The rain brings flowers
And my heart begins to bloom
A pale shade of pink.
The rain brings flowers
And my heart begins to bloom
A pale shade of pink.
I am made of
deep brown eyes,
and most annoyingly,
A mirror stands,
with white, wooden edges,
waiting for me
to step up and see.
My reflection laughs
as it raises its finger,
out each and every flaw,
leaving no insecurity
I am made of
and sadly enough,
a severe lack of self-worth.
My inner voice
pokes and prods at my
making me question
my will to even be
or do or say.
like a small voice
in the midst of a storm,
something that makes
the sun seem brighter,
the grass look greener,
my heart feel…fuller
He stands behind me,
the mirror now reflecting
two instead of one,
and my reflection
ceases to point,
to laugh, or mock.
Instead, she smiles
as his hands hold hers.
I may be made of
stretch marks and freckles,
eyes too dark
and hair too tangled,
but standing with him,
he shows me
just how it feels to be
loved in spite of it all.
Apart we may be made of
flaws and insecurities,
but together we are made of
love and laughter,
hope and understanding,
and all that really matters
is that together
we have found our strength.
He reminds me of
What it feels like to be loved
Again and again
Today my heart is breaking. As I sit here watching the live video footage of the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, tears are streaming down my face. The hate, the anger, and the violence that is taking place right in front of me is enough to bring me to my knees. Here’s the thing; I am usually not the kind of person who shares my political beliefs online. I am not typically known as the one who goes on rants about our government or the people of this nation. However, today I cannot remain silent any longer.
Let me start off by saying one thing that may offend some people: Black Lives Matter. This statement alone has caused so much controversy in the past months. By stating that black lives matter, I am not saying that everyone else’s lives don’t. I am not saying that black lives are more important than white lives or that anyone should be considered above anyone else. My point is simple. The Black Lives Matter movement is not here to offend, belittle, or degrade you. It is simply to make a point. People in the black community have suffered from many injustices that I will never be able to understand. I have never had to endure racist comments in the grocery store line. I’ve never had to be fearful for my life during a routine traffic stop. I never had to grow up in a world that was plotted against me. I am a white female, and whether you believe it or not, I admit to the fact that I have always been blessed with white privilege. When I say that I support the Black Lives Matter movement, what I am saying is that I recognize the injustices that black people in our nation are suffering from today. Slavery may be gone, segregation may be illegal, but racism is still alive and well, and by supporting rallies like the one happening today, we are only lighting their fire and giving them the fuel they need to continue on in this ignorant and hateful mindset.
The thing that breaks my heart more than anything is to know that many of the people supporting this movement publically proclaim to be Christian. It’s sick, it’s twisted, and (excuse my language) truly fucked up that people who preach love and acceptance would use such vulgar and demeaning words and actions towards people of color. In 1 John 3:15, it is written that “everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.” John 15 verses 12-15 state “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” 1 John 4:7-8 reads “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” Now let me say something that is really going to offend some of you. If you support this movement, this hateful, and nasty protest, then you are not a Christian. God calls us to love everyone. He doesn’t say pick and choose the people that you want to love or judge others based on the color of their skin, no, nowhere in the Bible does it say any of that! God COMMANDS us to love everyone. Period, end of story. There are no excuses that anyone could make that would ever make any of this okay. Hating someone simply for the color of their skin or for the country in which they were born will never be okay. No excuse will ever be good enough.
There is so much more I could say, but let me limit it down to one final statement. I refuse to hate. It really is that simple. If everyone in both our nation and world could come together and rally around this one simple concept, our world would be a much better place. If we could all just look past our prejudices, if would could just learn to appreciate people for who they are, if we could stop using religion, color of skin, and origin of birth as a way to categorize ourselves into who’s the best and who’s not, then just think of how much better life would be! Just imagine a world where everyone could come together in peace and love and acceptance, a world in which no one would ever have to face racial or religious injustices ever again. Sadly, in light of today’s recent events, I can see that our world is far from that reality. However, we should not give up hope. Although I may never live to see a world where everyone is equal, I will spend the rest of my life spreading love to insure that my children will, and I pray that each and every one of you who read this today will do the same.
Self-love isn’t about achieving self-perfection. It’s about recognizing your flaws and yet loving yourself anyways. It’s the ability to look in a mirror and not hate your rolls or thick thighs or that one patch of hair that never seems to lay flat. It’s being able to see yourself in a new light, one that highlights your inner beauty and incredible strengths. Self-love is the understanding that even in your lowest moments, you are still beautiful. And while this may be a difficult concept to fully grasp, it is one that I will strive for every day in every moment I’m alive. We must learn to love ourselves rather than rely on the world to do it for us because if that is the case, we will always be sorely disappointed.
It was in the stillness of each moment that she found her peace.
The silence did not make her fear, but brought her sweet release.
When the world was too loud, her thoughts were often lost in the noise.
Yet, in a moment of quiet, she found her hidden voice.
And oh what a beautiful voice it was.
It was Sunday evening, and the pleasant scent of grilled chicken, roasted red potatoes, and steamed asparagus drifted comfortingly through the air. Candles flickered silently on the table, and all that could be heard were the hushed clinks of silverware against plates piled with food.
She looked up quietly in hopes of catching his eye, but he continued to stare blankly down at his own plate of food, seemingly content with the overwhelming silence that surrounded them. Her shoulders drooped and her gaze fell. She straightened up. She didn’t want to seem too visibly upset.
The clinks continued as her mind began to race frantically. There must be something to talk about, she thought to herself as she continued to rack her brain for conversation starters.
“How was work today?” Damn. Could she not think of anything more interesting to say?
“Fine,” he replied with a grunt. More silence. More frantic thinking.
“How’s your dinner?”
“Eh, could use more seasoning.” Ouch. Her heart stung. How long had she been working on this dinner? How many recipes had she searched through in hopes of finding something to his liking? Part of her was broken hearted, another part furious, yet all she could say was simply, “I’m sorry, hun. I’ll try to do better next time.”
“Okay.” That was all he said. They continued to eat in silence.
As dinner came to an end, she silently began to gather up the dishes. He scooted back in his chair, stood up, and without a word, disappeared up the stairs.
Is this how relationships are supposed to feel? she thought sadly to herself as she made her way to the sink, arms piled high with empty plates. The overwhelming loneliness wrapped itself tightly around her body. It slithered its way up her legs and across her chest. Her breath became more shallow until it felt as though she may stop breathing all together.
PULL YOURSELF TOGETHER, her mind screamed as her fingers gripped tightly to the counter. A single tear slipped its way down her reddened cheek.
With the dishes done and the table clean, she made her way up the stairs. He was lying silently on the bed, phone in hand, tv blaring in the background. She quickly undressed for bed and slowly slipped under the covers. She pretended to focus on the television screen as he continued to scroll through Facebook.
An hour passed in this way. Awkward silence, at least for her, hung thickly in the air.
“Is everything…okay?” she asked even though she already knew what his answer would be.
“I’m fine. Just been a long day.”
“Well if there’s anything I can do…”
“I know.” Silence.
“I love you” she squeaked barely above a whisper.
“Love you too.” Her spirits lifted, but only a little.
As he stood up to turn off the lights, she carefully rolled towards the wall. Her mind was filled with many thoughts, but the one that stood out the most was simple.
I may be lonely, but at least I’m not alone.
Her eyes closed, and she fell into a restless sleep.
I can’t sleep. My eyes are red, my mouth is dry, my lips blistered from my obsessive licking. I roll over. My arm goes numb. I switch sides. My other arm goes numb. I roll onto my back. A brick crushes my chest, and the air struggles to fill up my lungs. In a blind panic I bolt out of bed and into the bathroom. My heart is racing, hands are sweating, knees are trembling, mind is faltering.
No one can know. No one can see. I MUST keep this a secret. I’m okay. I’m okay. I’m okay. Everything is fine. Everything WILL BE fine. I’m okay. I’m okay.
My uncontrollable sobs threaten to creep out from underneath the locked bathroom door and break the quiet silence of the night. I cover my mouth with a towel and let the tears flow freely.
They mustn’t know. No one can know. I’m okay. Please let me be okay.
The world around me is spinning. I hold onto the edge of the bathtub and slowly lower myself to the floor. Why is this happening again? Why am I so sad? Why do I feel so alone?
I’m okay. I’m okay. I’m…not…okay.
The realization of this sends me into another round of heaving breaths and muffled sobs. I can’t breathe. Why can’t I breathe? The air is thick and heavy and threatens to choke me. I cough and cough as if I can somehow cough up all this pain that’s threatening to tear through my chest.
I’m not okay I’m not okay I’m not okay Oh God why am I not okay why is this happening to me why can’t I just be okay please stop please stop please stop
My breathing steadies. My chest begins to rise and fall, once again at a steady pace.
Just. Breathe. Everything will be okay. Breathe.
And it’s over. Just like that. Another panic attack has come and gone. I stand up slowly, my knees still shaking. Staring back at me from the mirror is an image of a broken girl, her face a dark shade of red, her eyes even darker. She’s a mess. Her matted hair is stuck to her freshly wetted cheeks, her nose dripping like a leaky faucet.
I turn on the sink, check to make sure the water is cold, and then splash a wave onto my face, not caring where the water goes. It trickles down my red cheeks, washing away the sticky warmth my tears had left behind. A few more deep breathes, and back to bed I go. Sleep won’t come easily tonight.
No one must know. No one can see.
When the rain begins to fall, and the skies begin to darken, I think about my own mind. Depression threatens to intrude upon my happiness like the looming clouds threaten to choke out the light of the sun. The rain falls from the sky like tear drops down my cheeks as the last remaining rays of light slowly disappear. But then, something magical happens. The rain falls and falls, bringing with it sadness, but something else as well. There’s hope. Hope that the day will become brighter again. Hope that tomorrow will be better. Hope that this rain will wash away all of the cobwebs from your soul and give you a new sense of life, feeling, and belonging. And as you look outside your window, you realize that it is all true. The rain washes away all of the dust, pollen, and grime that cakes the world outside. But when the rain stops falling, and the clouds go away, don’t think about the mud that’s left behind. Rather, look upwards towards the sky as the sun begins to shine once more. A rainbow will appear even after the worst storm as a reminder that things will get better. They always get better. And as the flowers begin to soak in all the nutrients from their freshly watered soil, remember that growing is a process. Rain makes the flowers grow stronger, just like tears make the heart grow fonder.
There was an eerie silence in the abbey that day. The morning prayers had been said, and the nuns had quietly floated their way back into the solitary confinement of their tiny rooms. Lilly Madison, tired of a morning spent all alone, slowly and carefully turned the smooth silver knob of her dark wooden door and slipped into the empty hallway. The door let out a silent whisper of protest as it shut behind her. Glancing in both directions, Lilly glided gracefully down the stairs. The smooth beads of her silver rosary swayed back and forth as she pushed past the heavy wooden doors to the chapel and made her way down the aisle towards the heavily adorned altar. She glanced briefly up at the image of Christ before kneeling at the foot of the cross.
This was unnatural for a nun of her status. As a new member of the convent, she knew that she was not supposed to be wandering the halls alone, nor was she allowed to enter the chapel without a guardian; however, none of this stopped her from slipping her rosary from around her neck and letting the cool beads grace the soft tips of her fingers. With each bead her fingers passed, she prayed a small prayer: one for guidance, one for forgiveness, one for peace and understanding. She prayed for strength, and that God would provide her with the means to accomplish her task.
During the many days, weeks, and months that she had spent alone in her room praying and meditating over the scriptures, she had come to an enlightenment like no other. Lilly truly felt as though God had spoken to her directly, but she kept it quiet for fear of condemnation from the other nuns. She was well respected by everyone, a promising new nun surrounded by a cloud of potential. The abbess had become quite fond of her, and had taken her on as somewhat of an apprentice, mentoring her in the ways of the abbey and helping her to reach a new level in her relationship with Christ. Every day, Lilly fell to her knees in sovereign adoration and prayed that God would make her more like the abbess. After months of waiting for an answer, she finally felt as though she had discovered the very will of God.
The sturdy sound of the chapel bells pounded her out of her thoughts and pulled her to her feet. The abbess would be making her way to the garden for afternoon prayers. Her time to act was now. Rosary in hand, she eased her way out of the chapel. A brilliant smile spread its way across her rosy cheeks. The beads now felt warm in her hand, and she clutched them tightly to her chest as she cascaded down the hallway, through the front door, and across the lawn to the prayer garden.
The gate let out a scream of resistance, startling the abbess from her afternoon prayers.
“Lilly? What are you–”
There was hardly enough time to react before Lilly wrapped the silver string of beads tightly around the neck of the abbess. Pulling her to the ground with all of her weight, she held fast to the rosary, making sure to cut off all air as the abbess struggled for a breath. No screams could be heard as her face slowly changed from a rosy pink to a deep shade of blue. Lilly stroked the hair of her suffocating mentor and began to pray.
“Lord, guide me in my mission to serve you. Cover me with your grace and protection. Allow me to complete the task that you have so clearly made known to me. Give me the peace and understanding to know that your will must be done. Forgive me of my transgressions, and help me to forgive those who have done me wrong. Restoreth my soul, and lead me down the path to righteousness. Guide me as you have guided the mother abbess, and allow me to continue on with her vision for the future of the church. Bless her in death as you have in life, and lead her safely to the pearly gates of heaven. In Christ’s holy name I pray, Amen.”