Inside the Mess

On Wednesday I had visitors come over who wanted to stay the night.
I was looking forward to their visit, but I was also a little nervous.
My schedule was completely packed because I had been in and out of the city for the most part of the last two weeks. There were clothes lying around on the floor, unpacked bags on the chairs, piles of paper on the table. A fine layer of dust covered the surfaces. My apartment was a mess.
How could I invite people into this place?
So I started cleaning on Tuesday night, frantically getting rid of the chaos and presenting the best version of me and my place.

Why do I do this?
Why do I care so much about what others think?
Why do we polish our lives online and offline?

Sometimes I wonder if we do similar things with God.
If our lives were like an apartment, we would only show him the living room where everything is neat and tidy.
We would clean up and present the best version of ourselves.
We would keep him away from the dusty corners and the dark sub-basement.

The visit was great and it was really nice to meet all these new people.
For those who know me a little also know that I love hosting people.
But the next morning I woke up with the worst headache.
Suddenly I felt really uncomfortable.
Me, the hostess, couldn’t host anymore.
I had to drop my facade and allow others to see inside my mess. They looked into cupboards and drawers, they moved around in my house.
They saw a little bit more of me.

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And somehow they didn’t seem to mind at all.
What if we stopped worrying for a second and decide to let go?
What if the moments of seemingly “losing it” lead to greater depth and connection?
What if God wanted to see it all?
What if he was more interested in our darkness than  our superficial perpection?
What if this mess actually leads to true healing?


Writing for Five Minute Friday today.

Shut Up, Narrative!

You should do more exercise.
You should finish that project at work like…yesterday.
You should make more time for your friends.
You should go to bed earlier.
You should read the Bible more.

Should, must, have to.
Isn’t that the narrative constantly playing in our minds?
It pushes us to impossible heights sometimes, but mostly it drives us crazy.
It eats us away.
It kills the life we are supposed to live.

So let’s stop for a moment and dig a little deeper.
Why should we do all these things? And why do we give in to the “shoulds” so often?
Because we think we need more money.
Because we think the world will stop turning the moment we lay our hands down.
Because we think that we can rest later.
Because we think that we are what we do.
Because we think that God expects a special routine.

We think and think, and slowly by slowly these thoughts become beliefs.
Beliefs about ourselves, God and the world.

If we give ourselves permission and rest for a while, we might hear a different narrative, softly whispered into our hearts.

Hey, I’m so glad you’re here.
Why don’t you sit down and relax?
The world will continue turning, I got this in my hands. Literally.
You won’t be able to just drop everything, but you are free to choose.
Do the things that are beneficial to you. In body, mind and spirit.
Or do nothing at all sometimes because you are who you are.
And that’s enough.


Writing for Five Minute Friday today.

Embrace the Now

I am angry.
A feeling of dissatisfaction is my companion these days.
I don’t feel at home in this new place and I hate the fact that there is no time to make it a home.
My eyes have forgotten to capture, my heart has lost its song of gratefulness.
I am caught in between – between the past and the future – and that’s one of the most unsettling places to be.

I am panicked and stressed.
I am not happy with how busy I am these days and how little time there is to actually live, but many days I don’t manage much further than falling into bed with heavy legs at night. I often can’t do much more than to embrace the fact that starting any kind of new job is hard.

I am afraid to move on.
My faith feels stuck these days between not wanting to go back but also without any clue on what comes next. I fear to have nothing left.
I have to embrace the fact that being lost doesn’t last forever. And to trust that those who seek will eventually find.

In the midst of life -in the struggle of mourning the past and awaiting the future – I have to embrace the present. It’s all I’ve got right now and I have the chance to turn it into a past worth remembering.


Writing for Five Minute Friday today.

No, You’re Not

Moving to a new city and starting a new job (the first real job ever) is quite an interesting thing. During the week I am incredibly busy preparing lessons and teachings, countless meetings and admin work.
But then there are the weekends or breaks when my schedule is empty and I have some room to breathe. It is in the quiet times when I realize how abandoned I am.

I’m alone.

Leaving the safe shores of faith is quite an unsettling move. As I abandon traditional beliefs and try to rediscover truth I often feel lost and confused. And deep down inside, I can’t deny that feeling of fear – what if I abandon everything and will be left with nothing?

I’m alone.

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In the midst of this emotional turmoil, the following song has been on repeat for quite some time on my phone now.

It offers a powerful response to the lie we so often believe.
That we are all on our own.
That it will always be dark.
That it will never get better.
That we are abandoned.

I know I’m pretending
When I try to have an answer
It’s not what I intended
And I don’t know what comes after

There’s still those two thoughts
One after the other:
I’m alone
No you’re not
I’m alone no you’re not
I’m alone
No you’re not
I’m alone no you’re not

– Joseph. “Honest”.

I’m alone.
No, you’re not.

Life is an adventure and there will always be times of challenge, exhaustion and loneliness. We can’t always change the circumstances, but we can choose how we feel about it.

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We can discover beauty when we rest our eyes on it.
We can experience community when we make ourselves vulnerable.
We can find faith in the mundane when we keep on searching, keep on hoping, keep on seeing.
We can breathe freedom when we’re brave enough to walk on shaky waters.


Writing for Five Minute Friday today.

Why I Stop Taking Pictures

My colleague threw herself into the chair next to me. “What’s wrong with us? This week is horrible as if we have no time to breathe at all.”

She was right.

The last two weeks were crazy. Well, rather perfectly normal for end of term.
Grading papers through the nights and finishing all grades for the report cards. Conferences and meetings.
Spening all day at school.
My apartment looks like a big mess because I’m hardly ever there to clean up. All I do there is sleep. Since I don’t have time to cook I mostly eat sandwiches and fast food. So much for healthy eating resolutions.
I am just rushing from one thing to the next.

I must admit I do appreciate a certain amount of stress in my life. I like it to have several things running at the same time and seeing the tables turn my way.
But there comes a time when stress becomes too much.
You know how I know?

When I stop taking pictures.

When my heart can’t detect beauty anymore.
When my eyes have seemingly become blind to the gifts surrounding me.
When my soul has become numb to the creative sparks around.
When I breathe in beauty, but have become unable to exhale gratitude.

Last Friday was such a day.
I just needed some breath of fresh air.
There was still so much to do.
There were unanswered emails, unprepared lessons, unopened letters on my desk.
I. didn’t. care.

The sun was out, so I bundled myself up in a winter jacket, gloves and hat and went for a walk. I had no specific destination, I just needed to walk.
Walking despite all the things I still had to do.
Walk off the stress of this week.
Walk against the exhaustion of these countless meetings.
Walking off the frustration with people and schedules.
Walking towards a new perspective, towards restoration.

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It took a while, but then it happened.

First I recognized birds chirping in the cold winter air.
Then I saw the snow flakes glittering in the sun.
I inhaled fresh air and felt it fill my lungs, my body, my thoughts.

It seems ridiculously easy to recharge ourselves.
Breathe in. Breathe out.
Go for a walk.
Have a glass of wine.
Let work be work and treat yourself.
Read a book, just for yourself.
Take a nap.
Let the sun shine on your face.
Inhale fresh air and let it fill your lungs, your body, your thoughts.

What does a breath of fresh air look like for you?


Writing for Five Minute Friday today.

A Second Look Changes Everything

It’s been five months since I started my teaching job at the new school.
Five months since I got to know 250 young people who I have the privilege of teaching. Through lessons, tests and talks in between I have gotten to know a tiny part of their personality and now have to make lucky guesses on their performance and chances. Often this seems nearly impossible.

Once in a while, my students surprise me.
I laugh or I cry.
I realize I don’t really know them at all.

Last night I attended a concert and a lot of my kids performed. There were great pieces, but I mostly enjoyed the unexpected performances by students who seem invisible in my classes or don’t do so well.

In my weekly classes I can only see so much, all I get is a glimpse.
Last night’s performances helped me to refine the picture I had of them and correct it if necessary. Take them out of the box I had placed them in and allow them to surprise me.

It’s been more than twenty years that I am on this journey with God.
Lots of ups and downs, and sometimes it seems as if life together has become dull. As if I have discovered everything already and there’s nothing new to know.
Sometimes life gets in the way and it seems like I don’t know God at all.

I guess I might have to attend the concert of life to see God perform and surprise me. To allow him to show up in my daily routines and exhaustion, to meet me right here and now.
To overwhelm me once again when my heart has lost its wonder.
To reveal himself in unexpected ways and people.
To help me break free of the boxes that limit my view of him.
To refine and deepen my faith in him.
There is, there has to be, so much more to learn and discover.


Writing for Five Minute Friday today.

Rest in the Middle of Life

“Oh no, I couldn’t possibly. There’s just too much to do.
Work first, pleasure later.
I can rest when I’m done with everything.”

Do these statements sound familiar to you?
These battles inside of you between what your soul longs for and what your busy mind tells you to do?

I had this battle going on this weekend. The first week back at work after Christmas Break was very stressful, and I’m not really looking forward to the next with all the things I have to do.
I really don’t have time to rest.
I never really seem to have time.

I don’t have time.

That’s probably one of the most overused excuse in our society today, and unfortunately we often feel good using it because it makes us sound productive, active and useful.
So we give in to this lie that we can’t possibly rest now.

So how can we get the rest our souls need so desperately?

We make time for it.
And we’ll discover that there is actually more time than we think.

Time to do things for us, not for anyone else’s benefit.
Time to savor and waste on something that replenished our souls.
Time to listen to our breath and that soft voice of the father reminding us of his perfect love and rest.

So, in the middle of life and its busyness I decided to rest today.
I wasted time on the couch with a good book.
I made time to spend with  friends. I savored my breakfast.
I stretched out my empty hands and allowed the father to refill them.

I wasted time and found abundance instead.


Even though I’m two days late, I’m still joining my writing peeps
over at Five Minute Friday.