i have so many words to say and such a hunger to say them, but once my fingers meet the keyboard they run away like a frightened cat. i feel so much and i think even more and i’m learning that more than anything, i use words to express the business of my brain.
Right now, i’m laying in bed accompanied only by a the light of a bedside lamp. The past twenty-four hours of my life have been spent resting and thinking and reading. i just finished a book by a man who started an organization that opened the door for honest conversation and introduced me to a life of hope beyond pain.
i bought my first To Write Love On Her Arms t-shirt when i was in seventh grade at a music festival in Orlando, FL. i didn’t know what the words meant or even what the organization really stood for, but i liked the idea of love being a movement so i traded a little money for a shirt. Eight years later, it’s probably one of the most important purchases that i’ve ever made.
The year following the purchase of that shirt was the hardest of my life (at the time). i experienced my first season of depression and toyed with the idea of suicide because i didn’t know what to do with all of the things that i felt. Life was dark and heavy and i didn’t know the One who gives life, but in the midst of it all i found a little hope to live on. i felt shame in the darkness that was inside of me. shame in the feelings and in the weight of my thoughts. i felt alone and unloved and i told myself that opening up about all of it would just push people farther away. So i kept silent and kept living in the midst of the pain and the tears.
To Write Love On Her Arms was the first place that i found hope and validity within the chaos. Between here and there i met Hope Himself and learned that God is the reason we can hope at all. i am thankful that He used TWLOHA to bring me to the entry way of honesty and authentic living despite pain and brokenness.
i think that there is a part of me that holds a bitterness towards churches when they talk about darkness or mental illness or pain. i instantly picture women wearing too much pink blush and a bad suit saying in lazy southern accents, “Honey, it’ll be okay.” without any empathy or understanding. Christians have this terrible habit of saying what they think they should without really meaning it. i think sometimes some of us struggle to believe the words coming out of our own mouths because we get caught up in what we “should say”. i think in those times, silence can speak louder than false words. We don’t have to have all the answers, we just have to love well.
TWLOHA has been a safe place for me in the past eight years as i’ve battled depression on and off. Through t-shirts and blogs or even just a tweet, i have been comforted by honest words. i read If You Feel Too Much in two days because every story was written out of a place of deep acknowledgment for the feelings of the right-now. Honesty is addicting and hard and comforting and good. Sometimes it’s hard to stomach, but we were made to live in with truth in our bones.
Jamie Tworkowski started a non-profit because he knew that love is stronger than pain. TWLOHA exists because there is always tomorrow, there is always time. There is always hope to be found and a light at the end of the tunnel, even if it’s far away. This blog is not a push for you to support them or for you to buy his book, i think it is more of a thank you note to the organization for what it is and what is has been to me.
It is through so many of their words that i have found validity in what i feel. It is through their words that i have learned to live boldly with the story that i am living. It is through their words that i learned the reality that people need other people. It is through their words that i have learned to live in hope. There have been so many times that TWLOHA has posted something and i’ve said, “Yes! That’s exactly how i feel!” and the truth that i am not alone began to sing its song in my heart. God knows how to speak to His children and He has used TWLOHA to speak to me on countless occasions. It is by no accident that i bought that shirt eight years ago.
There is always purpose in the right now, even if it can’t be seen.
There is always purpose for the pain, even if you can’t see past the hurt.
There is always hope to be found, even if it seems like an impossible hunt.
“Many live alone on islands made of nightmares. May we live as boats and bridges sent through darkness, honest boats and honest bridges sent to find them. May we build those things, and may we also be them. And may we raise an honest hand on days we need them. And then, after help and rest and all the things our lives require, let’s keep going. There is still so much to feel and see and say.”
- Jamie Tworkowski, If You Feel Too Much
PS- Christians aren’t supposed to be happy all the time.