I struggle with fear.

Today’s post is actually more of a confession. Or perhaps I should call it an admission – something I’m admitting to myself more than anyone else.

Here it is: there are a lot of things I don’t write because I am afraid. Fear. It’s there and it’s real. Fear of what people will think of me. Fear of alienating my family and friends. Fear of being pigeonholed and boxed in.

Fear isn’t the only reason that I have resisted blogging, of course, but it’s a big one. Maybe, really, it’s the biggest one. And realizing this has been a long, hard, scary process.

Here’s the thing about the internet: people are not interested in nuance. People have no time for complexity and subtlety. Issues that are require a deeper level of thought and engagement, the gray areas, both sides of the story – none of these elements are well suited for our digital age. Give it to me in 140 characters, a headline, a status update, or don’t bother.

And, well, I’d like to hope that most of my thoughts and opinions can’t be summarized quite so neatly.

But you know what? I’m willing to bet that’s the case for most of us. No one wants to think that he or she could be written off so easily. A tweet, a Facebook status update, or even a blog post can’t begin to plumb the depths of our souls, the complexities and contradictions that we all bring to the table.

I try to give people grace. I try to give people the benefit of the doubt.

I’ve just been too afraid to trust that other people will do the same for me.

So now I’m doing my best to shed that fear. Be brave, Katie.

What you might not know about cerebral palsy

Today I have another post up at The Art of Simple. This post is part of a monthly series there called The Intellectual Grownup, where Tsh explores topics like history, science, and art — “just because it’s good for our brains to learn new stuff.” Here’s an excerpt:

“When I was in high school, I had a part-time job at Blockbuster Video (VHS tapes! Be kind, rewind!). One of my co-workers was a guy named David*, and he had cerebral palsy.

It was the first time I’d really been around someone with a disability. David was a typical guy in every way, except that he walked kind of strangely, and he used fore-arm crutches for support. His arms and hands were a little bit bent and twisted, making some of our tasks more challenging for him.

I thought about David when I found out that my daughter Laura* has cerebral palsy.

For many of us, there might be a shroud of mystery surrounding those words. They might seem a bit scary – or a lot scary.

They might conjure up images of severely handicapped children.

They might just represent totally new or unfamiliar territory, and you’re a little uncomfortable with the whole thing.

It’s ok; I understand because I used to feel all of those things, too. But now that I have a daughter with cerebral palsy (CP), I’m learning a lot. I’m learning what CP is and what it means, and that I don’t have to be afraid of it.

So, for this month’s Intellectual Grownup offering, I thought I would share some of what I’ve learned about CP, in the hope that I could pull back the veil a bit, remove some of the fears, and bring a little more awareness and understanding into our world.”

Go here to read the rest.

Common grace for the common good

Today I have a post at The Art of Simple. Here’s an excerpt:

“I don’t know about you, but sometimes I get a little bit down and discouraged about the state of the world, current events, and the like.

I stopped watching the news on TV years ago because it was just too depressing. I care deeply about this world and the people in it, which means that sometimes the pain and the sorrow and the struggles threaten to overwhelm me – whether they’re down the street or on the other side of the world.

But I’ve realized that I can choose to see the whole picture of life on earth. The beautiful, the good, and the joyful are present, as well. Learning to look for those things, celebrate them, honor and give thanks for them is a discipline that we can all cultivate.”

Head here to read the rest…

On David Gray and weeping

Yesterday morning in Austin, Texas, the rain came down hard. Big, fat drops fell in torrents from a dark gray sky, collecting into little streams that ran swiftly against the curbs and creating puddles that rose up to drench each passing car. There was no thunder, no lightning – just a hard, steady outpouring of water that soaked into the earth, and the earth drank it up eagerly and gratefully.

It felt right, and not just because we desperately need rain in this drought-stricken land that has been so parched for so long. It felt right because it mirrored the way I felt inside. I woke up yesterday morning to the headlines about the terrible explosion in West, Texas. Still raw from the news of the bombings at the Boston Marathon three days before, this new tragedy a mere two days later was like grasping the knife and plunging it in yet again, a little deeper still.

I spent at least half of the morning in the car, as I do every weekday. Driving my children to and from school and running errands has become my morning liturgy. I usually enjoy the company of NPR news while I drive, but yesterday morning I turned it off. I couldn’t listen anymore; the death and destruction and pain were too much to bear.

Instead, I plugged in my phone and pulled up some music. My fingers scrolled through the list at a red light, and stopped at David Gray, the British singer-songwriter. I hit “play” and set my phone down, and suddenly his voice filled my ears and swelled up, full and tender:

“Gonna close my eyes, girl, and watch you go,
Running through this life, darling, like a field of snow.
As the tracer glides in its graceful arc,
Send a little prayer out to ya, ‘cross the falling dark.
Tell the repo man and the stars above
That you’re the one I love…”

And just like that, a minivan became a sanctuary. With the rain pounding on the roof above and the other cars throwing waves of muddy water on my windshield as they passed by, I pulled over to the shoulder and I wept and cried out to God.

I wept for the people of Boston, and the three that died: Martin Richard, Krystle Campbell, and Lu Lingzi, and all their families and friends, and the runners that continued running all the way to the hospital to donate blood.

“Perfect summer’s night – not a wind that breathes,
Just the bullets whispering gentle,
‘mongst the new green leaves.
There’s things I might have said, only wish I could,
Now I’m leaking life faster than I’m leaking blood.
Tell the repo man and the stars above
That you’re the one I love”

I wept for the people of West, Texas, and the missing firefighters, and the elderly who were evacuated from their nursing home, and the people who lost their husbands and wives and children, and a town overwhelmed with destruction.

I wept for the children and families of Newtown, Connecticut, and the Senate’s failure to pass any new gun control measures on Wednesday. I wept for the murder trial of Kermit Gosnell and the women and all the nameless babies who died at his hands, and the darkness and evil that reside in the hearts of men and women everywhere.

“Don’t see Elysium, don’t see no fiery hell
Just the lights up bright, baby, in the bay hotel
Next wave coming in like an ocean roar
Won’t you take my hand, darling, on that old dancefloor
We can twist and shout, do the turtle dove
And you’re the one I love”

And the sky wept with me; the clouds groaned and wailed and poured themselves out in agony and despair.

There is a time to weep. There is a time to mourn. I weep with and for those who weep today. May God have mercy on us all.

never too late

“It is never too late to be what you might have been.” – George Eliot

I still remember the rush of hope that ran through my veins the first time I read that quote from George Eliot. I don’t remember where I was or how old I was; I just remember feeling that sudden thrill of recognition – that moment when you realize that there is someone else in the world who has felt what you feel, who has been where you are, who perhaps knows the pain of regret, yet looks down the road ahead with hope in her heart.

I spent most of my formative years trying to live up to other people’s ideals. Whether it was parents, teachers, bosses, friends, or boyfriends, it seemed like everyone had high expectations of me, and they weren’t always the same. And as a people-pleaser and harmonizer by nature, I frequently found myself trying to become the person that someone else wanted me to be. You might guess that this would be the quickest way to crazy – and you’d be right.

So who am I really? This is what I’ve been trying to figure out for the past few years. I’ve made lots of mistakes. I’m sure I’ll continue to make more. But I used to look back at my mistakes – my choices – with regret and loss. I don’t do that anymore (or at least, not too often!). George Eliot taught me that it’s never too late to be who I might have been. There is still time; there is grace; there is hope for the future and for change and for a different path; there are still dreams to chase hard after and there are still second chances, thanks be to God.

And that’s why I love this quote. I never want to look back on my life and think, “I missed the boat. It’s too late.” God is always working in me, always changing me, always opening new doors and leading me in new paths. There really is no “might have been” with God. There is only hope. “And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Romans 5:5).