A Season of Thin

Standing in my backyard, letting the dark chill of 2am settle into my bones as I stare up at the universe I am restrained from by gravity.

Laying stretched in my little Accord in a Goodwill parking lot, soul thin and heart feeble, feeling human and messy and broken and strange and paralyzed.

Dwelling in thankfulness over a burger and sweet potato fries with my family.

Sitting in a backyard surrounded by twinkly lights and cooling cups of hot coco and crescendos of laughter and honest conversation with my oldest friends.

Thin places.

Moments when my heart beats just a little faster and my being feels more vibrant and I realize the line between the human and the divine is quite thin and I am dancing just on the edge.

Moments when I let the pain of growth work its way through my chest and out my eyes freely.

Moments when I let the bellow of laughter escape unashamed from my mouth, not only ringing in sound but radiating from my my crinkled face and bent body.

Moments when I let my soul bleed into my being.

Moments when I refuse to compartmentalize.

Moments when joy and sorrow are inseparable.

The only thing that describes both an upward curl of the lip and the downward fall of a tear in this season: gratitude.

It is inescapable. I bleed it and weep it, laugh it and scream it. I let it wrap it’s comforting arms around me. I let it bandage up my raw wounds. I whisper it in prayers only the night will know, and I declare it in every catch up conversation. This place is thin, and I am gloriously, exhaustingly, aware of my humanity, but I am so grateful. 

In the first four months of this radical year called 2014, I found myself on an entirely different continent in a culture I didn’t understand caught in an adventure I had no control of.

Two miles up a dirt road in the suburbs of a city called Pietermaritzburg, on the eastern side of South Africa, I lived trial and wrestled life and embraced restoration. Wounds healed over and new ones split open, as is life.

On January 26th, on a wooden bed that soaked in my tears and shook with laugher and embraced my weary body for 3 months, I chose a Bible verse for the year, a promise to live into.

I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living!

Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!

Psalm 27:13-14

Oh, how I have seen His goodness. 2014 has been chalked FULL. It has been healing and growth. It has been waiting and struggle. It has been heartache and break and make – sometimes all at once. It has been all of this and so much more, but more than anything it has been of Him, and it has been good.

It was a year of new jobs and relationships and homes. It was a year of suitcases and passports and road trips and detours. It was a year of solitude and a year of community. It was a year of strong coffee and sweet wine. It was a year of thin; a year of both the natural and the supernatural. A year of unexpected. Every turn brought a new challenge and a new victory. Freedom was found and rusty chains were broken and hope was always lining the horizon.

The promise He gave, that I scribbled in my journal and underlined in my Bible and tattooed on my heart, proved the truest of true.

He asked me to wait and to take courage in the pause. He has kept His promises and fulfilled desires and put an end to the linger, and He has taken it away once more and asked me to take patient heart again.

And take heart I shall. For His goodness does not need 2014 to come into fruition. He has a lifetime. Years, I know not the number, but regardless He has eternity to unveil His goodness.

I will soak in the explosive showers of grace along with the almost invisible rainbows of sweet promise, yesterday, today, and tomorrow. I will gather a bouquet of courage and grace and kindness wrapped with a thread of gratitude, and I will wait in eager anticipation for what comes next.

For I shall see His goodness in the land of the living, continually and exponentially. Even in this closing season of sadness, I see His goodness in the sunsets and the cups of coffee and the smile of a stranger. It is in the warmth of a blanket and the twinkle of a melting candle. I see it in the hospitality of a friend and the hug of a cousin and the giving of a gift. It is unarguably in the liturgy of Advent and the celebration of Christmas. His goodness is infused in all this joy and sorrow, which is thin.

Most of what I write is messy because most of who I am is messy, and I am coming to peace with that truth. I am lying if I ever say that I am 100% fine because life is always strife and failure and aging and trial. But life can always, always be 100% gratitude and contentment and joy and blessing when we widen our eyes to His goodness.

This blog will continue to be a haven for the messy. My life will continue to be an embrace of the broken. But may I never lose sight of where He enters into and completes my humanity. May my gratitude never be muted by bitterness or numbness or discontentment. May love and grace spill out freely from every imperfect crack and fragment of my being fractured by this beautiful and brutal life.

Altogether: He is good. I am grateful. This entire season is thin, this place is thin, my soul is thin – dancing between heaven and earth. I am fragile but content, weary but confident.

Perhaps you have had a season or a year or a lifetime of thin. Of dancing on human legs in the arms of the divine. Maybe you realize you were made for more than this place because you have just summited the mountain of victory, or perhaps you are aware of your humanity because you have been long wandering in the valley of defeat. Perhaps your eyes are dry because only a smile can cause them to wrinkle, or maybe they are dry because all moisture has already been agonizingly squeezed from those glossy baby blue, warm browns, deep greens.

If I see you in the next few weeks, I hope we can meet eyes and gaze, soul windows open and honest. I hope we won’t feel the necessity to cover up heartmake or ache with unnecessary words. I hope we can just share gratitudes. I hope we can just look and know. He is good. We are grateful. This place is thin and we are fully in it – body and spirit.

2014: goodness, gratitude, grace. Here is where I will dwell, stretched long on my back in a field of blessing until 2015 beckons me to rise, dawn my courage, and journey on.

An inkling has taken up home in my heart, telling me that 2014 will forever mark a shift in my narrative. It will forever be the dogeared chapter I will flip back to to reread the underlined sentences and circled phrases of travel and lost love and new friendship. And then I will close the coffee-stained, tear-soaked pages, close my old eyes, and once again whisper that gratitude.

For here and now and then, the anthem will ring true – He will still be oh so good.

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