Guts on the Page

~This will be a long post, even for me. Bear with me. I am showing you my heart. Once again, I am flaying myself wide and laying my #GutsOnThePage. This won’t be elegant or ground-breaking. It’s just me, pouring my soul out and writing it down as it flows.~

This warrior’s heart is broken today, my spirit unsettled and grieving.

My sword dangles from my bruised hand, the polished steel I usually wield with a flourish suddenly too heavy. My shield drags the ground as it slides down a bloody arm. My legs are giving out, muscles quivering, strength failing. My boots trudge through the mire, the sucking sound accompanied by the knowledge that the very ground itself seems intent on keeping me immobile. Keeping me from reaching those I love who are hurting.

It’s all I can do to remain standing as I work my way through the center of a battlefield strewn with carnage, the stench stinging my nostrils, my eyes watering. I blink and rub my eyes, hoping when I open them it’ll all be some grisly mirage that will have vanished. That the destruction will have been a brutal nightmare, and I’ll wake up to the world I fight for.

But as I open my eyes, the devastation still spreads before me.
The ugliness remains.

This is how I feel today. The reason? It’s not what you think. My heartbreak is not due to the numerical results or outcome of an election. It’s not due to the beliefs or convictions of one side or the other or the other. No, my heart bleeds because of the battle that has raged for months, intensifying in these recent weeks, culminating with a massacre.

A massacre perpetrated not by steel and munitions, but by words.

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I have watched and listened as my friends, family, acquaintances, and strangers have ripped each other to shreds. I’ve seen families divided. I’ve seen friends abandoned. I’ve seen relationships destroyed.

And I’ve remained silent publicly. Going against my natural instincts to first lash out, then to defend those I love (even if I don’t agree with them), and to engage in debate, which normally I thrive on. I shut my mouth and listened. I tried my best to work behind the scenes, attempting to calm tempers and moderate arguments and soothe those who were hurting and scared. For once, I was the quiet voice in the cacophony. The one urging for calm, rational thought before setting out on the warpath. But I can no longer remain silent.

Especially last night and today, I’ve heard those I care about cry, celebrate, mourn, rejoice, or share their utter confusion and dissolution. I’ve seen and heard their pain, anger, and fear. And that is a good thing. By good, I mean it is a positive thing to release that emotion, to discuss the things we’d rather bottle inside, to let it all out in the open. It should be that when someone opens themselves up, becomes vulnerable and honest, those they’ve surrounded themselves with should either celebrate their joy or mourn with them, or, if they don’t agree, at least acknowledge their feelings and show compassion despite the disagreements. That’s how we find healing.

But that is not what’s happening.
This is why I speak. I don’t have any grand words today. In fact, they are shockingly simple.

I beg of you, stop the carnage.

Express your feelings, absolutely, but do it without attacking others around you. When someone vocalizes a view or emotion opposite yours, don’t go for the throat. If you want to debate, great. Have at it. But do so in a logical, respectful manner.
All of us are all over the map today. And that’s fine. Everything we’re feeling is valid. Why? Because no matter the situation, each person responds differently internally. Even if they hold exactly the same views. We’re all unique, all hold different ideals for different reasons.

That’s what makes this nation great. It’s not a leader. It’s not a group of leaders. It is the people. WE are America. Whoever holds office, the people are the backbone of this country. If we want change, if we want hope, if we want to make a difference and be better, WE have to make it happen.

Yes, we should be fighting. But not against each other. We do that, we fall. It’s as simple as that. We should be fighting FOR each other. We will never heal the rifts in this country if we continue to brutalize each other. You can’t expect to win a battle if you constantly kill off your own fellow soldiers.

Whether we like each other or not, whether we agree or not, we are all in this together. Period. And I have got to believe we all have enough in common, value enough of the same things, that we can work together, live together, or at the very least, tolerate each other, without setting out to destroy the other.

This exhausted warrior is pleading with you. We’ve all been through Hell lately. Can we call a cease-fire? Please, lay down your weapons for just a moment, at least. We have injured on the field. The casualties are astronomical, and growing by the minute. We’re all tired. We need some peace. We need some rest. We need to heal.

Will you join me? Will you be the one who drops to your knees beside that fallen warrior from the opposite side and shows some compassion by tending their wounds? Will you not throw grenades at the warriors celebrating? Will you hold and comfort the soldier in mourning? Will you be the example of what we should be, what we dream of being, instead of what the battle has turned us into?

It doesn’t take much. One kind word. One smile. One hug. One moment of acknowledgement or validation. It all starts with one. That one small, kind act can be the start of something wonderful. No, it won’t fix everything. We’ll still disagree. But wouldn’t it be great if, for one shining moment, we could light a spark of understanding and cooperation? What if for one moment, we see through new eyes?

What if we look past the ugly and the broken, and we see the beauty that exists underneath?

Then maybe, just maybe, we wouldn’t pick those swords back up to use on each other.
If we fight together, no one can break us.

~Watch the video, listen to the song. Maybe it’ll help you understand my heart. I truly hope it does.~

 

https://www.youtube.com/shared?ci=7g7t1KIv70Y

Going home

I am delighted when I get to make a trip back home to Arkansas for a happy reason. I miss the fresh air, the mountains, the pine trees, the rivers, the lake and most of all the many people there that I love. The dirt roads and little country stores in the middle of nowhere. The supremely curvy roads where there is seldom an opportunity to pass the creeping truck you inevitably seem to get behind when you’re in a hurry. The slower pace that beckons you to slow down with it. When I go back home I always feel welcomed and peaceful. It makes me feel like I can breathe and relax. I can be myself in those woods or discover who I am again if I get confused and lost. There’s just something about the place where I grew up. It’s comforting and intoxicating. It is my happy sanctuary on this earth.

It hasn’t always been that way. For most of my younger years it was the place I desperately wanted to leave. It was the backwards, boring, and lackluster area that seemed to be frozen in time well behind everywhere else. Most of all, it was the place I made some of the biggest mistakes of my life. There, I hurt everyone I loved and that loved me. It was in that place that I slapped away every hand stretched towards me to guide my steps and lead me from danger. It was there, where before it had been so easy to find myself, that I got lost. Then I tucked tail and ran. I ran far and fast, trying to elude the heartache and darkness I had brought upon myself.

But that wasn’t the end of the story and home wasn’t done with me yet.

In a few years I returned. I had created a new life for myself and had a family of my own. Deep inside though, there was still an ache. A shadowed place I hid deep and refused to confront. Something had begun stirring in me though. A flicker of light was trying to dispel the darkness and hurt. And it started to burn brighter when I came home. Not just to that little town in Arkansas and my earthly family, but to the place where my Christian journey began as well. Suddenly home wasn’t just my family and the houses we lived in, the schools I went to or the friends I cherished. Home was deeper. Home was the things I had been taught by parents who shared the Word with us daily. Home was the place I was saved and baptized. Home was Him. The One I had been running from. Suddenly I realized home had come to me. And when it knocked on the door of my heart this time, I finally welcomed it in.

The process of healing and forgiveness was difficult. It took a long time before I accepted His forgiveness and was able to ask forgiveness of others. Even after it was given, there were wounds to heal. But through love and grace, heal we did.

So you see, as much as I love the physical place where I grew up and as much as I enjoy my too seldom visits there, I know now that home is always with me. It is a part of who I am. It is love, laughter, mistakes, tears, forgiveness, grace, healing, and second chances. It’s family and friends. It’s blue lakes and mountains and pine trees. You can run away, you can think you’re leaving it far behind, but home will always find you. It will beckon you back with warm, open arms. And no matter what, you can always, always go home.