It has been a year to the day since I reached out to a friend and left a voicemail inviting her to coffee… inviting her to friendship with me again. “I would love to see your face.” I had been reckless with this woman’s heart. I had taken her friendship for granted and pushed her out of my life. Truthfully, I had forced her to push me out of hers.
I found grace and forgiveness in a caramel macchiato and kind eyes. I saw her heart and her hurts. I was able to say, “I’m sorry. I am so, so sorry,” with tears in my eyes and a lump in my chest. With courage, strength, tenderness, and hope, we forged a friendship with each other again. And I thank God EVERY DAY he prepared her heart and mine for that meeting. My life has never been the same since I met her. And it is more rich, more blessed, and full of more laughter with her in my life.
We’ve walked through many dark places with each other since that day. I still mess up sometimes. But I’ve shown up and fought hard for her too, in ways I wasn’t ready before. We’ve met in hospitals, in shopping trips, on couches in her living room… and every moment we speak truth and life are moments of glory. We tilled soil; we watered and watched our friendship grow as we began to trust each other again. As much as I wanted to fast forward to the place we are in now driving home after coffee that day, I wouldn’t trade this journey for anything. I made a decision to nurture my heart, something that I refused to acknowledge and squashed in the year we had spent apart.
The decision I’ve walked since last Easter has brought reconnections with all my loved ones as I’ve learned to be patient and earn fellowship and intimacy one step at a time. I’ve named truth. I’ve named desires. I’ve allowed myself to sit with longing. Healing is happening with time.
The glory of the changes God is making in my life became evident to me when I visited my sister and my newborn niece and 18-month-old nephew a couple of weeks ago. I watched her on her hands and knees, romping on the floor with little Grayson Jr… he shrieked in delight as she chased him around the room and showered him with love and kisses when she caught him. His joyful laugh filled the air and I felt my chest grow heavy as I rocked next to my precious cooing niece. I suppressed tears as I watched the beauty of a mother enjoying her son. Memories flooded my mind of Aimee and I as little girls, and I felt the desire building to experience my own children someday. Instead of stuffing my longing and killing off desire, I blessed it. I found a sacred space in Grayson’s carefree exuberance and my sister’s beautiful glowing smile. Joy. I found joy in acknowledging my desire, and instead of checking out, I was granted an ability to truly share in the fellowship and blessing of family.
I have experienced a lot of pain, at times feeling suffocated and buried by the soil rather than being protected by it. The process of growth is agonizing. As a young girl it feels like aches in your knees, looks like spots on your face, and is full of frightening changes in your body and mind. As a woman it feels like something is constantly being birthed in your chest, in your heart. It looks messy, things always remaining undone. And it is full of beauty mingled in desire and longing. Yes, growth is painful. But as women we were uniquely created to cultivate life in that space…in those spaces that need a faithful, caring and watchful eye. Growth requires patience, diligence, and faith the Lord will fill the gaps and be our sun.
Tilling soil requires sweat and hard work. When you till soil, rocks are unearthed, roaches scatter from the light, and you get messy. A lot of rocks are being turned over and softer soil is being uncovered as I break through the hard and dry ground. I’ve realized if I don’t allow myself to feel, if I stuff my pain even for just a moment, I will miss God’s glory and grace in the process. I will miss the joy of seeing the first bloom. I will miss opportunities to look a friend in the eye and say “I know. I know this hurts. I know that pain too.” And I will miss my friends egregiously in my inability to say “I’m sorry,” and follow up in thoughtful actions and a heart more alive and aware of others.
I’m tilling soil. I’m planting seeds and growing a strong and tender heart. I love it. I love the journey. I love finding Jesus and His strength in my weakness.
My sister often used to sing “Desert Song,” by Hillsong United. It tells a story of bringing praise in desert, in fire, and in battle. The last lyrics resonate in spirit.
I will bring praise
I will bring praise
No weapon formed against me shall remain
I will rejoice
I will declare
God is my victory and He is here
This is my prayer in the harvest
When favor and providence flow
I know I’m filled to be emptied again
The seed I’ve received I will sow
I bring praise to the One who is my sun. I hope you too will take some time this April to till the soil in your own heart and uncover the beauty of Christ in you as you bloom.
Anna Hull lives in San Antonio, TX. A graduate of Schreiner University with a B.A. in Religion & Political Science, Anna is passionate about finding Jesus in every day life. She enjoys unexpected adventure, making genuine connections with others, and finding beauty in chaos.