{ because my hands are tired }

The Lone Bellow - "Watch Over Us" Unplugged from Michael Leiato on Vimeo.

^^this band for me embodies things that i doubt they have any idea of: that beauty can be born from struggle. the truth that hard fighting doesn't leave a pretty face behind it, that some sorrows scar & forever alter our hearts. something powerful happens when they sing. it's as if the songs are crafted no longer with words & notes but instead with honesty, blood, sweat, pain. a weakness refusing to shatter; hope refusing to surrender. it bleeds into the music and creates a great exchange: what overflows onto the listeners is a beautiful courage, a fierce grace, a real and messy hope. it breathes the gospel without one bible verse ever being stated. maybe it's just what deep souls sound like when they allow themselves to spill over with the rawness of everything they have. maybe it's so rare because few people engage their sufferings and let it deepen them. or maybe so many of us have never felt the safety of kindred souls, and we have forgotten how to bare our own.

maybe i just think these things because the first time i heard of them was on a night i almost stayed home. a hurt had been silently building for almost my whole life, and had finally reached overflow levels. it was seeping through my heart, out my skin. i was afraid my friends would see it in my eyes. ask questions i couldn't answer. i didn't know them myself yet, back then. but i went. this passionate little band from brooklyn played songs from their Ep, & i had tears for the first time in ages. i felt a spark. the first time i had felt anything but hollow ache in many months. here's where this is going to drift into personal rant...

3 years later. here i am again, walking through all the pain that i boxed up last time. because 22 years of abuse and manipulation and threat of violence was just too much to unpack alone. it still feels like too much. i know the words to answer my friend's questions now, if they look close enough to ask them. but it's still hard to verbalize. even with a counselor who gets not only the power of Jesus, but also the way He created human hearts and minds. i still want to box it up. i can't bear to look at my fragility. i fear the crushing weight hidden under layers of a childhood-teenagehood rewritten with gentler words; carefully highlighted light and erased darkness. my pencil was a better silencer than any duct tape. i'm scared to see just how much of myself was lost. it is easier to live within my familiar ghost of a girl. i want to run back to my safe denial. my lies that none of it matters, that i wasn't affected, that it's not a big deal. those which made this bearable, that kept me sane, that kept the families around us comfortable, that maintained the status quo. sometimes i want to collapse under the darkness. at moments it presses in so fiercely i don't know how my lungs have room to expand. it doesn't seep through as much though, anymore. not hard to live an externally happy & normal life. mostly. but there are days when i don't know how i am breathing & smiling & going to the grocery store & working with classmates. i guess i should be amazed at my normalcy of function when this same pain had me crippled by panic attacks (and thinking i was crazy) 3 years ago. but honestly? i'm not very grateful for God's sustaining grace. the sustaining part, i mean. i'm by no means suicidal. i don't want to die, just... stop. & rest. & heal up slowly and all at once. so this dragging on & little steps has a foreseeable end. sometimes i resent this body & mind that keep going, going, going. long after my heart has caved in. i want to hide from the harsh realities. to pretend the brokenness of my family is a more normal dysfunction. a kind with no shame. i want to numb my pain with Netflix & Pinterest. Drowning it out in the noise of an increasingly cynical & apathetic & shallow world. in our inspirational quotes, positive thinking, happy veneer that has no weight in the face of the excruciating losses mortal humans face.
but i can't. not anymore, because when the truth has been seen it can't be forgotten. it's my story. it's not what i wanted. not what i would write. but i only have two options: claim it and see where the pages turn; or deny it and always be re-writing a fiction. it belongs to me as intensely as my DNA. i no longer have the option of pretending *and* keeping any truth in my soul. i would have to trade authenticity for comfort. it is tempting. i'm ashamed to admit how often...

here's where the lone bellow comes in: i want to be like them. a soul that sparks hope into the broken when they bump into me. a person honest & vulnerable & real so the bruised soul recognizes itself in another. a visible proof that triumph does exist in the long defeat. i want a life that proclaims "i have seen darkest nights, i have bruises from the floor on my face; but i'm still here--not just surviving--thriving. enjoying places the light seeps in. there's still beauty worth surviving for!" (it's not like i have some weird obsession with the band themselves, i'm not looking at them as saviors or gods & goddesses on a pedestal--it's the music) their music is a focus amidst all my confusion. a constant reminder of who i wanted to be long before i ever heard them. a whisper telling me there might be restoration to my story yet. it might not always be one of shame. i might not always carry guilt for things done to me, as if i deserved abuse for just being alive. a thought that maybe one day all this ugly might be made lovely. all these jagged edges i can't bear to look at might be patched and almost-whole.

that's why i have to face my pain. i have to battle it, i have to engage it. because if i don't, i give up any chance of redemption. any chance to have a powerful story. i won't grow deeper. i won't have a fire from demons battled to keep me warm in colder places. i won't be able to look the hurting in the eye and say: "i have no idea why such hells are allowed on this earth, but i know there's a heaven Kingdom coming." i want to not only see the Light; i want to share it. i want to make beauty out of the hard spaces. mostly, i want to face it all now so it no longer dominates my narrative. i want to become brave, unashamed, free to be honest. a woman who brings grace to wounds and creates light from dark shadows.

but right now,
i just want to rest.
my hands are tired, my strength is gone...

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