Words

Recently, as my sophomore year of college has met its end, I have been thinking about a variety of different things, and I figured I might as well word vomit them onto a webpage so that the entire world can see the frantic mush that my brain has become.

This is basically the sales pitch versions of random thoughts that I’ve had or things I’ve been processing recently.

There’s about fifteen posts that I’ve been trying to write for weeks now, but the words aren’t coming. If I’m honest the words stopped months ago. They seem to have just run right out from under me, and despite all my pleas and desperate attempts to find them again, they’re lost out in the woods somewhere. That terrifies me more than most other things – my song, my melody, the tune to which I’ve composed my narrative – has silenced.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the idea of defeat. I believe that I have spent a great deal of my life accepting it. I fight, but there are holes in my armor where the blade slips through, and sometimes I neglect to patch it. But defeat, I’ve learned, is a lie.

And a cowardly one at that. We live in a broken and fallen world that thrives on defeat, like a drug, we are drawn to it, because to see a brother or a sister caught in the cycle of defeat allows us one minute of reprieve to believe that maybe, for just a moment, we are not as bad as we’ve learned to think. It is a poison trickling through our veins since the moment we are born, injected into our system through the prescription of a war-torn world. In my own life, I can trace the heritage of defeat like the lines on a tree. I have watched as it has lead to shame, self-hatred, and complacency and I’m sick of it. I am so tired of listening to the whisper of a world that tells me that I will never be enough, but I am so much more upset with the whispered lies that I have believed from within myself, written into my bones by an enemy who is afraid of my recognition that it was grace that dipped its hand into infested waters to drag a dead body from the bowels of darkness and into the light.

And as I take up my sword, I have been learning it is light that I have become afraid of. It is so much easier to hide in the dark.

When I was younger, my favorite game was “hide-and-go-seek-in-the-dark.” My brothers, cousins, and anyone else we could convince to play would rush out to the bonus-room attached to my cousin’s garage and turn out all the lights, knocking down play-stations and lamps, dismembering couches and freezers to find the perfect hiding spot. And the seeker, who had just counted in a lit bathroom, would feel their way around the room until their eyes adjusted and eventually they would find a cousin or a brother tucked in the couch or hidden under a pile of blankets and all the lights would be turned on. It was blinding. I would throw my hands up to my face, too uncomfortable to peek between my fingers until I adjusted to the light.

Life, I’ve learned is just like that. In a world darkened by shame and defeat, it is terrifying to look at the light. We claw our way back into corners because it is more comfortable to live in pitch blackness than it is to open our eyes to the searing light of grace.

I am reading the book The Holiness of God by R.C. Sproul and from it I have begun to see the pattern of my hiding spots. Defeat brings fear of the light – a terror that haunts you through enforcing the lie that if anyone really knew you they would be repulsed by what they found.

Sin, I see, is repulsive, and I know the ins-and-outs of my flesh, and while the world tells me to embrace it I feel rather nauseous by the shame that accompanies it all. Words that have been spoken to me, spoken over me, spoken by me – they stick like molasses between my ribs and make it impossible to breathe. Hurt, pain, shame tell me that it is impossible to love the body that I am in.

“You’re beautiful.”

“You’re so pretty.”

“You’re my role model.”

“You’re my hero.”

“You’re perfect.”

“I want to be you.” 

Words that I cannot accept, but not from a place of humility, rather from a place of insecurity and self-hatred. The moment that someone says any of those things, it is hard to tear myself away from the thought that tells me “How can you be any of those things? Have you met yourself?” The world gets the highlight reel of my life while I have the behind the scenes and everything in between.

I struggle to remember that it is grace that I have been given, and grace that sets me free. The Lord, I feel, has recently enrolled me in a crash course in what it means to step out of the darkness.How much of my life have I spent holding my hands up to my eyes without adjusting to the light?

I’ve also been thinking a lot about the future.

I would like to return to New York someday, sooner rather than later.

My heart, I can feel, like the strings of an instrument worn down by age, are softening to the idea of America. I can feel the Lord growing my heart in compassion as I am learning how to be loved and how to love myself more completely.

I am learning how to adult and it is the hardest thing in the entire world.

Sarcasm is hurtful, and I’m often the biggest culprit. While I thank the Lord that he has softened my tongue and taught me to walk with more tact, I recognize how far I have left to tread a path of love. I know the sting of words all too well, and I am trying to learn how to not issue the blow myself. I am not the hardened bully that I was in high school, but I am growing into a woman of gentleness and tact, not silence.

There is a song by Flyleaf called “Fire Fire,” inspired by James 3:5, that speaks of the danger of words. As I study the English language – cutting into sentences like a surgeon, building narratives out of blank pages, crying with a poet as they wring their heart out on the page – I have further recognized the weight of words. They are a destructive power that can breathe life into the most hopeless of situations. How will I use them?

I have been thinking about what will happen after college. MFA programs tend to work better once you have lived enough life to write about, but waiting to go back to school makes me nervous. So do I pick a PhD program instead? Where do I go from here?

And where is precisely the question. I love the city, I always have, but there is another part of my heart that longs to live in the country. I come alive to the tune of unadulterated land in the middle of nowhere. Do I pursue the big city life or the homegrown country? How can I love poetry slams and rodeos with the same strength?

I love the facial expressions that I receive when people learn of my affinity for heavy rock.

I wish that I camped and hiked more.

I am both terrified and stoked over what this summer abroad will bring. I’m more nervous to live in the UK than I have ever been to spend my time in the middle of the jungle or the developing world.

These past months I have felt beaten and enlightened.

IMG_3689-2Life, it feels, is like this barbed wire fence, perched on the edge of what we know and barring us from eternity.

This is only the beginning. I have so many more words to share. Until next time, wonder on.

 

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