Unfiltered/unedited/incoherent bc I’ve missed two weeks in updating and I always write and never post because sometimes it’s a mess just like me. But, He always has grace for me and I want to share it so teedbits following thus:

1. When I step into the dark alleyway, I immediately regret as soon as I spot the figure that stands in front of me. He’s tall; he towers over me even from a distance; he stops literally in the middle of the narrow street right as I step down from the sidewalk and takes the power stance, feet shoulder length apart, arms forward as he zips up his hoodie. Fear consumes me. My feet keep walking towards him and as I look straight at him, I feel resignation take over me. “Fine, Jesus. If I die tonight, I die obedient to you.” I take a few more steps and then the fear vanishes; peace replaces the pounding of my heart and the man moves off to the side and walks past me with no quarrel. I find the gall to smile at him for as briefly as I have the courage to look at his face.

If he wanted to, he could have snapped my neck with one hand. If God wanted to, He could have simply breathed and buried him in the dust.

2. I tell Denise that I overslept this morning thus explaining the sufficient energy I had throughout the tiring day of assembling returns. She asks me when I woke up and I tell her 7:30AM. It’s more than an hour later than when I usually get up; when she questions why I wake up so early, I give her a mumbled, “I take a lot of time to get ready in the morning.” She looks at me and continues questioning me, baffled that it takes me that long to get ready. Extremely uncomfortable at this point, I finally give in and tell her the truth. “I’m pretty…religious (at this, I cringe at my word choice because it was cowardly on my part) so I read the Bible and pray in the morning for a while.” Her mouth drops open but what comes out does not reduce me to a puddle of muffled tears. “Oh…that’s so good that you do that. More people should be doing that.” She shares that she was raised Catholic but stopped practicing the faith after she went to college. We have an extended conversation concerning church, community, and faith. She tells me how her friend is a hospice worker and observed over her time spent there how people who had faith dealt with death so much more gracefully than those who did not. “She saw how peaceful they were, and their families, too, even in the face of pain and suffering. And so she decided to go to church because she realized that it worked.” Encouraged by the turn of the conversation, I attempt to give a thirty second version of how Jesus saved my life which in turn explains why I’m so inclined to spend time with Him; I feel my throat close up on itself and nearly cry on the spot. As if my body wanted to show her how much He meant to me that it physically put itself into duress. She notices my distress and tells me that I can come to her about anything if I needed to. I tell her “thank you” and wonder if I’ll ever be brave enough to take her up on her offer.

3. I tell the new hires that I can’t make it out to lunch with them because I have a meeting right after that I don’t want to be late to. Chris immediately replies that he’s up for going earlier if it will make more time for me. Colin joins in. Matt offers to take my order and points out that they can bring it back to the office to eat with me. Kathleen urges me to come. I sit and stew over it because I’ve in fact packed my lunch and do not quite feel up to going out in the cold to pay for food but I can’t bear to be apart from them when they invite me into their company. They make me feel loved so I take a leap of faith and decide to go out with them. Shannon comes over to cancel our meeting shortly after and I throw out a mental, “YOU AMAZING, JESUS.” Despite all my awkwardness and stunted social behavior, my coworkers still seem to tolerate (and maybe even desire?) my company and that makes me feel very, very blessed.

4. We talk about community in community group and for half of the night, I’m battling tears. I realize more and more how alone I feel in the city and how I miss having my RoX family beside and around me at arm’s reach. God has blessed me with much joy so that I am able to focus with gratitude and thanksgiving on the good things in my life and less on the things that afflict my heart. But, I have a feeling He’s also the one afflicting me out of faithfulness so I thank Him still. I know I’m weak. I know I am standing by grace alone. In my spirit, I cry out to Him. “I know you are only good to me so if you are going to break me now, then break me now. I surrender to your will, even if it means embarrassing myself in front of these people I only want to look good in front of.” I don’t break down in the middle of small group but I stumble and choke over my words as my throat (and heart) swell with emotion as I speak to the girls. But, as the words come out, so does the pain and loneliness and by the end of the night, I am healed.

5. As I meander around City Hall after work and look at the holiday shops stationed there, I stumble upon a piece of art that I mistakenly take for a painting at first. On closer inspection, I find that it is carefully stitched thread that composes the image. It is of a forest in the midst of winter, snow covering its trees and branches. Off to the right stand two deer, staring back at the viewer of the painting. I seriously debate paying 100 dollars for it before deciding that it’s not worth it. I take one last look at the forest and feel a deep sense of peace envelop me. Winter is coming and I almost feel afraid. But, I remember the deer, the leaf, the clouds and the moon, and decide that I am going to be ready for winter this time. It will not shake me.

I cry out to the Lord, “I feel so alone, God. I feel so alone,” and He points to Jesus (and to the deer, the leaf, the clouds and the moon) and replies, “You never were and never will be alone.”