Courage Found In The Darkness

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When I was little, I read a book about this girl’s life back in the days of horse-drawn wagons and boiled water baths. At one point in the book, her dad died. Where there was once laughs and daddy-daughter dances through the kitchen, there was now only pain and shattered dreams. The morning after her entire world came crashing down, she woke up to the most beautiful day. The sun came peeking over the land, scattering gold and orange splendor all through the sky. And she couldn’t figure out how in the world the birds could be chirping and the world carrying on as usual. How could anything be beautiful when her world had come to such a sudden stop and shattered to pieces?

I failed to fully grasp then what I understand now.  In the dark moments of my deepest heartbreaks, I, too, have stared at a breathtaking sunset, unable to fathom how such a thing could exist in the middle of such pain.  How did the sun rise when I barely have it in me to leave my bed?

At first, it killed me. I remember the first time I got back on Facebook after my brother died. Heartbreak I had not experienced before set in as I browsed. It hurt seeing so many people carry on with their lives as tho nothing had happened. I saw posts of my brother’s death mingled in with happy, smiling faces and funny memes. Raw and exposed I sat, while conflicting emotions overwhelmed me. Of course I wanted others to be happy. I wasn’t mad at anyone for being cheerful or untroubled, but to be faced with such happiness so soon after being smacked in the face with my own grief, it was hard. Like a bright light being turned on after a while spent in a dark room, stinging the eyes as they attempt to readjust, their happiness burned a bit too bright in my current darkness.

But, over time, I actually found hope and healing by seeing genuine happiness in others. Hope that said there was still life after being shattered to pieces. Hope that said I wasn’t alone. I saw people who had walked through devastation and their own dark times of loss; heroes who didn’t just survive, but somehow managed to thrive. People who praised God with both hands, despite the sorrow they lived through.

I was blessed with multiple coworkers/ people close to me who braved their own heart holes, reopening their own wounds, to let me know I was not alone and would make it through – that my grief would not be the end of me.  They somehow summoned the courage to heal and love life again, and that gave me courage to face a life without my brother in it. Courage to live a life with loss and still find joy, even if it would forever mingle with pain. J.R.R Tolkien said it best:

“The world is indeed full of peril, and in it there are many dark places; but still there is much that is fair, and though in all lands love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater.”

I don’t think you ever really “get over” losing someone you love, but I think you learn to carry them as love in your heart instead of a load of grief on your shoulders. After all, “The ones that love us never really leave us.” – J.K. Rowling

So, as it turns out, our worlds will shatter over and over again, and yet, the world will still continue to spin. Flowers will still bloom. And on our worst days, birds will still sing. And maybe, that’s just the kind of consistency we need to believe in better days ahead.


The power of a memory.

Memories are a funny thing. They can be our stepping stones to propel us into the future, empowering us and making us feel secure. They can also be crippling, as we try to sort out what went so wrong or how to put the pieces back together to what we once knew.

It’s infatuating in it’s darkness the way a perfect and blissful moment that will never happen again can be just as cold-bloodedly heart-wrenching to recall as a person’s darkest and lowest moments.

I struggle with memories. Not so much the horrible ones, although I do have the occasional nightmare. No, those are easier somehow to move on from. The worst things are the little things. The nicknames. The traditions. Talks sitting on the piano bench or a card for every holiday. Card games. Old pictures. Tension where a warm hug once was. The moment you forget they aren’t in your life anymore, at least not the way they once were, and you go to text them about something. The autopilot blissful moment your mind goes to before it remembers. My worst nightmares are the ones where I dream of my best memories and wake up to face all over again that those moments so dear to me will NEVER happen again. That is the fate of no closure, no explanation, no solution. Your brain can’t process why, so it autocorrects to how things should be.

The truth is memories, good, bad, or just different from the reality we now know, can’t be our guide. A life spent looking back to what we once knew will only stunt our future. Perfect memories can’t dictate a perfect future anymore than horrible memories dictate a horrible future. People change. Situations change. You can be absolutely sure of something and it can be gone the next minute and you may never understand why.

I’m learning that people are only reliable to a point and through this, God is teaching me to rely on him. We all have backgrounds… insecurities… triggers… that while we have the potential to overcome, these things also have the potential to overcome us. “Hurting people hurt people” isn’t a quote from thin air. It’s from situation after situation of someone who has experiences their own horrors who either wouldn’t or wasn’t given the support to work through those traumas in a healthy way, and now the cycle has continued. I’m learning empathy and forgiveness go a long way to my own healing and sound mind and I can’t have the latter without the former. I’m learning I need less me and more God. Less how I feel and more of His guidance. I’ve got miles to go before I sleep on that journey, but I’m learning, albeit slowly, to take that road less traveled by and try to understand. I have acted far less than a great person in my worst moments. I am a person who has hurt others from my own hurt. I am a person that God has brought to my knees to heal and redeem from bitterness and unforgiveness and the ways I acted because of it. It’s a process and a hard one and I am not there. To forgive is to give up what should have been and to move on to what is. To forgive is to accept. And that’s pretty unnatural for me lately. But I also know I need to learn to forgive as I’ve been forgiven and risk the vulnerability that comes with it. It is starting to sink in that the only true freedom comes from a heavenly perspective instead of my learned responses. 

I don’t have any neatly-packaged answers. I have no quick fixes. I see a long journey of learning to trust and rely on God and a whole lot of blunders and wrestles along the way. If there were quick fixes, I guess we wouldn’t need God. I do trust Him tho. That I do know. And I know if there is anyone who should be leading and directing my life, it should be Him. So I’m just gonna start that journey into the great unknown and trust He will sustain me and truly works all things for good.


That’s going to leave a mark.

“To share your weakness is to make yourself vulnerable; to make yourself vulnerable is to show your strength.”

And speaking of vulnerable…

Two months or so ago, I broke my wrist. While, I wish I had an exciting tale, there was no tackling and arresting a wanted fugitive or saving a child from a burning building. Unfortunately, I have no cool war story… I was in a car accident. On top of which I broke my wrist, leaving me with a very obvious sign of my wreck for at least the next 6 weeks (ended up being 5 weeks thank Jesus), not to mention bruises and a concussion I preferred to pretend didn’t exist. It was a pretty humbling experience.

What I am about to share with you was not something I learned immediately. In fact, the first week, the concussion and the event left my emotions a little wild… and I cried… a lot, and didn’t really see anything good about my wreck. I felt awful, physically, emotionally, and my pride felt rather bad too. I was reduced to one usable arm and two fingers I could kinda sorta use that stuck out of the cast. I had no car and all of my plans for the next two weeks had been suddenly killed. But with a little time and perspective, while I would still very much choose to not have wrecked, good did come from this.

The first immediate thing that happened was I was forced to slow down. Quite literally 40mph to 0mph instantly (too soon?) but also in the weeks that followed. Because of my concussion, I couldn’t work for a couple weeks. My body demanded rest for healing and I slept a lot those first few days, something I later realized I had needed. I was also forced to slow down my thoughts and just relax. Something about a traumatic brain injury makes it a little harder to think deep intellectual thoughts ;).

I also learned a lot about who really cared for me. I can’t even begin to tell you how many people sent me texts and messages, stopped by, and called me to check on me and offer to help. People who truly cared and just wanted me to be okay. People who remembered when my doctor’s appointments were and asked me about them afterwards. People who didn’t owe me a damn thing who went way out of their way to care. I blame it slightly on the concussion, but I cried from how many people cared. And then there were other people who in all reality should have cared who never even asked if I was okay, which hurt and left some scars, but it gave me insight into which ones I should be focusing on and who I needed to prune out of my life.

I was forced to ask for help. I had to ask multiple times for rides. I needed help rewrapping my soft cast. I needed help car shopping. I needed help buttoning my pants. I even needed help doing my hair one day. As someone who prides herself on doing everything herself, it was humbling. But those things, asking for help, allowed me to bond more with those people. Especially asking someone to button my pants… you get real close real quick.

I had the opportunity to spend a long weekend with my family for Thanksgiving. While I had taken a day off before the wreck, because of my time off, I was able to spend more time with my family and especially more than a few hours with my San Fran family who flew in.

I got to work in a different area and learn a completely different side of policing, and I found that I really enjoyed it. Now, I can not only use what I learned as I go back to the streets, but it gives me motivation in my career to learn more and work harder and smarter.

I learned a whole lot about how a bone heals. I’m slightly obsessive and learned not only how it heals, but all the nutrition that plays into it and what supplements to take to heal faster.

I gained some winter insulation… Not being able to workout for over a month + my appetite = a few extra temporary curves. Keeps me warmer. Don’t be jealous.

I also had the opportunity to go to church consistently for a few weeks. I had previously prayed for some stability with church/fellowship. Working every other week and being on nights makes it difficult to make it to church and fellowship becomes almost non-existent. But my temporary “normal” work schedule gave me the chance to spend a few weeks to get my spiritual ducks in a row a bit before my schedule went back to topsy-turvy. And to be honest, God used that time to catalyst some construction in this soul. Not really fond of the demo work going on, frankly, but we will see where it leads.

I’ll probably never know if that wreck was merely an unfortunate event or if it kept me from something else happening. Maybe had I continued down the road, I would have been in a worse accident or maybe my mistake put me in the right place at the right time later or maybe I just had a dumb moment. No matter the reason, I found myself at a detour having to take the long way around to get back to where I wanted to be.

” Detours are a good thing that often feel bad. This is because it’s in our detours that we’re developed for our destiny. Because of the detour, we must go off the beaten path, take longer than we had wished, and be inconvenienced more than we had hoped. “- Dr. Tony Evans

I’ve had many detours in my life, few of which I enjoyed… at least in the beginning.My need for control is a daily struggle against God’s call to submit. But I’m learning… slowly… that detours may just have some good in them. Some detours gave me exactly the skill I needed for my next thing. Other detours, I have yet to see the why, and thinking about them kinda gives me anxiety all over again.

No I’m not trying to paint my car accident as some miraculous event and try to make it seem like it’s a good thing. It’s not. And Yeah, I wish I hadn’t wrecked. I wish a lot of things were different than they are. That’s life. But I am learning to recognize the insight and experience that only comes from unexpected events whether they are your mistake or something someone else has done to you, and while I may hate the situation, I can still use what I learn as fuel to better my life. Terrible things happen, far worse than car accidents, and they give us experiences we wish we didn’t have, depth we could do without, and understanding and empathy we would prefer to just read about. BUT, while we can’t always pick our course, I do believe we can use our experiences to enhance our lives and the lives of others.


Honest Reflections on Worth.

5914.jpgI’ve had a lot of come to Jesus moments recently. Let’s be honest, I’m always having those moments. Sometimes with God whispering to me and more often with Him knocking me upside the head to get my attention. Recently, He’s been working on me remembering to find my worth in Him. So often, I forget. I forget I’m the child of the Creator of the Universe. I forget that He created me with a direct and divine purpose that only I can do. I forget that I’m made and sustained by the one that parted the seas and raised dead bodies to life. I forget that I’m loved by my big, great Heavenly Father and nothing at all will ever separate me from that love.

Yes, I forget. And instead of stepping out on those truth, sometimes I start trying to find my worth in other things. How well of a job I’m doing, how much stuff I can get done, how fit I can get, how good my decisions are, and especially who loves me and whether or not I feel like I belong anywhere. And on my worst days, comparison to other people and feeling less worthwhile if someone stops loving me or talking to me or even stops commenting on my social media or doesn’t acknowledge me in their life on social media. It’s ridiculous at times I know, and I am definitely not proud of those moments, but they happen.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my job and I find great satisfaction in it. I strive to make good decisions and hold myself to a very high standard. I love with my whole heart and want to be loved in return. I never want to waste a minute and want to get as much done as I possibly can. I love working out and getting stronger and testing my fitness. And I’ll be honest, it’s really nice sometimes when someone posts about you on Facebook. It’s a nice public affirmation of your place in their life.

BUT, while those things are nice and really good things, when they start to become how I gage my worth, it’s time to refocus my sights back on what really determines my worth. My worth has nothing to do with what I do, who loves me, or how they show it. My worth is in who I am, which is God’s child. That’s it. The Executive Director of a company is no more valuable than the janitor. The girl struggling to bench the bar is JUST as worthwhile as the girl doing endless pull-ups with never ending abs. The child in the foster system going from home to home, not feeling like he belongs anywhere is JUST as important as the child with two loving parents. It doesn’t mean that the janitor can’t work his way up if he wants to, that the girl benching the bar can’t work hard to become strong and fit, or the the child in foster care shouldn’t want to find a place where he is loved or belongs. BUT whether or not they achieve these things, they are still JUST as important and worthwhile as ever before or as anyone else.

I think we all struggle with some aspect of where we find our worth. I know I probably struggle hardest in the area of feeling loved or like I belong. But I’m working on it. I’m reminding myself in those moments that I belong to God and that’s really all that matters at the end of the day.