The Last Accusation

*This is a piece that I wrote and preformed at The Women of Influence Conference this weekend. Several people asked me to make it available, so I thought I'd share it with all of you as well. I hope it encourages you.*

I’m running. They’re attacking and I’m running and dodging. I don’t  have time to look back, I’m just running and running and running. I was so STUPID. I didn’t know I was entering a battlefield, so I went unprepared, without armor, intentionally vulnerable and purposefully humble. And now I’m just humiliated.

The battle pauses.

I take a second to look down at the weapons they’ve been throwing. Spears. Written on each blade is an accusation. I read each word and I weigh the weapon, but I put them back down. I am NOT picking these up and I am NOT throwing them back. This is not my battle. I’ll just keep running.

The spears slow down, but i keep running and dodging. They nick me, but they don’t pierce me. I understand this battle is not about me. So I keep my head down, but my faith rises, and I know that the King is going to go to battle for me soon. I know he’s gonna come through. He always does. He rides on the wind and he conquers my enemies and I have no doubt that he will vindicate me and make this right.

But he’s not here yet.
And the spears keep coming.
And I am tired.
I am so so tired.
I can’t run anymore.
But I’m too tired to fight.

I sit on the ground, surrounded by accusations, seeing the destruction they’ve caused. My friends  have left me.. They’re off in the distance, watching me, whispering, with skeptical looks on their faces.. At first they ran with me, but now the evidence is stacked against me. I can hear them whispering - “Surely she did something to deserve this.”

I start to believe them.

I look down at the spears and think to myself, “You know what? These are mine. These things are true and these are mine to carry.” So I stand up and I begin to pick up the accusations.

“Divisive”
“Bad mother.”
“Rebellious children”
“Unqualified”
“Liberal”
“Loud”
“Inappropriate.”
“Feminist”
“Not enough”

These are mine now. I won’t throw them back. That’s not who I am. But I will keep them safe. I will carry them with me. And I will keep running.

But every few steps, another spear flies and now I’m getting ANGRY. And this bag is getting HEAVY. And WHERE is my King?

The one who fights for me and defends me. The one who promised me that he would go before me and crush my enemies. The one who protects and restores and guides. WHERE IS HE. He’s not here. He’s not coming. It’s time to fight. Cause I can’t go one more step. I’ve already lost everything. I’ve lost my friends. I’ve lost my family. I’ve lost my home. I have nothing left to lose.

Something boils inside of me that I’ve never felt before. It rumbles and it roars and it takes over my body. I have watched my life crumble around me and have done nothing but RUN. I didn’t fight. I didn’t gather an army. I RAN. I sacrificed my peace, my comfort, my safety, and I RAN. And what has that done for me? Nothing. Everyone has left me. Even my King has abandoned me. I am alone. And I am ANGRY.

The accusations sit on my shoulders, screaming louder and louder and louder. Until their sound is an ocean and every wave takes me deeper and deeper. I am drowning in self hatred and confusion. I am utterly broken but I don’t know it yet. Because all I can feel is anger and all I can see is red. I have had enough. I will stand my ground. I will win this war. I will take this army on my own. I’ve been storing my weapons and I know I can take them all out with one blow.

So I stand in the middle of the battle ground. I take out an accusation. I ready my bow. The enemy stares me down. Waiting for my move.

And as I pull back the first accusation, a rider come galloping through the middle of the battlefield and stands between me and my enemy. They begin to cheer. “He’s here! He’s here! The King has come to get rid of her once and for all!”

He raises his hand and the crowd goes silent. He stares down my bow, still pointed at the enemy and I hear him say, “I’ve been looking for you.”

That’s when I know it’s over.

I can take the army, but I can’t take the King.  And he is on their side.

The bag on my back instantly becomes so heavy that I can’t stand anymore. The weight of the Last Accusation is too much. And I’m the one that put it there.  I etched the words in the blade until my fingers bled.

“The King is against me.”

With the deepest parts of me, I believe it. He believes these things about me. He is against me. He is against me. I am broken by the weight but in this moment I know that it’s not the weight from the other accusations that broke me. It was this one accusation - the one that I forged in the night, in the depths of my despair, when the darkest parts of my heart screamed abandonment and rejection and fear. The King is against me. Of course he is. I am nothing. I am who they say I am.

I fall to the ground.
I’m done.
Let them bind me up and take me away.
Let them put me in the gallows and humiliate me even further.
Let them say what they want and do what they want because the King is against me and I am who they say I am.

I look up at the king in utter defeat and scream,
I AM WHO THEY SAY I AM!!!!

…..

…..

He climbs down from his horse.
He walks across the battlefield with casual purpose.
He’s coming to accuse me.
He’s coming to finish me.
But there’s nothing left anyway.
He stands in front of me.
He lifts my head.

He furrows his eyebrows and studies my face, quizzingly, as if he can’t believe what I just said to him. And somehow, I know that I’ve offended him, but I don’t understand why. Didn’t I just say what he already believed? Didn’t I just speak the truth?

He opens his mouth to speak and i cringe, waiting for his strike.

“You are who I say you are.”

The enemy roars in defiance, but the storm inside me ceases.

He picks up the spears of accusations and he burns them in the fires of his grace and endless, relentless, love for me. He wraps me in robes of royalty and places a crown on my head. He walks beside me whispering the truth of who I am and who he has made me to be. But his words aren’t meant for others to hear. We ride together past the enemy lines and they watch me ride with the King as royalty, but the King does not speak to them

This is not my vindication. This is my redemption.

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City Kids.

Someone said to me once, "God gives us the desires of our hearts, but it doesn't always look the way we thought it would." That has never been more true than right now. I've dreamed my entire life of living in New York City, but in my dreams, I was single (or freshly married), I didn't have kids, I lived in lower Manhattan, I had beautiful friends, stylish clothes, and I worked for some well known paper, traveling the world and writing articles that made people THINK. Never did I EVER imagine that it would look like the five of us living on the sixth floor, with my parents and brother, in one tiny bedroom near Yankee Stadium. 

When my parents moved to the Bronx last year, I thought, "Well, I may never live in the city, but at least my kids will grow up visiting like I did." Haha. Oh how God laughs. We "moved in" with my parents last month. I write that in quotations because is it really moving in if everything you brought with you fits in the back of a CRV? It's cramped, ya'll. It's uncomfortable. BUT HEY -- I live in NEW YORK CITY!  

Haha. But really. It's kind of cool. I've always loved New York and I really do enjoy it, but "the bloom is off the rose" as my mother says. I don't hate it, by any means, but I'm ready to get back to Massachusetts. We're just praying that God will open a door soon for us to come home. Zach is looking for work, I'm doing my oils business and we'll be out of here soon, I'm sure of it. So I'm trying to embrace the city life. 

But like. Sometimes that's hard to do when my son falls on the playground and lands near an open switchblade. Or when I'm walking to the post office IN THE MIDDLE OF THE DAY and a full grown man pulls his britches down to PEE IN FRONT OF ME. I could've gone MY WHOLE LIFE without seeing that and I would've been ok with that. Or when I'm walking up the stairs to my parents apartment and there's a girl passed out drunk in the middle of the hallway. Or when some lady trips as she's running onto the subway and lands on top of Anna in the stroller and then just SITS ON HER and looks up at me like, "You mad, bro?". Or when my kids lick the subway poles. Or when I get yelled at by drunk people. Or when I have to spend stupid amounts of money on food because everything is so expensive here. 

But now that I've complained about the bad, I'll show you the good. We're really having a good time and making some memories. Can't WAIT to get back home though. Also if you live in the city can we hang, please?? 

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The Trouble With Faith

I'm struggling with my faith lately and I don't really know what to do with it. It's hard to voice your doubts and not receive a simplistic Christian-capped answer. It's hard to find people who will let you doubt without simplifying or demeaning your struggles. The older I get, the more complicated my relationship with Jesus gets. And the more hurt that comes into my life, the harder it is for me to understand God's sovereignty. And so I doubt.  I doubt openly, but internally, it goes much deeper than I've ever felt safe expressing. But without expression, doubt becomes anger and anger becomes bitterness and that's not something I want in my life. 

The problem is that in Christianity, we're supposed to hold our doubts in one hand and our faith in the other. There's this idea that one will cancel out the other. If you have faith, you don't doubt. If you doubt, you don't have faith. But without doubt, faith can't be realized and without faith, our doubts would become beliefs. What if we just clapped our hands and mushed our doubts and our faith together? I don't know how to separate them anymore. 

My entire life, I've been a black and white person. I saw the world simply and expected everyone to see things the way I did. I spoke with authority on matters I never experienced and cast judgment on people whose life experiences didn't even remotely resemble mine. The world used to be so simple to me, but the past four years have changed all of that. Struggle, pain, abandonment, rejection, betrayal, loss, having friends that don't look like me or think like me... those things will irreversibly change your perspective. Suffering draws you closer to Jesus, but it also renders your simplistic theology irrelevant.

It would be easy for me to speak and try to believe things like "All things work together for good" and "For I know the plans I have for you." But deep down, past the exterior and outer layers of my heart that trust blindly and completely, I have serious reservations that those things are true all of the time. And that's not for lack of faith that God can and will, it's just ... God can't be put in a box and our understanding of scripture is minimal and contextual and sometimes I wonder if we even understand anything about God at all. I get really uncomfortable when someone thinks they have God figured out. I don't need a God that humans can understand. But at the same time ... right now ... God just feels too big.  

He feels too big to see me. He feels too big to care. He feels too big to be concerned about my fragile, vulnerable, broken spirit. But don't get me wrong, I'm not walking away from my faith. In fact, for the first time in my life, I feel like I'm walking into it. Up until this point, my faith was sourced in textbooks and heritage and spiritual experiences. Now my faith is being rooted in my suffering. Suffering that was undeserved and cruelly placed on me. I have so many questions, and if I'm being totally honest, I'm wrestling with anger as well. And this is where belief comes in. Belief and faith are parallel,  but they are not the same. I believe that God is good. I believe that he is for me. I believe that he will work all things together for good. And that has to be enough for now because my faith is being worked out in the deepest parts of my heart and my doubts are an important part of the process. I won't run from them or hide them or pretend that they're not there. They're there. But they don't negate the confidence I have in him. I stacked all my chips on His word and I'm trusting that one day I'll understand why things happen the way they do. 

In the meantime, I'll wrestle and continue to be totally transparent in my prayers, in my writing, and in my conversations. A few months ago, I sat down across from my former pastor's wife, and she said to me, "Sometimes these situations can stifle the thing that God gifted you in. What do you feel is your God-given strength?" I started crying (which should tell you something because I never cry in front of people) and I said, "My vulnerability. I've always found it easy to be open, but I don't think I can ever be that person again. This hurts too much." And it still hurts too much. But our vulnerability is what makes us human and what makes this journey we're on a little less lonely. So this is me with open hands and an open heart telling you that I'm really struggling with Jesus right now. It's healthy and productive and I struggle and wrestle and question with hope and ... I'm healing. Slowly, in a one step forward, two steps backwards kind of way, but it's happening. 

And I know the end of this story will be the beginning of something beautiful.

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All Our Bags Are Packed.

AGAIN. 

Have I mentioned yet how much I loathe moving? I mean, I guess it's not the packing that I hate, it's the leaving. The stepping out into the unknown. The starting something new. I've done this enough times in my life to know that transition is a four letter word. I'm tired. I'm cranky. I have a bad attitude. I just want to stay in one place! But we don't usually get to choose our circumstances, so here we are, surrounded by boxes again. blah. 

Ok, I promise I'm not going to make my blog and everything in my life about oils now, but seriously. I just could not survive this emotionally draining and stressful season without them. I really could not. I've become dependent on them (in a good way, of course) and I want to smack two years ago Kristen and tell her to open the bottle of Joy that's been sitting in her bathroom drawer and slather it on her face. 

So besides all that, I'm actually in a really good place mentally and emotionally. This season that we're in right now would have wrecked me last year. But I'm surprisingly still standing and I feel balanced and clear headed and I am so excited to see what God is doing. It's weird leaving a church to do a different ministry in the same city, but it's right. And overwhelming. And terrifying. I'm rambling. So maybe not so clear headed? Ha. Sorry I have no profound thoughts or eloquent writing for you today. Maybe next week.

So here's to fresh starts, new things, picking up old things, and rubbing coconut oil on callused hands from dealing with cardboard and packing tape all day. 

This may or may not be a cry for help. ;)