[broken]

time in Liberia always moves at its own, unique pace. i’ve been back for only two and a half days, yet somehow, it feels like a lifetime ago that i stepped off the plane into the humid night air, the heat that settles itself deep in your pores, on the shoulders like a heavy blanket. two and a half days. how can so many thoughts, so many emotions and experiences exist within the confines of 65 hours?

i’ve had one word running through my mind since i landed here, a word that i’ve been chewing on, deliberately, thinking about and mulling over and holding up to the light:: broken. broken? at first glance, it doesn’t make much sense. sure, when i first came to Liberia in 2008, i was broken. i’d just gone through a messy divorce, i’d lost a job and relationships, and everything i’d held secure had come crashing down around me, shattering into a million tiny pieces at my feet. the shell-shocked woman who first stepped foot on African soil five and a half years ago–she was undoubtedly broken. but i’m no longer that woman; everything’s changed since then.

and when i left Liberia in 2013 i was, again, broken–just in a different way. i had PTSD, and the depression i’ve battled for most of my life had reared its ugly head. i’d seen too much, felt too much:: the grief when children die too soon, the shame when i finally understood my white privilege, the anger when teen girls were raped by men in their twenties and no one did a thing about it. i left Liberia 14 months ago broken, most certainly, but in the time i had at home–i healed. mind, body, heart, and soul; all those fragmented pieces have been put back together again.

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                                           [Photo by Peter Kirkeskov / Flickr / Creative Commons]

and so thinking about all of this, i see that i have come to equate Liberia with brokenness–my own, mostly, that of my heart and something deep within me that used to feel as if it would never be whole again. over the years, Liberia had stretched me, drained me, broke me. the things i saw, those that my heart and mind could never really find the words for–they wore me out, wore me down.

but somewhere along the line, i started thinking: maybe it doesn’t have to be like this. maybe there’s a better way. maybe brokenness no longer has to mean what it used to. hannah brencher wrote, “your heart is supposed to be broken like bread and passed all around, not left in pieces on the floor.” and these days, i hold her words within me, delicately, for i can feel the truth in them, and it feels holy, somehow. i hold her words, and i can’t help but think of our Christ, who broke the bread to feed thousands–and it was in the breaking that it was mysteriously multiplied. and i think, too, of when he himself was broken, on behalf of us, for the sake of love; again, the breaking somehow gives way to more, something better, something full.

so i started thinking about all these things, and it came to me:: maybe i can do something with this brokenness. maybe it means that somehow, someway, now there’s suddenly more of my heart to go around. i can hug and hold and share and pray and love without it taking everything out of me. looking back, i think there was a time when i was supposed to suffer with; but perhaps now is the time to show what awaits on the other side. the thin places, they always stretch you, and the hard places, they’re full of grit and pain, but they don’t last forever; that much i know to be true.

maybe my brokenness was only meant for a season after all. yes, it was heavy, and it was painful, and the season seemed long, too long. but it served a purpose. and maybe, just maybe–now is the time for redemption. maybe now is the time to see Liberia through fresh eyes, through the lens of what it feels like to be living a better story. maybe i’ll always carry the burden, and maybe the hard things are always going to break me. but i do not have to remain broken. i don’t have to stay shattered.

i have a choice. i can use what’s been broken, and i can see something new be birthed from it. and that–well, that’s a really beautiful thing.

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count the cost

it seems no matter where i turn these days, i can’t get away from three little words:: “count the cost.”

it all started a couple weeks ago, after i read through the gospel of luke. in 14.25-33. Jesus speaks of building a tower and a king going to war, of carrying one’s cross and the act of sacrifice to follow after him. count the cost. 

since then, i’ve been wrestling with this passage, these hard but holy words, chewing on them deliberately, holding them up to the light. in just a few short months, i’ll be taking a trip, the first since the epic unraveling that led to me leaving the missions field. this trip, it’s a big deal for me, in so many ways. missions, Liberia, orphan care: these things, for me, are what following after Jesus looks like. getting my hands dirty and my heart broken–this is the stuff discipleship is made of. it’s grossly uncomfortable and nowhere near easy. count the cost.

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Photo by Harry Doyle // Creative Commons // Flickr

yes, i can confidently say i’ve counted the cost. i know what it takes. it’s giving up hot showers and consistent electricity. it’s sleepless nights tossing and turning under a mosquito net. it’s sweat gushing from my pores and feet that never get clean. it’s frequent headaches and an upset stomach and very little in the way of comforts. it’s sensory overload, which is overwhelming for someone like me. it’s being a source of constant scrutiny, of having my every move watched. it’s standing out when i just want to blend in. 

it’s kids who die too soon and no one who mourns them once they’re gone. it’s unfair systems, instability and oppression, and people who deserve so much more. it’s long, tedious days full of overwhelming needs; it’s constantly wondering if what i’m doing makes any difference at all. it’s guilt and shame as my white privilege stares me in the face.

it’s homesickness and loneliness and sometimes feeling like an ancient Israelite, banished to exile. it’s losing friendships due to time and distance. it’s once-promising relationships that don’t work out because i never stay in one place long enough. it’s the fear of being forever single. it’s coming “home” only to discover how different it feels and how i’m not even sure where “home” is anymore. it’s worrying that i don’t measure up to other women my age who seem to have achieved more than i. it’s saying goodbye to financial security; it’s living on faith and the generosity of others. it’s seeing things i’ll never find the words for, and feeling like no one else will ever understand me as a result.

count the cost.

still, even with all this, i can’t help but wonder. maybe following Jesus looks less like keeping with the status quo and more like “a long obedience in the same direction”. maybe it’s less of a ‘normal’ life and more of an upside-down kingdom. maybe it’s heart-wrenchingly hard. but i’m willing to bet it’s worth it.

because this–missions, life, faith, discipleship, struggle, tension, overcoming; it’s the stuff of Jesus’ heart. yes, it’s costly, and yes, the price is high. but me? i’m counting it all joy–for the sake of knowing and loving the One who paid it all anyway.

thrive

i was sitting on a blue couch in my counselor’s office when Truth walked into the room.

i’d just spent the last forty-five minutes pouring out my frustration, my sadness, my fear; how sometimes most of the time it feels like i have no idea what i’m doing with my life; and why does it seem like bad things always happen to good people?

i ended my teary rant with a question, though certainly not one i expected an answer to. “so what do i do now?” with the feelings and the circumstances, with the questions, the doubts. with the deadlines and the decisions to be made. with the pressure, the pain, the ache, the lack. what in the world am i supposed to do with it all?

and my counselor was quiet for a really long time, and i knew he was praying about what he should say. finally, he breathed deep and spoke, carefully, thinking about each word before he said it aloud.
for once in your life, elena, i want to see you fight.”

immediately, my defenses went up, and my insides churned hot, because are you kidding me right now? and did he really just say that? and  how. dare. he. see, if there’s one thing i’ve been doing since childhood, it’s been fighting. fighting to make it. fighting to keep going. fighting to pick up the pieces and hold my head high and put one foot in front of the other. i’m a fighter, all right. hell, i’m a survivor, and it’s something i pride myself on, and i had no problem refuting his answer by telling him so.

but that’s not the fighting he was talking about. no, this is different. because it’s one thing to fight to survive, but it’s something else entirely when you make the decision to fight to thrive. i know you know what i’m talking about. we are many, a group of weary soldiers, battle-scarred and heavy-hearted, trudging through the trenches of life. we war and we walk, and at the end of the day, we lay our heads on our pillows and cry, because there’s just gotta be more to life than this.

i see you, brave-heart. i see you. maybe you live most of your days feeling invisible, as if your sacrifice goes unnoticed. you’re not, and it doesn’t. you are seen. i can’t help but remember our sister Hagar, unwanted, left to die in a desert. she met with the divine that day, in the barren wasteland, and as she walked away from that encounter, her heart rejoiced. “she gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: ‘You are the God who sees me….’ 

i know you. i am you. you are courageous and strong, but oh, you’re also tired. life has been hard to you, perhaps unfair, even a bit unkind. it’s knocked you down, maybe even kicked you while you’re down; and it has hurt, and maybe your wounds are still bleeding even today. but i also know:: you’re a warrior. you’ve gotten back up, brushed yourself off, and kept on keeping on. this, you; it’s the stuff strength + hearts + guts + determination are made of. you’ve got it, dear one. and i applaud you for it today.

but i also want to tell you:: there is another way. it’s one of streams in that desert, blooms in the wilderness. it’s where we stop fighting and instead where we flourish. it’s where we lay down our swords and our shields, where we remove the armor; it’s where the gloves come off. it’s a place where we do more than just survive; it’s a place where we learn to be loved, where we learn to thrive.

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                               [Photo by Madlyinlovewithlife / Creative Commons / Flickr]

won’t you come and stay with me a while? rest. wash the dirt + grit from your soul and put your tired feet up for a bit. breathe deep. the air is sweet; gulp it in. the pastures are green, and the water still, and i promise you, soldier; i promise you:: you are safe here.

sara bareilles sings “i wanna see you be brave”, and though i love the sentiment, i’ve already seen that. in the way you get out of bed every morning even though sick kids and financial woes and marital problems kept you up late the night before. in the way you take the second or third job just to make the ends meet. in the way you kneel down in the mess of life and clench your fist and use the last bit of strength you have to pray to the God who seems to have forsaken you.

no, i don’t want to see you be brave. you need not prove your courage to me. i want more for you. i want to see you thrive.

be careful, little mouth, what you say

i recently read through the book of Job, one i tend to shy away from due to its weighty content. i mean, it’s heavy stuff, the book of Job–laments and suffering, the age-old question of ‘why do bad things happen to good people?’

this time, when i read it, there was one little verse, right near the end, that stood out to me. i’ve been wrestling with it ever since, mulling it over, holding it up to the light, trying to figure out why it hits me with such force::
After the LORD had said these things to Job, he said to Eliphaz the Temanite, “I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has” (Job 42:7)

here’s what i notice: God was angry, angry at three men who seemingly spoke truth. i mean, read back through the chapters; what they say to Job is right along the lines of what so many Christians say today. “suffering is God’s punishment for sin; repent and be saved!” we say these things because it seems and sounds like the correct answer, how a Christian should respond.

but God got angry–because they we have not spoken of him what was right.

ohmygoodness. how many times have i done the very same thing, spoken of things which i did not understand?

it saddens me, deeply, and ignites a fire within me at the same time. because honestly, i love the Church, messy and imperfect as we may be. and i think there are a lot of things we’re doing right, things that are beautiful and worthy, like sending out missionaries and caring for the poor and taking communion and 24/7 prayer and worship.

but i also think there are a lot of things we do that shouldn’t be done, things like judging and criticizing and being insensitive to others’ sufferings (even if they are “sinners”.) we’re quick to speak and slow to listen even when the scriptures clearly tell us to do the opposite. at times we hurt instead of heal with our words, and we talk about things that nobody really understands as if ours is the final say. we wield Bible verses as weapons without taking time to dissect the content. we act as if we’re God’s mouthpiece, which is all well and good except what if sometimes what we say is wrong, and we do more damage than good? what if what we’re speaking of God is not right?

do i believe that sin bears consequence and punishment is real? yes, i do. do i believe that true repentance must happen in the hearts of men so that they may be saved? yes, i do. and do i believe that we’re sometimes asked to call out the wrong that needs to be made right? yes, i do.
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                                          [Photo by Mustafa Khayat, Creative Commons]

but when we do so, we need to be careful that we’re speaking truth in love, that our conversation is seasoned with grace, and that our speech is pure. we must be careful to avoid “thus saith the Lord” when in all actuality, we’re not sure that is what the Lord is really saying. we must strive to speak of him what is right–and if we don’t know the answer, then it’s okay to admit that. there is humility and grace in swallowing our pride and choosing to say nothing at all.

…and i did not know it

i’ve never been very good at waiting.

maybe it’s the visionary in me, the one who sees the end before the beginning and doesn’t know how to get there. perhaps it’s because i’m an idealist, with an incredibly strong sense of how things should be in the world. or maybe it’s just because i’m human, messy flesh and a heart that beats and bleeds and feels, feels, feels it all, all at once, with intensity so fierce it can take my breath away.

and so i tend to struggle with the present, with the right here and right now, with digging my feet in and sucking the marrow from the moment. so often i know where i’m going, but i’m weary of the journey. i just want to arrive.

these days, i find myself living in the tension of the in-between. i read the scriptures and i remember the israelites, those who caught a glimpse of the promised land, of their canaan of plenty; of those who were eager to enter but instead found themselves caught in perpetual wandering, year after year in the desert that looked nothing like what they had hoped for.

like when i got news from liberia that janet was quite sick, had been for two weeks, and she didn’t want to take her medicine. and though a friend was there to care for her and bring her to see a doctor, i felt a twinge in my heart, a slight ache, a longing to draw her close and pray for her healing and urge her to accept the medicine that was only going to help, not hurt. i should be there; i want to be there. but i’m not. i’m here instead.

or when i daydream of my wedding day, of a white dress and a man of tender strength and vows under open skies, before a covenant-God. some days, the fairy tale seems so near, so close that my heart could reach out and grasp it. i should be there; i want to be there. but i’m not. i’m still waiting, still in the not yet, and it’s hard.

and i think again of those israelites, of a cloud and a pillar of fire, of water from a rock and manna, the mystery-sustenance from heaven. God inhabited even their wandering. how can i not think he inhabits mine also? here, now. in this place and in this moment. yes, the desert and the waiting and the wandering:: even this is sacred space; even this is holy ground. like scales falling from the eyes, cobwebs from the musty parts of my faith-laid-dormant, the truth seeps in. and i see, and i know.

“surely the Lord is in this place, and i did not know it.” [genesis 28.sixteen]Image
                                              (Photo by Lis Ferla, Creative Commons)

learning from the hard places

as i write this, i’ve been home from liberia for just a little over three weeks. i am finally getting to the stage where i feel like i’ve actually re-entered life here in the states; at first, though my physical body was present in pennsylvania–as weary, worn-down (and cold!) as it was–my thoughts and emotions were in the land of liberty, thousands of miles and an ocean away. it was like a weird sort of time lag; i guess my heart just needed some time to catch up with my body.

so now i’m here, i’m home, i’m fully present. and reality has set in. my entire life is starting over–again. my world for the past four years has been liberia, the kids, the problems, the burden. and now…well, what now? i have no idea what the future holds for me. part of is exhilarated, drunk on hope and imagining the possibilities. and the other part of me is straight-up terrified. what am i going to do? how am i going to get it together? i’m too old for this.

i’m in a hard place, an in-between place, a place full of more questions than answers, more struggle than victory, more faith than i knew i had in me. i’m broken and messy and shell-shocked. i’m scared, i’m frustrated, i’m confused. but i am also learning, difficult soul-lessons that can only be understood here, at this time, in this season:

one: more often than not, the hard places and the holy places are the same.
there’s a reason why Jesus said blessed are those who mourn, blessed are those who are poor in spirit. it’s because in the pain, in the lack, in the ache, he is there. he chose to enter this crazy-messy world as flesh and bone, as one who bled and got sick and had his heart broken. he chose the mess to be the place of his coming, and he’s doing the same thing today.

two: it is not our job to fix.
people are broken, and they are needy, and as the hands and feet of Christ, our hearts should ache for them and want to ease their pain. we are meant to be love with skin on, those who dress the wounds and kiss away the tears, who put our palms against the gaping heart-holes to stop the bleeding. we are made to show mercy, compassion, love. but we were never supposed to assume the role of savior. so often, we go above and beyond to try and fix other people’s problems instead of pointing them to the One who offers a perfect solution.

three: self-care does not equal selfishness.
typically, mainstream Christianity teaches us to put others’ needs above our own, citing scripture to prove that Jesus doesn’t want us to be concerned with ourselves. and i get it; i really do. i want to prefer others because i know that’s what he did. i want to serve instead of being served. i want a humble heart, pure motives, a life lived selflessly. but i do not believe Jesus wants his beloved to work themselves into the ground, to give without refilling, to wear down and burn out. a letter to his church reads “don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple?” as a holy dwelling, why should we not be intentional about making sure we are healthy and whole? it might mean getting that extra hour of sleep, or maybe another half hour of cardio at the gym. it may mean letting the tears fall instead of holding them in, or taking a vacation, or refusing to stay late at the office so you can eat dinner with your family around the table. it is not selfish to take care of yourself; after all, you don’t really have anything to offer those who need you if you are empty and dry.

four: community is important.
whether it’s friends or sisters, pastors or counselors, a cousin, a co-worker–we need these people in our lives. not just when we are healthy and thriving, but also when we are struggling, especially when we are struggling. fiercely independent and admittedly introverted, i tend to retreat into myself, especially when i’m in my hard place. but i am learning that i need others. i need connection, community, support. these are the people who are going to hold our hands and lead us towards Truth when we’re too weary to get there on our own. they will listen to us, cry with us, even celebrate us. they will love us.

five: not every question has an answer.
i like the feeling of being able to figure things out, so i am constantly observing and asking questions, seeking to learn. that’s not much of a problem, except when i am presented with things that seem to make no sense at all. things like children dying, war and poverty, injustice, trafficking–the list could go on and on. i shake and i grieve and i cry out, “why, God?!” and sometimes he doesn’t answer. sometimes i need to swallow hard and choose to trust him, to keep the faith, to remember that he is still good even in the midst of all that is not. sometimes i just need to accept what is. 

{what about you? perhaps you are well-acquainted with hard places, or you may be in one now. what have you learned? how have you grown? i’d love to hear from you!}

when grace both hurts and heals

several months ago i chose a word for my 2013: grace. it’s a word i had heard often through my years on this faith-walk, yet i had only come to understand it just recently. the dictionary defines it as an act or instance of kindness or courtesy, which is all well and good except that grace every once in a while wasn’t enough for me. i didn’t want neatly packaged grace, the kind that looks pretty on the outside but doesn’t really do anything. i didn’t want grace on the surface, grace when i felt like it; i wanted deeper, more, grace as a lifestyle, grace whether i wanted to give it or not. once i understood how grace had changed me, i felt a fire in my bones to share it with others. i wanted to live a life of love, of kindness, of forgiveness, of grace.

pretty soon, i realized that the thing about grace is that it’s messy. it requires me to give when i don’t feel i have anything left. it requires me to love with all my heart, throwing caution to the wind. it requires me to forgive even when i am hurt, to persevere when i feel like giving up.

i also realized that the hardest things in life are most often those most worthy. yes, living out my grace-word in an ungracious world would be difficult. but i knew it’s what i was called to. and so i jumped into the deep end, eyes closed, heart trusting.

people came into my life who were hard to love. some had hurt me, betrayed me, abandoned me; some would take without giving, so much so that i wondered if i had anything left in me. yet i knew: these people, they desperately needed love and prayer and encouragement like a beggar needs bread, like a parched soul needs living water.

and so i loved. i prayed. i spoke truth over their hearts and their lives.

 and i ended up with a broken heart, with bruised pride and tears in my eyes and empty hands.

part of me wants to be angry. part of me wants to blame them, blame God. part of me wants to rage at the unfairness of it, the injustice i feel when i think about all the time and energy and emotion i’ve invested–and for what? part of me wants to feel foolish for caring too much. part of me wants to feel like i’ve failed because i can’t see the fruit of all the seeds i have sown. part of me wants to take it all back, wishes i had never gotten involved.

but then there’s the part of me that knows better. there’s the part of me that knows this is what i signed up for. grace + mercy can be a lonely place; just ask Jesus. how could he have felt when those who said they loved him turned around and betrayed him? how could he have felt when he was delivered into the hands of his accusers by the very man he had called friend and follower? how could he have felt when his nearest and dearest could not even stay awake and support him as he wept in the garden, his soul burdened and anguished? how could he have felt as he hung from the cross and cried out, “Father, forgive them?”

it probably felt a little bit like this.

and yet he still loved. he still sacrificed. he still gave grace.

and because of him,
so will i.

when saturday actually means something

as a Christian, this past weekend was full of significance for me. on friday, i joined with countless believers worldwide as we remembered the sacrifice of the God-man on the tree. on sunday, we celebrated with one another the miracle of his resurrection + his victory over death forevermore.

what i noticed, though, is that little was said about saturday. the in-between day. the day of which we don’t know much about. the day that didn’t appear to mean anything at all. on friday, we mourn, and on sunday, we celebrate. but what about saturday?

as someone who has become well acquainted with life in the in-between, i believe saturday has to mean something. Jesus could have died on that friday and risen the next day if he wanted to. but God waited. saturday was that day of waiting, the day of silence. all of heaven held its breath, anticipating the grand finale, but earth knew nothing of what was to come. all it could see was a dead body, buried in the tomb. it saw unmet expectations, dreams that would never be realized, hopes that had been brutally dashed. heaven knew the miracle was coming, but what of those who couldn’t see past the despair and the questions, all those questions which appeared would never be answered?

thousands of years later, so many of us are still living in saturday. i know; i’m there, too. saturday’s the day when nothing makes sense, the day when we fall on our faces and scream with our fists to the sky, “why, God? why?” saturday’s the aftermath of cancer and divorce, of accidents and job losses, of breakdowns and breakups. it’s the tension of a life lived between the tragedy and the miracle, the problem and its solution. it’s when things appear that they couldn’t get any worse, but that’s only because we’re seeing things with the wrong set of eyes. if we could get just a glimpse of what’s beyond ourselves, we’d see that Redemption was coming.

so if you’re living in a saturday like me, i pray your heart is encouraged and your faith bolstered. there is something sacred and holy and ancient in the waiting, in the in-between, in the way you ache for the miracle. saturday actually means something, even if we don’t understand it yet. but one day, we’ll look back, and it will make sense, and we will see what the saturday has taught us. we will see that nothing in this life is wasted — even the tears, the disappointment, the hope that was lost somewhere along the way.

after all, we can never get to sunday unless we first go through our saturday.

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recently, i told you about the decision i’ve made to transition out of full-time missions in Liberia and consequently transition back to full-time life in the States. i also recently shared some of the difficulties i’ve been facing here in Liberia, all of which resulted in an epic unraveling.

i have continued to struggle in every way here in Liberia. physically, i’m exhausted. i’m sick of being sick and tired of being tired. i sleep fitfully most nights and can’t seem to keep my energy levels up during the day. emotionally, i’m drained. i’ve given everything i had in these last four years, and i am empty + raw + tender + bruised. my time in Liberia, rewarding and beautiful and life-changing as it’s been, has also been filled with grief, loss and tears, so many tears. it feels as if everything i’ve gone through during my four years here has caught up with me, like i’ve been unknowingly carrying it with me over time, and suddenly it’s all become too heavy, and i can do nothing but collapse under the weight.

so i’m crying mercy. i know i’ve reached my limit and for me to stay would be unhealthy. i leave Liberia in nineteen days, arriving back in the states in twenty. it’s not what i expected, but i know it’s for the best. i need to get healthy and whole again. i need to heal. i need to.

i look back and see that i have done what God sent me to Liberia to do, and i hear Him say i’ve done it well. i look at the kids, healthy and thriving, with happy hearts and dreams for their futures, and i see how much progress they’ve made. i remember where they came from, and i marvel at where they are now. i got to play a part in that. it humbles me and blows my mind, brings me to my knees in teary wonder. i can leave without  regrets; i did what i came here to do. the goodbyes will be heart-wrenching, but there is also a deep peace. it is time–time to go, time to start, time to change.

for now, in these days, i live in the in-between. one season is on the verge of its ending, while the new one has not yet come. i have both hands on the doorknobs, prepared to open as well as close the doors, respectively. i am saying goodbye while also saying hello. i am grieving what was and hoping for what will be. it’s a strange place, this in-between. it’s no longer the past, nor is it the not yet. it’s not yesterday, but it’s not tomorrow either. it simply is.

{i want to wholeheartedly thank all of you for the support and encouragement you’ve shown as i laid my heart bare and have shared my struggles with you. to be so transparent is not easy for me, but i have felt nothing but love from all the comments and emails i’ve received. thank you. thank you. i may still be a mess–but i’m a grateful one.}

holy places

i’d had a long, hard day; a long, hard week, if i was being honest. dirt under fingernails, feet covered in dust. my bones ached, and my head and heart felt full and heavy. words were few, replaced instead by deep sighs and weighted breaths.

Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion?
his words found me in my thin place, where i felt stretched and sore, barely hanging on. “yes, i’m tired,” i nodded. “yes, i’m worn out. worn down. burned out. yes, yes, yes.”

Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.
i stepped into the shower, an outdoor stall enclosed by cement block. the water hit me, warm from the sun, and tears fell down under starlight, washing away the dirt from my soul. 

I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.
his words washed over me like the water from the shower, like the tears that kept coming, and i saw it all so clearly. i had been collapsing under the weight of a burden i was never meant to carry. the heaviness hadn’t been intended for my shoulders, for he knew i would not be able to bear it. but i had forced a smile and bowed low, gritting my teeth as i settled into the yoke. it didn’t fit but i, never wanting to appear weak, refused to acknowledge that something was wrong. i carried the yoke, the burden, the weight, day in and day out.

and it had brought me to this place, weary in the deepest parts, kneeling on a wet concrete floor. it was then that i realized: here–in the ache and the mess, the pain, the grit–even here was holy ground. i was bent low in more ways than one, thick in this sacred moment, and it was here that his glory would come to pass me by.

Jesus doesn’t wait for our lives to be perfect, for all our problems to be solved, before he comes to us. he enters in the thin places, the messy places, the hard places.

and he calls them holy.

{scripture reference: matthew 11:28-30, The Message}