Legacy

My past has occupied most of my brain space over the last month and, honestly, over the last twenty years. I can’t remember a time since 8 years old that I was not preoccupied by a mistake, a failure, an unfulfilled dream or desire. My greatest dream at that point was to be a cheerleader in high school (which didn’t happen, by the way), but I never fought to dream beyond pom-poms and tumbling practice — sad to say the least.

Since graduating high school I’ve had short term dreams: Dreams about designing t-shirts or going to the beach or one day writing a book. My journey on the World Race wasn’t even a dream. It was placed in front of me and I leapt after it, hoping I would find this illusive dream hiding somewhere among the passport stamps and bowls of rice along the way. Not so. Even then, even still, I was overcome with these holes in me: holes from being unworthy, making poor choices, feeling isolated in my sin and suffering, and holes from an overactive brain and words too full of feeling.

I’ve gone through seasons where I live more in the present than in the past, but rarely do I dream. “Strong desire” is as close to “dream” as I would ever come, perhaps out of fear that dreams would never come true, but more likely because the weight of my past still quietly held my arms by my side, unable to reach up for the whispy, dreamy things, those world-changing dreams we may whisper from now and then but rarely speak with any power, and sometimes even the simple dreams: marriage, family, community, stability.

A dozen times a week someone says the word “legacy” and I immediately sing Nichole Nordeman’s song in my head, always challenged by her words, but rarely in a place to explore them. Tonight on the way home from work it happened again- “it’s amazing the little legacies people leave behind,” somewhere between a story about a man and his mother and a song about change and I began to unpack.

I want to leave a legacy. How will they remember me?

How will they remember me? I told a story last night around a table full of strangers, one that rolls off my tongue with ease, about a worship night in a hostel in China and “but what does God really call you?” Amy asked, followed by nights and days of journal entries asking God that very question – what do You call me? What’s my name? – to find the answer written in the very evidence of who He is, whispered day after day to my heart:

beloved.
lionheart.

Beloved, the I AM loved, a literal outpouring of holy, faithful, uncontainable love.
Lionheart. Brave, courageous, generous.

How will they remember me? Right now, not as the physical representation of a holy love. Right now, more as broken and needy, selfish and conflicted. These holes in me hold ownership over me. Joy light doesn’t shine through them because I’m too busy covering them out of shame, regret, and self-doubt.

I don’t want to live life in a pattern, in repetition, season after season the same pain, the same mentality. We are bread and wine, broken and poured out for those around us, not for our own endless cycles. There must be growth, even in the midst of hard things.

Beloved doesn’t run, doesn’t hide, doesn’t wrap herself in scarves of shame and adorn with the jewels of pain.
Lionhearted doesn’t cower timidly in the corner of a room full of success and truth because she sees only lies.

Beloved is rooted, grounded, in Truth and faith. Beloved is a strong spine and she has open hands. Beloved comes alive with joy.
Lionhearted is wild and free… free. Lionhearted dances and sings; She is always in the presence of the Most High. Lionhearted praises and walks through fire upright, confident. (Read: The Lord is within her; she will not fall) Lionhearted comes alive with destiny.

That is the legacy I choose to leave. Today. I choose that today. And tomorrow, again, that is what I will choose. Yesterday is gone and matters no more.

In light of eternity I am this: lionhearted and beloved.

I want to leave a legacy. How will they remember me?
Did I choose to love? Did I point to You enough to make a mark on things?
I want to leave an offering: a child of mercy and grace who blessed your name unapologetically
I want to leave that kind of legacy.

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Balloons

It’s Wednesday. I came home from work today and listened to Christy Nockels’ latest episode of The Glorious and the Mundane and fell asleep halfway through. I woke up at the very end, early enough to hear the new song she played from her upcoming album. Then I started crying. I cried for an hour. In fact, as I’m typing this the tears are still drying on my cheeks and down my neck.

Over the last few weeks I have had great adventures – to Cloudland Canyon, hiking around Berry, a Braves game, some time with my college besties, and tons of late nights in Cedartown talking and laughing with friends. I’ve posted all those cute photos all over social media because they have been such highlights, but if you think I’ve got it all together, here’s the real answer: nope.

I cried tonight because I’m exhausted from repeating the same things over and over again, day in and day out (I’m so bad at repetition), tired of going to small groups alone and wishing I knew more people at my church, (and in that vein) sad that the church I spent seven years at just fell apart, dissolved, and I lost all those relationships. I’m weary from doing life alone sometimes, of not having people who chase Christ around me, reminders and contemporaries. I miss my groups. I miss my women at Connect and the staff. I miss conversations with Drew and Amy in the Valley, Julie’s chili, fall walks with Em, and “stopping by the church” just to see Jeannene or Lindsey or Paul or anyone else who might be there. I miss having a home church. I love this new place I’m at, but I don’t feel like I belong yet. I know it’s growing pains and I know eventually it will be fine, but right now it is miserably bleak and I feel like a lost balloon floating higher and higher, farther from anything anchored. I look around this cute house of mine at all this heavy furniture – rooted, grounded, too heavy to float away or be moved in a hurry – and I still feel unsettled, a nomad, a wanderer. Not quite where I’m supposed to be. Not quite who I’m supposed to be. Unseen at times, maybe even misplaced.

I know life isn’t all about who you’re with and God is my strength and my comfort and my refuge and my anchor and all of the things for the Bible tells me so and I believe them. I know them. I believe them deep down. But I can’t even read through one chapter of scripture, Old Testament or New, and ignore the community and group-feel woven throughout each story and verse. “Brothers and sisters” it says, “flock” and “my people” and themes about unity and the very idea that God is triune- father, spirit, and son in solidarity, in seamless harmony.  This isn’t a new idea or a new concept. This is why my soul craves community and thrives on hospitality. I can’t do this alone and I’d be gravely mistaken if I thought for one second I could.

Some people are introverts, but I am a people person. I am terrified of the Great Room at church, mostly because there is such a large crowd of people (that I barely know) in a small room. I run in, grab coffee, and sprint to the sanctuary where it is cool and quiet and peaceful. (But I love airports. I know, it makes no sense.) And I love having people at my table. I love conversations in groups or one-on-one. I love knowing people. There is something about really knowing a person – knowing their story, knowing their heart, hearing the way they describe their passions and even the “mundane” stories in life. Something in that connection fills my heart, something in the words and the knowing and being known. It is reminiscent of my relationship with Christ – known and knowing. I don’t always have to be with people, in fact I love waking up on Saturday mornings to an empty house in peaceful silence; I enjoy some nights after work making dinner and losing myself in a book, but not always. Not every night. Some nights the silence is deafening and the not knowing, not being known, settles like a dense fog. Imagine how easily a balloon would be lost in a fog.

I know there’s no easy fix – a lot of time, a lot of investment, a lot of one-foot-after-the-other, and a lot of awkward moments, but truth be told, life isn’t always easy, especially as an adult where everyone’s schedule differs. Sometimes life is a mess on a Wednesday night.

(And yes, I did post that cute blog about how being alone isn't always
 everything just last week and I still stand by every word.)

Alone

Cameron Flaisch Photography

Over the years I’ve become accustomed to doing things on my own. The most notable in the forefront of my mind being Christmas Eve two years ago: After curling my hair, donning red lipstick, heels, and a dress for our Christmas Eve service at church I got halfway down the road and realized both my headlight bulbs were blown. Not only did I miss church that I had tirelessly prepared for, but also stood in the middle of the Walmart parking lot using my phone as a flashlight and figured out how to change out my headlight bulbs on my own.

The list of “milestones” I’ve experienced solo beyond that incident would be exhausting to count, but includes the likes of buying a car on my own, applying for loans on my own, and going on my first flight ever on my own (also to a foreign country, might I add, without a phone or any real bearings). I’ve made large purchases, traveled to foreign lands, and attended many corporate functions without someone by my side to lean on in times of indecision or uncertainty. I’m the poster child for “alone.”

Truth be told, it doesn’t always suck. It can be frustrating at times – when I should have someone to call for some mechanical issue (or light bulb problem) or when I need to move furniture. But in reality, it’s made me hike up my britches and get on with life, to use a very colloquial phrase. Life is too worth living to sit around waiting for someone to walk it with you. Though we live in a patriarchal society that prides itself on marriage and family, my purpose does not wholly depend on the presence of another human being by my side.

I say none of this in the vein of bashing marriage or unity of any sort, but quite the contrary. I think marriage is a beautiful thing – to find someone you love the best and worst of, who loves you just the same, so much so that you desire to bind yourself to that person for the rest of your lives is a rare and monumental thing. There are over 3 billion people on the earth and one person manages to find one other person with which they desire to spend all of their sleeping and waking moments. Love is one of those things I don’t think we’ll ever quite understand. It is deeper, wider, and much more expansive than we could ever anticipate explaining. It is beyond us.

2017 has been such a fun year. I started off working a million twelve hour days in a new position I grew to love. This particular work environment comes with its share of challenges and problems to solve with no day ever a duplicate of another. It is a level of organized chaos that I enjoy more than even I can comprehend by combining stability and instability in a sort of vacuum. Some things are always the same, but many aspects of this position are new and different each day, no matter what. There are enough variables that work is never static. And this altogether excludes the people I work alongside, who in and of themselves provide the best entertainment and challenges.

It almost seems silly to reminisce on days when I could only hope to escape Rome because I can’t imagine being anywhere else now. I don’t negate that somewhere deep down I will always love and cherish and be challenged by international cultures and lifestyles and, perhaps, one day end up on a far off adventure, but for now this is home.

I know people who have been married for decades that still feel alone, still feel isolated, still don’t know what it means to be loved. The privilege I’ve had to experience so much in life, especially the experiences I’ve had, have shown me that life is never truly lived alone.

Here is where I write some cliche about how people have always been around when I needed them and how God showed up in some magical way in the middle of my most alone time. These things are true. I could write you a novel on the number of people who have helped me so much, but I won’t.

What I really want to tell you is this: when you see the world with open eyes, it’s impossible to feel alone. Somehow life always lines up.

 

-April 2017
📷 Cameron Flaisch