Dismantling Old Monsters

I passed the monster every morning for a year. And I’m not speaking metaphorically here—it was a massive red, hulking thing draped in a cloak, and it waited for me in the piano room when the house was asleep. I was a high school band kid, up before anyone else so I could get to marching practice on time. Part of my morning routine was going for q-tips in my little brother’s bathroom on the other side of the house, and I had to pass through the piano room on my way. So I faced a daily date with the beast: absurdly long claws, piercing eyes hidden by a hood, and this horrible silence that spoke volumes against my safety.

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God in the Dark

“If you feel lonely, turn off every light in the house and watch a horror movie. Pretty soon, you won’t feel alone anymore.”

(Pinterest meme)

Since confession is good for the soul, you should know that I was scared of the dark until my mid-twenties. A full-time pastor’s wife with a college education sleeping with a nightlight. I was convinced that every villain, human or otherwise, would have unhampered access to me once I couldn’t see. (Only the gospel can give the freedom to share embarrassment like this and the grace needed to cover it.) If you’re in the same boat, I feel for you.

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When Clouds Cheer

I wonder if this scenario sounds familiar.

You’ve found a moment quiet enough to hear yourself think. It might be in the middle of the night, or maybe it’s when the rush of the day has paused. Your mind wanders to what God has called you to, whether general Christian obedience or a more specific dream. Either way, you know it’s got His fingerprints all over it even if it’s been hard or scary or slow going so far. The enemy slinks in as though he’s been waiting, oozing loneliness into your heart. He makes you feel isolated, like no one will care if you succeed or not, so it’s better to just give up now and be done with it. You’d probably screw it up anyway. No one sees, no one would even know if you called it quits. So why keep plodding forward? You could stop fighting and just go with the flow.

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When Jesus Messed Up

I was born with a desperate need for perfection. I hate having to admit I was wrong about anything; as I’m wrong fairly often, it’s a vicious way to live. The most constructive criticism or even the softest suggestion tears away at my ego, hinting that I should have known better, should have chosen better in the first place. I am merciless to myself and thus standoffish to other people, hunched like a wounded animal over my fragile sense of rightness.*

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Only the Lonely

It’s better to have a partner than go it alone. Share the work, share the wealth. And if one falls down, the other helps, but if there’s no one to help, tough! Two in a bed warm each other. Alone, you shiver all night. By yourself you’re unprotected. With a friend you can face the worst. Can you round up a third? A three-stranded rope isn’t easily snapped.

(Ecclesiastes 4:9-12)

There’s nothing quite like loneliness to break a heart. Isolation pushes in, and the air is too thin to breathe. You wildly look around for someone to help, to see, but there’s no one there. Or at least that’s how it seems.

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When the Bubbles Pop

Bubbles are oddly fascinating to me. Iridescent, perfect, and more fragile than seems possible. No matter how ugly life gets, they float effortlessly with ease and beauty. In case you didn’t know it, today is National Hugging Day. And also in case you didn’t know it, I’m not naturally a hugger. One of my favorite things about moving to New England was the assumption that everyone’s personal bubble would be as hefty as my own (and let me tell you, it’s hard to live in the South with a bubble like that—hugs lurked around every corner).

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Scary Big Dreams

Remember when you were little, how your dreams of what you would become when you grew up were so big? Astronauts, ballerinas, presidents: kids are encouraged to dream big about their futures, to pursue their goals with gusto.

But somewhere between “I want to be a movie star!” and a 401k, we lose something of the magic. We tame our desires, muzzle our dreams, and stuff what could be down into a more austere (adult) reality. Honestly, though, life is too short to settle for less than what God meant for you to experience. Sure, being a lab tech—or even a CEO—pays the bills, but what makes you come alive? What job wouldn’t feel like a job to you?

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The Beast Named Abandonment

Abandonment is defined as “being left completely and finally; forsaken utterly; deserted.” Stated in such cold, clinical terms, it can lack much feeling. But when those terms have skin on them, when they have gotten to know you down to the core of who you are, when they have drawn you into a place of vulnerable relationship with you, and then when they leave you completely and finally, utterly forsake you, and desert your heart, things change.

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The Half-Lived Life

Choosing ice cream flavors was the worst when I was little. I could never make up my mind between chocolate or mint, so after working myself into a tiny internal tizzy, I’d ask if I could have some of both. Over the years, I learned that if you’re quiet and polite, you’re very seldom asked to make up your mind about anything. The proverbial fence became the most comfortable place in the world (though in reality it allows you to be an easy target for both sides). I’m not talking about keeping peace—I’m talking about living in a constant state of “eh.”

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