What I’m Into: Book-Release-Month Edition

what i'm into march 2016

The release of my second memoir, Night Driving, came at the tattered end of a long, tough winter. It’s a rough time to release a book — particularly when you’re a person who tends to get the shit kicked out of you by winter to begin with.

The book went out into the world on March 15th, and I did my best to attend to it and to my own heart…but the honest truth is that I spent much of March treading the inky waters of my Depression, trying to keep breathing until a new medication kicked in.

I was on the Internet, doing the things you have to do to release a book, but I tried to spend as little time there as possible, wary of the gaping hole in me that was ravenous for praise and affirmation.

Instead, the things that sustained me were small and simple: walks to the park with my kids at my childhood home; the redundant grace of folding sheets and towels at the refugee donation center where I volunteer once a week; fresh bread with olive oil; yellow tulips on the kitchen counter; your collected stories of darkness and your faith in the midst of it.

On the Saturday after the book came out, we celebrated the release at the Fallout Arts Initiative. I bought new shoes and got my hair cut. The Church Ladies brought cheese platters that overfilled the long tables, and I accidentally bought about three times as much wine as we needed, and so many people whom I love and who love me showed up to celebrate. The night felt like an excessive kind of grace.

andrew and addie zierman at book party

I wrote my first book over several years, mostly in the quiet, cultivating space of grad school. And then I wrote Night Driving on a deadline with a publisher waiting for it and all sorts of expectations and hopes having to do with sales and numbers and platform. To say that it was a different process is an enormous understatement, and it was much harder for me to let this one go out into the world than the last.

But that night, I stood on a platform at that arts center, and I don’t know if the drugs finally kicked in that day, or if I was just buoyed by the love and support surrounding me, but it felt like for the first time all month, all winter, I was standing on solid ground. Breathing deep. Letting the book go.

What I’m Reading:

books i read march 2016

During Book Release Month, I tabled all of my regularly scheduled reading and dove deep into fast-read fiction. I’ve been meaning to read Louise Penny’s Inspector Gamache series for a while now, and I took down the first three books this month (Still Life, A Fatal Grace, and The Cruelest Month). Her writing is wise and compelling, and her plots are fantastic. I’ve never read much in the Mystery genre, but I’m a new fan.

I also read Liane Moriarty’s The Last Anniversary, which I found interesting and fun. One of her plot lines — the story of a woman with postnatal depression — was written so perfectly spot-on that it took my breath away.

What I’m Listening To:

I kept All Sons & Daughter’s “Christ Be All Around Me,” and Audrey Assad’s “I Shall Not Want” on repeat in my van all month. Both songs are versions of old prayers and were a kind of anchor for my tempestuous soul during the book release.

I’m a big fan of Spotify’s Discover Weekly playlists, and this month they helped me find The Sweeplings, Harbor & Home, The Strumbellas and Aunt Martha.

What I’m Watching:

Must-See shows include: Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Jane the Virgin, and Younger — which just had its season finale. I’m losing my steam on Nashville and will likely let it go before the season’s out. We finished The Bachelor, whose finale (as usual) was exponentially less dramatic than the previews made it out to be. Oh Ben.

I like to have a Netflix show that I can have on while I do tedious tasks like folding laundry and dicing veggies. I accidentally-on-purpose started Gossip Girl last month, just to see. Who knew there were six seasons?!? I’m alarmed that I’m not through yet, but now I’ve committed and will see it through the the bitter (shallow) end.

(Incidentally, on the season of Gossip Girl that I am currently watching, one of the main characters writes a searing tell-all novel about the upper-East-siders, and it becomes an instant bestseller with astonishing NYT reviews and movie deals galore. Apparently, I’m doing this publishing thing all wrong.)

Other Things I’ve Been Into

1. The slow end of winter; the glimpses of spring.

addie zierman - beginning of spring

2. A trip to Chicago for the kids’ spring break…

spring park day

3. …and a few moments of the Wisconsin Dells trip we took on the way home. Like this one where my kids were losing their minds on the roller coaster.

roller coaster love

4. Holy week. I struggled to connect emotionally to the stories and observances of Holy Week this year. But I’m thankful for the way that the local church remembers for me. Like Tanya Marlow said so beautifully in the syncroblog a few weeks ago, sometimes when you’re in the darkness, you just have to grab the rope and follow it until you find your way out. I’m thankful for the people, places, liturgies and communities that have formed that rope for me this month.

palm sunday

Blogging and Book Stuff:

Thanks so much to everyone who ordered and pre-ordered Night Driving, and especially those of you who took the time to synchroblog, comment, tweet, post, review, or email me about it. Your support means so much to me. Thank you.

If you haven’t had a chance to pick it up yet, you can do so at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Books-a-Million, or IndieBound…or bookstores around you. (At the time of this writing, it’s only $8.81 at Amazon.) For the auditory learners among us, it’s also available on Audible or on CD.

Much of this months blogging was centered around the book release. The syncroblog posts — both blogger and nonblogger — were phenomenal, and I hope you’ll read at least the roundup here.

My monthly “Dear Addie” column at Off the Page had to do with when to leave…and when to stay…at a church. It’s a topic that’s near and dear to my heart, and I hope that you’ll pop over and read it if you haven’t had a chance.

I also shared about my journey with wine and moderation at Christianity Today’s Her.meneutics and about spiritual darkness and motherhood at Lisa-Jo Baker’s place.

I’ll be putting out my second quarterly newsletter in a few weeks, so if you’re not signed up to receive those, do so now in the sidebar. And my blog is iPhone friendly now! Hooray!

After I wrote this psalm of confession for a dark morning at the Mudroom Blog, I decided that I wanted to integrate more psalm/prayer writing into my life. It’s a good practice for me. I started yesterday posting a “Prayer for a New Week” on Instagram. I hope to do this every Monday. These prayers will be short, and they won’t be on the blog, but you’ll be able to see them on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter, so make sure you follow me in at least one of those spaces!

Here’s yesterday’s, to give you the idea:

psalm for a new weekPrayer for a New Week (April 4, 2016)

Lord God, your great love rivers through every difficult, mundane, happy, ordinary moment of my life.

Draw my eyes from my lists and my plans, and toward the beauty of your redeeming work this week.

Give me the grace to join you there.

Amen.

*

I’m linking up as always with my good friend Leigh Kramer for the monthly “What I’m Into” link-up.

What about you? What have you been into this month?

Sitting Together in the Dark: Pt. 2 [Non-Blogger Synchroblog]

l o v 3

It’s been two weeks of reading through brave posts about the experience of others in the darkness in the Night Driving Synchroblog, and I am so challenged, encouraged and moved. I hope that you are too.

Today, I’m sharing the last six of these non-blogger synchroblog contributions. (You can see the first half here, and a compilation of responses from bloggers here!)

As always, please welcome these brave and lovely guests into this space with lots of love and comments.

Grabbing Hold of Beauty in the Waves of Depression

Abby Tamkin

I think the best metaphor I’ve found for my depression is ocean waves. I get bowled over by a big one and I’m crushed, drowning, thrashing, but out of my own control. Eventually the wave subsides, and I can trudge along again.

My therapist wants me to find another metaphor – to “paradigm shift” to a scenario where I have some control over my head/depression/life and where the implied eventual result of the depression isn’t quite so dire as drowning. I’ve thought of other metaphors involving seasons or weather. Maybe it will always be there, but choosing a cyclical metaphor at this point seems like resigning myself to the perennial return of bad days.

One thing I’ve been trying to do to get out of my head is to look out at the world, trying to see beauty and God in the birds and trees and sky.

One afternoon, I was walking from the bus stop, and I saw a vine of milkweed seed pods and pulled out a few seeds. The wind whisked them ahead of me, the glimmering gossamer puffballs carrying their seeds ahead of me like a will-o’-the-wisp. It was such a magical moment. I took the pod with me, and proceeded to light my path with milkweed seeds. I praise and thank God for these moments of hope and light, and pray that they come more often. Perhaps they are brighter for happening in the dark.

*

The Darkness That Has No Boundaries

Norman Weatherly

My darkness comes and goes at times of it’s own choosing. The darkness can descend in a rush out of nowhere. It can come in the middle of the day or under the darkness of night. It can push itself into a conversation or slip in under the stealth of silence. My darkness has very poorly defined boundaries. This darkness defies all of those logics. This darkness makes and breaks its own rules and I don’t even know what those rules are most of the time.

I know that medication can slow down and occasionally push back the darkness. I know that counselling does little to nothing to ease the darkness. Self care helps. Music helps. Reading helps. Rest helps, but not too much thinking because that can lead to a state of apathy and that is a bad place to be in the darkness. Solitude helps more that company. Creativity helps: writing, playing music, building wood projects, colouring, plastic model building. Distraction helps, don’t focus on the darkness.

Does God push away the darkness? No. Not for me. In fact dwelling too much on theology can create a despair and cause the darkness to fold over me. There are moments however when I feel closer to God and that emotional connection can lift a corner of the darkness and let some light in. I then have a choice, do I move towards the light or continue to dwell in the darkness?

Some days I feel that I do not even have that option. There are days when I can see the light, I know the direction I need to move but I can’t. It feels like my feet are planted in cement and no amount of willpower will move me towards the light or lift the darkness from over me. I have to wait for the darkness to lift, willpower or wishful thinking does not lift it. Self-care and medication are steps in the right direction and add a healthy dose of patience (time) and the darkness will lift. Sometimes as suddenly as it sets in, sometimes by degrees.

*

Bright Light Jesus

Michelle O’Shea

My kid was taken away by ambulance one day after I walked quietly into and back out of church. The day before that, we grieved with a tiny teenager whose anorexia, she was convinced, didn’t seem to be killing her fast enough. There’s no small amount of darkness lurking in the not-crazy corners of our world right now and, just for good measure, there’s All Of The Cancer filling in the cracks and holding the whole mess together. Hovering over everything is the spring that is nearly here and the summer that will soon follow. And it was during the summer when it all happened. When it all fell apart. When the sun shone all the time and I lost the little that was left of my shit completely.

Bright Light Jesus didn’t help, either. “They loved the darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil,” was handed down as something of a threat in the faith circles where I grew up. We wanted the story to end well and it does. But in our impatience for imminent redemption we used as a weapon the very thing that breathes life into us. The anxiety nearly killed me. Because the truth is: I love the dark. The dark whispers back what I already know. That Jesus came looking for us even though he was fully aware that who he would find are newly-freed convicts still carrying their state-issued bedding. He came looking even when we didn’t know we were lost. In the dark I don’t feel isolated or betrayed by what I’m supposed to be. I feel found.

And so I am starting to walk out of the dark and into the night. Dark is the thing I overcompensate for, illuminating things that I shouldn’t and using colors too jarring for natural daylight. But night is the thing that just is. It comes and goes, and it comes and goes again.

And when the spotlights cause the colors to fall flat, I go outside where the night is barren. Where it’s bleak but I can breathe. Where I can feel the wind that blew in the storm. And where I am hoping to learn to live well in this place where Jesus sits with our cancer and poverty and depression and addiction and teenagers with bandages all the way to their elbows. I am hoping that as my eyes adjust slowly to the changes in days and seasons I will see everything that’s been growing underground expectant of the sun that is coming back. There’s the risk that someone might not see me right away, but it’s ok. I’m ok. Waiting out the night, I won’t miss the moment grace starts to crack open the sky. 

*

Sundays in the Dark

Beth 

Church used to be the highlight of my week. When I was fourteen, my family started attending the big brick Baptist church that would become my church. I instantly gravitated toward one of the leaders—I’ll call her Alice—who was everything a shy teenage girl like me could want in a youth leader. She was unabashedly transparent and opinionated. She laughed often, especially at herself. She would do anything for her girls. She took us to the movies and to concerts and music festivals. Then, she left. She didn’t just stop teaching; she left that big brick Baptist church completely. And she stopped talking regularly to most of her girls. I didn’t understand. I still don’t, not completely.

It was the start of a long period of feeling alone and left behind at church. I never thought I’d be one of them: a millennial who grew up evangelical but (mostly) stopped going to church when she reached a certain age. But this is where I am right now.

I don’t know if I’m doing this right. I don’t know if I’m expecting too much or looking for the right things. But I do know that on the Sundays when I stay home or meet up with my mom and sister or go to my parents’ house instead of going to that big brick Baptist church or trying somewhere new, I (mostly) don’t feel guilty.

And the thing is, I know God is still with me when I’m fidgeting in a pew at my husband’s church and trying to think about anything and everything except the service (Story ideas! Song lyrics I actually like! What to fix for dinner!)—when I’m driving past the big brick Baptist church on my way to my parents’ house on a Sunday morning—when I’m playing an Audrey Assad CD for the fourth straight day in a row on my way to work because even though I don’t need to feel God, sometimes I want to. So I turn up the volume and sing along. “In the beginning . . . You spoke light into darkness and there was light.” 

*

The Darkness, The Washing, and the God that is Here

Ruth Haslam

I can’t tell you how The Dark arrived, but I can tell you what The Dark was like. It was like The Washing.

I knelt in front of the washing machine saying out loud “Just put one piece of clothing in the washing machine”, over and over until one by one the clothes were not all over the floor any more. “Just put the powder in.” “Just press the button.” And, as the hiss of the water pouring into the machine told me that I had made it, I had finished the marathon, the hot tears came pouring from my eyes and I lay sobbing on the kitchen floor mouthing “I can’t I can’t,” partly because I felt so useless and partly because I was afraid of how I was ever going to unload the machine when it had finished.

Sometimes The Dark puts in an appearance and usually I can’t tell its on its way until it has arrived. Here’s what I do then. I acknowledge its presence cordially, and look it in the eye, and say to The Dark, I’m watching you I can see you even though you are The Dark. There are lots of things I can do about you, and I might just do them if you don’t go away soon. I tell my people to watch The Dark too.

The harder part is something I’ve not figured out yet. It’s the ever underlying feeling that it Might Get Dark Soon, that this Light, this Energy, this Current Burst of Productivity, is never going to last. There, I’ve said it: Fear of The Dark. What do you do about that?

Yes. The Light doesn’t last forever, but if The Dark comes again for a while, perhaps it’s just time to rest and sleep. When it’s nighttime, go to sleep. When it’s daytime ride on that Beam of Light. When I have energy, do things. When I don’t, stop.

Why would I spend an afternoon writing about something horrible, for someone I’ve never met, when I never usually do this sort of thing? I’m writing this for Addie, because she introduced me to two things that have helped me with fear:

Breathe in your Belovedness.

God is here. God is here. God is here.

As you can see, I’ve not mentioned faith at all before, because for me, like for Addie, and for all her readers no doubt, and ultimately for everyone, It’s Complicated. I have no answers, but I am loved. I have no answers, but God is Here.

When Is It Time to Leave a Church? [Dear Addie Column #4]

I’m over at Off the Page again today with my fourth “Dear Addie” column.

What do you do when you feel like you don’t belong at your church? How long do you stick it out? When do you count your losses and move on?

I feel like I’ve spent half of my lifetime living the questions that Claire is asking in her letter. And this is what I’ve learned.

Click over to read now!

Sitting Together in the Dark: Pt. 1 [Non-Blogger Synchroblog]

hands-compassion

A few weeks ago, so many of you helped me to celebrate the release of Night Driving: A Story of Faith in the Dark by adding your voices to a synchroblog.

Now I’d like to share some of the contributions by those of you who don’t have blogs (but obviously should!) This is one of a two-part compilation (the second half will be posted on Thursday, March 31st.)

Please give these brave souls lots of love in the comments section!

Grief and the Emotional Prosperity Gospel

Jacob Tucker 

In the early morning hours of Wednesday, February 25, 2015 my father-in-law called to say that my wife’s brother, his son, had committed suicide the night before. He asked if I could tell her, I guess because he couldn’t.

My brother-in-law was a guy who for the vast majority of the 8 years I knew him was on fire for God, as they say. His faith was solid. Certain. Until it wasn’t. The previous 6 months or so he had started to ask the big questions. There were other factors, other things he was dealing with, that took him to the place he was in that night. But I can’t help but think that the solid faith he grew up with, when it started to crack, had a profound impact on him breaking.

The aftermath was insane, but I will say that people of faith surrounded us. They sat with us, brought us food, cried with us, took care of the logistics of a funeral you never planned for. It felt like God truly was there holding us and weeping too. But then time went on and we had to go back to normal life, and the people of faith that had been so near to us had to as well. And slowly, we found ourselves largely alone. It was a dark, dark time. And then it got darker.

My wife decided to resign from her job and take some time off. Two days later I was told that I would be losing my job in three weeks in a company cost saving measure. By the summer, we were both unemployed, still heavily grieving, and wondering what the hell God was doing. We started to ask the big questions too. Like what was the point of being a Christian? Like how good is God really if all this could happen to us at once?

In the fall our mega evangelical church did a series on how everywhere Jesus went he brought a party, so we should be bringing the party to this world, and life should look like one big party. We didn’t feel like partying.

I realized that the message I had been hearing was “Jesus instead of your pain.” Just let Jesus take the place of your grief, your depression, your anxiety. I needed Emmanuel. Jesus with me in my pain. My wife called it the emotional prosperity gospel – that if you just believe in Jesus enough, you’ll feel better.

So we stopped going. And I can’t really describe what our faith looks like. It’s not dead. But it’s certainly not thriving. It’s in the dark. It’s been over a year now since that phone call. I was surprised at the healing the 1-year mark brought. [Good things have happened] but it hasn’t been an up and to the right trajectory of healing after excruciating tragedy, job loss, church disillusionment, and grief for a number of things. It looks more like a tangled string of Christmas lights when you’re first getting them back out of the box early-mid December.

Sometimes I think the Spirit is near. Other times I just don’t. I guess that’s what it’s like stumbling through the dark. You’re not quite sure where other things are in relation to you. Nor you to them. I hope we stumble smack into the Spirit again at some point. When we do, I picture them looking a lot different then he used to when we were in the light.

*

The Pain That Makes Us Honest

Carrie

There were many things God taught me through the experience of divorce but God’s faithfulness in the face of man’s unfaithfulness was one of the most striking. Suddenly I knew the stark reality of how limited human love is and it led me into closer worship of God for his limitless love and greater reliance on Him. I didn’t have the luxury of relying on a husband or relying on my seemingly comfortable circumstances anymore.

Being in pain has an unavoidable way of bringing honesty to your relationship with God. For a while, I found myself gradually distancing myself from God. I’d never really been particularly upfront with God; it had been too scary to openly rebel but now I was really struggling to believe that he loved me or that any security could be found in him. If God was supposed to be in control but this trauma had happened, then perhaps anything could happen. If God was prepared to let me go through this, what other awful things would He allow?

I wondered if God would stop the pain if I stopped speaking out these negative things. But there was another stronger side of me that believed in my heart that honesty was the best and only way forward and that to bury my feelings “because my miracle was on its way” was not going to do me any good in the long run.

It still makes me mad if I hear a preacher leave a congregation with the unspoken implication that it’s wrong to feel how they feel. Time and again I’ve heard things like, “You don’t need to fear because God loves you.” But knowing God loves me doesn’t always take my fear of the future away. Life can still feel as fragile as ever.

*

Not My Brand of Broken

Addey Thompson

My darkness looks like depression and anxiety. Sometimes I think that trying to struggle in the light supersized my darkness to extra-dark. I was halfway through my bachelors degree at a tiny Baptist university, and while I’m sure others around me suffered too, we all had learned to hurt silently.

[My peers] confessed “broken” sins like busyness, and I just wanted to scream. They were not my brand of broken. It made my brand of broken feel unfixable. It seemed like they could read a scripture and just like that-they were renewed. I sat in my sea of confusion and frustration and doubt and depression and I pleaded, Why? What is wrong with me that isn’t wrong with any of these people?

This past winter, a younger friend in her first semester of college opened up to me and told me all the deepest hurts and burdens she carried around like backpack. I couldn’t help but think, I am the adult here. I’m supposed to have magic words of comfort to make her feel safe and secure. But then, I realized that’s not what I want someone to dish out to me. So I laid out the truth, “I’m sorry. I hate this for you. I hurt the same way too. I don’t know how to fix it.” She responded quickly, and said, “Really? I didn’t know that about you. Thanks for sharing. I don’t need an answer or anything, I think I just needed to talk to someone who gets it.”

Some days I still feel like the power is out in my heavy heart. But what I’m learning is that it is okay to let your heart be heavy. It’s okay to take a leap of faith and trust someone to guard and respect your story. It’s important to be gentle and kind with others, and respect that their story may be deeper than you allow it to seem. More than anything though, I’ve learned that God is on my side. He likes me. His heart’s desire is not for the deep dark sadness to become my home base. Maybe it’s not about trying to push yourself into the light that feels far away- Maybe I can ask Him to come find me in my cave.

*

The Red Ribbon That I’m Still Untangling

Anna

Last August, I tried to kill myself. Twice.

I was (still am) newly married, fresh out of college, and ready to start grad school. I was in the prime of my life. I was supposed to be happy, right?  I wasn’t.

The suicide attempts came in the midst of a severe depression. I have bipolar disorder and I’m quite experienced with depression. But this was a different depression, a kind that absolutely suffocated me, a depression that truly felt physical. Life was utterly empty. I had tunnel vision, unable to see any of the good around me. lost hope and craved nothingness.

In the past, it was hope that kept me going. But the third time [that I had a bipolar breakdown]? When Jesus wasn’t answering my prayers and when medication wasn’t working? Hope was nowhere to be found. I decided it was the end of my life.

You see, when hope is gone, darkness becomes real appealing.

After, in the hospital, I overheard a patient and a nurse talking about God’s existence. In the midst of my eavesdropping, any shred of faith I had left disintegrated.  I went to my bed and pounded my fist into the pillow, sobbing, “God is gone, God is gone, God is gone.” 

My health got worse before it got better, but it did get better. My faith, however, did not.These are the questions I’ve been asking: “I didn’t learn anything. What if my faith went backward instead of forward?” and “What if there is no good in my evil?”

I really wish I could give a tidy answer/conclusion to what’s happened. Christians are fans of the big red bow that ties everything up. I guess I could say that I have a red ribbon, but it certainly isn’t a bow. All I can say is that I’m doing better health-wise and am actively wrestling with a God I know is real, a God I am trying to rediscover.

*

Feeling Forsaken By God…and Christians

Anonymous

I was plunged into darkness, standing in my child’s hospital room. There would be no going to Italy or Scotland, there wouldn’t even be bill paying or just sitting holding the hand of a sick child. . . there would never be parenting. There would never be together, partnership, companionship.

And then God was gone and we were plunged into a darkness so deep and so long that one begins to even doubt the darkness. It was having parts of my chest and lungs ripped out each time we went to court and talked about the abuse. It was sobbing in my car and having well meaning Christians tell me, “Oh just wait you will get a good judge, it will turn around”, but it never did. It was watching various gofundme sites open for other’s tragedies, but feeling like mine had a secret power to scare others away, some with violent judgment, but all with blame and shame as if I had asked for this, or done something.

It was sitting alone when I had the chance, in cars, in hospital parking garages and wailing. Why, why why. Where are you? Why are you so far away? Why have you forsaken us? Why have you withheld every bit of grace and mercy? It was feeling as if God had become our abuser­. It was sitting with an emptiness of a faith long gone in it’s uselessness, of a faith that previously promised if you did a, b, and c, then you always got d, e, f.

And where to fit the moments of beauty in the devastation? Of my Muslim mother friend who saw the abuse and told me to come to a certain mosque at any time of the day or night and we would be protected? Of my Jewish friend who invited us to Hannukah (while the church we went to stopped talking to us)? Of people who watched my other child and said, “take as long as you need, no worries”. Those pieces stood out precisely because they did not come from the self proclaimed “Christians” who quite frankly were the most hurtful during this time of endless night.

For the brave mothers who blog about life after their child’s death that give me hope one can live with unimaginable loss. . . for anyone who blogs and says by words, “You are not alone”. Thank you for holding that piece of God for us.

*

The Light Born from the Darkness

Meredith 

I had just quit my job in ministry (You’re leaving the mission?! they said) to go back to school. I had been accepted into the #3 art graduate school in the country. I had agreed to take out tens of thousands of dollars in loans. I found myself in a studio surrounded by more talented people than I had ever met in one place. But come December and January, I was drowning, suffocating, unmotivated.

And then there was That Damn Polar Vortex. And I lived in Chicago. One block from Lake Michigan. With no car. With a roommate who had left me for a fiancé in the suburbs. And I wasn’t allowed to leave my apartment for two weeks because it was -40 degrees out.  I walked to the lake with two coats, two scarves, a hat and boots on just to witness it myself. Just to breathe something other than my own recycled air. I bought two plants at the grocery store because everything was cold and dead and frozen and stuck and I just needed a little bit of life. I even dyed a streak of my hair platinum blonde because I needed some actual light in my life (on my head).

And then it was March…April…May…but even then I was feeling That Damn Polar Vortex. So I sent an email asking old bosses to send me somewhere (anywhere) for the summer. A desperate email. I needed to leave eternal winter and my frustration and my loneliness far behind. Then, I was sent to the Dominican Republic for a month. I volunteered at a camp in the mountains for weeks, not knowing a lick of Spanish. I read When We Were on Fire, coincidentally. I confronted loneliness and my control issues and God. (I faced a lot of really large spiders, too.)

And I don’t if I was completely healed by that month in the DR. But what I do know is, that during that month I was connected to a school there. And then that school offered me a job. And now here I am two years later. I ran away from That Damn Polar Vortex, that darkness, to the most opposite place I could think of – a tropical island. And here God has given me that refuge, that light, again. I don’t have it all figured out and I’m constantly asking God to let me in on the reason why I’m here. But until that clarity comes (and maybe that clarity won’t happen for years), I will sit in this light born from that darkness.