Day 71.

I hung up the phone and felt the corners of my mouth pull upwards as a single drop fell from my cheek onto the comforter I was sitting on.

This was new for us. Not just the talking on the phone thing, but the whole talking thing in general.

Conversations growing up consisted of me pleading for her to get help as she stumbled down the hallway to seek refuge in her bed.

All I wanted was to be chosen by her. Choose me, not the bottle. I promise I’ll love you better than that bottle can if you give me the chance. Please, mama. Choose me.

The heart grows weary of begging after years of rejection. And soon there was no conversation at all. She had made the same choice countless times and it was never me.

Today marks day 71 of my mother being sober, which is 65 days longer than she has ever been sober in my whole lifetime.

She called me tonight and our conversation consisted of no pleading. Not a single, “If you love me” needed to be uttered. We giggled about school and boys and “OH MY GOSH MOM I found the cutest pair of shoes on sale today!” and all of the things I always imagined we might have been talking about for the last nineteen years if things had been different. And I found myself not wanting to get off the phone because for the first time in my life, I felt more important than the bottle. I felt chosen by her.

I have no idea how long this will last. I have no idea how she is doing it or what made her stop. All I know is that I will never doubt the possibility of redemption ever again. My God is one who brings light even to the darkest places. All glory to Him who is capable of mighty redemption.

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Learning to Fight.

“How are you doing today? Like how are you really doing, how did you feel when you woke up this morning?”

We slouched in big comfy chairs tucked in the corner of the room. I grasped the red cup between my hands tightly and took a big sip and a deep breath. The rain fell steadily outside as she looked me in the eyes, waiting patiently for the truth to fall off my lips.

She was never the type to allow lies or half-truths. She didn’t want the sweet, surfacey stuff. She wanted raw, real, right now. It’s what I love about her. There’s something so good and so necessary about friends you can count on for genuine, “I haven’t seen you in three months and I don’t want to talk about the weather, I just want to know how you’re really doing” types of conversations.

I paused for a moment and sucked in all of the oxygen humanly possible for my lungs to hold in the hopes that it might hold traces of the courage I so desperately needed to muster in order to say my next sentence.

“I think I am in a war and I am going to learn how to fight.”

I haven’t ever needed to fight before. Or at least, I haven’t ever felt like I have needed to fight, but then again, no enemy has ever been this strong before.

The warfare is treacherous and it’s forms are ever-changing. Some days I find myself tangled in whispered lies of shame, condemnation, unworthiness. Other days opposition manifests itself in feelings of numbness and an inability to crawl out of bed for days at a time.

“I’m tired of showing up to the battlefield unprepared. I’m exhausted. I don’t want this anymore, so I think I’m ready to fight.”

This I know is true: We were not created to lie beaten and defeated. Those heavy cloaks of hurt and shame do not deserve to drape themselves over our shoulders.

This battle does not end with white flags of surrender to cunning weapons of depression and guilt.

We were created to be victorious. 

So this will be a season of arming ourselves with the Truth. It will be a season of waking up ready to fight against the lies. Ready to go to battle with the voices in our heads that convince us to hate ourselves. It will be a season of knowing that we are beloved and cherished. It will be a season of learning to fight.

Open those hands, please

Change my heart.

I sat down on the cold hardwood floor, legs crossed, head down, and I pleaded fiercely with my Maker.

Please, change my heart. Change my life.

I looked down at my hands, balled into fists, knuckles white. It was as if I was trying to hold onto life in those fists. It was as if I believed that I had caught life like a butterfly and I was afraid that if I stretched out my fingers, it would fly away forever, never to be mine again.

Change my heart. Shake the dust off of these tired bones. Make this heart beat with purpose. Tell me what to do.

I stared down at my hands as I continued to squeeze tighter in the silence. And then, He spoke.

Open your hands, sweet girl. How can I give to you when you are gripping things of this world so tightly? Open up those hands and praise me. Lift them high. I will give. I will change. I will provide.

Tiny hands can’t hold this big, wondrous life that we have been given.

Wouldn’t it be sad if we could hold onto all of the beautiful parts of life- all of the treasured experiences, the pain, the excitement, the love- in the palms of our hands? Life isn’t meant to be held. It is meant to be lived. It is meant to glorify and shine and bring into the world golden stories of redemption and love.

I opened my hands and lifted my palms up.

I will take what you give me and I will be thankful. I will take this life and love with my whole being. I will stand up again when I fall and make mistakes. I will put my heart and soul into this life and I will cherish it. This life is Yours. These hands are Yours. Do what you will.