Looking Humanity in the Eyes

Sometimes I am perplexing. Like when I put mayo on my peanut butter sandwich, or when I take a cold shower in Iceland. I suppose this is one of those times.

When it comes to cases of someone acting out against others, I tend to pity the person acting out. Whether it is verbal or physical, I feel bad for them. Let me make myself clear: I do not condone any action which harms another—spiritually, physically, emotionally, or otherwise. I simply have compassion on those who have none.

Why? Because they are human. And they are hurting so bad inside that they act out in the most horrible ways. What must they be going through to do that? My heart breaks for their broken humanity. This humanity born into a broken world. These broken people who seek to make some equilibrium in life and break everything around them. It’s a horrible, dirty, broken humanity which surrounds us. It would be easy to shut my eyes and say they’re just bad people. But I don’t mind looking humanity in the eyes.

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Kill the fly but don’t burn the house down

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Seattle Man Burns Down House Trying to Kill Spider With Spray Paint | Time.com

I hate the sound of a fly buzzing about the room. I suppose at this point my aversion to the sound could be diagnosed as misophonia. Because I would burn my own house down if I knew it would kill that horrid fly.

So I sit at the table trying to work but go into Hulk-mode every time it gets near my head. I’m here now with a fly swatter on my lap, swatting madly when it comes near.

How much time do I spend swatting at something when I know it’s going to land right beside me if I’m patient? How many times do I burn down something good just to be rid of one thing I don’t like?

How many times have you wasted your energy worrying about something that’s going to go away on its own? How often do you ruin a good day because of one tiny irritant?

We all have a squeaky door, underwear that gives wedgies, an aggravating coworker, a fly buzzing around our heads.

But that doesn’t mean we have to burn the house down.

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Bluebottle fly | National Geographic

My Life, Broken

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The depression comes at night like a damp rag placed on the back of my neck. At first I don’t notice its cool touch, but it slowly warms and I am stuck with the tepid reminder—I’m crippled.

Albeit, temporarily and shorter than most who’ve had their hips reconstructed, but I still have a seemingly insurmountable timeframe in which I am trapped in my own body, held together with four titanium screws and some glue.

I can feel the panic slithering up my throat trying to choke me and I am amazed at the strength of those for whom this is not but a short trial.

And then I’m reminded of other things in life besides bodily ailments which have left me crippled. If I were Japanese pottery, I would be mostly gold by now, but in between catalyst and correction there is still that dark period of brokenness, waiting for the shards of my life to be put back together.

Letting go of my plans and dreams, I drive my car loaded with all of my belongings back home to my parents because it’s the only place I am safe.
A job is lost and and I’m left wondering how I will pay my bills.
Knocking on a hundred doors over a period of two years, I discover God has locked every one of them. I’m left wondering where He wanted me to go in the first place.

My bones will heal eventually, just as my life has been reassembled time after time. My brokenness will be made into a beautiful, golden testament to God’s unfailing love, and—believe it or not— the sun will rise in the morning.

And, boy, do I shine.

My tears will water her garden

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“My therapist says if I keep this up I’m going to kill myself.”

When I dug through my stack of journals and opened that one up, I wasn’t expecting it. The confusion. The fear. And I sure wasn’t expecting to return there.

I was just hired as a staff member at a women’s rehabilitation center this week and thought it would be a good idea to look back on the darkest days of my life. It was a bad decision. As I skimmed the pages that walked a nineteen year old me from euphoric to confused to terrorized and harassed, I became irrevocably saddened.

How could I have allowed myself to be treated that way? He said what? He threw what? You’re kidding me.

On Valentine’s week this year as I was driving to church, I considered posting my blog post, “Relationships are hard, but not that hard,” on Facebook and writing about what relationships are—and are not. As I considered it and dismissed it, God asked me when I was going to use my testimony to help others. I had always said I would. But when?

When I got to church that night I sat by friends who were having a conversation about the women’s rehab they both work at. One looked at me and said, “Jamey would be perfect!” They both cooed over the idea of me working at the rehab and God asked me, “Now?”

So, yeah. Now. The crap I put myself through is going to finally be used as fertilizer on someone else’s garden so they can grow and heal. Those countless nights crying myself to sleep are going to water gardens that will soon thrive again with love and attention and truth.

Because the truth is this: You are worthy. You are beautiful. And you are loved.

An Unexpected Family

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This is a crazy story, and one I always enjoy telling.

In the spring of 2015, a friend of my father (we’ll call him Fred) needed help finding a new church family. As we don’t live in the same town, my dad employed a friend from an even farther away town to ask a coworker who lived in the same town as Fred where a good church was.

The coworker’s name was Chad and he said to go to his church, Dayspring.

So my family visited this church with Fred one Sunday. It wasn’t his cup of tea … but it was mine.

***

Now it’s getting close to two years since I’ve been attending—and I’m getting teared up … that was random, I’m sorry … Now it’s getting close to two years since I’ve been attending and I cannot properly express how overjoyed I am about it. I’m so thrilled, in fact,  that I am most likely going to become a formal member next month. Which is a big deal for me.

Although I had a church family growing up, when I moved away to finish my bachelor’s in 2010 that all changed. I didn’t attend a church my first year in college, and the members of the baptist church I attended during my senior year probably didn’t notice my absence when I moved back home. Even if they noticed that my spot in the middle right pew was empty, they didn’t know my name, let alone how to contact me.

When I came home I found that a rift in the church over doctrine caused the church to split, my friends had left, and I was left with people who had watched me grow up, but to whom I had no connection.

My first time visiting Dayspring was incredible. After floating around churches on a cynical cloud, I was met with enthusiasm, attention, and love. I felt adopted. I had found community in the most unlikely of places. Not in some big city or somewhere cooler that actually recycles, but here.

It’s what I’ve always wanted. And what I intend to keep for as long as God allows me.

Wrestling with God

24 This left Jacob all alone in the camp, and a man came and wrestled with him until the dawn began to break. 25 When the man saw that he would not win the match, he touched Jacob’s hip and wrenched it out of its socket.
26 Then the man said, “Let me go, for the dawn is breaking!”
But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”
27 “What is your name?” the man asked. He replied, “Jacob.”
28 “Your name will no longer be Jacob,” the man told him. “From now on you will be called Israel, because you have fought with God and with men and have won.”
29 “Please tell me your name,” Jacob said.
“Why do you want to know my name?” the man replied. Then he blessed Jacob there.
30 Jacob named the place Peniel (which means “face of God”), for he said, “I have seen God face to face, yet my life has been spared.” 31 The sun was rising as Jacob left Peniel, and he was limping because of the injury to his hip.

Last year I instigated a fight with God. I wanted x, y, and z, and He wasn’t really having it. So He took me down because He knew I would do it with or without Him. But I’m a fighter. So God pointed something out to me—my hip needed fixed and I would have to stay.

I kept wrestling there for awhile, but I’ve finally come to terms with the fact that He has blessed me immensely. Even if I have a limp.

Grateful for my year from hell

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It was a bad year. A sucky year. A “What the heck happened?” year. A “Take one step forward, three steps back” year.

And I’m grateful.

I’m grateful God warned me at the beginning that it would be rough. Grateful I have such amazing parents, family, and friends. Grateful for how much more confident and mature I am from facing constant struggles.

This year I found out that I have dysplasia. And I watched as my health deteriorated. This year the running shoes I bought for all of the 5ks I had planned turned into “the shoes that don’t make my hip hurt.” This year I spent endless hours on the phone trying to buy health insurance that would cover my surgeon in St. Louis, or just trying to get an appointment to see him. This year I bought a car. And got laid off from work. Twice.

This year God told me He wouldn’t miraculously heal my hip, but that He would be there with me, and there is a reason He has let me be temporarily crippled. (Apparently I’m really hard to pin down.)

This year I started freelance copyediting. What was once a daydream and bucket list item, I can now see in my bank account. This year I visited Canada with two other incredible, thriving single ladies. This year I joined a choir. And my church praise band. And this year I began to consider my goals and aspirations and weigh them to measure their worth to me.

I’ve learned that my circumstances don’t have to dictate my attitude or actions. And you know what? Believe it or not, I am oh, so very happy.

So, as this year draws to a close and I want to shake my fist at 2016 as the ball drops, I am choosing to wave goodbye with poise and dignity. Because I’m grateful for all of the little things. And all of those little things add up.