Washington: State, Day 1
Redmond, WA; April 30/May 1
But from here, I see You aligning my path so that I can be free, so that I will let go, so that I will be brave. I know now that patience will lead me to hope, and hope to love, and love never fails. Find me here, Jesus. You’re the only One who knows what an empty tomb looks like. You’re the only one who felt these mistakes & these failures, You’re the only One who can save. Teach me, God. Help me to find my way in the forest; through the promise, when I don’t understand – show me that I don’t need to. I’m not looking for easy, I’m just looking for You.
“Those who survived the sword found grace in the wilderness” – Jeremiah 31:1
Washington: State, Day 2
Seattle, WA; May 1
As the seasons change, all I ever find, all I’ve found is that I end up where I started – and that’s a fear I promised myself I’d get past – I am beautiful, I say again, aloud this time. I am brave and my heart is safe, my heart is kind and I will trust, I will trust You and I won’t be afraid now. I will sing my identity over myself until I break out of my comfort zone and I will trust, I will trust You and I won’t be afraid. There is nothing holding me back. There is nothing holding me down. There is nothing stopping me from not being afraid. I am free, I am free and the outcomes are mysteries in the water, a map for the ocean [it’s all the same], and my mistakes I no longer carry. I say it again, until it’s less just words and more of an identity. When I was younger I saw the fire, and I hid from the flame. It was never the smoke that scared me. But it was what I ran from, taking it as a signal for the root of my fear. It’s like walking on ice; it’s like tiptoeing to the edge of a cliff. I was open to the adventure, but could never balance the risk. Today, I’m finally older. When I faced it, when I stood my ground, for the first time, ending up where I started is not a starting place at all. It looked the same as when I started – it looked like Jesus. But I had left behind a piece of me that had clung for far too long.
“As far as the east is from the west, so far have our transgressions been removed from us” – Psalm 103:12
Washington: State, Day 3
Redmond, WA; May 2
Two hours earlier than I was ever used to, the light shed its glow through my window and spilled onto the floor, onto my bedspread and opened my eyes to the dawn. As I stretched, the peeling from my sunburn lifted itself away from my hand – I am healing, I whispered. Under the dry skin, as I rubbed it away, my arm was more of the way I knew it once had been. When I was sunburn, everyone said it – “that must hurt so much” – I think the same way it is when we’re broken. We’re far better at recognizing pain in that state, and we can relate (but spend most of our time being glad that it wasn’t us that had to endure it). The process for healing is foreign; and I found myself apologizing far more often for the layers of skin peeling off of my arm and hand than I ever did for my sunburn. But the past tense of healing was coming. That’s the power of our Jesus. If brokenness is where we began, the next step into healing is not much easier; but healed was where we were meant to be at first, and healed is where belong. We were not made to be broken, so we were not made to experience healing, and that’s why both are hard. Few will understand that place in between, not even I – I spent the last week pulling my sweaters over my hand to hide the peeling skin, explaining my way through it, hiding it. We all walk through it in different levels, and we can’t explain it, because we don’t know where we’re going or what we’ll find when we get there. And He put it on my heart and said to me, do not be ashamed of your healing. When the light broke through, there is far more healing that took place than I ever saw on the surface.
“If you were cut from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, the natural branches, be grafted back into their own olive tree.” Romans 11:24
Washington: State, Day 4
Bellevue, WA; May 3
“Shall we simply begin, or start with a Midwestern grace?”, he asked me, and I smiled and said, “let’s start with grace.” And he told a story of a man somewhere, at some time, who spoke some sort of Latin – who said the same thing, “Let’s start with a Midwestern grace”, and he said a few words in Latin and “amen.” And so, he said the same, “Amen,” followed by “Scotch on the rocks is the only thing you can drink internationally that will be accepted in all cultures,” and proceeded into a story of drinking in Japan, and I knew that this space was just a continuation of a year’s worth of notebooks in a box in my closet at home. Four times I could feel the well behind my eyes begin to flow, because the changes that had happened over the last year and a half carried deep pain. He continued, “So, I don’t want to go back there, of course, because you are familiar with what happened last year, I don’t want to go back without her… but there are others who need me there, and it is why I must go.” Healing. The intersection of grace; yet again, the space between what we want and where we were made to be. It was then I knew that things had changed. I looked down, and for the first time since my sunburn, it was no longer peeling. “Some say there is smart and stupid, but I say otherwise;” he continued, “the book of Proverbs says there is wise and folly.”
“Whoever trusts his own mind is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered.” Proverbs 28:26
Washington: State, Day 5
Bellingham, WA to Seattle, WA; May 4
‘Everything must change for all things to be made new.’ I wrote it in my journal two weeks ago.
I came to a hard realization today that helped me see how much has changed. The way I once loved sitting alone, the way I loved traveling alone has changed; changed for the better, I suppose. While I still can sit at coffee shop bars and alone at tables for two next to windows, there was a time I wanted this – where as now, I’m comfortable, but I don’t feel as content. I don’t learn there anymore. The conversations I had that came from questions – the Uber driver who once rode from Seattle to D.C. on a Greyhound bus, the woman who told me about the college students who make backpacks and bags for those with disabilities, the dad sitting next to me sharing hundreds of dad jokes with his young daughter – watching my story entangle with the rest of these, as I shared pieces of my own story – writes a new story, one that is edited by the intersections.
“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:19
Washington: State, Day 6
Bellingham, WA to Seattle, WA; May 5
Two backpacks and a new longboard later, I’m on an Amtrak train back to Seattle from Bellingham. It’s a lot to carry, but the guys at the board shop showed me how to put the board across my back before I put my backpack on
Update via phone note: leaving the train was hard with the bags, and walking through doors is tough, and navigating a new place is tough, and I have no idea where I’m going to get to the Starbucks that’s apparently two blocks away on the upper level of the street
“Is that a longboard?” the Starbucks cashier asked me.
“Yeah, haha,” I say, “it is.”
“It’s cool. That design is amazing.”
The bottom of the board is red and has two eagles on it – it’s a little boy-ish, but it was shorter than the others, and I liked riding it in the store, and it was in the price range I was looking for. I had a sense for a while I was going to buy one there, and it was the only one that fit the criteria I needed/wanted to get it back to Chicago.
“Thanks,” I said. “I actually just got it.” I moved down the line and waited for my coffee at the Starbucks, and a guy waiting for his coffee said, “Does your board glow in the dark?”
“I don’t think so,” I said. “That would be cool though.”
“I’ve seen some wheels like that, they light up when you ride it. That design on the bottom of your board is dope.”
“Aw, thanks” I said. And two more people behind me said that they too liked the bottom of my board. Four people in a 7 minute timeframe. Then, I thought of Isaiah 40:31 – a verse I hadn’t thought of when I bought it.
And I realized this wasn’t just any longboard – there was a reason I felt it on my heart to buy one there in Bellingham. This was a platform for the Gospel, one I didn’t plan for – and I was scared, and I was shocked, and I laughed at the way God aligned it.
When I felt it on my heart to buy a longboard in Bellingham (weeks ago, maybe two months ago), all I could think about was the marathon. All I could think about was the possibility of getting hurt. But when I was in the store, the guy in the shop said, “You’re a natural at this.”
I laughed and shook my head and he said, “No, look. Try this.”
He explained how to carve on this board and I said, “I don’t think I can do that.”
He replied, “You almost already are. See, take a shot and ride it around the corner into the hallway.”
As I rode around the corner and hopped off the board in the hallway, I grinned and covered my mouth with my hand.
“Told you, dude.” He said.
If I had the longboard, I could practice more. And then, I saw the metaphor.
Keeping the presence of Jesus with me creates an opportunity for a conversation to open up, the way it had with the longboard.
I saw that space merge – where the longboard became a story about the verse, which opened up the story of the marathon, which opens up a conversation about Jesus (this seems really great in theory, but I’m going to need to pray for courage in action).
This storyline God is writing goes far beyond me – I don’t know what’s next, and based on how this day is going, I don’t know what will happen an hour from now – but I will keep walking, and I will stand firm, and I’ll be open to the Holy Spirit and see where I end up next. Today feels more of a run on sentence than I usually write, and I’m nervous, but things have changed.
All things new.
I’ve said it once, I say it again, over and over: If you want to be free, be free.
“But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:31