When the Soul Aches For a Hurting World

Yazidi

I have a closet.

A big closet.

It holds clothes on high hung racks with more space below. Clothes I hardly wear anymore and those frilly things I wore once and don’t want to wear again. Shelves that hold more jeans I know what to do with and see-through boxes with stuff I have lost track of.

A man died across the world at the hands of barbarians.

And my closet is too big and this stuff could clothe a village of women.

My heart aches for the parents who had their love stolen by evil. By the very worst of humanity.

And my kitchen is exploding with utensils that make cutting easier and smoother.

And the knife they used? It wasn’t so big. Not what you would imagine necessary to take a life, but then the point wasn’t the taking but the suffering, the agony of it.

And I hope his parents know there was bravery written in the creases of his worn face. That he did not give them the satisfaction of crying out. He didn’t add to the tears that will be shed for him.

There are Bibles lined up on a shelf. One for each person whose heart beats in this home. Five more than most need or can even afford. Five extra that could sustain an underground church for one more desperate yet joyful generation of believers. The Word is smuggled there, the pages worn from grateful and thirsty fingers. Some of ours have hardly been turned enough to cause a wrinkle because it’s easier to wipe our finger across a screen.

We seem to have double of everything except for gratefulness.

A town is on fire. Words are flung around like they’re supposed to mean something in the face of anger and chaos and hurt and all they’re doing is feeding a fire that is dying to burn out of control.

I took the kids to get donuts this morning. Food that can be ordered from the comfort of our car, with a card that keeps track of the money. We stuffed ourselves with frosted circles because a treat for us is just more of what we have every day.

Access to excess.

Over a billion people live on less than one dollar a day. Less than one donut.

And my heart aches for all of it.

For the child who will die from malnutrition tomorrow as we throw away a blemished apple.

For the uncle that left his niece on a mountain because she was dying and the helicopter may not come again.

For a society that considers poverty having to take the bus and work two jobs.

For the mother who will walk until her feet have cracked and bled just to bring home a bucket of clean water.

For the rack that holds shoes for every occasion and type of weather.

For the comfort we walk in daily while much of the world longs for peace.

It’s time for us to clean house. To recognize the stark difference between needs and wants. To teach our children that it’s not about accumulating.

It’s about giving but not the kind of giving that levels the playing field.

The kind of giving that hurts the heart because you wish it could be more. The kind of giving that isn’t mandated for the greater good but is lavished because of an eternal promise hung on a Cross at Calvary.

The world’s hurts might never go away. And this ache for the suffering, I think, will always be present. But the aching can be a gift that spurs us to action; the motivation we need to empty closets and purses because the drive thru can wait if it means giving hope to a child in Kenya or El Salvador or Chicago.

We only get one life and I am grateful that my life is here, in a country built on a foundation of freedom when I could have been born an orphan in Sierra Leone or a child-bride in Afghanistan. I could very easily have been delivered into the slums of India or the oppression of North Korea.

But I wasn’t.

My life was created in a country that provides opportunities some will only dream of so now I wonder how He can use me. How He will use me in the face of evil and oppression and heartache.

Where do we fit in when the world weeps?

How do we live in the midst of excess and still honor the reality that ours is a very precious gift?

My heart aches for our broken and wounded world. For the withholding because it all seems too big to fix and too overwhelming to fit in between our busyness. And there is no denying our own struggles. We can’t ignore the real hurt here that cries out for compassion. So where do we go?

Hopefully up.

Looking up. Praying up. Crying up every day until healing begins or we’ve been taken Home.

 

(*image courtesy of mashable.com)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

april
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To The Mom Who Compares Herself: A Love Letter

alonegirl

 

This morning, as you sip your coffee and wait for the day to be ushered in by the cacophony of little voices and stomping feet, you’re going to be tempted to flip open your laptop or turn on your iPad.

Right away you’ll pull up Facebook and begin the work of scrolling through your Newsfeed. Forget about CNN or NPR. This is your kind of news.

Family updates and smiling summer pictures. Cartwheels on a tropical beach, a shiny new car in the driveway, a promotion. Another friend pregnant, someone else gushing {again!} about their perfect life. The family that always seems to have it together, kids dressed in matching outfits smiling perfectly.

You used to love it-this feeling like a part of an extended online family.

But now it just feels like keeping up with the Joneses.

You woke up today feeling mostly satisfied with life but you made the mistake of passing the laundry room. While contemplating the mounds of laundry begging to be sorted and washed, the baby threw up on big sister’s new sweater. And it’s picture day.

Now you’re hoping to salvage the sanity of a fourteen-year-old with absolutely nothing to wear mom! and your mind suddenly goes to the friend whose page you browsed only minutes before. She sends her stylish brood to private school and plays tennis in between PTA meetings. She looks amazing and put together and doesn’t even wear makeup. And come. on. Have you seen her arms? They’re definitely not from scrubbing vomit out of a hot pink sweater.

I know you think the world is doing it better than you. You used to believe having a hot meal on the table was a victory and the kids going to bed bathed an absolute miracle, but now you doubt every choice that doesn’t seem to add up to a picture perfect Facebook post.

I wish I could hug you and tell you you’re beautiful the way you are. That life isn’t out to get you and believe it or not? Even the most perfect J Crew-looking family struggles with the minutia of daily life. They’re just way better at faking it.

Please don’t make the mistake of living the rest of your life swallowed by comparisons because one day you will be grey and wrinkled, wearing elastic pants and comfortable shoes and realize you wasted precious years wishing you were someone else.

You’ve bought into the notion that chosen truths somehow represents a perfect life.

Do you ever stop and think that the people who love you are anxiously waiting for you to wake up to the amazing person they see in front of them every day? Day in and day out they watch you compare yourself to magazine pictures and far away friends and they want to drag you out of this pit just so they can shake you awake from this make-believe world. Convince you that the moments you spend wishing you were in someone else’s shoes are moments you miss being present in this beautiful life. Piled high laundry and vomit laced sweaters included.

I know you wonder how anyone can love you just the way you are: yoga pants and hair pulled back in a messy bun six days a week. Muffin top and failures to boot. But they do. Oh they do.

They love you because walking through the door and seeing you is coming home.

They love you because you’re not the girl next door who seems to have it all together.

You remember that she prefers vanilla over chocolate except when it comes to cake but not ice cream.

You are the person he needs, they are your arms he wants wrapped around him, when his mother died.

And somehow, you always have the right answer for your sweet little boy who is teased at recess because he prefers books over basketball.

If I could hold a mirror in front of you and ask you what you see, I know you’d be quick to point out every flaw. You would take extra care to describe yourself in the tiny details you agonize over. Day in and day out wondering why you just can’t be enough.

Pretty enough.

Smart enough.

Organized enough.

Successful enough.

GOOD enough.

Until one day, you wake up having believed the lies you spent years telling yourself and bitterness has taken root and blossomed in your heart. It has driven out the goodness and replaced it with resentment and discontent.

Mom, you can spend your life wishing you were different and hoping for that grass is greener change but eventually it comes down to being grateful for where you are right now in this moment. Remember that trying counts just as much as the end result because without it we’re walking in place instead of moving forward.

Some of us were meant to be beauty queens and swimsuit models.

Some of us were meant to be teachers and homemakers.

Some of us were meant to be healers and fixers.

But none of us were meant to be you.

We can’t be your son’s mother or your husband’s wife. We can’t be your father’s daughter or your brother’s sister. We don’t know the perfect bedtime story and our hands certainly don’t fit right in his. Your value lies in the heart of the God who created you and the family who depends on you.

Dearest friend, close the computer and put away the idea that somehow you don’t measure up to the masses. Stop comparing yourself to chosen truths and get on with the job of living this life because isn’t it hard enough without wishing it away? Take this right now and make it your forever. 

For every negative begin to count three blessings. For every self-inflicted attack on your appearance, your abilities or your self-worth, add up the parts of you that are healthy and functioning. The legs that carry you into church, the arms raised in triumph after your first 5K. The eyes still open to the possibility of miracles. Thank God for the ways He has blessed you right here and now.

So clean up the vomit.

Put away the laundry.

Get your crazy teenager out the door in anything that covers her body.

And then dance in the living room like no one’s watching.

Invite a friend over for coffee because you need to tell her why you now have to shop at the Target across town {the baby grabbed a colorful box without you knowing, leaving behind a trail of condom confetti like you were the Trojan version of Hansel and Gretel.}

Laugh until you cry.

Because this life? Wouldn’t be the same without you.

 

 

april
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Why Being a Mom Might Be Enough

Being a Mom

 

So if you read this post, you know I’m struggling.

Struggling to find my place in this big world. Struggling to make sense of a world that insists on killing itself one beautiful child at a time.

I wonder what I will impart on this life. Because I know eventually, when I am gone and enough years have passed, I will no longer even be a memory.

Yesterday my oldest daughter had an appointment quite some distance from home. We made it a girl’s day. Just her and I in the car, chatting like girls do when there are no boys to interject with talk of Legos and war.

We held hands a lot. I made sure I looked in her eyes when we talked. Complimented the way she did her hair all on her own. Reminded her that God is in all of it. Even these little moments sitting in traffic hoping we’re not late while country music plays in the background.

I put my cell phone down.

Except to take this.

Grace1

 

And this.

(Because Daddy adamantly says breakfast for dinner is against the law. So when it’s just us girls-we eat pancakes.)

Grace2

 

And when it came time to head back home, we decided to linger. We were having too much fun, the sun hadn’t yet set and there was still time to enjoy each other outside the craziness of toddlers and big brother.

We sat in the plastic booth, playing tic tac toe while channeling Mr T “Gotcha sucka!” every time there was a victorious three-in-a-row. I loved hearing her laugh-cackle really- as she swept that line across three x’s. Throwing her head back as she relished the joy of beating her dear mother.

An old woman came into the restaurant, dressed for Sunday on a weekday, and sat across from us. Petite and stooped over with a sweet smile that offered a glimpse of the girl she had once been. Her feet barely touched the floor but she kept her ankles crossed through her entire meal {as any true southern belle does}.

She didn’t wear a wedding ring and she ate alone.

She read a paper and every once in a while smiled shyly at Grace and I.

I wanted to hug her because she sat so comfortably by herself, this moment routine for her as she ordered the salad before her pancakes. Her coffee after the salad.

I wondered if there was a daughter to hold her hand. A son to take her arm as she climbed the steps to church. I wonder what her legacy will be, knowing that by next week I probably won’t remember her short white hair and the way she squinted behind her glasses.

And I wondered what it mattered. The being remembering. The lasting impressions and our supposed legacies.

Because right in front of me is a little girl who cares nothing about my struggle to define myself.

To her I’m already all she needs.

She doesn’t need me to be more because in her world, mom isn’t just a title.

Being her mom means that she is safe. She is loved and protected.

It means that she has a place in this world and to her this world is still a very small place.

It’s in my arms when she cries.

It’s sharing pancakes and eggs and savoring the sweet silence as we chew, until forks clink together again, digging for the buttery pieces.

It’s encouraging her when she’s frustrated.

It’s cheering her on as she perfects a back handspring.

It’s reminding her that she is good, she is precious and she is loved.

It doesn’t matter to her that I haven’t written this darn book yet.

She doesn’t care I’m not a size six.

It probably never crosses her mind that I didn’t finish college and wonder if I’ll ever be smart enough.

I am her third mother, the one who stayed, and I’m pretty sure that’s more important to her than any title or accolade I think I need.

Because what she needs is what I already am. 

To her, I am already everything she needs me to be.

And maybe for now that’s enough.

 

 

Perspective is a funny thing. The way it makes our eyes open

april
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