I have so much to do.
I have an infinite amount of homework and I have job applications to complete and I should write some cards and there are a few phone calls I need to make and some mail I need to sort through and holy cow I don’t even know how many papers I have to write.
But I’m just going to let myself sit here. Staring at the rain outside the window of this coffee shop. Occasionally typing the thoughts that meander through my brain as I watch the downpour cover the earth.
This semester I accrued a closet full of hats. Student, friend, daughter, leader, sister, etc. I switch between roles and I mold myself to expectations and I’m exhausted.
Last Tuesday evening the tires on my little Accord flew over asphalt and California desert melted into Arizona desert and Taylor Swift’s angsty laments blasted through car speakers. I laughed and cried and processed and ate hot Cheetos and pounded the coffee with the best co-pilot (shoutout to my homie, Elise). With each passing mile I shed another layer of expectation. I let every defensive smile that keeps others from seeing the true condition of my heart and each declarative “I’m ok” die like the bugs that smacked into my windshield.
There’s something about coming home that forces me to admit how I’m really doing. There’s something about turning the corner of 75th and Gold Dust that terrifies me even as I breathe a sigh of relief. I can’t wear masks there. The people who held me since day one can see right through them. I have to face my demons, but I’m not sure there’s anywhere else I’d rather do it.
I come home to run away, and I come home to find myself again. Sitting in familiar coffee shops and eating my mama’s cooking and sleeping in my childhood bed breaks down walls. It unmasks hurts and forces me to deal with hard realities. It also widens my narrowed perspective. Coming home reminds me of what matters and what doesn’t.
Home is where I can return to my roots. Home plucks the nasty weeds out of my garden to reveal the fruit underneath. Home let’s me take off all my hats and just be me. Just Jacova.
But I don’t come to stay here. I come home to find myself so that I can go back. I come home to recover after the battle and get ready for the next one. I come home to remember that I get to choose what hats I wear, what expectations I live into. I come home to realize that at the end of the day my performance doesn’t matter if the head that hits the pillow hasn’t sought communion with Jesus.
I come home so that I can return with less and more.
Less baggage, more courage. Less pride, more dependence.
It’s not that I parade around Azusa with a fake smile painted on my face. It’s not that at all. This semester has been one of the best. I saw Jesus move in significant ways. I saw evidence of His goodness and I watched Him bring restoration and healing in very broken places. I made new friends and dove deeper with the old. I laughed and adventured and learned, and it’s been wonderful.
But it’s also been really hard.
I am constantly moving and thinking and doing, so much so that when my exhausted body finally stills under the sheets at night I lie awake for hours because my brain won’t listen to my body’s cues to STOP.
My ability to care for those I love most has fizzled at times as I’ve flung the contents of my cup carelessly, neglecting to return to the Source and refill what has been emptied.
I’ve made mistakes and I’ve been at the end of sanity and I’ve felt a crushing amount of defeat.
BUT I’m not going to pretend like the good and hard, sweet and painful, can’t exist at one time.
I think some of this tension is what keeps us going. The growth promised at the end of painful change brings us hope.
The moments when my heart beats hard and tears threaten to stain my cheeks are some of those when I feel most alive, when I am most aware of my humanity.
This kind of lament seems to be a common thread in my life, woven in and out the tapestry of my 21 years. It’s the same lesson I have learned and relearned in different capacities through many seasons.
Repenting of perfectionism, learning to rest, looking for the extraordinary in the ordinary, feeling the entirety of life no matter how painful or how exhilarating.. I have written about them before, and I will write about them again.
And I will spend the rest of my life learning how to seek Jesus in the tensions and temptations of this world.
But I can promise you that even if the season turns icy cold and winter’s chill seems to paralyze my bones, I will declare that He is good.
If the season is one where the sun calls new life out of the ground just as it calms my body to rest, I will declare that He is good.
In the in between seasons, like the one I sit in now, where the sweetness of summer dies with the leaves and the promise of winter creeps into crisp evenings, I will declare that He is good.
I will feel deeply and I will give honest answers and I will let the tears flow, but I will lean heavily into Psalm 77.
I will remember the deeds of the Lord;
yes, I will remember your wonders of old.
I will ponder all your work,
and meditate on your mighty deeds.
These next two weeks of school are going to be a smidge crazy (they’re going to be straight up insane). But I’m going to live them as fully and enjoy them as completely as my weary mind and body will allow me to.
I will be honest with myself, accepting my limits and adjusting my expectations. I will let myself feel all stress and brokenness, but I will refuse to just sit there. I will constantly whisper prayers of thanks for the people and places and lessons that have branded themselves on my heart. I will remember the “wonders of old,” the countless amounts of times that He has delivered and sustained and provided. I will bring every moment to the One who fills my lungs with his breath and gives birth to every creative thought.
Today’s weather is a beautiful manifestation of this season. The rain hasn’t ceased since I began typing these words. If anything, it beats the ground and soaks the humans who scamper through it even harder, but the water brings new life. The water, as cold and uncomfortable and annoying as it is, brings restoration in the midst of this drought.
Even in the weariness of this season, my heart is nourished.
All that is left to say is this simple declaration: He is so, so good.