Everyday Grace

Searching for goodness in the ordinary

The Answer to Fear

Nov
28

photo: Nina Uhlikova

This post originally appeared on My Collision with Christ as a guest post, as part of a 7-week series on fear. You can find that series by clicking here

Here are a bunch of things I’m afraid of right this minute:

  • That I can’t write a real thing that will help real humans because I’m not a real writer
  • That I’m too big of a sinner to ever be qualified enough to tell anybody else what to do with their Christian life
  • That I won’t ever figure out my real calling, or worse, I don’t have one
  • That I won’t ever get to be a mama, a huge dream of mine since childhood
  • That a lot of people secretly don’t like me and just pretend they do
  • That I’m not thin or pretty enough
  • That I misheard God and I’m missing His will for my life
  • That heaven will be boring
  • That I’m always doing the wrong things
  • That my mouth is too sassy to be a good, sweet Christian girl
  • That I’m just too much and not enough at the same time
  • That I’m too big of a mess for God to fix

Just in case you were thinking, friend, that I am writing this from the other side, having come through the fire and now I am healed of all fear and totally free of all of this, and now I can instruct you on the way out and fix your mess in three easy steps and four payments of $19.99, I’m not and I can’t. (I just don’t have that Billy Mays swagger, may he rest in peace.) But I can sit here in the middle of the mess with you and maybe we can figure it out together. Maybe the answer is somewhere in admitting I don’t have the answer – and none of us really does – but Jesus. Let’s run toward Him together.

I grew up without my dad. I’ve never met him, heard his voice, or been the recipient of one of his hugs. He has never sent me a birthday card, called me on the phone, helped me loft my bed in college, or taught me how to change a flat tire. Instead, before I was born, he decided I wasn’t worth sticking around for, so he walked out on my mom and me before I drew even a single breath. As a result, I have always been afraid that maybe I am more leaveable than lovable. That maybe anyone who I let love me would eventually figure out that I’m not worth it and skip out, too. (more…)

When You’re Feeling Left Out, Unloved, and Lacking

Jul
30

photo: Tobi Dami

The faces in the photo were overcome with joy, smiling big. Four girls leaning on each other, one in a wedding dress. A ton of Instagram hearts below solidified its status as a joyful memory and a lovely photo. But looking at it made me want to cry.

A little over a year ago, I traveled to Uganda with a group of total strangers. Though none of us knew each other before the trip, and we had nothing in common beyond saying “yes” to flying across the world to serve together, we all quickly bonded over our shared experiences in this new place and became fast friends. We worshipped together, cleaned up a library together, planted fields of grass together, ate together, and danced with girls rescued from trafficking together. We were a team, leaning on and learning from each other, and I flew home to Missouri with a deep hope that, though we were all from different states and places, we would somehow stay connected as friends.

I later learned that several of them had the same idea. A handful of times over the past year since we returned, I have seen photos pop up on social media of several folks from our trip getting together at conferences, events, or just because. It hurts to admit this, but I have never been invited to any of these get-togethers. The first few times, I tried to brush it off as coincidence and not take it personally. Later, I tried to reach out in a positive (not a whiny) way and say things like, “So fun that y’all were able to get together! Let me know for next time – I’d love to see you again!” Once, one of the other girls and I actually did make a plan to get together in her hometown, but she later cancelled on me. No big deal…things happen. But I’d be lying if I said it didn’t hurt.

I blinked down at this new photo that had just popped up on social media. It was a handful of the girls from the trip celebrating at one’s wedding. It appeared that they all took part in the wedding as her bridesmaids, while I wasn’t even invited at all. To be fair, I fully support her right to have whomever she wants at her wedding. I just didn’t understand why they were all included, and I was left out…again. I thought we were friends, too.

I wish I could say the biggest emotion I felt upon seeing this photo was pure happiness for my friend getting to marry her sweetheart. Instead, tears filled my eyes and my heart cracked open, prayers spilling over. It wasn’t the wedding, it was all of it. All the times I’d been left out by these girls over the past year bubbled up all at once, and all I could do was cry. Lord, I sobbed, I believe you have to be a friend to have a friend. I have prayed over these girls, texted with them in the middle of the night, encouraged them, tried my best. So it really stinking hurts to realize that I have been left out and left hanging these past several months. The only common denominator here seems to be…me. Did I do something wrong? Were we not as close as I thought? Have I not been a good friend to them? Did they just forget about me?  (more…)

When Father’s Day is Hard

Jun
11

photo: Miguel Á. Padriñán

My first father was Danny Tanner. Kind but firm, wise, and good at cleaning up messes both physical and emotional, he was who I sometimes pictured as a kid when I thought about what fathers were like. In case you didn’t grow up in the 90s watching basic cable after school, I’m talking about DJ, Stephanie, and Michelle’s dad on the TV show Full House. He always had the answers when his girls got into trouble, and even when they really screwed up, he always let them know he loved them and would always be there for them. This was a far cry from my own father experience. Maybe I gravitated toward Mr. Tanner because my own concept of what a father was was blurry and ungraspable, sort of like trying to remember what someone looked like in a dream. I had a vague outline, but the details never came together. Mr. Tanner was a concrete figure, an example that made sense. (As a little girl, I thought he was a real person, a real dad, so you can imagine my shock later in life when I watched Bob Saget do some standup and my beloved TV dad evaporated into thin air.)

I’ve never met my biological dad. I think the first time I remember realizing this loss was in kindergarten, when the time came to make Father’s Day cards and crafts. Everyone around me had a dad to make something for but me. I don’t say this to get you to feel sorry for me, but to get you to understand that this is when it hit me that I was different from the other kids in this way. I knew what a dad was, I guess, but I had never really thought about where mine was until that point. I went home and asked my mom, and after a long pause, she told me he “ran away.” I’m sure she was just trying to find simple words to explain a complicated thing to a little kid, but I remember thinking, from what? I began to internalize the idea that I was something to run from, or at the very least, not worth sticking around for. (more…)

A Word About Guns

Feb
17

photo: Fancycrave // CC0

If you’re anything like me, you’re scrolling through social media and article after article following Wednesday’s school shooting in Parkland, Florida with a broken heart and a lump in your throat.

“Thoughts and prayers.”

“Other countries don’t have this problem. Gun control now!”

“More laws won’t help. Arm the teachers!”

There are a lot of comments on social media regarding guns and gun control that I would like to reply to with words that are less than kind, but after a little prayer involving lots of asking God to put his hand over my mouth, I’ll just say this. We are in a tense place right now as a nation, and most of us are full of fear. Fear of our kids being taken from us, fear of our guns being taken from us, fear of nothing changing for the better because we cannot agree on how to move forward. In an environment so charged with fear, we turn to blame. The democrats, the republicans, Congress, the president, past presidents, your neighbor who wants or doesn’t want gun control – all of these folks are easy targets for blame when we are afraid. But if we consider ourselves people of faith, we do have another choice. When we’re afraid that the world has gone to hell and there’s no other option than to start firing back, let’s listen to Jesus.  (more…)