Someday, I'll forgive myself

The standards I set, I set them highReaching up to the glory of God How high can I go? The higher it is, the further I can fall The more it hurts when I land The more others are hurt on the way down Divine forgiveness awaits me there But where is the forgiveness in my heart for me?

Someday, I'll forgive myself

The standards are erected once again So far up I've lost sight of the goal I lean back, look up and pray The climb begins all over again Life rolls on, leaving me behind But it must go and I must take my time Must find the right way, God's way not mine

Someday, I'll forgive myself

When wrath wrecks my soul When temptations strike my weakened flank When the rewards of this world block my view of Him He still waits, carries, sustains When I can no longer look at the mess of me

Someday, I'll forgive myself

It's Him, oh it's Him Always before, always behind, always beside It's Him, oh it's Him Who gives the forgiveness for my soul Who makes my heart as white as snow It's Him, oh it's Him Who gives the forgiveness for myself Who knows, understands, loves

So today, I will forgive myself With the forgiveness He gives

 

Brilliant Hopelessness

When I read classic secular literary fiction, I’m just as awed as anyone by the brilliant prose, the twist of sentences that paint such a realistic picture of life. What I’m not awed by often is the ending. It’s brilliant. And utterly hopeless. Something like, “Blow out your candle, sweet sister. There’s nothing left for you.” It took some years of eye rolling at art that’s so deep with emotions supposedly conveyed before I finally understood. When looked at it from the right angle, whether it’s prose, painting, or a very unique sculpture, their depressing work is stunning in the message it conveys. They may be showing such ugly truth in human nature, the average person overlooks it. Who wants to see the ugliness in themselves and the world? But it’s truth.

But it’s also hopeless. That’s why as these artist pursue their mission of showing people how wretched they are, how there’s nothing to live for in this life and we should all give it up, the artist themselves spiral deeper into the pit of despair they project everyone to be in. In their mind, it’s not them who are off base. It’s the observers. The observers are the pretenders, the ones who want to skip along through life as if there’s actual meaning and beauty to it.

I’m not speaking about artists in general (hey, I’m an literary artist). This is about the ones that you walk away from their work feeling dirty and depressed. You’ve seen something of yourself in their work, something you didn’t think anyone would ever see. And that’s what the artist wanted. They dug under your skin and exposed the raw truth of your human nature.

Brilliant hopelessness.

But there is hope!

My way of shouting this from the rooftops is the same as those who shout the opposite message. Through art. My tool is words, spoken and written. My message? When all pretentions of “living a good life” are stripped away, the only hope comes through Jesus Christ. Because without Him, I’d be one of those artists trying to convince the world there really wasn’t anything to this life. It would take some years, but I could see myself finally abandoning the mission to drugs, alcohol, and despair. So has been the fate of many brilliant artists. (Not saying I’m brilliant, of course)

Hope is a basic survival requirement. Humans can live an average of three months without hope.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16 (KJV)

Where does your hope lie? Please share it with me in the comments.

 

Healing in the In-Between Moments

My copy of Jeff Goins's new book arrived this past week, and I finally started on it. The idea of those in-between moments inspired my own memories of the little times in life that make up, well, life. 20130810-123912.jpg

It was just a few hours after the funeral. The grandfather of my best friend, Jessica, had passed away suddenly on my nineteenth birthday.

The house was full of people, visiting, reconnecting, dealing with the grief in their own way.

Jess and I went outside to the driveway in the quiet small town neighborhood. Teenagers, we climbed onto the trunk of her grandparents' aging Chevy Impala and leaned against the back windshield. We stared at the white clouds outlined by blue sky. We didn't say anything. Didn't need to. Just spent time in quiet communication, understanding the lack of need for chatter to fill the air.

The screen door banged and voices bubbled out. Jess's brother and two friends tromped across the drive. His girlfriend paused.

"What are y'all doing?"

I wasn't quite sure how to answer. My friend and I mumbled in agreement. "Um, just relaxing."

"Oh. Well, we're bored. Going to wash my car. Y'all want to come?"

"Uh, that's okay. Thanks."

She shrugged and the three climbed into her Volkswagen Bug, still laughing and chattering.

Quietness reigned again between us. Then we broke out in a spontaneous giggle.

Then quiet again like before, watching the clouds and letting the moment heal our bruised hearts.

***

Jeff Goins's book is already having an impact on my life. You can order a copy on Amazon: The In-Between: Embracing the Tension Between Now and the Next Big Thing [A Spiritual Memoir]

Are You Happy?

Long drives are golden when it comes to thinking time. On the way home from a short trip to Oklahoma, while my mom leaned back for a nap, I spent a few hours in the driver’s seat, thinking about the journey of my life so far.

Oklahoma

Events from eleven months ago had me spinning in more directions then I could see. My dad’s passing. Acceptance into the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian Artist Leadership Program. All within two days of each other.

Where had I been? Where was I going? Where was I now?

Are you happy?

The question caught me off guard. I debated it a moment, thinking I would have a quick answer. I didn’t. Instead, more questions came.

What is happiness? What I am pursing? What is the purpose in all this?

Since childhood, my desire has been to honor and glorify God. But does that make you happy? My mind attacked the very definition of happiness.

How does the world define it? How does God define it? How do I define it?

Few people in the world are happy by any definition. They wish they were married. They wish they were single. They wish they had their dream job. They wish they could go back to their old one.

Are you happy?

Am I? As the Oklahoma road wound up another climb, I asked myself the question over and over. How should I define happiness? Giggles in my stomach all the time? Unfettered laughter bubbling constantly from my lips? No more tears?

No. It’s something deeper than that. Something no trial or sadness in the world can touch when it swoops in to steal your joy.

It’s satisfaction. It’s knowing that in comparison to the thousands of years the human race has existed, yours is just a flash in time. It’s here and gone with a few rotations of the earth. It’s knowing in that time, you are living for the one thing that last, the one thing no amount of time or grief can crush.

Almighty God.

When I focus on Him, not my own desires or happiness, is where true satisfaction resides.

Well you may ask me if I'm happy

If I have sweet peace within

If I'm worried about tomorrow

When I reach my journey's end

When he was a young man, my daddy envisioned himself as the next Billy Sunday. In the last few years of his life, he sang at a small church. Nursing homes. The county jail. In those last few years, he said he felt he was doing what God wanted him to do. I believe he was satisfied.

And as I face the coming one year anniversary of when my world spun out of control, I know I am satisfied. I am happy.

When my eyes are closed in death

With my Jesus I'll be at rest

Then you'll know I'm satisfied

Are you happy?

Right at Home—Confessions of a Homeschooler, Home Business Owner, Stay-at-Home Daughter

  If I were a place, I’d be home

Sarah Elisabeth

Whether you’re one or all three of the above, you know it takes more than a simple explanation when asked things like,

“Where do you go to school?”

“What kind of work do you do?”

“So you still live at home with your parents?”

My Education

The first question usually makes me laugh, because I look more seventeen than twenty-seven. I still have people ask what high school I go to. Flattering, I know. A laughing “I’m passed that,” is usually followed with, “Oh, so you’re in college?”

“Um, no, I decided to bypass college.”

“Oh. So what do you do, exactly?”

Not an easy question or a short answer. I must admit, answering the home school question is safer than it used to be when I was a kid and most home school families were hiding out. Because of early pioneers like my parents, home schooling is a different story today. But it doesn’t shorten the answer, because it’s still a novelty to some people and the stereotype questions take a bit to diffuse.

After graduating, I chose to continue education at home, creating studies to advance my business and writing skills. One term for this is Self-Educated, but I can’t take all the credit. My mama’s still the best teacher in the world! We’ve created our own terms, such as LEP: Life Experience Portfolio. I’ll have to do a blog post on that someday.

My Business

A home business is another novelty people dream of and want to know more about when they meet a real live home business owner. I love talking to people about my work and lifestyle because I’m passionate about it and would love to see more people living the call God put on their heart. But how do I explain my many endeavors fast enough to keep eyes from glazing over, or the undo awe that I’m some kind of smart person?

I never have a pat answer. I don’t practice ahead of time what I’m going to say or how to explain the life I live. Each person I meet is unique and deserves a custom answer.

I start off with, “I’m a writer.” If they’re still interested, the conversation goes from there.

My Home

Ah, and the last question. Embarrassing for some, perhaps, but it’s a badge of pride for me. The good kind of pride that allows me to look people in the eye and say, “Yes, I’m still at home with my mama. That’s what affords me to do all the creative stuff God’s called me to do.”

Because we synergize our incomes and share expenses, neither of us has to work a full time job. My mama pursues her filmmaking. I pursue my writing and businesses.

And if I were a place, I’d be home.

 

Which of the three are you, or that you desire to be? Share a piece of your life in the comments.