Memory

Today I was supposed to get 3 things done, and I got none of them done. I ate about 60% of a truffle mousse cake from Kroger and I watched Netflix. I spent time reading Romans and being soothed by Steffany Gretzinger’s angelic voice. I rocked in my hammock, and hung out with the new kitten I adopted. Its claws are really sharp and I have no idea if it’s a male or a female, so it doesn’t have a name yet… however, it is obsessed with me. Positively obsessed. It walks with me across the room, tripping me up. I saved it, so it thinks I’m Jesus or something. I’m not Jesus, little kitten.

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I was scrolling through Instagram and I was overwhelmed with joy. The pictures, faces, and good news… I realized that I was seeing little square testimonies of God’s goodness. I saw provision, health, beauty. I saw strong marriages and happy couples. I saw funny little girls who think they’re princesses. There was nature, and glory, and revelation.

For a small moment, I surveyed my life and I took inventory. Having been gone for about 2 weeks out of last month, across NINE states, I see three bags that need to be unpacked. The clothes I wore and the things I carried with me all need to go back to their normal places. I suddenly realized why I had been avoiding unpacking all day, and the good problem I have in my hands: I love people far and wide. And right now I’m in my house alone with an unnamed kitten and 3 bags of memory from when I was with them, holding them, laughing in person, sharing meals, and taking pictures.

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my super pretty mother

 

While my first instinct is to cry, miss them, and feel lonely, my second instinct is to make a memory. I want to remember this night as a thankful memory. Just plain thankful. Thankful that I have a family that trusts me and says to me você é guerreira, which means you are a warrior. Even from a different hemisphere, they never hesitate to remind me of who I am. That’s as encouraging as it gets, because I am super awesome hahaha. It’s nice to be trusted and respected by the people who know me from birth, yeah? I feel honored.

I’m thankful that I have best friends. My sacred circle is so wonderfully solid, and I’m thankful for Mama Betsy Garmon who taught me what a sacred circle even is. Before that, I tried to carry all my friendships into the deepest place, and I would beat myself up trying to keep up with friends who were not keeping up with me.

Two years ago, I built this circle and grieved the distance that was about to take place in the other friendships. I figured out who was going to be around me emotionally and spiritually, and I officially drafted these powerhouses into my life. My four best friends, who know all my details and vice versa. Now I look back and I get to be thankful for spiritual and emotional health, people who have prayed with me, gone on adventures with me, and have fought for a deep level of relationship with me in Christ. That is RARE and a real treasure and I have it on earth as it is in heaven.

I’m on the brink of starting a new job, and I’m thankful that I have a reliable car and a cool hammock, unread books on my shelf, the fuzziest of rugs, and I even have an elliptical in my room. My Christmas lights stay up all year-round because it’s my room and my rules and I believe that the glow shouldn’t have to go away. There are generations within me, as well as worlds, words, and stories.

And I’m telling you this because if you took the time to survey your life, you would find that you also have much to be thankful for when you’re having to “unpack” your feelings. Tonight I had a choice. I could have despaired. I could have spiraled down and that would have been okay too, but I chose to remain thankful and put on my “PRAISE PONCHO” (aw yeah baby). I am trying to make #PRAISEPONCHO a thing, so bear with me.

Tonight will be etched in my remembrance as a quiet, rainy night with a full heart and a messy room. Someday in the future, when I’m living in a full house, with little ones, door-related noises, spills, and no alone time, I pray the Lord brings to my mind the memory of this very night: January 3rd, 2015, when I wore my #PRAISEPONCHO.  The thought will bring up a deep, deep laughter, and I’ll kiss the faces of my messy babes, and thank them.

And now if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna go unpack these bags.

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Trusting My Brothers

I’m doing some repenting right now and I want to share it with you, because maybe you’re supposed to join me in this.

I need to repent in the way I stopped trusting my brothers. I’m not talking about my biological brother, but my brothers in Christ, my buddies, my friends, my pals who just so happen to be males.

I’m sorry. I’m sorry I have kept you at arm’s length. I’m sorry I have assumed you might be sketchy. I’m sorry I have failed to trust you, to laugh with you, and to give you the benefit of the doubt. I’m sorry I have been stern, and I’m sorry I have pushed you away abrasively. That is not my character. That’s not who I am, but a temporary behavior that stemmed from a healing heart.

I’m well aware of it now, and here’s what happened…

I’m an extremely analytical person, and my formulas got all switched up. The part of my heart that defends itself, that makes fantastic choices… well, it got a little hypersensitive. I dated my very best guy friend, and my heart got smashed. I decided, without realizing that I was deciding it, that I would not let other guys become such close friends to me again, ever, because that kind of pain is not something I’d like to experience again. What if a close guy friend decided to pursue me? Would I completely flip out? Yeah, probably.

Is that not my dream, though? Is that not something I desire? To date someone I know well? I thought it was, and I think it still is. I berated myself, because I thought I had started to open my heart in a friendship, and let someone into my life, to get to know me, and then there was this magic trick where romance was introduced, and I thought I would just about die of happiness. The hard part was over, we knew each other, we knew what we wanted… and and and bust. Wasn’t it.

My genius way of preventing that from happening again? “Don’t get close to guys.”

UGH! I’M SORRY!!!!

So I’ve pushed my brothers away, and I even got all mixed up, had some weird conversations, and while I am a total stickler about flirting and keeping good boundaries, I had to be rebuked by the Lord IN A DREAM about how I’m pushing my brothers away.

I found that lie in my heart, and I recoiled, and removed it.

I can be a friend again. I won’t push away, or act extra weird, or get all “SO WHAT IS THIS?!” when my bros are trying to be my bros. They can have my number. They can feel free to call me. We can hang out, just maybe not til 3am, yeah? I’m a lady!!! I’ll do my best not to time them or chart our interactions. I’m excited for when I’m back in Georgia, to see how this all will play out. There’s always freedom when fear is removed.

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I know the Lord is trying to give me a gift in friendships, and He is so adamant that I receive the gift in full, that He gave me a dream to show me what I was doing wrong. I’m not going to look back any longer, and I’m telling my heart it’s okay to trust. It’s okay to trust my brothers. It’s okay to encourage them and love them well. It’s okay to hug, to laugh, to talk. These people are trying to get to know me, and I, them. They’re not out to hurt me, not at all. I’m new, and new creatures have fresh stores of trust.

In Jesus’ name, my heart is healed and aligned to trust my brothers, to make new friends, both gals and guys. What a lovely gift it is, and I will receive it with thanksgiving.

Comparison vs Compassion

The best friends I’ve ever had are the ones who are selfless enough to celebrate with me when I am rejoicing and who are compassionate enough to mourn with me when I am mourning. There’s scripture that tells us to be this way, and I can appreciate so well the inclination of the hearts of these precious friends, to wherever my heart is.

Because isn’t that what it is to be a friend? To incline the heart toward another?

Even in their worst funks, my best friends would sincerely scream “YAY” with me and jump up and down. They found sincere joy in my victories. We share life like that. I win, they win, even when they’ve been personally feeling that deserty, rough patch. They’d reply back with 15 exclamation points, and several smiley faces, and I could feel the genuine happiness for me. FOR ME. For the thing I’ve been waiting for, or waiting on, or breaking through, or learning. My baby steps are just as exciting. They’re in for the journey, celebrating my mile markers.

On the other hand, from the heights of their mountaintop experiences, they have come bounding down to my valleys, to comfort me in my heartaches. They’d set aside their time and listen to me. They’d hold me. They’d cancel plans. They’d make me food, and watch movies, and tell me the best jokes they had. It’s the most loving thing I’ve ever experienced, truly, when one steps away from their non-crisis life and steps into someone else’s pit to sit with them. Like Job’s friends sat with him, no words are needed. I have friends like this.

They’ve taught me to mourn with them, to lay aside my free time and get my butt to a funeral, and to experience the intimacy of a mourning family. I’ve had the honor of being brought into such a precious fold of trust. I’ve cried for people I hadn’t met, but I met them through my friends’ tears, words, and stories. They were my people too.

They’ve taught me to celebrate them, to lay aside the female tendency to compare and despair. I’ve stood by them as they became wives and mothers, heard those phone calls of “he’s the one!” and those calls of “we’re having a baby!” and my singlehood was so outweighed by sincere joy that I couldn’t help myself but feel HAPPY! Truly truly happy, because I was gaining with them. Their additions were my people too.

I haven’t had to censor myself or make my friends censor themselves out of joys and sorrows, because of fear of the reaction. I didn’t have to hold back good news or bad news, because we have this compassionate flexibility of sensitivity. It’s unspoken. It’s a ‘come as you are’ and a ‘what’s really going on’ relationship.

ON THE FLIPSIDE… I’ve lost friends who couldn’t do this thing, this compassion thing. When I’d come by saying “HEY GUESS WHAT!!!” they were Eeyores, ya know? The  grumpy donkey from Winnie the Pooh? They just couldn’t muster up a smile. They would “hmm” and I could tell they didn’t care or believe my excitement was valid. Party poopers, man.

Big rain clouds on a parade are the people who compare themselves instantly and cannot stir up joy within themselves to rejoice with those who are rejoicing. They miss out on a TON of joy, a ton of laughter, a ton of smiles, and a ton of parties. They don’t get invited, and a lot of people stop “wasting their time” trying to have a two-way-street friendship with these people. Then, they feel rejected, even though they reject others CONSTANTLY by refusing to have empathy. It’s a sad thing. Eeyores gonna Eeyore, I guess. I wish they wouldn’t.

Comparison is a nasty thing. It’s a nasty lie. It says that because someone has a blue kite, you’ll never have a blue kite. THERE IS MORE THAN ONE BLUE KITE, PEOPLE. It says that because one friend found her love, that you won’t? What? That makes no sense at all. These are the people who are like the older brother in the parable of the prodigal son, the ones who sit outside a party, sulking,  because they just don’t understand who they are and what their rights are as children of a GOOD Father. THE GOODNESS OF GOD DOES NOT RUN OUT. He pours and pours and pours it down. Then, He keeps pouring, because there’s still more. If you believe this, it will show. If you don’t believe this, it will show. Our faith can only go as far as our awareness of God’s goodness (Bill Johnson).

You can rejoice for other people, I promise. You can stir up that trust inside you, and when your time comes, which you must believe it will, people will rejoice with you as well. You won’t be the lonely, sad, rusty, old one to the side, not unless you choose to act that way by pushing away anybody who is happy, and make ‘choosing out of joy’ a lifestyle. How would you feel if people treated you the way you treat them? If you had the good news instead? It’s okay to celebrate. It’s okay to trust God’s timing. It’s okay to be happy when it isn’t for you or about you. It’s okay to incline your heart, it’s made to do that.

It’s okay to have compassion, even when your cup is running low. The overflow of another might just spill into yours.