Leaning into Grief

I don’t mind the quietness at night. It slowly eeks in and fills my mind with questions only God knows the answer to. Grief is an interesting beast.

I was at an icecream place tonight back home in Raleigh, and all I wanted to do was stair at that empty chair across from me. I kept my head down and ate my icecream, and I suppose the only thing that kept my already watery eyes from crying was the fact I didn’t want to make a scene.

I’m 22. Another 22 years and I’ll be 44. Life zooms by. Some days I wish I could go back to being a kid again. The thing is- I’ll always be the same kid deep down. I’ll always relish the idea of having a dad, and I think there will always be a part of me who will wonder what life would be like if my dad was still around.

As I walk outside, Christmas music softly hits my eardrums.

“I’ll be home for Christmas.”

You’re already home, dad.

I’m the one who still gets to journey on in this adventure. I’m not sure exactly how yet, but I refuse to think this period of mourning and depression is all in vain.

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Lover: A Swift Love Affair or a Steady Romance?

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This is an in-depth review of each Taylor Swift song off of her new album “Lover.” We believe this review offers a unique perspective, as we are both college aged millennials. Thus, it is safe to assume that we are Taylor Swift’s prime audience. Below is an in depth analysis of each song. I, Brooks, will be tackling the first nine songs and Olivia will be tackling the last nine. In the end, we will both be responsible for giving it a score of 1-10. Please Note: We are already somewhat biased to Taylor Swift. However, this review will attempt to be as objective as possible..

The Songs:

“1. I Forgot That You Existed.   

“I forgot that you existed, and I thought that it would kill me but it didn’t..”

I enjoyed this song immensely. I think we all can relate to forgetting about somebody due to anger or other extenuating circumstances.  Like how often do we let other “stuff” get in the way of people? The key message here seems to be one of kindness and respect. There are moments in life that seemingly can make or break one’s character. Dang, we should all @Drake because this song gets me all in my feelings.

2.  “Cruel Summer”

“Fever dream high, quiet in the night.. You know that I caught it.”

I’m getting Rihanna type vibes here. It was a cruel and unbearable summer for Taylor without her lover. It is almost as if she is comparing love to a virus of some sort. “Your love is my drug?” vibes here anyone? Also, some serious “Teardrop on my Guitar vibes.” Here as well. Except this time she seems to have a pretty good fit on who her “Drew” is.

3. “Lover”

“We can can leave the Christmas lights up to January… can I go where you go?”

My God. What a beautiful song. “You’re my… lover?” T-Swift has finally found a lover? Woah.  Mary’s Song and You Belong with Me have finally come true for Ms.(?) Swift. She’s reached a new cornerstone here- a cornerstone that seemingly won’t crumble anytime soon. 

4. “The Man”

“Cause if I was a man, then I’d be THE man.

Bold, confident, and unrelenting. T-Swift exposes the hypocrisy and double standard that women in the workplace face on a daily basis. 10/10

Somebody needs to blare this near @realdonaldtrump

Feminist power move.

5. “The Archer”

“I’ve been the archer – I’ve been the prey – who could ever leave me darling, but who could stay?” 

A moment of gravity and boldness for Taylor – she seems to be expressing the kind of self doubt and  raw emotion that has made her music such a hit. Raw, bold, and unrelenting, “The Archer” finds Taylor at her rawest and most honest.

6. “I Think He Knows”

“He’s got that boyish look I like in a man.”

I’m an architect, I’m drawing up

the plans, it’s like I’m 17 nobody understands.”

Dang. T-Swift knows who she’s into.

She feels 17 again with this man. OMGG!!! I’m so happy for her here. “I’m an architect, I’m drawing up the plans..” wow. WOWWW.

All the feels here!!!!!!

7. Miss Americana & The Heartbreak Prince

“American glory, faded before me, Now I’m feeling hopeless,ripped up my prom dress Running through rose thorns- I saw the scoreboard and ran for my life.”

Fame was enough for Taylor. She’s done with it. She’s come to a place where she doesn’t care what other people say. She’s found her “Heartbreak Prince.”

Oh Dang. Good for Her.

8. Paper Rings

“The moon is high, like your friends were the night we met.

Went home and tried to stalk you on the internet.”

Dang. Seems like Taylor almost admits to cyberstalking here- but then she takes a step back and is like hey, I’m done trying to find out more about this person on the World Wide Web. Let’s meet up for coffee or something? Idk what exactly her thought process was here but it’s pretty universal. I mean seriously, when’s the last time you haven’t added somebody on Snapchat,

Instagram, or any of that and then become extra paranoid you’re like dang… this person is too good for me? I assure you- I have gross habits as well.

My grossest? Eating whole hotdog packets late at night. What can I say? I’m a growing man..

Olivia… take it away here..

9. Cornelia Street

This song rips my heart out!!!! It’s really not even that sad, but this is exactly what goes through my mind whenever I am like in a relationship (which is never lol) or like “talking” to someone or whatever. It sucks when you associate memories with people that you don’t end up with or something because in many cases, those memories in themselves are good! Also I relate to Taylor when she says

 “Back when we were card sharks, playing games

I thought you were leading me on

I packed my bags, left Cornelia Street

Before you even knew I was gone”

Because I feel like that is how I handle my “relationships”– we love being paranoid! Also this reminds me of that one line from “I Did Something Bad”: “You gotta leave before you get left.” like okay T Swift just @ me next time! 

Favorite lyric: Windows flung right open, autumn air jacket ’round my shoulders is yours. We bless the rains on Cornelia Street, memorize the creaks in the floor”

10. “Death By A Thousand Cuts”
This song was interesting for me because it is basically the complete opposite of “I Forgot That You Existed” and I love it. It’s so sweet and sad and it’s exactly how you feel when you lose a relationship that you really care about (even a friendship). This has classic T Swift vibes (kind of Red-ish, maybe some Speak Now or 1989 mixed in?) and I appreciate this song because the rest of the album is about finding your true love and stuff. Side note, is “And what once was ours is no one’s now” a reference to “Ours” from Speak Now? I think yes. 

Favorite lyric: “You said it was a great love, one for the ages, but if the story’s over, why am I still writing pages?”

11. “London Boy”

I’m just gonna say it– I love this song because it reminds me of Harry Styles. Do I hate myself? For sure. But, “I saw the dimples first and then I heard the accent,” just SCREAMS Harry Styles. You can fight me on this, but I stand by it. This is a great song for Americans because I feel like it fits in everything we think about England but there has definitely been some roasting on Twitter by some Brits. It’s so catchy and fun and exotic and honestly I think anyone that went through a One Direction phase would love this song. We get it, T Swift, you’re dating a nice British man and you love him and his accent and England. This song is so clever and cute and if she made a music video for it I would watch it 500 times. 

Favorite lyric: “They say home is where the heart is, but that’s not where mine lives” but also “They say home is where the heart is, God I love the English.”

12. “Soon You’ll Get Better” (ft. Dixie Chicks)

I really haven’t listened to this song very much because it makes me sad. I am a wimp. I get major “Ronan” and “Safe and Sound” T Swift vibes with this one (especially bc the Dixie Chicks are in it). It is really a beautiful song that shows the pain that she had to go through with her mom’s cancer treatment and recovery and her talent as a songwriter as well as her vulnerability makes this song so personal and beautiful and raw and truthful. 

Favorite lyric: “desperate people find faith, so now I pray to Jesus too”

13. “False God”

SAXOPHONE. Ok, but actually I kind of feel like a heathen for listening to this song (and loving it). I get “Dress” vibes from this song probably because it is about sex but like… oof. I wish I could say I hate this song, but alas, it is quickly becoming one of my favorites on the album. The chorus is so smooth and catchy and when paired with the saxophone??? Wow. I kind of feel the same way about this song as I do with “Take Me to Church” by Hozier. The passion in the song is so prominent and it really is just a nice sexy song that makes you say “yeah okay the old T Swift really is dead but also I’m here for it.” 

Favorite Lyric: “But we might just get away with it, religion’s in your lips even if it’s a false god”

14. You Need To Calm Down

A bop. I love this song, and I am not ashamed. This song rocks, for real. I always love Taylor’s songs to her haters, they are always so dang empowering??? The music video for this song slaps as well (the Queer Eye cast said hello), and I laughed at the part with the Westboro-Baptist-esque crowd. This is a great tune for when you need to gas yourself up or just want to have a feel-good moment. Also, with all the hate being spread on Twitter this song is just refreshing. It puts a lot of frustrations with stuff happening in the world in a catchy summer bop, and I’m here for it.

Favorite Lyric: “You just need to take several seats and then try to restore the peace and control your urges to scream about all the people you hate. ‘Cause shade never made anybody less gay”

15. “Afterglow”

This song resonates with me. A classic story of self-sabotage. Her vulnerability of discussing her worries of the relationship crumbling makes this song so so good. She recognizes that most of the things that are worrying her are actually just in her head, but they end up happening irl. The bridge of the song: 

“Tell me that you’re still mine

Tell me that we’ll be just fine

Even when I lose my mind

I need to say

Tell me that it’s not my fault

Tell me that I’m all you want

Even when I break your heart”

is 100% my favorite part of the song– sometimes you just need someone to comfort you when you’re being crazy and irrational and self-destructive!!!!!

 Favorite Lyric: see above excerpt

16. “ME!” (feat. Brandon Urie of Panic! At the Disco)

This song drew some criticism when it first came out, and rightfully so. This song is the weakest on the album (lyrically) but HELLO this song is a bop. The inclusion of Brendon Urie made this song 100x better, and overall it was a nice summer jam. Also, in the album version of the song, Swift took out the “hey kids, spelling is fun!” line which also improved the quality of the catchy song. Honestly, this was a good choice as the first single and the music video goes unmatched. I mean, she got a new kitten from it!!! 

Favorite Lyric: “And when we had that fight out in the rain you ran after me and called my name. I never wanna see you walk away” bc this gives me “Mine” flashbacks

17. “It’s Nice to Have A Friend”

Ok, so this song is not one of my faves. It is quite short (only 2:30), however, it does tell a sweet story of a classic romance. The song begins with Taylor and her friend in grade school doing cute friend things, then progresses to the teenage years where there ~might~ be more than purely friendly feelings between the duo. The song concludes with the marriage of the two friends (predictable), and they live happily ever after. The progression of the relationship in the story reminds me of “Mary’s Song” from Taylor’s debut album, and also emphasizes the importance of your partner being your best friend.

Favorite Lyric: “Light pink sky, up on the roof.  Sun sinks down, no curfew. 20 questions, we tell the truth. You’ve been stressed out lately, yeah, me too. Something gave you the nerve to touch my hand. It’s nice to have a friend.”

18. “Daylight”

Straight up, this song is the perfect way to end the album. Taylor addresses her path to find true love– “I’ve been sleeping so long in a 20-year dark night”– and how what she thought love was like is completely different than what she imagined: “I once believed love would be burning red” (Hello “Red” reference???). This song truly concludes “Lover” in a beautiful and hopeful way; Swift has found her soulmate and doesn’t want to look at or think about anyone else other than Joe. The haters can no longer focus on Taylor’s unstable love life. Roll tide to that, and roll tide to “Lover.”

Favorite Lyric: “My love was as cruel as the cities I lived in; everyone looked worse in the light. There are so many lines that I’ve crossed unforgiven. I’ll tell you the truth, but never goodbye.”

Conclusion:

Brooks: Masterpiece. A stunning progression from Taylor’s songs about teenage heartbreak and turmoil. Personally, I’d like to thank Taylor for giving us a firsthand account of the mix of

 emotions when it comes to love and heartbreak. This album really isn’t an album  for Taylor- it’s a testament to her growth and beauty as a person.

Thanks for being raw and honest, Taylor.

Hopefully I’ll see you on the next tour.  100/100

Would and definitely will listen to this again.

 

Olivia: I loved this album. Straight up. I am giving it a solid 95/100, though, because i’m not quite sure if it tops RED or 1989. Those two have my heart forever.

 

***total score====== 97.5% out of 100%.

About the Reviewers:

Brooks: I’m a junior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill! When I’m not in class or studying, I love to read, write, and listen to all things Taylor Swift.

GO HEELS!

3 interesting facts about me:

  • I have three dogs- Lucky, George, and a new addition- Winston. . They’re kinda strange sometimes,but they’re so cute, and I love their little expressions and how they interact with each other.
  • I have a twin brother.
  • I went to the Reputation tour last year and was blown away!

 

Olivia:

Olivia: I’m a senior at the University of Alabama (ROLL TIDE ROLL) and I love all things having to do with microbiology 🙂 I’m always down for a good road trip, especially if the final destination is a concert of some sort.

3 interesting facts about me:

  • I have the same birthday as Beyoncé
  • Tennessee is my favorite state and anyone who doesn’t think it’s the best state in the country is wrong 
  • Roll tide?

 

The Ivory Tower

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When I first started Broughton High school in 2012, I was cautiously optimistic. My dad had just died the summer before, so it was an interesting time for me to say the least.

I went to private school for seventh and eighth grade, and I guess I wanted a change from the closed off world of fancy things and materialism.

Little did I know, I’d be swapping one bubble for a new one.

My first class freshman year was Common Core 1 with Mrs. Stewart. I remember this because I think about how nice and warm she was when the whole class was completely dysfunctional and in a constant state of disarray.

Everyday, there would be a new behavioral issue or some non-class related thing she had to deal with.

Still, Mrs. Stewart came in prepared each day to teach and with a seemingly inexplicable dose of enthusiasm.

I, being the quiet one who mostly listens and only speaks when called- remember feeling acutely aware of the weird social dichotomy at Broughton. You had kids driving G-Wagons and new luxury cars, while others showed up to school in their pajamas and waited on the bus to get there. I always had a major issue waking up at 7:25. I just wonder how much tougher it would be waking up at 5:30 to go to a place like I experienced.

To be clear, I don’t hate Broughton. I don’t. I don’t hate anyone or anything except Duke.

Anyways, fast forward to sophomore year and a whole other can of worms was opened for me in the area of girls and gossip. Now, again, I’m not one to say anything or talk behind anyone’s back. I remember feeling acutely aware of how I felt.

For instance, I saw this one girl who I wanted to go out with and who happened to be volunteering at the same elementary school I was with the YMCA. I sent her a text. A few hours later, I go on social media and see one of her friends tweet,” praying for you and your hard decision today.” Instantly, I knew she was referring to me.

Although, to be quite honest, I’m glad she never said yes.

The day after, I was sitting in class and the tweeter and her friend have the audacity to ask me for my vote on the student council.

I simply say I don’t feel like voting and put my head on my desk.

Sorry, but I don’t think you won that election, and I’m glad you didn’t. High school elections are a joke anyways. It’s merely a popularity contest and something someone can put on a transcript to impress colleges.

Anyways, fast forward to junior year and I’ve had enough of it. I’m anxious, depressed, and at my wits end. I tell people I have a headache. I have no headache. I simply don’t want to go back in that toxic environment.

I medically withdraw.

I spent two years in deep depression and hurt after I left Broughton. I even contemplated suicide.

I would later earn a GED and spend three semesters at Wake Tech.

However, I am so thankful I’m still here and have the opportunity to study at the school of my dreams.

Are you going through something or need someone to talk to?

Reach out!

Freshman year me.

Holidays and Memories Past.

Yesterday, we celebrated Easter and Christ’s resurrection from the grave.

I love Easter and cannot put into words how grateful I am for my Savior’s sacrifice and His conquering of death.

However, Easter and other holidays often represent a silent challenge for me.

Having experienced the loss of my dad at fifteen, it is often times difficult for me around the holidays.

Yesterday, as I heard laughter  coming from the multitude of joyous kids and their Easter egg hunt, I smiled.

I also struggled to hold my composure.

When I was in Kindergarten, my dad had a massive stroke.

The stroke left my dad paralyzed on his whole left side, and with significant brain injury.

My dad would never be the same person after the stroke.

He ended up moving to Tennessee to be with my grandparent’s and to get the care he needed.

I have the vaguest of memories of the person my dad was before his stroke.

Afterwards, my only contact with him would be through the short visits and brief phone calls I had with him.

Growing up without a dad has been difficult, and losing him at 15 was the toughest thing I ever had to endure.

I often wonder, what would my life look like with him still in the picture?

There isn’t a day that goes by where I am not reminded of my dad’s absence.

There is a dangerous misconception in our society that real men don’t cry or show emotion.

I can tell you firsthand however, crying and grieving are not signs of weakness.

They are signs of strength and healing.

There are days where if I could not cry over my dad, I would not know what to do.

I take comfort in knowing that my dad now has a new body.

I take comfort in knowing that my dad suffers no more pain.

I take comfort in knowing that one day, I will see him again.

And on that day, we will finally be able to make our long awaited embrace.

On that day, there will be no more tears or sorrow.

There will be hugs.

There will be laughter.

There will be long conversations.

And as Easter and other holidays come along, we will joyously celebrate.

Together.

Reunited.

As father and son.

Until that day, I press on.

Until that day, I endure.

Waiting for that one day, where I won’t have to anymore.

 

 

 

 

The Prodigal Son (I See the Light).

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“But among you there be no hint of sexual immorality or any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. 4Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. 5 For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. a 6Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. 7Therefore do not be partners with them.

Below is the continuation of my journey towards Providence and Light.

8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light 9(for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) 10and find out what pleases the Lord. 11 Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. 13 But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. 14 This is why it is said:

“Wake up, sleeper,

rise from the dead,

and Christ will shine on you.”

15Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. 18Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, 19speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, 20always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” -Ephesians 5 1:15

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As mentioned in the previous installment of “The Prodigal Son,” my journey towards the full blown realization that Christianity wasn’t some great moral thing that good people follow but the truth itself was very slow and methodical. I held out on Christianity not because Christ held out on me, but because I held out on Him. He was always there. I was merely the one who drifted further and further away from Him.

This summer, I had the opportunity to go on The Pacific Coast Highway with one of my best friends. It was beautiful and awe-inspiring and I can only hope to go on that road once again. Maybe in the future with… my wife? Sorry, Mihaly, but I’ve reached the stage where I’d like to get a girlfriend and start thinking about the future. There can be bros only trips though.

Anyways, I was struck by the beauty of the place. I had been there once before, but this time was different. I was seriously inspired.

Fast forward to the fall and move-in date quickly approaching, I knew deep down there were things I wanted to be more intentional about. Last year at Carolina I followed the crowd too-often. I told myself that this was what college was about.

However, when I look outside my window and am surrounded by freshman- mere kids fresh out of high school, I am reminded that I can either contribute to the brokenness or be a light to those who are questioning who they are and what they want to be.

I don’t want to leave a trail of broken hearts and shattered expectations anymore. I was lost, but now I’m found. I was blind, but now I see.

I kicked, screamed, and latched myself onto the things of this world- only to come up sorely disappointed and broken.

I was merely going in circles expecting to somehow find belonging eventually.

But, eventually, one gets sick of searching.

The great thing is that there’s no need to search anymore.

He’s there.

Will you listen to Him?

I Saw The Light (Mason Ramsey)

What Grief Does

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It’s occurred to me over time that grief is one of the most universal experiences one can endure, yet it is also the most misunderstood. They say grief is the price to pay for having loved someone, but I suppose some days the price seems unbearable. It is on the unbearable days where one has a fundamental choice to make: do I let the grief consume me or do I try my best to move on and lean into Christ and the promises He makes? We often like to refer to grief concerning someone dying, but I don’t think death is the only thing one can grieve over. The loss of something, whether it be a friendship, relationship, or marriage, is all something one can and should grieve over. Now, of course, the intensity of this grief may vary depending on the relationship dynamic and other factors, but I find it ludicrous to believe that we should simply move on and get over it. Now, you do have to move on to an extent- but let’s be clear here, there’s only one of that person for which you are grieving over. There’s only one laugh. There’s only one smile. There’s only one distinct way someone looks at you.

This whole notion that real men can’t cry or show emotion is not only wrong- it’s toxic. It’s when somebody tries to keep it buried inside and deep within them that more significant issues come out. Now, there’s only so much people share with you on a daily basis. There’s only so much someone is willing to say- especially to a stranger. But I think the mere presence someone brings- the mere ability to simply be there- is often a bigger gift than we realize.

This whole week has been emotionally draining on me. To sit here and try and act like everything is perfectly fine would be a blatant lie and disservice. However, nothing is ever going to be completely fine. This world is a broken place. I don’t need to spend a lot of time elaborating on that. It’s when we put ourselves in bubbles to try and lessen the brokenness that we often become more broken. The only answer to anyone’s brokenness is Jesus.

The Christian who comes across as perfect is deeply mistaken as to what He or She believes in. Or, at the very least, he or she is concealing a hurt that hasn’t been fully handed over to the author and maker of our souls.

We can try all we want to be flawless. We can try all we want to be perfect. But in the end, we all come across way short.

It’s funny- I think grief is one of those words that gets used, similar to “love,” that people have absolutely no idea the true meaning of.

Grief is a part of love. It is the price we pay for love. I continually remind myself of this. I also remind myself that as a follower of Christ, I do not grieve, nor should I grieve, as the world does. Grief is tough. It lasts for quite some time. I believe, for a lifetime.

But, I cling to the promises of His word and His plan. Romans 21:4 says this, “For I shall wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

No more hospitals.

No more chronic illness or disease.

No more sons without fathers or fathers without sons.

Families, reunited.

Lovers, once again in harmony to sing to Love himself.

What a glorious promise.

What a wonderful day.

Until then, we are called to, “Lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus, the [aauthor and [b]finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” – Hebrews 12:1-2.

I don’t know exactly why God allows pain or suffering in this world.

I do know this, however, that that pain and suffering produces endurance and perseverance.

I don’t know everything, but I do know that He is good, and His mercy and love endure forever.

Today is today.

Tomorrow is tomorrow.

Only today is promised.

So, we must run our race.

I Heard Your Voice Today

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“Grief is a Mouse-

And chooses Wainscot in the Breast

For His shy House

And baffles quest-

Grief is a Thief- quick startled-

Pricks His Ear- report to hear

Of that Vast Dark

That swept His Being – back-

Grief is a juggler – boldest at the Play

Lest if He flinch- the eye that way

Pounce on His Bruises – One – say – or Three

Grief is a Gourmand – spare His luxury-

But Grief is Tongueless- before He’ll tell- Burn Him in the Public square –

His ashes- will

Possibly- if they refuse- How then know –

Since a Rack couldn’t coax a syllable- now

Let us play Yesterday-

I, the Girl at School-

You, the Eternity- the untold Tale-

Easing my famine

At my Lexicon –

Logarithm- had I- for Drink

‘Twas a dry Wine-

Somewhat different- must be-

Dreams ting the Sleep –

Cunning Reds of Morning

Make the Blind – leap-

Still at the Egg Life-

Chafing the Shell

When you troubled the Ellipse

And the Bird fell-

Manacles be dim- they say-

To the new Free-

Liberty- commoner-

Never could-to me-

“‘Twas my last gratitude

When I slept- at night-

“Twas the first Miracle

Let in- with Light-

Can the lark resume the Shell- Easier- for the Sky-

Wouldn’t Bonds hurt more

Than Yesterday?

Wouldn’t Dungeons sorer hate

On the Man- free- just long enough to taste- Then- dolmens new- God of the Manacor- As of the Free

Take Not my Liberty

Away from Me-

Alter! When the Hills do-

Falter! When the Sun

Question if His Glory Be the Perfect One-

Surfeit! When the Daffodil Both of the Dew-

Even as Herself- Sir- I will- of You.

– Emily Dickinson.

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If you were coming in the Fall, I’d brush the summer by with half a smile, and half a spurn,

As Housewives do, a Fly.

If I could see you in a year,

I’d wind the months in balls- And put them each in separate Drawers,

For fear the numbers fuse-

If only Centuries, delayed, I’d count them on my Hand,

Subtracting, till my fingers

dropped

Into Van Dieman’s Land.

If certain, when this life was out-

That you’rs and mine should be–

I’d toss it yonder, like a Rind, and take Eternity-

But, now, uncertain of the length

Of this, that is between,

It goads me, like the Goblin bee-

That will not state-

its sting.” Dickinson, “(If you were coming in the fall)”

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I heard your voice today. I waited seven years. It was like I remembered, but there were some notable highlights

“Call me back.” “I miss you. “I love you.” ” I miss you and my boys.

Damn you.

Every fibre of my being aches for me to be able to call you back.

I can’t even listen to all of this without sobbing.

I’m not going to listen to all of it at once.

I’ll take the tape

Rewind it

Digest it

And repeat.

I will soak in your love

Until it becomes a mantra

Oh, how you loved me. How you loved all of us. The longing in your voice rips me to shreds.

It tells me how you felt. This, I always knew. I hate you for leaving me these voicemails. I love you for leaving me these voicemails. I long for you in a place where there’s no space or time.

My bones shatter when I hear your voice

My bones are rebuilt when I hear your voice

The answering machine stops. I didn’t call you back. Why? I was a kid. I guess I always figured there’d be another tomorrow.

I loved you. I still love you. I will always love you.

Thank you for fighting as long as you did.

Thank you for not giving up until I could say goodbye.

I miss the hell out of you.

I miss the way your hand fit in mine

I miss the way you laughed

How your hair felt.

I miss all the little things that I know I can’t get back in this lifetime.

I’ll see you again

This I’m sure

I just wish it was today

But today is today

And tomorrow is tomorrow

And what’s past is past

But to hell with it all

I want you to be here

But you can’t be

But you are

So I sit in my apartment

Look out the window

See the sunrise and sunset

And wonder about your view

I bet it’s pretty great.

////

“I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.

I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;

so I love you because I know no other way

than this: where I does not exist, nor you,

so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,

so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep.”

(View from my window).

What Love Does

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1 Corinthians 13;

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging symbol.

If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have faith that can move mountains, but do not love, I am nothing.

If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is Patient, Love is Kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices in the truth. It always protects, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears.

For when I was a child, I thought like a child, reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put my childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in the mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.

////

I’ve been thinking and meditating on this verse recently. It hits home for me. Too often we like to think of love as a series of transactions. “Well, if I get you this, than you can get me this. Then will we be even.”

The thing is, love doesn’t work like that. As a follower of Jesus, I can’t pick and choose who I want to love more or less. Yes, obviously, some people are harder to love than others. However, it is those people who are the hardest to love that are the most in need of the love Jesus provides.

I will be listening to the voicemails my dad left me seven years ago soon. I hate he’s not here. I hate it with a hate that could consume me if I let it. But I don’t let it, because I know and will be able to hear in his voice how much he loves and continues to. He’s not here anymore. There’s nothing I can do to change that fact. I spent a lot of time and nights crying out to God, a mixture of sadness, anger, and pain. However, it is when I started to let His love step-in for my earthly father’s absence that I started to truly be free.

Let’s be honest here, my generation, and yes I’m talking about myself here as well, has twisted the meaning of love and boiled it down to a series of mere transactions. Hookups? Sure. It’s only one night. I’ll move on and she will too. But then you leave and you’re still left wondering why you did that. It doesn’t do anything to fill the deep desire we all have to be fully known and fully loved.

At Carolina, there’s such a twisted notion of love and romance. Ladies, romance and love isn’t some dude in a fraternity house handing you a beer and telling you that he likes you. We use the word love like it’s some sort of magical fairy dust that we can sprinkle on top of everything that will make everything better. Love does make things better. Love transforms lives and people for the better. However, we must go to the source of love: God. I’m not talking about some man in the sky with wings who grants wishes on a whim: I’m talking about Jesus. He lived the life you and I couldn’t so that we could live ours in complete and total freedom.

I walk through a lot of brokenness on the way to class each day. I hear the music at night, smell the weed, and look at the girls. They are all beautiful. I just wonder how many nights they go through that without anyone ever telling them their true worth or value. How many are objectified, treated as mere objects to simply gain pleasure out of, and then tossed to the side.

That isn’t love. That’s lust. We grow up watching Cinderella and Snow White and then we get to high school and college and realize that things like that don’t really exist anymore. Well, the thing is, they could, but I struggle to see how any real and lasting relationship can be forged over alcohol, weed, and sex. Those things are all used for placebos to satisfy a desire that only Jesus can. You can hold out on Him and decry Christianity as nonsense and a list of mere rules you have to follow, or, as C.S. Lewis wrote,

“It is when I turn to Christ, when I give up myself to His personality, then I first begin to have a real personality of my own…There are no real personalities anywhere else. Until you have given yourself to Him you will not have a real self…But there must be a real giving up of the self. You must throw it away ‘blindly’ so to speak. Christ will indeed give you a real personality…

“The very first step is to try to forget about the self altogether. Your real, new self (which is Christ’s and also yours, and yours just because it is His)…It will come when you are looking for Him. Give up yourself, and you will find your real self. Lose your life and you will save it. Submit to death, death of your ambitions and favourite wishes, every day and death of your whole body in the end: submit with every fibre of your being and you will find eternal life.

Keep back nothing. Nothing that you have not given away will be really yours. Nothing in you that has not died will ever be raised from the dead. Look for yourself, and you will find in that long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay. But look for Christ and you will find Him, and with Him everything else…”

What are you holding back?

To The Suicidal Teen Being Bullied Online

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I’m in the process of reposting some of my old blog posts from The Mighty. This one was written 3 years ago and can be found by following the link under the “About Me” section of the site. I’m reposting this one in particular due to a burden placed on my heart. Where I’m living now, I see a bunch of girls seemingly always in groups and always seemingly striving for perfection. There’s no such thing as perfection. There’s only your character. Part of me knows deep down this culture of perfection and unrealistic expectations only leads to more hurt and depression. As soon as we forget the labels and start realizing that everyone is a human being with a unique and valuable perspective, maybe then we can come to a place of true forgiveness and grace. I know for a long time I thought that if I only dressed, acted, or behaved a certain way maybe then I would finally be accepted. The truth is, your acceptance doesn’t come from anyone or anything.

/////

I want to preface this note by saying I know exactly where you’re coming from. I understand your pain, all of the nights spent alone wondering if it’s even worth it anymore. On the outside, everything may seem fine, but on the inside?

On the inside, you’re hurting.

On the inside, you feel as if you’re merely going through the motions, and with each day that passes, you wish there was something more. You wish that somehow, the endless array of hallways you navigate through each day could disappear and with them, all of your naysayers and doubters too.

It didn’t all used to be like this though. You remember a day where you could care less what anybody thought about you. You remember a day when you were just you, and all your friends loved you for who you are. Those days are seemingly over now. The playground you used to interact with other kids on is now replaced with Facebook and Twitter.

In this “always on” world, words can be posted in a millisecond. Words that have power, words that mean something. These words get played over and over in your head. Soon enough, you start believing them.

I have a message for you though, friend. Never believe what anybody says about you. I get it. Their words hurt. They feel like stab wounds. Every time you remember them, you start to accept them as truth. The truth is though, their words couldn’t be further away from the truth. Don’t you understand? Their words are meaningless, written from the keyboard of a coward.

Their words could never adequately describe you, your intellect or your true character. You are beautiful and loved. I believe you were created by a God who made you for a specific purpose, and for exactly the time you are in now. You are wanted. You are treasured. You are needed. Anyone or anything that makes you believe otherwise is just plain wrong. The naysayers and doubters will always try their best to define you and to make you believe what they are saying about you is truth.

However, know that none of it is. Know that beneath all of the tweets and mean rhetoric, lies a person too, a person who is hurting, just like you. It is a person trying to mask their own insecurities, by attacking you. One day, when you make it past the hallways and into the real world, you’ll realize just how insecure those people were. Their voices will shrink and become silenced. They will be left to criticize while you’re changing the world.

Until then, realize that no 140-character tweet or mean message could possibly define you. Realize that your best days truly are ahead of you. These days are long and hard, but they will get better. Until then, keep pressing forward. It gets better, I promise.

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The Side Effects of Loss

*This is a piece I wrote originally published on The Mighty.com. I will be reposting some of my pieces that are on The Mighty here.

When I was 15, I watched my dad die and held his hand as his breath became shallower and shallower. He was unconscious and could not utter a word. Sitting beside his bed, I told him I loved him and it was OK to go. I told him I loved him and that I’d see him again one day soon. I told him all the things I could possibly think of at the time and tried to not let anything be unsaid.

Fast forward to today, and I’m slowly beginning to realize how his loss seemingly effects everything I do in my life. I go to the park, where I see kids and their dads walking, and I think of him. I drive by one of his favorite places to eat, and I think of him. I watch the Super Bowl and wish he was there to watch it with me, and that we could play football together. There isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t think of my dad, where I don’t find myself wishing he was still around. This was a man I barely knew, yet he left such a gaping hole in my life, it feels as if I might as well have known him for an eternity. My dad was a flawed human being, just like everyone else, but he always knew how to brighten my day and make me feel better. I find myself wishing now that I could call him to talk about girls and school. I wish he were here this past election season, as politics was one of the passions we both shared intensely.

Most of all, though? I wish he’d be here when I walk down the aisle to marry the one I love. I wish he’d be here to welcome his grandkids into the world and be a part of their lives.

Life without my dad will never be the same, but it must go on. I look forward to the day my dad and I are finally reunited.

Until then, the quest continues of living a life my dad would be proud of.