strong in the broken

Home/Tag: strong in the broken

Running While Tired

You may think I wrote this post if you’ve read about my Go Fund Me campaign. I’m training for a marathon in Somaliland, to be run this winter. (funds also go toward a full University scholarship for a Somali student – almost to halfway!). But, I didn’t write it. It simply came into my inbox at the perfect moment.

I’m in peak training weeks and I feel it. Mostly, I feel it in my hunger and in my attitude. Once I’m on the road, I feel good, but rolling out of bed when it is still dark and then stumbling back home after my teenagers have woken up means I’ve spent a looong time running. And I’ve been internally grumbling about it.

Then I read Kathleen’s essay and it was right on. Running while tired. For so many reasons. And yet, we run on.

This is a late addition to the Strong in the Broken series. Enjoy!

The sun casts long rays on crimson tipped leaves. The September sky invites me out but I’m tired.

I’m tired of nights spent ping ponging between beds too small, in rooms deemed too dark or alternately too light. I’m tired of my heavy sneakers. I’m tired of rushing from home to work, to the bus stop, to the store, to the dinner table, to the bath. I’m tired of trying to start running again after too many years spent idle and too many false starts. Still, I tie my laces and start to run.

I start slow and decide to take the short route. It’s been a while. I wonder if my legs will remember the easy tempo that used to come naturally, if my lungs will remember how to adjust, if my mind will remember to unfold.

The first half mile is uncomfortable and unfamiliar. I want to stop. I am already tired.

I’m tired of the relentless march of age and time and hormones. I’m tired of biting my nails, feeling soft and caring what people think. I’m tired of judging and being judged and making excuses. I’m tired of my mind running faster than my body. I’m tired of feeling like there’s not enough time.

I open my stride. My muscles tighten, my breath quickens, my feet find the beat of the pavement.  The streets are narrow and winding so I forego music. Instead, I set small goals: make it to the red mailbox; keep going until the black fence; stay strong until the middle of the hill. I give myself permission to walk.

Seven years ago, I never walked. When I went for a run, I ran. The road stretch long and lean ahead of me and my body responded in kind. I ran in rain and snow. I ran in the mornings or at night. I ran alone or with friends. I ran when I felt great and when I didn’t.

But now I’m tired.

I’m tired of my kids asking for another snack while I’m making dinner. I’m tired of needing to plan an extra 30 minutes to get out the door, of stepping on Legos, of the Paw Patrol. I’m tired of trying to follow the latest research on car seats, screen time, homework and hugs. I’m tired of the mundane worry that’s settled into the space deep within — the space that first exploded open when I met my baby boy and then, impossibly again when his brother joined our family.

I walk up the steep hill and when I near the top, I start running again. The shift between walking and running is subtle, like a change of cadence. I concentrate on lifting my feet higher and moving them forward faster. Looking down makes me feel dizzy so I let the thoughts go with each exhale. I try to think about the satisfaction I’ll feel when I’m finished. But in this moment, I can’t help thinking, I am tired.

I’m tired of walking into my classroom and being greeted by bored teenagers waiting to be entertained. I’m tired of applying new technology like a band aid knowing it could never cure what ailing the American public education system. I’m tired of trying to fight the inertia of the pendulum swing I know is inevitable, test scores to creativity, standardization to individualized learning, content to skills. I’m tired of grades meaning everything and integrity meaning nothing.

I check my watch and immediately regret it. Ten minutes feels impossibly long and impossibly short. I crowd out thoughts of turning around with blinding positivity. I try chanting: every step forward is another step closer; just keep running; you can do it. This starts to feel silly (and useless) so I think about my to do list. My muscles waken like my kids from a nap cut short: groggy, cranky, annoyed. I abandon my to do list and start to craft this essay because I still can’t stop thinking about how tired I am.

I’m tired of watching the world burn and quake. I’m tired of waters rising, ice melting and deniers denying. I’m tired of too much talking, too little listening and misguided rage. I’m tired of seeing fear disguised as power, money guiding morals and leaders not leading. I’m tired of sound bites and platitudes and bullshit. I’m tired of fake news and real news and celebrity news. I’m tired of guns and bombs and disease. I’m tired of seeing the world default to competition over cooperation. I’m tired of feeling helpless.

My feet are heavy against the pavement and I worry my body is too old for this kind of abuse.  Cars race by me with mechanical ease while my own gears grind. I know I’ll be sore tomorrow and I wonder if I’ve pushed too hard too soon. But I don’t stop.

I tuck my worries and exhaustion into the tiny pocket of my shorts and listen closely to the trees whisper into the expanse of blue above.

I keep running until I reach home. I don’t look at my watch, I don’t check my distance. My heart reminds me of its function. My face is fiery. My skin is wet. My feet hum. My tiny pocket is empty.

Later, I will watch my son’s chest rise and fall and wonder what thoughts run through his resting mind and which stay to lay with him. I will review my lesson plans for tomorrow, knowing that some kids will remember what I say, others will focus on how I say it and others won’t hear a word. I will turn off my phone, the news, the world outside and turn toward my husband, thankful for these things I can control.

When I finally lay down and close my eyes, I think about the days piling up like layers of an endless canyon of exhaustion. My legs are achy and sore. But I will run again. And again. I run to grow stronger against the weight of the days and to remember the whispers of the grass and trees and sky. They echo in the valleys of my body.

I’ll keep running towards the canyon. Running is a kind of religion. I have faith that when I reach the edge, I will fly.

Kathleen Siddell is a teacher and writer living in Connecticut. She and her family returned to the US in 2016 after spending four years living in Asia. She hopes her tired legs will lead them on another adventure soon. You can find her drowning in the Twitterverse @kathleensiddell.

Strong in the Broken: When Cancer and Life Collide

I’m a couple days late with this post. I blame it all on doing multi-state college tours with twin 17-year olds. It was awesome.

Today’s Strong in the Broken post is by Nicole Baldonado, a story of cancer and weakness and learning to rest.

“God, we can’t do it anymore.”

That was me, whispering in the shower, hoping the steaming water would burn away the headache that comes with crying all day.

My husband, Josh, had just told me he was diagnosed with thyroid cancer.

Shock. God, how can this be happening? He’s thirty years old. We have a three-year old and a baby boy. Fears paraded endlessly through my mind.

People told us, “This is the cancer to get.” It’s one of the easiest to treat. They caught it early on, and the doctors are hopeful that Josh will be fine after treatment.

It still scared me to death. In the past few years, we’ve learned by experience that things don’t always “turn out ok” in the end. Or rather, “ok in the end” doesn’t always mean that someone is healed. Bad things do happen. And they happen to all of us. 

This post is an act of transparency. I’m not complaining or venting, and I can think of so many people who have it way harder than me. I’m telling you I understand life can be awful, painful, maddening. I’m honestly admitting that I get angry, become fearful, wallow in grief…but my God is gracious. And I’ll tell you how I know it…

We moved to Ukraine two and a half years ago. Within two months, we lost a baby to miscarriage. In addition to the grieving that comes with losing a baby, taking care of the medical needs was confusing, embarrassing, and fairly matter of fact. It made healing all the more difficult.

That same week, a dear friend in the States passed away unexpectedly. It was heartbreaking not to be with loved ones to grieve alongside them.

For the next six months, I was treated for chronic health problems and told that we should not try to get pregnant yet. Nothing seemed to work. The due date of our baby came and went, and we were still waiting. Any mom who has lost a baby knows that Baby’s due date is a sort of monument in your mind. That day was sad and full of questions without answers.

Eventually, we were overjoyed to get pregnant again!

At five weeks, I started bleeding. I will never forget laying on my living room floor, tears streaming and everything in me crying out, “Why, God?!” My doctor said it was a hemorrhage and gently informed us that the chance of Baby surviving was extremely small.

I was on complete bed rest for a week in the hospital and then for another month at home. No one knew if Baby was alive or not. We tried to make sense of conflicting recommendations from Ukrainian and American doctors. At the end of that month, the doctors told us it was a miracle Baby had made it, that only God had kept him alive. Medically, he should have died.

The pregnancy was stressful and painful, due to complications, but about eight months later, our precious Titus came along. I can’t express the joy and thankfulness we feel, looking at our little miracle.

When Titus was a week old, I woke up in the middle of the night with a high fever and violent chills. I was diagnosed with mastitis, a severe breast infection and told that I may have to quit nursing and have surgery. For the next month and a half, I battled mastitis three times, was misdiagnosed with thrush (another nursing-related infection), and had severe dermatitis.

Once the health problems were resolved, we were relieved to “get on with life as normal.” But as the weeks passed, “normal” didn’t seem quite right. I struggled with exhaustion and insomnia, woke up feeling like I was in a deep, dark hole, cried at stupid things throughout the day, battled with impatience and irritability. It wasn’t a bad day or even a bad week. I looked at my life – wonderful husband, healthy children, all our needs provided for – there was nothing to say I should be feeling the way I did. When Titus was ten months old, I was diagnosed with post-partum depression.

Around that time, we found out that my husband’s remote job, which had been our primary income, was being moved back to the States.

And then Josh went in for a routine physical. And they found cancer.

Thirty years old. A three-year old and almost one-year old. Married for six years. Cancer.

“God, we can’t do it anymore.”

Throughout all this craziness, my responses have not always been…well…ideal. I’ve gotten angry and questioned why God would allow things to happen. I’ve whined and complained and had little pity parties. I’ve given in to crippling fear and wanted to do nothing but lay in bed and hide from the world. I’ve wanted to quit…whatever that means.

On the other hand, I’ve also tried to do all the right things. Read my Bible, pray, go to church, have faith in God. Exercise, try to rest, eat well.

I grew up hearing about God’s grace, how we can’t do anything to deserve His love. But, still, throughout all these challenges, I’ve often thought, “God, You must be trying to teach me something. I’ll get it. I’ll read my Bible more. I’ll pray. I’ll have a good attitude…Then things will be ok.”

And then Josh said to me, “It’s cancer.”

And after a long day of impossible fears, I laid my head against the shower wall and whispered, “God, there’s not an ounce of strength left in me to believe. I can no longer “be strong and of good courage.” I’m tapped.

The next morning, I sat down with my Bible and devotional and actually thought: “Let the bartering begin.” “God, if I read my Bible enough, will you heal Josh? If I have enough faith, will everything be ok?”

And I began to read:

FAINT NOT!

How great is the temptation at this point! How the soul sinks, the heart grows sick, and the faith staggers under the keen trials and testings which come into our lives in times of special bereavement and suffering.

“I cannot bear up any longer, I am fainting under this providence. What shall I do? God tells me not to faint. But what can one do when he is fainting?”

What do you do when you are about to faint physically? You cannot do anything. You cease from your own doings. In your faintness, you fall upon the shoulder of some strong loved one. You lean hard. You rest. You lie still and trust.

It is so when we are tempted to faint under affliction. God’s message to us is not, “Be strong and of good courage,” for He knows our strength and courage have fled away. But it is that sweet word, “Be still, and know that I am God.”

Selection, Streams in the Desert: 366 Daily Devotional Readings– May 10

Speechless.

Nothing had changed. Every circumstance was the same. Josh still had cancer. We still had no idea what would happen. But, it was like a tangible sense of sweet relief passed over me – in all my fear, all my exhaustion, all my anger, I didn’t have to be strong. God says, “Just rest.”

I’m not going to lie and say from that moment I stopped being fearful or sad or even angry at times. I’ve had my rants and freak-outs and burst into tears in the most public, embarrassing places.

But that’s the point. It’s not about us being strong or being a “good Christian” (whatever that is!). It’s not even that we don’t have to do those things…we literally can’t. There’s a blessing in that, because we know the One who can be strong – who is strength personified. The One who gave His very life so that we – in these moments of desperation – could hear Him say, “Be still. Know that I am God. Just rest.”

Nicole Baldonado is a social worker in L’viv, Ukraine with her husband and two kids. They’re part of a church plant and serve in pastoral support, community building, and discipleship. Nicole also has experience in human trafficking response work. She loves travel and is always on the hunt for a new cultural experience. Having grown up abroad, she’s now fulfilling a lifelong dream of raising her own kids inter-culturally. Nicole writes weekly about life at jnbmission.com and can be found on Facebook at facebook.com/jnbaldonado.

Strong in the Broken: Revisiting the Kidnapping, Reclaiming the Story

Today’s Strong in the Broken post is by Trish and recounts an incredible story of trauma, fear, and healing.

The fear almost overwhelmed me – almost, but not quite. As I slowly made my way down the long gravel driveway, I envisioned dangerous men carrying ropes and blindfolds, plotting schemes against our family, lurking behind every rock and tree. This day, however, I was determined to force the issue. I would stand where the kidnapper had stood – the spot where my son and I had, inexplicably, gone from carefree to captive in a moment’s time. I would stand there and face it alone; not assuming the fear would cease, only knowing that I could not continue to live the life I loved in Honduras, unless I found a way to move forward in spite of the continuing emotional after-effects of the trauma.

Perhaps it would have been advisable to take a furlough, and remove myself, for a time, from the constant reminders of the kidnapping, and from the ever-present concern of additional criminal activities against our family – and I did go, for about a month, and visited with a trauma counselor – but long-term that wasn’t an option. My foster son, Ben, (my son, in non-legal terms, since I’ve raised him since he was a year old), who’d been kidnapped with me, couldn’t legally leave the country, and I wouldn’t abandon him.

My life is here, in Honduras. Continuing to live and work at our farm home requires me to regularly drive through the very spot where the abduction occurred. Conquering the feelings which had become attached to this spot was a necessary step toward taking back my life. I was determined not to let the kidnapper steal this, and the ministry work we love, from me. I wouldn’t let him win!

With music from my ipod accompanying my pounding heart, I slid and stumbled down the steep, rocky drive. When I reached the intersection of the driveway and the road, I just stood and cried, while the memories and the emotions washed over me.

-This is where he waited, gun in hand and face covered, listening for our approaching vehicle and prepared to confront us as we slowly rounded the curve in the rough dirt road.

-This is where I made the determination to stop the vehicle, believing that my son and I would be shot if I tried to accelerate and drive away (I know people who have lost loved ones in this exact manner), but also knowing that this decision put our lives into the gunman’s hands.

-This is where he pointed the gun at us, and forced us to climb into the back of the vehicle – shattering my naively optimistic thought that this was simply a robbery, with the abrupt realization that it was something much worse, something we hadn’t previously recognized as a potential threat in our relatively tranquil part of the country.

-This is where I thought, “We are at least as likely to die, as we are to live through this situation.”

– This is where it happened. A dangerous place – a public but isolated stretch of road, with no reason for anyone to be within earshot. No one would hear calls for help.

The song that had been playing on the ipod while I walked broke through my conscious thoughts, and I heard these words, and it was as though they’d been written for me, and for that very moment:

“No guilt in life, no fear in death
This is the power of Christ in me
From life’s first cry to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny
No power of hell, no scheme of man
Can ever pluck me from His hand
‘Til He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand”

There wasn’t anything in those words I didn’t already know, of course, but the power of the music, and the intensity of my emotions in the moment when I first heard them caused them to mean so much more to me! I clung to this song, and it became my post-kidnapping anthem, even though I couldn’t hear it without weeping.

Even now, though almost four years have passed since the kidnapping, this song, and the way it came to me at exactly the moment I needed to hear it, brings me to tears – no longer because of a battle with fear, but because of the hard and certain knowledge I gained from this experience. Though I’ve come to know that I am a strong woman who can handle a lot of adversity, it is not my own strength that allows me to continue to live and work – and even thrive – in the exact place where I suffered this trauma.

It was, and is, through the power of Christ that I stand.

In Christ Alone: Stuart Townend & Keith GettyCopyright © 2001 Thankyou Music (Adm. by CapitolCMGPublishing.com excl. UK & Europe, adm. by Integrity Music, part of the David C Cook family, songs@integritymusic.com)

The story of the kidnapping was blogged immediately after it happened in 2013: Ben’s Kidnapping, Part 1

Living in Honduras with my husband, Allen, for sixteen years now, we run a ministry which empowers Honduran missionaries and pastors, and feeds 14,000 children in 150 feeding centers in mountain villages throughout rural western Honduras. I blog at www.sowers4pastors.blogspot.com
FB: Trish Sowers
FB Ministry Page: Sowers4pastors
trish@sowers4pastors.com

Strong in the Broken: In This Tent We Groan

Today’s Strong in the Broken post moves from Tolkein to Lewis, from being a missionary kid to homosexuality to suicide. This essay is brave and it is one man’s story, told with complexity and honesty. It is published without a name, if you wish to contact the author, either please leave a comment or email me and I will put you in touch.

Disclaimer: I understand that this is a sensitive topic, and I cannot claim to have all, or really any of the answers. My hope is to tell my story in an honest way, not as a prescription for anyone going through similar struggles. I do not want to cause dissent or arguments over this issue. This is an uncomfortable topic to be sure, but comfort is no good reason for silence. This topic needs to be talked about until the suicide rate declines among this demographic. It needs to be talked about until this demographic falls in love with Jesus.

Falling in love is a terrible thing. Especially when you are the son of missionaries, and the person you fall in love with is another boy.

I never really had a concept of homosexuality growing up on the mission field. And maybe it wasn’t necessary. I was busy roaming the city streets, climbing on fortress walls, learning languages, running away from security guards. But even at the MK(missionary kid) conferences I think I felt a bit out of place, as if there was something different between me and my peers. I didn’t quite fit in even among my fellow TCKs (third culture kids). I couldn’t put my finger on it then. I just tried to love Jesus and obey him.

The subconscious prayer I tearfully prayed throughout high school and into college was, “God, fix me!”, because even though I didn’t know what needed fixing, I was aware of something broken within me. I noticed other guys instead of girls, but I thought it would pass, that it was nothing, that I was just sinful, that if I prayed hard enough, obeyed God enough, studied the Bible enough, I would become the right person. Somewhere in my head I was searching for a magical concoction that would fix me. I dove into theology and philosophy, trying to be the best Christian I could. I ceased to see God as my loving Father who longs to embrace me, and saw him as a genie with the power to grant my wish that I thought would please him, if only I would follow certain steps. I did all of this for at least seven years without the slightest idea that I was gay.

During my junior year at university, my inner world of acting perfect and believing all the right things finally collapsed on itself from sheer burnout and I admitted to myself that I was gay. They don’t prepare you for being this in the transition seminars. No TCK talk could have prepared me for this sort of identity crisis. This sort of world-shattering reality. Because just as I was trying to get accustomed to being in America, and thoroughly enjoying aspects of this culture, I admitted that I was not who I always told myself I was.

Depression pounded against my skull as my heart beat to the rhythm of my pleas, “God, let me be straight!” Shame told me to isolate myself, and my mind went into shock. I didn’t know how to find my Comforter in the Scriptures, because I had spent years treating it as a how-to manual. So I stopped reading this how-to manual that spoke nothing but condemnation into my predicament. I tried to shut my emotions down to give myself time to think, to pray. But then my eyes would catch that guy in the halls and I would break down.

Terror drove me away from my family, friends, people, and God. I was alone with myself and hated myself. My vending machine of a god was not accepting any currency I had to offer, and I became hopeless. My thoughts vacillated between believing I was an accident and that God could not possibly have meant to create someone like me, and blaming God for doing this to me. My God had failed me, or I had failed God. It didn’t really matter, did it? I hated God and wanted to die.

On my darkest nights my feet took me to the train tracks near campus and there I would stand, waiting for a train to come and take my life away. Exhaustion drove me back to my apartment with a fresh anger against a god I was convinced hated me. “Why can’t you let me die?!”

How can I blame God for this mess? I have been told that He is all-good and loving. I must therefore do what comes most naturally to me and imagine myself to be the leviathan beneath the surface of my heart, writhing my scaly body beneath the waves, hunting frigates. It does something to a man when he believes himself to be a monster. I debated whether my heart was more like Hyde or Frankenstein, because in public I could pull off a fair impression of Jekyll, but alone in my room, Hyde was the unwelcome companion who tried to convince me that Frankenstein was a better monster than I because he embraced his monstrosity and accepted it as who he was and called that identity good instead of hiding behind the false form of a doctor.

And yet, if I had to be a monster, at least I might try to be a useful one. If I were a dragon, at least I could feign an impression of Eustace and help to build a mast instead of razing a dwarven city to the ground in order to become king under the mountain. Of course I would be alone, unable to make the voyage to the edge of the world, but at least I might do a little bit of good instead of wreaking destruction before the eremitic storm clouds reigned over my island.

But the truth has a way of shining a light into the darkness. The first time I was honest about this struggle, my body physically revolted, and my throat tightened as I choked on the words. But a weight was gone. In being vulnerable with people I trusted, I allowed them the opportunity to love the unlovable parts of me, and to see light in a place where I could see only darkness; to see hope where all I comprehended was despair. In that moment, a thought flickered in my mind of a God who might be bigger than my small darkness allowed Him to be. I saw a human reflection of Divine love. No expectations. No if…then statements. No “at least…”. Just “I love you.”

A few months later, J. R. R. Tolkien convinced me to begin reading the Bible again by his words, “…I do not mean that the Gospels tell what is only a fairy story; but I do mean very strongly that they do tell a fairy story; the greatest. Man the storyteller would have to be redeemed in a manner consonant with his nature: by a moving story.” (Letter to Michael Tolkien).

I prayed that God would let me perceive the Bible as a fairy story, which is probably the strangest and best thing I have ever prayed. I lived and breathed the second and third chapters of Genesis for an entire month. I hadn’t planned to stay that long in the Garden, but the magic and beauty of the love of God kept me anchored there, beginning to break the spell which had bound me for most of my life. Where before I had seen a vindictive God who is bound by natural laws, I now began to see a God whose every action was done out of a deep and passionate love for Adam and Eve. This God seemed foreign to me, and I dared to hope that His love extended to this scared son of Adam. I began to faintly hear the call of a God in pursuit of me “Where are you?” and I was tired of hiding my shame from him.

I hate that what I fight against every day is becoming normalized and accepted (at least in America), for now I have to fight myself internally and the world externally, both vying for my acceptance as they tell me that they are advocating for my happiness. Sometimes they tell me that God would want me to live into this identity, that He made me good and wants my happiness. There are days when the fighting is exhausting, the desire seems inexorable, and I wish I could allow myself to accept it, grasp for it, lean into it. If I am honest, there are days when I want to embrace a lifestyle in which I could love a man and my God with a clear conscience, convinced that I am obeying God. But then I ask myself: Is my God the sort of God who would ask us to surrender all aspects of ourselves to Him? To say ‘no’ to our most deeply felt desires and longings in order to say ‘yes’ to Him?

C. S. Lewis in “Perelandra” makes a profound statement. In the book, the law is referring to one regarding the Fixed Islands, but it is fitting in describing the Biblical prohibitions against acting on homosexuality, “I think He made one law of that kind in order that there might be obedience. In all these other matters what you call obeying Him is but doing what seems good in your own eyes also. Is love content with that? You do them, indeed, because they are His will, but not only because they are His will. Where can you taste the joy of obeying unless He bids you do something for which His bidding is the only reason?” There are many times when I don’t understand why this particular law was prohibited by God. I understand that homosexuality does not accurately reflect His love for his Church–that is mirrored in the marriage of a man and woman. I can see that as beautiful, but I often wonder where that leaves me in the context of the corporate Church.

The brokenness I am walking through is twofold: a broken sexuality and a broken perception of God. But as Tolkien said “The hands of the King are the hands of a healer.” (Ioreth, “The Return of the King”) My thoughts and feelings are painful. Some days I just want the strong hug of another man, emotional intimacy and trust, knowing that my imagination is capable of taking me further, and so I fight to stop there, and long for honest touch and true speech. Other days, the old dream of being a father surfaces, and I think of the names for my offspring that my desires steel from me. I romanticize the closeness of a Godly marriage. It hurts, and so I sit alone in my room and weep and pray to God. Not to be made straight, but to be with him.

The Psalms are a magnanimous comfort on the nights that feel especially long and cold and dark. I don’t understand why I have these desires. I don’t understand why God loves me. But maybe that is alright, as I trust that he loves me in bigger, better, and brighter ways than the darkness inside of me can fathom. And I would rather the darkness not be able to comprehend the light than for the light to stop it’s shining. I want to be okay with pressing into the Love of Christ that a part of me does not find comfortable and cannot understand as good and true. I want with my whole heart to leap into His Love, so that maybe His love could brighten the darkness within me.

The truth is that there are no easy answers; my story is one of tension and living in the margins. But I fight to hope in a God who walks with us through this dark and broken valley. And sometimes that fighting looks more like losing, more like retreating. Fighting what Galadriel in the Lord of the Rings calls “the long defeat.” Paul has a poignant way of describing the way that I see my experiences in his second letter to the Corinthians: “For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened–not that we would be found unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up in life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight.” (2 Corinthians 1:1-7)

The author carries an American passport and was raised on British fairy tales while receiving a post-Communist education in the former Byzantine Empire. Some of his favorite pastimes include climbing trees and castle ruins, hiking in the Rocky Mountains, and sipping chai with a good book. His Eastern heart currently explores and seeks God in the Western United States.

Strong in the Broken: Learning Trust, Embracing Vulnerability

Today’s Strong in the Broken post comes from Y.P., someone I have immense respect for in her life and work, living in a foreign country far outside her comfort zone where she takes daily relational risks and is learning to trust. I think we all face this battle of choosing whether to listen to (possibly) rational fears or to take a chance. Here’s a glimpse into Y.P.’s process.

For some reason I grew up believing that once you learn to differentiate between which people to trust and which ones not to, you’d be set for life. Turns out, I’m still not set. Not sure I ever will be.

Trust is a bigger battle than I imagined. To stay vulnerable when everything inside of you tells you to back up, to remain trusting when everyone tells you to wall-up, to maintain a tender heart when the world tells you to harden.

You can call me naïve, and you won’t be the first one. I do trust a lot of people to have good intentions. I trust that if someone offers me a ride, they mean it. That they don’t want to drive me out to no-man’s-land and rape and kill me. I trust that if someone asks where I live, they don’t want to come to my house at night and set it on fire. I trust that if someone stops to talk to me, they do just want to converse a little in English. I trust that if someone asks me a personal question, they are interested in me. That they don’t want to shame me publicly based on what I tell them.

This comes with a high price. It’s always more costly to choose to share my stories than to stay silent or switch topics. It always takes more energy to engage with someone who has hurt me before than to stay away from them. It takes a lot out of me to be ‘naïve’ if that’s your word of choice.

Especially in a climate where suspicion is a virtue.

My brain doesn’t want me to trust. Something wants to see evil and danger everywhere and to find excuses for why I shouldn’t trust. My brain quotes books and news headlines and other people’s horror stories, and it rehashes my own past experiences. It tells me, “Watch out. Bad things have happened before. They will happen again. I told you so.”

This fear wants me to put everyone into boxes with the labels, either: ‘safe’ or ‘unsafe’.

Yet my God is a God of second chances. And fifth. And seven-times-seventieth. God doesn’t act based on past painful experiences, hurts, or disappointments. So who am I to live that way?

And I find God constantly whispering into my ear, over the sound of fears, “trust again, I know you can do it!” And so, at least I try. Because He knows what He’s talking about. And He doesn’t do boxes, certainly not of fear.

Go to Top