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So I’m doing YWAM… and why?

Updated: Mar 3

When I was asking God how to share about my heart behind this next season of my missions school and outreach, he said to share my ice and lava story. My father wound story. My mental health plummet story. My skyrocketing into reality story. Love’s reality.

SO. So here it is. It’s a snapshot of how God’s love has overtaken my life. How it all went from hard darkness to the crash through. New reality. And it’s changing everything. 

I had my seventh birthday on our move out to Washington. My dad had gone out on an exploration trip a couple months before and sent back video clips for my mom of the house. We sent a moving truck there ahead of us. And then we piled all five of us plus our orange teddy bear hamster named Paddington into our forest green 1997 Dodge Grand Caravan. 

I was eight. My dad lost his job. He lost his smile. He lost his face. 

Bell's palsy. It’s when you lose function over your facial features. Stone cold. Blank. Placid. Unwavering. Unresponsive. Limp. Numb. Frozen. Only his was half. 

Half his face could smile and his lips turn up on one end. One eye could twinkle. Other side left untouched. Barely a tug. Eyelid slumped shut. His face was a cave with the rock slid in front half-closed. I’m not sure if there was light coming out or if it was just gray and gray. Shadowed and rocky. Dark and stony. Illusive and hard. 

I was nine, maybe ten. My dad was ripped apart from the brain—split down the middle to the heart. North to south. Two halves. Yin and yang. Dark and light. Black and white. 

My mom was struggling to keep the whole house from caving from the inside. 

She knew about my stomach aches. She knew about my chest pain near my lungs and heart. I’m not sure she realized the way the ripping of my dad’s heart and mind was spreading. Either like hot lava, fast and frightening. Or like the slow crippling of a frozen, hellish night.

My closet saw my tears. 

But Mom wasn’t there. I’m not sure my mom could see it. Lava and ice inside. If she did, she had no idea how to respond. Dad definitely wasn’t there. My dad was in his own volcano. Or glacier. His eyes were glassy. 

My life was full of lava. My heart was becoming a glacier. 

When you can’t predict your dad. When he seems like this wild card. Passive and unresponsive. Cold. Or fiery wild. It kind of wrecks your sense of trust. Trust for the world, trust for God, trust for reality.

I didn’t realize this until I saw just how cracked my understanding was.

Right before I left for Thailand, junior year of college, I broke.  

I lay in my dark room in isolation. God, I said. Show me what you want me to know before Thailand. I’m open. I’m listening. 

And he spoke then. He said, don’t be afraid. There's suffering out there. There’s grief. Brokenness, pain. There’s wounds, darkness. 

But don’t be afraid. Don’t be afraid of the darkness. Darkness isn’t exactly what we’ve made it to be. It serves a purpose. 

I saw an image of a campfire. In the day, it is there. But in the night, it glows extravagantly. The dark exemplifies the light. Contrast. 

Don’t be afraid of the darkness. Don’t be afraid. It is good to not be afraid. 

Then it happened. 

There in the land between dream and reality. Spirit and mind and body. God was asking me, in the quietness. To give him all. Let go of control over my life. Over my safety.

I felt hot unsure. If I went with him there, would that not be like a death to myself? 

My gut: I couldn’t die. I was not ready to die. 

No. God. I am not ready. I told heaven. I can’t go there with you. I have to live. I want to stay here. 

I told God “no”.

But why? I couldn’t trust. Couldn’t step out on a limb that God was a trustworthy God. Trustworthy to keep me safe and hold all my baggage and my heart so tenderly.

That spring in Thailand, I had a falling out. Falling out of life, hope, truth, reality, joy. It felt like I was a girl of sand. And someone came and took a fire hydrant and well… everything got scattered. Nothing about life was firm or secure anymore. 

I wondered why it felt like God was a centimeters away, yet silent. Why he heard my prayers, listened to my cries of hopelessness and despair, and his face was calm. Placid. Smooth. A father’s face.

For a while, I stopped believing God had a face. Or rather that his face was just blank. Like the hangman version before anything else gets drawn on. No eyes. No nose. No mouth. Maybe he had ears. Maybe he had a heart, too. But my prayers certainly didn’t move it. 

It was hopeless. It was futile. It was meaningless. Empty. Shell of reality.

And in the deepest part of the spiral, when I was most vulnerable and ravaged I heard a dark whisper—“This is not real. What you see around you is not real.”

My heart caved in. 

For two years, I believed those were demon words—this is not real. What you see right now is not real—broke me in pieces. 

I started questioning everything I saw, felt, heard. Was that real? Or was that a figment of my imagination? 

I would look down at my arms right in front of me. And wonder if they were me. Wonder if they belonged to me. If I was part of this body. If this body was part of me. Who was I? Was this body real? Was I real? How could I know? What real was?

That’s the reality I lived in for far too long. Questions, doubts, and skepticism. It became me. It overcame me. I wanted control. But I gave that control over my fears and doubts. 

Gradually, gradually, I started to see the light of surrender. If I could surrender. If I could trust him. If I could live in alignment with a reality beyond my hopelessness, my darkness, my disorientation. 

If I could do something to trust. I would find a trustworthy, faithful, true God who was loving me and ready to hold me. That would be my new reality. Would it work? 

Well, where else would I go, if not to light?

What I’m learning is God must be real. There must be spring. There must be more beyond my winter. More beyond my broken brain. I used to think my baggage was it. I put on my inky jacket of death every day because that was what I could see. That ice cold cloak when the lava rose too high.

I’m laying down the baggage. Hanging up my garments of heaviness, darkness, sorrow. My abuse is not my name. My family, my history no longer defines me, because… I AM NOT THE END. There is more beyond me. There is goodness beyond me. 

To become alive to reality, you must release everything else. 

Die to the old life. 

Like baptism. February 19, 2023, I stepped in. The water was cold. Shiveringly, shockingly, perfectly cold. All I remember was plugging my nose and my pastor holding my clutched hand and dipping me under—and right at the last second I grasped at one last hasty breath of air to last me through the night into death. 

I was a white flag of surrender waving, whipping in the current. I’m done. It’s over. I give up. I want love. I want you. My world isn’t good enough without you.

I had to give God everything. Every part of myself. I had to show him I loved him best of all and receive his love all over me. I wanted to see HIM. To see HIS reality. His love. My belovedness. And goodness. And light. And angels. 

So I leaned back. I laid myself down in that bed in the water. 

I could have never come up. There certainly have been times that I have wished to be swept away by the sea and never return. But that didn’t matter anymore. What mattered was the kiss. I leaned in, my lips pressed into the surface of the deep. I was kissing heaven.

That day, the day of my baptism. The day of exhaling all one hundred percent old to break out, rise above. There was no explosion, no mess, no fractures. Except everything about reality tore as I came up. I came up and the distorted pieces shattered and fell from my eyes, and I had new eyes. I came up and heaven was kissing me. I came up and I could see.

And what did I see? 

In losing control, my brokenness fell from my vision. Joy swept over me and filled the room. I saw heaven on earth.

I had been praying to see angels. Especially that day. Standing there, I saw angels everywhere. Not the mystical faces or the ethereal brightness or heavenly splendor with wings. That will be an awesome sight. But when I say I saw angels—I saw a spirit of goodness, love, power, hunger, care. I saw it all around me. I saw the spirit of light, belief, and love living and moving in and through my friends. They surrounded me, they were holding me, supporting me. 

I saw God’s love. Turning every dead part of me to life. Redeeming what was lost. Making it new. Making it safe, trustworthy, loving, good, pure. 

I was seeing the face of God. And he was full, and sweet, and trustworthy.

So this is what I found.

When you give your whole life to God. The wounds, baggage, hurt, heartbreak. The way you see reality. And when you release it to him. And let him have it all. And it changes you. 

You’re insatiable. You want to get every part of you under that healing waterfall of heaven crashing down. Give it all away. Keep surrendering more and more and more. It’s not easy. It’s the opposite. But once you’ve tasted the goodness of this divine redemption. Your thirst cannot be quenched. And, you can’t keep that belovedness to yourself. 

I took a step out to love God.

And now, I love him. Does that make sense? It was an act of sacrifice and surrender first. And now, I truly see.

Jesus, my love. Lover. Wild, extravagant, foolish lover. He’s the one who died first. He made the way for surrender. He showed us how to relinquish hold on our lives and very reality to make way for a different, other life. Wow, what a lover he is. That he would show us how—lay it all down. Take up the cross. Kiss his own life goodbye. Shepherd us into how. 

That’s what I want to do. To love beyond my means. Holy Spirit—movement in the other way. A new direction. A different turn. A turn toward healing. It looks like giving over everything to the source of goodness and life itself. A relinquishing. I know this path of healing isn’t just for me. I’m the fool, too, the lover fool. The one who must do the ridiculous to invite fresh truth in, fresh light in, fresh healing. Because we’re all in this. Breaking free from all that cold icy darkness of our woundedness. Welcome in new, everlasting life.

I’m in. It’s my new reality. This one of love. And I’m becoming more real in it. Wow.

I’m running wild like a fool through love. LET’S GO? It’s my heart behind discipleship. Restorative, communal practices together. Breaking free together. It’s a missional lifestyle. For me, that next step looks like learning. I’m doing a Discipleship Training School with Youth With A Mission. If you want to come on this journey with me—pray, get updates, hold up my hands in the battle, fill out the contact form. Or text me. Whatever. I want you. I want you here with me.

You are beloved, my friend, and your life is beautiful.

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