Tag Archives: Purpose

The Truth in my Broken Spirit

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I am failing.

Every. Single. Day.

My heart is not pure. My mind is worse. My flesh is torn with old scars and I have no problem slashing them open again and again with a knife of longing for something I lost. I have a quick-tempered tongue, and a wayward tendency to always want something else.

I am not in the Word – not as much as I could be. My history distracts me from believing that I can involve myself in more than what immediately satisfies me. A learned behavior pattern from my youth, but it wasn’t always this hard…

When I was a small child, I remember vividly having a fire for the Lord. I did. It was important to me. It mattered. I shared it with my friends. I sat at my father’s feet and listened to him and my mother recite scripture and then explain its application to our young lives. I believed in God not as a supernatural being but as a tangible friend in my heart.

I lost this. Some time ago. With age comes a million wide roads, and I had no problem walking those instead of the narrow path that drew me close to God.

Sometimes, I think about this – I remember a skinny brown-eyed-girl with long legs and a brave, pleasing heart – I remember her and I weep. I remember that God sewn in my spirit an evangelical gift and I shared my faith with people confidently. A child, with little exposure to a world beyond Vancouver Washington… I wanted to share what I knew to be true, with no fear. I had purpose. I had knowledge of who I was, and who I wanted to be… I just needed stability, and people to believe in me, and keep showing me the way.

What happened to me? Where did that child go?

In the time since my childhood I’ve seen my parent’s divorce when I was in 5th grade because my mom wanted to be someone else, with someone else. I looked around me and from what was a family with two parents and their five children in one home, I could not recognize the two new lives they both led, and watched the utter abandonment of my parents to their children as they themselves tried to reconcile this new experience.

With this came me seeking approval and love outside of my two homes and halfway through my adolescence I found comfort in the arms of way too many boys. Sexual promiscuity became my identity, under an easily penetrable guise of self-confidence – my parents weren’t watching so they missed it entirely; I was lost, completely, and wanted love so badly that I reached for it wherever I could grasp, at the incredibly devastating expense of my self-worth – though I hid that part deep inside.

From that, I obviously struggled in school… It was my last priority, but deeper than this, nobody noticed how I was struggling. They just … did not care. I think about this now and I have begun in this moment to tear up. I was still a child – their child – God’s child… But I felt nothing but alone. I remember a counselor pulling me aside in 11th grade. He asked me what my plan was to recover my GPA so that I could graduate. I just started crying because he was literally the first person to notice. I went home that day and tried to talk to my mom but instead of help me, she got angry – I guess because I was a disappointment taking the same path she and my father did. That was the first time I was kicked out of my house…

After the first semester of my senior year, it was clear I could not recover and instead of fight for me, and try and figure it out, my mom walked into my high school and withdrew me. Against the advise of the principal, and counselors literally shaking their heads at her. I walked around school that day, my last day, with hidden tears and a smile as I said goodbye to my friends. My gosh I still cry even now, in this moment, because I remember it so well. The humiliation. The devastation. The feeling that I had failed and it was all my fault. I feel anger now because I think of Layla – she is struggling right now in 2nd grade. She is in several programs, counseling, and we hired a tutor. Because that’s what you do – you, the parents, don’t stand back and watch your child fail – I would never allow that, and I am still not sure why my parents did. This part of my history I don’t talk about, and few people actually know this, because I have spent all this time feeling so ashamed of this, but the older I get, and as I mother my own children, I realize it was NOT my fault – not entirely. I could have went the other way and buckled down in school, I know that, but all around me at home it just didn’t matter – nobody showed me it was worth it. At least not until it was too late and I was made to feel like a failure…

Shortly after my last day of high school, I got my first job working at Papa Murphy’s Pizza. I moved out on my own, and life moved on… Entirely different from how I had long imagined it would. Three years after this I said goodbye to my mother at the age of 39 because alcohol is a cruel beast and she could no longer fight it off… One month after that day, I boarded a plane and left everything I knew behind. Devastated. Lost, entirely. The man I moved to I barely knew, we met barely a month before my mom died, and my heart still loved another with everything I had, but I left anyway – I had no other choice.

Through all of this time, I can remember periods of time I would feel God pulling on my heart. I would know it was Him – with certainty – but I ignored it. I had failed. In countless ways. The little girl I had been was lost underneath the weight of my guilt and disappointment and sadness. I was more angry than faithful… How could He let all of this happen, hadn’t I once served Him, even in my childlike innocence and lack of knowledge of the world He put me into?

I am almost 33 now. Twice divorced, two of my children have different last names from each other and from me. Three daughters that call me Mama, and it is my charge from God to lead them, to guide them to Truth. To dedicate myself to them, entirely, but I fear this more than I fear much else: that I am failing them.

I fear… That is my first mistake. That I am nothing more than who I have been; all these years of history still tarnish my spirit, and I cannot rise above feeling less-than who I was meant to be. How can I lead them, how can I teach them truth, when I don’t hear it for myself?

So many “wiser people” have tried to counsel me that it is as simple as being in God’s word. That, if I do this … If I pray more, if I seek fellowship more than seeking solitude, if I stop living in the past or the future but live right now, if I… If I… If I… Then I would finally “get it”, and God would flood my heart with meaning and purpose again, and I would be redeemed. I’ve even been told my crippling anxiety is not so much a mental disorder but its satan, and I can fight it if only I were just a better Christ-follower.

I’ve heard it all. I’ve told myself maybe they are right, and so I try it. For a while. I read scripture more, and really meditate on it and apply it to my life practically. I pray, sometimes with many of my breathes directed straight to God, and then I listen, patiently. I fellowship with those wiser people, and I listen as they tell me how THEY “hear God”, and I try not to feel their superiority over me, because I just don’t seem to hear God talking to me at all, and so I must be doing it wrong.

When I became a mother, that covenant God made with me was to raise them with truth and purpose greater than my own – it was set ablaze in my soul. I look at them and sometimes, to be honest, the way that I love them – how deep that goes – it rushes to the surface and I feel this overwhelming and intense flood of tangible, fierce loyalty and devotion to them that I could literally scream as loud as I can – because it has to come out of me (I guess that’s a hard one to adequately explain…) My face flushes, my heart beats fast, and I tremble with love.

The purpose of being their mother is the greatest I have known, and I fear too often that I will let my past failures convince me that I am not going to be good at this. I hear my father tumble out of my mouth when I am impatient for no good reason, or when they spill the milk and I just can’t take such an offense. I hear my mother spill off my tongue when I snap at them to hurry up because I am late for this or that, and of course I make it their fault. I hear that little voice, so cunning, sneak into my thoughts and it whispers so cleverly disguised as the inevitable that I am going to fail anyway, so why even try to do better next time? It uses my history – it uses my shame, and regret, and pain – and it knows just how to grip me, stop me dead in my tracks…

It keeps me from picking up the Bible, because I’ve tried that, and I didn’t stick to it, because Christina never sticks to ANYTHING. It keeps me from all the good I could be doing, instead distracting me with meaningless tasks that don’t root my heart, or theirs, in truth and purpose.

I guess all of this – these thoughts pouring from me now – this trip down memory lane, it might seem like an excuse, but it is so much more honest than that. I come to terms with what cripples me here, and name it, and face it, and I think THAT is brave.

But it is what I do now. It is where I go from here…

I picked up the Bible this morning and read some of the Psalms. Delaney was restless and done with her cereal so I got her out of the high chair and together we trekked up the stairs. On the crook of our staircase the banister jets out oddly and I accidentally hit her head into it, leaving a little knot and her tears painfully soaking her face. I immediately prayed to God to take her pain away, and to forgive me for hurting my precious baby girl. It was immediately apparent to me that I was praying because I didn’t panic and cower underneath self-loathing, which is my typical pattern whenever I do anything wrong. I think it was that I sought God, intentionally, that my mind was able to go THERE instead of where it normally would go…

Perhaps there is hope for me yet?

I desire a child-like faith. The kind of relationship with God that I can write about, the kind that defines my life, starting in these frail moments when I am still floundering, and growing into something that permeates every avenue of my life, and my children’s lives. I want this so badly, and I am so tired of convincing myself, and letting the enemy convince me, that I cannot do it. That my history proves I will fail, because I always failed.

My spirit knows there is God, I was born knowing this, and for some reason, He made me especially aware of it and able to share it as a small child. I see this in my children, and I dream for them the kind of upbringing where that is fostered and grown and nurtured, and they see it from me – they model it from me.

I’ve got to stop ripping open my heart and seeing only the parts of me that have failed.

I want to be vulnerable to something more. I want to be the kind of person who doesn’t hide from who she was, and has the strength to admit where I went wrong, but then lay that down – that is the part that I don’t do well. I can’t seem to let go of how easily I fall apart in the name of who I’ve been and what I’ve been through.

My eyes want to be stuck on the cross, and see the world as I did when I was a child.

I want to give my daughters the kind of example worth having – one of perseverance where they have seen me fall but I got back up, and I tried again, in spite of the difficulty of fearing I will fail. I want them to see that this IS worth coming back to, again and again, and that I will support them as they navigate this world, and I will be there – no matter what.

I look at my history and see that everything I’ve gone through has equipped me to be a pretty darn good mother… Because I’ve experienced almost every avenue of where NOT to go, and what NOT to do. And I know with certainty I won’t just stand back and let their life happen in front of me without helping to guide them to truth.

The truth is, as I see it, is that God is still here, inside of me. I cling to that. I unbury that truth with these tears on my cheeks because I am so grateful. I am so grateful that I can be who I have been, and to Him I am still that child on her knees, sharing Jesus with her Kindergarten class – I can be that girl again, because she never left me. She just got lost to this world, but not to Him.

I will hold onto that, and try this yet again… I will fail, but I will not give up, and I think that is one of the gifts He gave me. One I saw in myself as a child. Something I see in my own children. I cannot wait to see where God takes us now.

My Greatest Work

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I’ve been watching her lately, really paying close attention.

She’s becoming more aware by the minute, it seems. Her perspective is shifting from an entirely “me” focused universe to grasping a world outside herself.

Tonight, she felt heavier in my arms. The weight and size of her frame has grown bigger in the past two days, and she’s napping longer and eating more to compensate for these changes.

It has happened…

Delaney is no longer a newborn. She is in the midst of her infancy; nevermore an entirely helpless new life but, now, ever-stronger each day, she’s becoming a little person.

I’ve come to realize these moments are precious. She is my third child, and quite possibly my last, so I have purposefully slowed down my pace to ensure I watch more closely; I cannot bear to miss this. . .

As I watch my sweet baby grow, so too are my eyes more aware of the changes taking place in my older daughters. Layla is nearly 7 – a spritely, sensitive, and charismatic young lady, she is hungry for attention, loves to read and solve math problems, and can dance very well to any music I throw her way. Jemma has learned her alphabet and I find her eager to write, and we spell together – I make the sound of the letter and she’s able to interpret this and write it; her thirst for knowledge is really evident these days. She loves to sing, have tickle fights, and paint her nails.

. . .

Watching them develop is a practice in trust. Contemplating their transformation from children to young adults to women, I find myself praying more often because I know, eventually, I’ll have to let them go.

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One day, Delaney will walk out of my front door with her hand in her partner’s, and together they’ll set off to create a new life apart from me. Jemma will get a job after college and seek to find out who she is, and I’ll have to simply listen when she stumbles, falls down, and has a hard time getting back up. Layla will become a mother and, as she navigates this new life she’s made, I’ll look deeply into her eyes and wonder – where in the hell did the time go?

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Stepping back, recently, I marvel at the way life goes. That I was blessed to have three amazing people call me mother. That me, simple old me, was given the distinct privilege to mother Layla, Jemma, and Delaney.

How did God know we’d be perfect for each other? Of all the amazing souls He could have chosen, it was fate that they are mine and I, well, I’ll belong to them, forever.

Motherhood forces you to examine yourself. To boldly face yourself in the mirror, naked and honest, because the weight of responsibility of this venture is mountainous. How could I ever fail them by being cavalier? Indifference or, worse, refusing to change – I can think of no greater disservice to my children than this.

They look to me to provide them with the framework for their womanhood. To help them grow into kind, patient, caring women someday so that they may give to the poor, be loyal to their principles, and know God and honor one another with love. From me, I bestow upon them a legacy of my actions, my choices, my beliefs, my failures, and my successes; whether you admit it to yourself or not, who you are, as a parent, at least somewhat directly influences who your children become.

My successes – perseverance one of the greatest; I try and show them that overcoming difficulty may not come when you desire it, but if you keep on going and will to change, you can surmount just about any obstacle. My failures are many and my daughters have seen me weep. I’ve shown them that it is okay to break down, to honor your emotions, and to work through hard feelings; if, from my mistakes they learn anything, let it be this: Forgiveness is impossible to experience unless one accepts it heartedly, but when you stumble, it’s the only thing that lets a broken man walk again.

How my beliefs influence them, well, that is something I just hope to show through my heart. Grace. Giving it and receiving it, with gratitude. My choices have made Layla and Jemma live in a different home apart from me for some of the time each month – I’d be a fool to assume this won’t affect them in some way growing up; but I validate their feelings, help them to know and love their father, and pray that we can make the best of it always. Finally, my actions – this is the part I’ve been observing lately as I watch them grow. . .

Actions reveal your spirit. A peaceful, content spirit does not get easily angered, is eager to contribute, and seeks to create harmony in the lives of others and within. This is what I’ve been trying to achieve, but Lord knows I have not yet mastered it. If my children learn anything from my actions, may it be that I was supportive and encouraging even when they stumble. That I am calm and level-headed when they disobey the rules and harm themselves or others. Please that I love them without judgment regardless of their choices, and accept with an open mouth and listening ears that we are different people, and at different points in our lives, we will diverge – this is okay.

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Examining myself, I see so many flaws. I am lazy, moody, lack direction, and nit-pick at the little things. But, I am also fiercely intent on growing past these negative attributes, and I am especially aware of my intentions to change when I stop and really pay attention to my children.

I want them to become soft, loving women. Warm, welcoming wives. Nurturing, attentive mothers.

How special that I was given girls. My entire life, I desired sons. To raise young men, future husbands. I’ve mourned the loss of this dream but, at the same time, can absolutely thank God, wholeheartedly, that I was given girls.

Because, my greatest life’s work is not 350 pages of a best-selling novel. It won’t be how many babies I’ve delivered. The list could go on of the worldly contributions I may set out to make. . .

But these things won’t matter. Not really. Not as much as the time I stopped to watch Layla dance barefoot across the living room floor, her toes pointed and her face wistfully smiling. It won’t matter as much as hearing Jemma laugh when she makes up a silly song and sings it all the time. Not like holding my new baby girl, falling asleep getting heavier in my arms by the second as I rock her into peaceful dreams. . .

I may have taken a different road than most. To get here, now, I am actually grateful for the journey. Because I’ve learned to stop.

To appreciate this, entirely. To forgive myself the mistakes I’ve made, and still make, and just fiercely love my children. Fiercely devote my life to them, and help them grow safe and loved in their own skin.

It is, and will be, my life’s greatest work.

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Recaptured Faith

So often I choose this world over the providence that governs it. My wayward heart longs for comfort, understanding, and acceptance in this life, while I am breathing, and I forget the larger concept at work within me. That is, a purpose greater than the sum of my parts, working together for the glory of a perfect plan not orchestrated by anything I can do. I falter, almost too easily, and find myself struggling through the same fight time and again: The battle between the flesh and the spirit.

For all intents and purposes, my life is perhaps the best it has ever been. Right now, I sit in a beautiful home, surrounded by comfortable furnishings. The furnace blows warm air when my skin is chilled. The refrigerator keeps fresh eggs cold, and the food in the pantry is plentiful. My checking account is balanced and my budget secure. In beds about sleep two precious darlings, they are healthy, happy girls who know they are loved and safe here. In a town across Texas rests a man whom shares this home with us – he is working hard to ensure our life is maintained in the fashion we are most comfortable. We love each other imperfectly but with a certain harmony, honesty, and respect, and I miss him enough when he is away to make each home coming just that much more sweet.

From the outside, yes, things are nothing less than perfect. To portray anything different would do a great disservice to all we have worked for, and how long and winding this road has been to finally be here now. For appearances sake, I would argue no different.

However, stop me for a moment, look into my eyes. What would you see? Lately, I confess, one might peer within me – should they care enough to stop – and see a deep unrest looming just below the surface. Try as I may to mask it, and boy do I try, it would be apparent to the attentive notice that my soul has wandered too far from its divine purpose. Part of me has lost sight, perhaps the biggest part, of what and who I am in Christ.

Why? It would be no shock to remind the world that my life has been riddled with hardship. Some undue, some the direct result of my choices and my weakness. Therefore, the struggling that circles back is valid, understandable? What about forgiveness, one might ask? Would not the heart of forgiveness wash away this recurring unrest for good?

The base truth of the matter is that I stopped communing with my Father. And not because I am merely content with how things are going now, but because, as a strange dichotomy of trust and acceptance, I am paralyzed of how, and when, this beautiful portrait of my life will ultimately come crashing down. That has been my story thus far, after all, so would it not stand to reason that the same fate would occur again?

If I could harness that childlike wonder, that fervor for the Lord again… If I dove back into the Word and truly trusted God’s plan, then nothing would stand in my way, and peace would be a gift God gives the seeking heart. I know this, and yet, I fail. All. The. Time.

Fear cripples me. I am internally bedbound and weary under the cloak of my anxiety when nothing but my imagination creates the problems that cause me to tremble. I serve an amazing God who would love for me to shed this fear, but yet, my mind is a master at crafting this deception; I see that things are going so well and convince myself the beauty is the lie. I remind myself, almost daily, that I’ve thought things were going well before – in another time – but look what happened then. I did not deserve it and yet I lost everything I loved, including my mother. My children did not deserve it and yet my mistakes cost them their nuclear family and me the marriage vows. Again and again. As if the tapes no nothing but repeat, I replay why I am not worthy of a great life.

I am not ready to give myself to God because I am fearful He will take it away. I am not ready to commit to an amazing man because I am fearful of all the ways he has the power to hurt me if I give him a whole heart. I am not ready to forgive my mother because the hurt of her betrayal is what I have built my identity on for years. That I was the victim. . . I am not ready to forgive myself, for all of the things I have done “wrong”, because then that would mean I would finally have to admit that God still loves me, that I am still worthy, and it would mean the fear – this irrational, crippling fear that has been my best friend for eight years – would finally have to divorce my weary spirit.

What have I got if not this tendency to replay why I should be afraid? What would keep me company if not for what makes the most sense in my wounded broken heart?

I know that many people pray for me. They also worry. Because it may appear more evident than I admit in words that I am not trusting God. It appears to those in my circle that talk about God, and His presence in our lives, that my light has dimmed, and my passion for prayer and fellowship has taken a backseat to every lie I tell myself instead.

Where I went wrong, more than all of this, is that I lost the will to pray with the Lord, because I desire to stay comfortable, and to pray – and admit my shortcomings (as if He does not already know them) – to do that would mean I have to accept the version of me that He sees when He looks into my heart. It would mean I have to stop being so critical of my mistakes, but be thankful for them because they have worked as part of His big plan. It would mean I forgive others, and myself, because the beauty in our weakness is the ability to acknowledge the gift of the cross.

It is the hardest fight of my life to stay right in my relationship with Jesus. It is so hard because I desire so much fulfillment outside of myself, and apart from Him. I am selfish and want things now. I am needy and desire validation and assurance from others. I am angry and I want the whole entire world to work on my agenda, on my schedule… God knows this, and loves me anyway, and yet I tell myself HE could not possibly. That is not trust. That is not the kind of faith I want to model for my children, because that kind of relationship is selective, self-serving. It says, “Nah, I got this – unless I REALLY need you, then you better be there.” If a friend treated me that way, I am not sure I’d want to continue being friends. Yet, God does – He is that kind of friend to me, and all He ever wants in return is my obedience and attention.

This life takes discipline. But it is also the most liberating, amazing, freeing gift. My heart needn’t be hardened any longer, for when I really stop and examine what He has done in me even in just nearly 30 short years, I should be ecstatic, not fearful, of all the work He has yet to do. I could look at my life and exalt God, instead of dwell in all I perceive was wrong, and maybe my perspective on this life will shift. Along with my attitude. Along with my ability to trust Him.

After all. After ALL. Look where I am now. If God was not to be trusted, would I have survived this crazy ride? If I was not worthy, would He have led me to this amazing man, the most supportive, encouraging, and strong person who loves my children and me without condition? Would I have my health? Financial security? The ability to find peace if only I seek it?

Tyrone Wells wrote a song called, “More”. There are lyrics there that are the most impacting in a song I have heard, “This world may crumble into the ocean, it could all end tonight. I undermine you then try to find you, my only source of light. I’m breathing, I am breathing, I am alive, I don’t want to die, I don’t want to waste another day or night. I know there’s something more than what we’re living for, I see it in the stars I feel it on the shore. I know there’s something more.” Such poetic, honest lyrics. Such truth in that. It may seem almost too simple, but really, when examining the big picture, can anyone truly conclude there is not more at work here?

I sing that and tears never fail to come to my eyes. I just got to hear it live in Austin, on a night I needed to remember it particularly, because my heart was wavering, and my spirit was low. I don’t want to die in the spirit to please my worldly fears. I don’t want to shield myself from God, as if I could, and continue doing this on my own. It will take work, and dedication, time, and effort, but with all good things comes this good fight.

For too long I have been willingly dormant in my faith. It was easier. Took no work at all to forget my worth. Took no mind to replay the old tapes that say I am not worthy of love and forgiveness, and certainly not for grace.

I am ready to do the work that will eventually be like breathing. To honor God with the life I have lived that was hard, painful, and difficult to understand. To honor my spirit, made whole and clean by the living water that rushes through my veins. Harder to try, forcing myself to believe it until it is known to me like the air I breathe, that I am loved, and I am new. Worthy. Perfectly imperfect while I live exactly the life that was written for me before I ever knew the struggles of this world. I do not want to choose this world anymore, at least not when my soul depends on it. Right now, what matters most is the choice to honor where I am, and where I am going… Because that journey is beautiful, and I think it is time I start to notice it before it too becomes withered like yellowed paper in the pages of history.

Pino Back Painting

Without a Title, Chapter I

Wiping the counter with a stained, musty washcloth, she went about the work of a minimum-wage waitress at a diner, noting the time and trying beat exhaustion to make it another hour until closing. The other helping girls chat near the entrance, leaving Johanna without interruption; the way she preferred it – idle gossip was never her thing. Only a few sparse tables had any customers, regulars mostly, drinking too much coffee too late, and dining on bad food at a cheap price. Outside the restaurant the cool October air blanketed the patrons with the chill of autumn, and made the comfort of a warm booth more inviting than the stale coffee in the carafe on the table. It had not rained in about a week; unusual for a northwest city this time of year, but it was cold enough to wear a jacket which is what she saw first when he walked in.

Dylan stood tall and walked with quiet confidence, unwittingly catching the eyes of every waitress as he strode behind his dinner company to their seats. He wore the same carhart jacket her dad had, she noticed, and a beanie covering up what appeared to be slightly unkempt blonde hair. The hostess motioned to Catherine – her section – she glanced behind her in his direction, took a deep breathe when she noticed how handsome he was, and then walked over to get their order. “Hey! I haven’t seen you in a long time, Justin, how are you?” She hadn’t noticed this stranger’s company was an old friend from school. With a smile and a quick steal towards the other face at the table, she awaited an introduction.

“This is Dylan… Say hi to Johanna, we went to High School together.”

Blue eyes… She thought, That smile… Nearly losing all sense of herself, she fought off the urge to smile using all the teeth in her mouth, fearing he would think her too easy  to give the attraction away that quick; she swiftly asked if they wanted fresh coffee and water, then scurried off before he noticed her blushing. From behind the bar, she turned back just long enough to notice him stealing a glance her way, quickening the heart of a young romantic hopeful, and so casually causing her mind to race, Oh god, do I have something in my teeth? No way he likes me, too…? Old coffee now down the sink, and hot coffee refilling the blue container, she reached for two water glasses, filled her hands with the drinks and two clean mugs, then balanced it all back to the waiting patrons.

“How have you been since school, how long has it been since we’ve seen each other? I live with Dylan now – just down the street.” Justin smiled as he motioned over to his wordless friend pouring hot coffee, smiling shyly.

“He doesn’t talk much, does he?” She teased, looking directly at him. “What’s it gonna be, Dylan?”

Quietly, he ordered a chicken fried steak, nearly at a whisper, then handed her the menu without making eye contact. She wondered to herself what was wrong with this guy but decided quickly that his mystery was worth discovering. Etching their orders into her black folder, she busied along and left them to chat alone.

Thinking to herself, there is something here – I can feel it, she began to dream up the way their romance would blossom, and how great a story it was of how they met. Shaking her head at the private thoughts of a silly dreamer, she put away the notions of love at first sight and came back to reality by the ding of a bell.

Their food waited in the window, she garnished, wiped, and then carried over the hot plates to an old friend and a new stranger, asked if they needed anything else, then decided it was time to start cleaning her section. She felt herself blush before walking from the table, recalling the daydream she just had of their blossoming love story, sure he could see it written all over her face. He had not seemed to notice, so she picked up a rag and began cleaning; the task not as dull as previous nights, this time she had eye candy, and decided to make it fun. Choosing the tables in direct visual to Dylan, she began to stick out her tongue playfully, grinning from ear to ear, until he noticed – arranging sugar packets, filling syrups – all the while playing a fool just to get the attention of a handsome guest at a table a few feet away. He held his coffee up as if to cheer her on, she smiled bigger knowing finally – the payoff! He’s smiling! She thought, unfailing to note the sparkle in his eyes and the way his smile seemed to ignite his face in a pure, radiant glow. I need to know more of him, thinking to herself, unsure if she could be brave enough to make a restaurant flirtation more than what it is meant.

Train

That is all on the story itself for tonight. I am not even certain if I ought to post any of it anymore… Unsure if that matters from the point of making it mine, I mean, at this juncture. Intellectual property, I suppose, no big deal, right?

A lot of this journey, writing about this I mean, is cathartic. I am thoughtful about what I want to write, and have formed aspects of this tale in my mind, yet to be written, that are not at all drawn from real life, to color up the story, and to make it a bright example of what love can be when not tainted by bullshit and the politics of fading youth (that is to say, adulthood, and “experience” that teaches us love is not supposed to be this beautiful). What I love the most about the creative process, something like this – writing – is that it IS all mine. Not a single person can tell me what the coming words, sentences, paragraphs, and chapters will involve. Yes, the content may be heavily familiar to some, at any given point, but there is nothing paint-by-numbers here. Archetypes exist, sure; the themes and plots – especially centered on love and the difficult heartbreak often associated with first love – are familiar to us all… BUT, this story, this love… It is mine alone. I LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE THAT!

In all this time, and I speak in years here, I held onto something I felt was a truth I would never shake. That love is once. Not easy shallow love. Not replacement for-now love. But true love. It happens once. In a lifetime. That is what I believed.

Did I expect my marriages to fail? Do I expect all current, future loves to fail? Because, how can one believe in a once kind of love and then ever expect to make it with anyone other than that once person? Well, this is what I have learned in all this time, but I will explore this no further tonight… These rhetorical questions are simply few of the themes associated with what I am writing, and my deepest hope out of this is to find peace in the conclusions that will come.

Perhaps, I write because in doing so I resolve the conflicts I have battled internally for years – because God continues to put it on my heart to get this OUT of me and ONTO paper.  May I show  that I am capable enough to forgive. To forget… maybe.

Suppose I write to come around to the conclusion that there is just a once love, or, perhaps, I write to illustrate that there is not. More than these, however, to show whose love has driven me, from heaven, to love anyone on this earth at all. The most wonderful thing about this process is I just do not know yet – honestly – I have NO idea where my heart will go on this journey. All I know, right now, is that I have to write it, now is here – now is the time.

Countless nights ago, I was in a diner, and I saw a man just a few years older than me escort an old friend into the place I worked. Tonight, I am a single mother with two children living a thousand miles away from the place I grew up. The bridge between where I was then and where I am now is long, paved with broken dreams and beautiful treasures, and I long to be completed in a way unknown to me before now – when this journey is finally walked to its end. I have known many trials and triumphs along the way, loved some amazing people, and love one still today. God has blessed and taken away, walked with me and never let me lonely, and this story is ultimately a testament to that.

Though right now I focus on a tangible love, the first love I knew in my life, what will arch over each avenue of this is the greatest love of my life. The reason I write at all – for the gift God gave me is pure within my heart, and He is the reason I want to do this. To close the circle, and finally become what I was meant to be. I choose to start where I began – when my heart knew love like none I have known – and end where I am today, a better version of myself… Hopefully – I guess we’ll see when I am finished.

coffee