 24 hours, and I was sore in my stomach from how much I'd thrown up. I curled up in the fetal position and sang worship songs under my breath for hours, not because I wanted to - believe me, I had no desire to worship - but because I was making one last ditch effort to try to do what Papa asked of me.

I breathed a sigh of relief when I heard a familiar set of footsteps walk downstairs, down the hall, to my bedroom in the basement. The door was pushed open and the light from the hallway spilled into my room revealing the silhouette of the man who had been shoving his way into my life over the past week in spite of all my attempts to cut him out of it. That man worked hand-in-hand with my Designer to pull me out of the grave I had been digging myself for seventeen years. The light from the hallway was more than a metaphor.

To this day I can't tell you how I let things get as bad as they did. It all happened so suddenly it seemed, beginning on a Monday and being conquered on a Thursday. By all the rules of logic, I should not be here right now. I could be long gone, people could be writing extensive Facebook posts about how they miss me and how I had "such an impact." But. But, Papa had a different plan, and I praise Him everyday for it.

So yesterday I jumped into my car and drove north for an hour and a half, singing Queen's greatest hits with my CD player and turning the volume up when I hit Denver rush hour traffic only 10 exits away from where I needed to be. I met up with that same man - the one who had been present a year ago - in a teeny-tiny Thai restaurant on Colfax and Logan where he bought me a celebratory dinner and we got to talk to the adorable restaurant owner who moved to the States from Bangkok seven years ago. Then we drove home and listened to Prince of Spain and talked about friendships and stress relievers and society's standards for beauty and roadtripping to Chicago. I dropped him off at home and showered and went to bed exhausted but very happy, with my heart and my stomach both very full.

I look at the two different nights separated by 364 sunrises and I realize that almost nothing is the same as it was. A year ago I was angry and depressed and self-loathing, falling asleep every night to the sound of my own sobbing and wondering how much longer I was willing to do that. Now I'm alive and optimistic and free, taking every day as a stride and stoked to see what's around the bend. I'm eating now, I'm writing more, I actually talk to people about my problems. Everything has changed. And I am so glad that it has.

If there's one thing I've learned over this past year, it's that I can't do life without Him. I wasn't built to do life any other way than with my writer's hand enveloped in His scarred one. That's why everything falls apart when I try to. My heart becomes overwhelmed when I think about the lengths He went to to retrieve this one black sheep who was trying so hard to run away, straight into the wolf's mouth. He never stopped trying to talk to me, He never stopped chasing me, He never stopped loving me. And I don't understand that.

I don't think I ever will. But I'm okay with that. If He was small enough for us to understand, He wouldn't be big enough for us to worship. I owe Him everything. And that's why in all of my confused, emotionally and physically scarred mess, I devote my life to chasing Him. I find myself in the most beautiful places when I do that.

I raise my glass to the One who will never let me go.

Happy one year, Papa. This next one is for you.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

I'm afraid to tell you I don't like you, so I'll just lead you on.

Why do we do this?

Seriously. Why?

Allow me to take a stab at figuring it out.

*Clears throat*

Something I've noticed over my eighteen-and-a-half years of existence is that romantic love has a way of screwing things up. I'm not trying to be cynical or pessimistic, I'm just making an observation. Eros ruins friendships and breaks hearts and creates fear and frustration in the minds of its victims. It is, so often, a destroyer.

But it isn't supposed to be that way. It's supposed to make us come alive and redefine beauty in our minds. It's supposed to be a life-giver. But it's not. And that's because we're doing it wrong.

There's a guy - call him Joe. And he's romantically interested in a girl - call her Christine. But Christine doesn't reciprocate Joe's feelings for her. Now, she has a few options here. The best one is to be honest with him, to tell him that she doesn't feel the same way, but to do it in a gentle and respectful manner. This would bring clarity and spare Joe's feelings and probably even save the friendship. Life is a heck of a lot easier when we're honest with each other.

But more than likely she will not say anything, leading him to believe that he has a chance with her even though he doesn't. There are a dozen reasons why she would do this, all of which stem from selfish ambition or fear. To save her own reputation as a "nice" person, to avoid confrontation, the list goes on. But none of these reasons are really valid. Let me tell you why.

What Christine does to Joe by avoiding the awkward "I'm just not that into you" conversation is, to be blunt, blatantly disrespectful and under no circumstances is it okay. I honestly couldn't care less what her reasoning is behind doing this to him. He's a human being and deserves to be treated with the utmost respect and love.

Obviously, this is all hypothetical. But in reality, it's not. Too many of my friends have suffered like Joe. I have suffered like Joe, and I don't think it's fair. No one should ever, ever waver on the brink that separates hope from pain. Being led on makes one think that there is a chance at being with the person that he or she so admires. It causes guys and girls to waste their time, their energy, their love on someone who doesn't want any of it and will just toss it out the window when they aren't looking.

People are worth an infinite amount. God made this abundantly clear when He made a sacrifice of infinite value for our sake. Can we all just agree to start treating each other as such? As priceless? As deserving of honesty? Not a lot peeves me more than such disregard for emotion.

I'll start this movement if I have to. Right now, I vow never to intentionally lead anyone on, to be transparent with my emotions, and to treat people with respect. I ask you all to hold me to this. I can't promise that what I say or do will not be read into. I'm naturally friendly and outgoing, and I understand how that could be interpreted as flirtation. But to the best of my ability I want to be clear about my intentions with people. They deserve that.

I ask you to do the same. Make a similar vow, or at the very least just try to be careful with people's hearts. They can withstand a lot. But they are so delicate. And it is our job to protect each other the best ways that we know how. Let's start here. Let's start now.

Are you in?

Monday, February 3, 2014

For Good

I don't want to have to write this. I didn't ever want to have to write anything even remotely like this. But I promised you honesty. So here it is in all its raw, emotional glory.

My relationship with my closest friend ended officially last night.


We met in fourth grade and became best friends in seventh. Come the later years of high school we were basically inseparable, spending every other day with each other, doing life, overcoming pain, growing in our relationships with each other and with our Designer. We were going to be in each other's weddings and raise our kids alongside of each other. We were going to change the world together, and up until recently I couldn't picture any part of my future without her being there.

Then, over the Summer, she left to participate in a six-month long internship at The International House of Prayer in Kansas City while I stayed here in the Springs. Before she left, we talked about how she would be cutting ties with practically everyone but her family. This meant we would go half a year without communicating at all. I remember so vividly where we were when we had this conversation. We sat in her little blue car in the parking lot of The Shops at Briargate.

"If I come back and we're still best friends then great, we can pick up right where we left off . . ."

She trailed off, not needing to finish her thought. I knew what the other potential outcome was and neither of us was willing to say it straight up.

So she left and I stayed, thoroughly convinced that a nine-year long relationship could certainly withstand six months of separation. But a lot happened over that six months. God took us on these journeys, so deep and intense and different from each other's. Somewhere in the back of my mind I knew that even when she returned that things would never be the same again. But in all my stupid optimism and naivete, I convinced myself to believe that things didn't have to change, that she would be the exception to the rule that everyone in my life is just going to walk away, that we really could pick up right where we left off.

Fast forward to December when she came home. I picked her up from her house so she could join my family for dinner one night and we tried our best over the few hours we had together to catch up on everything that God had been doing. But something was different and I couldn't for the life of me pinpoint what it was. I didn't want to pinpoint what it was. I didn't want things to be different, I didn't want to be wrong, I didn't want to lose her. So I tried so damn hard to believe that everything was exactly as it had always been.

But it wasn't, and we both knew it. She moved back to Kansas City last month to start building her new life. I didn't get the chance to say goodbye. I felt so naive, so stupid, for not being able to do anything to save what we had. I felt like it was my fault. What was so wrong with me that people just couldn't bare to stick around? But instead of dealing with my problems and sorting through my thoughts, I buried them under the idea that the relationship was still salvageable, we both just needed to figure out where we stood.

*End backstory, skip to yesterday*

Then last night, after returning home from the Superbowl party at Dallas's house where I finally taken time with my two adopted big sisters, Laura and Mandie, to figure out my thoughts and renounce lies and come to conclusions about relationships, I checked my email. And there, at the top of my inbox was a message from her. I knew in my heart what she was going to say but I opened it up still clinging to whatever optimism I had left.

In reading the email, I realized that we had come to the same conclusion - that the journeys God was taking us on were so separate, that they just weren't lining up the way they had through junior high and high school. While we will surely see each other again - attend each other's weddings, meet each other's kids - our time as best friends is over.

I saw it coming. Months ago and miles away I saw it coming. I just didn't want to believe that it was. And even the predictability of the whole thing doesn't make it any easier. Walking away may very well be the hardest thing I have ever had to do.

But it's okay. I'm okay, though I may not feel very okay at the moment. I know that all things work together for the good of those who love Him, and I know that I am going to be just fine.

I'm horribly torn. One half of me - the immature, childish, weak, fleshly part of me - is angry at myself for not trying hard enough to save the relationship. This side feels rejected and hurt and wants more than anything to run away and never let myself love someone ever again.

But there's another side of me - the side that is the real me - that is winning.

Logically, I should be heartbroken. I should be reverting to all of my abandonment and rejection and trust issues. I should be swearing that I'll never let anyone touch my heart ever again. I should be ruined for relationship.

But I'm not, and I know why.

Papa has been teaching me about the importance of people in my life. I'm so relationally wired that even when I'm crushed I feel the need to be with other people to sort through the broken pieces of my mixed-up soul. That's because I'm supposed to be with people. Even the ones who walk away. I'm learning that letting go, that walking away, isn't necessarily a bad thing.

I love her. Even now that our relationship is over, I still love her. She's moved me in ways that no one else ever has and I've given parts of my heart to her that I can never get back or give away again. But that's okay. Maybe I was stupid for thinking that we really were going to go through with any of our crazy future schemes, maybe I was just hopeful. But either way, I know that we were not placed in each other's lives by accident.

God clothed Himself with her and used her to save me during a time when I didn't want to be saved. She taught me patience, forgiveness, and above all, how to love unconditionally no matter the circumstance. I won't lie, it kills me to have to write about this today. To have to look back at all of our memories together and know that there won't be any more. But I do take some comfort in the fact that our time together was not for nothing. It was undoubtedly for good.

For right now, I honestly don't know how long it'll take for me to allow myself to love someone like that again, to trust with that kind of abandon and dive into that kind of intimacy. But if there's one thing that I do know, it's that I am in fact capable of doing so once. No one will ever be able to take the place in my life that forever belongs to her, but my name means love. And I know I can do it again.

So, Mel, if you're reading this, please know how deeply you have touched me and how proud I am of you. You are going to rock the world with your passion and your grace. You certainly rocked mine. Never be afraid to follow Him into the dark. You'll be amazed at all the beauty you can find there.

All the love and prayers that I could possibly have to offer you,

Your Elphaba,

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