"You are to pay special attention to those who by accidents of time, or place, or circumstances, are brought into closer connection with you."
Pay attention! I remember my teachers saying that to me all throughout grade school as I talked and talked through their lessons.
Now I wonder if God isn't saying the same thing....
"Behold! I am doing a new thing. Now it springs forth. Do you not perceive it?" Are you talking over it? (cough) Maybe. Probably.
So I'm trying to pay more attention these days. Because just past all the things that aggressively vie for our attention, something beautiful is happening. Oftentimes it's not flashing in lights or thundering over the noise but it's there. Waiting for us to notice.
In late April, through a series of these "accidents" Saint Augustine refers to, an angel of a woman stepped into my life. I am a little embarrassed to admit that I still remember thinking that this short meeting that was running behind schedule was probably going to turn out to be a waste of time.
I COULD NOT have been MORE WRONG.
The very first time I met her, this woman told me that the most broken places of my story was a road she walked as well. She spoke to me from the other side of walking in the same pain. 10 years of it. She spoke hope and life in ways I desperately needed. She said, "lean on the testimonies of others." Lean into the hope that is shining through others from the other side. I was searching. And she spoke directly to things that have been made themes over the last four years. Things she never could have known. From feeling like I'm drowning to feeling like the clock is ticking to feeling utterly forgotten by God. One of the things she said was, "I hope you're writing. You need to start a blog. You are going to be sharing this story in full on the other side of kids."
We spent an hour and a half together. To be clear, it was time she did NOT have in her schedule, but she said, "Oh honey, if I have learned anything it's that the Lord will take care of all that stuff out there. I am right where I am supposed to be right now. He knew you needed another touch from Him today."
Did I ever.
I have heard this idea said in a number of different ways but basically it's this: we love others only to the extent that we are willing to be interrupted for them. This angel lived that out for me in the most memorable & meaningful of way.
I got into my rental car on that April day and I wrote down everything I could remember as fast as I could type it into my phone. I shared it with my parents that night and they both smiled through tears, awestruck at the affectionate and watchful care of God.
The second time I met her was just a few days before I left for the South of France. I hadn't been to France since I was 15. At the very end of another powerful meeting she paused for a second and said, "okay, I'm just going to say this because I feel like I am supposed to. Does the word mimosas mean anything to you?" I mean I like the drink but otherwise not really. But obviously now I would be looking for a magical moment in France while drinking mimosas!
A little more backstory: If you follow me on instagram or have read other posts, you already know this. In January, I posted a picture of an amaryllis flower. My precious friend Alex gave it to me because of its special quality. It only blooms in the winter. When times are darkest. In a season known for its barrenness...this flower blooms. She knew I was walking through this years-long winter that felt (FEELS) like it will never end. And this was a gift of hope. Hope that good things can come in the darkness.
Back to the South of France. One week after the mimosas comment, I was pulling into the town of Cassis in the South of France with two girl friends. We began to see road signs for "Mimosas." WHAT?! We followed them. Obviously. Expectantly. More than eager to find out where they would lead.
They led us to a parking lot. Dead end?
We kept going. That afternoon, after a seaside lunch of cheese, bread, salad, seafood and Rosé...I decided to ask our kind waiter about mimosas. I asked him about the parking lot. He brought another man over to help the conversation along. Through broken & beautiful English, these 2 Frenchmen told me about mimosas. They said, they are the beloved & beautiful yellow flowers that bloom all over the South of France. Guess when. Only in the WINTER.
I tried not to cry right in front of them. But obviously I did once I told my friends. Then I googled Mimosas & found this: "Drive around the South of France in February-March & you will keep noticing the gorgeous yellow flowers of Mimosa trees. Open your window and smell their delicious perfume. Just when you are sick of winter & can't wait for the first signs of spring these trees burst into bloom and add instant brightness to the days!"
They weren't in bloom while we were there but even the buds represented hopeful expectation. And for anyone in a hard season of winter right now, feeling crushed & broken, may this bring you hope. Your light may be gleaming brighter because of the darkness. Even when you don't feel it. Maybe especially then. God sees you. He hears you. And He is closer than we think.
In August 2016, I was sitting next to my sister in the church I grew up in in The Woodlands, TX. We were listening to a sermon that included a reference to the Japanese art form known as Kintsukuroi. Or Kintsugi. It is an art form meaning "repairing with gold." Repairing broken pottery with gold or silver lacquer. Pastor Scot shared that it brings to life the understanding that the piece is more beautiful for having been broken. My sister and I looked at each other knowingly with tear-filled eyes and smiled. Since then, this idea has been brought to life in a thousand ways.
“You were made to grow into something more, but that only happens if you will be brave enough to break.
“Maybe wholeness is embracing brokenness as part of your life...What seems to be undoing you can ultimately remake you. Our most meaningful purpose can be found exactly in our most painful brokenness.”
— Ann Voskamp, The Broken Way
And then there's the meaning of brokenness with respect to nature and food. And wine! The grape is crushed to produce the wine. And also...
“The seed breaks to give us the wheat. The soil breaks to give us the crop, the sky breaks to give us the rain, the wheat breaks to give us the bread. And the bread breaks to give us the feast.”
— Ann Voskamp, The Broken Way
The first blog post I wrote was entitled, It's Time for Something Good to Happen. Now I see that good IS happening. In ways I couldn't see back in October. Because I was only looking for the good in the form of a baby blessing. And then I read these words: "what if instead of waiting for good things to happen to us, we could be the good thing to happen to someone else who's waiting?"
On my way home from the latest work to trip Texas, I had the most frazzling and frustrating experience before I ever even took off on my first flight. From shuttles, trains and automobiles, to delayed flights, likely missed connections, wrong terminals, irritable TSA agents, and going through security (literally) four times ...I was over it.
Guess what happened next...
Just after all the hurdles, I sat next to a girl just about my age. She was very pretty and dressed in business clothes. She asked about my day. I couldn't help but share the ridiculousness. One topic led to another and she shared her story of heartbreak, brokenness, barrenness, loneliness, isolation from her closest relationships. She affirmed and validated and reminded me that I am not alone.
Sometimes that's all we need, isn't it?
At the end of it all, she said, "I am going to pray for good things for you. For good things on the other side of all of this. And by the way, I usually never talk to people on planes."
She was the good thing that happened on the other side. Another angel.
I guess all of my teachers and Saint Augustine were right...pay attention.
“The very thing we are afraid of, our brokenness, is the door to our Father’s heart.”