Love, Loss, and God

A year ago today I excitedly drove to the hospital to meet a precious baby boy named Leo, just an hour old. And as I left the hospital that day and got to my car I received a phone call from my mom. She was crying. A dear family friend had just passed away, leaving his wife and three school-aged children behind. I had known this man my whole life and one car accident took him away from us in a moment. This was the greatest juxtaposition of life and death that I had ever experienced and to this day, I do not know what to make of it.

Early this morning, I walked out to my mailbox and received the official bridesmaid invitation for my best friend’s wedding and again, it’s life and death and marriage all wrapped up in a day. And what is to be made of it all?

There was a time in my life when I would turn to God first in response to grief or pain or joy, but these days I feel frozen in place, too weak to reach out to a God I will never be able to understand. But I know, that even in these moments, God is near and I am thankful for a Holy Spirit that cries out to Him in praise and in pain even when I, myself am numb and silent.

Happy Birthday, Leo, you precious precious boy! I love you so much and I know that God has great plans for you.

Chuck, we miss you. Your legacy is not forgotten. You are not forgotten.

Chantal, I am honored to stand by your side in this time of joy, just as we have stood by each other in times of grief.

God, your praise will ever be on my lips. Thank you for every breath and every moment.

(Originally published on August 4th, 2018 @unsimplysara Instagram)

 

Beauty PSA

Goddess PSA Pt. 1

Have you ever wondered why women often tell each other they look like princesses? I realized recently that women have this innate desire to recognize beauty in other women and have their own beauty recognized. This is why we call each other princesses and mermaids and goddesses every time we get the chance. It’s why we play with each other’s hair and stare at each other’s eyelashes and lose ourselves in the deep brown or bright blue of each other’s eyes. We see the goddesses in each other when the rest of the world is incessantly shouting about how much we fall short–or ARE short. Too short. Too tall. Too thin. Too heavy. Too dark. Too white. Too weak. Not brave enough. Not funny enough. Not smart enough. Not talented enough. Always falling falling falling short.

Mermaid PSA Pt. 2

But deep down all we want is to be beautiful–for who we are. Not for the skin we reveal or the makeup we apply or the weight we lose. Not for the one thing we like about ourselves, but for the whole of ourselves. Not for the women we post about, but for the women we don’t post about–who cry everyday in the bathroom on their lunch breaks. Not for the women who smell like a tropical fruit basket at all times, but for the women who haven’t showered in two days…or four. Not for the contour, but for the acne. Not for what we can do, but also for what we can’t. We want to be beautiful because we are. So we women give each other these beautiful identities–princess, mermaid, goddess, but what we really mean is, “You’re beautiful. Wholly beautiful. And I really hope I am too.”

Princess PSA Pt. 3

Good news! You are beautiful. Wholly beautiful. And I’m so sorry because I’m absolutely certain you don’t hear these words enough–but they’re true. And I hope someday soon you’ll start to believe that you’re the mermaid princess goddess that God intentionally and lovingly created you to be.

There are steps to fully embracing the mermaid princess goddess that you are–the first is to tell the little voice in your head that you’ve often mistaken for your low self-esteem, but that’s actually Satan, to go back to hell where he belongs. Liars and thieves aren’t allowed to just walk into palaces and this liar and thief shouldn’t be able to just walk into the palace of your mind either. Protect your mind. Feed it beautiful, true words from beautiful, truthful people. For now, don’t trust a single thought that crosses your mind before you run it by a good friend and/or the Word of God. You’ve got to recalibrate your truthometer and assert your identity. You are Moana of Motunui, daughter of the village chief. You are stronger than you believe. You have greater powers than you know. You are Wonder Woman.

Which leads us to the second step–accepting compliments. When someone tells you that you’re a beautiful mermaid princess, you say, “Thank you, I receive that!” You will say those exact words until you stop sounding like a rusty robot in serious need of some WD40 because I promise you it works like Proactiv and Curology promise to. Right now, you spend way too much time accepting ugly lies about yourself, never accepting the true and beautiful things instead, and I’m telling you, girl, it is bringing. you. down. Fight back. Humble yourself. Accept the compliments–EVEN when you don’t think they’re true.

Step 3: Pray. Pray pray pray. Pray for a pure heart. Pray for no fear. Pray for the Spirit to give you the love, power, and self-discipline that you need to thrive in this world. Look at me–YOU. ARE. WONDER WOMAN. Because Jesus says you are. Because He gave you His Spirit or He will if you ask Him to. And His Spirit is a billion times more incredible than the incredible power emanating from a billion Diana Princes. I can’t even handle that–the power God gives us is freaking AMAZING. So pray! Pray always for wisdom and courage and peace. Pray and thank God for your incredible and innate mermaid princess goddess-ness. He adores you–let Him teach you who you really are in Him.

In the effort of full disclosure, I must confess that as I’m writing this my acne feels like it’s taken over my face and all that’s left is one massive painful itchy blob where my face used to be AND I’m still recovering from some unfortunate illness I picked up in Mexico that has led me to the bathroom way too many times the past couple days. Do I feel beautiful right now? Nope. AM I beautiful right now? Yes. And you are too.

You’re welcome.

(Both a reference to Maui and to the fact that you should have just said, “Thank you, I receive that!” OUT LOUD because I reminded you that you’re beautiful.)

Go forth and conquer, my beautiful mermaid princess goddess friend.

 

Special thanks to my girl, Diana, for calling me a goddess and for being my model on her layover to Cambodia.

Enough Faith for Today

So here’s the thing.

My fourteen-year-old friend, Josh, is gone. And sometimes it feels like nothing else really matters except that there’s a giant hole in the world where he just isn’t anymore.

For a while, I didn’t feel like I could post anything about me or anybody else living life, because I felt like Josh had been robbed of sixty or so more years that you and I get to have, but that he doesn’t.

It feels as though with each social media post we publish, we flaunt the breaths we are taking for granted, the beats of our hearts that we don’t even stop to think about, the countless miracles occurring in our bodies that we don’t deserve, that are happening anyway.

I felt, and sometimes still feel numb.

Because I spent three days at the Children’s Hospital on Sunset with a family going through a senseless tragedy and I was surrounded by other families going through immeasurable pain as well and what do you do, but sit? What do you do, but push your tears away, because there are enough crying people in that hospital with broken babies and wounded children? What do you do, but find your inner autopilot? Try to remember to eat, try to remember to breathe, try to anticipate needs, knowing there’s nothing you can do to fix this kind of broken.

I felt like a zombie.

Because I didn’t know what to tell Josh’s older sister as she hugged crying person after crying person and smiled at baby cousins and her brother’s little fourteen-year-old friends. Because my brother is alive and if he wasn’t, I’d fall to pieces, and even the thought of losing him is too painful to bear.

So, numb it is.

I’ve been wrestling with my own grief because Josh’s family has this incredible faith in our Lord. And they want to celebrate his life, rather than mourn. They want to rejoice, rather than weep. And I’ve just been angry. And afraid.

Angry at the robbery of life. Angry at the injustice of it all. Angry that so many people throw their lives away and still physically live, while Josh had all of this potential, but no choice in the matter. Afraid of the God that created Josh’s life and took it away. Knowing I should trust, knowing I should be like Job and I should hang on to Jesus and praise the Lord. But I am weak. And I asked the question no person should ask in times like this–

“Why?”

And I started to question whether Josh’s God would let me down when it comes to my future too. I’m over here worrying about my life’s calling and being passionate about my career path and making enough money to support myself when there’s a kid lying in a hospital bed who will never have to think about any of that now. So if in a day, Josh can just not have a future, does God really care about mine? Can I even trust God with my dreams or am I expendable?

You’re probably thinking, “You faithless, heathen!”

You’re sort of right–sometimes it feels like my faith is all out and I’m running on empty.

But I’m taking it one day at a time–one moment at a time.

It helps that I’ve realized that Josh didn’t get gypped out of life–we got gypped out of his life, but he gets to hang out with God in heaven–which is infinitely better than dealing with a heart condition in a sinful world. So, I’m happy for you, bro. But devastated for us. All I can say right now is that I hope you read my balloon, man–I chose blue just for you.

It helps that I went to Teen Camp this week and was forced to sing, “Good Good Father” even when the words didn’t make any sense to me and I cried–not because I felt them to be true, but because it hurt so badly that for once they didn’t seem true at all. It helps to say the words when you mean them least. It helps that God blesses our mustard seeds of faith.

It helps that I was reminded that four years ago, I made a decision to follow Jesus in sickness and in health, through trials and tribulations, through greatest pain and loss, and through deepest joy and gladness. So here I am. I am living. I am breathing with lungs undeserved and heart undeserved and brain undeserved, typing with fingers undeserved.

And I know this is pretty insignificant in the grand scheme of things, but I’ve decided to write everyday.

Because God created me to write. And until he calls me home and I get to hang with Josh again, I will write. It’s taking the mustard seed of faith I have to share this with you, and I apologize if you needed more encouragement than this post brought you today. I’ll probably share something more faithful tomorrow so check back, but that’s all for now, folks.

“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning, great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.”

–Lamentations 3:22-26

Shout out to Olivia Gaines for inspiring me to just write. You can check out her stuff at https://medium.com/@livitupproject 🙂