Forever is Stronger

Have you ever had an experience where the darkness seems so much stronger than the light?

I have had this thought on my mind quite a bit lately.

candleThis post is a hard one for me to write. It is one of those posts where I have the thoughts and feelings rolling around in my head for a very long time. And for whatever reason, I then decide that it is okay for me to pour out my soul to whatever human decides to stumble upon my internet space.

When I write these posts, there is usually one thought that ends up pulling it all together. One thing that brings it home and helps me make sense of it all. And maybe that’s the real point of posts like these. That I somehow make sense of it all.

When I was fifteen years old, my older sister Jamie had her first baby boy: Barrett. He wasn’t the first grandchild, and so obviously being an aunt wasn’t new to me. But for some reason, it was different. Maybe it was because it was my sister’s baby this time instead of my brothers’. I’m not really sure. But from the moment he came into the world my nephew Barrett has been one of my best friends. He used to call me when I was in my first year of college and say things like, “Hey, Jordan. Where’s you at?” or, “When you coming to see me?”

But today I remembered something that I had forgotten about. A memory with Barrett that was actually one of the most precious moments in my life.

One day, only a few months after Barrett was born, I got to rock him to sleep. I was sitting in a chair in my bedroom. It was slightly cloudy outside, a light rain falling against the window. I remember looking down at him: so tiny, and so completely perfect. And I suddenly felt the most overwhelming peace and love. A feeling unlike anything I’d ever felt in my life. And I was struck with the powerful realization that this baby, this little life, was the most sacred, precious thing in the world.

It didn’t take long for tears to start streaming down my face. door

I wish I could say that this moment turned a dark night into a bright day. That it changed everything and that nothing was ever the same again. But this wasn’t the case. It was, however, a moment that lit a candle in a dark room and gave me hope for the day when the drapes would be cast aside to let the sunlight stream in.

Let me explain: for as long as I can remember, physical touch has been very hard for me. I’ve never been an overly touchy person. It takes me quite a while to be comfortable with touching people, even just hugs. Even with my family, many of whom are very touchy, I sometimes have to put up some physical barriers. What is hard about this quirk of mine is that as far as love languages go, physical touch is probably my first language for both giving and receiving love. So you see the paradox I’ve lived in my whole life.

It was never really an issue until I got older, and started thinking about boys and relationships. I had a lot of guy friends, but when it came to the thought of anything romantic I never felt good about it. Not with anyone. To make a long story short, I eventually had to face the reality that the thought of holding hands with somebody or kissing somebody actually made me physically ill. It made me shaky and scared. I couldn’t do it.

What followed all of this was an extremely long process that took years.

All spelled out like this, it really isn’t surprising that it was eventually revealed that I experienced sexual abuse in my past. I say “revealed” because it wasn’t something that I remembered. It took some extensive therapy and a lot of really hard moments. And believe me, coming to the discovery wasn’t easy. You see, it happened when I was very young. Probably about the age of 6, which is why I don’t really remember anything.

What makes this hard is that I still had to live with the consequences of the experience. That years later I was still haunted by it. That it kept me from living my life and doing things that normal people are excited to do.

tunnelAnd it wasn’t fair.

It wasn’t fair that as a child I experienced something that horrific. And it wasn’t fair that it made something that’s supposed to be exciting and good horrible and terrifying. When I came home from my very first date I went into my room and cried. And the worst part is that it was a lovely date with one of my best friends. He was a perfect gentleman the entire time. Nothing bad happened at all. But the very thought that I’d been on a date, that I’d been in a setting where romance could’ve been possible completely sent me over the edge.

And that wasn’t fair.

It wasn’t fair that I was stuck with these fears. It wasn’t fair that I had had this thing happen to me and I couldn’t change it. I couldn’t have protected myself. I couldn’t have stopped it. I was the victim of something absolutely horrendous. And not even just as a child, but for the rest of my life after that.

That wasn’t fair.

And it was so overwhelming, so horrific, so terrible, that for years I just convinced myself that I was better off alone. That I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t ever even try to be in a relationship. I wasn’t capable of breaking down walls that dark. And for years I was content with that understanding. I simply accepted the fact that this was my lot in life. It wasn’t fair, but it was the way it had to be. Because I couldn’t be anything else.

Obviously, this is no longer how I feel. And there is an even longer story mountainwrapped up in that. I can’t say that I’m 100% cured of every fear and insecurity that comes with having this in my life. To this day, there are moments that it overwhelms me. Where it brings me to tears. Where I am struck once again with just how horrible it is. And that it isn’t fair.

But back to this moment with my nephew Barrett: it was the beginning of the healing process for me. Because I was able to see, for the first time, how a physical relationship between two people created the most precious thing in the world. And I understood, even just a little, how sacred it is that a man and a woman can love each other that much. That they can literally create life. The beauty in that is indescribable.

It also taught me the incredible nature of the human soul. I looked down at that baby and knew how precious he was. I looked at him and knew how amazing he was. That he was going to move mountains.

It was a moment that taught me that even though I was surrounded in darkness about the most important things in life, love and a family of my own, that one day it wouldn’t be that way.

There are moments in life so dark that light is nothing but a vague concept.

sunThere are moments when darkness is so, so much stronger than light.

But they are just that: moments. Brief shadows.

But that experience with my nephew, that moment, was a glimpse into eternity. A perspective so much wider than the darkness I was facing in the moment. A promise that my forever was so much stronger than the horrible things that I had experienced in a brief shadow.

So I guess the point is this:

Forever is stronger.

 

 

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Immortalizing The Good

Immortalizing the Good

I’ve written poems about my heartbreak
Of the things that have happened since
Sleepless nights and tragic days
Feelings I didn’t know could exist

At first I could write nothing
I forgot everything but the hurt
Then one day the door opened
My mind was drowning in words

I wrote essays that were like poems
My words so harsh with the truth
But only in the process of writing
Could the pieces begin to fuse

I’ve never been in a place like that
Where I truly no longer cared
I’ve never felt so hurt and empty
The reminders were everywhere

And now some time has passed
It doesn’t hurt the same way now
Things have changed these days
I am not exactly sure how

I never thought we would talk again
And yet somehow we are here
I get to hear your voice and laugh
And I’m no longer fighting tears

But it isn’t really you, is it?
And it isn’t really me
Sometimes we almost reach each other
But then one of us goes running

And I know that some is my fault
I’m very good at closing the door
Opening it again is a bit hard
I have fears of what may be in store

The problem is that I know you so well
And you know me just the same
It’s funny beyond the frustration
We’re much too good at this game

There are so many things I want to say
So many things that are still hidden
And yet I’m not sure what they are
I wouldn’t know where to begin

So I spend my time remembering
And waiting for the breakthrough
Writing things you’ll never read
Maybe this will be one, too

My memory is usually a gift
Lately it’s more of a curse
Memories creep in all the time
Memories of kisses and words

I have written so many things
About the ways in which you hurt me
I haven’t written nearly enough
Of all of the beautiful things

You made me so incredibly happy
My heart was always overflowing
I couldn’t wrap my thoughts around it
But my head was full of knowing

This isn’t a poem to lament a loss
I’ve done that a lot, it’s true
I simply want to immortalize the good
Of how it felt to belong to you

You often said it felt so right
I couldn’t have agreed more
Everything was falling into place
As it never had before

On the night of our first kiss
I tried to hide my shaking knees
By my ear your heart was pounding
And I couldn’t help but tease

Some weeks later, on a starry night
You told me that you loved me
I couldn’t wait to say it back
I’d never been that happy

I often prayed so many times
That I’d discover it was true
That love could heal the brokenness
And then God sent me you

With you I was always safe
You became the feeling of home
I can’t explain how wonderful it was
To know I’d never be alone

I’m not sure how you’re feeling now
Or what’s going on inside of you
I only know what I’ve been told
And what I’m supposed to do

Many words have been written of love
Words too beautiful to say
And then they all described you
In ways I can’t explain

The more that I look back now
I regret some things in the memories
On the last morning, before breakfast
I should’ve asked you to kiss me

And the evening before that
When you hinted at being upset
I shouldn’t have brushed it aside
I should’ve talked it out right then

I regret all the times I didn’t kiss you
Like that night at all of the reds
Or sitting on the couch at your apartment
When you held my hand to your chest

I’ll never forget the moment I felt it
When I felt you run away
We were in the car holding hands
And you pulled your hand away

On that last day by the church
I should’ve talked, just stayed
But I thought that you needed time
So I quickly drove away

So many voices yelled at me
And kept begging me to turn back
But I stubbornly pushed them away
And oh, how I regret that

I try not to dwell on these regrets
They only hurt in hindsight
Instead I try remembering the happiness
The moments that were so right

I needed you in a frightening way
I never wanted to need anyone
You were both a luxury and necessity
You were everything all at once

I wish I could remember the moment
When I realized that I loved you
But it happened so long ago
That it’s just a piece of my truth

In the kitchen when you asked for a kiss
My resolve was gone without a trace
We were standing beside the oven
My mind went absolutely blank

You were all at once my weakness
And all at once my strength
You made me blush like crazy
But encouraged me to create

The first time that you held my hand
Happiness made my heart glow
You kissed the top of my head
The chills went clear to my toes

Those weeks were full to bursting
The weeks when you were mine
I keep the memories close to me
Praying you’ll remember it was right

I told you that I wanted to help
And it’s never been more true
But these days it isn’t really me
These days it isn’t really you

There is something about us
And the way we fit together
I always felt utterly understood
You made me want to be better

There is something you do to me
And something I do to you
We share a bond, a connection
I know you know it’s true

I really can’t understand it
How I look at you and see your soul
And no matter what I find there
I always leave feeling whole

That weekend with my family
It felt so natural to have you there
They all told me that for days
I felt happiness beyond compare

They weren’t the only ones who said it
Who knew how perfect we were
I think we both knew it, too
Somehow it all got blurred

But despite how hard it’s been
And the pain inside my heart
I’ve grown so much; you have, too
That’s the important part

This isn’t a poem to lament a loss
I’ve done that a lot, it’s true
I simply want to immortalize the good
Of how it felt to belong to you

I Rise

The world has whispered many things in the places we call home. Sometimes it tells you glittery lies and others dark truths. It whispers of excitement and exhilaration in deep kisses and strong drinks. It lures you into cold water. It tempts you to regret the black corners when you walked without a light. It lurks you into fog where you cannot see the sun.

But the world never whispered of the ashes you arose from. It never hinted of the strength you possess. It makes you think you can only get so far before the regretted moments catch up. You are dependent on me, it says. You are dependent on this hurt for happiness.

I stumble and fall because at times I follow the whispers of excitement. I want to live, live like they say. Fully, and in each moment. I want to give my love generously, and believe in the fairy tales. But we all carry inside us a heart as deep as the ocean, as vast as the universe. So strong, and yet so fragile. We allow our hearts to be tinged with blackness. We put them in strange, wrong places and call it love.

And perhaps it is not the fault of those we thought we loved. We are all vast universes looking for a star, and that journey is not an easy one. So how silly of us to think that in our vastness we could fit inside this world. How silly of us to listen to the dark things it says. How strange that the world and the earth are two different things. I think sometimes that the earth is mourning the use of its beauty for so much destruction. I look at the beauty of the earth and wonder how the world became so cruel inside of it.

I am not the world, but neither have I overcome it. I work to rise above the black regrets, to move past the need for hurts. I don’t want to wear them like badges. Each day I work on rising. Rising. Rising. From the ashes. I work on renewal. I rise.

The Best Is Yet To Come

It has been a really long time since I talked about God on this blog. I guess that’s probably because, surprise surprise, I’ve let myself get distracted again. I have that tendency.

do it with passionYou see, I have this character trait which is simultaneously a strength and a flaw: my passion. When I become passionate about something, it absolutely consumes me. There is really little else I can think about. That’s why, as I mentioned a few weeks ago, I can see things in black and white terms at times. I don’t have it in me to be halfway passionate about something. I have a tremendous amount of loyalty that way. It isn’t something I’m trying to be boastful about, it is simply the way that it is.

And it is always completely amazing to me how God can find me in the midst of these whirlwinds I get myself caught into. Here is a truth: I have to be very, very selective about what I give my energy to. Because I know myself. And I know that once I get in, there is no getting out. That is why I try to avoid popular fads and phases as much as possible (not only because I’m a bit rebellious and a nonconformist at heart), but because I know how easy it is for me to get caught up in something once I’ve put my toe in the water.

But last night, I had a tremendous experience. One that has happened to me before, but happened to me again. I was reminded, in a very simple way, of just how much God knows me. How much He loves and cares for me.

As He so very often does for me, He answered a heartfelt prayer with music.best is yet

I went on a drive to clear my head. Once I’d returned home I sat in my car, holding my head in my hands as I prayed for direction in a stressful time. Frank was singing quietly in the background, as he so very often is in my daily life, and as I finished this prayer, the song changed to none other than the classic: The Best is Yet to Come.

This is significant not only if you know the lyrics of the song, but because this is the second time that God has answered this type of prayer in this exact same way.

I was at a turning point in my life the last time it occurred, right before I left on my religious mission. Many things about my future were up in the air, and though I was tremendously excited, I don’t think that I’ve ever been more afraid. I drove to a quiet place on the farm and stood in the trees, praying that I would know what to do. After several moments of waiting and listening, only to hear the rustle of leaves and the chirping of birds, I walked back to my car in the fading light.

Once there, I closed the door, started my car, and turned on Frank. I hit the shuffle button, knowing that whatever song came on would be able to calm me down and help me think straight, as that is what Frank Sinatra does for me. And what song do you suppose started playing then?

takes us as we areAs I mentioned, I have now had this experience twice, and both times it has happened, it has reminded me of several things:

  1. Trust in God. He loves me, He knows me, and He’s watching over me. He understands my frustrations, He understands my griefs, He understands my confusions. He is there.
  2. Trust in myself. Far too often I find that I am trying to rein myself in, and control this uncontrollable thing that is my soul. But I believe we are all a little bit that way, and we don’t give ourselves credit for the beauty that we are and the joy that we have the potential to bring into others’ lives.
  3. Trust in the process of life. Things rarely go according to plan. I look back on every intricate plan I’ve ever laid out for myself and realize that most of them haven’t turned out anything like I thought they would, no matter how great I felt about the plan in the moment. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. My life is wonderful the way that it is, and it would have never come to this if I hadn’t been willing to change my plans and do what I felt was best for me, even if it wasn’t necessarily what I’d always had in mind.
  4. Believe. Life is a beautiful thing, and more often than not it is messy. But it was never meant to be perfect, only something to become better at. I have this long-standing, and perhaps irrational, fear that I’m going to mess things up. I love having deep discussions with people, I love getting to that point in a relationship where I can trust them enough to open my heart, and when they’ll share a part of theirs with me. But then I start worrying that by exposing these depths to others, that I’ve ruined something, and then all of the sudden I feel a million times more connected to them and I realize that they’ve become an indescribably crucial part of my life. Like I said before, I have to be careful about the passion thing. But experiences like these brush away all this worry, and make me grateful for experiences that crack open my heart, because all too often it is a little bit shut away. Experiences like these teach me to have faith even in the midst of the mess of life.
  5. Have understanding for others. If these experiences open my eyes to anything, it is all work outthat God speak to all of us in a different language. He speaks to us in ways that we understand personally, because He knows us. He knows how to help soothe each individual heart. I can always tell when I start to get close to somebody because I start wondering what things they are passionate about, and what things help soothe their heart. And I start wanting to share mine with them. It is a beautiful perspective, to realize that God understands us so well, that He speaks in different ways to His children. It helps me understand that we all receive comfort or revelation in different ways. Its an incredible thing.

For several posts now I’ve been alluding to a struggle I’m experiencing in my life. You all know me well enough to know that I’m not going to be pouring out all the gory details to you probably ever, but I will tell you this: with the end of my semester approaching, it has me thinking a lot about life in general. It has gotten me thinking about what I want in life, and how I’ve realized that it is quite a bit different than I expected.

Endings always cause this kind of reflection for me. So not only am I trying to juggle finals and papers and moving and good-byes that I’d rather not face ever, but I’ve all this philosophical stuff taking up room in my already very over-crowded head.

But then last night happened, and I was given a very personal, profound, and simple reminder: God is there. He knows me. He loves me. He has a plan. Have faith. Have courage. Have hope. Be loving and kind. Don’t worry. The Best Is Yet To Come.

Dear Dallas,

Dear Dallas,

Last night I returned from a 6 day trip to your lovely city. It was a trip to go back and visit people that I had met on my texasreligious mission, people that I had taught and befriended. It was a trip that I was slightly scared of, and completely excited for. And it was also a trip flooding with a variety of different emotions and experiences. Dallas, you had a lot to say.

Where do I even start?

I suppose I’ll be totally honest and explain what I was scared of. While I was there I developed some health issues. It’s something that I’ve alluded to a lot in my writing, but I’ve never actually came out and said exactly what those were. I just don’t think I’m ready for that. You see, Dallas, while I like to be completely honest with people I’m also intensely private. It’s just one of the many ways I try and protect myself emotionally.

Anyway, I was afraid that I’d have some sort of relapse. I was afraid that being in those surroundings again would only bring forth bad and hard memories, that it would be terrible. And though there were some very hard moments, those moments had nothing to do with what I’d thought they would.

Overall, the trip was absolutely incredible. Being back there, I found the biggest sense of peace and belonging. I had many spiritual experiences in which I just knew that God was looking out for me, and that He loves me very much. What an amazing thing that is, to have such experiences.

We visited many museums, we shopped, we ate, we talked, we laughed, and we mingled with people who have come to be a very big part of my life. What I find so interesting about traveling is that we always seem to discover things, and not just in the obvious ways but within ourselves. Perhaps that’s why so many people long to travel.

While I was living there, Dallas, you taught me many things. And when I returned to visit this past week, I learned many more things. Things that I’d wanted to know, and wanted to feel, but hadn’t. You told me many things this week.

Dallas, you helped me discover that it’s okay to be me. It’s okay to have the struggles I have and to work on them at my own pace. I don’t have to justify my struggles or experiences to anybody because they are mine and nobody else can understand what they were meant to teach me. I discovered that sometimes you feel as though you’re full of holes in the best possible way – sometimes you leave bits and pieces of yourself behind when you go somewhere and that’s the best thing you could’ve done.

dalasI discovered that the parts and pieces of our personality, our loves and our passions, are completely crucial to who we are and that they are not an accident. It is so important to follow the things that tug at your soul. I discovered just how glorious and beautiful this world is, and that we have an equally glorious and beautiful part to contribute to it. And that in itself is a miracle.

I also discovered that sometimes it doesn’t work to try and fix things, whether within us or with others. It doesn’t always happen in just one conversation or one trip. And as hard as that might be, it is the way it is. We can only hope that with time, God will help fill the broken places until they are gone. I rediscovered what it means to have a truly enlightening conversation, one filled with ideas and hope and one that gets your mind going as opposed to a vulgar conversation that you are forced to listen to. I probably don’t have to tell you which experience I’d rather live through again.

I think, Dallas, what you were trying to tell me this last week, in many experiences and many ways, is that there is hope. Hope for a bright future, one of healing and happiness, hope for an immediate future with more strength and courage, and many happy moments. The trick is to just walk that path rather than any of the others, tempting as they may be. Walk the path of hope

This last week, I visited you, Dallas. And really, Texas hasn’t changed that much. But I have, for the better. So thank you, Dallas, for the things you told me this week.

Love,

Jordan