Pain Redemeed



Life fascinates me. It's this treacherously cruel world highlighted with too-good-to-be-true events. We find ourselves struggling to breath through the agony only to find ourselves on fast forward to a new year and suddenly we're in a moment of grand celebration.

See that photograph? He was dying and the doctors couldn't figure it out until it was almost too late.  She lost her two best friends in one year because life took a tragic turn and sent them all on separate journeys. He got fired from a company where he worked overtime to be a good employee simply because they where downsizing.

See that photograph? He graduated high school at sixteen because he is that brilliant and determined. She was promoted to a directorship at a multi-million dollar organization before the age of 25 because sometimes crazy stuff happens. He found his life dream before finishing high school and has made more progress towards achieving it than some people will make in their entire lifetime.

How? Why? And can't we just have the good without the bad? I don't think so. That would be like eating chocolate minus the bitter coca bean and then all we would have is sugar mixed with fat and no one would call that chocolate.

"What's the point of having blood with no veins?
What's the point of having love with no pain?"
-NF

I would never condone all the evil in the world as secretly good. I would say in the words of Jonathan Brush that, "All the pain will be redeemed." I would say that somehow the bitter of life seems to brighten the sweetness that is mixed in. I would say it is a curious thing to think that in the agony of the cross, redemption for all mankind was born.  Perhaps, somehow, that truth is reflected in the debilitating pain of our lives that so harmoniously mingles itself into the beautiful melody of our reality.

How to Live with Unmet Expectations



I never yell. I was yelling. I hated to cry. I was sobbing. I felt so hurt and angry. I felt trapped by circumstances. I wanted my mom to step in with some incredibly supportive sentiments and instead she had some concerns to share. I felt so alone. It wasn't my mom or I's best moment. My first year at college coupled with constantly working plus dealing with an awkward guy relationship were taking its toll. Two years earlier though, I probably would have given a lot to be in that tense moment.

I walked around the corner and I knew. I knew that when the nurse looked up at me one shake of his head would be the answer to whether my whole world had just changed in one moment. "She's dead," I thought. In a matter of seconds, the long-term illness my mother was diagnosed with eight years earlier had rendered her deaf and blind. Did it have to take her life too? He looked up and started talking about her pulse. "She's not dead," I realized. Relief hit me but not a satisfying relief. It was more like the crack of a whip that told you the race was still going - the long days filled with worry were still stretching out in front of you. Her vision and hearing came back but it would be months before my mother came back.

Perspective and expectations can wage an ugly war. I've never forgotten the years before we found a new doctor. The years where my mother almost died six times before my eighteenth birthday. Despite living with an usual awareness of the nearness of death, I still had expectations. When she began to recover, I was growing up and moving on. I had expectations of the advice she would (and wouldn't) give. Sometimes expectations need to be tamed by perspective.

Every expectation feels reasonable to the person who has it. Lots of expectations are legitimate. Not all expectations are realistic. How do we live in a world of unmet expectations? Grace.

"What causes fights and quarrels among you? 
Don't they come from your desires that battle within you? 
You desire but do not have." 
James 4:1-2

Grace is the perspective that tames the war of expectations. Humility is the perspective that quiets the battle of expectations. I don't know what your unmet expectations are. Maybe your father left you feeling perpetually "not quite good enough". Maybe your friends where never really "that into you" like you had hoped. Maybe that guy just "won't commit" despite what you know you deserve. I've been there. I still like to hangout there more often than I'd like to admit. Can we join hands on a journey though, to dropping expectations in an effort to live free? Free from the war of our own desires. Free to love unconditionally. Free to let others be themselves without it dictating who we are.

My mother and I aren't perfect. Our relationship isn't perfect. It's better though. Better because I said I was sorry and she was far more understanding about everything than I originally gave her credit for. It's better because we've adjusted our expectations. It will continue to get better because despite the perspective I've always had that life is short, I am now learning that the most influential perspective is a grace filled one.


How to "Get the Guy"



I was curious to hear their conversation. We were women of all ages and the discussion was on guys and relationships. The youngest of us was in our twenties and the eldest in her fifties. As I listened, they covered the usual bases and swapped guy tales when out of the blue one of them looked right at me and said, "Now you, Moriah, need to be careful that you don't pass a good guy by." I was taken back a bit. She did not know me that well. She knew I had standards. She knew I did not date much but where was this coming from?

~~~

"He is your perfect opportunity to settle," my friend was shooting straight with me that night. I knew she was right. Mr. Charming had made an appearance with some vague gestures of interest. I was intrigued. It was a classic case of liking the cute guy but knowing he wasn't good for you.

~~~

Have standards but not too many standards. Give him a chance but not too much of a chance. Be the nice girl but not too nice. Don't play hard to get but don't play cheap. . . the rules never end and if they do the opinions of others certainly don't. How in the world is a girl to navigate the endless advice? We want to know what out of it all is actually good advice. Scratch that, we really only have time to try and remember the best advice. Maybe in the end though we do not need more advice on how to "get the guy".

I've spent far too much time worrying about how to make the perfect impression on this or that guy who didn't even notice there was an impression he was supposed to be picking up on. I've seen far too many girls completely morph into different creatures just to be with a guy who said they were pretty and that he wanted to be with them. Maybe sometimes we get the whole thing wrong. We worry and we plan and in the meantime, we completely forget that life is a beautiful thing that is meant to be lived. We forget that God doesn't need our help to make His dreams for us come true. We forget that life is so much bigger than whether or not our relationship status is accurately reflected in one of Facebook's eleven options. We forget that life isn't about finding the perfect combination of rules that will set us on the path to success. Life is about living and the only real living that ever gets done is when each moment is seen as a gift from God to be given back to Him.

Your life isn't about that guy or following Aunt Whoever's advice to get that guy. Your life is about Jesus.

When We Brake



"I'm honored to be the one that hurts when they're gone." 

The words came to me from the past. Written in my journal they were now facing me in the present. I remembered the pain so well, that gentle ache hidden deep within while I worked hard at life and smiled brightly at people. I'll never forget the moment when I whispered a prayer on my way to work, "God this hurts SO much. I miss them SO much." Just as soon as I said it I was startled with the thought that I had to miss them this much if I were to have loved them that much. And isn't loving others the point?

"I want to know all my giving makes a difference." 

They were more words from another old journal entry. Maybe I had not realized it then but as I read these words now I smiled to know that difference making is something we cannot measure. Some of us will spend our whole lives planting seeds that other people will reap. We will plant a crop that we will never get to see. We will ache over dry ground hiding life beneath it.

Some of us are called to a life of aching for a broken world. Some of us are called to a season of hurting for others. Some of us will face a moment of pain on behalf of another. Wherever you are, take comfort in the fact that Jesus himself gave his very life because of a brokenness too great to be healed by any other means. If we break even a little bit, we are just beginning to catch a glimpse of the Gospel's glory.

Tired of "Pretty"



I must have been less than ten years old when it first hurt me - being called pretty. People where always commenting about my eyes and my complexion. To me, they where just the eyes and skin of any other Latin-American girl but then they started feeling like the only good thing I possessed.

I remember crying with hurt and anger. I never let anyone see me cry as a child but my mother saw these tears. "I want people to say something about who I am! I feel like all I am is pretty. I don't want to be pretty!" Did anyone know or appreciate my values? Did anyone care about my sense of humor? Did any of it matter to them or was I simply valued as a nice thing to see as they passed me on the sidewalk? I even remember hiding behind a friend once when a lady made a bold remark about how unique my eyes where. I did not want to be noticed.

I am not writing this post so we can vote on whether or not I was actually worth getting complimented. I am writing this post for every girl who has ever been where I was. I am writing it because I know I am not the only girl who has been terrified that the only thing people will ever see is whether or not she is pretty.

The truth is that you are beautiful but when you are tired of being noticed for your smile, or your hair, or your eyes remember this - man looks on the outward appearance but the Lord looks on the heart. The truth that you are beautiful does not change the truth that you are also funny, smart, kind, and full of passion and conviction. When people take time to express what they appreciate about you (even if it is not what you wanted them to appreciate), be grateful. Be so brave that what they say does not change you. Remember that the One whose opinion does matter absolutely values every aspect of who you are and let that be enough because in the end, it is.

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Photo credit: Stephanie Faith Photography: http://stephaniehanni.wixsite.com/stephaniefaith

Speak Life



It took two extra seconds for me to say it - something kind. It meant more to her than I could have imagined. Her overwhelming gratitude reminded me of how important it is to speak words of life and kindness.

I forgot how important it was to say thank you for the little things. I forgot how powerful it was to point out the strength of another. I forgot how meaningful it was to cheer one another on in our dreams. I was busy with MY life, chasing MY dreams. I was exhausted from working MY jobs and earning MY degree. I was overwhelmed by MY problems. I had forgotten just how badly that one person I always passed in the hallway of my daily living needed me to speak life into their soul.

Maybe we cannot all be headline heroes
but we can all be foxhole cheerleaders.

We can be the one person who says they can when everyone else says they can't. We can be the one person who sees strength in their weakness and beauty in their mess. I want to be that person - the one who sees what others don't. More importantly, I want to be the person who does something about it. I want to be the one to remind them of who they are in Christ and what that means for them.

To the girl who reminded me how important it was to speak life into one another's souls, thank you. Maybe you needed my appreciation but your gratitude was a wake-up call I did not know I needed.


*photo from the lovely Amy K

Comfort


My website has this nifty little gadget where I can view what posts are most popular with you my readers. I have been blogging for four years now but it is this post from February that has landed amongst your favorites.

Today I am sharing it again. It is comfort for the days when hard truths are hard.

http://www.moriahmari.com/2017/02/when-hard-truths-are-hard.



Life Is Not "Perfect"


I wanted to say something but I did not know how. If I scrolled through my Facebook timeline, I looked like a beacon of practically perfect idealism in the flesh. I knew my life was not as smooth sailing and joy filled as social media made it appear. I did not want to be the girl who thought the internet was her personal therapy session either though. That is when I stumbled across words I had penned a year earlier. "I believe in tears," the paragraph began. These were the words I had been looking for. I do believe in tears. I believe in exhaustion that fights through bad to find better. I believe in grief that shakes the soul because it knows something truly beautiful has been lost. I believe in bad days and the good that is waiting for us in them. I believe that sometimes in the pain we forget about the mercy hiding in it for us. We start to feel ourselves drowning. I believe that sometimes we have to feel the burn that comes from a lack of air before we will fight to stay above the water. I believe that despite the tears, grief, pain, and stress that we face there will always be hope. That is what the brave words and smiling photographs are about.

My life is not perfect and no one needs to believe that it is. I do not have it all together and I probably never will. Words and photographs though, they are my way of preaching hope and capturing joy for myself and others. We do life in a truly beautiful world governed by a good and merciful God and that is a truth worth proclaiming. Never think you are the only one with bad days. Do know you can have the same hope that others possess in the midst of their own personal tragedies.

Yes, I believe in pain but I also bear witness to brave smiles, courageous faith, and determined hope.

What She Taught Me About Friendship


We are crazy together. Unapologetically crazy (which is saying a lot because I have never been the crazy girl). We call ourselves wonder twins. She has taught me so much about embracing every aspect of the personality God  has given me. She has taught me that I do not need to hid my quirks. We are both dreamers. We love to scheme together, weather it be about writing a devotional or playing a prank. We might both bring tissues to a conversation (because it has just been that kind of day) but without fail we will end up laughing. She is the kind of friend you can do a tough workout with where you sweat like crazy or call for fashion advice before meeting up to attend a wedding together. She is the kind of friend you can call anytime with what is on your heart and she will want to be there for you. She is the kind of friend who makes you understand what having a friend is. We need more of that.

We are lonely generation carving out connection in a cyber world. We have seven hundred friends showing up on our Facebook feed hoping one of them will create community with us. We swipe right one too many times trying to uncover love. We hope and hope only to spiral into depression and jump off of the bridge of friendship because we are sure it holds nothing for us.  We are lonely but it does not have to stay that way.

She did not ask me to be her friend she just acted like a friend. She told me about her life and let me tell her about mine. Is she a perfect friend? No, but neither am I. The thing is we are not waiting for each other to be perfect we are just grateful that the other person is there.

So be there. Be there for the million insignificant things. Be there, because in the end being there is the biggest thing.

"Two are better than one, Because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who calls and has no one to help them up."
- Ecclesiastes 4:9-10


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