Category Archives: Hope

To love a girl who has lived through trauma

Standard

A girl who has lived through trauma has lived through a situation where her body, her mind, her self was not her own. Where she felt disjointed, ripped from her self, safety, and sanity. It was a moment, an experience, a something where her trust was smashed, her worth was gone and all there was was pain.
A girl who has lived through trauma is the girl who was pushed into the deep end of the pool when she didn’t know how to swim, but somehow found her way to the ledge anyway. She walked through a forest fire and didn’t succumb to the smoke, but dealt with the burns and made it out in spite of the flames. She found herself in free fall but refused to break upon impact.

She survived. She did.

But the thing about trauma, is that even when it is over it never really goes away.

And sometimes trauma is loud. Sometimes it’s the monster banging at the windows and screaming gutturally and demonically inside of nightmares. It’s nails on a chalkboard and an earthquake that rattles everyone’s floors. It smashes everything in its wake and forces, no, demands that everyone acknowledge its terrible, terrible presence. She won’t have any choice but to sit with hands clapped over her ears making sounds that are barely human because she just wants everything to stop and it won’t.

But other times, trauma is quiet. It’s sneaky.

It’s the feeling that she is being watched or that she is walking down the street with the word ‘victim’ painted on her forehead in red and everyone is privy to her secrets. It’s the nagging fear that if she goes to sleep her dreams will be anything but restful. It’s the little whisper saying, “You will never be whole again,” that itches its way into the back of her mind and repeats over, and over, and over. And you won’t even see it because she convinces herself that she is the only one who knows that it is there.

It’s the feeling that she is a 100,000 piece puzzle of black and grey and everyone staring at the mess realizes that putting her back together is simply not worth the effort.

So when you love a girl who’s gone through trauma, you’re saying that you see the worth in helping her bandage the wounds. You’re saying that you see the worth someone else tried to bury. You’re saying you are not afraid of the bad days and you see the beauty in the good days. You’re saying that a lot of things may scare you, but trauma isn’t one of them.

When you love a girl who’s battled trauma, you’re really saying,

Love, let me help you heal because I believe you can.”

Loving girl who has managed to make it to the other side of a traumatic experience is like deciding to restore an abandoned house. She has the framework and the good bones, but you may need to spackle holes someone else left behind on the the walls. She has the the makings for beautiful, light-filled windows, but you’ll need to replace a few of the cracked panes with new glass. She has the door frame, she just needs a door.

She’ll make a lovely home one day, but there needs some care in order to make a space.

See, loving a girl with trauma in her history is not some choose your own adventure or some level in a game you need to beat. It takes time, it take patience. It’s not something you ‘win at’ it’s something you deal with day by day. It takes a level of commitment because reality is, loving her is not simple.
She is inherently complicated. She is stained with memories she wishes she did not have but that she will never be rid of. She is pieced together and the stitching may be tighter in some spots than others so you have to be careful to not unravel her with one careless tug.

But she is brave. And she is strong.

And when she realizes that you are choosing to love her, and not hurt her, she will love you back with the same kind of tenacity that it took to walk through fire.

And she will hold out her palm and show you the burn marks and instead of apologizing for bothering you with their appearance, she’ll trust you to hold her hand anyway. End link

Advertisements

On Family and Fostering: A Category of Other

Standard

Let’s be honest, my FMF posts are never five minutes, but are rather serve as a prompt for me to think and articulate in raw, unfiltered ways. FMF is a way that my voice is heard, because in my world, I don’t have much a voice yet. But I am finding it. And learning and loving and healing in the process. So here’s my FMF:Alone

“I feel different. I don’t fit in any neat group or category. It’s hard to live in a no mans land. It feels invalidating. I feel like an invalid..I feel alone in a world I don’t understand.”

It’s what I wrote on August 18th, 2015 as I lay in bed trying to process more than my little heart knew how to. Processing the feeling of being “other”.

There’s no category for “other”. But I am an “other”. There’s no place for me to check off. I was not a state foster child, but I had many non relatives and a couple of relatives foster me through my child and young adult life, as my biological parents were unable to. I am not legally adopted, but I feel like I’ve been adopted into some sort of family-like situation. But I also feel the difference. And I feel invalid.

I still have my name. I did not get a new inheritance, a legal one, a new name. I am still the same. Still the same identity. I didn’t get to change my name, and sometimes, that’s hard. I don’t want it.

I don’t qualify for much aid that foster and some adoptees do.  In fact, one semester of my college I had my financial aid revoked because I couldn’t come up with the information on my biological relatives that they needed. I didn’t know how to get financial information from someone I hadn’t seen in 4 years, from someone who was unsafe.

I was vulnerable. I didn’t know who to call when my car broke down. I was anxious for months before each holiday wondering where I could live or stay during the colder months, and then, in college, if anyone was going out of town and would allow me to “house sit”. I didn’t dare expect to be welcomed into a holiday. Growing up I learned holidays were for families. And I didn’t belong to one. So holidays weren’t for me.

I didn’t know how to make a doctor’s appointment. I didn’t know how to open a checking account. I didn’t know how to use makeup or even a tampon.

When my car broke down 6 hours away from my college, I panicked. I knew no one in Pennsylvania. I had orientation for a job that night and was driving to start the school year off with this new job. I was 6 hours from where I grew up and still 6 hours from where I was heading. I NEEDED this job to make it through college. Because when you’re famililess, you have to make it financially on your own. If my car broke down, I’d miss orientation. If I missed orientation, I’d lose my job. If I lost my job, I couldn’t pay for college. If I couldn’t pay for college, I couldn’t live at college. If I couldn’t live at college, I would be homeless, again. 19 years old and homeless. Not to mention figuring out what to do with a broken down car in a state you don’t know.. oh yea and no cell phone, because I couldn’t afford one.

You see, friends, those of us that have been famililess as young people can’t call home and rely on parents to come through in emergency situations. I wanted to leave my state and go to college in another state. I even left full in state college scholarship behind because I felt so unsafe in the state I grew up in. I just wanted to move on in my life, to move past the pain and grief and fear. I wanted to feel safe. I wanted to thrive.

Family is everything

But it doesn’t work that way. Whether it’s a broken down car or a holiday break, I was always reminded I was alone in life. Sure I had some people who cared, but I was always, always at the mercy of others’ “hospitality” and generosity. I did not have the privilege of growing in a safe world where people can be relied on. People always had the opportunity to say “no” to me. I couldn’t expect to have a home for the holidays or that so and so would even answer the phone in an emergency. After all, aren’t we taught, “family first”, even in our churches? And people are full to the brim with their own family dynamics. They needn’t need mine. They didn’t want me.

I come across it daily whether directly or in another indirect way, “family is everything”.

Love does not divide or diminish when it is shared among a family, it increases.

But what about when your family is unsafe? What about when you need a family, but you don’t fit the typical model of family… you’re too old, too sick, too independent, to much work, not pretty, etc. etc. Where does someone who needs family, who needs a constant, stable place to belong, to be cherished and loved, to be encouraged, to mourn, to be taught, to cry, where does someone like that, someone like me belong in a world where “family is everything”?

To this day, when I have to fill out my medical paperwork, work paperwork, any official kind of paperwork, and it asks who my emergency contact is, I don’t know. I scribble down someone that I think loves me and cares about me, but truth be told, I wish I could write down someone that felt proud and confident in being my emergency contact, someone who knows me. My emergency contacts change from season to season. I long for some stability. Long to be known, in a family.

I don’t quite know if I’m allowed to refer to a non biological person as family… But I do, and I’m not sure if it’s okay. I am “other”. There’s not much written about people like me, the others. The ones who the foster system failed, who fell through the cracks. Through the concern of a few people willing to sacrifice a little bit of space in their life, gave me somewhat of a sense of stability and normalcy. But I feel family less in a lot of ways. Traditions, foods, words, heritage, memories are not with my biological relatives, but I have to have an attachment to them.

“What you say to people during death or loss matters. If you don’t know what to say, silence is OK. Hugs are usually great. “I don’t know what to say,” expresses a known truth for a horrible reality, or “I’m sorry for your loss.” Your job is to acknowledge the enormity of the loss to the individual or family, not diminish it. Be sensitive, take your cues from them, be slow to speak. L.O.V.E.”

So I have questions. Lots of questions and so few answers. I have grief. I have sorrow. And I have joy. I yearn for a place to call home. To be able to call someone on the phone and think, “I’m calling home”. I love Jesus. I love the Church. I really, really love people. And many, many good people have been a part of my journey in life. I do not mean to diminish that. I am grateful for the many temporary families I have had over the course of my short life and the ways that I’ve learned much through them and my time with them. I recognize that family doesn’t always mean forever. But my longing for unchanging family is there. And I am waiting, waiting on something I am not sure will be available to me. And I do believe God put it there and has protected it so delicately and purely.

So I am sitting here and I am trusting God to bring about something I am unsure of. I am waiting in the questions I am not sure will get answered. I grieve a loss and hope for joy in the process. And one day, not too long from now, I want to be a foster parent. And I want to be the kind of person who learns to speak LOVE, even when it hurts.

Saving Space for Others

Standard

Somedays, some moments, some weeks I just don’t have a lot of hope. My mood can feel low. I lose the ability to communicate effectively and all I want to do is cry and be told it’s okay-it’s okay to unravel, it’s okay to fall apart, you’re still good, you’re still valued, you’re still wanted, and your grief makes sense. I can’t recall many who hold space for me like that-a safe place to enter into when I am able and ready; a place that’s available and willing to wait for me and to be a part of the process of this grief.

“I can see that you’re having a really difficult day and I just want you to know that I am holding this space for you. I’m here for you in whatever capacity you need me.”

I have learned a lot the last couple of years, about joy, and hope, and family, about loss, grief, suffering, and pain. The nature of being human means that we will make mistakes, we will hurt one another, even scar the same people we love. We are going to disagree with others, probably shame them at some points, judge and critique them in ways that steal their joy, their hope. I have done it. I’ve had it done to me. We will see and experience all heights and depths of joy and suffering.

  It’s hard work to get along. It’s harder work to bear with one another. It’s the greatest work in learning how to love one another. 

I’ve spent many months this last year waking up in the morning in tears, my stomach turned in knots, feeling sick from being unable to bring about peace and restoration in some relationships that I would like to. It’s a terrible, terrible, terrible feeling of loss and grief. Most people have their ideas of what you “should” do or what you “should” say in those situations. But I haven’t done much. Because I don’t know what to do. And I haven’t said much. Because I’ve been learning to listen. Listening to others puts out a fire. Defending myself causes the fire to rage. 

So I do what I think I need to. I send letters and emails. I say, “hey I was thinking of you and wanted to let you know.” I remind them that I haven’t forgotten them, that I still see them, and I still care. I find little ways to say, “I haven’t given up hope”. And I’ve found some peace. 

I have been called naive at times. I’ve been told that I should just let go and move on, but I can’t. There’s a stirring inside me that just keeps telling me to hold tight and to hold space for others. To have hope. To believe in God to bring about restoration and until then, to hold space for others, to give others a place to unravel and be a mess, as they are working out what God has for them, and to be available when they are ready, when we are ready. 

I have a friend who has a “screw you” mindset. She’s lovely. Really she is. She’s kind and a giver. But if she feels slighted and hurt, it is not easy for her to address it. She doesn’t often openly say it, but in her mind she’s written people off, and in doing so, has hardened a bit of her heart. She knows she does it. And somedays I have wished I could be more like that, less tender, more angry. I have wished I could just say “screw you” and move on. But I can’t. I have too great a capacity for hope. 

Hope is hard. I don’t always feel hopeful. I have a deep pit inside me that feels like my world is being pulled out from under me and shaken up. Not much feels normal or known. But my hope, this hope that Jesus put inside me, sees things not as they are, but how they can be. 

And it’s to that end I save space for other people. It’s to that end that I am learning to live in the angst of unsettled relationship struggles because I believe it can really be something beautiful eventually. And that kind of hope is a hope worth fighting for, even if naive. Five Minute Friday: HOPE

Hope in the dark: Tired of fixing myself

Standard

Please keep me from giving up when the emptiness feels as if it’s pulling me into a bottomless pit. Remind me that hope comes in the morning, and You are the God of the sunrise.

This thing called life has taken it’s toll on me. It’s no secret that I feel sad most of the time lately. I feel very tender too. I feel pruned and pretty beat up. I must have cried paint buckets of tears this weekend, and not those pint size buckets… I’m talking the 10 gallon ones from Home Depot. Every person I encountered I caveated the conversation with “I just wanted to forewarn you I am very weepy lately.

Somedays I wonder if this is what the summation of my life will be. Will my gravestone tagline be: She tried a great deal more than most, and she weeped far more as well.

A couple weeks ago my world felt especially small and my life especially insignificant. I decided to head to Starbucks to read and maybe walk through the Hallmark store. I love writing notes of encouragement and cards. There’s very few things more thrilling to me than finding a card that’s perfect for someone else. What’s better than hot chocolate and card browsing?

I ordered my favorite drink (Oprah Chai Latte) and as I was waiting, a bit teary eyed and feeling a bit purposeless, in came one of my most favorite employees at the grocery store next door.

This particular woman and I knew each other fairly well, well enough to get together from time to time for coffee, to let me know when her daughter’s softball games are near my house so I can walk over, and well enough to give me free nuggets and cookies when I grocery shop. My first two years as a softball coach, I coached her daughter. Her daughter hit her first softball on my team. I remember those years especially nostalgically, because coaching wasn’t just a pasttime or a job to me, it was a ministry. And I had a meaningful relationship with many of the parents and guardians of students on my team. I got many Dunkin Donuts coffees that year on early saturday mornings before games from parents and even some gift cards at the end of the season. Perks of the job!

Father, this desert of grief feels lonely and futile, but I choose to trust that You weave purpose into all things for your children. Minister comfort to this deep, deep pain. Give me rest for the weariness of grieving and hope that rests in trusting who you are in all things-even this.

She hugged me. I started to cry. It’d had been so very long since someone hugged me like that, like I was being held, really embraced. We talked for a while, a good long while. She told me of a friend of hers who has passed away from cancer and the challenge of it. I talked of the moment after my monthly scan when I wait to find out if they found a brain/spinal tumor. The moments that make us feel unsure, unsettled, and a little bit more alone. She asked if I’d be coaching and if I’d coach her now teenage daughter again. They missed me. We discussed my health and what it’s like to be vulnerable in a unique way because I am not well enough to work and have to rely on others for most things.

The next part was so small I almost missed it, oh but it was impactful. My friend said, “We have to pray. God is making you strong and I know He has to have purpose in all this. And the grief won’t hurt forever.” Maybe if you go to church together or live in the south, you hear those things all the time. But not me. Not in Boston. Not from less churchy people.

I’m tired of pretending. So many things are just not right in my life. And I don’t have answers. People close to me don’t even see how heavy I feel on the inside. I’m running out of strength. Help me to befriend my wounds. I’ve mastered the art of invisibility. People look straight through me. Help me find safe places to come out, to be seen, to be known, truly known in all my messiness and imperfection.

The years I coached her daughter were wonderful. I knew several of the parents became followers of Jesus. I regularly talked to my students and their families about Jesus (softball season is during lent and Easter afterall). I just did not know she had believed. She told me she would be praying for me daily. And I believe she does.

I long to be seen and known-as ruined and broken as I am-and to be loved without having to work to fix myself first. I’m so tired from having to fix myself in order to belong with other people.

The above quotes are actual pieces from my journal, which I prayed that morning and mornings before. I needed to know that God heard me. I was losing hope. Before I walked into Starbucks that day, I texted a friend to ask her to pray for me. I said I was having a hard day and I didn’t think He heard me or saw me. And I walked out not just feeling seen or heard by someone, but also by God. I felt useful to the Lord and was reminded that sometimes even the encouragers need encouragement and reminders of what hope feels like in the dark. And I am not out of God’s grip or vision, even when I temporarily am out of both the grip and vision of those I love.

And my hope is really just pieces

Standard

Sometimes reality hurts. Over the last few months my heart has been so heavy. I cry and wait. I silently hope, too afraid that if I whisper those pieces of hope to anyone, I’ll feel crushed by their responses. Because that happens. And my hope is really just pieces. So I hoard them inside, alone, where they are safe from anymore blows and hits. Too afraid that in the name of being “real” and “honest” someone might injure the most beautiful, vulnerable parts of who I am. And I don’t have a lot left to risk it with.

You hear with your ears, but you don’t really listen. -Isaiah 42:30

Too often I’ve been quick to offer my opinions and thoughts without first hearing and really listening to what is being said. I spent much of my life and ministry this way. It’s actually a way I believe God created me to be-an evaluating, organizer, and strategist, someone with much insight in schematics and planning. But like all good, created gifts, they can yield great growth and great injuries. I’ve hurt others in the name of “honesty“. I’ve wounded people I love greatly by not being wise when I was being “real” with them. I, too, have to work at listening, at seeing what is there but isn’t clear, in the heart and words of others.

This is why I speak to them in parables, for they look but they do not really see. They hear but they do not really listen or understand. -Matthew 13:13

Spiritual leadership requires the ability to guide and equip others and be with them as they discover what their gifts, roles, and direction in the church & world are. It is a skill that everyone, and specifically leaders, need-to listen to what is unsaid, to see what isn’t clear, to understand what is really being said that words are not quite conveying. It is the job of leaders to give words to things that those in their charge yet to have words for and to guide them to places of self discovery with the Lord. Those places can be beautiful, healthy, edifying. They can be places that unite hearts and create lasting relationships where we really change from “church friends” to family, from acquaintance to sisters. They are also places of complete vulnerability. These precious and fragile conversations belong among people who love one another, who’ve earned the right to be heard, who can look each other in the eye and listen with grace and humility.

Not one heartache on earth will be solved with more judgement. This world needs more love. It is what saved us and still sets us free. It is the magic balm that soothes tensions, crosses divides, and creates safe spaces. Love is the only answer. May we become beacons of it, Church. -Jen Hatmaker

As this painful season of life continues, I have found some hope in El Roi, the God who sees. Because sometimes it feels like no one sees. Sometimes life can feel awfully small and painfully lonely. Sometimes the injuries are done in the name of being “real and honest”. But God does see and he deals gently with me. He sees my attempts for what they are, beautiful and broken, and does not expect or need perfection or pristine mannerisms. El Roi creates a safe place to hope, even on the weeks and seasons where the church and world feel unsafe to look at my most vulnerable places and digest my most fragile hopes. Because God is yet creating in me the makings of a love that sets people free to be who He’s created them to be.

FMF Link-UP 

A Day in the Life: Anxiety, Depression, PTSD, & the Church

Standard

Two dear friends were part of a bible theater project at a local college. The idea was to meet for 6 months and do a bible study of all the women mentioned in the bible. It would be called the Bible Women’s Project and they would create a way to unite and tell those women’s stories, mixed with their own, and make it applicable to today. Not just the Ruth and Naomi kind of stories, but the harder ones, the women who perhaps we’ve misunderstood and who made some grievous mistakes. People who are a lot more like you and me than we’d care to be reminded.

The results were astounding, thought provoking, and deeply affective. Later on, someone asked me what I thought of it. It was hard to take all in. It was personal. It was moving. It was painful. The topics that the play incorporated were hard: rape, murder, submission, genocide, shame, church responses, abandonment, neglect, prostitution, forgotten, unseen, not heard. I could only utter one more thing, “I don’t know how we create spaces where women can tell their story, where we can be heard and seen. I need that. I don’t think I’m alone.” But I feel alone. My safe spaces are gone. I don’t feel seen.

A blogging friend that I’ve recently connected to read some of my posts about Anxiety-Depression, abuse, and PTSD. She recommended a book that her friend’s had written that I have only recently begun reading. I feel compelled to share it with you. Parts particularly stand out to me as I am reading it. It’s a great resource for anyone who has been affected by trauma. I’d recommend it: Love Letters from the Edge. It’s so timely in my life. Particularly, I have found this bit to be helpful:

“The following blog post, adapted from a post from Jim Lapierre, is a vivd description of what it’s like to live with PTSD:”

Four a.m. is her witching hour. She wakes each morning with adrenaline coursing through her veins. Her heartbeat hammers, every muscle in her body tense. She’s in fight or flight mode, but there’s no one to fight and nowhere to run.

The first thirty seconds feels like half an hour. It’s the time in between sleep and waking. What’s real? What isn’t?

It’s much worse than a bad dream. It. Feels. Like. It. Just. Happened. Again.

The tears come, but she fights them. She checks the sheets, but they’re clean. She sits on the side of the bed, rocking back and forth, but it’s a little too fast to bring comfort.

Breath!” Can’t get enough oxygen. Hyperventilating is terrifying. Head pounding. Need light. Need air. Must get out of this room.

She starts the coffee. No chance of going back to sleep now. Go to the bathroom but turn away from the medicine cabinet mirror. Cold water on her face stings but feels real. Still avoiding the mirror, can’t stand the image there. She needs a shower but it doesn’t feel okay to do that yet.

Settle in with some reading-daily affirmations. Get centered. Prayers are sent but feel futile. She never got the hang of meditation. It just gets her stuck in her head. A song on Pandora grabs her attention: I’m still alive but I’m barely breathing. Just praying to a God that I don’t believe in. 

Make plans for the day. Staying busy helps. Make lists. Combine them with yesterday’s lists. Sun’s coming up. Therapy today. Have to take a shower. Fear. Self-loathing. Shame.

Scalding hot water. Pain. Scrubbing way to hard. Still can’t remove the feeling of being dirty. “You know that it’s not on your skin. It’s burned in your memory. It’s a feeling of shame based on what was done to you. It’s not your fault. Please cool off the water. It’s hurting you.”

She doesn’t know that others struggle with these feelings, too. I’ve tried to be gentle but direct with her in therapy. “You’re naked and wet in an enclosed area with nowhere to run or hide when you shower. You close your eyes to keep the shampoo out. You can’t hear what’s going on in the rest of the house. You feel physically vulnerable. It makes sense that you’re scared.”

I want to help her stop feeling like she’s crazy, like she’s the only one who struggles with these feelings.

We talk about how she copes, how she sees herself, how she struggles to have self-control. She confesses what she sees as sin.

“I feel like a little girl a lot of the time.” She finds it hard to believe that I have known a lot of adults who feel like children.

I ask her to recall how she described feeling broken when we first met. She nods. We’ve talked about defining moments in her life-the first at age eight. She was never free to be innocent and her emotional growth was arrested by ongoing sexual trauma and abuse.

She’s thirty-five. Physically she feels like eighty. In the outside world, her composure and behavior are that of a very successful professional. Emotionally/internally she’s somewhere between eight and sixteen, depending on her feelings, stress, and level of anxiety.

She lives with PTSD, an anxiety disorder. She experiences vivid nightmares, flashbacks, and intrusive thoughts. She has co-occuring panic attacks and depression. Her prognosis is good and getting better, but the work ahead of her is hard. In truth, it’s one of the most difficult things a human being can do-but it’s not as bad as what she’s already been through and it’s not as bad as living this way indefinitely.

We’re working on strategies to promote a sense of safety. She’s implemented simple ways she can use her five senses to connect to her here and now. She is mindful that when she’s overwhelmed, she is not dealing with her current reality- she is somewhere in her past. She’s making changes to her physical enviroment. She realized that even some of her prized possessions are associated with past memories. They were in her bedroom when she was eight. They’re packed away now-not discarded-it’s just not time for those now.

We’re working on a very difficult piece. She’s begun journaling the content of her nightmares and we’re exploring the themes and memories. She’s accepted that the only way out of it is through it because there is no forgetting.

She’s accepted that it’s OK for a grown woman to leave her lights on at night, hug stuffed animals, and do anything that doesn’t hurt her to make the “shadows” go away. She ‘s getting better and through group therapy and self help she’s connecting to others with similar experiences. She knows now that she’s not alone.

Telling our stories connects us. The best we can be alone is lonely. “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you”-Maya Angelou

So friends, I want to both create and be a part of a community where it’s safe to share my story and hear other stories, where pain is lessened and agony feels less intense because we don’t have to bear our untold stories inside us. I don’t know how. It’s uncomfortable. It’s costly. But they will know we are Christians by our love for one another, albeit a messy, sometimes intense and crazy love.

And then those outside of the church, those of us who feel like fringed and forgotten people, marred by the world and carry hurt from the Church, unseen and unheard, find a place to rest, a place to share and receive and give. And that resting ground is leveled with Jesus. And there becomes nothing, I mean NOTHING that separates us from loving each other, because nothing could separate us from the love of God.

Perhaps that’s the gospel in the most simplest of ways: those outside have now been welcomed in lavishly. Behold, He is making all things new.

Always winter, never Christmas

Standard

When….

It’s taken me a couple of days to write this. I didn’t want to. The word topic was “when” and that seems to be the theme of my life right now…

  • When will the next season come?
  • When will I arrive at restoration?
  • When will I be healed?
  • When will I feel settled in myself?

when when when….

Financial whens, emotional whens, relational whens, security whens, family whens… So many “whens“. When will I be okay? When will life not hurt so much? When will the burden not feel so heavy? When will my questions be answered? When will I understand all that’s going on?

I don’t know when. I don’t know when I will belong. I don’t know when I will feel secure again. I don’t know when there will be a new rhythm to life for me. I’ve often quoted Narnia in this season of life “Always winter, never Christmas.” Because that’s how it’s felt… there’s always the heaviness of what must get done, the emotional weight, the darkness and seclusion that winter naturally brings, but Christmas and it’s joyful entrance doesn’t seem to have come, not during Christmas season and not metaphorically.

We’ve had 7ft of snow in 4 weeks here in Boston. The first snow fall was beautiful. We shoveled and cleaned cars, made cookies, read, stayed warm, played games and went for a snow walk. We could endure one snow fall, especially together. But we’ve had one at least every 3 days for 4 weeks. I’m not sure there’s been a day where it hasn’t snowed some. People are tired of shoveling, tired of standing in line at the grocery store for an hour, tired of buying de-icer for the sidewalks. Attitudes are less than ideal about the snow and each other. Cabin fever has set in, and friends, there’s MORE snow on the forecast for the next 10 days. I’ve forgotten what the sun feels like. I want to be refreshed by the ocean, to feel the sand under my feet, to laugh with friends and make sandcastles with kids. I want to use sidewalk chalk, walk through the zoo, watch the sunset… I long for that Christmas break in the midst of a dark winter.

I’ve waited. I’ve hoped. I’ve wished and I’ve pleaded. I’ve spend many a nights not daring to share my hopes for a season of Christmas with others, to afraid of hope. Hope is dangerous when you’re waiting and there’s no foreseeable future “Christmas season” insight. Hope is hard. Hope let’s you down. I know Christmas has to come. Hope must find a way back into my heart. Winter must end sometime, but I don’t know when. And asking “when” feels just as dangerous as “hope”.

Five Minute Friday link-up: When