LOVE will take you places
INCLUDING DARKNESS, BACK TO YOUR BUCKETLIST + LIGHT
divorce is dark.
it caused me to analyze and re-analyze everything i’d done.
everything i hadn’t done.
everything i felt.
everything i didn’t feel.
and the why behind every little thing.
one particularly inspired night in April,
just after my 30th birthday,
i looked at my bucketlist.
a list that included traveling places, accomplishments and audacious goals to give back.
it was one thing that gave me direction as a self-proclaimed fierce 23-year-old, starting my career.
a list that stopped progressing after i got married.
a list that i longed to edit and re-edit WITH someone.
i wanted to check things off, change things, dream big, chase God, and faithfully ask for those dreams to come true, together.
until i asked night after night, alone.
and until that ask turned into no more together.
on the list were the words “visit the Holy Land, walk where Jesus walked and get re-baptized where He got baptized… in The Jordan.”
how inspired was that desire when i wrote it years ago?!
and how my heart ached to want that kind of craving again.
to want to passionately avail myself to that kind of leap.
to abide in Him and WITH Him.
to see His light and to shine it brightly like i once had.
FLY + FEEL + PRAY SIMPLE PRAYERS
as i took off on my flight to Tel Aviv on november 9, 2019 (the longest flying time I’ve ever had, to date),
my heart & mind were in a place of lost & radical grieving.
this place in my heart, intended for the likes of respite during Advent, prior to celebrating the birth of Christ.
i wanted so badly to feel.
i wanted to feel whole.
i wanted to feel seen, heard… loved.
i wanted to stop this unhealthy habit of escapism that i’d familiarized myself with for all of 2019.
when my ex-husband left, i clung to anything that gave me direction.
i tried desperately to want to be WITH God, though i admit, i didn't want to.
i felt like He was NOT with me, even though His truth reminded me over and over again He was.
unmet expectation left me wandering.
anything that seemed bright & shiny, lovey & dovey, purpose driven & hopeful gave me focus.
why did it seem on the outside like everything was all hope & joy & love?
when on the inside, it was all of those things.
but they were muted.
they were suffocated by grief.
i clinged to them as hard as i’ve ever held onto anything.
and failed to genuinely grasp them.
my prayer, as i took off for my 2 week trip to Israel & Jordan was simple.
it was the lyrics of SOUL SONG, by Micah Tyler, because it played as i took off.
i didn’t have any ability to even begin to know what to ask for beyond these words:
“there's a song buried deep inside my soul, beneath the surface. it's in the places that i've been afraid to go. i know it's worth it. and where my faith is a whisper, and the pain is a shout, somebody show me an anthem so i can sing it out:
Lord, i need a soul song
i need only the melody to sing when i can barely hold on i need only the clever word i need the feeling in my bones deep down the crying out to hear the sweet, sweet sound singing me home Lord, [i know] you are my soul song
[help me sing and smile and dance].”
it evolved over the course of the 14 days and let’s just say, God is indeed faithful.
intercession is real.
and i am thankful.
i landed in munich.
halfway to Tel Aviv.
it was 6am in Munich and the gate to Israel wasn’t open yet.
my bloodsugar was going berserk.
-let’s pause to appreciate that this was the first time that i’d taken a solo trip-
UNFAMILIAR SECURITY MIRACLES
in the extremely unfamiliar, two hour long wait in Israeli security to board my El Al Israel flight to Tel Aviv,
i sweated like a whore in church.
it was low bloodsugar sweat.
patterns told me that i had been running low overnight
& with the added excitement factor of travel, no matter what kind of sugar i shoved in my mouth, my bloodsugar wouldn’t come up.
i made new friends in the line.
they seemed to understand, though they were Hebrew.
the man pulled his insulin pen out to show me his, after he saw mine.
his wife gave me Israeli snacks, which i imagine were somewhat like the “manna” that the Israelites ate after the Exodus from Egypt.
they brought my bloodsugar right up.
the flight from munich to Tel Aviv started by cracking open a book that my big (Lauryn Slattery) gave me a couple of days prior to my trip.
Sarah Bessey does a beautiful job framing the anticipation of my getaway with her book, Miracles and Other Reasonable Things:
“we place a lot of emphasis in our culture on ‘right learning’ but there is something to be said for the value of ‘right unlearning’ and ‘right re-learning.’
we have to be committed to unlearning the unhelpful, broken, un-redemptive, false or incomplete God if we want to have space to relearn the goodness, wholeness and joy of our loving God.”
we landed in Tel Aviv at 3pm on November 10th,
one month past what would’ve been my 4-year wedding anniversary.
and that became the new prayer for my trip.
UNLEARNING & RELEARNING MY SOUL SONG
my soul song, i prayed,
would be to unlearn the God that betrayed me and let my marriage fall apart.
the one that left me in a hot-trash, broken-ass mess.
the one that allowed me to revert back to my early twenties and act out of spite.
the one that let me take advantage of hearts because i suddenly had a void to fill.
the one that let me run away.
and flip Him off.
and scream "WTF God?!" at Him.
the one that, i thought, didn’t see me.
or feel me.
or hear me.
and the one that continued watching me, holding me, hearing my cries and loving me through it all.
STILL, SMALL MOMENTS
day one in Jerusalem.
in the garden of gethsemane, i sat.
i recounted the prayer that Jesus prayed in that very spot, before one of His own disciples, Judas, turned him over to Pontius Pilate to be tried for nearly every Sanhedrin religious crime there was.
in this very spot, Jesus revealed His agony.
He shows us here, in my opinion more than anywhere else in the Bible, that He is human.
in this spot, He shows His fear.
the fear He had to swallow God’s wrath for me.
some of the same pain & fear i felt like i’ve felt this year.
and i prayed that same prayer.
my eyes welled up with tears.
and my worries left me in the stillness.
until i got back to the hotel.
when i saw one particular comment on a picture i had posted before i left.
it was from someone i have trusted with my deepest and darkest secrets.
she was a sister to me.
this comment left me feeling defeated.
i wanted to understand why, but the thought of trying made me feel exhausted.
why was i trying so hard?
was it for approval?
or to feel seen?
and let it go.
though i knew i wouldn't fully be able to.
i'm still holding on to it...primarily because i don't understand the why.
the next day, we went to several museums and had an afternoon off to peruse the streets of Jerusalem on our own.
to me, this was freeing.
i had the chance to learn about Avi, our tour guide, and his Hebrew upbringing.
and spent the afternoon finding "hidden gems" in the markets around town with Roy.
it affirmed that i understood lots of why's from the Old Testament, and shared those linkages to the New Testament.
this, to me, was blissful.
in the most nerdy way,
i was finally connecting all those bible map pieces!
culture is thick in the Holy City.
that night, the rebel in me tried shisha for the first time.
it tasted like that watermelon-favored tooth polishing crap that the dental hygienist uses.
and partially because i felt like i was at the dentist, i let go of worrying about it.
i also got to practice blowing smoke rings, which is another first, and something i won't ever take a medal home for.
proud mom and dad moment right here, y'all.
WHITE PANTS + HOLY WATER
the next day, onto Nazareth, Galilee and, to my surprise, the Jordan River.
i woke up with little knowledge that this day would be my bucket list day.
that i'd get dunked where Jesus was dunked.
and re-commit myself to The One who i wrote about just a couple of days beforehand, and spoke of him leaving me in a hot-ass mess.
The One, Immanuel, who actually never left me.
was i ready for this?
even though i wore white linen pants that day.
and even though i knew everyone would be able to see straight through them when i got out,
i was ready.
that morning on the bus ride to Nazareth, i prayed to feel seen without trying.
i prayed to feel Him WITH me.
i told Him i knew He was, but asked desperately to help me feel it.
and as i got into the water, as rushed as it all was, time slowed down.
it reminds me of Joshua (chapter 10) when he asks God to stop the sun.
and He did.
that day in the Jordan River, God didn't stop the sun.
but He showed me a new Him.
and he showed me a new me.
he made me know i'm seen (my bright, shiny hiney, too!).
i felt it.
with all of me.
afterward, we walked to the Sea of Galilee to board a sunset cruise.
i had a scarf draped over my bum to hide it.
there was a choir singing "You Are Good."
i couldn't help but have tears well up in my eyes when i heard the lyrics.
i laughed because of the white pants thing, while i cried and mumbled under my breath:
"God- you really do see me, don't you?!
you really have known how my heart has felt this entire year, haven't you?!"
MISS PATTY + PATTERNS
about a year and a half ago, when things at home became tough.
when emotions were wild.
and when mission oriented communication was nearly non-existent in my marriage.
i went to church, alone.
that was normal.
but i heard this same song that the choir was singing.
even then, saying "you are good" over and over again felt like i was lying through my teeth.
i heard it again the Sunday after he told me he was moving out.
all i did was weep that time.
the makeup i had on when i went into church was gone by the time i left.
i heard it again when Matvey was here this summer.
i started to believe the words again.
because Matey gave me hope.
and i heard it just after i'd spent a night feeling defeated,
going to Nazareth,
then Galilee and
then the Jordan River to be re-baptized.
all the while, praying relentlessly to be different.
because He saw me.
and because He is actually good.
a series of patterns evolved as i journaled day to day during the trip.
this list of words summarizes the feelings and thoughts i had:
i got home and felt the pressure to share with everyone what an amazing trip it had been.
but i wasn’t ready.
i didn’t know if it really had been that amazing.
if i’d learned the things i wanted to learn
or experienced miracles the way the world expected me to.
i hadn’t analyzed these words, let alone, read them back to myself yet.
until i did.
BACK TO THE GARDEN
i felt defeated that night, even after spending that quiet time in the Garden of Gethsemane.
and after analyzing my journal, i realized that the next day i felt seen.
in my analysis, i realized that i’d feel lonely and pray.
then i’d feel connected and encouraged.
i’d feel challenged and pray.
then i’d feel committed and confident.
i’d feel homesick and pray.
then i’d feel WITH God.
like nothing could sway me.
did i get “Jerusalem syndrome?”
i was affirmed that in fact, Jesus of Nazareth, Immanuel- meaning God is with me- is WITH me!
and He never stopped seeing me.
He never stopped feeling me.
He never stopped hearing me.
He never stopped leading me to love…
but He let go long enough to let me let go.
so i could unlearn Him and relearn Him again through this.
divorce, though dark, means that there was love.
and that love took me places i wouldn’t have known without it.
i wouldn’t have learned my desperate need to unlearn God.
to relearn Him.
to walk where Jesus walked.
to stand where He stood.
and to pray where He prayed.
in the lyrics of Danny Gokey,
“love stands in the place of the one who’s guilty. [it] gives a voice to those who can't speak. [love] takes the bullet.
[it]takes the fall. [love] walks on water.
makes it part. [and it] breathes in lovin' to a broken heart.”
in the quiet.
in the reflection of Advent.
i see this new love.
i see the rawness of exactly why He has taken me to these places.
to give me a voice when i couldn't speak otherwise.
to allow Him to part the waters for me.
and all the in-betweens
i see the weight of the escape i felt running from Him.
and the rest i feel, now knowing my absolute dependence on Him.
who, now i know, will allow the world and its free will to brake me,
only so He can save me over and over again.
praise Him for divorce.
for this chance to unlearn & re-learn.
and for the ability for me to know a part of why this happened.
...because it took me places.
it brought me home.
and day by day, even when i'm running, i get to plant seeds.
and let go to let Him water them.
\\ part dos, containing the finer details of the trip, coming soon \\
PHOTO REEL IN THIS POST
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