It's Thursday. I've taken the day off work because I'm on my way out of town tomorrow for a friend's wedding. There were intentions to get things ready, prepare, clean a little - and I still may do those things - but instead, I think the day is going in exactly the direction it should. With slowness and lots of grace as I enter back into two spaces that have felt very foreign to me lately - the Word and writing.
Coming Back to the Word
I'm beginning to believe that the Word is the greatest gift I've ever had. And one that I've taken for granted way too long now. I can remember, even when I was younger, times where I devoured parts of Scripture. The first Bible I remember carrying was a thick hardcover copy. I had it for so long that I remember it being held together by duct tape. I remember walking into church one day, kind of embarrassed that I had this Bible held together by duct tape and my Dad saying it was a sign that it was definitely being used. The embarrassment went away, replaced by a thrill that I was trying to keep something held together that I clearly loved. I wish I still had that Bible, with it's duct tape and tabs for easy book finding, that helped me be pretty good at Bible drills later on.
As a teen, I remember another Bible I kept all the way through college. A blue and green softcover, full of markings and thoughts. And name tags from college worship nights. Notes from friends around passages specifically marked for me - for when I feel deserted. Markings in every book, almost every page, from years of sermons and trips. It's the copy that came with me on internships and summers in Mobile, before I lived here, New Orleans, California, camps, fall retreats, and back to Mobile when I moved here. It's binding isn't held together by duct tape, but the cover is peeling and much softer than the day I got it.
I remember when I felt like getting a new Bible, that I was sad to leave the old one behind. It had been with me for so much - the one constant companion through years of learning, friendships, moves, beginnings and endings. I remember when I picked out my new Bible, my current one, that I opened the old and transcribed notes and underlined markings quickly into it. In case something happened to my old one, I didn't want to lose the years of notes that I had gathered. Now, my new softcover copy is the one that comes with me. To Bible studies, coffee shops, out of the country, and on weekend trips. It's never far out of reach.
Never far out of reach, but lately rarely opened.
I think there are many reasons we choose to not open the Word. For me, it's because lately I've been wanting all the good things. The heartfelt, encouraging things about what God has done for me and how Jesus has saved me. And not the convicting, hard parts of Scripture that show why God has done what He has for me or why Jesus had to be the One to save me in the first place.
I've been avoiding it. I've been simultaneously trying to run from it and live in it. Let me tell you, that doesn't work. To be away from something means you cannot also be near it. It's one or the other, not both and. It's a matter of which do I want more. My sin that leads me into loneliness? Or Jesus who leads me into so much more?
I've taken for granted the gift of the Word that teaches, rebukes, corrects, trains, and encourages me. In every season the Word prepares me with patience and instruction. I've walked in my own doctrine for too long, ignoring the truth of the Word, calling it fear, but really knowing it to be pride. I don't want to be wrong. I want to be independent. I want to call the shots. And when I open the Word and read it - it reads me, cutting me deep. Showing the truth of who I am, while revealing the Truth that is opposite of who I am, but so much better. And that is something worth devouring and being devoted to.
Coming Back to Writing
Isn't there something scary about knowing you're to do something, but not sure what it all means or even how it's possible? That's how I feel about writing (and reading the Word it seems). We are constantly surrounded by words - whether reading, writing, scrolling, or just thinking! I think it's why I choose Netflix when it comes time to "relax", because it doesn't require words - beyond listening to them being spoken.
Words are one of my favorite things - in written form especially. I process everything better by writing it out. Too many words in my head makes me feel anxious and like I have a dust storm of countless words being twisted together with none of them making sense until they are put down on paper, in a line, in an order that somewhat makes sense.
And putting them down, line after line, is something that I've been ignoring and missing. Like waking up early (or attempting) to have more slow time in the morning helps me have a better day, writing does the same. Because when that dust storm of words never settles, like the mysterious flour on the streets of New York for Tom Hanks in You've Got Mail, they eventually disappear and sometimes I've lost them forever.
There are some words I've written, and spoken, that I wish I could forget, whether they were unkind, untrue, or not helpful at all. But there are others I have said or thought in the moment that I wish I had written down. While I write to hopefully encourage you, I often write for myself. To remember the place I am, what I'm learning, what I'm hating, and what I know to be true and sure - that simply choosing Jesus over everything is the greatest daily decision I can make. It may not always be the easiest, but it will never not be the greatest.
So I return to writing. I return to the process of unstringing words from a dust cloud to line them up into something remotely readable and encouraging. As I wrote in the about, writing has never left me and I hope to never leave it.
These words from Frances Ridley Havergal explain both my love for the Word of God and the writing of words perfectly...
"Holy Father, let Your loving Spirit guide the hand that writes, and strengthen the heart of every one who reads what shall be written, for Jesus' sake."
Let it be.
Empty chairs at tables. A double bench on a patio. Thanksgiving and Christmas planning. Needing to pick up a bookshelf. A piece of cheese.
These things have nothing in common, except that they are all things that made my loneliness palpable within the last month. .
There are four chairs at my parent's dining table, we only occupy three. I dream of the third being filled one day. I sat on their patio while visiting one weekend for a quiet moment outside, longing for someone to be there with me as I sipped my coffee. We talked about Thanksgiving and Christmas plans. The holidays, the worst time of the year. A friend reminded me about a bookshelf that I'm getting from her and I thought of how it won't possibly fit in my two-door car, so how will I get it? Three pieces of cheese sat on the counter to top burgers. I wanted there to be four. This may be the most ridiculous one of all, as the man who may one day come could be allergic or, as tragic as this would be, despise the stuff.
"'Tell me I’m not going to stay here,' she breathes into the phone. 'Just tell me this won’t be my forever.'" Hannah Brencher shared in one of her Monday e-mails. She was talking to a friend who was over being single. "Been there," I found myself saying. Which also happened to be the title of that week's weekly email. A friend who also gets this dose of honesty in her inbox texted me while I was at work asking if I had read it yet. I hadn't and she told me to wait until lunch or something to read it. Basically forewarning me that I would be a hot mess after reading it. She wasn't wrong, but at the end of it, I came away with a whole new perspective on my singleness. An "aha!" epiphany moment and a slap in the face all at the same time.
Sunday I sat across the table from a friend while at lunch and I told her that August had sucked. It had. The end of July is when things really began to spiral and then just spilled over into all of August. It wasn’t fun. I don’t know that I’ve ever had quite a month like August was. She asked me what sparked it, what started the downwardness? I couldn’t tell her, because I’m honestly not sure.
July/August marks three months of counseling. Maybe it’s that I’m getting to those places where I desperately need to be, but don’t want to be. Those places where my emotions have been buried for so long, that I’ve never let anyone see them. They are starting to come out now. And that is scary.
See, I’m a peacemaker. A 9 on the enneagram and avoider of conflict. Something else that means? For me, I don’t do vulnerability. I can look at every single relationship I have — family, friends, guys — and see that there’s only a certain level that I go to. Eventually, we get to a wall and I don’t want to go over it. I’ve never had a thing for heights and apparently never a thing for depth when it comes to relationships.
I don’t let people see me cry, I stuff and bury emotions until they fester, and then I explode into anger.
Does’t seem like a peacemaker at all. Because there hasn’t been any peace.
I always love the beginning of a new month. Every thirty or so days, we get a fresh start, a new page turned on the calendar. While each day brings new hours and new chances, whatever happens in their twenty-four hours can carry from day to day. Yet, a new month seems to bring a completely new start.
This past weekend, I went on a quick trip with my parents. We were hoping to see a fun concert, but instead it got rained out. While laying in the hotel room that night, I realized that much of that night felt like a picture of the first half of this year for me. At first, I was excited for something fun. I was looking forward with anticipation and hope that it would be good. There wasn’t anything near to ruin plans. Quickly a dark shadow formed behind us and things changed fast. I was sitting there looking at everything I wanted, but was told I had to leave. It wasn’t going to happen.
Last week, I shared how I often need the reminder that God's words are true and wonderful. I know they are truth, but sometimes it's hard to live in that daily. Life throws a lot at us, it gets hard to focus on truth and light. I launched a poll asking whether you guys were in need of this reminder, that God's words are true and wonderful, or if you were obeying and praying His word. Overwhelmingly, most of us said we needed the reminder that God's words are true and wonderful. This space, Polished Arrow, is a place for simply choosing. A place where you can simply choose Jesus above all that life throws at you. A spot where you can come for encouragement and gentle reminders that God is here for you, no matter what decision you are in the middle of making or whatever stage and season of life you find yourself in. The other thing to know? That I'm right there with you. Because the words found here are stories, mainly my story, of how God has shown Himself faithful to me over and over and over again. Simply because? I choose Him. Is it hard? Most definitely. Yet for the grace and mercy He shows continually, it's worth it.
And this week? He showed me that through coffee. Which is just fitting, because well, I love that stuff.
Written on one of the pages of my note-taking Bible, in Psalms, are these words: God’s Word is true and wonderful.
Last week was one of the worst weeks mentally and emotionally that I’ve ever had. I’ve mentioned here and there, but most recently on the blog, that I’m in counseling. The decision to go to counseling was one that I had been throwing around for about a year. In May of this year, I finally made the brave decision to go for the first time.
There is a lot that comes with counseling. I thought holding everything inside was hard, and it is, but once I started voicing everything out loud and had someone responding with truth and light, I actually had to begin to process the things I was feeling. And when it comes to processing things, I’m one of the slowest people. Last week, I woke up one morning with a lot of things swirling in my head. There were some things that finally clicked from my latest counseling session, but I had to go to work. There was no time for me to process anything that was happening in my head. One thing escalated on top of another and I found myself deep in a tunnel of darkness.
I talked about that dark tunnel recently. About how it easily pulls me in and there it seems my steps should be cautious, yet they are the opposite. In the dark is where I almost find myself running carefree. But, I know that eventually I will run into something. I know that I cannot thrive there. The darkness is only hiding what is in the shadows, masking it.
And I know that the Light promises so much more, because there are no shadows where the Lord is.
Yet, the light was so hard for me to find that day. And the next. Even the one after that. It wasn’t until the weekend that I slowly began to feel the darkness leaving and light surrounding me more.
In the past, I would have retreated farther into that dark tunnel. I would have pushed all my feelings and emotions farther down, just hoping they would disappear. I would have stayed silent to myself, my friends, and God. I would have continued to believe that they didn’t care and that they were too busy to listen to my worries. I would have continued to build walls that only further isolate me.
Not this time...
Last week, my counselor handed me some fruit from a tree in her backyard. And I've been thinking about it all week long. I'm sure she plucked them from the tree and handed them to me only because I asked what they were out of curiosity. But, my mind has constantly gone back to those little green fruits that look like limes on the outside, but are like oranges on the inside. Whatever they may be, they are fruit. And when she placed them in my hand and told me to let her know what I thought about them, my mind was flooded with thoughts of how the Lord is growing fruit in my own life.
I am an introvert. To my core, for sure. I HAVE to reenergize by being alone after trips, night outs, basically anything high energy. But, once I reenergize I have to then put myself out among people.
Even if I'm just sitting at a coffee shop alone reading. Or walking around Target. It is so easy for me to stay in my “reenergizing” bubble. If I'm not careful, what I say is me recharging quickly becomes isolation.
It’s a true fight, because my tendency to isolate myself leads to all this other junk.
Isolation becomes ignoring community, then feeling alone, depressed, and anxious. I have to recognize there is a difference between reenergizing and isolating and ignoring my community. They can look similar, but are also very different.
One brings light in, the other darkness.
The darkness pulls me in so easily. It's as though I'm standing in front of a tunnel, but with a small opening. It seems the only thing that could fit inside would be me. But, when I step in, it's a vast space, not small at all. Normally, I step gingerly wherever I go. Yet, in the blackness, where my steps should be cautious, they aren't at all. I can almost feel the urge to run carefree in this tunnel of darkness.
How can darkness be my friend when I'm called to be a child of the light?
Parts of me fight with each other: a part wishing it would go away, the other never wanting it to. Though I find myself running in the darkness, I know that I cannot thrive in it. Darkness may be surrounding me, but it doesn't get rid of what is hiding in the shadows. It's only masking it.
And while this dark tunnel seems never-ending, I know eventually I will run into something. Do I dare to keep going to find out what happens when I do? To see what I will find beyond the shadows?
Looking back, .I have to squint to see the pinhole of light that comes from where I entered. A small bit of light that completely ruins the darkness.
I know that the Light promises so much more than darkness. Good and perfect blessings are found in the Light, salvation is found in the Light. Life is found in the Light.
The Light dispels the darkness and it takes its lies with it. Like the lie that I don't have love? Gone.
Love is found in the Light. It may not be anything like what I expected or thought it would be, because it is so much more than I know. Maybe more than I'm capable of knowing...but I know that I want to try and know it anyways.
While isolation leads me to a tunnel of darkness, Light brings me energy and so much more.
And this introvert wants to spend her life chasing the Light.
"During the night the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision. Then Daniel praised the God of heaven 20 and said:
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Lately, I have been so surprised as to how each book I've read has been the book I needed to read. There isn't usually a reason for the next book that I pick up, but I do try and have three current reads at a time, especially if I have a goal to read a certain amount each year. For instance, this year I want to read 24 books and I have my books separated into genres/themes and I try to have one from each grouping going at a time. Besides this, I normally just pick one randomly when it's time to begin a new one. But so far this year, when I've finished a book, I have realized that it was the book I needed for that moment. I wish I could recap all of them so far this year, maybe one day I will, but today I'll talk about "The Secret Garden" and how it met me right where I am in learning how to simply choose truths over lies.
There is a neighborhood that I pass on the way to my favorite ice cream place. It's probably one of the cutest spots and I think I would like to live there one day. It's probably not true, but I feel like the houses have been passed down through families, like you have to inherit a house on that street. Old, amazing trees fill Mobile and on this street, almost every house has lights strung among their branches. A soft glow of lights, filling the street, down as far as you can see. A few weeks ago, while on the way to the ice cream place (can you tell where we hang?), I passed the street again, but this time it was blocked off. The curbs were free from cars and under the canopy of lights, tables filled the street. There were people everywhere! Block party, birthday party, wedding, whatever it was, it's what I dream about. Community.
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