Rain

Hello, my old friend.
How lovely to see you again!
It’s been far too long
since I inhaled your sweet scent
since I felt you brush my lips, my arms, the top of my head
since I was embraced and enveloped by you.

Tonight, you’ve brought hope.
You’ve brought life.
You’ve brought joy.

Come again soon?

Be free to be you

If I could go back 20 years to tell myself just one thing, it would be this: be free, Kim.
Be free to be you.

I spent most of my life believing I was a mistake. That either God had messed up somehow, or (more likely) I’d effed up his perfect creation beyond repair. I bore a tremendous amount of guilt and shame, and I did not truly believe I was worthy of love. While a work in progress for the past four-ish years, it has only been in the past year that I have been able to really and truly accept myself for who I am.

If I could go back, I would shout these words of truth to myself; I would whisper them over and over into my ear, and pray that I could believe them:

You are not a mistake.

You are enough.

You are lovable and you are loved.

You are quirky and funny and goofy and nerdy.

You can be both highly logical and deeply emotive.

You are an outgoing introvert (and that’s not a contradiction).

You can seek to be more, while concurrently being fully you.

You are free, dear one. Free to laugh, love, and live.

I’ve thought a lot about Jesus’ response to the “what is the greatest commandment” question these past few years. He says, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” and “Love your neighbor as yourself.” It does not show love to my creator to constantly criticize, belittle, and mock his beloved creation. And if my standard of love for myself is barely (or not at all) disguised hatred, how can I possibly hope to love others well? 

This past year, for the first time in my life, I have learned to love myself. Not for who I could be or who I have been or who I might become, but me, now, just as I am.

And it is a beautiful thing, this freedom to be me.

 


This post is part of the June Synchroblog, “If I could Tell Myself One Thing”–what do you wish you knew 10 or 20 years ago? Here is a list of the other contributions to this month’s synchroblog:

Justin Steckbauer – What Do You Wish You Knew 10 or 20 years ago?
Michael Donahoe – What I Wish I had Known
Mary – What I Wish I Would Have Known as a Newlywed
Heather Wheat – As a Young Mother, I Wish I Had Known…
Michelle – Ten Years of Wisdom
Michelle – Twenty Years of Wisdom
Wesley Rostoll – If I Could Speak to a Younger Version of Me
Peggy – From Peggy … To Peggy
Glenn Hager – The Reluctant Time Lord
Carol Kuniholm – Life Lessons from Lydia
Edwin Adrich – A Note to My Younger Self
Paul Metler – A Note to my 20 Year Ago Self
Liz Dyer – Dear Me
Kathy Escobar – Never Say Never
Jeremy Myers – A Letter to the “Me” of 15 Years Ago
Loveday Anyim – Hot Romance with the Dreams of the Sparkling Old Times
Susan Cottrell – Be Kind To Yourself

Be brave. Be kind. Be true. Be you.

My baby sister graduated from high school a week ago. I’ve been thinking all this past week about the words I wrote to her in her graduation card. Because sometimes, in spite of myself, I think I have a few moments of real brilliance. (And that might have been one of those times?) But more so, because I need to hear those words myself. I want to take my own advice, and live in the truth of those words as well.

I found a card at Trader Joes (for a dollar, woo!) that was all kinds of perfect:
 

Words to live by

 

What was written inside went something like this:

Be Brave. Because the world is a scary place, both beautiful and terrifying, inspiring and heart-breaking. Remember, courage is not found in the absence of fear, but rather in the midst of it. Face life head-on. Join hands with others around you and take steps forward even when you are afraid. World-changing things happen when people refuse to capitulate to fear and the inertia it so often brings. Be brave.

Be Kind. The world is full of broken and hurting people. You can show kindness regardless of whether someone deserves it, and in doing so, can model grace as well. People will be unkind, mean, even cruel. Return love for hate; show love through your kindness. Be the hands, the feet, the life-giving words of Jesus to those you come into contact with. Be kind.

Be True. You may find yourself pulled in a myriad of different directions. There will be voices clambering for your time, for your beliefs, for your energy and passions. Explore, learn, discover, question, but through it all, stay true to your convictions. Listen for that still, small voice inside you that tells you what is right and true, and follow it, regardless of what anyone else may say. Be true.

Be You. Because who you are is a wonderful thing, little sister. You are a gift, wholly unique. Who you are is fearfully and wonderfully made. And while I hope you never stop learning and growing as a person, I hope even more that you can wholeheartedly believe and live in the truth that who you are, just as you are, is enough. Be you.

I love you so very, very much, Nina. I am unbelievably proud to be your sister. Happy Graduation.

When the music is live and so am I

I breathe in.
The music swells
it threatens to overtake me.
But I am not consumed.

Is it the lyrics
the harmonies
or the instruments
so expertly played that affect me so
deeply?

My heart feels
several sizes larger.
Too big for my chest.
It should hurt.
In some ways it does.

I feel
overwhelmed.
Even more than normal.
Feelings that have no words to
explain them.
Feelings I can’t identify.

It’s the intersection of
joy and
heartache.

I feel so alive.

And in this moment
I am happy to be sad.

Hell, if I know.

Part of this whole “growing up” thing, particularly in regard to my faith journey, has been my need to hold out at arms length many things I believed wholeheartedly as a child (and beyond). I’ve come to a point where some of my deepest convictions seem at odds with what I used to believe, and I am navigating the dark and foggy waters in between.

So, I listen. I read. I learn. I question. I walk in these shadows, and celebrate the brief moments of light and clarity when and where I find them.

And sometimes, when I have the strength and the heart, I wrestle with these seeming contradictions.

///

When it comes to a traditional evangelical understanding of hell, I don’t know where I stand.

I don’t know if I believe anymore in a pit of damnation, in eternal torment and everlasting punishment, in a fiery lake of burning sulfur. I’m still trying to reconcile many other areas of my faith (and my questions about the character of God) with this concept.

But don’t get me wrong. I believe in hell. Unequivocally.

It’s here, all around us.

///

What else can I say about our world? If I had ever questioned it before, my work in the anti-human trafficking movement would been the final nail in the coffin. What else can I call a world where people are seen not as unique and precious human beings, as souls bearing the very image of God, but rather as commodities to be bought and sold, used, abused, and disposed of?

And that’s just one issue (albeit one I think about every day). Famine, war, abuse, trauma, disease, exploitation, natural disasters; the list goes on and on and on.

For me, the conjecture of men on unknown eternal destinies, quite frankly, pales in comparison to the utter horrors and atrocities millions (even billions) of people experience every day. For them (and yes, sometimes for me), hell is real. And it is now.

///

We can dream of heaven. We can fear hell.

But really, we can’t know. The utter truth of the matter is that we don’t know what happens after we die. Anything we think we know has to be taken on faith.

But the hell here and now, this hell on earth? It’s real. It’s tangible. It is very much known and experienced.

And I believe that is why Jesus kept calling for the kingdom of heaven to be experienced now. Because heaven can be real here on earth too. Bit by bit, little by little, we can bring the kingdom of heaven to each other.

Tears can be wiped away. Justice can be sought after. Redemption and restoration can occur. We can give each other unearned love, grace, and belonging. And God can be here.

On earth, as it is in heaven. 



This post is part of the May Synchroblog “What the Hell?”–thoughts on heaven and hell. Here is a list of the other contributions to this month’s synchroblog:

Jeremy Myers – Does Jesus Talk About Hell More Than Heaven?
Wesley Rostoll – Hell, thoughts on annihilationism
K. W. Leslie – Dark Christians
Angie Benjamin – Hell Is For Real
Paul Meier – Hell Is For Real – I’ve Been There and Came Back
Glenn Hager – Abusing Hell
The Virtual Abbess – What The Hell?
Kimbery Klein – Hell, if I know.
Michael Donahoe – Hell Yes…or No?
Liz Dyer – Hell? No!
Margaret Boelman – Hell No I Won’t Go
Loveday Anyim – Why the hell do you believe in hell?
Linda – The Y In The Road
Edwin Aldrich – What the Hell do we really know.
Mallory Pickering – The Time I Blogged About Hell
Elaine – What The Hell?

Fear thou not

I’ve been scared to write.
Terrified, even.
I have the words,
I just lack the courage.

Because the world is harsh.
People especially.
And I care too much
what they think.

I’m still trying to figure out what I know.
And I’m afraid of being judged in this process.
The fear is paralyzing.

Yet…

Fear thou not,
the prophet wrote.

Fear thou not. 

And I’m tired of being afraid.

The merits of a set of good eyebrows

The timing of my 2014 Revolutions post left me with only a few days to really reflect on a physical characteristic this month. But never fear, I fully intend to embrace my “Personal/Emotional” Revolution for the month of January regardless. So here goes. One of the physical attributes of my body that I have hated/put down/been ashamed of in the past is…my eyebrows.

I know, that seems like such a weird place to start. But when I was a (rather hairy) adolescent, I was deeply embarrassed about the caterpillar-esqe eyebrows I was genetically gifted. It didn’t take me long to try to do something about this debacle (i.e. get my hands on a set of good tweezers, and go to town). I didn’t know what I was doing, but tried my best to observe and copy what I saw around me or in magazines, and just sort of went for it.

Now here’s the funny thing (at least to me). In my adult life, I have gotten more compliments about my eyebrows than maybe any other physical attribute! Which never ceases to crack me up, mostly because I find it a weird thing to notice and compliment someone on. But I am seriously complimented on them ALL. THE. TIME. I’ve even had an aesthetician ask me if I would tell people that *she* did my eyebrows when they asked! :) But in probably 15+ years, I’ve only ever done them myself.

And so here is where I re-focus my gaze. I have really great eyebrows! And while my success in achieving such a status may have been rather accidental on my part (at least initially), no one other than me can take credit for it. I think that’s pretty cool. I’m damn proud of my good eyebrows, and that’s a rather novel feeling for me.

If you’re wondering how on earth I am possibly going to find a way to connect this physical attribute to serving or blessing others…I was too! (Ha.) But then I started thinking about something else I have learned over the past several years: how to take a compliment. It is too easy for us (for me) to brush off a compliment, or to counter it with a negative remark. We don’t want to seem prideful, we disagree, we hem and haw. But what are we really usually doing in those moments? We are essentially discrediting the sincerity or the opinions of others. When I return a compliment with a genuine “Thank you” and a smile, I do honor to the person who gave the compliment. I give their opinion merit. And I think that’s pretty important too.

And so, this month, I recognize the beauty of my eyebrows. (The right one of which, as I typed that, was raised in a quizzical and somewhat comical manner). And I send a sincere thank you to anyone who has ever noticed them or taken the time to compliment me on them. I really do appreciate it! :)

Revolutions, baby.

“the train-song”

The city sleeps,
though I do not.

The regular hustle and bustle
reduced to stillness.
To quiet. Almost too quiet.

Then I hear the train whistle.

How can such a lonely sound feel like home?

I remember childhood nights,
tucked inside my bed,
listening to the same soulful tune.

I wonder. Was it lonely then (too)?
Was I?

Back then the whistle
sounded like adventure.
The train was going somewhere.
I was not.

Now I’m somewhere.

And the train-song makes me dream of home.