[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.

when my seasons collide

if there’s one thing i know to be true with every fiber of my being, it is that all of this life is seasons. there’s an ebb and flow, a continual changing of the tides; old gives way to new, and something beautiful always rises up out of the ashes.

for me, this season often feels like a cold, hard winter. i’m in a thin place, where sometimes the winds are so bitter and  fierce that it hurts to even breathe. this season is emotion that shakes me to the core. it is a deep-down soul renewal, where parts of me are stripped away and what’s left is laid bare. it’s a season where life seems to be just a little bit muted, where everything is just a little bit gray, where the pace is just a little bit slower.

this season is grief. and it’s messy; it’s hard. it’s my heart-rubbed-raw, and it hurts.

and sometimes i feel like i need to explain that to people, like i need to have some sort of excuse for my bleeding heart, for my silence, for having more questions than answers, for not being able to find the right words.

and maybe that’s what this post is, in a way: an explanation of sorts. but also, maybe…maybe an apology.

because i know right now, i’m taking more than i’m giving.
i know i’m saying no far more often than i’m saying yes.
i know my mourning clothes look heavy, and they might make some of you a bit uncomfortable.
i know i’m restless and discontent, not satisfied with easy answers or quick fixes.
i know sometimes your words feel like they fall on deaf ears.
i know i’m being jealous of my time and of my space.
and i know that it might seem a little bit unfair.

but for far too long, i stopped myself from entering into the fullness of my emotions because i was trying to protect myself + those around me.
and it all became so heavy, so weighted, such a burden on my shoulders that i broke beneath it.

and it’s in this season that He’s going to start putting the pieces back together.

because though this winter often feels long and cruel, i know it’s not my forever-season. when i choose to listen to the silence, i can hear the heartbeat of spring beneath the ground.

Image[Photo by Samuel Van Dijk on Flickr]

on being human

hello, my fabulous followers! just wanted to let y’all know that i’ve got a new post up on the So Worth Loving blog about emotions and this beautiful mess called life. hop on over and give it a read, why don’t you?

“Each one of is created to feel and experience and breathe and cry and laugh and ache and question and long and love and live.” get out there and do it. life is waiting for you! xo