My Bleeding Heart: Eight Years Later

my bleeding heart

Time doesn’t heal all wounds. Sometimes scars are left as beautiful reminders of something wonderful you once had.

August 25, 2006

“Holly, the doctors say he won’t make it the next 24 hours.”

“But they’ve said that before……right?”

“Ya.”

I hang up the phone full of faith and determination.

But God said he’d be healed. He can’t die. He won’t die.

A few weeks earlier, I’m sitting at his bedside in the ICU. His clear blue eyes locked on mine, we dream of our future together. I lean my ear close to his lips keeping his whispered words as our secret. My mind etches them in perfectly and my heart feels overcome with a love I’m sure I’ll never deserve. 

I’d always felt like I didn’t deserve him– that a man like him would never love someone like me. This insecurity led to so much wasted time….time I’d now do anything to reimburse. 

Thousands of miles away from that hospital, I lock myself in my room and throw myself down on the blue plush carpet. The tears flow unceasingly all day as I beg and barter with God for his healing. I remind God, as if He needs reminding, of prophetic words that were spoken over him. I make desperate promises. I even offer my life for his. “Just take me instead, God. Please.”

I fall asleep sometime during the early morning hours– my pillow stained with tears, my fingers clutched tightly around the edges. 

August 26, 2006

It’s early. The house is quiet. 

I pick up the phone and call his mom. She answers and I quickly apologize for calling so early, but my heart is frantic and I just need to know everything is ok. That he is ok, but she stops me mid-sentence…

“I’m sorry, Holly, he didn’t make it.”

Standing on my porch doing my best to stay composed, I tell her I’ll make arrangements to fly back and she promises to call in a few hours with the details. The call ends and I walk through the back door where my roommate is staring at me looking for answers, but all I do is collapse onto the floor.

I have no words. No air. Nothing but pain coursing through every inch of my body. She wraps me in her arms and we sit in a pile on the floor. 

A few days later, I sit staring at him in his casket praying he’ll stand up and this nightmare will be over, but he doesn’t. Instead, they close the lid and lower him into the ground. My heart buried with him, six feet below. 

August 26, 2014

Today marks 8 years without him.

2,920 days.

70,080 hours.

4,204,800 seconds.

I’ve counted every second. Every minute. Every day. Those are the moments I’ve lived through– the heartbeats I’ve felt since losing him. Each beat reverberating in my chest reminding me that I remain here. And he is gone. 

Where is the redemption in all of this I’ve repeatedly asked God. What good could possible be found in all of this grief? He hasn’t replied until recently:

You’ve continued to love despite having lost.

That may not seem like much to you, but in all of the sadness, lost dreams and brokenness there’s still this hidden treasure of hope. I love. I love deep and I love strong. I love even when it isn’t returned or reciprocated.

So, I’ll continue to remember. To grieve. To celebrate a life, a love that I was able to embrace for a season. And most importantly, I’ll continue to love.  

 

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Jon Jorgenson: Thoughts on Authentic Love, Worry & Grace

Jon Jorgenson

A few years back, I stumbled across this video: 

The Truth found in this video reached to the depths of my heart. I immediately knew it was God speaking directly to my insecurities and filling my soul with His thoughts toward me. It was eye opening for me then and now. When I find myself discouraged I’ll take the time to re-watch it letting the love of God wash over me.

The writer (and speaker) in the video is Jon Jorgenson. It’s been a great joy to get to chat with him and get to know him. The guy has a desire to seek the heart of God and he does it honestly and with humility. I hope you enjoy getting to know him through this interview, but more importantly, that you’d be encouraged by what God is speaking to him and through him. 

The Common Queen: What are some themes/ideas/lessons God is currently teaching you?

Jon Jorgenson: This may seem somewhat silly and trivial, but it’s actually been pretty profound for me. Currently, the command, “Do not worry” has been heavy on my heart. I am a year out of college now, living in my own apartment in a new city, and for the first time truly responsible for all financial and technical aspects of my life (rent, investing, bills, ect). As a driven creative, busy work like this drives me absolutely insane. I would rather write an entire book than have to drop a check off at the post office. This type of busy work gets me easily overwhelmed to the point where I become stressed, anxious, and generally not so good to be around. So in the last few months, God has been reminding me of His literal command to not worry, and that I can experience His peace even while paying bills.

CQ: In your spoken word, “A Godless Generation”, you talk about the church and how we should be loving authentically. Can you explain that idea a little more? What does authentic love look like?

JJ: I have spent the last ten years being a part of and working with the younger generation of Millenials. The general perception of this generation is they’re entitled, narcissistic, and totally ungodly. So in general, churches and other older Christians spend a lot of time trying to show young people how wrong they are. Unfortunately, I don’t think this is very effective. If you tell a kid they aren’t allowed or shouldn’t do something, chances are they are going to do it. It’s how we’re wired. And this extends beyond just teenagers. The general perception of Christians in the world is that they shame everyone by telling them all they things they’re doing wrong.

Authentic Love is more about freeing others to love doing what’s right. Authentic love looks a lot more like listening than it does talking. It looks a lot more like compassion and empathy than it does judgement. Authentic love means passing up the opportunity to shame someone for their current mistakes, and instead seeing them for who they could be, who God made them to be, and encouraging them towards that. It’s actually one of the things my first book, “Authentic Love” is about.

CQ: I’ve been wrestling with the concept of balancing grace and truth. Some Christians say that too much grace is a bad thing and encourages people to sin. But too much truth comes off as religious and legalistic. What are your thoughts on this?

JJ: I think that one of the signs of a heart that has truly been changed by grace is a genuine hunger for the truth. If anyone is “taking advantage” of God’s grace by forsaking His truth, I would question if their heart has really been transformed. That’s not grace at all, that’s just a rigged vending machine. There’s no real relationship there. Similarly, someone who claims to know “the truth” but then shows no grace is someone who probably doesn’t know the truth at all. Jesus said “I am the truth” and what is Jesus a symbol for more than grace? The two are intrinsically intertwined. One cannot exist without the other.

CQ: You talked about how in high school you put on a Christian masquerade. What brought complete transformation to your life? What was the defining moment?

JJ: After I graduated high school, I was invited back to my old summer camp as a counselor and asked to give my testimony. When I stood before those campers, I knew I had a choice. I could ever lie, and keep wearing my mask as this perfect guy, or I could be honest and let them know that I was struggling, lost in darkness, and full of sin. I chose to tell the truth. When I saw that my choice to be vulnerable actually gave other people the strength to do so as well, and that through mutual vulnerability we could find healing together, that changed everything for me.

CQ: What kind of role do people play in your relationship with Jesus? Those within the church? Those outside it?

JJ: I am far from perfect. I do stupid stuff almost every day, and it’s usually those closest to me that feel the effects of it. My girlfriend, my parents, my sister, my small group, they see the ugliest sides of me all the time. Yet they are always astoundingly quick to show me forgiveness. To me, they are a living representation of what God’s grace looks like when lived out and I am unendingly grateful to them for that.

 

Jon Jorgenson is a writer, actor, and speaker living in New York City. Find more from Jon at www.jonjorgensonblog.com or follow him on Twitter @jonjorgenson. Seriously, do it, he would love to talk to you.

3 Lessons (on Weeds) from the Gardener

Weeds Post

I’ve never really had a green thumb.

Actually, my thumb could be nicknamed the “Thumb of death”. Every plant I get I kill. There’s just too much to know. How much light? How much water? I’m not home enough to care. As I type this, I have a decaying plant on my dining room table. It’s been whispering “help meeeee” for months now. I pass by it every time I walk to the bathroom. I see it and do nothing.

My mom had kept it alive for me for years. When I got my own place she decided it was time I took it home. I wasn’t sure how long it would last under my care. It’s been 3 years, and its asking me to let it die.

Anything I know about plants, or gardening, I’ve learned from my dad. I’m not a completely useless student. He points out the plants and tells me to pluck everything else. Easy peasy.

Recently, an older lady I know asked for some help weeding one of her flower beds. I like working in the garden, so I gladly accepted her invite knowing every time I help her I get a free dinner out of the deal. A free dinner is always worth it. 

I get to her house and she brings me to where the overgrown flower bed is and explains this is where I will be working. She points out a few flowers that should be left alone, but the rest could be torn up.

To confirm my orders, I repeat back what she said to me pointing at the plants to save. She says I’ve got it. Then, she leaves.

Instantly, its as if my brain has been completely flushed of the previous conversation and everything looks like a plant that should be saved. Or is it a weed?! As I work, I begin to pray. “Hey, God. Can you help me not mess up this ladies garden?” Then, I continue on with other non-weed related prayers. 

My heart had been heavy that day with some news concerning a friend. She was struggling with some very serious stuff and I felt like I had run out of wisdom and encouragement. I’d said it all. I knew she needed a word from God– not just some words from Holly. As I prayed, God began to reveal some things to my heart through the weeds.

Ya, you heard me right.

I know I’ve said this before, but I think it bears repeating. I’m a simple kid, and God speaks to me in simple terms. Sometimes its through a song, a conversation with a friend, or in this case through an evening of gardening. Very often, we get caught up looking for a voice in the clouds or a wild burning bush. I’ve never had those experiences, but I do know God speaks to me and it isn’t something I’ve made up. How do I know that? Cause His thoughts are not my thoughts– He points out things I would have never come to on my own. That’s how I know. 

Lesson #1: I need people in my life who will point out the weeds in my life. I don’t always recognize them and sometimes things may look like flowers to me, but in actuality are weeds.

When I was a kid, like most kids it seems, I would pick dandelions and make little bouquets. I had believed they were flowers until one day someone told me, “Hey. You know those things are weeds?” I needed someone wiser than me to point that out.

We’ve got things in our lives– be it lies we believe, things we are doing, a direction we are heading– that we need people wiser than ourselves to point out and say, “Hey. That’s a weed.” I’m thankful for the people who have done that for me knowing I would have done/believed some pretty dumb things if it hadn’t been for those people caring enough to lovingly point out something in my life that needed to be removed.

Lesson #2: You’ve got to remove the roots of the weed, or they’ll come back.

Weeds are persistent boogers. Sometimes you’ll think you’ve gotten all the roots only to find a weed in the same exact place a few days later.

God is the one who needs to remove the “weed”. He sees the depths of the root and He knows the best way to get rid of it. I’ll miss something if I try to do it on my own strength. 

Here’s an example of some weeding I’m asking God to do in my life. As far back as I can remember, I’ve always had a poor self-esteem. Poor is putting it kindly and as I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’m downright abusive to myself. I’ve repeated derogatory names taking them on as my identity. Now most people would say– “Speak positive, Holly!” That’s part of it, but unless God comes in and gives me His vision, and His thoughts, then this weed is just gonna linger because I’ll only be dealing with the surface issue (negative talk) when there’s a deeper heart issue that needs weeding and healing.

Lesson #3: Weeds come out easier in fertile ground.

If your ground is dry, weeding is much more difficult. You are more apt to struggle, toil and sweat.

How does one keep fertile lives? Read the Bible. Worship. Pray. Ask godly people to speak into your life. Be obedient to what God is speaking to you. All of those things water our souls and keep the ground workable.

It’s easy to let life harden us– to allow people’s words, disappointments and crisis’ to deplete us of Living Water. That’s why it’s so important that we pursue God (through the above mentioned means…as well as many other ways) in order to stay flexible. 

This is my advice to you, allow the Gardener to come in and do some weeding. Allow Him to point out things that need some work and trust Him in the process. Know that anything being removed, is being removed for your good. Sure, it’s not a pain-less process, but in the end you’ll have a beautiful garden full of flowers instead of an overgrown and unkempt plot full of weeds. 

Rest Takes Work

resttakeswork

Seems ironic, doesn’t it?

Rest takes work.

I’m convinced of it. For me it does, anyway.

I have this friend who visits my office periodically. We’ll spend a few minutes catching up on life and ministry events.  Then, without fail, he’ll ask me if I’m taking time to rest.

“Rest?” I laugh.

“Yes, Holly, people do that. God even commanded it. He even rested. You do know its part of the Ten Commandments, right?.”

“Ohhhhhhh….righhhhtttttt. The Ten Commandments. I forgot.” 😉

I try to tease, but my friend is always persistent. Probably because for the past 4 years every time he sees me I’ve got big black circles under my eyes and have a frantic crazed look.

Rest? Eh, I’ll rest when I’m dead I’ve convinced myself. And with that type of thinking it might just put me in the grave faster.

This weekend I spent some time resting. I did absolutely nothing. The only way I could justify my actions (or a few hours of NON-ACTION) was reminding myself that I had been out late the night before and with another late night ahead of me it was OK to just “veg out”.

Unfortunately, this down time left me feeling guilty. Shouldn’t I be doing something. There’s blog posts to write, dishes to wash, bills to pay….the list goes on and on.

Rest doesn’t come easy for me, but I believe it is essential to maintaining an intimate relationship with Jesus. I’m pretty sure He thinks so, too, because He keeps whispering in my ear: You can stop now.

God keeps reminding me of the disciple John. John or the “one whom Jesus loved”, as he refereed to himself in the Gospel he penned, knew something about rest. As he recounts the story of the Last Supper, he mentions how he leaned back on Jesus’ chest. I’m not sure John realized it at the time, but his life was about to get chaotic, to say the least, and those restful moments helped prepare him for what was to come.

So, I’ve got to honestly ask myself:

When is the last time I just leaned on Him?

When is the last time I put my head against His chest and listened to His heart beat?

When I get to Heaven, Jesus isn’t going to ask me to give Him a Powerpoint presentation showcasing all the work I did for Him. He’s going to be most interested in knowing if I knew Him. (And ya, He’ll already know.)

Of course He’ll love listening to my stories about the many summers I spent working with children. He’ll smile as I recount the moments where I found such joy in hearing about their testimonies about the love they had for Him. Like any good friend, He’ll laugh and nod as if its the first time He’s hearing all about it.

But I’m not getting into Heaven based on my logged ministry hours. It’s not based on Sundays spent in the walls of a church. It’s not based on the number of countries I visit offering humanitarian work. It’s not based on how many people read and follow my blog.

What matters in the end is the time I spent with Him. And, as much as I love squeezing Him into my hectic schedule by praying in the car between meetings….He demands more. (Actually, He’s looking for *ALL* but that’s another post)

He’s looking for me to stop awhile and lean on Him. To listen. To soak in His presence. To enjoy Him.

For me, resting might look like taking a few hours to journal with my favorite Starbucks drink in hand, or take a day off and spend it hiking with friends, or play a silly game with siblings or….take a NAP. It doesn’t have to be any more complicated than that, but we’ve got to allow Him to refresh us and to speak to us in our weary places. He will, too. 

Recently. I’ve heard His voice as I relaxed in a hammock in the Adirondacks or while eating some ice cream with my niece. They weren’t Earth shaking “spiritual” events, just normal every day moments where I slowed down and listened for His heart beat. 

I’ll need to be intentional with my time and I’ll certainly still need my friends to keep me accountable. My schedule won’t magically open up, but I’ll need to start saying no to some things, which is a lot harder than it sounds. It’ll take work, but I’ve never regretted my time with Him. Never once did it feel wasted. 

And from time to time I’ll have to tell my soul: “Rest, Holly. It’s OK.”