bravery to feel sad

No one really talks about the bravery and strength required to be sad. Probably because we feel ashamed of tears and we’ve been taught to carry on and hurry-away from all the “negative” emotions. 

A few months ago, tired of the same emotions surprising me in my heart, I purposed to process, write, and let myself cry if need be. I told a friend that I gave myself an evening to just feel the sad feelings that I knew were there and she said, “Feeling things sucks, and I am so glad that you always choose the hard and brave way.” 

Sometimes the best thing a friend can do is walk you through the appropriate emotions for what you’re dealing with – not to hit you right away with a rallying cry to get back up on your feet, but instead to validate where you are, cry with you in your pain, then later encourage you onward to health and joy regardless of mountains or valleys.

Resilience doesn’t necessarily mean immediately getting back on our feet. Resilience is not hardness. Resilience is a perfect combination of strength and tenderness. Resilience does mean standing up.. after we’ve walked wisely through the valley and summoned the strength and bravery to feel our hearts break. 

If we aren’t truly feeling grief, anger, heartbreak, joy, and gladness at their appropriate times, we aren’t truly identifying the bad in life as bad and the good in life as good. Call bad bad and good good. Be brave. Be sad when you need to.

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We are rich

It struck us — our aliveness, the grand adventure and our small part in it.

“We are so rich,” I said, somewhere between a whisper and a declaration.

Sitting down for lunch in Caceres, the soft spring sun sifting through the leafy roof above, my toes tapping a rhythm in my warm shoes. I listened to the birds and the humans nearby, chattering and singing, and heard our own conversation, full of kindness, truth, and laughter. The privilege of making hard decisions, the richness of loving even if it means heartache. People who care with their good questions and their arms that hold.

I bent my neck to see the flowers painted on a stunning blue background — real life artwork that waves in the breeze. We filled our bellies with food and our minds with words.

We are so rich. You mean I get Jesus Christ AND all this too?

La imagen puede contener: 1 persona, sonriendo, cielo, planta, árbol, exterior y naturaleza

Reading is like listening

“Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing.” – Scout Finch

Reading is like sitting down to listen intently with no intention of immediately responding or contradicting or giving our opinion.

We hear no audible voices but we take part in stories, we listen to opinions, and we learn about experiences. And we grow because we listen, taste, digest, and process what we’ve heard.

In reading we listen to someone, to something that we have not heard before. We’ve largely lost that skill with the people we have in our lives.

What if we treated people more like books? What if we asked them to open their pages as we sit down to listen, without planning to reply, without planning to convince?

I would like to treat people more like books.

learn a language, they say

“Learn a foreign language,” they say. “It’ll be great,” they say.

What they don’t tell you is that it’s all well and cool until your foreign language becomes a bully and starts doing a number on your native tongue. What they don’t tell you is that you’ll question your sanity and your intelligence when you start forgetting words in your native language. Or that in acquiring a new language you’ll feel like you’re un-acquiring the only language you actually know (knew?) how to speak with 100% fluency.

Can’t put together a coherent sentence thanks to the lio of languages in your head? You’re not alone. There are at least two of us. And then there are the other super-humans who have mastered another language (or multiple!!) and somehow still manage to speak well.

But not to worry, learning a language really is worth the pena and if all else fails, there are always gestures.

be a cheerleader

How can I become an individual whose very presence whispers worth to others?

Has someone ever made you realize that they believe in you much more than you believe in yourself? It exposes a lot of insecurity and self-doubt when you realize how much someone else believes you to be capable of.. Suddenly you realize they think you can, they think you’re worthy, they think you’re capable, they think you’ve got it. And you just don’t think so.

Truly believing in someone allows for failure. It says, “I am behind you, and I think you can do this. But because I care for you most of all, I will still be for you and be your cheerleader even if you feel as though you’ve failed.” I’m not sure what that looks like practically, but I want to figure out how to embody being cheerleaders and fans of other people.

“I believe in you.” Say it, show it, let them dream things up and then help them find the path. Show her what she’s capable of. Tell him he should try this thing, that he has a right to be here, to occupy this space. See in people what they cannot see in themselves, then draw it out, identify it, show it to them until they believe it themselves.

Be someone’s biggest fan in life.

Names have power

“Names have power, like magic spells. And all of a sudden it seemed to her that her stepmother and stepsisters had indeed transformed her into merely a creature of ash and toil.” – Cinderella

His tiny hand was raised in the air, waiting, itching to answer the question. I called him by name.

Considering I cross paths with over 600 students in any given month, learning names is basically an impossibility. Why then, I asked myself, did I know his name? His hand went down when he heard his name and another student whispered, “That’s so cool that Rebecca knows his name!”

I realized that I only knew his name because he’s one of the rowdy ones. One of the talkative, can’t-sit-still, doesn’t-do-his-work sort of children. And his name is frequently called because of that.

He answered my question perfectly, beaming from ear to ear, while I thought about NAMES.

I wondered what other names he had been given other than the one on his birth certificate. Annoying? Trouble? Lazy? And I thought how sad it would be if he thought those names were the truth about him.

We love to call things by a name. We give children names that they’ll keep for a lifetime, we give dogs names when we decide we want them to be ours. We give ourselves additional names that we think fit, like athlete or lazy or driven-student. And other people give us names that they think we need, like mom or worthless or friendly or weird or smart.

We undoubtedly end up living into those names, whether or not they are connected to our real identity.

We live into the expectations that come to us in the form of names.

Names mean something. It means something when someone calls out our name. It means something when someone gives us a name or when we take a name upon ourselves. We take on the nature of our names, because they have power.

It’s confusing when people are calling you all sorts of things, assuming you are something, expecting you to be something, making you into something you are not. Before you know it, if you’re not careful, all those expectations and names have worked their way into your identity.

We could assimilate those names people give us, and continue to give bad names away to other humans as if people are unbreakable. Or we could speak truth into our own souls and into the souls of others.

I can call out and remind myself and others of the true names – the true identity that I have in Christ.

But now, thus says the Lord, your Creator, O Jacob, and He who formed you, O Israel, “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine!” (Isaiah 43:1)

Lazy to do good.

Lazy to do good. That’s how I found my heart today. And that’s not me trying to put on some sort of false humility.

More than once on this Thursday I thought of it: a practical way to love someone, help someone, or even just brighten their day. And what I found in my heart was a laziness to do it. A resistance to do good to others for one simple reason: selfishness. I can’t even try to get around it. I was more concerned about what i wanted and what was more comfortable for me than what would bring joy and goodness to the people around me.

With the gospel, with a God who came to earth so we could be in relationship with him and have a new heart, these glimpses into my heart lead me not to self-hatred nor to a frantic frenzy to feel good about myself again.

One with Christ, I am secure in my identity and sure of God’s love, so there is no need to despair, no need to beat up on myself. But at the same time, there is no time to waste because as a daughter of God i have the highest of callings to do right — to be holy (1 Peter 1:16), to spill love all over, to be a servant, to give of myself for the good of others. There is no time to waste and i must go running to Jesus to give me a purity and goodness i can never manage on my own.

No self-shaming, no monumental effort, no to-do list or set of goals can change my heart in the way it needs to be changed. Instead, I can bring it every single day to Jesus who is so tender with my heart yet ever so powerful to change it.

“And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.” – Ezekiel 36:26