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Alas! and did my Savior bleed
And did my Sovereign die?
Would He devote that sacred head
For such a worm as I?

Was it for crimes that I had done
He groaned upon the tree?
Amazing pity, grace unknown,
And love beyond degree!

This, the darkest day in human history, is the one on which my hope hinges. Brilliantly bright hope in the midst of bleak blackness.

Good Friday. How can it be good? What agony my Savior suffered on that cross, in that garden, at the hands of hatred-filled men––bloody, beaten, despised, mocked, and killed.

For me.

I marvel at the glories of double imputation––my sin and just punishment imputed to Him; His righteousness imputed to my hopelessly bankrupt account.

Christ’s death secured for me eternal life. What a grand, incomparable paradox. His triumphant resurrection is the lifeblood that gives me strength to carry on.


I am ashamed of my sin-induced amnesia. I chase after flitters of light on grey, routined walls––fleeting, unsatisfying shadows. I never lift my weary head to the Source of any and all light. “Christ alone” must be my battlecry as I traverse a world so fraught with lesser lights.

My sin lingers, insidiously aiming at the utmost, and I am helpless to save myself. We all naturally wallow in the dark mire of iniquity. But now, His victory in the cross and resurrection give us the fortitude to fight vice relentlessly and chase after that truest light.

“But he was pierced for our transgressions;
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
    and with his wounds we are healed.” –Isaiah 53:5

For now, it feels like my flesh, Satan and the world are all triumphing, rejoicing over my prostrate body like bloodthirsty villains. I do not always hold onto Him in this spiritual war. But His is an everlasting grip. All I can do is cling to Calvary and in the power of His resurrection, walk––slowly but steadily––toward the light of a brilliant future:

“According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you.” –1 Peter 1:3

My flesh deceives me into thinking sin will have the greater payoff. What a lie. Sin leads to death. There is nothing benign about destructive malevolence. Christ suffered the full wrath of God for that sin. How can I do anything now but live for Him alone, before His face alone, all for His glory.

My blessed Redeemer has saved me from the shackles of sin, from the bondage of my flesh. I am in awe of His sovereign saving grace––an inexhaustible grace. But I must never seek to exhaust that grace by my sin. Christ is the champion Warrior, conquering sin and death, and He reigns now and forevermore.

May His name be lifted high as I sojourn and battle on, seeking the greater light and clinging to Him all of my days.

But drops of grief can ne’er repay
The debt of love I owe;
Here, Lord, I give myself away,
‘Tis all that I can do.

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When I was quite young, I loved to climb to the top of the stairs and toss bright pink and green parachuted figures off the landing. I sent toy soldiers sailing on parachutes of soaring dreams and imagined how exciting it would be to jump off on my own someday. It seems like it was the very next day when the tears of my mother soaked through my shirt collar as she pressed her face to my neck. She didn’t want me to go. Go back to college after spring break. Go and get married. Go and go and go. And suddenly, I was frightened. I didn’t want to go either. I wanted to stay in the safe cocoon of my mother’s embrace. I wanted to toss the toy parachutes off the stair landing again and again, believing for even a brief moment that they were flying. I wanted to sneak around the corner of my childhood bedroom door once more to try and catch my toy stegosaurus conversing with toy Woody.

But they never did converse. I was convinced that I’d one day stumble across their subversive gossip about the other toys. I believed they had words worth hearing and stories worth listening to. I still do.

Maybe I’m not ready to enter the adult pool at the beach-side resort I always stayed at when I was younger. The resort with the too-green grass and the playground that shrunk in both its size and appeal. Maybe I still feel like a child. Am I still a child? I never quite lost the wide-eyed wonder that seems to be sacrificed on the altar of adulthood concerns – taxes and paychecks and “what are you doing after college?”

I really haven’t travelled as far in my maturity as I’d like to think. I sometimes revisit the hazy land of loneliness, where I met Alex and Televega so long ago. I remember when my go-to companions were imaginary. At least they have a harder time stabbing your back. My mother would ask who I was talking to and my three-year-old response was “nothing.” Thus, my closest imaginary friend, Nothing, was born–an Asian girl with long black hair and a quiet smile. My Japanese roommate looks like Nothing. But a real friend is far better than Nothing.

I think about when I informed my baby brother that “the morning dove gave birth to chicks.” My imagination was kindled with thoughts of a “morning dove” – a nearly celestial creature that glows like the sun when it coos. It was only later that I found out that the doves are actually mourning, moaning. I mourn over the loss of the blindingly bright morning doves. Somehow my mom caught a recording of my awe-filled little voice instructing my brother and kept it. That solemnity was mimicry of adult action, and it is strange living on the other side of time, smiling benevolently down at other little adult mimickers.

I am an adult, but I am still an adult mimicker. Walking through a crowded grocery store, I may look intent on my task, but I am really as bewildered as a five-year-old. I want to cling to the side of my mother’s shopping cart as if it’s my saving grace, looking up at the figure I knew would always be taller and stronger than me. But now I’m clinging to my own shopping cart, steering nervously, just as I steer nervously through life, looking for her hand to hold in the most embarrassingly timid of ways. I’m returning a phone call at work, and I’d rather lean on my mom’s arm as she dials the number for me. Instead, I leave a voicemail for Curtis, the brash RV park owner, who for all I know is gone fishing – or wishing for his mom’s presence as much as I am for mine.

“I don’t want you to go,” she chokes out during that fated end of spring break, drawing deep breaths between sobs. It’s a terrifying thing, hearing your mother cry. It’s even more terrifying to be the cause. Reverse the years, I want to yell at God. Make me six again.

I’m not six. I am far closer to twenty-six. What a paralyzing thought. Who am I? I’m a dependent on federal paperwork and independent in real time. I’m a daughter, and I’m a woman. Daughterhood seems more appealing than womanhood sometimes. There is a sad, tired feeling that sweeps over me, and I just want to crawl one hundred miles down the coast of California and into my mother’s embrace.

When she visited me, I couldn’t let her out of my sight. She was there, in my college dorm room, and I was so afraid she’d disappear. Feeling her hold me on the dorm bed was the strangest experience of the school year. An odd reconciliation between being a daughter and an independent woman. The little girl is also a college student. How can I be both at once?

I am moving forward, sailing on the winds of possibility. I am still a daughter, yes, and often a fearful one, but I know that I am not alone. I am soaring on toy wings, followed by an invisible fleet of parachuting soldiers and ghostly friends and luminous morning doves.

At the end of my flight path, she stands. Her arms are outstretched. Always waiting.

Anticipation

Carissa A —  April 30, 2016 — Leave a comment
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The leaves tremble in anticipation of the night, closely preceded by a reigning misty fog.
I tremble in anticipation of approaching darkness, perceiving that my fears lurk in the descending drizzle.
I see you everywhere. Even the tree branches drifting outside my window seem to hold traces of your presence.
He is present, even when you are not. He is eternal, even though you are not.
He is ours, but we are not each other’s.
I crumble in anticipation of impending separation, a tearing away of old affections and distancing of lingering love.
He is here, even when you aren’t.
He is consolation, peace, joy, hope.
He is faithful, always good, and we are His.
He is my all in all. Only Him. May my eyes be fixed on what is eternal. Father, I need You.

December 2015

“I love you.”

Carissa A —  October 19, 2013 — 2 Comments

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“I love you.” Words that, given the right context, send shivers down my spine. Regardless of the identity of the speaker, my response will always be the same. Ecstatic joy, quickly followed by paralyzing skepticism. “No, you don’t,” my mind whispers.

To the one that carelessly breathes, “I love you:”

You don’t love me. You love what you think I can give you. What is it? An ego boost? A trophy to show off to your friends? Instant physical gratification? I am merely a placeholder, fit in the same slot that you would fit any other girl into. You are not worth my time.

You don’t love me. You love the qualities of yourself you see reflected in me. Let’s be honest: You love yourself, but veil your narcissism by concealing it in the admiration of another human. You don’t care about all my parts semblancing a whole. The only parts you care about are those of yourself you see mirrored back at you. Without that, you lose interest. You are a coward.

You don’t love me. You love the idea of me. This is the most painful, darling. You have conjured up an elaborate, beautiful being without flaw. I am not she. You are blinded by the insistent murmurings that I am this creature you have shaped me into. And you can’t get enough. How heartbreaking, that you would not set that image aside and try to love me for the woman that I am. I promise, love, I am as, if not more, intricate and impossibly mysterious as your hologram version of my essence. Why won’t you come closer and find out?

Love. Ha. What a meaningless word…

Or is it? We, as humans, screw everything up, including the definition and action of otherwise pure words. It’s our fallen natures. God is love. Flesh rejects God, flesh rejects the incandescent absolute that love is, translated to our broken human levels, where we fumble over our words and say things we don’t mean and cling tightly when we know we shouldn’t and burn so hot only to end up icily bereft of feeling.

Past vs. Future

Carissa A —  October 15, 2013 — Leave a comment
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALate night reflection from 7-13-13:
“Everyone has a past…and a future,” voiced Jon Foreman at today’s Bro-Am. “You are more than the choices that you’ve made/you are more than the sum of your past mistakes,” the band Tenth Avenue North sings in their song “You Are More.” Both statements? True.
In the past lie the dark times that we so desperately avoid but weigh so heavily on us. They overshadow the times of undeniable bliss and happiness and reveal our depth of depravity. We should always be looking to the future, hopefully, gratefully. Onward.
You are more than your past. But your past is still part of you. You are more than the fantasized about but not yet fulfilled first kiss. But you are that fantasy, the way it evolved and how it dissipated. You are more than the nauseating secrets. But those secrets create the framework for your soul.
Your past does not have to define you. Choose the parts to learn from and move on. Your essence is the sum of your experiences and dreams and the hollow potentiality that every human possesses. You are who you have been and who you are working to be. Self-discovery is a broken road, but one that every soul is destined to journey on.”