just a friday

i stood in my roommate’s doorway this morning to say goodbye for the day. it was then that she asked me, “you doing alright?” i felt the weight of the pages of my brief in my hand – the brief i’ve labored too hard over and the brief i’ve slept too little as a result of. i said i was doing alright, but that i was just tired. because i am just so very tired.

i walked out the door and saw the rain falling. as i drove to school i thought more about her question because i haven’t had a whole lot of time to just think about how i’m doing. and as i drove what i realized was that as i enter this season of exams i’ve come to find that the hardest thing for me about being in law school is that it makes it really hard to be the kind of friend i believe God is calling me to be.

you see, this week has been exhausting. and yesterday some friends needed me in ways they don’t most days. so i was for them the best friend i could be yesterday. and that cost me. it cost me in sleep and studying. and it even cost me those 45 minutes before bed where i watch a show to just wind down at the end of a long day.

the hardest thing for me about being in law school is that it makes it really hard to be the kind of friend God is calling me to be. and the reason is because to be a good friend, a best friend, in law school always requires sacrifice.

i got to school and turned that brief in. it felt good to be free of it. and then i walked through the rain to the library. i sat down to read the last case i’d read as a first year law student before my last class of the year. i read a few sentences and then i was stopped. literally, just stopped. i looked up from the page and out the window at the dark sky and the rain that fell. i looked down at the black shirt i just happened to put on today. it all felt a little like mourning. and then it hit me.

i almost missed it.

some how i spent my drive to school thinking on the hard work of sacrifice and i almost missed it. today is good friday. today represents the greatest sacrifice that ever was or ever will be. today represents the day when God showed us the culmination of His grace towards us in the slaying of His Son.

good friday.

but on this day those many years ago there was nothing good about it. there’s nothing good about death. death was never meant to be part of the plan. there was this garden and these people and their God. and that was good. but then there was that fruit and that bite that went down deep. and death stepped onto the scene with sin and separation and shame.

just a friday.

it was just a friday when Jesus got up on that cross. He got up on that cross with that sin and separation and shame. and with the legion of angels overhead and the promptings to save Himself, He stayed. He stayed and died. He stayed and died for you and for me.

and i think sacrifice is hard. as if i even know anything about sacrifice.

it’s easy now all these years later to think about friday in light of the sunday that was coming. it’s easy now on this side of the resurrection. but death was real that friday. death was real and so was the mourning. the grief. the tears. the loss. and i can’t help but think that the skies looked a little that day like they do today.

today’s margin note: on this friday all these years later, i want to remember that friday. that friday when it was just a friday. it was just a friday and up on that cross He stayed.

He stayed for you and for me.

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into the wild

this is an old post from an old blog, but i started re-watching this movie so i figured i’d give a re-post.


i had a plan on what to write about today. and today i learned that plans are useless when it comes to writing. because life happens and conversations are had and sometimes other things are just more…writeable.

tomorrow i’m leaving.
i hate this.
like so much i’m crying now thinking about it.

i woke up this morning with a million things on my to do list and not a whole lot on my mind. so i opted to tackle the list before tackling this blog post. and when all that doing was done i felt kind of bored i guess. so i got on the couch and decided to watch a movie. i wanted some kind of escape. i know i shouldn’t want to escape, but whatever. i didn’t want to feel the leaving feeling.

i picked into the wild.

it didn’t take too much looking at the mountains and the big expanses and the beauty, mostly the beauty, to make me get what he meant when he started talking about how there was freedom out there, even in the dirt, and especially in the solitude. i could even feel it there from the couch as i watched alone. and it was crazy how that freedom was juxtaposed with this night he spent in a city. it was dark and dirty and loud and scary. the camera and the lighting and the people, mostly the people, made it feel inescapable.

i was about an hour into the wild with the guy when my dad told me to come help with dinner. and it was the weirdest feeling to be back here in the real world. so i helped get things ready and sat at the table. we had steak because it was my last night and all. then they started giving me advice. his was don’t be shy. hers was to listen. and after that i pretty much stopped listening. my mind was still out there in the wild.

the conversation dragged on too long and then i dragged myself back to my same cozy spot on the couch. i put the movie back on, but this time it felt different. i stopped seeing all the beauty in the view and his solitude. instead i saw it in these rare moments he had with people. there was the couple who took him in. the girl who sang with him and hugged him too long as he was going. and the old man who opened his home and his heart to him.

that old man and the tear rolling down his cheek.

that old man had it right as he sat up on that hill with chris. there was the freedom and the nature and the experiences chris claimed were all he needed. and right there in the wild the old man spoke of love and forgiveness. and as he spoke the sun shined a different kind of shine. it was like sitting there together there was a light chris could never have seen alone.

it kind of felt like he was running for his life from one of the things that could make him feel the most alive: relationships. i run from those too. so i get that. and i guess that’s why, in the beginning, i wanted to be out in the wild alone like him.

“happiness only real when shared,” that lonely boy wrote with his pen in a book someone else had written.

tomorrow i’m leaving and going into my own wild.
i’m going to choose to invite relationships instead of run from them.
and i pray there is so much love and so much forgiveness.
and i think it’s going to be as beautiful as those mountains and that freedom.


today’s margin note: remember the necessity of relationships, even when you feel like you would rather be alone. especially when you feel like you would rather be alone.

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love believes all things

earlier this week i had one of those moments. it was one of those moments where you learn something from God that you know will forever change you.

you see, i’ve been trying to memorize 1 corinthians 13. i’ve been trying to memorize it because i’ve been praying for a long time for God to give me the grace to love others well. and after praying for a long time it occurred to me that i should probably figure out exactly what this love thing is that i’m praying for.

love is patient and kind
love does not envy or boast
it is not arrogant or rude
it does not insist on its own way
it is not irritable or resentful
it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth
love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things
love never ends

i’ve read that too many times, but i’m the type of person to read all that and get stuck on one phrase. this time it was “love believes all things.” what does that even mean? i was confused for a few days because it seemed like all of 1 corinthians up to this point involved paul telling the people of corinth not to believe everything. so where exactly does “love believes all things” fit into that?

i started asking around. to be honest, there was one particular thing i didn’t want it to mean, and maybe my asking was in an attempt to find an answer that wasn’t that. anyways, i started asking around and no one could tell me what it meant. so i asked my roommate about it on my way out the door one night. i asked her because she looks up the greek words actually used in verses. i asked her because i trust her wisdom. i asked her because she loves me, and i trusted she would diligently hunt down an answer.

well, we didn’t talk about it the next day. honestly, i didn’t think she got around to looking it up. then a few mornings later i was sitting at my usual place at the counter and she was heading back to her room with her coffee. i stopped her to ask her if she would look it up, and to my surprise she said she already did. but she went back to her room, grabbed her computer, and came back to the kitchen.

her original research left me pretty dissatisfied and a little discouraged. essentially, believes in the greek just meant to trust or have faith in. it just seemed like the verse really meant “love believes all things.” i started to wonder if maybe we should look up what the all meant because that just didn’t help me one bit. but she didn’t stop there. she kept searching. and she came across this commentary. and that commentary, my goodness.

that commentary said the verse meant the one thing i didn’t want the verse to mean because it seemed too hard to actually do. and as she read the first line of it i knew it was right. i knew immediately that the verse was referring to the kind of love that believes the best in people. i knew immediately that the verse was probably the hardest thing about loving someone.

“believes in context implies that love sees the best in others or gives the other person the benefit of the doubt, choosing to believe the best about them and not the worst.”

conviction rushed through my veins. i simultaneously felt this relief at finally understanding the verse, and a frustration at the countless ways i have failed at living that kind of love out. my heart flooded with the urge to say i was sorry. and i would do just that a couple times before the day was out.

my favorite (i use that term loosely here) part of the commentary said the following:

“this does not mean, as calvin points out, that a christian is to allow himself to be fooled by every rogue, or to pretend that he believes that white is black. but in doubtful cases he will prefer being too generous in his conclusions to suspecting another unjustly. while he is patient with (stelei) the mischief which his neighbor undoubtedly does, he credits him with good intentions, which he perhaps does not possess. this characteristic, with the next pair, forms a climax. when Love has no evidence, it believes the best. when the evidence is adverse, it hopes for the best. and when hopes are repeatedly disappointed, it still courageously waits.”

i wanted to start crying then and there as my roommate read those words aloud. maybe i would have had i not needed to go to school soon after. maybe i would have had my roommate not been standing across from me. that kind of love seems so intangible, so unattainable. it seems so utterly beautiful that i just desperately want to live it out. i want to live it out because i think that kind of love could help people see how beautiful Jesus is.

i was listening to a friend talk about love the next day. she talked about how loving deeply is actually really painful. i resonated with that thought well because just a few days before i was sitting with some friends crying about how for someone like me who cares so very deeply about others, it is so painful to love those who are hard to relationship with. i just don’t get why it has to be so hard. i probably cried for about an hour because that frustrates me the most when both of us love Jesus.

maybe i’m an idealist, but i think loving Jesus should change the way we love each other. and i think it should change it in a radical way.

honestly, i’m far from an idealist. but i do take Jesus at His Word, and i think His Word says that kind of thing.

anyways, so my friend was talking about how deeply loving is painful. she talked about how when we love people that way, we start creating these expectations. maybe we just expect that they will love us back the same way. and when that doesn’t happen, or when our other expectations aren’t met, we get disappointed. and that hurts. and it makes it hard to keep on loving. but she said to keep on loving.

“when hopes are repeatedly disappointed, [love] still courageously waits.”

there’s a certain kind of courage necessary to keep on loving when it hurts. there’s a certain kind of courage necessary to love others in the way Jesus calls us to love others.

now i don’t know exactly what it looks like to believe the best in others all the time, to love them in this particular way. but i do know that i want to. and i do know that it takes slowing down. it takes not jumping to conclusions. it takes not being ruled by our emotions. it takes the kind of humility that can only come from gazing at the love poured out for us on the cross.

today’s margin note: love requires believing the best in others, and that kind of love takes courage. figure out how to do that because it will paint Jesus in a more accurate way than all the other ways we paint Him when we fail to love others well. and His beauty and love beg us to paint Him rightly.

now, i don’t know much about love, but what i do know is that i want to give my life to figuring out what loving others well really looks like. and what i do know is that i want you to do the same.

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ordinary love does

i promise this is the last post i will write about my experience reading love does. well, at least it’s the last post i plan on writing. if God decides differently, well, then we will do differently and you can take it up with Him, not me.

here’s the story of how i came across the book:

my friend marcy is one of the best gift givers i know. receiving gifts is not one of my love languages, but even so, i love getting gifts from her. she knows me so well that she always, always gets a perfect gift. well, for christmas the past couple of years we have this tradition. we have been known to get a little extravagant with our gift giving, but this year i’m in law school and she is a first year teacher. put differently, we have no money. so we agreed on one gift apiece. and well, marcy gave me this book as her gift.

you’d think that’d be enough to get me to read it right away. the problem is that i’m in law school, right, so all i do all the time is read. if i’m not reading, i’m writing, and not the kind of writing or reading that i love. well, for valentine’s day one of the girls i mentor showed up with a copy of this book for me. all of the sudden, i had two copies of this book because two different people who love me and know me gave it to me.

so i did what any person would do in a situation like that: i gave one copy to my friend kristin and we started reading immediately with the promise to discuss as we went along.

i don’t know whether she reads faster than i do, or if she cares less about school than i do, but she finished a lot sooner than i did. however, every time she would read something she knew i would like she would text me about it in anticipation of my enjoyment of it. it was truly one of the sweetest reads i’ve ever experienced as a result of that.

when i finished the book i had concerns that i decided to hash out with her. my problem was that the life i live just isn’t anything like the author’s. he goes on crazy adventures and he rescues children out of slavery and he’s married and famous and just all around seems to love people better than i do. consequently his book consisted of some incredible chapters. and consequently i was left feeling like my life consisted of chapters that just wouldn’t cut it in his book.

so what does that mean for me about the kind of loving that does?

you see, bob went to law school. and he had this crazy story in his book about how he got in. but there wasn’t a chapter on the countless hours spent reading, and how the only way to make time for anything else is to sacrifice time that could be spent doing more of that. i feel so busy, and as a result, so…not…loving.

so i texted kristin, i guess i just wonder what we do with love now.

and her response changed everything i thought about the book and about my life and about my own journey to try and exhibit a love that does.

we do a lot with love now that i’m really proud of. we love our classmates and it doesn’t always look big. it looks like that girl that texted you and said her semester was better just because you were there. it looked like 5 terrifying hours in the back of our friend’s cadillac during a trip to sanford and back all in one night. it looked like a slumber party where i was sick and a couple dates at our favorite coffee shop. it looks like the hours of prayer we’ve logged for our campus.”

i think she could have kept going, but she didn’t. because in the end i think she said all she really needed to say at the beginning:

we love and it doesn’t always look big.

maybe the kind of love that does doesn’t need a book written about it. maybe it can actually be the kind of stuff that would never make it into a book. maybe it can be so simple that you don’t think twice about it.

so back to my original question: what does that mean for me about the kind of loving that does?

today’s margin note: don’t worry about loving with the kind of love that does. because, after all, it’s the love that does the doing. let the focus be about loving Jesus. love Him wholeheartedly and you will find that without even meaning to love people, you just do. and it might not always look big. in fact, it might never look big. but that love, the kind of love that comes from loving Jesus, and primarily being loved by Jesus, that love does.

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a word not to use

i’ve been trying this thing lately. i’ve been trying to eliminate the word “like” from my vocabulary. it has honestly been one of the hardest things i have ever done. i keep telling myself that i will struggle through it for about a month, and then communication will get easier again. for now, i’m stuck speaking particularly slowly. it’s almost as if i’m learning to speak all over again.

as i was reading love does i couldn’t help but be struck by a chapter entitled “a word not to use.” the whole chapter is about how a friend told the author to stop using the word “that” in his writing. without fully understanding why, the author trusted the friend and stopped using the word. the author likened the whole process to Jesus and how He didn’t always explain everything. but if someone you trust says something that is for your benefit, well, you just do it. that’s what the author did. and that seems to be what he wants to do with Jesus.

he then talked about how God tells us to stay away from certain things, and that staying away from those things will help us write our lives better. in the same way staying away from the word “that” helps us just write better.

“i trust God because He’s the best author. i think God doesn’t spell out everything for us in life, but He does tell us how we can write our lives better; and trusting Him implicitly is always the right place to start.”

i wonder now why i am embarking on this challenge to take the word “like” out of my vocabulary. i mean, i’m not trying to write a book or anything. i guess all i’m really after is mastering the art of speaking with precision. that’s the beauty of a thesaurus, right? the author of love does says a thesaurus is his favorite book. these are books full of words for us to pick from so that we can communicate something in the best way possible. i guess that’s all i’m after with all of this.

and i guess that’s really all i’m after in life as well. because my life is telling a story too. a greater story than all my words could ever write. and maybe if i can learn to communicate more clearly with my words i’ll learn to communicate more clearly with my life. maybe then people could see more clearly that all i want with my life is to point people to God and all He is for us in Jesus. because, after all, that’s the only story i’m interested in telling.

today’s margin note: aim to communicate clearly with words. they are precious and powerful and tell beautiful stories. and aim to communicate clearly with your life. point people to Jesus because a life spent doing that is a life worth living and the only story worth telling.

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what really matters

every time i get on here to blog i’m discouraged by how long it has been since my last post. i miss writing consistently. honestly, i miss the me that writes consistently. that me has a better understanding of things, a better gauge on my mental, physical, spiritual, emotional well-being, a better set of lessons learned at the end of each day. that version of me is just…better.

well, yesterday was the first day of spring break. i figure i can use this break to maybe find that me again. yesterday i woke up early. i woke up early not because i wasn’t tired, but because i was so tired that i went to bed really early. and even that really early wasn’t as early as i could have climbed in my bed and closed my eyes, only to open them in the morning.

anyways, i woke up early, and even though there was a decent amount of work i hoped to get done, i took the morning to myself, to do my thing. i read my bible reading first – my favorite.

in that i read this:
“for whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.” (mark 8:35)

i read my bible, and although i usually journal immediately following, i didn’t. i wanted to write on that verse, but i hadn’t heard anything specific on it. and i wanted to hear. so i listened as i started laundry. i listened as i ate breakfast. i listened as i read a few chapters of another book i’ve been reading, love does.

it was nice to not watch the clock for a change. it was nice to have time to listen closely. it was nice to have time to wait. you see, maybe i was hoping to hear something in all of that that i didn’t hear upon my first reading of that verse. and well, let’s just say i was glad i did all of those other things before cracking open my journal to put ink to the page.

there’s a part in love does where bob (the author of the book is bob goff, and well, i think if you read a few pages of the book you would understand why i feel he wouldn’t mind at all that i just call him bob as if we are friends) is talking about the rich young ruler to whom Jesus says to get rid of everything and follow Him. bob says for people like us it’s not really about money or possessions, but that it’s about pride.

“He asks if we’ll give up that thing we’re so proud of, that thing we believe causes us to matter in the eyes of the world, and give it up to follow Him.”

the other day i was in the car with my friend kristin. we were talking about people who are so good at sports that they give up attending school. you know, those people who get homeschooled so they can devote more time to becoming great at that thing they’ve decided to be great at. i turned to kristin and told her i could never even begin to imagine that life, especially because school is the only thing i’ve ever been great at.

for whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.

while i was folding one of my loads of laundry i was thinking on that verse and what it means for me today. because it’s not about physical life. i’m still breathing. i still spend my days kicking and doing a decent amount of screaming. but maybe that verse is about the same kind of thing bob was talking about – the thing we believe causes us to matter. maybe it’s not about losing our actual life, maybe it’s about losing those things that we think make our life matter.

for me, i guess that “life” means doing well in school, being one of the best, the raw ambition, the dreams i hide under the dream i show the world of wanting to make it a better place.

am i willing to lose that thing that i think makes me matter in order to save myself? does holding onto it make me the kind of person that needs saving?

somewhere in the folding it hit me: i need Jesus. every hour i need Him. because as tight as my grip is, as much as it feels like those things cause me to matter, they just don’t matter at all in light of eternity.

and it’s like a friend said in a talk he gave recently – those things we chase after, those things we want to be a part of our life, those things like success and marriage and kids, those things are good – they just aren’t big enough.

i don’t want to settle on things too small. i don’t want to lose my life holding on to that thing that i thought caused my life to matter. because here’s something that actually matters:

“when we get our security from Christ, we no longer have to look for it in the world, and that’s a pretty good trade.”

today’s margin note: give it all away to follow Jesus. those things we think cause our life to matter aren’t worth losing our lives over. Jesus came so we don’t have to hold onto those things anymore. Jesus came so that one day we could stand in front of our Father in heaven not because of anything we did that we thought made our life matter, but so that we could stand and hear Him say, as tears roll down our cheeks, that we matter to Him.

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Spirit lead me

last week i had 24 of the most exciting hours in my time following Jesus. on this side of it i see such richness. in 24 hours my walk with Jesus changed. at the start – one degree of glory. at the end – another.

on monday i got accepted to the summer fellowship of my dreams. i got accepted and i was so excited. and i can still so vividly see the slow motion version of my friend rounding the corner at school and running down the hallway to hug me. she got accepted too.

the feeling still hadn’t set in when i got a phone call. i didn’t know that phone call would change my life. looking back now, however, the change is undeniable. i got a phone call that told me i had two options for my internship placement as part of this fellowship. did i want to be considered to work for my dream nonprofit (it was the kind of of nonprofit that i wouldn’t even apply to because i would never think i’d get accepted) in india, a country potentially on my top 10 list of places i would never want to visit? or did i want to work for a lesser nonprofit, doing similar work, in my dream city, working directly under a really incredible woman?

you have 24 hours to decide.

it seems silly now all the turmoil i felt about it. it seems silly now, but the turmoil was real. tumultuous. a whirlwind kind of feeling.

you see, the week before i stood in the shower and prayed. i prayed that God would give me a win because i needed one. i prayed that win would show up in the form of me getting accepted to this fellowship. and when monday rolled around i got to experience God do what He so often does – give me more than i could ever ask for or imagine. He gave me two wins, and i just had to pick which one i wanted.

so i got off the phone. the clock started ticking down. 23 hours 59 minutes. 23 hours 58 minutes. 23 hours 57 minutes. i texted my roommate and told her i needed her. she assured me she would be home as soon as she could. then i sent out some text messages to my people requesting prayer. i was pacing around the living room. at some point i started crying due to the overwhelm. then were two phone calls. one with my friend who worked for that dream nonprofit that was one of my options. she urged me to go for the adventure. then with another friend of mine who is my go to for wisdom. she left me with this verse:

“teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”

i clung tightly to those words in that verse. because the other words, all the other words i would get from my friends, would be opinions. i needed truth. i needed the Word. i needed to hear God speak. i needed that to be what guided my choice.

my roommate came home. i was on the phone when she came in so she waited. and we talked while she made dinner. and then she pulled up a chair across from me at the counter. it’s what she calls our favorite thinking place. we talked. and we were quiet. and she told me what she would do. and when the conversation was over, she stayed. she didn’t get up and go to her room. she brought her work out to the kitchen. and she stayed. i guess she knew i needed her presence as much as i needed her thoughts.

at one point i was too exhausted to go on. so i hopped in the shower. i wanted God to meet me there in the quiet and the rush of the water. and this is what i felt He was telling me there:

“megan, if you want to go to india, go. I have opened the door for you, walk through it. but, if you don’t, that’s okay too. because I know you will love spending your summer in DC.” 

it’s crazy really that God loves me so very much. there wasn’t a wrong decision here. it was really just one of those love God and do what you want moments. the problem was, i didn’t know what i wanted.

the evening came to a close, and the morning came quickly. i felt so very much. every time i would commit to one of the options in my mind i would immediately want the other. i wasn’t sure how i would ever pick. 10 hours 39 minutes. 10 hours 38 minutes. 10 hours 37 minutes.

after a phone call with someone who went to india the year before i felt the urge for adventure. i felt the urge to go to a place i never would have imagined i would ever go. i felt that kind of thing could only come from God. but there was one thing keeping me from resting in that decision.

her name is marie. she’s mentored me for almost four years now. and during those four years she has walked with me through every decision i’ve had to make. she’s met me in each with comfort and love and wisdom. and with each she has trusted God with me and whatever was on the other side of the choice. she knows me better than anyone, and as a result, i trust her most when it comes to things like this.

we had ten minutes between a meeting and our next classes. and in those ten minutes i got to experience in a very real way the love that Jesus has for His disciples. she talked gracefully through my weaknesses and why that gives her hesitation in telling me to go to india. and she talked beautifully of the way God can be trusted anyway. she talked about how God’s strength is made perfect in weakness, and maybe in light of that this whole india thing could be a good thing after all. if nothing else, i would grow. and well, marie and i are big fans of growing.

it didn’t really hit me in those 10 minutes the significance of that conversation. but the thing is i have been studying the book of john this year. and recently i was reading about how troubled Jesus was before His crucifixion. i can’t help but think part of that was because He knew what His death would do to His disciples. they would be crushed. they would doubt. they would grieve in ways they had never experienced. it would be a dark few days until Jesus walked back out of that tomb. and well, Jesus just loved them so very, very much.

i felt something like that in those minutes spent with marie. like she was troubled for what india could mean for me. for the ways i could feel really lonely in a place where i would know no one. for the ways experiencing the culture and the reality of the third world could overwhelm my heart that God has so crafted to feel more than the average person. for the ways that i’d be over there and marie wouldn’t be able to walk with me through it the way that she has walked with me through the past four years.

and then she looked at me and told me to go to india.
in a way she said something like i trust God with you.

it’s a special thing to be loved by her like that. and it’s a special thing to be loved by God like that. honestly, it’s overwhelming.

4 hours and 13 minutes. 4 hour and 12 minutes. 4 hours and 11 minutes. and the decision was made. india. when the lady called back i’d tell her that i wanted to be considered for the india internship. it was a freeing feeling. it was an adventuresome feeling. it was a feeling like i had arrived at a place i never knew i could get to…

i would follow God anywhere.
Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders…

the funny thing is that she never called. 3 minutes. 2 minutes. 1 minute. the phone never rang. and in light of that i knew those 24 hours were something God planned just for me. those 24 hours weren’t for anyone else. they weren’t about some deadline that had to be met. they were special just for me. we eventually talked on the phone the next day. she told me the next step was to interview with the nonprofit, my dream nonprofit. and i don’t even know if i will even go to india.

but i’m different now because of all of that. i’m better now. my trust is more sturdy now. my faith is bigger now because of that. and i just want to live all my days like that. at the cost of pacing and tears and long, hard conversations. i want to live all my days relying on God. and i want to live all my days willing to follow Jesus wherever He may call me.

today’s margin note: when you sing the words “Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders” mean it. and when God gives you the chance to follow Him like that, do it. you will be better because of it.

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two things

a little over a month ago, at the turning of the new year, i had this realization. i had this realization that there were two things i wanted to say more often. i wanted to say them more often, and i wanted to be quicker to say them.

i love you
i’m sorry.

i wonder now why those two things take courage to say. i mean even as i’m writing this i am listening to a song that says the following:

three words that became hard to say
i and love and you

some how, by the end of last semester, those three words got hard for me to say too. what a tragedy that kind of thing is. maybe it got hard to even figure out what love is. between a divorce in the family and relational conflicts left and right i just started to wonder why we ever say it if we don’t mean it. maybe i didn’t want to say it if i didn’t even know what the word meant. and maybe i didn’t want to say it if i wasn’t sure that the other person would say it back and really mean it.

it’s hard to give those words and not get them back.

at about the time i was having this realization that those words became hard to say, i felt God calling me to something that was going to be in complete opposition to that. i felt God calling me to love people unconditionally – love them even if they don’t feel the same, even if it might hurt me. i wrote about that conviction earlier, so read about it here if you want.

anyways, it’s been a hard thing living in light of that conviction let me tell you that. because there was this boy i really liked. and i had to hear him say some words that i pray i never hear again: “i can’t reciprocate those feelings.” and in that moment i had a choice. i could have gotten up from the table and walked away. i could have walked away because that hurt me. i could have walked away because that’d be easier for me in the long run. but i didn’t. i sat at that table with him and we kept talking. we talked about our semesters and our families. i helped him with a talk he is giving next week, and he helped me smile when i didn’t feel a whole lot like doing it. by the end of it i was glad i stayed, but that’s not to say it wasn’t still really hard.

in that moment i had a choice, and i chose to love unconditionally. i chose to love even though he didn’t have any other feelings for me. i chose to love even though it hurt in that moment hearing those words he spoke to me.

and you know what, on this side of it all, i think i have a richer understanding of the gospel because of it. like to adequately understand what happened on the cross you have to understand what it feels like to love someone who doesn’t feel the same. and i see now one of the reasons God called me to love people unconditionally. because it makes me see more of Him. and it makes me treasure Him more and more. and i guess i just have to say thank You for that.

now, every night before we go to bed me and my roommate exchange those three words. it’s weird because we never really said it before. what a shame that i’ve loved her all this time and just now is she hearing it on a regular basis. and i’ve got this other friend who isn’t too keen on emotional things, and i told her last night that i loved her before i went to bed. i knew she wouldn’t say it back, but i needed her to hear it from me. because what a shame if i loved her all this time and she never heard it from me on a regular basis.

because there’s something about the words.

words. i could really go on a rant right now about words. but i won’t. instead, i’ll transition to those other words that i felt like i wanted to say more often, that i wanted to be more quick to say: i’m sorry.

it’s hard for me to admit that i’m wrong. yet i learn more and more how often i am when God so gently lets me know as He is always faithful to do. last semester i was wrong a lot. i was wrong in my actions towards others. and as much as it pains me to say, i was wrong in the words that i spoke to others. and maybe what i was the most wrong about is not saying i’m sorry enough. and maybe it’s how hard it is to admit we are wrong that makes those words so powerful.

i’ll end with this because i don’t really know where i am going with all of this. a friend from class sent me this video the other day. it’s one of those kid president things and there’s this part of me that really struck me. it’s amazing the way kids see things that we as adults are so quick to miss. anyways, he said this:

“just treat everybody like it’s their birthday, even if they don’t deserve it. because we all mess up sometimes. the biggest mess up – not forgiving each other’s mess ups.” 

today’s margin note: words matter. say the right ones at the right time. and always, always say i love you if you do. and always, always say i’m sorry if you are. say those things often. and please, please mean it when you say them.

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when the fog lifts

i got in my car to drive to school this morning. it’s foggy out there. so i sat for a few moments just watching the fog float around the way that only fog does. it didn’t take me long to realize i should probably turn my lights on. and it was about half way to school that i started thinking about my roommate. she left about 30 minutes before me on foot. she was going for a morning run. i felt myself praying for her safety without really even meaning to. it’s just that with the lack of visibility i worried about a car not seeing her or something. maybe it’s just that i care a whole lot about her. so i prayed and then i thought on that fog the whole way to school.

you see, there’s a certain risk that comes when you can’t see what’s in front of you.

i feel like i’m in a bit of a foggy season now that i start really thinking about it. like i can only see what’s right in front of me. but i so badly want to see what’s down the road a little further. there’s a couple things i really want to be down that road when the fog lifts. like for instance this opportunity i applied to this summer. each day that passes makes me want it more and more. and yet only one in three are going to get it. and then there’s this position in this organization that i’m involved with at school. and that whole thing is just really up in the air.

you see, there’s a certain risk that comes when you can’t see what’s in front of you.
you just might get hurt. you just might be really disappointed.

i wonder now whether it’s worse to get through the fog and find something you never wanted to be there, or if it’s worse to get to get through the fog and not find any of the things you really wanted to be there. the unseen. the mystery. the risk. it all gets me thinking about this part of this verse in the bible. “now hope that is seen is not hope.” (romans 8:24)

i read this blog once about hope. it was about how much hope is appropriate. like, is it possible to hope too much? do we simply hope too little? and there’s this part of it that i could never seem to shake.

“there is no appropriate amount of hope, because hope is inappropriate. when you consider everything, hope is not suitable or proper. it makes no sense, in this world. therein lies its difficulty and its power: that it is so much less convenient than despair.”

and isn’t that the thing about this foggy season that i’m in? it requires hope. because i can’t see, i am left without any other choice. so hope it is. hope with the risk of getting hurt or disappointed or worse when the fog lifts.

but isn’t it better to adventure into the fog, into that risk, than to stay inside out of fear?

as i was rounding the corner about to turn into school i saw my roommate running. she waved and i waved. and now i’m smiling at the thought of it. because she’s still safe. she took a risk heading out into the fog this morning, but she is okay. and knowing my roommate her day will be better for having adventured out into the fog this morning. because she loves those morning runs.

so i’m smiling in part because she’s safe. and i’m smiling in part because i know that i will be too. i don’t know what’s on the other side of the fog. i’m not promised that when the fog lifts there won’t be things there that i didn’t want to be there. and i’m not promised that when the fog lifts there will be any of those things that my heart so desperately wants to be there.

but i’m going to adventure out into it anyway because…

today’s margin note: it is always, always better to have adventured in hope than to stay at home out of fear. take the risk. hope in what is unseen, because that’s the only kind of hope there is.

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i love windows so i took the table closest to the biggest one in the place. i put my headphones in to drown out the voices around me. this is my way of getting alone in a crowded place. us introverts are real good at that. so i got lost looking out at the cars passing me by, and i got lost looking in at all i felt this morning.

i woke up with a heavy heart, one carrying all this anxiety i’ve been borrowing from the future. it’s like i’m at the start of a long tunnel full of unknown but i don’t have to go in yet. i’m safe here now. but i’m not even enjoying the freedom of the here and now. i guess that’s why i stayed in bed for those two extra hours. i guess that’s why i watched an episode of one of my favorite shows before making my way to this table at this coffee shop.

but i’m here now. so i moved my gaze from the window and checked my phone. i had a text from my friend carly that made me smile. this time i was borrowing excitement because it said Jeremiah 17:5-8 and i just knew it would be good. i knew it would be good because i’ve felt God moving in the texts exchanged between us recently.

we used to just joke and laugh and keep things shallow and safe. i liked those conversations and the safety of the walls between us, but i guess it just started to feel like we were selling community a little short. like what if our friendship went from something like laughing when the other person trips and falls to getting on the ground right there with her and helping her up. as much as i love the laughter, i think i’d like that a little better.

so i got my bible out of my bag, and after a quick read of those four verses i got lost in the book before me on the table and good conversation.

“blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD,
whose trust is the LORD.
he is like a tree planted by water,
that sends out its roots by the stream,
and does not fear when heat comes,
for its leaves remain green,
and is not anxious in the year of drought,
for it does not cease to bear fruit.”

we talked of the overwhelming truths about us if we trust in the Lord. we talked about how we don’t have to fear or be anxious no matter what. we talked about how it is good to be near God. we talked about how we don’t just get by when things get rough, but we can thrive.

she said, “it may be dry and hot. but the water is enough.”
we talked about how God is enough.

today’s margin note: we’ve got to dig our roots down deep. and we’ve got to dig our roots down deep in the right place. we’ve got to plant ourselves near the source of life. and i think it all the better to do the hard digging alongside some good friends.

i looked back out the window and saw it was raining, hard. i didn’t even notice it before between the verses and the texts and the music. i guess it’s safe to say there’s no drought here now, but one may be coming. and it’s the sweetest thing to know that no matter what lies ahead i don’t have to fear and i don’t have to be anxious. i can march down that tunnel with the quiet nobility of trusting in God.

carly said she could get used to morning conversations like this. i could too.

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