When Waiting Is Terrifying


how to wait on God

When I was seven, I rode Big Thunder Mountain and Space Mountain at Disney World, got terrified out of my Jams and jelly shoes… and that was it. (Jams and jelly shoes—anyone else wear those? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?) From then on, I swore off roller coasters. I successfully avoided the rattling death traps for years, too chicken even to get in line. But the summer I turned sixteen, I got roped into going to Six Flags with a group of friends.

For the first hour or so, I held my ground: I wasn’t there for the roller coasters; I was just there for my friends. I paired up with Geoff, the other kid in our group who was too afraid to ride, and we wandered around the park together. (It occurs to me now that it’s possible Geoff was just pretending to be scared to make me feel less like a loser and to make sure I didn’t spend the day alone…if so, thanks, Geoff. Seriously.)

Meanwhile, the rest of our group tore across the park together, laughing and giddy, seeking adventure. Geoff and I ate some junk food. Talked about Nirvana and the Cranberries. Watched other people line up for rides. Listened to the whoosh of the coasters, the screams of the riders. Studied people when they stumbled off, high-fiving and grinning, weak-kneed and windblown, but not dead. After a while, Geoff and I turned to each other and said, “We’re being lame. We have to at least try one ride. If we hate it, we don’t have to do it again. (Assuming we survive, that is…but let’s not think about that.)”

how to wait on God

So we picked the mildest ride we could find, got in line behind a bunch of six-year-olds, and bit our nails down to the quick while we waited. We chose seats somewhere in the middle of the coaster, where it was supposed to be the least scary, and talked each other out of wimping out at the last minute. When the ride jolted us forward, I shut my eyes and gripped the bar so hard my fingers locked up. My insides turned to ice. As we tipped back and ratcheted sloooooooooowly up that first high-as-Mount-Everest incline, I screamed until my vocal chords shredded to bits, took a breath, and then I screamed some more.

We reached the top of the first hill. Time stopped. My heart tried to rocket out of my chest. We started free-falling. My stomach plummeted into my toes; my bladder threatened revolt. I shut my eyes and curled up tight inside myself until I could hardly feel the wind tearing at my face. All I could think was, Please don’t let me die please don’t let me die please don’t let me die. 

At last the ride screeched to a halt. I took three seconds to make sure all my body parts were still attached and (most importantly) to make sure my pants were still dry. My vocal chords were destroyed and my fingers seemed permanently glued to the railing, but besides that, I was intact and unharmed. And then, as if I had stepped outside my own body, I watched my head turn to Geoff and listened to my own raspy voice squeak, “That was THE BEST THING EVER! Let’s do it again!”

Geoff nodded eager agreement, his wide eyes mirroring my I’m-terrified-but-still-totally-exhilarated expression. Turns out, we’d both had the time of our lives…but we hadn’t been able to register the joy of the experience until the ride had ended.

Off we sprinted to the next coaster, a scarier one. We had both squandered that first ride, just praying to survive, but we didn’t waste the next one. As the day wore on, we got bolder.  I started opening my eyes—just a crack at first, a little timid peep—until eventually, I opened my eyes all the way, almost the whole time. Geoff was the first to let go of the rail and wiggle a few fingers in the air on the way up the inclines. After a few more rides, I threw my hands up and surrendered to the stomach-lurching, bone-rattling thrill. By day’s end Geoff and I had conquered every terrifying ride Six Flags had to offer. We were full-fledged adrenaline junkies.

Sometimes waiting feels motionless, but other times it’s a roller coaster. It hurtles us up and down and all around—from uncertainty to terror to euphoria—till our emotions show signs of whiplash. We’re getting what we want—just kidding, not getting what we want; The Thing is finally happening—nope, not happening at all; God is saying yes—just kidding, He’s saying no—or maybe He’s saying wait—uh, we have no idea what God is saying… But guess what? We get to choose how we ride out our waiting seasons: Will we sit with our eyes shut, teeth clenched, fists tight on the rail, completely missing out, just whispering, “Tell me when it’s over”? Or will we open our eyes and let the ride take us where it will (where God wills), determined to find joy in the twists and turns, to experience exhilaration in the unknown?

No, it won’t be fun the whole time. It won’t always be peaceful or happy. We’ll have moments when we’ll wish God had buckled us into a different ride. But if we’ll learn to embrace the experience, it will be an adventure. A story—our life story. A life we do not waste. A life we live in the moment, every day—not just in hindsight, when we know how it all turned out. A life we live to the full, without fear: eyes open, heart unguarded, hands raised to heaven.

God’s way is perfect.
    All the Lord’s promises prove true.
    He is a shield for all who look to him for protection.
For who is God except the Lord?
    Who but our God is a solid rock?
 God arms me with strength,
    and he makes my way perfect.
He makes me as surefooted as a deer,
    enabling me to stand on mountain heights…
You have made a wide path for my feet
    to keep them from slipping. –Psalm 18:30–33, 36 NLT


If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy:

When Mugs Break: Lessons in Fear

When There’s Beauty in Waiting

When Your Life Feels Wasted

When Life Poops on Your Party

My new book, When God Says “Wait”: Navigating Life’s Detours and Delays Without Losing Your Faith, Your Friends, or Your Mind

When God Says Wait: Navigating Life's Detours and Delays Without Losing Your Faith, Your Friends, or Your Mind

 

 

 

           

 


When There’s Beauty in Waiting


Finding beauty in suffering

This was the view through my windshield the other day as I was waiting in traffic, stuck sitting through many cycles of the same traffic light. I’d been sitting there, frustrated and bored, wishing I was somewhere else—anywhere else—but then I looked up. For the rest of the wait, I sat, awestruck, and watched Him put on a show. If I hadn’t been stuck waiting, I would have missed it—but waiting gave me the opportunity to sit and revel in God’s power and artistry.

Waiting can be a bleak and painful time, but life is still beautiful—God is still doing great things for us—if only we will look up. We may find beauty in relationships, in unexpected kindness, in spiritual growth we didn’t see coming.

When I was waiting for true love, I found greater joy and intimacy in my walk with God, in learning to rely on Him for daily comfort and strength.

When I was waiting to get pregnant, God surprised me with new friendships that gave me the hope and comfort I needed to survive the struggle.

I didn’t yet have the things I was praying for, but God gave beautiful gifts along the way, unexpected blessings that eased the pain and lent joy to the journey.

Even now, as I wait on several Big Life Things, God is teaching me perseverance, humility, compassion. Showing me how to find joy in small things. Showing me that beauty is everywhere, even when we are waiting…we only have to look up.

I recently shared this story on Facebook Live, a.k.a. Lizzy Life Live! In the same chat, we talked about practical tips for having heart-to-heart talks with kids at all their different ages and stages. How do we draw quiet kids out? How do we connect on a heart level? How do we bring God into our daily conversations? You can watch the recording here

Finding beauty in waiting seasons and having heart-to-heart talks with our kids!

Nai-post ni Elizabeth Laing Thompson, Writer at LizzyLife noong Miyerkules, Marso 29, 2017

This post is expanded from my new Instagram account, @elizabethlaingthompson, where I am posting scriptures, encouragement, and humorous thoughts to help you through your waiting journey. I’d love to see you on Instagram!


If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy:

My new book, When God Says “Wait”

When God Says Wait: Navigating Life's Detours and Delays Without Losing Your Faith, Your Friends, or Your Mind

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When Your Life Feels Wasted

When Mugs Break: Lessons in Fear

When Life Poops on Your Party

13 Scriptures to Help Siblings Get Along

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When Your Life Feels Wasted


When Your Life Feels Wasted

Photos courtesy of Unsplash

My mom has this funny prayer she prays whenever she comes for one of her always-too-short visits: “God, please make this visit feel like a long time.” At first I laughed—my delightful mom has the most faithful prayer life, and she prays about everything—but then I was like, “Oh, why not?”—and I started borrowing her prayer.

But you know what I’ve found? There’s something to Mom’s crazy prayer. Whenever we pray those words, time somehow moves a bit slower. Her visit, however short, feels long enough. Even if we only have hours together—a layover between flights—every minute feels fulfilling. Meaningful. Rich. When she leaves we may cry, but still we feel satisfied, knowing we made the most of what time we had. In the mysterious ways of God, he helps us stop and savor and be fully present in our fleeting, priceless moments together.

How to pray when life is delayed

Sometimes we want time to slow down . . . but when we’re waiting, we want it to speed up and slow down at the same time. We want the wait to be over now, with no more time lost. We feel this pressure most acutely when we’re in the middle of one of those life-altering waits: The wait for a husband. For a baby. For a healing. Tick, tick goes the clock; flip, flip goes the calendar page—and you’re still stuck.

You feel your twenties passing you by, and you’re still single…

You’re well into your thirties, and you fear your biological clock will expire before you get to have a family

Your forties are flying, and you’re still sick or depressed—not quite yourself—unable to fully live the life you have…

Your fifties are coming to a close, but still your adult child wanders . . .

And if you’re like me—always watching the clock, painfully conscious of life’s brevity—you can start to get paranoid: My life is wasting away. I’ll never get back this time. These are lost years.

Slow down time

But guess what? God is more powerful than time. Listen to this beautiful prayer:

“Relent, Lord! How long will it be?

Have compassion on your servants.

Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love,

that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.

Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us,

    for as many years as we have seen trouble.

Psalm 90:14–16 (emphasis added)

Do you get what the writer is saying here? He’s asking God to redeem lost time. To make up for lost years—to make Israel glad for as many days, as many years, as they have suffered.

Who wrote this prayer? Moses—Moses who spent forty years wandering in the desert, waiting for the Promised Land. Moses understood the pain of lost life and wasted years better than anyone. And yet he saw that God could still redeem that time, those desert years. In Moses’ eyes, it wasn’t too late. All was not lost. He knew the power of God—God who rained plagues and parted seas, God who appeared in cloud by day and fire by night, God who dwelled on the holy mountain. God could transcend time. God could make up lost years. God could make His people glad, so glad they couldn’t help but sing, for as many years as they had suffered.

We see God do this often in the Bible, showering suffering people with later-life blessings: Joseph. Naomi. Job.

I have seen God do this in my own life more times than I can count. After a tumultuous time in our church life, God provided a way for me and my husband to live in the same town as both our parents—we had never believed it possible, but we got to share eight happy years with both our families. We felt as though God went out of his way to comfort us after a time of trial.

After two years and nine months of infertility, God gave us three babies in…wait for it…two years and ten months. I can hardly see my computer screen for the tears filling my eyes—tears of gratitude, wonder, awe. It’s been eleven years, but still the joy of this blessing staggers me. Even now I ask God, “Why us, when so many others are still waiting?” I can’t answer that question, but I celebrate his gift even as I pray for others still awaiting theirs.

If you’re stuck on pause, mourning a delay, borrow Moses’ prayer. Remind God of the pain you feel watching time pass you by, and ask him to redeem the lost days. Ask him to restore joy. To make you glad for as many days—as many years—as you have suffered. I don’t know when or how God will answer your prayer, but I know he is listening. He is listening, he is concerned, and he is able.


If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy:

My new book, When God Says “Wait”

When God Says Wait: Navigating Life's Detours and Delays Without Losing Your Faith, Your Friends, or Your Mind

 

 

 

 

 

 

When Mugs Break: Lessons in Fear

When Life Poops on Your Party

On Pinkeye, Lice, and Love

My friend Maria’s story: Choosing Peace Through Unexpected Trials


Share this post with a friend: 


When God Says “Wait” Is Now Available! Gratitude! Links! Free Stuff!


Fourteen years is a long time to wait.

When God Says “Wait” hits bookstore shelves today! (Here’s where I stop typing and indulge in an embarrassing jig that can only be described as “Riverdance meets Rhythm Nation, but without the rhythm.”) I am SO EXCITED, but wow, what a long journey it’s been.

Fourteen years ago, a vicious case of jet lag kept me up all night and gave me a strange gift: an idea for a story I had to tell about characters I met that night, but felt I’d known always. By the time sunrise set the Atlanta skyline ablaze, I had penned the first two chapters of a novel and outlined the entire plot. By the time my fellow Atlantans were stumbling to their coffee makers, my career path had changed; life had changed. I was going to become a writer.

If you had told me that night that I would spend the next fourteen years pursuing that crazy dream (and seriously, writing is a crazy dream), I don’t know what I would have done. I suspect a truckload of chocolate would have been involved.

In the past fourteen years, I have written more hours than I could count (I suspect the hours actually add up to years of life at this point). Spent thousands of dollars on coffee and conferences. Run over one laptop with my car. (ACCIDENT. Seriously. I can explain.) Worked another laptop so hard it finally just choked and died.

Along the way I have indie published two books, The Thirteenth Summer and The Tender Years: Parenting Preschoolers (coauthored with my wonderful mom, Geri), and those valuable experiences taught me so much about hard work and the joy of simply sharing words, and life, with readers.

Meanwhile, after an agonizing struggle with infertility, Kevin and I had three kids in less than three years and lived to tell the tale. (The tale involved more poop and vomit than one sentence can describe, but even so, it was a life worth living. A tale (mostly) worth telling.) After a while we had a fourth child, because hey—what’s one more?!

Along the way I have discovered that my husband is THE BEST HUSBAND IN THE UNIVERSE. I always knew that, but now I know it more. He loves all of my work—even the stories aimed at twelve-year-olds. He has always taken this writing thing seriously, long before anyone besides him was ever reading my words. He generously gives me writing time. He sends me to conferences and views every dollar spent as investment, not expense. He tolerates my coffee habit, having accepted that creativity requires caffeine (and occasionally champagne). He doesn’t get hurt feelings when I trail off mid-sentence, lost in a sudden plot-twist revelation. When I get manic, he takes away my coffee and makes me take naps. And all the while, he’s just so daggum cute and funny and faithful.

Along the way I have found the greatest BFF-slash-writing-partner any writer could have, who knows what I want to say and how I want to say it better than I do; whose soul-stirring writing takes my breath away.

When God Says Wait in Barnes & Noble

This is my writing partner, Emma, in Barnes & Noble yesterday, with copies of my book! This is the same B & N where we met and have shared countless happy writing hours! Also, I helped her pick those fabulous boots. 🙂

In the past two years I have discovered the joy of connecting with people through words and scripture and silly stories right here on Lizzy Life. I cannot describe the joy this community has brought me. How I have loved sharing life with you here—giving you glimpses into our wacky world and hearing how our stories intersect with yours. You have helped me not write alone, not learn alone, not live alone.

Along the way I have found joy in writing with God. I cannot describe the intensely intimate and transcendent spiritual experience it was to write When God Says “Wait” with God. Every day writing was a day spent in constant communion with Him. Every day I prayed, “Fill me up and empty me out.” Every day, mystical as it sounds, He whispered words.

Along the way I have had the privilege to work with godly people whose courage, excellence, and giftedness blows my mind: my agent-slash-book-warrior Jessica Kirkland, who fights on no matter the odds. The entire team at Barbour: Kelly McIntosh, who is ever encouraging; Shalyn Sattler, whose heart and talent echo through every email; Mary Burns, who laughed and plotted with me and Shalyn and helped make marketing fun; Liesl Davenport, whose gifts for detail and design had me nearly weeping with gratitude; Laura Weller, copyeditor and comma-wrangler extraordinaire; Ashley Schrock, who designed the brilliant book cover; Jeane Wynne, publicist, cheerleader, and inspiring go-getter; my book launch team, who have made the “preseason” of the book launch such a joy with their enthusiasm and generosity.

Amazing friends have taken time out of their insanely busy lives to read and endorse the book—their generosity with their time and words has meant the world: longtime friends Chip and Pauli Wade, who we met when we were newlyweds and they were both cheerleaders at Georgia Tech; now they serve God in multiple capacities, as talented designers and HGTV stars; Lara Casey Isaacson, a writer friend whose ministry, example, and transparency are inspiring; Andy Lee, a local writer friend whose book, A Mary Like Me: Flawed Yet Called is a beautiful blend of Bible and storytelling; beloved friend Laura Whitaker, who has shared so many waiting seasons with me, and whose work with individuals with special needs is heroic; and devoted friend Marilisa Schachinger, who has also shared my waiting seasons (she was even brave enough to babysit the three-under-three, way back in the day!), and now honors God with her work as a business owner and entrepreneur.

And then there are our parents, Sam and Geri and Bill and Glenda, and our delightfully quirky family members, who have not just tolerated, but supported and encouraged, from the beginning. They have fasted, prayed, babysat, read drafts, given ideas, and picked me up off the floor a thousand times over. My sister Alexandra was enduring a horrific waiting season of her own the entire time I was writing, and her struggle inspired and guided me as I wrote—her spirit, too, is on every page. I could go on for pages about every single family member, but I am every day thankful for every one of them.

And my fiercely loyal friends, who have prayed with me and chosen to walk this journey with me even when the whole process was just so weird and confusing, and they secretly thought I was nuts (and of course they were right). Every girl should be so lucky to have such friends.

And my church family, who have prayed and listened and cheered me on for years, who have not made comments when I showed up to midweek wearing sweatpants, a hat, and crazy eyes. (Sorry about that.) They even let me share their poignant waiting stories in the book.

Much as it pains me and humbles me to say it—this is me, eating my words; Father, are you reading this?—these past fourteen years have taught me the value in waiting. I have seen that good things—maybe even the best things—truly come to those who wait.

The victory is all the sweeter for taking so long. The joy all the richer for following so much rejection, heartache, and doubt. The satisfaction all the more meaningful because it has been shared by so many—and it would not have been shared so meaningfully had it not taken so long. I recognize that; I celebrate what unparalleled joy it is to share joy. The thousands of prayers others have willingly offered on my behalf are staggering. Humbling. Overwhelming. I owe a prayer debt I could never repay.

Above all, I am so grateful to God for allowing me to write this book with Him and for Him. It’s all for you, God… do with it as you will.

Want to download two free chapters of the book? Here’s a link!

Want to check out the book trailer, starring my beautiful friends, and put together by my brilliant brother-in-law? Here it is!

Want to order the book? It’s available anywhere books are sold: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Christianbook.com, even in your local Lifeway. I’d love to hear what you think when you’re through—I deeply appreciate every response, every story, every word you send my way. I can’t wait to hear what you think!

-xoxo, Elizabeth


If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy:

When Mugs Break: Lessons in Fear

On Pinkeye, Lice, and Love

When Being a Grown-Up Means You’re Still Growing Up


Share this post here: 


When Mugs Break: Lessons in Fear


Photos courtesy of Unsplash.  

I sink into my friend’s cushy new loveseat with a grateful sigh. The eight-hour drive from my house to hers has left me exhausted—I don’t have great stamina as a long-distance driver, but today Cassidy and I have braved the long country roads between North Carolina and Georgia, just the two of us, for the rare treat of a mother-daughter trip to visit friends.

With a smile, my friend’s husband presses a steaming mug of tea into my hands. “You are the best,” I say. I’ve been looking forward to this moment for at least 200 miles. For a few seconds I cradle the mug, savoring the way warmth travels through the pottery, into my fingertips, down into my soul. My friend asks what I want to do tomorrow. I lift the mug to my lips, gathering thoughts.

In the silence between sentences there’s a strange little crunching sound, and suddenly I’m burning. Scalding tea is everywhere—drenching my hands, spattering my arms, filling my lap, soaking the chair. I yelp and leap to my feet. In one bleeding hand I hold the mug’s handle; in the other, I’m struggling to balance the now half-empty mug. My friend and her husband come running, our daughters come running. The next moments are a blur of shrieks and towels, Band-aids and blood. When pain stops and chaos settles, we register what happened: The handle separated from the mug, sending tea flying and pottery shards digging into my hand.

Eventually, when we realize that there’s more blood than actual injury, that my thick winter clothes have protected me from true burns, and that my friend’s forethought in stain-protecting her new loveseat has kept the furniture from total ruin, we dissolve into relieved and shaky laughter.

I change clothes, we clean up, and after a while we are back where we started, settling in to chat on the couches. My friend’s husband brews a fresh cup of tea and holds it out to me. For a heartbeat I hesitate—a hitch of anxiety stops my breath—and I slowly reach out to take the mug. As my friend launches into a story, I find myself holding the mug tighter than I should be, pressing it hard with both hands. I cast nervous glances at the handle, studying its width, weighing its strength. In spite of the rational voice in my head insisting, “This is so stupid, hold the dang handle,” I can’t bring myself to let go and hold the mug by the handle.

The next morning, my friend offers me coffee. Coffee, beloved coffee, sweet nectar of life. She pours me a cup and holds out the mug. A fluttering starts in my gut, and I find myself swallowing hard as I reach for the mug with my still-bandaged hand. She looks at me funny. “Are you okay?”

I nod my head yes. Shake my head no. Set the mug down. Confess with a laugh, “I’m afraid to pick up the mug!”

My friend laughs, then looks slightly wounded. “You don’t trust my mugs anymore.”

“Not just your mugs,” I say with a guilty grin. “Mugs in general.”

She assures me that the mug in question has been a reliable vessel for coffee and tea for many years and is worthy of my full trust. She holds it herself, waves it around to prove it. We laugh, I pretend to feel better, and I pick up the cup, hoping she doesn’t notice that I’m using two hands, unwilling to risk the handle.

Several days later I return home—home to my own coffee pot, my own familiar mugs, dear companions who have faithfully served me coffee and tea during countless prayer times, phone calls, and writing sessions. But even so, when I pour my first cup of coffee into my favorite mug, the “Our nest is blessed” bird mug my mom gave me, I find myself staring it down with eyes narrowed, suspicion rising: Are you going to fail me too? Are you hiding some unseen crack, some weakness in construction? We’ve lived a lot of life together, shared a lot of coffee and good memories, but now…I’ve been burned. I’ve changed—have you changed too?

mug-in-garage


Want more from Lizzy Life? Click here to sign up for Elizabeth’s quarterly newsletter, and you’ll receive a free download: 7 Two-Minute Devotions to do around the breakfast table with your family! And you can order Elizabeth’s next book, When God Says “Wait,” by clicking here! 


Over the next few weeks, I keep drinking coffee, but always with two hands, just in case. It’s weeks before I can lift a mug without pause. Months before I can enjoy coffee or tea without a twinge of bad memory pulsing somewhere in the back of my mind. The two-hand mug-hold becomes an unconscious habit. Even though logic tells me I’m being ridiculous—In all your thirty-eight years you have had three million positive experiences drinking from mugs, and only one bad experience with mug malfunction—the odds are totally in your favor!—every time I lift a mug, some primal instinct rises up to defend me. Keep me from getting burned. Keep me using two hands.

After a while it occurs to me that I’ve done this before, only not with mugs. With people. With God. Most of my life has been filled with love, kindness, grace—ten million wondrous memories—but along the way I’ve also experienced a few shocking hurts and disappointments. Wounds I didn’t see coming, from places I’d never doubted.

Sometimes things break on us—not just mugs, but things that really matter: Health. Friendships. Finances. Churches. Parents. Marriages. Families.

Things we thought were a given, things we trusted without question—my mug will always hold my coffee, my friend will always be there, my church will always be a safe place, my parents will always love each other, my guy will always be faithful, my body will always be healthysuddenly let us down. They break without warning. One minute we’re sitting on a couch with a friend—happy place, familiar comfort—the next we’re gasping in pain, world spinning, and it’s ages before we can even register what happened.

When we’re surprised like that, when things break on us, sometimes we break too. Trust, overcome by fear. Love, overshadowed by suspicion. Openness, overwhelmed by hurt.

We don’t want to be broken. We’re not doing it on purpose. Logically, we tell ourselves that our newfound fear makes no sense—in neutral moments we even laugh at ourselves—but every time we face situations that somehow remind us of that one terrible time, the fear comes roaring to the surface. Taking over. Commandeering our thoughts, our feelings, our reactions. Making us curl into a self-protective cocoon where we can hide safe inside, safe all alone.

mug-winter-girl

Fear does this to us even when we are no longer in any real danger—it takes over based on mere memory. We may be sitting safe and snug—different chair, different day, different mug—but if our mind flashes back to the one bad experience with the one evil mug, suddenly we’re right back there, in danger, and it’s time to flee. Or time to fight.

We who used to live free, love hard… we become guarded. Protective. Isolated. Maybe angry.

We’re not crazy, not making it up. Some broken things, like my friend’s mug, are beyond hope and have to be thrown away—those losses hurt beyond words.

Other broken things can be repaired, but repair is scary. Imperfect. Risky. Even if we manage to glue the handle back onto a mug, we still see a seam. A scar. A weak place that, if we prod it and test it too much, we fear could break again.

Friend, if things or people have broken on you, if you yourself are broken, these words are for you. You feel pain, suspicion, fear—so do I. I’ve felt it in my own ways, through the lens of my own experiences, my own people. I understand the deep, visceral spring of pain that gives fear such ferocity, such control, such long life.

I understand it, but from one burned person to another, one broken soul to another, I’m asking you to let it go. I’m telling you that with God, through Christ, it’s possible.

I’m asking you to take away the power of fear—fear that warps and cripples and binds—by seeing through it. By seeing it for what it is: a fear that wants to distort the way you view people, do church, trust God, experience life, face the future. It is a hurt that wants to haunt you. An injury that seeks to change you. A wound that wants to keep wounding you—not with realities from the present, but with memories from the past. A fear that wants you to live trapped in an invisible box of your own creation. The wounds may have come from others, but the box you built and locked yourself—and friend, you still hold the key.

I’m asking you to use that key. Climb out of that box. Stand free in God’s sun.

I pray you find a way to heal. To forgive, as many times as it takes. To give your hurt and fear to God, and to trust that his hands are big enough to hold them. That Christ’s blood is thick enough, pure enough, to cover all and wash it clean.

I pray you find courage to breathe through the panic, reject the memories, reach out your hand, and take hold of that mug once more. To lift it up and drink it down.

I’m proud to say I have learned to trust mugs again. (Now there’s a sentence that’s never been said before!) It helped when I realized: Sometimes memory distorts reality. Inflates horror. Exaggerates pain. Over time, my memory of the heat and pain became more powerful, more dramatic, than the actual incident itself. Yes, for a few seconds I was uncomfortable, but I wasn’t truly burned! The cuts were mere scratches! Some experiences truly are as awful as we remember, but other memories grow over time—taking on heavier weight, accruing pain like interest.

Either way, isn’t it time to reach out and hold that handle again? The first few times will be the hardest. You might find your heart racing, palms sweating, head spinning. But with time it will get easier. And easier. Still easier. The more often you push through, the more quickly you will overcome. You may relapse every so often, but with focused effort you can keep moving forward. You can enjoy the things, the people, you used to enjoy. You can trust again. Love again. Live again. Yes, you may bear scars, but they need not define you.

My two-hand mug-holding habit took a while to unlearn, but over time, I have. (Mostly.) I now hold mugs with one hand, by the handle, the way normal, non-mug-ophobic people do, and most days I don’t think twice about it. (Although honestly, now that I’m writing this, I’m starting to feel a bit twitchy. Don’t judge me if you catch me relapsing with the two-hand hold for a few weeks.)

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Now I’m grateful for the lessons the broken mug taught me:

Most of the time, life is wonderful. But sometimes life hurts. People disappoint. Things change. Mugs break.

But you and I… we can move forward. With God’s help, we can heal. Forgive. In time, maybe we can even forget.

And you know what? Even if we can’t forget, even if we still bear the scar, it’s worth it, reaching out and taking hold of that mug once more. Scar or no scar, bad memories and all, the tea, the coffee, this life… they taste as good as ever.


If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy:

When They Can’t Find a Heartbeat

When Being a Grown-Up Means You’re Still Growing Up

When You Walk Through a Valley

When Life Poops on Your Party

On Pinkeye, Lice, and Love

One Day, Somehow (A Promise for a Grieving Friend)


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