When it's a hard love - let me tell you.
Long time, no talk! I think it's a little bit funny that my last post was on being behind, because pulling up my blog to write again after so long sure makes me feel it all over again. Life got busy, as it always does this time of year. But on top of all that, I've spent the last month or so stumbling and sliding deeper into some old truths and remembering how to live out of them again; and tripping and falling into some new spaces and learning how to live in them for the first time. They're all good things, and they're all going to make their way to this space sooner or later, I'm sure. But I think sometimes God does His most profound work when we show up as just ourselves - no scheduling, no editorial calendar, no Instagram filters, no agenda.
One of my favorite authors, the lovely Annie F. Downs, always says that she feels like her books have already been written, and it's her job to go find them and put them out into the world. That's how I feel about writing just about anything, but it's especially true for this corner of the Internet. Sure, it would be nice to keep a consistent schedule, and I know the stats on what that does for views and followers and subscribers - but the truth is, I just don't care about any of those things enough to put something on this site that isn't real. I write when something is true to me and it needs to be found out and put down in words that might hopefully ring true for other people. I don't write for the sake of writing. And I keep my eyes open.
This is how I was feeling when I walked into the Ryman Auditorium last Monday night with my sweet friend Lexie to see Needtobreathe in concert - I certainly didn't intend to leave with a blog post in my mind. Unsurprisingly, a decent amount of my busyness this past month can be attributed to my concert addiction and my love for Nashville - and Needtobreathe at the Ryman is pretty much the perfect combination of the two. If you've never heard Needtobreathe live, let me tell you, they give everything they've got and then they give some more. This is the second time Lex and I have seen them in the past year or so, and as soon as the music started, my mind raced backward to that first night.
It was the middle of the fall semester last year, my first semester of senior year and back from Argentina, and I was struggling. Nothing seemed solid; every handhold I thought I'd cling to seemed to be slipping through my fingers, leaving me with nowhere to stand and a long, long fall from high expectations. I was learning what it looked like to come back from a place where all I lived out of was God's love for me, to a place that threw shadows of doubt into every corner of my mind when it came to living loved by Him and by others. And in the middle of this storm, I stood on the lawn at Ascend Amphitheater and listened to Needtobreathe sing the title track off their newest album, Hard Love.
And everything in my world slowed to a crawl as the words of that chorus washed through my soul.
It's a hard love, friends. It can be hard to get up day in and day out and choose to believe it. Change hurts and it feels like a fall from a height you didn't know you'd climbed to and you never wanted to find in the first place.
But I am here to tell you that it does not stay hard forever.
Because a year later, when I listened to the band sing this song last Monday night, I danced my heart out and sang every word, and praised my God for the feeling of being on the other side. I've been there, I've walked it, and I know how much it weighs on you.
But I also know what it's worth. I know that God covers the cost, I know the value of learning to live loved. And I know that no matter where you're at on this road, if you are walking it with Him, things will come out in the end.
My favorite song of the night this year wasn't Hard Love, it was Testify. Because when God shakes up your whole world, when you come to know how crucial it is to put your identity in Him and Him alone, you have to tell it. The stories have got to go someplace.
This is the place I've been learning to live out of - the overflow. You only start to learn where and what you're called to, where your heart is, what makes you the you that you are and how that translates itself into how you love the world around you - when you live out of what you're given. And it's a life and love you've already been given - God is just waiting for you to choose Him right back.
If it's hard right now, know you're loved. It gets better. Turn to the places and the people in your life where you find truth. I may take breaks every now and then, but that's exactly what I'm here to be - hang around for a bit, and let me tell you.