Keep your head up, darling.

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The sun is shining on your hair where it has been dark for so long.

The mist is lifting.

And even if it was still dark all around you, I would say the same thing, the thing I'm sure others said to me when the darkness covered me, though I may remember it not:

Keep your head up.

You are royalty.

I want someone to remind me I am a princess with a diamond tiara upon my head.

Keep your head up.

You are loved.

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The darkness is so dark. It is heavy, and envelops you like a warm blanket in the dead of winter. To emerge into the dawn feels cold and hard.

So, so hard.

Every step feels like an effort. Sleeping and crying is all you want to do. To laugh feels like jerking a tooth out of your mouth by a string attached to a slamming door. The circles under your eyes feel like they are permanently tattooed there, and everything has an aura of soft rainy grayness pulsing around its softened edges.

Depression feels like a warm bed. Despair feels like it is killing you softly, but damn if you aren't comfortable all the while.

But darling, keep your head up.

This is not the end, and it will not be forever.

Keep your head up to see the Road before you.

Keep your head up to watch the dawn as it slowly spreads. As it banishes the mist to the edge of sight, the edge of the map. Here there be monsters, it says there on the hem --

and gradually, the mist fades from even there, and what we thought were monsters that can kill us with a look are vanquished by the glance of your eyes and the sparkle within them as you dare to look them in the face.

Keep your head up.

Walk tall.

It will not be this way forever.

You are not cowed. You are not defeated.

Despair and depression feel like what Tolkien called "the long defeat." It is a soft melancholia, a quiet sadness.

But keep your head up.

You are destined to win. Jesus has made it so for the ones that belong to Him.

Even when it feels like the hardest thing in the world, all I ask you to do is keep your head up.

It is all you have to do.

*****

Keep your head down, darling.

It is time to do the work you have been made to do.

Keep your head up and look ahead with shrewd eyes and the clarity of perspicacity -- and at the same time, keep your eyes on your Work with a capital W -- the Work of Calling (with a capital C).

You don't have to look around at other people. That's not a requirement. We seem to think we are compelled to do so -- but we are just as free to simply shrug our shoulders and keep your head down.

I want to say keep your nose to the grindstone, but I've always felt that metaphor to be a little harsh: what if the grindstone rubs your nose raw and it bleeds a little bit?

I am reminded of the time when I was twelve or so and I chewed much of the skin off of the pads of my fingertips. It was a strange time to be Sara B., clearly.

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Keep your head down, beloved.

God has given you something to do. Something that brings life into your tired limbs and sets the blood coursing through your veins again and makes it easier for you to keep your head up.

You find that your chin is lifting of its own accord.

You find that instead of having to prop your eyelids open, there is a new gleam in your pupils, a new flush to your cheeks, like you're atop a mountain on a crisp fall day with the clear blue sky wide above you.

The wind is in your hair, and you can't help but feel that it's the wind of the miracle God is doing within you and with you. Through your hands and the pads of your fingertips, whether you've chewed the skin off of them or not.

The wind blows where it wishes, and you do not know where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with the mystery of God.

This is so -- we do not know what God is doing. But we only know that He has put in front of us a Thing to Do.

It fills us up so much and then pours out from our hearts.

And maybe through that work, that vocation, that outflowing of calling -- maybe by the overflow of divinely-given calling-joy someone else will feel the wind of God.

It blows through their hair and they wonder where that breath of magic came from.

And so on and so forth.

So keep your head down, friends.

We have been given a Task. And it is hard some days, but each and every day it does something to us that we cannot explain, because it is part of the mystery of God. No matter how hard we try to wrap our language around it.

But that's part of magic.

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Keep your head down, beloved. Do what you have been given to do. Do what you feel your soul pulling you toward like an unignorable wire of golden floss and fairy dust.

Undertake the adventure that this is.

And watch the way your head lifts and your crown straightens and you walk a little taller into Jesus and into who you're made to be.

Jesus uses calling to tilt our faces toward the dawn.

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