We Wear Black

How often is this the case? She sits apart, “too old for such things,” while I immerse. She’s on the verge, ready to jump into the abyss. Temptation is calling, as she always has, to run, run, run.

Could you abandon the refinery of loneliness to enjoy the company of ragamuffins? We’re open, darling; are you? Or will the transition towards messy-lovely community be too much for your white sandals?

That’s why we wear black. Ours were white once, too, till honesty began its work. But don’t you see we’re proud of it? Our shoes are black but our feet are clean. He’s changed our souls, made us new again, but we haven’t forgotten the work He’s done. She bears my burdens and I bear hers, because honesty makes the weight lighter. He carries it all.

Travel, share the news, labor in love for Him, work to make others free. So our sandals have turned black, but our feet are clean.

Come, bare your heart and start this next voyage with us.

The beauty of honesty is sweeter than that of white shoes enclosing feet rubbed raw in an attempt to scrub away the dirt.

We’ve become a culture of self-preservation, and thus are walking mummies.

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Unity Through Brokenness

By this time we’ve probably all heard the lyric “I am a sinner; if it’s not one thing, it’s another” more times than we can count, allowing the truth to refreshingly wash over us that we are sinners, and He knows that. But how often do we still try to present our ideal images of ourselves to the outside world? How often do we apply this lyric merely to ourselves and exclude from it the humans surrounding, holding them to a standard we could never achieve because their brokenness shows up in different areas than our own.

Because we are all imperfect people following a perfect God, we will inevitably serve Him imperfectly, and view others’ walks with Him imperfectly. When we start fussing over all the nonessential aspects of Christianity or Christian society, however, we begin to lose our witness. A house divided cannot stand.

“I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another. By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” ~John 13:35 

Something my father once said has rung more and more true both as I’ve grown and as I’ve delved deeper into ministry. “I will fail you,” he said, “as your pastor, as your friend, as your leader, as your brother in Christ and as your father, I will fail you. The question is then, what will you do when that happens?” Our relationships cannot be based on performance. We are all, at our core, terribly broken people. Also at our core, we are people designed for relationship and unity. There will be enough people trying to fight you. Whether or not you feel like it, keep it outside the family. It’s not hypocrisy, it’s obedience. 

In the words of my favorite little nine year old, “Not everyone’s going to have the same opinion. You don’t want to lie, but you want to be understanding of their opinions. If you agree with everything they say, they’ll get a hint that you’re not being yourself. And that’s the thing, you have to be yourself, not just hiding behind your best friend. Then other people see you and start seeing they can be themselves, too.” You become like the boy who cried wolf, only you’re crying identity, and there are folks just waiting on the sidelines to see who the beauty is behind the facade. 

We’re broken. And that’s where we find unity, as broken people seeking the love of Christ. We’re a congregation gloriously off-key belting praises to our King, like expectant toddlers with faces shining as we reach up for Daddy to hold us. 

Fly With Me

When most people learn I’m getting married on my twentieth birthday, the look on their faces is nearly always one of sheer disbelief. Then comes the gently (or sometimes, not so gently) poised questions of “Are you sure?” “What do your parents think?” “Why not wait a few years…?” The best part is when they find out he’s my first boyfriend, and we met over a prank call.

From the moment the Lord confirmed that Jonny was “the one,” He also showed me that our relationship was meant to show people that the Lord still works in crazy and mysterious ways.

We both know we’re young, but at the same time we’re sure, with His peace that surpasses all understanding, that this is right. We were sure from before we started dating that this was it. Now, we will have more time to grow together as a couple, spending some of our most formative years being molded as one.

“Let your fountain be blessed, and take pleasure in the wife of your youth.” ~ Proverbs 5:18

As for what our parents think, both sets are fully behind this. Trusting our discernment, and aware that we both have waited to date anyone until we knew with absolute certainty that the Lord was leading us to this person, they could not be more excited. They’ve watched our relationship grow from friendship to dating to engagement, being fully involved in every step.

And finally, the reason we’re not waiting a few years is simple. This way we have more time together as a couple, to grow and serve the Lord together as one.

Driving home from Atlanta last year, one of my dear cousins mentioned something that’s always stuck with me. He said, “we (Christians, our family, etc) weren’t meant to live an ordinary life. Ordinary is boring. I’d rather fly.” It’s a rare thing to find someone who can fly along with you, dreams and priorities matching yours. Even less common is discovering that person at an early age, getting to figure out, experience, and grow through life by their side. Jonny and I are extremely blessed in these areas, being truly brought together by the Lord for His purposes. 

So darling, let’s fly.

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Pride’s Seduction

I had a dream the other night about a man. Specifically, Gatsby, but this time he was Marylin Monroe’s murderer (you know how dreams go).

He ran a little enclosed kingdom, with him ever at the center. While there was an overwhelming awareness that he could kill them at any moment, the people threw themselves at him. Something inside prayed he would. Somehow, somewhere deep inside myself, I was one of them, desperate for him to want me, yet aware it would end in death. There was a man working for him, reduced to a dunce from his abuses. Though he loved his master, he fought to help us escape this society of grey. 

I had just been outlined for reconstructive surgery, as women were expected to look a certain way there and I, apparently, had the audacity to break the mold. At the last moment I said no. The doctor was angry. The building was blue and made of glass. 

With a blink I returned to the city below. It occurred to me, then, how a boy can become a dictator: he had been given all he ever wanted. Like a mirage in the corner, his parents could be seen, terrified at the moment their smiles would waver, causing him to throw another tantrum. You know the look in their eyes: that scared, nervous smile, the too-quick, harried response of “He’s so smart. Look at him, such a good boy…”

He had killed Marylin  one night after dinner. Elaborately, with a set of wine, coffee, and her latest script to practice together. Something in all his subjects wanted desperately to be killed by him. It was glamorous. It made you someone. Walking around his house, a girl couldn’t help but dream of being loved by such a man of luxury, even if the one night stand ended in death. Tragedy made the story more romantic.

Every girl knew the outcome of a night with him, yet every girl begged he choose her. Every man envied him, prayed for his camaraderie, all the while knowing it would leave them as vegetables, walking round and round the ditch he drops all his old servants in. 

He survived off the women’s beauty, the men’s vitality. One kept him eternally attractive, the other eternally young. 

I looked back once more before jumping the wall. I knew the other side held life, truth, and my love. Devilishly handsome as ever, he returned the look, but this time the snake inside was clear. He was maniacal, hopeless, selfish, and alone. He wanted nothing of us but his own immortality.

Turning my head, I made the leap, and as feet met ground, I awoke.

Until writing this all out in my morning pages, it didn’t occur to me that this was my subconscious’s way of processing everything we saw in South Beach on Memorial Day Weekend. Throughout the rest of this week, the Lord showed me how my “seductive dictator” is pride, but we all have one. We all have our little hidden sin we keep quiet, letting him pump us full of the pain meds we crave as he digs the knife deeper into our backs.

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I say pride because that’s my struggle, but yours could be different. Idolatry. Lust. Laziness. Selfishness. Whatever it is, it’s never too late to release it to Him and jump the barricade.

“Though the lips of the forbidden woman drip honey and her words are smoother than oil, in the end she’s bitter as wormwood and as sharp as a double-edged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps straight to Sheol. She doesn’t consider the path of life; she doesn’t know that her ways are unstable.” ~ Proverbs 5:3-6

“Don’t abandon wisdom, and she will watch over you; love her, and she will guard you. Wisdom is supreme, so get wisdom. And whatever else you get, get understanding. Cherish her, and she will exalt you; if you embrace her, she will honor you. She will place a garland of grace on your head; she will give you a crown of beauty.” ~ Proverbs 4:6-9