choosing to stay

table It was over coffee with a sweet friend, a few months ago now, when she looked me square in the eye, as honest and real as could be and said, "Maeve, I just left and went for a drive. I had to go."

This friend was a recently married twenty something too. We were sharing the sweet parts but also the challenges. The whole sharing your life, your world, your mess with another person - every. single. day.

And sometimes that vulnerability can be too much. You just want to run. Not all together, just from the feelings you can't fully articulate, the arguments you really don't feel like rehashing, the moments of having to swallow your pride and say - I'm sorry.

Intimate relationships aren't the only place we run. It's in other places too. When our jobs make us frustrated and tired and we lack a sense of purpose or belonging. When friends let us down. When we see photos on social media of folks laughing and sipping fancy cocktails and think - why wasn't I invited?

(In comes that tiny voice in my head // because, you don't know them, Maeve.)

Sometimes we run from God. We run when bad things happen to good people and we can't help but ask - "If you're the God I know and love, how could you?"

I know these feelings. I know the feeling of white knuckles wrapped around a steering wheel, with pursed lips and a heavy heart. I think there is a need to run in all of us. The desire to drive down a windy country road held between farms and rolling green hills.

When I drive, going nowhere in particular, it's as if the open space hugging the road is hugging me too. And sometimes that's good. Sometimes taking a walk or going for a drive when life feels heavy is good.

But sometimes staying is better.

Because when we run - when we always flee, it's so hard to build community. It's rather hard to build anything, actually. It's hard to develop deep, honest, raw relationships right where you are.

It's hard to look your soul in the mirror and get to know the parts that make you tick or passionate or bitter.

plates

The goodness of staying is always made more real and true when people gather around my table.

Suddenly I want to unpack my things and not buy a one-way ticket. Suddenly I savor the interruptions and inconveniences. I celebrate evening walks during the summer, early morning coffee dates, and watching the rain fall on my front stoop.

Staying means telling the person to your right how you see God moving in and through them. Telling them why you find them beautiful and amazing just as they are.

Telling them - thank you for staying. I'm sure some days you might want to run - from the responsibilities and expectations. But you didn't today, you chose to stay.

basil

Staying means rubbing basil leaves between my fingers and bringing my hands up close to my nose and smelling the sweet fragrance of God's earth. And thanking the hard-working, calloused hands who picked the basil I stir in my curry.

Staying is my neighbor who works two part time jobs to feed and clothe her kids.

Staying is four dear friends who wake up extra early on Wednesdays to have coffee.

Staying means loving another person more deeply than you could have ever know. Even on the days they annoy the heck out of you. And chances are, you are annoying the heck out of them.

Staying is an art and a fight. It's bitter and it's sweet. It's choosing to show up on the days you'd rather stay in bed. It's choosing to marvel over the shapes of the clouds and sound of the rain.

It's choosing not to give up hope on this one, glorious, messy, creative life.

What's staying look like to you friend? Does it comes easy or does it hurt? Share below. I'd LOVE to hear from you.

xoxo

my back stoop

I crunched the numbers. I compared.

Wait, that can't be right.

I did it again.

Mmmk, it is right.

I let out a breath and looked down. I could feel the tears welling up in my eyes. If I do this [I'll get to this later, another time, another post] well, we can't save up for those things we talked about. Suddenly the thought of me making it difficult because of my silly dreams - became too much.

I can hear my heart shouting - you're dreams are never silly.

Maybe I was a wee bit dramatic. But if you know me at all, if you've been reading my words [thank you by the way] you've probably learned I am FULL of emotions, it's who I am.

It's who I've always been.

Matt went up to cut his hair. Yes, he buzzes that head of is, saving us 20 bucks a month. Love. that. man.

I grabbed my glass of wine and went to sit on our back stoop.  It had just rained.

I love the smell of rain.

Fresh bread from the oven and rain - two of my favorites.

It made me think of those times when I was little and I'd sit at the top of my driveway in the rain. I'd grab a lawn chair and umbrella and my stuffed animal or baby doll and watch the cars go by (disclaimer: there weren't many kids on my street to play with).

I'd pretend I didn't have a home, that I was wandering and stumbled upon this pretty house with well manicured bushes and wondered if they'd let me come in and have dinner.

In so many ways, I am still that little girl. A little lost, so very curious, and aching to be found.

I looked out and saw twinkling lights and our neighbors backyards. I wondered what folks were doing at this very moment too - cleaning up from dinner, bickering over taxes, cuddling on the couch?

Were they sitting on their back stoop like me? 

The door creaked open.

Babe..what are you doing? 

I needed some fresh air.

Do you want someone to sit with? 

This is one of those new marriage moments. One that feels so sweet and lovely and other days - incredibly uneasy and awkward. Because you see, when I was sad or angry or annoyed before, I could just sit in it and it didn't bother anyone. But now, it does. Now, someone aches to be part of it because they live in it too.

Now, someone so deeply desires to help and hold and carry the burden.

It doesn't really matter, I said back. 

It wasn't a yes or a no. Decisions have always been hard for me. I thought, if I left it open- the right choice of sitting and staying or going upstairs to bed would sort of just, figure itself out.

He sat. Of course he would. He's sweet and caring like that. 

One step below me, arms folded on his knees, eyes looking out at our little, tangly, messy backyard.

For a moment it felt like sitting on the stairs of his parents lake house - early in the morning, coffee mug in hand, watching dew lift off the water. It's one of my favorite views. It silences my soul in a way only nature and creation can. We'd sit and sip and be quiet. And I remember thinking, in that very moment - this is love, isn't it God? Sure, it's other things too - kisses and sacrifice and truth. But I think this is it too - sitting side by side in silence and feeling more safe and known than ever before.

This moment was not as romantic dear ones. This moment was annoyed and hurting and teary. I wanted him beside me but then again I didn't.

It felt like there wasn't enough space on our stoop for my worried, anxious heart and our two bodies.

I think, I actually do want to be alone.

He stood up. I could tell it hurt. I can always tell when my words cut deep and feel like a punch in the stomach. Because all he wants is to help and fix things.

And I resort to retreating and turning inward.

And I think friends, that sometimes, it's okay to do just that. There's a time for talking things out, for laying it all out there. But for me, this was not that time. Because as much as I wanted to say every little thing on my mind and heart, I couldn't.

I don't process things that way. I crave time time alone first. I sort of love time alone sometimes.

It feels crazy when I consider all the relationships I crave and need. All the dinner dates I love to plan and host.

But that's just it.

When I am with you - I want all of you. 

I want every nook and detail. I want to remember the part of the story when you stopped talking, looked down, and started folding a napkin in your lap.

My grandma Jul had this incredible way of making anyone feel as if they were the most important person in the whole world. In that little moment, nothing else mattered, nothing other than you and her and a cup of tea- no sugar, just milk, leave the tea bag in.

I want to know the sound of your laugh - each laugh you have. 

I want to see the shades of color in your eyes, and the way they change when you talk about your Dad.

And in return, like a good friend, I want to give you me too.

I want you to know that I love God and most days, feel so close to Him.  That this whole relationship over religion thing is all I need. But there are other times, when it's hard. When doubt and fear seep into my pores and all I want to do is run - run from this whole faith thing.

I want you to understand why I get awkward when asked "tell me about yourself " or "how are you doing". I want to give you an answer, trust me, I really do. I just struggle to weave it all together - to put in a box.

You want to know about me and how I'm doing?

Like, the real me or the person I sometimes fall into, when being honest and open is tough?

I want you to know that I find you fascinating and strong and full of light. 

I want you to see that I am trying to be better a human today than I was yesterday. I think we're all trying. I want you to know that I choose joy and gratitude every morning but the actual living it, the walking in it, yeah, that doesn't always happen.

These interactions, as sweet and hopeful and life-giving as they are, can be exhausting - in the best possible way.

So I sat alone, sipping my wine, closing my eyes, and humming along to "Oceans" by Hillsong.

It's easy to feel guilty for this. It's easy to feel like a big ol' jerk when I say to my husband, or friend or sister, "I think I just need to be alone."

But I think we need it y'all. At least I do.

Sometimes, to be the best lover and friend, it requires us to recharge, reboot and turn in. And that doesn't make us awful. It doesn't make us hopeless.

It makes us human - broken, thirsty, beautiful humans.

And trust that on your stoop or porch or coziest place in your home - you aren't ever really alone // the God of the universe holds you tight.

xoxo