Overwhelming

I love a good published journal.

Anthony Doerr’s Four Season’s in Rome began my love-affair with nonfiction prosety in the form of journal entries. Earlier in the year, in an attempt to get involved with nonfiction again, I purchased D.H. Lawrence & Italy, a published collection that contains 7 short-pieces that are quite descriptive and, as I would come to find, profound.

Nestled in the midst of sweeping descriptions of the Italian countryside was this quote:

“There is the I, always the I. And the mind is submerged, overcome. But the senses are superbly arrogant. The senses are the absolute, the God-like. For I can never have another man’s senses. These are me, my senses absolutely me. And all that is can only come to me through my senses. So that all is me, and is administered unto me. The rest, that is not me is nothing. It is something which is nothing.”

Holy. Wow.

Typing this up to put into this post, it is just as startlingly true and rattling to me.

In summary, what D.H. Lawrence is trying to get at is this:

Everything comes to us through our own senses. Our experiences of events (traumatic or dreamy), words, even food comes to us through that which is singular and tailored to the individual.

So basically, no matter how many times your mom tells you to “put yourself in their shoes,” it is quite impossible. You can’t leave yourself at the doorstep. You do, in fact, bring 100% of yourself and your feelings, emotions, reactions, opinions into every situation and experience.

Let’s put that on the back burner to simmer for a moment.

Just under 2 weeks ago, I travelled down to Quakertown, Pennsylvania to participate in a bible camp as a counselor. The camp always stirs something within the campers and is so heavily saturated with spiritual encounters that we always leave feeling exhausted (because of no sleep) and totally drained because of how emotional it is to meet with the Savior and King. We ask for his Spirit and He always always meets us. What a faithful King.

As we were travelling down, I was praying over and meditating on the Lord, and I just felt Him bring to mind (or focus my attention on) a word that would come to play a huge part in the week.

Overwhelming.

To be quite honest, I had no idea what it meant. But the word just kept washing over me.

Overwhelm. Overwhelming. Overwhelmed.

Let’s put this one on the back burner too. Like any meal there are a lot of elements to this post and story and I can’t explain them all at once, of course. Bear with me. I think it will be good.

This year and more specifically the last few months of school were some of the more difficult I have walked through. Riddled with doubt. Depression. Brokenness became my being. Waking up felt impossible. Going to bed was a nightmare. Darkness swelled, and fear grew, and I thought at least once a day “How am I ever going to get through this?” I think the easiest way to describe the physical feeling of it was emptiness. Utterly numb to feeling, emotion. I felt detached from my body, from my King, from those I loved. Like I was living on a plane on which no one else was.

It hurts to look back on these days because I can still feel pieces of this loneliness that felt like it devoured me.

I remember every day, pleading with the Creator on my bathroom floor that he would redeem the moments, the days, the hours. That he would shine light onto my darkness. That he would be bigger than these moments.

I also remember being angry. When that time on the bathroom floor would end and the minutes would turn into hours and the hours to days and there was no spiritual respite it was this that went through my mind:

My Creator King, my Holy Father was nowhere to be found.

Loneliness. Crippling loneliness.

I knew that He was there. But I didn’t feel him. I knew He would sustain. But I didn’t feel sustained. I knew He would redeem. But I didn’t feel (or see) anything of the kind.

So here I am,  at Youth Camp, expectant to meet my Savior but bringing with me the baggage of last years loneliness, fear, unmet expectation, the broken-heart of all my broken relationships (which at the time felt like it included my Jesus). And here he was whispering this word:

Overwhelming.

And over the course of the week this is what I felt stirring within me. These are the things the Lord crafted within my soul using the broken knotted strings of last year.

As imperfect human beings with a desire to understand all things, we want to marginalize, define, and understand our surroundings fully. We experience life from the time we are born and apply our experiences and our understanding to everything that comes our way. But our god-like senses are horribly imperfect. (The D.H. Lawrence quote fails to mention this.)

In the midst of deep darkness and massive waves I confined his power and love to a mere life-preserver that would grab me out of the stormy waters and put me high on a cruise ship (not even a boat!). This was his love.

I applied my finite knowledge of his faithfulness and decided that from all the ways the Lord had protected and preserved me, this was no different: I was meant to be healed of this! He is supposed to be healing me of my brokenness! His love comes in the form of healing.

Yes. But.

 

His love is overwhelming.

 

He is more.

A Just King, who disciplines to teach, who holds your hand in the midst of the fire (but doesn’t always silence it). He can calm the seas, yes, but he teaches us his faithfulness when the swells rise higher than we ever thought they could.

Life is confusing, yes. He plans all things for good, yes. He is FAITHFUL, yes.

But he is beyond even the written word.

And ultimately this:

His love is deeper, wider, and greater than I could ever imagine.

His ways are higher. His thoughts are bigger than we can comprehend.

I confined my King to a 2×2 box, I didn’t allow him to be bigger than simply being healer because I held so tightly to the desire to be whole.

And when he did not throw the life-preserver and swam beside me instead, I looked at the skies and told him that he was not who he said he was. I yelled

And I screamed.

And I pointed to Psalm 30, saying if he promised the morning would come where was it?

And the way he came into that doubt and that confining tendency.

Oh. I still can’t get over this.

 

Reader, He is an overwhelming King.

Your circumstances are big, I know.

But He is bigger still.

When the night grows dark, remember that our God is greater than our finite human senses and understanding and capacities.

He is far beyond our earthly, imperfect understanding.

His love is more.

Than loneliness.

Than depression.

Than the city that runs you down.

Than the friend who doesn’t understand your Faith.

Than that thing in your life that gets in the way of earth-shaking joy.

He is an overwhelming King.

Whether you want to remember this or not, He is. God is only capable of being BIG in his goodness and love and kindness.

He is always more.

 

I dare you to get lost in it.

To revel in the OVERWHELMING ways of his grace.

In his deep, full, healing love.

In his complete, freeing being.

 

This week, I want to challenge you to spend 15 minutes thinking and writing down ways the Lord has revealed aspects of his love and character to you. When you have written down the characteristics of Jesus, find scriptures that have shown you this and write those down beside the characteristics, so that in the moments when you’re tempted to make him small you can remember the ways that he has shown himself as bigger.

 

He is bigger still.

He is more, still.

 

Get lost in his love, reader.

He is freedom.

 

XX-

Brittany

 

P.S. and if you feel yourself struggling to stop confining him to that 2×2 box, pray.

He desires to meet you, in fact, He will meet you. Our overwhelming King delights to show himself to his kids.

 

(SOME) MY FAVORITE SCRIPTURES ABOUT HOW OVERWHELMING OUR KING IS:

(JOB 37)

(ISAIAH 40:10-18, 21-31)

(PSALM 75:3)

(PSALM 66:4-7)

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an update

your girl is truly awful at keeping up with this sweet corner of the internet. 

No excuses but I do feel that it is far better to post inspired content then to just post to post (that’s what I tell myself whenever I see the wordpress icon – approximately 100x a day.)

Despite that, here I am. the whole school here has come and (practically) gone and I’m sitting in a Starbucks on 26th street and feeling excited to chat about year one.

This (school) year has simultaneously been the best and the worst. I was expecting adjusting would be hard but I had no idea it would take practically the full school year to truly begin to find my groove. change has never been something i go through cheerfully (pretty sure this is a common sentiment for humanity) but God has been so good and kind to me as my whole world has shifted and changed and morphed into the life I lead today.

This city is bitter and soft. Dark and light. Good and bad. Everything all at once, including my experiences of it. But I feel I have reached a point spiritually and emotionally where I can talk about the good and bad that coexist 24/7, without romanticizing either. In time, I’ll try to update you on the whole shebang: dating, finding a church, working through loneliness, not having a vision in a place filled with impassioned dreamers, budgeting (ish), finding friends, studies, all the things. I am so excited and overjoyed that I can say (basically, 2 weeks off. I’m definitely counting) that I have freshman year under my belt.

Today, reader, I remind you of this sweet sentiment that has carried me through the trivial and difficult: “No matter what I am feeling, God is working.”

I hope you are well, reader. I have missed this outlet tremendously but haven’t had much to say. I think I do now.

Happy Thursday – may it be filled with dappled sunshine, creamy coffee, and fresh blooms.

XX-

BrittanyCharis

for now, hop over onto my youtube and check out my semester 1 video montage:

P O S T C A R D S from N E W Y O R K  | V O L U M E 1

seventeen & stuff

one | life has a lot a lot of potholes.
but it’s okay. sometimes, you need the flat tire so you can find the other parts of your “car” that need fixing

two | silence actually can be the most comfortable thing

three | a lot can happen in 6 mos / 2 weeks / 12 hours.

four | it’s okay to be broken.
light seeps in through the cracks, always and it’s also okay to show people those chips & broken spots. if you’re perfectly cemented over, nobody gets to appreciate the things underneath the floorboards.

five | boys aren’t so great. men are wonderful. (never let your feelings get in the way of falling for the first)

six | money can’t buy the way the ocean feels or the way the sun perfectly dips behind the trees and it most definitely cannot buy the home that is 2 arms and a heartbeat.

seven | sometimes coffee will hate you. never hate coffee back. [coffee is also synonymous with people]

eight | imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
but copying and imitation aren’t one and the same. and copying is annoying. don’t copy people.

nine | Jesus should never ever become second tier to anyone or anything. every day, make him the king of your life. living is so much more enjoyable and freeing when you do.

ten | people will tell you over and over again to be nice to other people and to always be selfless and extend kindness. you should. but you cannot love others without loving yourself first. when you look in the mirror and wonder how you became so unloveable, remember it starts with being kind to yourself.

eleven | sometimes people are gonna wonder if you have your life together. sometimes you’re gonna wonder if you have your life together. and even when things are starting to fall into place, you’re still gonna wonder if your life will ever be put together. it won’t. but that’s what makes living an adventure. fly by the seat of your pants, enjoy the wind whipping around your face and the view from way up in the sky. having it all together is no fun.

twelve | let other people comfort you in your hour of need. weep with them. do not be afraid to humble yourself by being openly broken. let arms wrap you up, let their words soothe your soul, let telling others mend your brokenness. but d o n o t make them feel that they must solve your problems, merely show them that you have some.

thirteen | tea is still gross.

fourteen | do not let fear stop you from doing crazy things. go. jump fences. stop at the hole-in-the-wall cafe. head into new york city by yourself. apply to that college. jump, leap – do not be afraid. fear confines, restrains, and takes away joy. live without fear by just doing crazy things.

fifteen | on the worst of days, doubling the amount of bubbles in your bath will always make you feel better.

sixteen | they say that writers experience all there is to experience by the time they turn twenty. but sometimes, you experience all there is to experience in one year. write through every emotion and growing pain and missing. because if only for a split second, the words tumble out and you understand what moments mean.

seventeen | there are nights when you will lay on your carpet ands stare at your walls and wonder if the light will ever come again. the plaster will feel like it’s closing in on you. your heart will feel empty. your pulse will quicken. you’ll say to yourself a thousand times over, “i’m so f*****g done.” and you’ll let your fingernails roam the floor and you’ll feel sorry for yourself and wonder how you ever made it here when just two hours ago you were thinking that life couldn’t be better. you’ll weep until your mouth is dry and your head pounds and your nose looks like it’s out of a christmas catalogue. and you’ll be surprised, every time, because the light always comes. (the room stops feeling so empty and your soul stops aching and your head stops pounding – Jesus and Ibuprofen, baby.)

Sr pics Brittany 153

oh seventeen: you have been wonderful and horrible, bright and dark – a brilliant mix of the best & the worst. you’ve made me stronger. and i think that’s all i can ask of anything.

xoxo,

brittanycharis

musings: the bird and her song

I like today.

And I’m not just forcing those words and that spirit out through gritted teeth and a bitter heart. I actually genuinely adore today.

It’s the middle of april, and this morning, a sprout of green turned into long plush new-ness with purple on the tips. The blooms probably burst at 5:31am this morning as the dew began to settle and creep into the earth, my eyes were still shut fast and tight, dreaming of that boy who will never be mine. As the engine accelerated and pushed our little car out of the driveway a few hours later, I caught a glimpse at the purple sprouts, poking their heads above the soil, practically grinning from ear-to-ear in praise of the spring day that had already begun to form.

I got an 82 on a math test, which wasn’t exactly enough to make me adore the day. But, initially it was 79. So the fact that 3 points were added on makes my heart happy.

While we were waiting for our ride home, I sat on the gravel, and pushed the sand from too-many-snow-days with my bare toes and let the grains tickle my pinky toes [they’re the most ticklish, you know.] I turned my face to the sun and let the shadow of a bad test grade fall behind me as I felt the warmth of the mini-beach under my winter-whitened feet.

Pickles were had and the pickle juice ran down my arm, and though I didn’t lick it off, it still tickled and made me chuckle that something as simple as a cucumber in vinegar could cause such joy in my heart. Flip flops flopped and flapped as I walked to the nearby coffee shoppe

**disclaimer: it was just a dunkin donuts, but a nearby coffee shoppe sounds so much better. The cold brew was quite mediocre, but again, it was enough to put a song of joy in my heart. Coffee doesn’t need to knock my socks off in order to make an afternoon a little brighter. And I had a stack of school work that I was sort of dreading to do. Like, 4 hours worth of writing-stack-of-schoolwork. But I got it done. And somehow, I got good grades on all of it.

 

But most of all, it was a lovely day because the birds were singing – happy, cheerful tunes that lacked sorrow. As if the ones who had passed on in the dead of winter were still there, as if their houses didn’t need rebuilding and their bellies didn’t need filling. They chirped and hollered from sun-up until sun-down, of the green that was sprouting from their branches and the weather. I imagine they were small-talking with each other saying things like “just how wonderful is this weather?”

and neighbors having conversations like:

“Hey Phil! How’s the view from that branch? Lottie over here is a little bit nuts right now and I’m thinking about relocating.”

“Ah, Alice. Enjoy the energy! The sun is out and it is bright, and I almost feel as if the winter hadn’t been so brutal, so demanding, and so sorrowful.”

And perhaps Alice just flew up to sit next to Phil because she liked the way he thought and somehow the sunlight really did make a difference.

I heard one bird in particular that just sang the same song. [I mean I suppose that’s how birds are.] But this one was different. Over and over and over again, it was the same 2 note melody, elongated, pure, and mixed in with the sound of the rustling leaves. It caught my ear and it sparked my imagination. Because just for a moment, I imagined the tiny chirping love, letting her face be illuminated by the heavens, letting the sun shine down on her winter-fluff, praising the One who’d made the day so lovely, so whole, so pure, so magnificent. I imagined for a moment that though she missed Eva, she knew that her Maker was holding her dear friend, right in the palm of his hand, talking to her dear neighbor, saying, “You remember Opie, right? She misses you but she loves me, and I think that is worth celebrating.”

I liked today, because amidst the selfish gain of the days happenings, I was reminded about all the little ones, living their own precious lives, each and every one loved and adored by the Maker of this world, whose love and abounding grace to me I oftentimes overlook. 

He loved little Opie and Eva, and held each of them close to his heart, however small a role they played in the universe, he made each of them sing. Because his love abounds for us. His love abounds for them. His love abounds for me. And the song that stems from that? Utterly and wonderfully glorious. 

happy easter / celebrating what’s been finished

delta-breezes:

Ashlee Proffitt

every. time.

happy easter, friend!

he is risen + alive! and that means we ought to celebrate. may your day be abundantly bright + innately beautiful, overflowing with the spirit + ripe with life.

sending sunshine showers your way!

xoxo,

brittanycharis

. . . . .

meditating on these today:

“and [the angel] said to them, “do not be alarmed. you seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here.” –mark 16:6a 

+ this song.

fullness of grace + the promise in my heart

I’m not sure whether it’s the fact that it’s Christmas, or just that #shereadstruth has been hitting my heart right where it’s needed. Jesus is so good.

Following a prompt from the Ruth plan I just finished, I wrote this. My heart was filled with a lot of angst, regret, discouragement, and pain when I wrote these words…As I tapped my circumstances into my keyboard, I could feel the Lord lifting the burden off of my shoulders and equipping me with newfound strength which, in turn, effected what was being strung together on the screen. I didn’t know if I should share this with you, because it’s hard for me to admit my own failures. But this was a God moment. A reawakening of my slumbering soul, and I wanted to share with you what He said to me.

Written a week ago.

Every musing begins with a question.

And today’s is a prompt from #shereadstruth.

 

How am I viewing myself based on my circumstances?

I’m here to share with you, that I don’t feel beautiful, loved, or redeemed.

The names in my head are ugly: sinner, liar, cheat, player, shallow, with a facade, a disgrace.

They’re ugly, and tattooed onto the deepest parts of my being.

I am looking in the mirror at the choices being reflected in my heart and displayed on my countenance. Ugly gashes and marks, scars and burns from the searing of sin and the blows of my own words. It’s oh so painful to look at the picture of last year, and see a countenance glowing and radiating the word and love of God standing next to the mirror of this year with the brutality of sin displayed across every ounce of my being. Words are inked across my face, lust is drawn across my heart, names are tattooed on my hands and they run up and down my arms.

It’s ugly.

They’re ugly.

I hate those words.

I hate them.

I hate that I’ve become the person I despised last year.

I hate that I can’t look in the mirror and see Jesus’ daughter, but rather a child fallen away from her father.

Who am I this year?

Different. very different.

But all this is fading away, quietly, quickly, and surely.

Slowly, the sun is creeping into my veins and slowly hope is melting away the fear and doubt and disgrace I feel.

 

I am not my circumstances or my choices, my actions, or my words.

Slowly but surely, bitter is no longer my name. Slowly but surely, gashes and scars and burns from sin are not what makes my days. I’ve cried out over and over for the name of Jesus to be power to me once more. And once more, I’m realizing he’s been whispering his name to me this whole time.

No longer are the bandaids falling off and having to be replaced every day – soiled from the days wounds.

No longer is my heart going to ache under the sting of Satan’s lies. No longer are my arms tattooed with those names. No more are the burns ugly. No more are the scars reminders of my failure.

Oh, no. Jesus, my Jesus. Calls me, calls them…beautiful.

I fall at his feet, quivering and wretched. He draws my hand near to him, placing my weakness down, drawing my heart once more to his.

The sun is rising slowly but surely. I am waiting. And I am regaining strength – just as he’s promised.

  

When it’s dark and it’s cold and I can’t feel my soul

You are so good

When the world is gone gray and the rain is here to stay

You are still good

 So with every breath I take in

I’ll tell You I am grateful again

And the storm may swell even then

It is well and You are good

 

So how can I thank You, what can I bring?

What can these poor hands lay at the feet of the King?

I’ll sing You this love song, it’s all that I have

To tell You I’m grateful for holding my life in Your hands

[ You are Good – Point of Grace ]

  I carry your name for all of my days as my own because you’ve taken me by the hand and dealt beautifully with me.

Jesus. My Jesus.

That is all I need.

His promises are always true, his grace never ending, and his love deeper than we can fathom.

So, in whatever circumstance you find yourself in, I encourage you to breathe deep in the pages that detail His love for you.

be still

12:40pm. Cup of coffee in hand, and a lot of things on my mind.

Today is going to be a bit of a different post…No outfits, no lipstick recommendations, no october favorites. Just thoughts.

I was up last night writing a letter to a dear friend of mine, and I realized just how beautiful vulnerability is. It’s so easy for me to sit behind this computer, to stand behind my instagram posts as if everything is going perfectly right. I’m here to tell you that my life isn’t put together all the time. It’s been a nutsy week…I’ve felt the pull of a job, school, and life like I have never before. Night after night it seems like, I’m using up more emotional stamina than naught. Day after day, the task of crawling out of bed is proving to be hard because my energy just isn’t being replenished.

I’m not sick and I’m not depressed…I’m just absolutely exhausted.

21 hours of work, around 72 hours of homework, 2 hours for tv, 61 hours of sleep.

The to do list never ends, the homework is never actually done, and when it is, I’m piling in the car for another shift.

This is my crazy [emphasis on this word], beautiful life.

It’s been nutsy, nonstop, and absolutely grueling for the last few weeks.

if you were to look in my head right now you’d see a lot of things. You’d see a lot of “I wish’s” a lot of, “why’s”, a lot of “give me strength, Lord’s” a lot of “I am so weary’s”. These phrases seem to be playing themselves over and over in my head all ending in the phrase – I just, I just need a break.

There have been small, 10 minute periods, in which there has been room in my schedule to just sit on my moms bed and listen to her voice praying over me. There is room for crying and tears and prayers, but that’s where it seems to end.

I was sitting on my bed today [the whole, legs in the indian style, sweats on, nails chipped, pencil in hand routine] doing [surprise surprise] homework. I put my book down just for a minute so I could text my best friend, asking her to pray for me. The overwhelming feeling, which has become so normal to me as of recent, began to creep on to me. Up my throat, ascending up my arms, up my face, into my thoughts. Slowly but surely that need for freedom began to overtake. Yells of “why?” and “I just need a break!” and “where’d the beauty go?” bounced off the walls of my head. I ached to be free, to just be able to take a walk without having to glance at the clock.

And then all of a sudden He spoke. Jesus spoke in words as clear and as wonderful as they could possibly be.  “This, your right now, is your perfect place for October 31, 2014 at 11:00am.”

They flowed out of my heart, took over my vains, and planted themselves right where those screams were. They numbed that overwhelmed feeling, and caused that “I need to get out” to disappear.

Yes, my soul seemed to sigh.

Tired and exhausted and frail as I am, I am placed in the perfect place for the right now. I need not fear or grow weary. He is good.

I have always been a lover of the season of crunchy leaves. On Wednesday, I had that overwhelming “why” feeling again so I quick grabbed the camera, took off my shoes and ran. Stopping only to take pictures of the scenery that caught my eye [and to examine a scratched toe from the pokey sticks]. Oh it was a beautiful thing. Cheeks flushed, eyes sparkling, heart soaring, hands numbed. Circumstances hadn’t changed, and yet something else did.

All of a sudden, my soul was still and my heart quivered naught under the strain of the day.

I stayed out there for a half an hour [at least!] and came back inside with fresh zest for the stack of homework that sat upon my desk.

Word to the wise: Sometimes a break is much needed. Take your shoes off, go feel the texture of the crunchy leaves on the lightly-tanned toes, breath deep the smell of the season, feel the pleasure of the Lord, and just be.

My Lord has been showing himself to me in simple ways. He’s shown himself to me through the hug of teacher, through the exact answers to my simple prayers, through the crunchy leaves on the ground and the grass that had been cooled from the evening light, through the season that has been [sadness] rapidly leaving, and through the infallible sunset at the end of the day that had seemed to go from bad-worse.

Yes my Lord is good. And I will sing.

 

Still my soul be still

And do not fear

Though winds of change may rage tomorrow

God is at your side

No longer dread

The fires of unexpected sorrow  

 

God You are my God

And I will trust in You and not be shaken

Lord of peace renew

A steadfast spirit within me

To rest in You alone  

 

Still my soul be still

Do not be moved

By lesser lights and fleeting shadows

Hold onto His ways

With shield of faith

Against temptations flaming arrows  

 

Still my soul be still

Do not forsake

The Truth you learned in the beginning

Wait upon the Lord

And hope will rise As stars appear when day is dimming  


Still my Soul – Keith and Kristyn Getty

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taken with a macro lens