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And So We Wrestle

I log onto Facebook to scroll through the latest pictures of new babies, wedding plans, engagements and engagement pictures, updated last names, and kids in the backseat doing something cute.  Most of my feed is full of ECU demonstrating their excitement from their huge win this weekend over UNC and in true fan fashion, UNC fans posting their “wait until basketball season” comments.  I laugh at E-cards and hope that this brief escape will allow me to slip away from the wrestling that is my heart and apparently the heart of so many I love lately.  And then I come across this jewel:

where today

And I share it.  And a few of you liked it.  And I wrestle again.  I wonder what our family will do and where we’ll end up at the end of this seemingly endless match.  Though, to be honest, I already feel a little whole lot defeated.   It’s hard not to let it consume our every conversation lately.  Will they change?  Is our staying only making harder to move forward?  How long does “give it a chance” last?  Can we make it until then?

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“What is it I’ve always told you girls?  When you don’t know what do to next, just stick with the last thing you KNOW the Lord told you.  Pray about it, girlfriend.  It’ll work out.  This too shall pass.”

I can’t stand when she tells me that.  I’d much rather she just tell me what to do.  Doesn’t she know that’s why I was calling in the first place, to find out what she really thinks?  My mom knows better than to do that though.  She knows there is learning in the wrestling and would never rob us of the opportunity to learn it.  Instead, she listens to me wrestle with it and I hang up with more questions than what I called with and my heart is lighter but distracted by it still nonetheless.

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We lay across our bed each reading or playing Word Chums.  I’m about to turn my phone off when it buzzes with a new e-mail.  I read about the wrestlings going on across town and I’m drawn to read the end of it again.

“Then, I remembered yesterday’s Life Little Instruction Book calendar quote.  I have attached for you to see.

Is this a God thing?”

image

So, we’ll continue with the wrestling.  And I’ll be thankful that our God’s heart is good and that I can trust Him even when I don’t understand what He’s doing.   And I’m thankful that we aren’t alone in this wrestling; we have good friends that are willing to be in it with us.

If we should cross your mind, please pray for clarity and discernment for us and our friends.  And maybe a spoonful of boldness to move in whatever direction we’re supposed to, when we’re supposed to.  And thank you, because I know you will.  🙂

“Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel,[a] because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.”  (Genesis 32:28b)

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Day 22: This Vibe

That blonde hair boy had barely walked out of my office before our office illustrated the fact that most of us are women and our conversations are almost always just girl talk.

“So… who was that?”

“The guy that just left?”

“Yeah, who is that?”

“That’s Will.  Remember the funeral I went to a few weeks ago?”

“Yeah, so he’s the Pizza Inn guy.  The guy whose wife just passed away, right?”

“Yes.”

 “And y’all have been friends for a while?”

“Um, we know each other.  I wouldn’t say we were friends really.  It’s not like we hang out or anything, why?”

“I don’t know, I just got this vibe.  That’s all.”

A vibe?  What did she even mean by that?  I liked him, I knew that much.  I just didn’t think I was that obvious; not any friendlier with him than any other student that comes into my office.  She was right though, and I knew it.  I felt it too; just figured it was totally one-sided.  I knew I could completely fall for him and that it would be a big deal if I did, but putting my heart through all of that just for some guy again seemed stupid.  I needed to know that it was worth putting myself out there and he’d given me no real reason to do that, so I took all of those feelings and buried them instead.

At least, I thought I did…

Better Left Unsaid

“So, what’s this mist you’re in?”

How could six simple words feel so threatening?  I could feel my eyes filling with tears and all of a sudden had no idea how to answer that question.  We normally talk about everything just fine, but I immediately felt intimidated and that wasn’t normal for us.  He wasn’t trying to intimidate me and I knew that.  There wasn’t a secret mission to the question, yet somehow I felt like he could see right through me and I wasn’t sure how I felt about that.  Could I really be that honest?  No.  At least, not yet.  I’m just not ready.

“I don’t think I can go there with you.”

I knew that made no sense to him, we talk about most everything.  I knew there was no way not to take that offensively.  I tried going there anyway.  Well, with the semi-cryptic version at least.  There was so much that I could have said to answer that question, so much I wanted to say but I let fear take the lead instead.  I’m a writer and words just completely failed me.  Maybe I wasted the moment and wasted words when I didn’t take the chance to say the things I should have when I had the chance.  It just seemed like a lot of what I was thinking and feeling and going through was better left unsaid in that moment.

“Let Team Stephanie stand in the gaps right now.”  How on earth can they when I’m not sure how far I’m willing to let someone else into all of this?!?

Told ya, I can be really hard to love…

Team Stephanie

During the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament every year, one friend of mine will do two bracket predictions.  One she takes incredibly serious and really considers all of the legitimate factors in deciding who will be the most likely to win within each match up.  The other, she does based solely on which mascot would win if they were the ones to face off or even which jersey she likes better, claiming “the jersey makes the team”.  She asked me last season, if I ever had a team, what my jersey would look like.  To which I had to say, “Umm…. have we met?!?  Clearly, either hot pink/black and sparkly or light brown and teal.”
 
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I was reminded of that conversation when I recently got challenged, by a different friend, to discern who is truly on Team Stephanie and to surround myself with those people.  He was blunt enough to remind me that we aren’t supposed to get through life’s challenges on our own.  He reminded me that God put us in community with each other on purpose and that I needed to learn to lean on others better.  He reminded me that I did need to be wise about how I did that though; even Jesus narrowed down who got to be closest to him in his darkest hours.  But to be willing to let Team Stephanie stand in the gaps for me right now as I walk through this hazy mist.  He reminded me that those on Team Stephanie are always going to be willing to speak my love language when I need them to, I won’t have to tell them that I need them to, that they’ll wear the hot pink jersey even when they hate pink, and that it’s okay to send them to bat while I sit this inning out.  I thought I kind of already knew who was on Team Stephanie, but I took his challenge seriously (I’ve learned to always take him seriously) and have done some re-evaluating these past couple of weeks.  I’ve learned a lot!
 
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 Today, I got a text from another really good friend of mine (who has vocally been Team Stephanie for a while now) that ended with “just breathe and let your team take over for now”.  So, I’m trying to choose to do just that.  I have a feeling it’s not going to be easy for me to do, because I don’t tend to ask for help very well.  Plus, I’m not always the easiest person to love.  I have it in me to be pretty high maintenance and hard to get along with.  So, with that disclaimer in mind– you can decide if you still want to be on Team Stephanie or not.  No hard feelings if you opt out.  I’ll try to give nothing but grace in return.  Besides, the jersey IS kinda girly…
 
 
 “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”  (Proverbs 17:17)

Crunchy Leaves and Hard Tears

Like a kid in a candy store I was when I walked down that old, familiar driveway and saw all the crisp looking leaves resting beneath a tree that looked like the Lord had splatter painted it with orange, red, and yellow.  They will surely think I’m crazy when they come home and find me in their yard, but this tree was like a gift from the Lord and I was determined to sit beneath it and just get still.
 
The air was about as crisp as each leaf I stepped on to get to that well-aged trunk with the perfect place to lean in close and just be.  Decked out in denim capri pants, flip flops, and an Atlantic Beach hoodie (I was an Eastern NC girl in a Western NC world) I was ready to nestle myself in a pile God’s confetti and hang out there with my Bible and journal until all seemed right in the world again.  Because on that day, nothing seemed right.
 
I got comfortable and just sat there, feeling almost numb to the world. I should have been cold, but I couldn’t feel a thing.  Until the tears started to roll.  It felt like my world had come to an end.  In a small town, on a small campus, where most everyone was famous for something, I felt very small.  Very unknown.  I began to cry harder and could taste the bitterness of make-up hit the corners of my mouth.  My heart, what was left of it, literally ached.  In fact, my entire body was feeling it.  I was feeling pretty stupid for falling so hard that fast.  Then I was mad at myself for letting myself feel stupid.  Then mad at myself for being mad at myself.  
 
Out of the corner of smudged glasses, I saw their light blue Buick pull down the hill of their driveway.  She walked up to me slowly, seeing that I was clearly a wreck.  She convinced me to move inside for hot chocolate and a fleece blanket, my toes were blue!  I told her the whole story, getting worked up all over again.  Eventually I found my way back out the door, incredibly thankful that neither one of them thought I was crazy.
 
All on top of having a pretty broken heart.  I made a promise to myself that afternoon that I would never find myself in a position where there was potential to feel like this again.  I would guard it and guard it well.  And I have.  Almost too well, sometimes.
 
Until now…

Virtual Reality

Remember the days of AIM?  We could sit at our computer and let our fingers do the chatting.  We could be in our pajamas with no make-up and hair pulled up, chatting with the boy from fourth period and still seem really cute.  I think that’s where it started; this idea of communicating (don’t get me started about miscommunicating) without ever having to actually talk to each other.  And Facebook (back then MySpace) gives us the power to display our lives in pictures and status updates and yes…. there’s even a chat option! And then there’s Google Chat.  Heaven forbid we get up from our desks and go talk to someone when we can just message them.  We can “chat” on our phones with text messenging.  We never have to actually pick up the phone and call anymore or get in the car and stop by their house.
I’m guilty!  In fact, I could easily be the most guilty.  I answer the phone all day long at work, I’m not dying to talk on one come five o’clock either.  I too am I fan of just texting “running five minutes late” instead of spending those five minutes calling and explaining myself beforehand just to be ten minutes late instead.  I like that I can edit what I say multiple times before hitting send.  Maybe I can filter things a little better that way, right?
The thing is though, as convenient as living in that virtual world can be sometimes, it’s not reality.  The reality is, I meant that text sarcastically and you took it seriously.  Or you meant it matter of factly and I felt like you were yelling.  All because the tone and facial expressions aren’t present.  The reality is, we aren’t building genuine relationships with each other anymore.  We’re letting Facebook tell our good news instead.  Someone just got engaged– shouldn’t we all be jumping up and down, squealing with them?  It’s your birthday and your phone’s blowing up with text messages.  Wouldn’t you rather hear “Happy Birthday” sung off key by your closest friends instead?  Your grandmother passed away and I missed it.  I missed it because instead of being in your world lately– I was counting on Facebook to keep me updated and it didn’t.
We get in the same room with people that we claim to be really good friends with and when it’s all over– we wonder if anyone heard a word that was said because everyone was texting someone else or logging online with laptops, ipads, and cell phones.  Maybe we never actually replied to the folks texting us, but we were at least distracted by the buzzing in our pockets or the chime from across the room and the person on the couch next to us is fighting back tears and we missed it.  My fear is that we’ve allowed ourselves to be so busy with a gamut of things, that we’re losing the ability to genuinely be in relationship, in community, in daily life with each other.
Many of you have messaged me lately wanting to know where I’ve been with my blog posts.  I love that you are faithful readers!  I look forward to the day when  I meet you face to face and autograph my first book for you.  Wouldn’t that be fun? 🙂  Ha!  Seriously though, there’s a part of me that really wants to write the thing that changes someone else’s world; have a book published that does more than serve as coaster.  Most of me though, would really rather slide in a booth across from you and really dive into your world.  And let you into mine.
I’m afraid I’m losing the ability to be really honest with the people that I’m sitting in front of, because I’ve either already said it in a blog post or Facebook status.  Or the opposite.  I haven’t fleshed it out with a keyboard, so I can’t possibly be ready to tell you about it yet.  I need to sort it out, organize my thoughts, and then “talk”.  Sometimes, the most honest moments, are the ones that aren’t well thought out.  I’m attempting to scale back on texting too.  If you know me, you know that’s a big deal!
We were created for relationship.  For this girl, that means quality time and physical touch.  So the reality is, virtual relationships don’t work for me.  I struggle to believe you really want to be in my world if aren’t near each other.  (I know, I know… but I’m busy.  It’s easier to text with you while I’m cooking dinner or in between plays of the game.  Why can’t we make more time for each other?)  And I struggle to speak gifts, words of affirmation and acts of service (for those of you that aren’t fluent qt/pt people) when it doesn’t feel real.
So… that’s where I’ve been.  I don’t want folks to use my blog (or Facebook or texting) as a substitute for being in genuine relationship with me.  And I don’t want to replace you with the virtual world either.  I’d rather we actually know each other instead…

Fragile: Handle With Care

I watched a member of a moving crew throw boxes from his truck to the ground today, like he knew what was in them wouldn’t break.  I was impressed with how quickly he was getting it all unloaded and didn’t think much of it until I got closer and saw that each of those boxes all read Fragile: Handle With Care.  My perception of him changed as soon as I saw them.  What was he doing?!?  Handle with care, man.  HANDLE WITH CARE!!!  For all you know, that’s somebody’s wedding china!  Just because it doesn’t affect you doesn’t mean it’s not a big deal to them.  What if you’re shattering their family heirlooms right now. 

Aren’t we just like that with each other?  We throw our words around like the things that we say can’t shatter the other person’s world.  How are we not more affirming to those in our lives?  If we aren’t their biggest cheerleaders, who else is going to do it?

It works the other way too.  We spend a great deal of time acting like our flirty actions won’t lead the other person on if we aren’t interested.  Yet, for all we know, they are falling fast.  If we’re honest, we don’t do such a good job of guarding each other’s hearts.  Just because it doesn’t affect us doesn’t mean it’s not a big deal to them.

Hearts are a fragile thing.  We could stand to stop and remember that when it comes to each other, we need to be sure to handle with care.