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.
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.
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.
I've been listening to Emily P. Freeman's podcast, "The Next Right Thing," since it started. I get excited for Tuesday mornings, because I know my drive to work is going to be filled with a few moments of simple, yet profound truth. And most days it also fills my drive home, because let's be real, I need to listen to things a few times before I actually understand what you are telling me. I also love Emily because she loves lists. Each season, she records different things that she has learned and then shares them with us. I'm joining in for the first time with my list of what I learned this Spring.
I’m an emotional person. It’s not hard for me to write that (except for my fingers fumbling over my phone, at my work desk, where I’m writing this). I can easily wear my heart on my sleeve, but of all the emotions, anger is usually the first one people see. All the others I keep bottled up inside. Which makes me feel heavy and constantly searching for a breath.
I always set out with the intention to do a detailed blog post of places I go and things that I do. Yet, that clearly doesn't always happen. After all, I spent nine months in California and I'm pretty sure I haven't shared half of the things or places I saw when out there. It's never too late...right? I saw Anne do a recent photo share from her phone and Kiki often shares her month in photos, so I thought I would take a cue from both of them. Here's a photo dump of some things I've been doing since the beginning on the year.
Photo by Tim Ard
Dear First Responder,
A couple days ago, your world was turned upside down and stopped for a moment. On what was a beautiful day, the night was just the opposite. You lost a fellow officer. A friend. And while I didn't know him personally, or the bond you held with him, I know there is pain. A pain of something unimaginable and yet now, so real.
There is one thing I do know: he was brave.
And so are you. For every day that you wake up, put on your uniform, and head out the door, you also carry courage. Strength in the face of pain or grief. That is you, every single time. And especially today.
Words do not always express what we want to in these moments and a "thank you" seems so small, needless. But I also don't think it is said enough. And now more than ever, in silence that can seem deafening, I want you to hear it. Thank you.
Thank you for your service to our communities, but thank you, especially for your bravery. I don't think you can have one without the other. Thank you for fighting to keep us safe, for protecting, for always being ready, come what may. Thank you for being dedicated. Thank you for putting others first.
Thank you, brave one.
Continue to find and carry courage each day,
A proud citizen
Tuesday night, the Mobile Police Department lost one of it's officers. Officer Justin Billa was killed in the line of duty, while working an investigation. He leaves behind a wife and one year old son. Click here if you would like to donate to The Officer Justin Billa Memorial Fund.
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