You know, I have lots of ideas for blog posts. They're jotted down in my bullet journal. The current list began in March, and there are a handful of ideas that are good. They have promise. But I haven't written them down yet. Because I tend to favor writing about what's in front of me. What I'm experiencing now. I have to write through things, more than about them.

I'm going through a season in my life that I thought would be different when I dreamed about it six months ago. I had plans for something else. And when those plans came tumbling down around my ears, I was brought sharply up against a reality that felt hollow. It felt sterile, dark, obscure. Like mist surrounded it, and in the middle of the dense circle of fog there were only brownlands. That I had to walk through. Alone.

I thought this would be a year of loneliness and isolation and just putting my head down and doing my thing.

My best friends moved out of our apartment this summer. Their leases were up. One of them left our town to go and student teach. I'm excited for what comes next for them, but the prospect of living with people I don't know made me feel even more like turning myself into a hermit.

I was by myself, and I had to truck through the barrenness of choking dust coating hard stone under my bare feet. Until I came out of the fog on the other side. Like stumbling out of a dream of monotony.

And then something funny happened.

It was like walking into the dense thicket of mist and finding, to my surprise, that there was a new land of richness and magic within that I had not discovered.

I discovered I was loved.

I feel that I am widely perceived as being "sweet little Sara." That's lovely, and I like that perception, but I have an allergy to telling people what I actually think. To exposing the full length and breadth of the ugliness of my emotions. No one wants to hear what I have to say about the place I'm in, I think. And no one wants to hear me be angry about the season I walked into against my will, because I had no other choice.

Because let me tell you something, sports fans.

I am angry.

I didn't know it, but I am.

I'm hurting so deeply inside, and hunting for all kinds of things to make it right, and in certain situations, the anger is raw and real and I simply cannot stay in the room and deal with it.

So I leave the room.

But inevitably, when I leave the room, friends come to find me.

In those moments, I cannot hide my anger from them.

I cannot hide the fact that I'd like to just punch everyone across the mouth with my very limited upper body strength and my bony hands. Maybe the fact that my hands are bony would make it hurt more.

I cannot disguise the fact that I am angry, and that my insides are screaming for everyone around me to Shut up shut up SHUT UP!

Can't you see I want to die inside?

I think they can see it. In this season my skin seems thinner, and something about it is more translucent, and the people who spend time with me can look through me and see the seething, roiling hurt inside my heart.

They know I'm pissed.

But they come to me anyway, and they listen to me, and I hear myself saying terrible things. About jealousy and the cattiness of my own heart and the spitefulness that has lived within me for years but I tried to drown out by being sweet to everyone.

I don't act nice in order to get people to like me, though some have accused me of this.

I act nice so that people won't see that I'm angry.

But then all my anger comes spilling out of me, and I'm trying to cover it up, but it's like an ink spill on white carpet: you can't hide that.

And then something magical happens.

Something sacred. Something nothing short of the hand of God.

The people around me see me. Like, really see me.

They know me.

They understand.

And somehow, some crazy way...

They love me anyway.

They love me when I'm angry.

They love me when I'm brutally honest and I can't even apologize for the monster living inside me because, quite frankly, in those moments, I'm not sorry.

I have to sit there in my brazenness and sourness and shame and vulnerability and try to scrounge up courage for telling the truth when, really, I feel that I'm so angry no one could possibly still even like me, let alone love me.

Because they see me now. They know me now. They know me deeply, because I've learned that it's nigh on impossible for me to keep secrets about my heart and what goes on there.

And somehow, some way...

They love me.

There is no reason on earth that any friend of mine should still be my friend after they see this side of me. I can be sassy and brutal and cutting, not to mention angry. Sometimes I feel downright bitchy.

And the worst part?

I have nothing to give back to them in exchange for loving me in my anger.

All I have to give are words of thanks, and those are hollow at best. And my friendship in return feels like not nearly enough.

And that's because I myself am not enough.

I am too angry, too poor, too selfish, hurting far too much to be worthy of being seen and known and understood and yet loved.

But then I think --

Isn't that the point?

Isn't that what grace is about?

One is loved because one is loved. No reason is needed for loving.
- Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

I've been struggling to make sense of the change and shift that is this season of my life. I like to look for themes. It's the English nerd in me. Or maybe the musician, looking for musical themes in the sonata or the leitmotif in the opera.

Maybe what God is teaching me now is how to receive grace.

See, I'm not good at receiving gifts.

My counselor and I had a discussion about that once. I love to receive gifts. I freaking adore it. My birthday was three days before the publishing of this post, and let me tell you, birthdays are MY FAVORITE because I love feeling special and loved and receiving gifts.

But let me tell you something, sports fans.

I feel guilty for loving gifts because it feels selfish.

I cannot give anything back.

And I can hear you saying to me, "Sara, that's the point of a gift." I know it is. But my heart doesn't know it.

My heart thinks I need to be worthy in order to be given things.

It's why, when God gives me good gifts, as He loves to do, I feel guilty.

It's why, when I am seen and known and understood in all my ugliness -- and yet loved, neither in spite of nor because of that ugliness -- I am at a loss.

Because, you see, I have nothing to give back.

And I am begging to not be found unworthy of the gift.

I am begging to be found worthy of being loved.

And I am astonished and almost grieved when I find that I am not at all worthy, but people -- my people -- inexplicably love me anyway.

And then I weep inside my heart and praise and mourn all at the same time as I ask my friends and my God, What have I done to deserve this?

The Holy Spirit whispers in my ear: Nothing.

And My darling, that is the whole point.

That's not just what Grace is.

That's what Love is.

One is loved because one is loved.

The end.

I'm not good at ending posts. I always look for the punchline, as it were. The thing that will send it home.

But usually by the time I've gotten to where I want to end the post, I've said everything I need to say.

Writing helps me find the sense and the themes and the overarching truths in the seasons of my life. This post is for that.

But it's also a thank you. A shout to everyone that I didn't know loved me, or I didn't think could love me -- but somehow does.

This is a woman who still feels like a girl burying her head in her hands and weeping before you because somehow you love her in her anger and her loneliness.

This is a girl who feels like a woman looking up in shock and delight to find that she has friends she didn't know she had.

This is a weary traveler who thought she was in the wilderness turning the corner in the Dark Forest and finding herself at a feast of sunlight and starlight. Who finds abundance where she thought to find only barrenness.

You are making this season good.

And You, Father --

You are making all things new.

Glory.

Forget the former things,
nor consider the things of old.
See, I am doing a new thing:
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the desert
and streams in the wasteland.
Isaiah 43:18-19

*****

Cover image belongs to George Cole. Other images are mine.

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