I wake up to the sound of rain on the windows. The small splashing of the drops hitting the panes and bursting open as they trail down in a path to the bottom of the window. Ping, ping, patter, ping. The world is dark around me. It is too early for the white morning light to begin to peek over the horizon. I burrow down into my warm covers, not ready to start my day. My legs ache from the weekend activities, my best intentions of waking early and going for a run turn to excuses in my mind. Running on Saturday, going up and down the steps countless times as we cleaned out the house, carrying recycling and trash to the bins in the alley, hiking on Sunday, it is catching up to my leg muscles, and they groan at the thought of pushing them this early. Not in the rain, not in the dark, five more minutes, you should write instead. Ok, I’ll write instead. You’ve convinced me.

I find a clean cup and lid in the dishwasher as the dog prances around my feet. I fill the cup with ice, coffee, cream, stick my straw through the mixture, stir, sip, delicious. I pat the dog and go to my studio. It’s time to write. It’s time to think. I glance out my window but see nothing. The morning light of the rising sun can’t penetrate the dark clouds that continue to splash out their drops of rain. Something about the slight cold, the utter darkness, and the sound of the water is comforting. I wish moments like these would last longer, allow time for me to sit idle in them.

Yesterday brought many thoughts, but more feelings, about the church, community, and God than I had had in a long time. It was one of those sacred moments where the first tear fell, and there would be no stopping the rest. What felt like an easy question turned to a two-hour-long conversation, mainly filled with my tears, or so it felt. The small candle we lit for church burned on, filling the room with a sweet floral smell, the dogs cuddling in our laps and at our feet, you sitting with me, seeing me, hearing me, pulling out the connections from my words I was unable to process on my own.

“You crave community. You’ve been hurt by people, and it is the thing you still crave the most, and that is a beautiful thing.”

“You want to be seen by people,” you gestured to the blank, black abyss hanging on the wall, “no one is seen right now.”

A few years ago, I wanted to walk away from the traditional church. I felt empty from the hurt churches can cause. In those days, months, the hurt outweighed the good for me. I wish I would have allowed myself the space to process it more clearly. In a strange turn of events, I feel the pandemic allowed me the time to feel what leaving the church would feel like. I’ve decided that isn’t what I ultimately want. Yesterday helped me to realize that Katie was right in her connections of my thoughts; I long to be seen, heard, and known in a church. What I desire the most is the feeling of acceptance for who I am. I want to bring my big family, my strange skill set, talents, hurts, fears, and mainly my joys into a space and not feel like I am too much, need fixing or don’t fit. I’ve spent the majority of my life finding boxes I could try to fit in. The things that didn’t fit went into different boxes that I would shove aside and neglect. I’m done living my life that way. I know it will take work to undo that practice. I can’t choose a church that automatically makes me put things of my life away. Those feelings don’t come from God. They come from people mostly, but they also come from my own inner critic.

Yesterday’s sermon reminded me of a thought I had a few days before, that God’s yoke is easy, light, the opposite of cumbersome. These boxes I create to live in and neglect are cumbersome. They are clunky and ill-fitting for my life. They aren’t what God intends for me. One cannot flourish when they are continually tripping over the boxes in the room. I’m tired of falling on my face, blocking myself in, carrying a weight that is not mine to carry.

Yesterday reminded me that God sees me, knows me, knows the desires of my heart, and dangit, I don’t ask for big enough dreams. (Thank you, Emily P. Freeman, I’m sorry for throwing your books across the room.)

I hope I continue to dig into these thoughts this year and create intention in living them out.

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