The Letters

Can you do the line below that?

“Yes.”

Silence.

“Okay, go ahead and read it.”

I held the black patch-stick in front of my eye and cleared my throat.

“Umm, X? Could be an M.” I squinted desperately.

“Please don’t squint.”

I bit my lip.

She knew I was on the verge of tears, so she tried to rescue me.

“Let’s just try the line above, hon. It’s okay if you can’t see it.”

No, it’s not okay.

I breathed in slowly and removed the stick.

“I can’t see it. I can’t see any of them.”

Moments of weakness have a way of reminding you that weakness isn’t momentary.

I closed my eyes and let the tears burn through my makeup.

Quite simply, I don’t do well with need.

I didn’t want to need thicker lenses, stronger contacts, more help doing what I feel like I should be able to do on my own.

“I’m sorry.” I mumbled.

“It’s okay, sweetie.” She smiled. “Believe it or not, you’re not the first one I’ve had that didn’t want to admit she couldn’t see.”

I nodded in gratitude for the way she spoke.

Though she was talking to a twenty-something girl, it was the sixth-grader in me that heard her.

For ten minutes I had played with the patch of tape covering a gap in my school bus seat. I peeled it back and forth, trying to come up with the right words. I gave up and went with the obvious.

“Will you sign my yearbook?” The hot bus bumped along, the sound of last day cheers spilling out of the half-open windows.

“Sure, Angela.” She smiled.

She was, without question, the prettiest girl I knew. And the way I saw it, her name in my book meant I was someone important.

She wrote for a few seconds, closed it, and handed it over the green pleather seat to me.

“Thanks so much.” I turned around and slid it into my backpack, smiling from ear to ear.

It was a new day.

When I got home, I ran to my room and ripped it out, eager to see the stamp of approval .

“I hope you find your spektacles.”

I stared at the letters, tried to rearrange them into something that looked like kindness, but I couldn’t. The grammar nerd in me was as offended as the unpopular girl.

“It’s a c.” I muttered out loud.

I had argued with my mother that morning, and in the end, convinced her that I didn’t need them that day. I could make it one day without my stupid glasses.

I had bumped, knocked-into, and squinted my way through 7 periods just to say I wasn’t bound to them. In the cafeteria, several girls asked me where my glasses were and I lied. I said I had lost them.

I knew they were perched on my white-wicker nightstand, alongside an issue of “Teen Bop” and a collection of safety pins I had been beading for kids who wouldn’t give me the time of day.

Need feels like an ugly crutch.

“Angela? Are you ready to try again?” I shook my head, awakening from my thoughts. She was the nicest optometrist I had ever broken down in front of.

“It’s Angie.” I mumbled. “I don’t go by Angela anymore.” I smiled at her, my eyes thanking her while I wiped my cheeks dry.

As expected, my eyesight had gotten considerably worse. She walked me through the options, and I heard a couple words- “featherweight….astigmatism….new line of lenses…”

I thanked her and took my prescription, explaining that I would come back another day to choose them.

Ridiculous, really.

I couldn’t see.

It was in my genes, not my choices.

I had a conversation recently with someone I care about, and I walked away knowing we didn’t see eye to eye about the role of Christ in our lives.

Chalk it up to science, to intellect, to anything that makes it seem like He’s on the periphery, and it’s hard to argue.

Logic and love are so often at odds.

“He’s failed me, Angie. I’ve only prayed for a couple things in the last five years, and every one of them went the wrong way.” He went into detail, and yes, I could see that it felt upside-down.

You should know, I love the Lord.

But I freeze in these situations.

I think the counselor in me wants to agree and affirm and nod and sympathize and wage war against the injustice, but I don’t share the way I should. I don’t tell him that later that night I cried on his behalf. As I prayed for him, I kept seeing the words, “He can’t see…he can’t see…”

Underneath his reasoning and his words I saw myself, feet dangling and heart racing.

Yes, I can read it…

I don’t need this. It’s just another solution in a string of solutions that never make me whole. They just make me different. They make me reliant. They don’t really fix it at all.

Try the one above…

That’s what I really wanted to say, if the words would have come.

Don’t squint, friend. I’m on your side.

The best thing you can do is admit that you can’t see a foot in front of your face without this. It doesn’t make you weak. It makes you brave.

I would have held his hand, smiled at him, and taken away the letters completely.

It isn’t a test.

You aren’t failing.

It’s just that you can’t get well until you see that you aren’t.

It’s in your genes. 

You’ve lived your life stumbling and blind, unaware of the beauty all around you.

And why?

Because the bus bumps along.

The wind is hardly a relief anymore.

It tastes like regret and whips you with lies.

This will make you vulnerable, it says…

I want to be home, in my safe room, where the pen marks don’t scratch their way to my heart.

But we aren’t there yet.

And in the meantime, there is life to be seen. It’s magnificent, actually.

Hush, I would have said.

And he would have slipped them on and wept because what I said was true.

I want you to see it, too.

Whoever you are, and for whatever reason you stumbled here today- know this.

It wasn’t by accident, or by chance.

It was the hand of a watching God, who loves you in all of your blindness.

The leaves are changing just outside my window, and I can’t help but wish you were here with me.

I would hold your hands, wipe your cheeks, and tell you that you haven’t missed the best part. I would celebrate with you as the trees sing gold and glory, and we would wait together.

It’s a new day, after all.

Jesus, help us to see what we are without You, and when we have…

Let us have all of You.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Splendid Things

I need to write.

I have deadlines.

I think of myself as a writer until I have a deadline.

And then I’m just another desperate woman praying for something she doesn’t have. It’s the whole point, and I understand that. It’s not in my own strength anyway. But it’s frustrating to feel so empty.

I do what I often do when I feel like I have nothing to say: I search for quotes from people I consider wise.

Most of them are dead.

And I come across this gem.

Life has loveliness to sell, all beautiful and splendid things, blue waves whitened on a cliff, soaring fire that sways and sings, and children’s faces looking up, holding wonder like a cup.” {Sarah Teasdale}

Tears fill my eyes and I allow them to invade my focus.

I become keenly aware that the deadline is making me miss the words.

Does it do the same for you?

We are all writers, quills in hand, waiting to document what is before us and rewrite those things we left behind.

We are desperate women, aching to make meaning where there is beauty and hope where there is brokenness.

Our hands tremble at the prospect.

We are all writers.

It takes a lot of bravery to craft the book of our lives-to put it in chapter and form, and to know that one day it will close and we will have nothing left to offer but the ink, nearly dry as we craft.

It is, at once, beautiful and devastating to live a life that realizes the power of a moment.

I shake my head.

It’s too much, I think.

Who am I to believe my words matter?

Do you wonder the same?

But He whispers with love and power-

I shape the letters of your life. Look around at the beautiful and splendid things, and write them.

Your job, love, is not to create the story.

It is to turn each page and listen.

Look.

Believe that it is all worth telling.

I know the truth underneath this, after all.

My hands tremble not in my own power, but the knowledge of my own iniquity.

And the privilege overwhelms me, steals my breath.

I am His forever.

Let the wind whip through the chapters and the words drip onto the pages as they will…

I will see Him here.

My fingers outstretched toward the cup-not to gulp-but rather, to hold its wonder as long as time allows.

Lisa’s Show!

If you have read my blog for any length of time, you know how much I love Lisa Leonard.

On the (in)courage beach retreat last month, I got to spend some one on one time with her and I decided I loved her even more. She gave me some brilliant insights into some life stuff I’m dealing with, and her calm, balanced approach to life helped me breathe deeper. I think you’ll see what I mean when you watch this video.

A production company has approached their family about doing a reality show, and this is the trailer for it. As we watched, Todd said, “Okay. I totally get why you love her so much…she is amazing. They all are…”

Seriously, this show will be such a blessing, and I think there’s a message in it for all of us.

Treat yourself to a few minutes with Lisa and the Leonard family…and prepare to fall in love with the whole bunch :)

xoxo
A