on grief

I haven’t picked a word of the year for a long time, but this year, I am very aware that a word has picked me.

Grief.

It’s a hard word to wear. I know that usually, when people pick their words, the words are happy. They’re cheerful and positive and inspiring.

But this word picked me.

It’s a stone I’ve carried in my pocket. It has been there for so long, wrapped in layers of gentle protection, not coming into contact with my body at all, until the day I was emptying my pockets for others to see and the wrapping fell off that stone and when I put it back in my pocket, its jagged edges tore into my flesh. I shifted it to the other pocket but the same thing happened over there.

I could have retraced my steps and found some new protective wrapping. But that felt wrong, like ignoring the problem, so I kept shifting that stone back and forth between my pockets. My skin got tougher. I got used to the way it felt. I ran my fingers over the stone every day, rubbing those edges and feeling their texture and grit under my fingertips.

One day I realized: that stone wasn’t so sharp anymore. My fingers have worn its edges down. It’s not yet smooth, but it’s getting there. One day it will be whittled down and down and down and down until it is gone and I am standing in the presence of Jesus.

But for now, I carry it in my pocket. this stone, this word, this grief.

I name it. I own it. And I refuse to fear it. I know it will go away. I know it will change, that its shape will shift countless times over the years of my life, and that it will be smaller, and some days it will feel heavier, but it will get easier to carry the more I share it and talk about it.

Let’s wear down those stones together, my friends. Let’s rid ourselves of the piercing pain of grief ignored.

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Quick Lit, episode 1!

Every month there’s a Quick Lit post over at Modern Mrs. Darcy, a site I like to read because of book recommendations. I make no promises that I’ll do this regularly, but I’m going to try to participate frequently because it’s a fun and low-pressure way to share what I’ve been reading (which feels like lots and lots of stuff). So, here are some quick reviews of the last four books I’ve finished, all in October.

29414954The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer. I like Amy Schumer, but don’t watch tons of her standup because it makes me cringe, and I’m definitely harder to embarrass than most. I started reading this book while I was sitting at Barnes and Noble one day and it was making me laugh, and then I looked it up and discovered that Amy reads the audiobook. I bought it with some Audible credits I had not yet used. I will say two things: one, it definitely made me cringe in certain points. Amy does not mind using words for genitalia (a word I never thought I’d use on this blog) that I don’t even think, let alone say. And two, this book was laugh-out-loud funny. I made myself have a stomachache from the laughter too many times to count. Amy writes about light-hearted stuff but also serious things as well and I thought it was overall a really great book.

29527139All the Pretty Things by Edie Wadsworth. I saw several people post about this memoir on social media so I grabbed a copy of it and oh my gosh, it left me breathless. I wanted to devour it in one sitting but I had to put it down at times because it reminded me painfully and beautifully of my own book. It felt like a comfort read in that I just got it. Edie has a story that seems crazy to believe, and she tells it with raw honesty that makes you root for her the whole way through.

 

18596375Made for More by Hannah Anderson. My friend Deeann and I have been reading this book together since March or April and I just finished it a few weeks ago. We’ve been discussing a chapter roughly every other week and it’s been so enjoyable. Anderson writes about us being imago dei, made in the image of God. What she says isn’t exactly new, but the ways in which she says it are refreshing and encouraging. This book is one of the best non-fiction books I’ve ever read and is unlike any book about women’s identity that I’ve read.

26890725Rich and Pretty by Rumaan Alam. I got this as a Book of the Month Club selection (pst! use this link and get 30% off your own BotM membership — and a free tote bag, too!). It’s the story of two girls, now women, who’ve been friends for more years than not. One is getting married and they have to navigate the complexities of friendship amidst their own changing lives. I actually really liked this one, although I could not stand the way the f-word was used to reference sex. But I liked the characters and their respective arcs and thought the storytelling was solid.

That’s it for this month! What have you guys read lately, especially things you’ve loved? I love a good book recommendation!

up for the adventure

I have a countdown app on my phone because I love a good countdown. Recently I added a really fun one: a European cruise! I leave in 22 days, and I added it to the app about four weeks ago. It’s been a whirlwind four weeks and it still doesn’t feel like I am actually going. I feel like I will wake up the day we’re supposed to leave and it will all be some crazy dream.

I have this thing where I call my grandma from the airport. I do it almost every time because it’s a place where I am free from all distractions and can have a good catch up session with her. I called her recently from my house to wish her a happy birthday and to tell her about the cruise. She told me, “Oh Krista! You are such a go-getter!” I chuckled and agreed with her and didn’t think much of it until later.

It’s been a week since we had that conversation and I’m still thinking about it. I feel like I lead a pretty boring life, but I have spent the last week thinking about the places I’ve been and the things I’ve seen and I am only starting to begin to understand that for someone who grew up the way I did, I have done a lot of amazing things. Well, honestly compared to most people I’ve done a lot of amazing things.

I’ve been to Africa. I’ve been to Central America. I’m going to Europe and Israel. I’ve flown to Missouri, Texas, Idaho, Alabama, Colorado, and Hawaii. I’ve driven to the Grand Canyon in Arizona. I’ve driven to Idaho through Nevada and Utah. I have seen so little of this world, yet so much compared to so many.

I didn’t fly for the first time until I was 18 years old. I had graduated high school and was going to El Salvador on a mission trip. That’s right, my first travel by air was to a different country. I’d been to the airport dozens of times, nearly every summer as a teenager to pick my cousins up from the airport when they flew in to stay with their dad and his wife, my aunt. But I had never gotten on that plane myself until an early morning in August 2001.

I felt exactly one time before 9/11 happened. And I didn’t fly again until many years after that, when I went to visit people in South Africa. So my second flight? Also to a different country. A few years later I felt alone for the first time to Missouri to visit a friend. And every year since then, I’ve flow a few times a year, mostly to visit my friends, sometimes for work.

I don’t love flying. But I love the experiences I’ve had, so it’s worth a six-hour flight to Hawaii or a 24-hour series of flights to South Africa. What good is that fear if I cannot push beyond it?

That’s really what I want to write about — not flying but fighting fear.

So much of my life I lived in fear — fear of what others would or could do to me (physically or mentally or emotionally), fear of getting hurt, fear of being just like the people who hurt me. For a long time, that fear is what kept me down, and then, not long after I graduated high school, the fear became what drove me.

Something shifted. I wanted to do big things and be an amazing person and I realized that everything I was afraid of was what was going to hold me back. But I didn’t fully know how to fight through those emotions and it wasn’t until after I got put on academic probation for the second time while in college that the old fears fell away and the new fear told hold.

I was suddenly passionately afraid of failure.

I didn’t want to live like my birth mother did.

I didn’t want to struggle in a dead-end, minimum wage job.

I didn’t want to always long for adventure but never have the means to go.

I wanted to see people and places. I wanted to live a life that I was proud to look back on. I wanted to say, “I’m so scared right now but I am going to push through this.” And that is exactly what I did.

You guys. That is HARD. It still is hard! It is so much easier to let the fear dictate my life and plans. Fear makes it easy to say no. Fear makes me rationalize settling for less than my dreams and the things I want to chase. It is easier to be afraid than it is to be brave, but the thing about bravery is that it’s like a muscle: the more you exercise it, the stronger and bigger it gets.

These days, I don’t live free from fear, but I have learned to see my fearful attitudes when they first begin to take root and I have learned how to crush them.

I think about how when my book first came out and people began reading it. I was terrified that it was in people’s hands and people’s brains because it was every sad and awful secret I could carry. I was afraid of what it would like for someone like me to work at a church. I was afraid people would look at me and think of me as less. They knew me as a young woman in the church. There would going to know we as a little girl and a teenager consumed by sin. How would, I feared, people reconcile the Krista now and the Krista then?

But I pushed through because God told me to be obedient. And the rewards of that obedience have been so rich. I have had countless women share their own stories of abuse and sexual assault with me. I have cried alongside of and walked through painful pasts with friends. And if I had let that fear win, none of that would have happened.

So when I’m walking on the streets of Israel in just a few weeks, standing where Jesus stood, I will remember that He called me to live a life beyond the fear. Whether that’s flying or writing a book, I am so glad He’s made me up for the adventure.