Tag Archives: Jesus

fear and flying

Dearest one,

It’s a rare day when I genuinely feel like I have some thoughts worth offering, thoughts that might be worth adding to the noise of your already crowded mind. But today, the stars align and the words just keep falling out of my mouth, and I feel like maybe I do. 

You think me this brilliant, amazing creature. And I love that you see that in me. But here’s the truth, a truth that’s not far from your own.

I can’t get myself to commit to a practice of writing every day. 

The reason I can’t get myself to commit to a practice of writing every day isn’t because I don’t have things to say. I do. It isn’t because I don’t have a decent command over the English language. I do.

The reason I can’t get myself to commit to a practice of writing every day is because in my mind, I’m already thinking about writing a book. And none of my thoughts are connected enough for that. I have so many thoughts about a million different things, but I don’t have enough thoughts about ONE thing to justify writing a book.

And so I don’t write. Because I’m so busy thinking about the end product that I am paralyzed. I feel like none of it matters until I know exactly what it’s going to look like in the end. I feel like none of it matters until I have a plan. Until I can nail down what it’s going to look like. Until I feel safe and secure and like its all something I can control.

I am a walking, talking definition of missing the beauty of the forest because I can’t see past the trees.

And so it is with you. 

See, for all the credit you give me and all the shame you so effortlessly give yourself, you and I are not that different. Not at all. Steps without an endgame feel pointless to you. And I know that feeling. They feel pointless to me, too. But the thing I’ve been thinking about today is how there is no endgame until you take steps. If I don’t start taking some steps without knowing where I’m going, the endgame is RIGHT HERE. This is it. The endgame is me, sitting around and wanting to say something worth hearing, but not saying anything because I want a roadmap first. If I don’t start taking some steps, I will still be this person in forty years, only with a whole lot more regret and a lot more untold stories and a lot more unlived life.

And so it is with you.

I remember his words to you one day, months ago, about how the greatest enemy of the next step is the fear of what’s across the room.

You and I, dearest one. We are one and the same. We are both so focused on what may or may not be across the room that were frozen in place. Stuck. Afraid to take a step for fear that it might be the wrong one.

But grace, man. Of all the things I’m unsure of, and there are many, Grace doesn’t make the list. Not even close. Grace may, in fact, be the one thing I know like I know my own name. Mostly because of the frequency with which I’ve had nothing else to fall on.

I believe that our steps will be messy, and some of them will be the wrong ones, because we are nothing if not fully human and prone to being and creating disasters. But I also believe they’re all important, every last one of the steps. All necessary. All growth. All Grace.

Some of my biggest missteps have turned out to be my biggest graces.

And so it is with you.

And so it will be.

Breathe. Crawl. Step. Leap, even. Jump off a cliff knowing that your wings get built while you fly. Growth and movement and purpose doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Doesn’t happen at a standstill. It only happens in midair. In discomfort. In dirty soil. 

All you can do is this one moment. You can’t handle the overwhelm of a lifetime, all at once. All you can do is this one moment. One moment that looks like crawling, but is really more like flying, when you’ve spent all this time standing still, rooted to your fear. 

Fly, mine. Don’t stand rooted to your fear. There is nothing worth fearing more than that.

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words are sharp and shiny things

Words are sharp and shiny things, and I am good with them. I always have been. I can twist and shape them into whatever form I wish. I can take you places and bring you back; I can make you feel things and ask questions and draw pictures and crave adventures.

Words are sharp and shiny things, and I am good with them. But I have learned to wield them reverently. I’m good with words in the same way I would imagine a sniper is good with his rifle, holding it with a healthy dose of both adrenaline and fear, because he knows that what he holds has the power to decimate anyone in its path.

Words are sharp and shiny things, and I am good with them. I am also terribly afraid of them. Because I know my words, the words close enough to my chest to be called mine. They aren’t easy ones, to write or to hear. They might be packaged neatly, but there is no resolution. I won’t ever give you a conclusion, and the loose ends don’t sit comfortably.

Because the words close enough to my chest to be called mine aren’t even completely mine. They are mine, but they’re also the words of at least five different people, from five separate conversations that have taken place in the past month. They’re also the words that I haven’t heard, but have seen in the eyes of more people than I can count. Words that don’t get a voice because they’re terrifying, and they can plunge a person into a rabbit hole that may cost more than they’re ready to pay.

If the North American church is a true reflection of who God is…

It feels a little bit like God doesn’t have space for messy people, for broken people, for lamenting people.

It feels a little bit like all God wants to hear when He asks how I am is “Great! How are you?” And then for me to be on my way.

It feels a little bit like God doesn’t want my love and affection as much as He does my blind and unquestioning acceptance.

It feels a little bit like I need to be successful and happy to belong to God. 

It feels a little bit like issues of race and poverty and slavery and gender and sexuality only matter to God so far as they can be dealt with as “issues” rather than dealing with the messiness of the real, vulnerable people behind the issues.

If the North American church is a true reflection of who God is…

…then I’m afraid that God maybe wants nothing to do with me. And I’m not positive I want anything to do with Him.

And if all of that isn’t true, if it’s my perception that’s flawed…

Who IS God? And what does He care about? And where do I find Him? And how do I reflect Him? What is my responsibility in this? How do I love like Jesus does, in real life and real time?

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terrifying and true

31 days of WTHKW

There are days when I hold words close to my chest. Because words are wild and powerful, and sometimes I just have to wield them quietly, carefully, reverently. As though they’re capable of most anything.

And they are. Don’t ever underestimate the way that words are capable of most anything.

These past couple of days, words feel like that. I keep writing them, but in the way that I always write the things that feel most sacred. On paper, with my own hand, in the quiet of the morning. Sometimes I think that’s the space my best words were created for. I don’t kill my darlings. I don’t have the heart. But I shelter them, and I hold them close to my chest.

And sometimes I don’t know why.

On my better days, I believe it’s because I’m aware. Aware of myself, aware of my tendency to need people to approve, to need feedback on my own soul in order to feel validated. Aware of how easy it is for me to put myself out there to people and let those people affirm me, rather than God Himself.

Some days I think I hold my dearest thoughts in private places because for once in my life, I want to express my own thoughts without worrying about what anyone things about them.

And on my not-so-much-better days, I believe it’s because I’m afraid.

I’m afraid of myself sometimes.

I said it last week, out loud for the first time, that sometimes one of my major disconnects with the church these days is that sometimes when I speak about things that actually matter to me, one of the most common reactions I get is something that closely resembles fear. Is it okay to say that? Sometimes I worry that people, particularly good God-fearing church people, are a little bit afraid of me. That I’m just too much. I have All of the Big Thoughts and All of the Big Feelings and my brain wades into All of the Grey Areas. Literally nothing is off limits to my questions.

And sometimes I think that’s terrifying to people. I know beyond the shadow of any doubt that it’s terrifying to me. And so I find myself holding on to those parts of me.

The parts of me that I would define as the most difficult…but also the parts of me that I would define, without hesitation, as the most lovely. The most genuine. The most true.

The most me.

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in which themes really aren’t my thing

Every October, they pop up. The lovely 31-dayers, with their beautiful words and their respectable consistency, and I think of joining them. Every year, I want to put a few small words out there, give them wings to take up residence beside the words of the ones I would consider great writers.

But every year, I get stuck on the same thing. The whole idea of a theme. I’ve never been very good with themes. Too many things are too terribly interesting and important to me. Which sometimes feels like a lack of focus, mostly because sometimes it is.

This year is more of the same. I’ve tossed around at least ten different themes in the past couple of weeks, and they all hit the walls of my soul and slide off. Nothing sticks, nothing clings to my insides, my ribcage.

But oh, how I want to write these days. I feel all of the things inside of me, scratching and clawing to get out. And if the only thing stopping me from challenging myself to write every day for a month straight is the lack of a theme…well, that’s just silly.

So I, personally, am considering my theme “31 Days of who-the-hell-knows-what.”

It’s slightly less poetic than “31 Days to Listen” or “31 Days to Dream” or “31 Coffee Dates in 31 Days.”

Slightly less poetic, but far more true to where and who I am in this moment.

Because too many things are rattling around these days to pick just one. Maybe that’s why I need to write so much these days. Maybe that’s why I spent half my drive to work yesterday teary-eyed because I just wanted the space to crawl into a quiet part of my soul and put the rest, the part that’s not at all quiet, on paper.

Too many things are too important and too heavy and too possible and too never-gonna-happen and too unknown.

Too much of life is who-the-hell-knows-what.

And so I will write from there, from that place.

It may not be pretty, but it will be honest. And I’m sure it will look a little like healing, in that way that only the ugly, honest things can be.

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to be your girl

Dear my love,

It’s in my chest on all of the days, but I am so beautifully aware of it on this one. And on the days when it’s so close to the surface that it threatens to break my heart wide open, I realize that I don’t tell you enough. That in some inconceivable way, my heart knew yours from the beginning, knew that you were the one I wanted to belong to, that you were the person I would always want to follow anywhere.

I knew it small in the beginning, and today I know it in a way that has depth and breadth, but not as much depth and breadth as in another five years, and five after that.

I am so very proud to be your girl. And I am so very humbled to be your girl.

I spent the first twenty-three years of my life surrounded by an army of people praying that I would find a good man, a spiritual leader, a man who would lead me and our family toward God in all the seasons of life. And I thought for so many years that I had a solid grasp on what that would look like. It would look like initiating family devotions and holding my hand every night to pray together and making sure we were in church every Sunday. It would look like Christian music on road trips, like small group Bible studies in our home. It would look loud and public and like leadership.

And it’s not that. It’s not any of that.

But all those people who spent all that time praying? God knows they got far more than they bargained for.

Because you, my love, practice love in the most unexpected places.

You practice love that is quiet and genuine and selfless. You practice love in no particular spotlight. You practice love when it costs you your pride and all the things you’d silently hoped for. You practice love when it is beyond reason. You practice love when it is not in your best interest.

I can think of no better spiritual leadership than that of a man who quietly goes about the work of practicing love everywhere he goes.

I sit back and watch it every single day.

Watching you love recklessly and without regard to yourself–it opens up the wild place God put in my chest on purpose, the wild place from which I live fully alive. The wild place from which I love all the wrong people, or all the right people, depending on how you look at it. The wild place that feels the most like Jesus in me.

You give that wild place wings by being exactly who you are. You remind me who I am with your quiet ways of doing Love. You remind me of my Creator, my purpose, my place in the Kingdom-come-and-Kingdom-coming-ness of life.

It isn’t Chris Tomlin and Max Lucado, that’s for sure. Bless it. But I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it with the last breath in my lungs.

I can think of no better spiritual leadership than that of a man who quietly goes about the work of practicing love everywhere he goes.

Thank you, today and all of the days, for being the kind of man I would fearlessly follow anywhere.

Always, Audie

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because she belongs to me

Plz dont hate me. Plz, plz dont hate me.

I think I already knew what she was going to say, and my heart fractured on two faultlines. On the words that hadn’t quite yet fallen of her mouth yet, and on this sweet heart that, in fourteen short years, had already come to know that love far too often comes with strings attached, with terms and conditions and expected behaviors.

I promised her with all the honesty in all of the fibers of my being that literally nothing she could say would make me hate her, or even make me love her the tiniest bit less. And then I waited out the silence.

I might be pregnant. He didnt use a condom and he didnt pull out. He told me he would but he didnt.

And there just aren’t words in the English language sufficient for the kind of prayers you desperately long to whisper in a moment like that. A moment like that is why Paul wrote about a God who prays prayers for us, who utters groanings too deep for words.

God Almighty, these are groanings too deep for words.

And she cried and I cried and she spilled the fear that her mama would kick her out of the house. That she, with her dead daddy and addicted mama, couldn’t raise a kid on her own. That she was alone and damaged and broken beyond repair and that she didn’t even have anyone to take her to the clinic one time for an abortion, let alone to the doctor for nine months straight. No adult support system, no job, no car, no childcare. No life to offer a baby.

I am a capable wordsmith, and I have all of the feelings and none of the language for this one. All of the feelings and none of the language for that moment when I’m fully prepared to get in my car, close the distance between me and the child who just grew up in an instance, press my fair-skinned cheek to her dark-skinned forehead, and tell her “You will never raise your baby alone, because I. Am. Here. You will know darkness and hurt and regret and fear, but you will not for one second know those things alone. I will drive you to your appointments, I will hold your hand in labor, I will make space in my house, I will walk the floor with your kid while your head is bent over your calculus homework at midnight. Joshua will teach your kid how to ride a bike, and if it’s a girl, you’d best believe he will make sure every boy her age within a 50 mile radius knows his name and that he takes full advantage of his constitutional right to bear arms. He will walk her down the aisle after he’s spent years teaching her by example how a man treats a woman. We will walk with you through this. You, my precious love, are not alone. Now or ever.”

This is my story. This is my fire. This is my conviction, that I am here to bind up the brokenhearted. To actually, in real life, hold their broken pieces together. To literally, practically patch up their wounds and pursue healing with them, alongside them.

Can you imagine? I think about this all the time, about what the world would be like if the church stopped being known for its attempts to legislate morality and started being known for all the times she’s shown up on the doorstep, ready to do whatever messy work needs to be done. What if we actually started living as though we belong to each other? Because genuinely, I believe we do. Despite all the voices telling me that this sweet baby girl isn’t my responsibility.

Because isn’t she?

I cannot for the life of me shaking the feeling that it’s the only way. I want to, I want to shake that feeling. I am a messy ball of humanity, and it is my first inclination to orient my life around my own stuff, my own preferences, my own life, my own comfort.

But does that mean it’s the way of Jesus? Has it ever been the way of Jesus to just leave us where we are and hope from a distance that we can pick ourselves up by our bootstraps and fix the mess we’re in? I can’t rationalize holding that philsophy in one hand and the theology of the cross in the other.

What if we make it our responsibility to live like we belong to each other? What if we pray first and foremost for a fire in our veins, for a love that doesn’t allow us to see any other road but showing up for each other, messy and imperfect but with open hands?

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on rest that recharges and restores

On Sunday, in a quiet elementary school cafetorium, Travis nudged us to think about this summer. To question what rest, actual rest, looks like for us. Not unwinding, but real rest, the kind that recharges and restores.

Since I’m a person who needs to unpack things one step at a time, a big part of figuring out what rest is for me is figuring out what rest is not. Surprisingly, in a way that’s not actually surprising at all, most of the things that I know are NOT rest for me are things I do constantly and try to pass them off as rest.

Rest is not marathoning TV shows or movies. I get into this habit all the time, because it is just so very easy and mindless. It always feels good while it’s happening, but afterward, I don’t feel recharged or better. I either feel exactly the same or worse, as though I’m wasting large chunks of my life on something that has literally no value to me, which I am. Let’s call it what it is.

Rest is not consistent screen-time. And I don’t ever really feel that until I feel it, and by the time I feel it, I feel it heavy. There is little to no transition time between “I’m fine” and “I am FREAKING OUT” on this one. I’m trying to learn my internal cues on this one, the small reactions that lead up to the big meltdown, because I know they exist. Sometimes it just feels as though over time, staring at a screen numbs me down until I’m not even aware of my own thoughts or feelings until they’re huge. Until the very sound of my text message tone makes me cringe and consider throwing my iPhone out the nearest two-story window.

Rest is not going and going and going. It is not constant doing, constant plans, constant activity. Rest is not chaos. I remember days when that worked, when that felt right, when it didn’t feel exhausting. But these days are not those, this much I know. I am a girl who used to seek the chaos, but has come to love the quiet, and to find herself there.

Rest also is not full days without people and interction. I need short stretches of alone time often, but too long and I get fidgety and weird. And not in a good way. I thrive on community and conversation and laughter and stories and shared memories.

Rest isn’t any of those extremes for me. The older I get, the more I understand that rest, for me, often doesn’t feel like “rest” in the moment. Especially at first. Most often, the things that recharge me actually feels like work in the beginning. I have to talk myself into them, to remind myself that life and breath are found in them.

Rest, for me, requires the space and quiet to think my thoughts without throwing any more of them into the mix. It hinges next on the output of information, spoken or written. I sometimes feel as though I’m always taking in information. Input, input, input. Although input isn’t a bad thing, my brain isn’t one that naturally releases information. It’s like it just hangs out in my brain until I consciously drag it out. I remember conversations, books, blogs, quotes, moments. It all sticks around, it all feels valuable. And sometimes my head is just so very full. Like lungs that only ever breathe in, only ever expand, only every fill up.

I am only just learning how to exhale, or even that I need to. I am only just learning that breathing out comes in seasons, like the rest of life. Seasons of solitude, seasons of community, seasons of quiet, seasons of letting the words fall out. I am only just learning how to let the seasons come and go as they may, without grasping at their coming and going.

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