walking away from the red couch.

my emotions are on high alert today.  the conflicting excitement of what’s about to begin in the next twenty four hours mixed with the fact that i have to say goodbye.  just, well.  there have been some tears.  and maybe a cuss word.  or two. or twelve.

for me, it’s the goodbye of such a sweet season.  because when i come back, everything is sure to be different.  i’m not on hiatus from a routine and rhythm.  something is ending.  something new is starting.  and in four months it’ll be back to square one of figuring out the next thing.  my church is moving to atlanta.  my friends are getting married.  my apartment buddies are leaving and moving all about.  the office as i used to know it doesn’t really exist and won’t be waiting for me.  my job and position have been given up.  i have no idea what i’m walking in to or what awaits me on the other side.  but i feel, with full force today, the stuff i’m walking away from.

i promise this is going to sound absurd.  but one of the hardest things for me to walk away from is a red couch.  not so much the couch itself, but what it’s represented for me.

this red couch isn’t mine. it sits in an apartment just above me and i visit on occasion.   i’ve shared meals on this couch, laughed on this couch, slept on this couch and cried on this couch.

oh my word, how i have cried on this couch.

this couch has heard my dreams, my disappointments and my secrets. it has been a place of both truth and comfort, a place to grieve and a place to find hope again.

it’s been a safe place. a place to exhale.  a place to rest.

but, as good and sweet and necessary as the rest has been, i’m not meant to rest forever.  sitting on that couch too long makes me restless.  hm.  that’s funny – getting restless is maybe the prophetic word that it’s time to “rest less.”

it’s definitely time for me to go.  time for me to walk into some stuff, out of some stuff and away from some stuff.  there’s such joy in seeing some promises fulfilled.  but, man.  it hurts.  it hurts to walk away from things that are so good.  so comfortable.  it’s tough to make the decision that does’t always feel nice.  at the moment, i’d rather just stay on the couch.  

except that i wouldn’t really.  

i know this is right.  i know that i need to be away from the couch for a minute.  and today’s best reminder of God’s love and care for me is His gentle reassurance that the red couch will be waiting for me when i come home.

it’s not so easy this time around.

when i made the decision to go on the world race almost four years ago it felt like the easiest thing i’d ever done.  i was a senior in college, graduating in a few months, forced to decide what my next step would be.  there was some opposition and raised eyebrows at the thought, but mostly i was supported and encouraged.  sure, i was nervous about raising the money and was unsure of who would become my teammates and all of that, but the actual decision of saying “yes” to it felt like a piece of cake.

because it didn’t feel like i had to give much up.

sure, the showers and beds and decent food would be missing.  and i would miss my family and friends.  but i felt, more than anything like i was getting to gain everything i’d been dreaming about.  i got to travel the world, see new cultures, have new experiences and meet new people.  for jesus.  it was the best thing i could have ever imagined.

the decision for me to go back to the field as a leader was anything but easy.  at the risk of sounding dramatic, it was one of the hardest decisions i think i’ve ever had to make.  and the impact of the decision still makes my head reel when i try to fall asleep at night.  i leave soon.  real soon.  emotions are high across the board and the reality of my being gone is beginning to sink in.  don’t get me wrong.  i am over the moon excited about this.  i feel like i am finally getting to walk into some things that the lord promised me years ago and i am totally and completely obsessed with and committed to the 23 people i’m leading.

but.  there’s a lot more at stake this time.
and today i just need to let myself feel that part of it.

the messy, ugly, crying all day long because i can’t help myself, will someone please hold me part of it.

no, it’s not the showers and beds and decent food.  it’s not the fact that i have to go live out of a backpack again.  or sleep in a tent again.  it’s none of that stuff.  it’s the family and friends and life and routine i’ve come to know and love.  it’s cinnamon roll saturdays and church on monday nights.  it’s spontaneous lunch dates with people i can dream with.  it’s staying up late to clean up the mess from the dinner party we just had.  it’s phone calls with best friends and coffee with mamas and papas.  it’s the routine and the rhythm i have found.  it’s the all day long Skype conversations, the ramen noodle roommate dinners.  the knowing i’m surrounded by people who are always for me.  the feeling at home in so many houses.  it’s the little stuff and the big stuff.

it’s all of my life.  and this time, it’s just not quite so easy to give it up.

stand up straight.

growing up i heard my mom say to me “stand up straight” more than i heard her say anything else.  my grandmother used to poke her hand in my back as an emphatic reminder to “stand up straight.”  for whatever reason, i’ve never been known for my impeccable posture.  i’ve always had a habit of slumping and slouching.  not with any particular intention, it’s just how i carried myself.

the theme of my standing up straight always seems to come back around.  i’ve been reminded on several occasions by the prominent voices in my life to stand up.  stop slouching.  carry yourself upright.  head high.  shoulders back.  confident and unashamed.  stand up straight.

easier said than done.

last night at church a spiritual papa came and put his arms around me.  he remarked at how confidently i’ve been walking for the past several months but that he’s seen me begin to slouch and slump again.  the ever familiar curve in my back had returned.  he reminded me that sometimes we have to carry ourselves unto faith.  “walk as if you know who you are,” he said.  head high.

shoulders back. confident and unashamed.  stand up straight.

through tears i rose and stood up a little taller.  in about two minutes i realized just how uncomfortable i was.  my back was hurting.  my knees were going weak.  “this is not normal,” i thought to myself.  “this hurts.”  and the holy spirit smacked me across the head with a revelation that sometimes becoming who you already are hurts.  choosing to stand in the place of your god-given identity isn’t always easy.  and it’s definitely not comfortable.  it takes a lot of discipline and work to form the habits that make you into the person you are.  i don’t know about you, but i’m not always a fan of things like discipline and hard work.

ugh.

the last several weeks and months have brought circumstances that have made it difficult for me to stand up straight, tall and confident.  i haven’t always done a great job of standing on the word from the lord. i’ve been too wavered by the opinions of the people i trust and admire.  i’ve been shaky in my resolve, allowing my circumstances to determine my attitude.  my posture towards the lord has been one based not on faith, but on the feeling of the moment.  and little by little i’ve sunk lower and lower into an identity that isn’t actually mine to wear : slouched.  slumped.  cowered and ashamed.

but, thank you jesus that we always get to try again.  we always get the choice to stand up taller and walk as if we know who we are.  i’m choosing to stand straighter today.  head high. shoulders back. confident and unashamed.  it’s still uncomfortable.  but it feels more right.