Monthly Archives: April 2014

on leaving and saying goodbye (or ‘a jazz funeral’)


This is the beginning, and this is the end.

We have our makeup done fancy, and the champagne feels like a light is turned on behind my eyes. There are twinkle lights in the trees, and every few minutes I hear a different laugh rise just a little above the murmur of conversation. We scream in excitement, and hug so tightly we spin. I’m not sure if we’re saying hello or goodbye. A wedding, an engagement party, and the truth between us that it cannot be this way much longer. I never relished this year of my life. But it’s over, and I’m realizing how little of it I knew. And there are new houses and new jewelry and suitcases full of clothes, and whether I’m ready or not, it’s over.

If we have to say goodbye.

It may be ending. It may be changing. The buzz wears off as the crowd starts to thin, and the inside of the car is stale and empty. Even if it’s just a party, it has to end. And I will miss the apartment in the sketchy alley and the Netflix nights with just the three of us. I will miss weekends on Rebecca’s couch. And having a little refuge in Waco. It’s different, not having a place you would rather be.

But if we have to say goodbye. If this has to be the last time we walk like this, chatty and conversational through midtown in bare feet, then let’s let it trail into a flourish. Let’s walk like we grew up here, and like we’re never going anywhere else. As Chris would say, let’s make a jazz funeral of it and march beside the casket with music and dancing. Let’s plug the lights in one more time, and laugh at the joke that hasn’t been funny since September (when nothing else was funny). Let’s send these last moments out with a shout and a song (and it might even remind us of Harry Potter and giggling on Audrey’s couch).

And everything will change, and we will let it. We will let the adrenaline and love and fierce goodbyes keep us going until we’re strong enough to stand on our own. Because this is the end, but it’s also the beginning.

And while we’re at it, let’s say the goodbyes. Let’s let go of the nights we cried until our eyes were swollen. Let’s leave behind the apathy and nights of lonely stupor. Let’s let the bitterness and anger go. Let’s say goodbye to them, and let’s *mean* it. If we have to say goodbye, let’s peel off the dragon skin all at once, and fall into tomorrow raw but new and ready to be made again. Let’s laugh and cry and remind ourselves that the morning is new.

And in a few months, let’s come back. Come back here and dance and walk around the city like you never left. Let’s pour another glass and toast to all the things that make us new, and all the ones that bring us home. Let’s come back here, when it will be another end and another beginning. And it’s funny, but when you read the Bible and you finally, finally make it to the end you expect to see the end spiraling out of control. You expect death and tears.

But it ends in a wedding. And a promise of return.


It’s different when you’re in love


The second I see ‘gay marriage’ and ‘evangelical’ in the same sentence again on twitter I pack my metaphorical bags. I canNOT right now with the fighting and snark and anger. I don’t want to wade through all the pointed comments and nastiness. I don’t want to feel coerced to pick a side. I don’t want to watch the church rip itself a new one yet again. I throw open the door, but as I begin to take a step I hear his voice “Jen! Don’t go.”

Do you have any idea how tempting it is to ignore it? I mean, actually you probably do. Maybe you’re the one who just slammed the door on the way out, or the one who slipped out the back and hoped no one would notice. I’ve said, and I’ll say it again, I can see doing that. I’ve had more than one person stare me down and ask me why I don’t just let it go, when it gets ugly like this.

It’s different when you’re in love.

I know people who see the fighting over World Vision and Calvinism and Chick-Fil-A and Duck Dynasty and alcohol and feminism and ask me why in the world I keep staying here to watch it happen again and again. I even had one friend tell me last week, very seriously, “you know at some point they’re going to come after you.”

I know it. Believe me, I’m already sort of afraid of that. Of the day when my personal battles get drug into the middle of this huge war between all these people who all seem pretty sure that they are absolutely right. And as much as I try to stay distant from the angry speeches and snark and name calling, I can’t pretend like I don’t worry that someday I will be the next battlefield. Because sometimes we leave as refugees, and I’m not sure I always know the difference between the cleansing and the pillaging. She’s laughing, and asking me why I hang around and wait for that.

It’s different when you’re in love.

I love the way he is mouthy with the religious leaders. I love the way he hangs out with kids in the middle of a busy day. I love the way he is at ease talking about everything with everyone from pastors to prostitutes. I love the way he is just enigmatic enough to be interesting but how he also believes that questions have answers. I love the space he gives me to wonder, and also the way he helps me understand the bigger things. I love his gentle touch, I love the way he sees and helps and makes time. I love him there, making good friends and still pulling in the lonely people. I love him, laying there, taking a nap in the middle of all this mess.

I love Jesus. I can’t leave Jesus. I never could. If the church looks even a little bit like this, even for a second, I have to be there. If there’s even a chance that we will be His body, I want to be a part of it. I am like Peter. I see how crazy some of the words sound. I see people scattering, moving away from Him. I get confused and even kind of frustrated and angry. Some days it’s a lot. But He looks at me, and asks me if I’m going, too. And I hear it in my own words. “I can’t leave you *now*”

And sometimes I hear Him whisper about people as I pass by. “I know she’s being ugly today, but you should see her fight for the underdog. I know He seems stubborn, but He just wants to know me well. He loves me.” And I look, and for a second I can see it. I can see us all as these sheep who wander and search, and I can almost feel Him loving us.

I see Him in you. Talking slow and certain, calming me down as I’m freaking out in the corner of the sanctuary. Answering the phone at three in the morning and listening as someone cries on the other end. Making casseroles when the right words aren’t immediately obvious. Sometimes I see Him so clearly.

It’s different when you’re in love, and I am.

I am in chick flick, sappy tv love. The kind that fights and argues and yells and seethes, but also the kind that gets off the plane in last episode. Every time. I’m so in love with Him, and He’s so in love with us. And it’s *different*. It bears all things and believes all things and…quite frankly sometimes it’s annoying. It keeps me coming back, week after week. Keeps me walking in this same direction. But it calms my heart. It makes me brave and kind. Not all of the time, but in those moments I need it most. It makes me want, so much, to be faithful instead of faithless.

It’s just different when you’re in love. And I hope we don’t forget that.