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Maundy Thursday

I’ve been sitting in this tension. So much so that I cried on my way to work. But I guess me crying isn’t really a valid measurement of anything because I cry about everything. But I cried, and I cried with so much pain because I knew both what Jesus did and what Judas did.

Because what Judas did was selfish. What Judas did was unforgivable and mean. He went against everything Jesus had taught him given all that time together, and he only looked out for his own personal gain. Judas was terrible, but sometimes, I’m also terrible.

I do things only thinking about myself and what I’ll get out of the situation. I know what God says and I know how Jesus lived, but here I am still trying to do things my own way as if I knew better. And in the end, I mess up and it’s me that looks terrible- not Jesus. So I might not be turning Jesus in for death, but I go against Him and I turn my back on everything He’s taught me.

That part hurts.

But then it hurts more when you think about what Jesus did.

Because Jesus knew someone was going to betray Him. Jesus even knew He was going to have to die. But Jesus didn’t call people out, embarrass them, shame them, gossip behind their backs about them. He did say it would be better if they had never been born, but Jesus doesn’t fight the terrible things that are about to come His way. Quite frankly, He does the complete opposite. He shares a meal with them. Breaks bread and drinks wine. He gives them final thoughts and the last wise words. He’s Jesus.

If that were me, and I was in His shoes, we know the story would have went differently. I wouldn’t have showed up for that meal. I wouldn’t have sat next to the person or shared food with the one who was going to betray me. I don’t think I would have called the person out because I hate confrontation, but you bet I would stop trusting them, stop caring for them, and stop loving for them.

But I don’t think Jesus ever stopped loving Judas. I don’t think at any point in his betrayal did Jesus ever think, “I’m going to drop you.” Jesus didn’t even fight it. He could have fled. He could have made preparations to leave and hide and not go through what comes next, but even when other people try to protect Jesus and defend Him while getting arrested, Jesus says to cut it out. He accepts what comes next and what has to be done.

And so I know what Judas did, and I know that more often than not, I am like Judas. But I also know what Jesus did. And just as Jesus never thought to leave or abandon Judas, I don’t think Jesus will ever leave or abandon me.

No matter how many times I mess up. No matter how much wrong I do. No matter how much pain I inflict on God as I keep trying to do things my own way. Jesus still prepares the meal for me. He still shares what He has available with me. And He doesn’t fight it when He pays the price and takes the consequence for my wrong doing. Above anything else, Jesus doesn’t go away but He makes a way for me.

0 In Daily Life/ Hawaii/ Uncategorized

I’ve Lost an Arm

I just drove home from Ewa Beach, and I didn’t spend the entire car ride talking to someone on the phone. I did, however, spend the entire car ride off-and-on uncontrollably crying.

I’ve been thinking a lot over the past week about how I feel. How I really, truly feel. Because sooner rather than later, what everyone else feels will start to influence how I feel. I hate to admit it, but I consult a wide variety of people, and those people’s perspectives often make their way into my perspective.

And the best way to explain how I truly feel is to describe it like losing an arm…

Because you naturally use your arm to do just about anything throughout your day. You reach for salt on the top shelf. You reach down to tie your shoes. You loop your purse around and carry all your bags. You never think about whether or not your arm will be there. It just is. It’s a part of you.

But what happens when it’s not… Because that’s how I’ve felt the past week.

The natural and normal piece of my life is no longer there. Not when I wake up, not when the kids are napping at school, not when I go to sleep. The things that go hand in hand, like driving and calling someone to talk on the phone, are no longer hand in hand. And so I feel like I’ve lost a part of me.

And as a result, I haven’t known how to function this past week. Simple, routine tasks are painful because they aren’t the same anymore. Driving home at night is terrifying because there’s no one on the phone with me to make sure I get home safe. Getting off of work and not receiving a celebratory “woo!” text message makes getting off of work so much less exciting. And a million other parts of my routine that I’ve developed over the past year to what was my new normal, are no longer part of my routine therefore my life has been extremely abnormal.

So it feels like I’ve lost an arm. And if anyone asks me, I will tell them I feel like I’ve lost an arm. And no one will understand and no one may relate to how I feel. But I know that is 100% how I truly and genuinely feel.

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At Just the Right Time

My normal walk route is two miles. One mile up to the light and one mile back. After about a mile going up the street, the incline starts to get more noticeable. Once I pass the town houses I know that I’m going to have to start pushing. I swing my arms even faster. I stretch my legs even further- almost taking lunges. And for about three long blocks, it’s an upward climb.

And this climb gets me every time. When I first started walking this route I would have to pause about halfway through the three long blocks. Now I’ve done it enough that I can power straight through, but it’s still a little rough. I sweat a little extra more. My breathing becomes heavier. It’s a push, and my body can sense the challenge.

But the reality is that it’s only three long blocks. In the entirety of the walking route, it’s probably only half a mile. It’s really quite nothing in comparison to the whole.

And that’s what’s getting me through this tricky season… Knowing that it’s just a blip in the span of eternity.

Because this time period where I’m away from family is not eternal. Dad comes on Thursday, Cas comes in June, and mom will probably weasel her way into coming before her annual birthday trip. The sadness I feel from being away from family and not getting to go on cousin snow trips will vanish as soon as I’m reunited with them. It’s not a forever sadness.

And the season where I feel like I lack solid support systems will fade away as new friendships start to take root. Because I’ve been telling myself more and more to be social, to give people chances, to step out of comfort zones and go to dinner at 10 PM even if that’s your usual bedtime. It’s not a forever loneliness.

Then these days where I feel like I can’t breathe, can’t function, and can’t muster up the courage to eat, those days will pass too. The uncontrollable tears and this grief as my favorite friendship fades away will become more manageable. I’ve gone through them enough that I know I can power straight through, but it’s still a little rough. It’s not a forever heartache.

The catch though- as reassuring as it is to know this pain won’t last forever- is that some things take time.

I hate this cliché. Time heals all wounds.

Yes, with time challenges don’t become challenges anymore. With time friendships and emotions and struggles change. But I am not a girl who wants to give it time. I want the resolution right now.

So you see how I am stuck.

Because in time things will get better. And in the greater scheme of life, these times of hurt are miniscule to a life well lived. But I want to feel better right now.

I want the fairytale I’ve always dreamed up right now. I want the house with the white picket fence now. I want the copper colored golden doodle right now. I want the daughter that looks like a carbon copy of me right now. Now. I want it now.

Ultimately what I’m saying is that I am over this challenging season God, and I am ready to move onto the next step right now.

And the scariest part about a demand that strong is that I am so willing to give up what I have in front of me to get the next thing. A next thing that I have dreamed up because I felt like that’s what I should be doing. A next thing that will completely change my life and never let me return to where I am now.

My cousin once warned me to not strive for the next season. She said the next season will come faster than you know it, and sure enough you’ll be knee deep in the next season and you’ll never get to go backwards. Life will never be the same again. You’ll never get your singleness back. You’ll never have married life without kids back. You’ll never get young kids running around the house back. You live your life always wanting to get to the next season that once you get there you realize how little you spent just enjoying the season you were in.

And I don’t know what’s more painful, the hurt I currently feel that in my dramatic world feels like it is going to last forever, or the thought that I could be wasting away this season as I wish so deeply to get out of it.

Nobody ever wants to sit in hurt. And if you do you might have mental issues to which I highly suggest seeking help. But most people, myself 100% included, do not want to sit in the discomfort that life so often brings us. We want to move through life seamlessly with ease and without much getting in the way of what we want right now. But that’s not realistic.

And I guess if walking up and down the hill has taught me anything, the answer would be to accept the uphill climb just as much as you’re willing to accept the breezy walk back down. Because life will provide you with a fair share of discomfort and pain that you know won’t last forever but also just want to get the hell out of. But it will also bring you into unique seasons that can never be replicated.

And I believe I’m strong enough to experience fully both at just the right time. Not necessarily the time that I have in my schedule. But the time that God knows is perfectly perfect.

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24 Hours

I went to the beach. It was nice, sunny, not extremely crowded. I even went in the water. Not fully submerged but up to my shoulders. I love the beach and it is a sacred space for me, but as soon as I got home and laid on my bed alone, it hit.

So I called anyone and everyone who would answer. Cassie, college mentors, high school friends, Cassie again. Between Zoom, FaceTime, and phone calls I was consistently talking to someone for at least 4 hours. But each time they hung up or the Zoom call ended, it hit.

Then at night I went to church. I sat through the message, made it through worship without completely collapsing, and managed to put a smile on my face when I met the new guy from someone’s connect group. We went out to eat afterwards- waited in line for an hour. Spent maybe two hours at the restaurant and finally made my way home around midnight. But after all those hours of forcing a smile, it hit even harder.

I went to bed. A new day would be better right? But at around 6 AM I woke up because somehow even in the midst of my sleep, it hit.

And so here I am. In the midst of constant pain coming after me. Hoping that maybe, just maybe, if I write it all out it won’t hurt the next time it hits.

So far, my head hurts- possibly from the lack of eating. My eyes are red and puffy from rubbing them so much. My nose is snotty. And no matter how many times I try to sleep and dream it all away, I wake up in a panic.

And I don’t know how I got here.

How the only thing I can do is sit and stare at nothing. How I can’t muster up the strength to eat a full meal. How even doing the things I love- like going to the beach or going on a walk- leave me feeling just as empty as I was before I did them.

I keep trying to put myself in other people’s shoes. Telling myself that if Vanessa Bryant can handle the death of her husband and her daughter at the same time, then I can handle this. That if Tanya Burr can handle divorce, then I can handle this. That there are people in this world going through far worse than I am, so I can handle this.

But my therapist once told me that I need to process my hurt instead of trying to find the immediate solution for it.

And I absolutely hate it.

Why would anyone want to just sit here and feel this deeply painful feeling. Why aren’t the distractions working. Why am I doing everything that makes sense for me to clear my mind, yet it’s still all one meddled mess. Why can’t I control the floodgates of emotions that wash over me at any given moment.

I have no solution to this.

And I will walk through today with a smile on my face. I will be the sunshine and rainbows that everyone knows me to be. But deep down, right now I am just one big mess. I am a ticking time bomb waiting to explode with tears flooding down my eyes.

But Cassie said that’s ok. She said it’s ok that the only thing I know how to do right now is cry. She said it’s ok to grieve. She said just take it one moment at a time. And I guess that’s how I’ll do it.

The past 24 hours have not been easy, but maybe the next 24 will.

0 In Daily Life/ Hawaii/ Uncategorized

It’s Hard

I think I get it. Why so many people stop being Christians or refrain from the Christian faith at all. Because being a Christian is hard, and I know that because I am currently trudging my way through it.

There are rules. And probably not even rules that God meant for us to uphold, but these unspoken rules of what you have to do and what it takes to be a so-called “good Christian.” Most of those rules don’t make sense, or at least I feel like they don’t have much backing to them other than “the bible says so” and even then they are taken out of context of what the bible actually says.

Then there are commitments. Go to church every Sunday. Read your bible every night. Pray before you put a sliver of food into your mouth. (Maybe some of those blend with the rules…) But sometimes I feel like being a Christian is my part-time job. Pre-COVID I definitely spent some billable hours at the church or doing things for the church or with those I serve from church.

And maybe the most challenging to wrap your head around, have faith.

At least with rules there are concrete do’s and don’ts. And with commitments there are evident hours of your life spent doing something. But how on early do you even list out or calculate how to have faith.

When someone takes on a sport, you practice and practice and practice, and you get better. As a kid you don’t really know much, but then you get older and you learn and experience and then eventually you know better. With most everything in life, the more time and effort you put into something the more you’re able to understand later. But I can confidently say after having been raised in the church and having dedicated my life to Christ that one summer years ago in Africa, I don’t think it’s gotten any easier to have faith.

Honestly, it’s become more challenging. I have cried my eyes out in absolute agony and despair in more than a few hundred occasions. I have felt the rug being pulled out from under me with absolutely nothing I could do to stop it. I have watched front row as some of the greatest, most valuable, my favorite things in life have slipped from my grip and come crumbling down. In my many years of faith, that is what I have gone through.

And you would think that faith is one step back and two steps forward, but more often than not it feels like one step back, one step back, one step back, one step back. I have been living in a never-ending tumble cycle of “what the hell is God even doing?”

So I will be the first to say, having faith is not at all easy.

What would be easy would be putting my cross down, and walking on my own. It would be a lot less pressure and a lot less weight. What would be easy would be cutting corners and just doing it the way everyone else in the world does it. That would probably get me to my foreseeable future fantasy faster. Goodness, it would be so much easier to just not have faith. To just go my own way.

But for as much as I’ve felt upset about the difficulty of following Jesus, I’ve equally- if not more- made so many mistakes as a result of doing it my own way. I have said the wrong thing. I have made a poor decision here and there. I have bought many dresses that I could neither afford nor have a purpose for wearing. Quite frankly, I just mess up- a lot sometimes.

And because I am imperfect, that is why I follow a perfect God.

That is why I abide by the rules and uphold those weekly commitments in my calendar. That is why I believe in something- someone- I will never understand or be able to measure. Because being a Christian means following Christ, and Christ lived and achieved perfection. I may never live nor achieve perfection, but in being a Christian and doing the hard things, I think I am one inch closer to a goodness I know I can never achieve on my own.

This doesn’t mean it gets easier. I am still going to grit my teeth, stomp my feet, and yell my way forward. It is still going to suck sometimes. I can guarantee you, I will cry at least a few more hundred times. This pain is inevitable when we live on this side of eternity.

But God did not promise me sunshine all day every day. He did however make sure that that all the elements can come together in order to form the most spectacular rainbows after a storm. Because in order to have a rainbow, you need a few clouds, maybe some golf ball sized rain drops, and just the right amount of sunlight. It’s the good, the bad, and the ugly all mixed together to create the most spectacular something.

And that’s what God is doing. Taking all the hard things, maybe the few easy things, and definitely the many enjoyable moments, and He’s creating goodness through it all.