Blue Like Jazz x2

“Well, you sure must like that book if you own it twice!”

I took out my headphones and a man with large, genuine eyes was staring at me. I had come to Caribou after finishing my Christmas shopping in hopes of writing a few essays before the end of the semester. I explained to the man that the book Blue Like Jazz was my favorite, and I was giving it to my friend for Christmas; I wanted to mark my favorite sections so that she would be able to see why it’s my favorite.

“So what’s it about if it’s so special?”

I took a deep breath and started to sweat a little bit. This is what you train for in high school youth group, right? Maybe someone will notice you in a coffee shop and ask you why you believe what you believe? Well here I was, confronted face-to-face in one of those situations. I had no idea where this conversation would go, but I had no choice but to dive right in.

“Well, the subtitle of the book is ‘Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality.’ I love this book because it takes a lot of big Christian words and concepts, and it breaks it down into a really beautiful, meaningful way.”
“So you’re a Christian, then?”
“Yes, sir, I am.”
“So you believe in life after death, then?”
“Well . . . yes. But that’s not why I’m a Christian. I think that if you say you’re a Christian, then you have to be more invested in the here-and-now instead of trying to escape into some magical place we call heaven.”

The man with the genuine eyes looked across the table at his friend he was having coffee with. “Oh boy! Now we’re having a conversation!”

We talked about how we didn’t believe the Bible was a science textbook. We talked about Bible translations, and how each time you read it you can walk away with a different idea. We talked about why I love Advent because it gives me permission to long for God to show up. We talked about why God would let a three-year-old-boy die, asking each other if God makes mistakes, if God really loves all people, and if God is still moving today. We talked about how we all are living stories . . . and if we believe that, we need to be striving to live a story worth telling. We disagreed here and there, but we both agreed that God works through people.

He asked me what I do, and I explained that I am studying worship arts and theology at a small Christian college in Iowa. We talked about music ministry, what my dreams for my life were, and what I’ve done to make them a reality. I explained how I lead worship at my church and school, and briefly mentioned that I had done music ministry in Guatemala.

Suddenly two women sitting at the table across from me turned around and stared at me. “Excuse me, I don’t mean to interrupt, but did you say you’ve been to Guatemala? I opened an orphanage in Guatemala!”

I moved to the other side of the table, and soon enough our three tables were all discussing mission work, what “ministry” means, and what it means to love people who are different than you.

Before I knew it, I had made four new friends who I listened and learned from. It was one of the most “gospel” interactions I’ve ever had. Five people who had never met came together with generosity, interest, and passion.

If you’ve known me for even a small amount of time, you probably know that the #1 thing on my bucket list is to get coffee with Donald Miller, the author of Blue Like Jazz, but I wonder if today I got something even better. I was able to have coffee with four beautiful hearts whom I didn’t even know existed when I woke up this morning. Perhaps this is better than having coffee with a famous author. Maybe I crossed something off my bucket list today.

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Shattered Walls

She felt that she was nothing more than a broken mess. She carried with her the lies that angry men had told her before.

Too fat.
Too skinny.
Too loud.
Too timid.
Too stupid.
Too opinionated.
Too ugly.
Too vain.
Too broken.

She was built in a cage of lies in which more and more walls were being solidified everyday. She was a prisoner in her own skin, craving truth but only being fed lies. She kept trying to see hope for future times, but all she could see were the bars surrounding her in the prison they built her in.

But he saw her, not as a prisoner, but as a songbird who had forgotten how to sing. He found a crack in the wall and extended his arm out to her. “I love you,” he said “and my heart breaks thinking about the way they make you feel.” She leaned forward and allowed his hand to meet hers. Instantly the foundations of one of the walls shook and fell to the ground as if it was made out of paper.

He sat next to her in the crumbling cage. “I’m willing to be here with you, to take on this prison, if that means I get a shot at seeing the real you.”

He showed her that she was worth loving. He showed her that although she wasn’t the one that built the walls, she was the one keeping there. No one told her to stay there; she held the key the entire time. She’s always possessed the ability to run free; all she had to do was choose to use it.

I wonder what cages you live in. I wonder what walls of lies you are surrounded by, and I wonder who built them. I want nothing more for you than for those walls to shatter, to collapse and fall down at your feet. I want you to go free. I want you to have the freedom to be who you are, not who they say you are. You have the ability to walk away from the prisons you are trapped in. Hope is real, but it requires a choice to act upon it.

May you be brave enough to shatter the walls of your prisons and to step outside in freedom.

You & He & I

You.

You are unique; there is no one on this planet who is the same as you. Your hands move, feel, and remember differently than any other pair of hands. Your eyes see, discover, and understand things in ways none other can. Your ears listen, process, and notice things that perhaps none others do. Your heart enjoys, endures, and experiences far differently than all the rest of them.

You are beautiful. You’ve been told this, yet you still doubt this.

You have scars that no one has seen. You have fears that no one knows. You carry hurt deep inside of you. You wonder how anyone could see past these things, how anyone could forgive you . . . how you could ever be loved again.

He.

He carefully, intricately, and intentionally put you together exactly the way you are. Those hands, eyes, ears and heart are the way they are because of Him. He designed you to look like His heart. He made you with the intention of living in love forever with you.

His heart breaks every time yours does. He knows about the secrets. He’s seen the scars. He’s felt the hurt. You’ve been hiding, but He knows your wounded heart, and you don’t know how beautiful you are.

He extends His arms and breaks down the walls. He brings light to the darkness and clears away the mess so that only His love remains. He has the ability and desire to take away the hurt, the dirt, the shame, the regret, the heartbreak, the depression, the addiction, the anxiety, and the brokenness that you carry so that you are healed and restored to be the you He created you to be. He gave His all so that He could once again hold your beautiful heart.

I.

I want you to know that it is okay, and even good, to be you. I never want you to forget how He sees you. I want to make sure you know that it’s going to be okay. I want you to know that every word I’ve said is true. I promise that there is morning will come even though it feels like you’ve been living in an eternal night. I can assure you there is hope and there is light.

I want to know your story. I want to know who you really are. I want to meet you here tonight.

** Inspired by You Don’t Know How Beautiful You Are by Jon Foreman