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This week another friend left the office. Without a word or warning, he was gone. The news of his departure came as a shock to everyone, most especially to me. Returning to the office today, the air was heavy and still. It was as if the walls and everyone within were holding their breaths. Stunned. Like a punch in the gut, we were collectively gasping for air.

Everyone pushed through the day wearing plastered smiles. People busied themselves – heads down, working hard, near silent – faces betraying the confusion inside. And no one – NO ONE – mentioned him.

While I was away, they’d quietly gone through his office and tried to erase his presence. After seven years there, four in that little nook in the corridor, they went about the day as if he never existed. But I remembered. And as I made my way out, closing up shop for the week, I found myself in his office, something I tend to do with each of the coworkers (friends) who have now since left the office over the months.

I took inventory of the state of the near sterile room. New was a sign taped to a chair reading “Please vacuum and dust in here.” Gone were the piles of wires and cables, programming CDs and manuals. Gone were all the little kitschy souvenirs sent to him over the years – the carved wooden turtle from his brother’s trip to Greece years back, the beads from the office Mardi Gras celebration the year before – everything about him had disappeared and was replaced by a trash bag slumped in the corner.

I stood there for a moment and looked out the window, recalling the sound of birds and the sweet smell of rain that would waft through the halls when it was too warm in the office and he’d decided to crack the windows. I slid by that wall I spent many a day propped up against as we shot the breeze; walked past the table where I would sit my things on occasion when my hands were full and the 5-minute check in quickly became a 30-minute conversation, sprinkled with laughter and stories. I made my way to his desk and remembered the times I sat against that corner as he’d walk me through a problem I was having with my computer or the latest collection of photos he’d taken. I looked at the now empty chair and nearly cried. The weight of his absence still teases, still haunts.

As I sit typing this, the glow of dusk slowly seeping into evening, I wonder what’s next. For me. For him. For us. There’s a hope that we’ll continue these conversations and our lives will still intersect, but I just don’t know for sure. I’m realizing all too well that I’m more sentimental than I fear; that absence doesn’t necessarily make the heart grow fonder in every situation. That we all get wrapped up in our own little lives and our attention to those in the periphery becomes less and less a concern. So many slip through the cracks. So many already have. I hope this, whatever it is we’ve shared, will be spared though. Only time and grace know for sure. But right now, I miss him and am reminiscing on happier times.

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A few years back a guy I know wrote a book called The Year I Got Everything I Wanted. It was a candid look into his not so picturesque life, a life which included a failed marriage and all the heartache that occurred. Looking back on the year, perhaps one of the most difficult years to date, I’m fighting the urge to be bitter, begging my heart not to grow cold in its despair because, this year, I (nearly) got everything I wanted.

Everything I had prayed for and desired has come about, but not at all as how I expected (wanted). God has seen me through a year of heartache, longing, waiting and despairing. All the joy that has come about has been coupled with its fair share of sorrow and discouragement. Had I known that asking for moments of heart refining and chances to hope and trust in His good provision would leave me like this, I don’t know how likely I would have been to utter those words — I don’t know if I would have been so bold.

I have been pulled so taut that I might break these days. Been stretched so many different ways, that I feel as if I’ve lost my resiliency, my ability to snap back. I feel like a used hair tie– wrung and twisted and and yanked so far that I’ve lost all my elasticity. I’ve been left limp. Wilted.

2010, I can’t wait to see you go.

It’s been an odd year — people getting together, people breaking up. Friends landing jobs and others losing out. We’re all coming and going — rising and falling — trying to keep afloat as the waves ebb and flow.

I’ve been haunted. Felt the absence of things (and people) I can’t define. Moments of uninvited hopefulness and wanderlust will weigh on my soul. In somberness I carry them. Waiting. Wanting.

There’s a beautiful destination somewhere before me, just within my grasp. I know it. I just don’t know how to make it there from here…

Same Old, Same Old

I’m at a weird place — a sort of lull in the normal cadence of my day-to-day (-to-day) life. The band has reached a measure of rest. All’s quiet on the Western front, if you will. (Please excuse all the unrelated metaphors.) And in this quiet (in the lull), the stars seem to shine just a bit brighter, the world seems to make a little more sense. These Autumn winds are disrupting all the chaos of the last few months. All that’s left is the sweet aroma of hopefulness. It’s altogether wonderful and unnerving.

Tonight while sharing with a friend about the hopefulness I once had about a man (and the relationship I’d so wanted with him), familiar sentiments stirred up. They continue to swirl about me even now…

And I wonder why all these things begin to haunt me again. Why now? Why when I’m just now starting to emerge from a very dark phase that reeked of bitterness, anger, doubt and worry? Why when I’ve done so well to keep my distance and maintain such a safe and platonic relationship after months of confusion and second-guessing (with him)? Why are the thoughts of him beginning to churn and turn this heart again?

I Hate Roller Coasters.

Within the next few days I’ll find out one of three things:

  1. I’m being laid off
  2. I’ll be put on “temporary” part-time status
  3. I somehow survived the most-recent round of cut-backs (Hallelujah!)

As a crowd of people enjoyed themselves at some friends’ housewarming tonight, I told my friend, Bekah, about the stress that has me threadbare and running on fumes. As she shared about a dream that reminded her of God’s faithful trustworthiness, I confessed that I felt like I was on a roller coaster – chugging along and fearful of the impending, unforeseeable drop.

It’s going to be fine – you’ll see! He’s gonna come through and do something amazing! Just trust that God loves you and cares for you; that He’s got you in His hands… I hope you find rest [in that]!

I hope so, too, Bekah, because well… I hate roller coasters. Like, A LOT.

It’s Not You, It’s Me

No, really! Maybe it is me after all…

I’ve been thinking a lot about why I’m still single. Completely unattached and having never even come close to it (the being attached). I’m beginning to believe something may actually be horribly wrong with me…

While on a short drive the other day, I realized something that saddened and scared me to the core – I have a problem trusting people, men in particular. The lingering aftershocks of my dad’s betrayal of our family, I suppose.

There was a time in my life when I was completely at ease with guys. In fact, I’d had more guy friends than girls for most of my teen years. I was one of the boys. I look back on these last years since my parents’ divorce and see that the faces in my circle have changed a great deal. Nary a man has been allowed to come close enough to see (and know) the real me. Save for one who took that privileged opportunity to see me and ripped my trust in him apart. And now here I am “[thirty-one], and well past my due date,” to borrow from My Big Fat Greek Wedding.

I’m (still) more broken than I feared. The cracks I’ve piled mortar in continue to tear. No matter how desperately I try to smooth out the surface, debris is everywhere lately. I’m falling apart.

I need to be restored. Again. I need to remind myself that I am loved. I need God to open my eyes (and heart) to the romance He started before a breath was taken or a word uttered from these lips. The love my wayward heart is so desperate to find – this life-altering, epic, shake-you-to-the-core love I dream about and long for – has already happened. It’s already been poured out. I’ve been in the thick of this heated, passionate pursuit of His and turned a blind eye to it. Thankfully, despite me, His love (and forgiveness) knows no end. No matter how foolish, no matter the times I run toward other loves, Christ’s love for me remains pure since the day He poured (His) life into me. And I know that as I crawl back, broken heart in hand, rejected and dismissed, He will remain.

Thankfully, this love story continues. Not because of anything I do. For once, I’m glad to say that it actually isn’t about me at all.

Rain/fall

Every Monday I have an opportunity to, I hang out with these wonderful people and help serve the oft forgotten ones, the homeless men and women of Nashville. Tonight, despite ominous clouds and definite rain, I joined them with no exception.

Serving with PeopleLovingNashville is such a joy. The people who come out genuinely love the men and women they encounter and, more importantly, they love the Lord. You can see it in their eyes, feel it in their smiles. It’s tangible. It’s heartfelt. A shared passion and earnest pursuit to show the Love their Savior pours out to each “lost soul.”

Tonight, we were curtailed by torrential rains-turned-tornadoes. And as we hurriedly passed out the last of the food that had made it to the the War Memorial, my heart sank with worry for these men. Where would they go? How would they stay dry? How would they eat and enjoy these simple meals? How could they stay safe?

Familiar faces flooded my mind. Jim. Rosco. Hannah and her kids. The countless men and women and families who greet us each Monday night. As I lay here in bed, I’m reminded of Ryan’s words. We’re all, every single one of us, just one step away. One bad decision, one job loss, one broken family, etc. away from finding ourselves at our wits’ end.

Tonight, I am grateful, humbled and full of thanks for all the things I have and for all the things I need in Him.

Solitude

There are days when I need to be alone, completely holed away like a troll. To rest. To think. To recharge. To… be.

True, I could have wandered out into the blazing heat, walked along shaded paths, baked in the sun or found a pool to swim in. I could have had my fill of ice cream or refreshing lemonade out on the patio of a nearby restaurant or cafe. But instead, I decidedly chose to be a hermit.

The Nearness of You…

I’ve had one of the most glorious weekends in a long while – blissful moments spent with friends as we soaked in the summer rays, relishing the cooling night air. It was wonderful – all of it – but, despite my joys and nights filled with laughter and bottles of wine, my heart has longed for more. I found myself simultaneously at peace and in a familiar place of unrest.

As my friends and I sat in those moments, reclined on blankets atop a hill overlooking rolling acres of a nearby vineyard, my heart longed for a certain man to be there with me, to share in all of the splendor my little heart beheld.

I imagined the two of us on that hilltop sanctuary staring out onto the idyllic scene before us: He relaxing, propped up on one elbow, me sitting beside him. As we talked and laughed, sharing stories from our very different childhoods, the sun slowly set behind the hills on the horizon. Everything was illuminated in that golden hour as red met green, and marigold flushed into violet.

It was all so wonderfully delicious in my in head.