Some days, it all gets a little too heavy.

palm wind

A few years ago, during the intense week that followed the Boston Marathon Bombing, I wrote about the heaviness and pain in the world. I wrote about the Aurora Shooting and Sandy Hook and the Boston bombing all in one and summed it up that the world needed Jesus and one day it would make sense. I summed it up so nicely. 

And today, I believe those same things. I believe that Jesus is the redeemer. That He is coming back and that all of the tragedy we see in the world is a consequence of sin. I believe it maybe even more than I did when I keyed those words on a page on my Macbook Pro. And I’m a thousand times eternally grateful that we won’t always live here. That there’s a better place waiting. That the weight won’t be heavy anymore.

But sometimes, I stumble into a real glimpse of the pain that there is walking all over our world. It happens on the most seemingly innocuous days. When life is trotting along and things are going pretty good in my world, I get slapped in the face with the reality of sin and evil all around. Get reminded that it’s probably not going away anytime soon, without the second coming of our King, anyway.

I had dinner last week with the founder of one of our Dot partners, and he told me the story of Congo. The long and exhausting history of one group after another taking over and claiming a people group as their own. Claiming people as their property. And he told me his perspective of how the world had responded. And his perspective marred by the memories of gunshots and bombings and fleeing as far as his family could go until they couldn’t go any further and they just came home. And I realized, with my Coach purse in my hands and my Lucky jeans on my legs, that I didn’t know what it was to face that kind of suffering. That maybe no upper-middle class American really did. And the weight of that is heavy.

Nine years ago last month, my family lost our home in the worst natural disaster America had seen in a very long time. We went to Destin for the weekend and ended up staying almost two weeks and came home and everything was different. The city that I had finally fell in love with was different. The friends and people and world. It was all different and I was 15 and the world was supposed to be good. I had been promised it would be good. But it wasn’t good in those days. And we lived in something like twelve different places that first few months after “the storm”. She wasn’t known as anything else, and though we don’t talk about her as much as we once did, she changed our hearts as much as she did our homes. And school didn’t reopen for a month and in that time people were scattered across the country, some with lost jobs and shaken nerves not returning, settling somewhere that they could feel a little more safe somehow. Knowing the coast would somehow never be the same.

It’s been nine years since that time, and a lot of life in between. High school and college and graduations and weddings and lives even have come and gone. And life is good in so many ways. But life is also hard some days. Because we no longer live in a world where everything is going to be alright. We no longer have the illusion that people are generally good and things work out always. It’s simply not true. And some days it all gets a little too heavy.

In the midst of that reality, I’m learning what it looks like to take each moment for what it is. I’m learning to live in community and love a little bit deeper. I’m learning that the deeper your knowledge of the evil in the world is, the deeper your understanding of your need of a Savior becomes. The more you begin to appreciate His redemption. The more desperate you are to see His Kingdom come. The harder you’re willing to work to bring it to Earth today.

The other day, in a fit of dreaming about what could be, I wrote down a list of just my favorite Jackson-area girls. I stopped at thirty—thirty actual girls that I do life with on a semi-regular basis/have had coffee/dinner with over the past year—and there were probably fifteen that have come to mind since. Two years ago, I wouldn’t have been able to count five. Not because they weren’t there—they have always been exactly where I’ve needed them—but my eyes weren’t open to the beautiful grace that God has given me in the people that He has surrounded me with. My eyes were tightly shut because they were simply afraid of seeing the pain. And there is a lot of pain in each of those relationships. I think if you’re in relationship with anyone, there’s always a sharing of pain. But the more you share, the less there is on one individual. The less weight you find on your own shoulders.

At the end of my life, I think I’ll be more thankful for the painful moments than the sweet ones. I think I’ll be more of a person because I’ve experienced lost. And I know that more and more as I get the chance to interact with our Dot partners all over the world. Because the men that run our two organizations have been through the ringer. One an orphan, one a refugee. They have the story that attests to the saving grace of Jesus and they depend on Him before anything else. Not because they choose to, but because it’s absolutely required to keep on living. Most days lately, I want to live more like that.

–Hallie

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Wrote this last year in a busy, crazy, whirlwind season of ministry. Stumbled upon it today and realized how incredibly good God is and how He works in the long term. Couldn’t have today as it is without yesterday as it was.

Sometimes I get angry with God for not showing up when I expect.

And then He blows my mind with His goodness,
And I remember how little I am and how good he is.

Today I worked ten hours. Minus about thirty minutes at lunch in which I ran home and grabbed my phone charger for the dead phone sitting in my purse since our devotional time at nine this morning.

I’m doing things I love so ten hours flashes fast.
But it was, for sure, a full day of emails and phone calls, meetings and spreadsheets, that ended with sitting in on marital counseling, right before I clocked out and walked thirty steps into a prayer time and our Wednesday evening service.

Our Wednesday service has become a time of prayer.
A time that I look forward to each week, and I walked into the room with a full head and a desiring heart.
But it was one of those days where you sit in the wrong spot and have disjointed conversations and you’re tense and cold and somehow prayer feels more like you’re talking to the ceiling than to the Creator of the Universe.
(And let me know if I’m the only one who sometimes has those days.)

And I got a little grumpy with God.
A little annoyed when the sermon didn’t just rock my world and the notes that I took were rewriting Bible verses that fell on my cold deaf ears.
Because I’m just starting to learn that ministry isn’t just about Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings. It isn’t about the service but instead the relationships that come in between. But the stubborn girl inside of me hasn’t grasped it yet, and I just wanted God to speak somehow tonight. But God always has a different plan than the one I dream up, and somehow His is always ridiculously better.

When the invitation (a Baptist tradition this Presby-Tist has grown to love) came, I walked down as a hesitant first time decision counselor, standing against the wall less expectant than I should have been. But I was placed to pray in a group with a girl just my age, excited because she had just understood knowing Jesus for the first time, and further conversation led to the realization that she was a dear friend of a friend of mine. Which led to a text message shot across a parking lot into the next town where my friend read my words with excitement and picked up the phone to hear more about our time. And it turned out that the “harvest is great” where she now studies, close to our college town but far from anything resembling our college experience.

And tonight I got to talk about the bizarreness of half-grown-up life where things are so close to being the same and yet so separate in worlds and understanding. It made me excited because it proves that there is potential, and the sermon about Joy that I was annoyed with rings loudly in my ears because I realize for the first time that I have a perspective that not all hold, and yet I want to share it with all. I have the potential to be a reckoning force in the world for my Savior if I just shoot the text messages and sit in the Kroger parking lots and laugh when people need laughter and speak wisdom when all they have are a pile of misunderstandings.

I thank God that He comes through even when I’ve given up. That he lets me go to the valley so I recognize the greatness of the heavens once again. That the valleys are much higher than they could be. That he’s allowing me to be a part of other people seeing the holy in their day to day. That he’s allowing me to be a small part of bringing his everlasting Kingdom to this earth.

–Hallie