November 11

Write an open letter to your future self.

Dear Tosin,

Your life has been a whirlwind. Everything in you in this particular moment in history is ready to leave your job, your friends, and yourself behind. STAY. Stay put. I cannot make the promise that the eternal raincloud over your life will go away, but I can tell you not to run away from it. Rainy days are your favorite anyway. Rain washes things away and helps plants grow. Tosin, you need a lot of water if you are going to grow. You’re bamboo, not a cactus. God has not abandoned you; He never does. So stop avoiding Him.

You are more than a year removed from October 5th. I am interested to see how you’re doing. We both know that you will always love deeply, but will you have had moved forward. Will he have. I hope the answer for both of you is yes. If there are kids do your best not to cry about it, but to rejoice privately. Children are always a gift. Continue praying for a changed heart in all three of you when envy or sorrow or love enters your mind. Stop leaving hints. Stop expecting ones in return. Discontentment will steal the joy that surrounds you. Don’t give it the victory.

Continue with Weight Watchers. If you have fallen off the wagon get back up again. You don’t have to be this size forever. Out of love for God and your body continue to pursue health. Continue to let people in. Continue to remain grounded in real hope.

I have no more words for you, but I hope you remember to read me in a years time. I hope searching for a home is going well.

SHKL,

Tosin

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October: the Longest Month of the Year

I have long held the view that October might be the longest and my least favorite month of the year. As a child–and an adult– I scared really easy. So all the demonics of Halloween never appealed. Life is scary enough. I don’t need to pay someone $15 to be more scared. Let me walk a dark alley and I will be just as scared and probably out of $15. As an adult, October just felt daunting like an massive anticipation to get to the holidays. Like a plot build up for a massive let down. Like an overture that went on for 5 minutes too long.

This October felt no different.

I knew this October would feel like forever by the midpoint of September. The parts of the month I would need to move slowly would race like nascar. The parts that could have sped would drag on like roadkill. Nevertheless, like every year October comes to a close and I think I am grateful.

There are days from this month that I wish I could relive and sadness I wish I could dispense. I am beyond grateful for my counselor who has bared the brunt of my melancholy. I have cried more publicly and privately. I have stepped more fully into being a manager and out of a friendship. I have written papers, completed projects, and binge read books. I have gone to a wedding and a baby dedication. I have authored the longest email that will probably never get sent. I decided I need to outsource accountability if I’m ever going to lose weight. I have decided to let go of dreams of living in Houston, just in case the Lord moves me somewhere else. I have realized that I still struggle with figuring out where I fit in this city and in friendships and in families, but I’m grateful for those who are kind enough to make some space for me and reassure me when I’m ready to flee.

This October is no different, but somehow different. I’m glad it is over. I’m glad that I get three days away from work and people and daily life. I’m glad it ends with tears again and repentance. I’m glad it ends with a long lost friend celebrating love lasting another year in their family. I’m glad I get to look forward to a Waco road trip, Thanksgiving in Atlanta, and concluding another semester. I’m glad for silence.

I’m most grateful for faithfulness. God has been very faithful to me. This month has hurt beyond words and humbled me like nothing else, but the Lord has been with me. I have felt so lost and feel no more found than I felt at the beginning of this month, but there is hope because I know I’m not alone. God has journeyed with me through so much. Underneath it all, I’m terrified and confused, but I’m not alone.

Every blog feels like a lament. So much so that I don’t know why I write and why people read it, but I’m glad October is ending. I hope it is ending for you too. I hope November brings thanksgiving and hope.

Brokenness & Idolatry

When I get lost, I lose myself. It is not that I have wandered and need to return, I feel more like the prodigal son who has forgotten he was someone’s child and completely gone rebellious. I don’t know if this is for everyone, but when sin takes over my life, I just don’t feel like me anymore. Well, at the very least, I don’t feel like the me, I was intended to be or have been for a while.

I am lost. Last year, I spent time generating themes for my life. There were four and they were cyclical: chaos/erosion, creation, brokenness, restoration. Chaos or Erosion is external. It is the process of my life in some fashion being completely dissembled. It can be through displacement or job loss or broken relationships or switch churches. Sometimes, it is erosion simply because it’s a natural progression or wearing away. Creation is the process of something being generated out of disorder, finding my current job, developing a personal sense of authenticity, finally getting counseling. Brokenness is my least favorite. Brokenness is internal; it points at my sin and depravity and does the most damage. Brokenness has been the most haunting of my seasons. Broken is how I came to Christ. Broken is how he finds me time after time. Brokenness frustrates me. It preys on every wicked desire for self-sufficiency that I have. Brokenness points a hard finger to God demanding that He back off and let me do this myself. Extended periods of brokenness lead to numbness. I am numb, and it’s my fault. I don’t state this condemningly. I did this to myself. I’m in bad need of a spirit defibrillation. I know, I am made alive in Christ, but sometimes, it feels like I am barely hanging on. Restoration, God is a good God. He is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast compassion. Restoration is entirely the working of God. I wish, I could jumpstart it, but I know that He will come.

I am in between brokenness and restoration. It is in this limbo, I have felt God nudging at me. Reminding me of who I am, “You’re a worshipper”. It’s my primary identity. I was created for worship. My open hands moved towards an idol that I worshipped wholeheartedly. It’s only in repentance, I find restoration. It is my hope that it comes soon. Brokenness is completely unideal. I feel like if we as humans were more honest, it is not that our success that drives us. It is not our desires, but the brokenness that drives us to idolatry, but no idol can fix it. No job, no relationship, no item, no person can set our wayward heart set straight. My only hope. Our only hope is in someone completely external. Oh, Lord let it be you.

Before, my idolatrous season began, I wrote a song named Idolatry. As I look back on the lyrics, I had idolatry more right than wrong. May it not overtake me once again.

Idolatry, you pull me straight down to my knees

I worship you, hoping you’ll make me complete

Your siren sound, echo my unanswered prayers

Those hollow words, I’m helpless you leave me so scared

I’m paralyzed; you’re draining the life out of me

I cannot move, silently suffocating

Another drink, pour it up watch it go down

Your praise begins, prostrate I lay on the ground

I will return, for you are my stale daily bread

You’re killing me, but you also keep me well fed.

God,

I always need You, but I need you especially in this place, where I feel fragile and fragmented. Mind me of the work of Your blood. Help me to understand it, trust it, and live in it, not just for today, but especially for tomorrow and the days after.

In Christ,

Amen

Day 7: Meaning Behind My Blog Name

Life does not progress in a linear fashion. There are assumptions on how life should be ordered, but the older I get the more I realize that’s not going to happen. However, I am grateful. Life is nonlinear and I’m grateful for it.

It’s my nonlinearlife.

If you want to know more about it. Start at the beginning when I have kids with four other women.

First Rain Since Harvey Left

It is the first rain since Harvey departed. In his wake, he left ruins that still remain unbuilt. As disastrous as the Houston landscape has been it was merely been a physical representation of the human heart. I have been gutted. Noahic flooding that seems like judgment, but actually is healing. Personally, I still don’t know what to make of a hurricane that felt like that of a Grecian epic. I don’t think it is mine to decipher. I am not the one who controls it.

God is the Author. He is quite the Author, but such an interesting Reader and Listener to the story as well. He placed Himself in it momentarily, but it has always been about Him. He is a mysterious Author. The best books are the one that leaves me wondering what the author was trying to tell me. He has left a Commentary who teaches, but even then, mystery. Divine and material mystery.

I have gone through the gamut of human emotions since Harvey.

Sorrow. Anger. Loneliness. Shame. Envy. Abandonment. Displacement. Fear.

Anger. Loneliness. Shame. Envy. Abandonment. Displacement. Fear.

Loneliness. Shame. Envy. Abandonment. Displacement. Fear.

Shame. Envy. Abandonment. Displacement. Fear.

Envy. Abandonment. Displacement. Fear.

Abandonment. Displacement. Fear.

Displacement. Fear.

Fear.

Those have been my most persistent friends in this season. They are terrible friends; they leech themselves onto me. As I turn to them, they turn on me. I don’t think they have all departed. I still think they linger, but in this moment, I have felt something I have not felt since the flood waters rose.

Hope.

It was by way of a woman I have always admired. How kind is God in the midst of ruins to sift through the rubble.

Good Father,

I am devastated, in both definitions of the word. I have looked inward for so long, that I have lost sight. Your truth is so simple. Your call is so clear. My cross is so much. Teach me to trust. Teach me to bear burdens better. Remind me that you are both the Builder and the Cornerstone. When I burrow into the complexities of the human ego, remind me of the simplicity of the Gospel.

The Good News is the hope for those who have fear.

The Good News is a refuge for those who are displaced.

The Good News is reclamation for those who feel abandoned.

The Good News is gratitude in a heart that envies what is not hers.

The Good News is penitence in the place of shame.

The Good News is the hope of companionship for those who are burdened with loneliness.

The Good News is understanding rather than anger.

The Good News is joy in the middle of sorrow.

I am not fully “telos-ed” by the Gospel today. I will not know if I will be tomorrow, but Mrs. Ellen, thank you for the reminder. I don’t know if you will ever read these words but bless you.

In Christ. By Way of the Spirit. Directed to the Father.

Amen

Hope.

Hope. Refuge.

Hope. Refuge. Reclamation.

Hope. Refuge. Reclamation. Gratitude.

Hope. Refuge. Reclamation. Gratitude. Forgiveness.

Hope. Refuge. Reclamation. Gratitude. Forgiveness. Penitence.

Hope. Refuge. Reclamation. Gratitude. Forgiveness. Penitence. Companionship.

Hope. Refuge. Reclamation. Gratitude. Forgiveness. Penitence. Companionship. Understanding.

Hope. Refuge. Reclamation. Gratitude. Forgiveness. Penitence. Companionship. Understanding. Joy

Displacement

God,

In Harvey’s ending, many people, for the first time, considered what it means to be displaced. I did not. 2014 raced through my head. I saw the hand of believers move to serve me, yet I focused on the depression of that year. Remembering the August night spent in my car, terrified and alone. I dwelled on the isolation of that year. The many nights, I remained in my office hours past close simply to be alone. I concentrated on the loss of that year. Initially, it was a job, a home, and children, but by the end, it was a sense of identity, value, and self. When 2014 ended. I was broken.

When you are displaced you lose much more than a home. You lose a rhythm and a schedule. You lose your daily patterns and cadences with people. You lose your ability to control meals. You lose the ability to shut the door in people’s face. You lose control. The only thing I gained in 2014 was weight. 25 pounds exactly and I still haven’t even lost that three years later.

God, I am at a total loss. My heart lies somewhere in the debris of drywall and flooring. I don’t know if it is even worthy of repair. I do know You are the Original Creative. I know You take chaos and disorder and bring life, sustainable life. Take the chaos of a dismantled heart and bring about life and order. I know I have been distant from You. I have wandered from You, but I need You for You to find me. I am done being prodigal. Be my home.

In the Son. Through the Spirit. To the Father

Amen

 

Imperfect Love

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. 1 John 4:18

I have reflected on this verse often over the course of the past six months. I hear its refrain as I ponder on those whom I love and those who love me. I know imperfect love. It looms. I know it’s imperfect. It is fear-inducing and creates unnecessary risk. Fear-inducing love is not loving at all. Imperfect love is an oxymoron as it does not exist; love can only exist in complete perfection.

I got a glimpse of perfect love today. I saw it over breakfast and a coffee two hours afternoon. It was not a fear-inducing love, but one that feels freeing. One that assists in letting go. I pray for more of that love.

I pray I find it in the Lord.

I pray I find it in friends.

I pray it is found in me.