Fear and Long-Term Memory Loss

I’ve heard that the most common phrase in the Old and New Testament is this: Don’t be afraid.

It makes sense to me, really. Sometimes repetition is the only way to get something into your head.

Remember who freed you from Egypt, says the Bible again and again. Remember the God who brought you out of slavery.

Sometimes I think that’s why God did that so spectacularly, supposedly hardened Pharaoh’s heart and made it extra impossible for the Israelites to ever get out of there: so we would all remember it forever.

And yet we forget. In fact, the people it was supposed to originally impress forgot almost immediately. You’d think that after being rescued from a lifetime of slavery by walking on dry land in the middle of the sea, people would realize God could do anything, would do anything for them.

But no: they gave in to fear. They missed the security of slavery, where at least they knew what the future held and where their next meal was coming from. The wilderness seemed so barren, empty, unpredictable. They forgot God’s power to help them through literally anything, power that was on full display before them not long ago. They let insecurity take over.

And I am the same way. Anxious about struggles and problems I see ahead, I forget the abundant grace that’s spilled out over my own life. I forget that God gave me the power to speak to my mother again after I’d ignored her calls out of fear and anger for over a year. I forget how lonely I once was, and now I have more love and friendship than I know what to do with sometimes. I forget that I used to be afraid to answer the phone, and now I do it for a living.

I forget that I used to be unable to believe, and now I do, and it’s changed the way I see the world forever.

I need to remember the grace of getting out from my own personal Egypts, even though there are other things I haven’t yet escaped. When I feel empty, I need to remember that – thank goodness! – there’s a Love out there big enough to fill me, and all the gaps my not-enoughness leaves.

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Perfect Love Casts Out Fear: First Thoughts on Therapy

So six months after realizing I want to be healed, I finally visited a therapist. I climbed the stairs to her office on the upper floor of an old blue house. I drank the tea she offered me and filled out paperwork. She asked me why I was there, and I admitted it: I don’t know how to live the simplest commandments. How can I love God and my neighbor when my ideas about love have flourished misshapen, like a tree cramped and dwarfed by structures around it? She nodded, asked for details, took notes unobtrusively, while I struggled to articulate the things that seem to be holding me back from loving with my whole heart.

I was afraid, climbing the stairs to that room, afraid of a lot of things. I was afraid the therapist I’d chosen wouldn’t understand my faith. I was afraid she would understand it and would judge me. I was afraid she would decide it was the root of my problems. Most of all, I was afraid this would be a waste of time, or worse, that it would somehow cause me to be less loving, that what was meant to heal me would only make me worse. I feared that therapy would encourage me to be selfish, that instead of learning to love others better, I would stop at loving myself. All these fears had held me back from this moment: I’d shopped for the “perfect” therapist for months, delayed making an appointment, convinced myself I didn’t have the time or money to do this after all. But I made it: I fought through that naysaying crowd to say, “I need help.”

It all boiled down to this: I was afraid when I walked into that office, Jesus wouldn’t come with me. But even after just a few visits, I know that’s not true. Although my therapist doesn’t share my faith, she’s already started to shine the light of truth on my life. And the truth is, it’s been really dark in there for a long, long time.

For instance, already I’m starting to ask myself where all these fears came from, anyway. Not from Jesus, who says over and over in the Gospel not to worry about anything. I can hear Paul’s voice booming, “It is for freedom that Christ set us free,” but I let myself be shackled and ruled by anything I think will keep me safe from judgment, criticism, ridicule, disrespect, abandonment. I soften my opinions, hide my true self, the self that is my gift from God, because I fear rejection. But Jesus didn’t do that; Jesus knew exactly who he was, spoke bold words with love and without fear.

Perfect love casts out fear, so the Bible says. I have to not get caught up in the word perfect. I can never make my love perfect, and neither can my therapist, no matter how many hours we spend in her homey little office. The only perfect love comes from God, and it’s only God who can perfect me, make me complete. But I believe God can use this therapy thing, and I believe I need to go forward with it, with all the bravery I can muster. Once and for all I want to break that yoke of fear I’ve been living under for so long, the one I convinced myself I didn’t really mind. God wants me to be light on my feet, ready to help carry another’s burden without being crushed by the weight of what I’m already dragging along.

What do you think is holding you back from being healed? What is helping you move toward healing?

When It Doesn’t Feel Like a Wonderful Life

English: Screenshot of Jimmy Stewart and Donna...

Is there such a thing as Holiday Baking Anxiety Disorder? Because if so, I definitely have it.

I made some pie crust on Wednesday night, and it came out tough and brittle, and I didn’t have time to redo it, and I kind of lost my mind. This comes on the heels of me flipping out over the failed caramel apples for Halloween.

And now I’m remembering many other failed batches of baked goods that I let ruin holidays. Cookies destined for care packages that melted all over the pan. A lemon cake for my little brother’s birthday that looked like it got sat on. No-bakes for a visit to a friend that crumbled in my carry-on bag.

In retrospect, of course, all these things seem totally silly. Baked goods are a way I like to show love, but when they flop, it doesn’t mean my love is worthless or unwanted. But ridiculous as it seems, in the moment, that’s how I feel.

It’s definitely a pattern with me. I hate showing external failure, no matter how small it really is in the scheme of things. And when I’m backed into a corner and can’t help but show it, I feel like my life is meaningless.

In those moments, I always wish for the angel to show up like in It’s a Wonderful Life. I want proof from God that my life does have meaning, that people are better off because I was here, that I have worth even when I feel like I look worthless to the world.

Well, so far God hasn’t sent an angel.

What’s up with that, God? How come only Jimmy Stewart gets one? How am I supposed to know you love me even when my feelings tell me otherwise?

Oh… I’m supposed to just believe it? You mean, have faith? Take seriously all those promises in the Bible about how God will never leave me or forsake me and loves me enough to have died for me? Keep perspective on the things that really matter, remembering that success without love is nothing and humility in failure will always be met with grace?

But that’s so much harder than in the movies.

In all seriousness, I need to stop waiting around for the angel. I can’t truly live if I’m addicted to praise and afraid of messing up. I may never be able to see the true worth of my life while I’m alive – and that’s okay. In fact, it’s even kind of normal.

Paul talks about this in Hebrews. He gives us this long list of Bible folks who did outrageous things because of their faith: Abraham, Sarah, Enoch, Noah, Isaac, Jacob, Rahab, Moses. Did any of these people get proof of the promises God made them while they were alive?

No! As Paul says, “These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised…” Their faith itself was the goal, the ability to believe things would turn out okay even when all signs pointed to worthlessness and failure.

We all need to have “confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” That’s what helps us keep going when things feel too overwhelming. We need to believe there is hope, hope that is more real than our feelings of despair.

So I’ll try to see my Holiday Baking Anxiety Disorder as an opportunity to strengthen my faith and my patience. I’ll keep you posted on my progress. Christmas cookie season is just around the corner…

Broken and Blessed

English: Jesus healing the sick by Gustave Dor...

So remember that post I did about how I want to be healed?

Apparently I didn’t want it as badly as I thought.

In that post, I announced my intention to get a therapist and/or spiritual director to help with some pesky issues. But then I just didn’t do it.

I didn’t do it because I felt empty, lacking in so many things: time, money, energy to navigate The System of getting help. And I, by the grace of God, am not currently burdened with the kind of mental or physical health issues that can be such a huge drain on these things. Mine are just the normal demands of bills, job, and life.

In one sense, my lack in those areas can’t be denied. But aside from that, I think the issue is the very thing I outlined in the original blog post: I don’t want to ask for help. I don’t want to define myself as someone who needs help. In short, the real issue is my pride.

I love to be seen as someone who helps people, who prays for people. I’d rather see everyone else as in need of my help. I want to believe I can fix all my problems myself… with God, of course. But the thing is, if I could just do that, I would have done it by now. And the longer I wrestle with unhealthy relationship patterns and long-buried issues without any real solution, the more I and the people I’m close to suffer. Ironically, I become less and less able to help others. I’m so blinded by the stick in my eye that I cannot see clearly to help others with the things that blind them.

I so easily forget that Jesus loved needy people. He was always hanging out with them. Lepers, outcasts, untouchables: he loved them. And he said God loved them too, maybe especially so. In the end, we are all fragile, we are all broken, in different ways. Blessed, Jesus said, are those who know it.

It’s time to let go of the notion that I’m different from others, that they are the ones with the problems and I’m the one with solutions. The fact is, we’re all struggling at different levels, and we all need help. The time has come to root out my pride and realize I am a broken person… and my very brokenness is blessed.

Now to pick up that phone and call some therapists. But I may need help even for that.

So do you mind if I ask for your prayers: for healing, for wholeness, for the courage to seek it?

Jesus Was Not Nice

Christ cleansing the Temple

Christ cleansing the Temple (Photo credit: Lawrence OP)

I don’t know what to do with the idea of repentance. I’m no long-bearded old man with a sandwich board crying out about the end of the world. I’d rather be more like Jesus, loving, humble, gentle. A man whose mercy didn’t let him quench a smoking wick or break a bruised reed. A man who did not lay burdens on others, but lifted them.

Here’s the thing though: Jesus was loving, absolutely. Humble and gentle with all his heart. The Master of Mercy with an easy burden and a light yoke.

But Jesus was not some kind of watered-down nicenik. In his love, he was sometimes very, very angry. He turned over the money-changers’ tables, sick with rage over their greed. He told one of his closest friends, “Get behind me, Satan!” He spoke of a place of outer darkness and weeping and gnashing of teeth.

I quake at this. I want the nice Jesus. I want us all to just get along. I was raised to say “I’m okay, you’re okay.” But sometimes things are not okay, and I can say that with love. I can be angry with a merciful anger, a loving anger, a humble anger.

I can be angry without hating people, not a single individual who is precious to God. My fight is not against flesh and blood. Instead, I can be angry the dark cycles people are born into and don’t know how to leave. I can be angry at how this broken world breaks people, and how I’m a part of it.

I can burn with a productive anger, a helpful anger. It’s the difference between a disastrous wildfire and a controlled burn. I can realize that sometimes, when people are crushed under the weight of their burdens, the most loving thing I can say is, Change, repent, put down the rock and walk away.

Others have loved me this way and I’m now happier for it. Jesus has loved me this way, has told me as I wept, I can’t carry your burden unless you give it to me. Choose to change, or you choose the burden, like you have your whole life, over and over.

Sometimes I love you sounds like Stop this now.

I’m learning to hear, and speak, that rough but beautiful language of love.

I Must Become Less

When I was a teenager, I’d occasionally dream I was someone else. My dream alter ego was never anyone I knew; once I dreamed I was a stocky, pale-haired young man named Charlie, and I dreamed up a best friend and a mom for myself out of whole cloth, too. When I woke up from these kinds of dreams, my thoughts went like this:

First, Whoa, that was weird.

Then, Wow, that was such a relief!

Especially as a teenager, obsessed with my appearance and how others perceived me, it was amazing to get to be someone else for awhile. My constant preoccupation with myself was a burden I only noticed when it was temporarily lifted.

That’s a part of what prayer is to me, too.

In Christianity, we say things like, “We have to die to ourselves,” or “He must become greater, I must become less.” I know this sounds shocking to some people, like following Jesus involves violence to oneself.

Nothing could be farther from the truth. This is just the Christian way of saying something that many other religions also say, most notably Buddhism. The false self, the ego, the impostor, whatever you want to call it: so much of our constructed identities are actually burdensome to us.

And we don’t realize this until we lay the burden down for a few minutes. When we become less and the Higher Power becomes greater, it’s like the cage gets smashed open or we peek our heads out of the cave to see the world above.

I must become less… not because God wants me to suffer, but because God wants me to be truly free.

Today’s 15 minutes of prayer: In the conference room at work again. The word of the day was “love” – I know I could meditate on that one for a long, long time.

I’m spending this month blogging with other Faith and Inspiration writers at The Nester’s 31 Days challenge. Here’s the complete list of my posts for the month so far.

Humble Pie Never Tasted So Sweet

San Francisco de Asis Mission Church

(Photo credit: Snap Man)

You may be wondering how my visit to my mom went – my first visit in over six years. I must admit, as that train rocked restlessly I tried to distract myself from thoughts of the past, tears shed on previous visits, harsh words that had passed both ways between us over the years. I was full of anticipation and anxiety as I stepped off the train into the hot California morning.

And there she was, waiting just outside, screaming like I was a rock star. We hugged and kissed and I thought how different she looked after all these years apart – and I realized that, whether this visit lived up to my fears or exceeded my dreams, I’d be glad I had come, just for the privilege of being here, next to her in space.

As it happened, the visit was pretty great. I credit good timing, grace, and of course, your prayers. Thank you so much to all those who prayed. I’m so glad I asked; I could really feel the difference.

Over the three-day weekend, the two of us walked around town in the sunshine. We ate omelets with hash browns and English muffins at Mom’s favorite sun-soaked brunch place, real Tex-Mex like I hadn’t had in years, cut up fruit with lime juice and chili on the bus (probably against the rules). I stole sips of her iced mochas. We walked to the library and hung out outside it with a statue of John Steinbeck and the library mascot, a small tortoise. I read to her from The Message as her bedtime approached.

Most beautiful of all, we worshiped side by side in a big church packed with families. We sang songs I remembered from when I was a child, and it made me think of how Mom all but dragged me to church that first time, how patiently she’d answered my frantic, searching questions about religion as a child, her responses amounting to, Well, there are a lot of things we don’t know, honey. Be patient. God will reveal it to you. Without her guiding me toward baptism and my first taste of holy bread and wine, who knows if I’d believe today?

And then, before we ate bread and wine from the same table for the first time in seven years, we sat holding hands, waiting for the Scripture to be read to us. The lector’s voice rang out, speaking words from the book of Wisdom:

My child, conduct your affairs with humility,
and you will be loved more than a giver of gifts.

It was one of those times when the Word stood out to me in neon lights. This is for you. I knew I had almost been too proud to set aside my schedule, sacrifice the time and money I’d spent on the gift of this moment. I could have missed it all.

And then we made our way to the Table together for the first time in over seven years. I often thought of Mom when I received communion at home, knowing it brought me closer to her in a mystical way, but it was another thing to be right here beside her.

Mom had her problems when I was a kid. And I couldn’t kid myself: she has her problems now. We might never have your typical parent-child relationship. But I was grateful all the same for the relationship we had, for the ability to share what we did. I was so glad I’d humbled myself enough to admit I’d been wrong not to visit her all this time.

Yes, I’d been so wrong I could taste it. But bread and wine had never tasted sweeter.

Newsflash: Settlers of Catan Doesn’t Last Forever

Русский: Игра в "Settlers of Catan"

Forty-five minutes. That’s how long the Settlers of Catan box says it takes. Somehow I can’t seem to remember what a short time that is.

I kind of have a thing about board games. My sister and I got them every Christmas as kids, but rarely did we play them. We preferred games where we made up the rules, where our imagination set the only limits. And this was great: I remember fondly the entire days we spent on sagas in which Princess Clara (my Skipper doll) rescued entire civilizations of Littlest Pet Shop figurines from certain doom, armed only with her wits and her smart-mouthed flying pony. (I’m sure no one who knows me in real life will be surprised in the least to learn about this.)

The only downfall of such games with this: because there was no way to win or lose, I didn’t learn to do either one gracefully. And because I was such a natural perfectionist, I built up the importance of winning, or at least not losing badly, until it became life or death in my mind. Those few times we played Monopoly as a family (which really did seem to last forever – why is that game so long?) seemed to end with me overturning the board. I hated losing so much that I’d lose sight of absolutely everything else: friendships, family ties, proportion, dignity, and common sense.

I’m much better now. I mean, I’d better be, since board game parties are a popular way to hang out among my friends. Currently, I play Settlers several times a month, and I’ve never even been tempted to turn the board over (so far). But sometimes, I definitely slip back into bad habits. My adult version of this happens to be passive-aggressive comments delivered in that I’m-joking-or-am-I? tone of voice. Sometimes my frustration builds to the point where I’ll actually come out and say something outright: “Ugh, I can’t believe I even play this with you. I try to be nice and then you repay me by grinding my face in the dirt.”

I really don’t know why I act this way. It’s like I think the game is a map of my life, rather than something that’ll get packed up and tucked into my friend’s messenger bag, to be brought back the next time she comes over. The moments just seem so long that it seems to make total sense to blow off steam because I’m frustrated at myself for losing.

Maybe this seems like a small thing. In a way, it is. My friends let my remarks go by, because they’re much classier than I am, and they always offer to let me play again next time. My family has even long forgiven me for those horrible childhood games of Monopoly (at least I hope so). But as with so many things, it raises larger questions in my mind.

Why do I still somehow think it’s more important to win than to be kind? Why is it so hard for me to realize that, whether I win or lose, the game will soon be over and we’ll all forget about it? Why is it so hard for me to look at the faces of my friends instead of obsessively scrutinizing the board, to think about how blessed I am to be with them instead of counting my points and inwardly reciting the rules?

In the grand scheme of things, forty-five minutes is nothing. Even my life is just a breath. Everything will be over before I know it. Will I have spent my time obsessing over winning some kind of prize I can’t take with me, or will I be able to look past the fake rules and objectives and set my eyes on what really matters?

I guess I’ll work on the Catan game first. Then maybe I can work on remembering what really matters for the length of an entire movie. Wow, at this rate I hope I have enough time left to learn how to truly enjoy it…

Three Reasons to Cherish Criticism

English: David anointed by Samuel

David anointed by Samuel

I was that little girl who cried if she got a 95 rather than a 99 on her homework. I was that girl who could hardly see the world through the tears and rage when I only made third place in the citywide spelling bee. I was the girl everyone approached very gently with even the smallest of criticisms, like an active volcano that would spew prideful drama all over anyone foolish enough to cross a certain line.

And I still am that little girl, way more than I would like to be.

I’ve known it’s a problem since forever, and I’ve been trying to find a solution since forever. “Just lighten up!” was most people’s advice in those childhood days. But I didn’t know how, not in the moment when I felt strangled by impending tears, when any harsh word felt like a weapon. And I’d never been taught the way of peacemaking, so I fought back with everything I had. And far too often, I still do; the years have etched those habits into me so they’re instinct now.

The more I learn about God’s ways, the more I realize I’m being called to completely turn this around.  Not just to endure criticism, but to embrace it. When someone tells me something negative about myself, whether they’re right or wrong, I have something to learn from it. If they’re right, I need to be grateful for the impetus they’ve given me to change. And even if they’re wrong…

Jesus said, “Blessed are you when people hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven.”

Uh, come again, Jesus? Leap for joy when people hate me and exclude me and insult me and call me evil – for no good reason? Sure, I’ll do that, right after I walk on water. It’s just one of those Scripture passages that never fails to shock me.

The book of Proverbs has a lot of crazy passages about taking criticism, too. It doesn’t mince words, either. This book contains such pithy phrases as “whoever hates correction is stupid,” and “whoever scorns instruction will pay for it.” Okay, okay, I get it, I think, but then I realize I obviously don’t, or I would be living my life differently. Then I read Proverbs a few more times and hope the wisdom will sink in sooner or later.

There’s one quote about criticism that seemed especially bizarre to me. It’s found in Psalm 141: “Let a righteous man strike me—that is a kindness; let him rebuke me—that is oil on my head. My head will not refuse it…” When I first read this passage, I thought, What does this even mean? Oil on my head? Why would someone put oil on my head, and why would that be a good thing?

And then I remembered: this is a Psalm, traditionally attributed to David. David the king.

And the lightbulb went on. That’s when you get oil on your head: when you’re being anointed as a king.

There are kings and then there are anointed kings, of which David was one. Meaning not only did he have earthly power, he also had God’s blessing. Despite his scandalous sins, David dominated the Jewish cultural memory as a king “after God’s own heart.” And posthumously, he received the ultimate blessing: God’s human form in his family tree.

So why would David associate a rebuke with his special anointed status? I think this verse has a lot to teach us about the value of criticism. Here’s what it said to me:

1. Criticism may mean I’m considered a leader. The more power I have, the more people scrutinize me, and rightly so. Like with King David and the prophet Nathan, someone may have noticed that I’m abusing my power. If I listen to their words, I can still apologize and turn things around to the best of my ability. Recognizing and owning up to mistakes is the mark of a great person and a great leader. When someone criticizes me, I can feel lucky that I have so much influence over them and that they think enough of me to urge me to use it for good.

2. Criticism may mean I’m loved. Being anointed didn’t just mean David was powerful; it meant he was chosen and embraced by God. Criticism, likewise, may mean someone cares enough about me to want me to change for the better. They feel safe bringing this complaint to me, trusting that I won’t think less of them for saying what they really think. They’re with me for the long haul. When a close friend or family member criticizes me, I can focus on the good intentions and trust behind their words.

3. Criticism identifies me with Christ. Jesus, as the Christ or Anointed One, was the King of Kings in the succession of David. Yet despite his many followers, Jesus suffered harsh criticism from the Pharisees, the Romans, and even his own family. People called him heretical, a glutton and a drunkard, demon-possessed. And of course, although completely innocent, he was executed as a criminal, crucified publicly as a way to shame and intimidate others. Yet Jesus didn’t try to defend himself. Though he knew and spoke the truth about himself, he was empty of ego, pouring out his life in servitude and accepting the shame of crucifixion, aware that even those who killed him didn’t truly know what they were doing. I am called to imitate his nature, to transform shame into glory by meeting it with humility and love.

I love it when I find an image that breaks through my lifelong issues and gives me a new perspective. I hope this one will help me live and love more boldly, accepting words that once drove me to tears as the oil of blessing on my head.

Do you struggle with taking criticism? What helps you overcome your fear of criticism?

Restoring Relationship

A bronze statue of a domesticated cat and her ...In a few weeks, I’m going to see my mother in person for the first time in about six years.

I can’t believe it. Six years.

The woman who let me live in her body for nine months (to say nothing of pushing me out). Who took me on my first trip to the library when I was just days old. Who let me taste the oatmeal chocolate chip cookie dough after each ingredient was added. Who introduced me to Deep Forest and Stevie Wonder and sang musicals with me in the car. Who cared for our ailing eighteen-year-old cat by cheerfully giving him subcutaneous fluid every day. I haven’t seen her since 2007.

It’s weird how comparatively easy my visit has been to set up, just a matter of train and hotel reservations and asking for a little time off from work. I could have done this sooner, but I didn’t.

Why not?

Well, it hasn’t all been car singalongs and cookie dough. I can’t and don’t want to go into detail here, but suffice it to say that my mom’s had lifelong struggles with substance abuse and mental illness, each of them feeding off the other, and it’s hurt her and everyone who knows her in a million ways. In my childhood and teenage years, I often felt afraid and unable to trust her.

There was actually a period of about a year and a half, starting just before I turned eighteen, when I didn’t speak to her at all. I didn’t answer her phone calls or return her letters. I more or less tried to pretend she did not exist.

Then, about a year after my conversion, when the Midwestern spring finally burst through the snow, it was like Jesus tapped on my shoulder and said, Honey? It’s great that you accepted my forgiveness. Now it’s time to pass it on.

I think he’d actually been trying to get my attention for a lot longer than that. I can be really slow on the uptake.

At this point, we talk on the phone at least once a week. We mostly talk about little things: the latest cute thing my cat did, what I’m making for dinner, what she watched on TV, her roommate’s annoying antics. There are still topics I don’t bring up with her, but things are so much better than they used to be.

Until recently, I was feeling pretty awesome about this. I am such a great daughter! I call her every week without fail! I never bring up all that nasty stuff that went down in my childhood! Good job, Jesus, mission accomplished.

It’s taken me six years to realize that’s not the end of the story. I said I was slow on the uptake.

I have come a long way, and I don’t want to minimize that. But the mission is not accomplished. Calling once a week doesn’t mean we have The Best Relationship Ever and I can now check off the “honor your mother” box.

She lives in a group home, her daily needs in the hands of underpaid, overworked caregivers, and she hasn’t had a hug from one of her kids in years. I have not physically been there to celebrate a holiday or her birthday, to make a meal or take her out to dinner, to just sit there with her and be with her.

I had to get this out there in the open, readers. How can I say all this stuff about other believers being my family when my relationship with my blood family is still so messed up? How can I glibly talk about loving your neighbor when I’m not sure how to love my own mother some days? How can I say I believe the love my heavenly Father has for me is too strong for any other force in the universe to tear down, but still shrink in fear and distrust from my earthly mother?

These things are not unconnected. Relationship is relationship is relationship. Love of God and love of neighbor are echoes of each other. If I can’t or won’t offer myself in the fullest kind of relationship to my mom, I’m refusing a part of myself to God as well. Likewise, if my relationships with other broken people overwhelm me, I’m not leaning on God like I should.

There is room for compassion in these realizations. Jesus knows every childhood hurt that still lives in me. He was physically here for us on Earth, got to feel firsthand all our human emotions and the brokenness of our bodies. He knows choosing to be in full relationship with God and people is hard. And he knows it’s the only thing that allows us to fully live.

So, you praying types, will you please pray for me as I visit my mom over Labor Day weekend?