“evermore” – Taylor Swift (feat. Bon Iver)

I’ve been listening to Taylor from the beginning. I have a 20 year old daughter. Taylor and the Jonas Brothers are the two throwbacks to early musical parenting that rarely cause me to change the music. I’ve seen her in concert multiple times. She’s cool. But she’s not MINE. My love for Taylor came through the eyes of my children. And they love her. Like really love her. Sorry, girls, still no tickets for the tour. #yougotcollegeinstead

When we were locked in our houses in the spring of 2020, some of us cried. Some of us raged. Some of us created. Taylor did all, apparently. And the result of round one was the album folklore. In July of 2020, I was wandering the neighborhood streets still keeping my 6’ and hiding from so many feelings. Damn it, Taylor. You were my kid’s. And then you sang about me. And my big adult mess of feelings and love and heartbreak. You weren’t singing about being 15 or “boys” or even lovers. Which was still too young. But mirrorball and exile and mad woman? You generation buster, you. The number of tears I cried walking the blocks of our old neighborhood to this album could fill a bucket. Or ten. And then December came along and so did evermore. Taylor released evermore on December 11, 2020. That exact weekend, the wheels came off the world that I knew. And 6 weeks later I moved to Austin.

Of all of Taylor’s songs that have carried me in the tears of a bubble bath and the heavy of a deep breath, this one rings. In my bones. It has helped me. It has gutted me.

“Hey December, guess I’m feeling unmoored.”

Yes, then. Yes, now.

I don’t like that this song made the list. I really wanted to say that I was over the TS affair, but apparently these albums are in the groove of my most recent healing journey. So, I let them stay. Like I really have a choice. Just listen to these words:

I replay my footsteps on each stepping stone trying to find the one where I went wrong…

Can’t remember what I used to fight for…

And I was catching my breath, barefoot in the wildest winter, catching my death…

And I couldn’t be sure I has a feeling so peculiar that this pain would be for evermore…

That’s the quiet. It’s not containable in a single date or a memory or a song. When it’s quiet, it’s deafeningly quiet. The quiet steals the details of the story and fills the silence with the fullness of the emotional story. One that often requires a dramatic, scary, new voice to speak a language that terrifies. The language of healing. Words that don’t sound like they fit.

For someone that has never been soul still, Bon Iver is a sharp knife and a surgeon’s stitch….that falsetto. Do you hear what he does to her pain? Meets her there. Which is really the deepest human needed. We just need to be met in our most broken and loved through it. That’s what these two albums did for me in ways that a live and in-person human could not. It was, and some days still is too tender for skin. So, Tay Tay, you get to stay.

“I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” – Scarlett Johansson and Bono

Upfront confession for those that will call out my past behavior: I am now a fan of U2. This was a product of the lockdown, where I wrestled with my musical nevers and came out on the side of the popular vote – after almost 3 decades of a staunch anti-U2 campaign. So just to be clear, this is complicated…(anyone catching on?)

There is something about this version, however, that I feel like tells a better story of the quiet of this song for me. I’m obsessed with the female vocals on the prayer at the beginning. That’s what it is. Fight me. And then the big chorus. CHURCH. But, we need Bono. You can’t do this one without the kick drum and his sound. It’s too…true to the original. This added feminine twist is found in this version from Sing 2. With all of my hang ups and conflicting feels around this band, I find the humor of all humors is that a cartoon is what helps me find the safe rhythm.

Laughter and quiet and silly and play have been unnecessary in the seriousness with which I have fought for the salvation of all things. Just today, I had a few hours alone and an I forced myself to watch a rom com. I do that about once a year to try and just not need intensity. I wish I could enjoy playtime more. I work on it. It’s important to me to find my own play. But, I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.

This year, I asked a weird favor of people that I trust with all the ugly mess. In our moments together, I asked them to help me see what I miss. I hate pictures of myself. I can’t just look at a picture and see a beautiful human. While I have worked on the internal monologue, I needed images to attach to reality. And this is why I love these humans. They remind me that it’s ok to laugh in the midst of the rediscovery process. Want to see what my people see?

This is real. And so is the smile.
Sometimes your friends remind you that serious is so hard and lighthearted laughter is the balance. On a porch. This was a good day.
I feel it inside me 6 months later.

I still struggle with the intended destination. When you are searching for what you are looking for, sometimes the road takes intersecting turns. If there is one thing that 2022 has taught me it’s that the best part of the wandering is the people that you get to journey with. All of them. They make this scavenger hunt we call life waaaaay more fun. We need all of them. The wisdom of the sages. The tender of the deepest care. The pain of the intense fires. The smiles that can only be found in the safest of the safe.

Bono. Let’s just call this for what it is. You kinda wore me down. We’ve been at this for a while. If 30 years of angst as I turned off U2 songs has taught me anything, let me declare one thing as a fact: don’t ever say never. Ever. Because sometimes a global pandemic will force you to sit for hours on your back porch and eventually…eventually…you realize that there is only one voice that tells the truth. Yours. And I still haven’t found all of it. So, I guess it’s you and me and Scarlett doing some porch swinging and making peace. It’s almost like you knew this was coming. And this might just be one of the biggest peace treaties I’ve ever signed. With or without you.

“boy” – The Killers

I told you. Quiet does not equate to acoustic guitar and wispy feelings. Here we have the best non-80s, 80s song. Ever. INXS and Depeche Mode are so proud of you, Brandon. Because this beauty could have been a big moment in any John Hughes film and we would all be here for it.

The Killers are a thing around these parts. The most solid bit of art and creativity that my husband gifted our kids is his love for all things alternative music. The Killers are the gold standard. This band is the common ground of our family musical rainbow. We meet at the stage of a steady, sure, surprising musical great. And this year, the boys have us this gem. And I got to see them sing it.

Confetti at concerts. Solid add to my live music experience.

If I’m perfectly honest, The Killers have not been the musical punch that I usually require for a good soul stirring. A great song to drive to? A hard day pick me up playlist at work? Always. They are the reliable solid. “boy” was released in August of this year. And I was immediately introduced to my new favorite Killer’s song. There is nothing like a coming of age gem to spark the soul of a wanderer. And that 1:30 minute mark electronic drive…gosh I miss the 80s. The sound was my first draw to the song. And then I heard the words.

“Just give yourself some time.”

“Don’t overthink it boy”

“When you’re out on the ledge, please come down boy.”

“White arrows will blast the black night…” that’s when I knew we had a burner. One that could shoot to the heart of my dark moments. Who are your white arrows? Because we all have the black nights. And sometimes those nights can’t be survived without just a little light. A tiny spark to break the paralyzing, death dark. I would not have survived the long dark spells without my white arrows this year. The ones that I have come to seek out and the ones that come flying through the air out of nowhere.

I had the obvious white arrows of nature and fur creatures and love. But I also had some less obvious white arrows. Flower picking, jet ski riding and good fires. The nightly look to the setting sun and a brief photographic pause. The friends that will not leave. The lone buck that visits my porch almost daily. Hope. The white arrows can be a small, distant shooting star. And that’s all we need.

The most beautiful part of the heart journey that music can invoke is the timeless nature of the truth. As a mom who has raised two 16 year olds, I get why this song should be a rear view reflection. But here I find myself right on my own edge at 47. When I hear the wisdom of life experience in this song, I imagine the ones that have come before me. The ones that now stand in the wisdom of the 60s and 70s. They chuckle at my mid life rambling. Because they know it will tell my story. And not kill me. Just give yourself some time…

And the quiet? On the days when the fire of the dark burns too hot it can’t be quiet, arrows. The arrow of learning to care for yourself. The arrow of knowing what your heart needs. The beautiful shining arrow of risk. My boy-like heart lives this anthem of self-assurance. That’s what happens when I lean in and trust that there will be enough of all for everything that is to come.

This is one of my favorite patches of real estate in my area. This porch is a white freaking arrow.

“The Promise”

As I mentioned yesterday, quiet is has been an untapped resource in my life. If my deep, hard drive into the newness of unmapped feelings has not been revealed by Gungor and Cyndi or even the honesty of walking away, I welcome you to one of the most gut wrenching realities of the quiet. For people like me, true quiet has to come alone. It’s just too raw for public consumption. Quiet brings truth. And truth is hard. There is no driving bass to cover the discomfort of the quiet.

Tracy Chapman is a musical hero. She is woven deep in the quiet for me. I’ve loved her music for more than 30 years. I was in the 8th grade when she broke onto the music scene. She was a stereotype buster. And she ushered into my musical language a singer/songwriter tender that I was missing. But she was also a stone cold badass. In the most non-80s and 90s way. I can honestly say that in my eclectic musical wanderings, without Tracey, there may not have been Melissa and Alanis and Sheryl. Who would I even be? When “Fast Car” turned into a TikTok phenomenon, I laughed. The Tracey of the 80’s didn’t see that one coming. Of all the songs that make my insides come alive in the quiet, it’s this one. And I’m forever grateful.

My early interactions with this song happened in the broken heart of young love. I thought I knew what it meant to long for connection. No, I thought I understood connection. In my wise and mature ways. And then I went to Wendy’s for a frosty. I was that committed to the feelings. This song was released in 1995. In the midst of a huge life shift. And I listened like my life depended on the emotion. Early this year, a few of her songs found their way back to my regular playlist. But this one stuck. To everything.

Promises are weird. We make them at 8 on the playground. We promise to never tell. We promise to be here. We even ask people, “you promise?” I realized in the quiet that I don’t care about many promises. I have really tried hard not to use that word for my intent. But there is one promise that has been grounding this year. In the same way that Gungor reminded me that I am enough for myself, I needed Tracy to sit with me in the quiet and whisper (because my heart can’t handle a bully in this arena) that I can trust someone else. Even with the fledgling baby bones of my reconstruction efforts, there is enough truth in the depth of my heart to promise the words of this song to those that deserve them. And more importantly, that I could trust this promise from people that have shown me they are capable of being trusted.

If that previous paragraph makes no sense, just listen to this song and trust that it’s a good one. If you read the last paragraph and knew, just sit with this song. Listen again. And when it feels too hard, listen some more. Tracy, and the ones that we need in our soft, won’t demand their place. BUT, if invited, there is beautiful wisdom in this deep breath of melody.

We are not too broken to be loved. None of us.

There are some promises worth keeping.

People who have our backs are there. And they will be. Even when we don’t deserve them. They are waiting for us because their promise is true.

Some of my most uncomfortable quiet moments came in the recognition of this truth. And voices like Tracy will continue to shape me in 2022 like they did in 1995. My only companion in the deepest of the quiet has been music. I would not have survived the pain of the wisdom of the quiet without the rasp of Tracy and the messages of hope from Bono and Taylor and even the great Mr. Flowers. The quiet is so good. See you tomorrow, boy.

Watching sunsets from the dark inside is a quiet meditation for me these days.

“Time After Time” – P!nk

It was 1983. Cyndi was the wildest thing that this punk rock wanna’ be could dream of. Madonna was the gold standard, but she was…Madonna. There was no low-key covering the crazy. I just wanted a little. No one seemed to turn off 104.1 when “Girls Just Wanna’ Have Fun” played. I cannot say the same for “Like a Virgin.” She was all this precious neon jelly shoe wearing 3rd grader could dream of. And her hair…legend. I say all of that to give the appropriate honor to the original. But today…

You knew it was coming. And I assure you this is not the last. We will discuss the finer points of my love affair with P!nk in a few, but for now, we focus on one of my favorite artists of all time singing a song that soothes and irritates.

P!nk is notorious for amazing covers. And if she could sing all her songs and all of her covers at every show, I sure would appreciate it. This one will always be one of my favorites because it just sings to the depths of the human hurt…my hurt. When I hear it, I can simultaneously hear Cyndi and P!nk. I hear the wonder of an 8 year-old curious girl and the rasp of my jaded adulthood. It’s a picture of the whole. And that’s a really important part of this week. We have to bring all of ourselves if we are going to honor the quiet. ALL. OF. IT.

I am not quiet. My laugh is loud. My animated voice has been shushed more times than I can count. “You have a big personality” is one of the most common descriptions. I know. And when I’m honest, I’ve always known it on a defining level. I’ve always fought it. For all of the many reasons, there has always been a part of my internal work that intentionally quieted myself to better fit into the world. Actually, all the worlds. Because of this, I have resisted quiet in ways that have been damaging. I hate being shushed. There is an internal fury that dances up my spine when I feel like someone is publicly calling for a smaller version of me. This resistance has prevented me from enjoying some of the wonders of life.

As I have allowed the memories of 3rd grade Lacy and her love for 80’s punk to be revisited, I’ve realized I really like that girl. AND! I have the opportunity to hang out with her anytime I want. All it takes is intentional invitation. For me, this year, that invitation has happened in the reconnection of music. This song brings the best of the old and the best of the new right out in the melodic open. That invitation has been a life raft.

A week of quiet? Yep. There has been a lot of it this year. Some by choice and some that I was forced to sit with. While some of the songs this week may not seem “quiet,” you should know that every single one of these songs has transformed my insides in the still moments of 2022. In my tendency to blast through stories and sporting events and life, I have realized I have missed out. Forgive the woo woo again, but this is really important. When I don’t have enough intentionally slow quiet moments, my nervous system cannot keep up. When I don’t process the “big” moments in the quiet, the fight and loud has no way to exit. It hangs on my skin like a thin layer of weight. And the end result is anxiety. Which only makes being quiet harder.

Some of these songs are hard. Some are gut wrenching. These are the lay on the floor, cry until you throw up, want to run away from the pain kind of songs. Some will be obvious. Some will be confusing. That’s quite true about the quiet for me. Things come to the surface that I really don’t like. But so do some really fun things. And strength. The quiet has been my training ground this year. If there was a 5K in quiet, I would totally be in. Some of my quiet has come with intentional purpose. But much of my most important work has come in the times when I had to stand alone. When the safety nets that have always been there were not. When the person I needed was not available. When I just didn’t have words. And for a words person, being unable to articulate the thoughts in your head is not enjoyable. It’s not healthy.

Quiet. Really it’s just about going inside. A place that I have avoided in some seasons and shushed in others. Well. The beauty of the quiet today is that I like the girl I’ve found. All of her. The 3rd grader, the P!nk fan, the tender mess and the too much. This week is just a peek into some of the sweetest lessons yet. Quiet is the new glitter.

“You Have Me” – Gungor


I was. It was early Fall and I was over it. My downloaded music on my phone had pulled a nasty trick for the last time. It was that day that I began an aggressive attack on all music that made me think of things that were no longer. I was so proud. The very few “religious” songs that I left had a general spiritual width that felt safe. This was one of them. Along with one or two from John Mark McMillian and a couple from Jon Foreman, this was the trinity of the palatable.

In what I can only assume is a universal moment of humor, I was preparing to get to work and I hit shuffle. This was the first song. Of all the thousands of songs on all of my playlists, this came on the speaker. I was innocently sitting at my dining room table trying to work. Work never began. I started to change the song. I wasn’t in the mood to process. I let the chords hang. I heard the banjo. I felt the warmth of the vocals. Luckily, I left the song on long enough for the cello. Because if you have followed along this far, you know…the bass.

Here’s what happened. I just let him sing to me. The words that I have sung and played and prayed over and over just…well, they were different. Here is how I explained the experience in a text to a like minded fellow traveler.

“I’m just sitting here singing this over myself. You know we are enough, right? For ourselves? I don’t believe it most of the time. But I know it.

It was in that moment that a significant shift took place. For years I have sung “you have me…” over and over with the meditative draw to an external divinity. In that moment, in my house, on a random afternoon, I KNEW that the one that I needed to have me was me. That’s it. And I’ve had myself all along. I’ve had enough of the hard to be tender. I’ve had enough of the pain to be sensitive. I’ve had enough joy to know deep sorrow. And in the midst of it all, I could trust that I had all I needed.

So, I sat with that. With the very truth that I have fought in the 3am wrestling matches of my soul. And I sang those words to myself.

“You have me…you have me…you have my heart completely….”

I do today. And I still listen to this song. Not often. It’s not a go to. But it is a reminder that sometimes the depth of my knowing shifts into new spaces. And there will always be times when I think I have the purpose and meaning figured out, only to be surprised. With a new level of wonderful hope. In myself.

“My Church” – Maren Morris

Well. You knew we would meet here eventually. What does a human that has spent 45 years embedded in church do when its…gone? Well. Let’s just say some habits die really hard. I still have this weird off-ness on Sunday mornings. Not missing. Not even longing. Just weird. I find myself confident in what I don’t want today, but questioning if there is any part of the rituals and traditions that I want to keep. Let’s just say, much like country music, it’s complicated.

One thing is for sure, if you have been raised with something as central to life as the church was for me, and you take it away, you will find things to fill the hole. This is not a judgment. This is just truth. You cannot pull a life so deeply rooted in one soil out, and not replant it. In something. It will die. That’s just science. Once I made peace with that reality, I quit fighting the replanting process. Because ohhh, its a process. The day that I decided that guilt and hyper-responsibility would not lead in my life, the ‘should’s’ had to go. And that included the many that I say to myself daily – especially about the ways that I should feel about the church.

In my current work, I interact with many churches on weddings, funerals and special events. I have been invited to church at almost every church in town. I know about the women’s events. I hear about the things. From all the people. That’s just small town life. Here’s the twist. Not a single person in town knows what my last 20 years have been like. There is nothing about the life that I lead today that would make anyone think that I have been anything but a stay at home mom from Houston. It’s sooooo weird. But the genius is that I get to be the outsider that sees how the churches work. Like a real person. Not from the inside. And it has only confirmed things for me.

“What church do you go to?” That’s a question that I was not ready to be stumped by. The guilt that comes with it is nasty. And so revealing. Because it’s not just about me. “I don’t go to church” out of my lips is also me not wanting something that is clearly important to you. I really long to get out of the way today. I just don’t want to hurt or influence or even speak in these situations. After sitting with the discomfort, I asked myself if this was a relationship issue or a being lazy on Sunday morning issue. And it was all relationship. It’s over.

This finality freed me to be planted in new guilt-free churches this year, and the one that Maren teaches us about is a favorite. There is not one thing like an open road and a good song. On a hard day, I drive out the narrow two lane road into the Texas Hill Country. If JoDee had flipped another quarter, she would have come to the Hill Country. And turned up that music. I can worship from my soul along FM1431. All the angst and grit and fight and tears. There is a Sonic on the way out of town and with a good Coke and a loaded playlist, I can find my way out…and back. The more I’ve thought about what I need in a spiritual experience today, that about sums it up. A full service travel agency or an open road.

See you at church, Chris and Jimmie.

“Down Home” – Jimmie Allen

One morning this Spring I was out for a walk and I was exploring the “new” of country music. I found a few artists that I enjoyed, but I had a much harder time with the sound. I guess that I just have a type. Shocking. Just when I wasn’t looking, in walked Jimmie. Hello, cowboy.

Our introduction was inevitable because of this single. Whatever listening devices are active in my life would have matched up country and missing Dadddy right to this song. Eventually. If I’m here for the new country, I am here for Jimmie. He has enough ‘today’ to have a new sound but the dance-ability and shoot to the heart lyrics that a 90’s girl loves.

I didn’t believe that it was true. People told me it would happen. And it did. The second year is not easier, but it is certainly less raw. As a whole. But there are really sad, mad, missing kind of days. Like the day that I heard this song for the first time on a tender sunrise morning. I cried. And cried some more. But then I listened again and again. And now, I just love it. And sometimes, I still get teary. Like maybe right now…

I’ve probably listened to it 30 times in the last few weeks as I have worked on this project. Here’s my view of Dad in this song …making new friends, a pond full of fish, holding nothing but the best kind of hope – shining a light up there with that big ol’ smile. Thanks for this, Jimmie. Most of the details don’t quite fit, yet they do. (Side note…Dad, Mom is now making fake food and I keep plants alive. These are important new aspects to our world.) This song is such an accurate picture of lighter grief. And I’m so thankful for it. That’s another part of excavation. We don’t just excavate the hard. We also excavate our happy and the joy and the party if we seem to be missing those in our heavy. Excavation is for all things.

Now, that doesn’t mean that there are not still really hard days. Even great days are heavier with grief on board. The morning of National Signing Day, I dropped my kiddo off for a flight and we celebrated the official end to a part of the journey that Dad did not get to see through to the end. He was one of her greatest cheerleader, and has been a part of this process in many ways. As I pulled away from the airport, for the first time in months, I started to dial his number.

He’s still on my favorites list. I can’t quite hit delete. And on that morning, I just wanted to hear him jovially answer the phone – no hello, no good morning – “How’s my butterfly?” Dad would have loved the monarch jokes. And I smile and cry as I type. The memories today are so fun. I love that we can tell stories and laugh today. I love that the searing pain is dulling and I get to smile more. Time is a gift. Even when I hate it. Thank you, Jimmie for helping me with the words and melody.

“Comin’ Back” – Citizen Cope

If there has ever been a moment in life when you grab your keys, slam the door, walk out of the house and need the perfect song to help you clear your head, today is the day. Excavation is a bitch. If you weren’t tired enough from the digging, the raw-ness of finding the mummified scraps of lost hope and buried dreams can wear on even the strongest badass. And for lovers of bass, it’s time that you meet my new friend, Citizen Cope. Don’t listen to this on a bad speaker. Don’t.

I have rage songs. The ones that just meet my energy and prepare for my fist to swing at the air if my target is missing. But this is different – a determined, righteous, lip pursing, head bobbing soul stiller. This song is a very, very accurate image of the most internal metamorphosis this year. There are songs (and people and places) that transform the fighter to the rhythm seeker. It’s songs like this that have carried me.

Pain is so weird. It hides in colons and joints and even skin. It manifests as migraines and knife life pain in trapped scar tissue. I’ve spent four decades marching right past the warning signs in my body and have gone directly for protect mode. I fought. For everything. If you spend your life as a fighter, the day that your body wants to quit fighting and start dancing is one of the scariest parts of excavation. Learning to sit with all of the discomfort has allowed me to find a new groove. A very intentional choice to listen to things like my arms. I know…so woo woo.

A few weeks ago, I was PISSED. It was an Eminem kind of angry. For days, I carried the weight of the main event wrestling match that I wanted to headline in the name of resolution. When I tell you that I could literally feel my anger in my arms and hands, there is no exaggeration. Bizarre. And totally cool…for those of us that have never experienced the awareness of this connection.

I hate when I walk into a therapy session fully loaded. There is no way I can tell all the stories and process the chaos in 50 minutes. Because of this, my therapist has taught me that the stories are less important than the way my body is hearing and feeling and triggered by the stories. In our 3rd year of working together, I have finally begun to trust this theory. Because I come from a world where if you don’t know all the details…all the gory ones…you are lying to yourself and others. I find myself in a debate about my own gut level honesty on the daily.

This is a defining shift. Big time. Life changing.

A lack of “complete” and “total” honesty has always been one of my big fears. One that I believed could disrupt my faith, my life, my relationships. But there is a very clear difference between dragging someone through your story for the sake of morbid oversharing, and the honest ability to reflect and learn from an experience – without exposing the private moments. Here’s my reasoning…someone who really wants growth and new discoveries, from the moments of pain, is not afraid of the mess. But they also get that it has very little to do with the minutia.

I’ve learned that my therapist will stop my narrative mid-story if I’m bogged in the details. She will tell me that’s she doesn’t need to know. And I look at her every single time like, ‘Isn’t that the point?!?’

Take, for instance, the recent need to punch someone. We started processing the impact of the anger on my week and the details of how I got so angry were less important. Actually, the details are life. They happened three weeks ago and will happen again tomorrow and next year. The players may be different. The impacted old wound might change. But ultimately, it’s the same endgame.

The big pain and big joy are life. It’s how I know I’m not dead.

But…then it’s shifted. In a very “Comin’ Back” kind of way, I literally screamed at the Zoom camera therapy session. Because the angst in my gut was the same. My furry was so justified. I was ready to tell my intended target just how much I needed them to get right. Now. But this was different. I didn’t want to yell, and I didn’t want to cry. I wanted to dance. I wanted Alexa to turn on Citizen Cope (and a few others you have not heard yet) and let my arms move in a way that was not a punch. And the magic of the dance? It was without rules. When you fight, the rules require a defeat. When you dance, embracing the rhythm of the music as it stirs your insides is the victory.

So as you read these words, know that I’m dancing with a love for this bass line that I can’t explain. I didn’t have to fight to let it go. I’ve learned that I can get most of my wiggles out with a good rhythm. And should I still need to fight, I’ll be well rested. 2023 is going to include as much dancing as my body wants. I’m already dreaming about the disco ball that will be in my house in the next year. Watch. I’m comin’ back.

“In the Blood” – John Mayer

Family is a big word for me. On the surface, this song is about the one that is connected by DNA. But I want to be clear from the beginning that the genealogy tree is not the whole of this moment of excavation. Most of this lesson started in a study of labels. I will always uniquely protect the people with whom I share a name, a genetic make-up and an a life commitment. These people will always be family. They get passes and forgiveness in ways that seem uncharacteristic of someone wired with my level of intolerance. They are…the blood. But that’s just a very small part of family for me. Family is the term I use for the whole of my invited humans, and the season of excavation has been a hard season for family ties.

Family (for me) is about holding space.

Family (for me) is about staying when others chose to walk away.

Family (for me) is trusting me with me.

One of the greatest pains of excavating is facing the reality that so many of my relationships (ones that I deeply valued…family) were defined by my answer to one question.

“But you are still good with Jesus, right?”

I’ve watched this mental dance on the faces of people that I adore. Ones that have been on the Protected & Defended family list. People that I know love me. Even in all of the mess. It is so logical that a passionate person like me would surround themself with other passionate people. People, that by wiring, cannot just let this one go. I love you all. And I know that it goes against everything in you to just let me be ambiguous. Because to not care is to not love well. I get it.

This particular seesaw (side note… that’s one of my new tattoos this year – an off balance seesaw on my sternum) has been a hard one for me. I’ve been forced to process the non-existent balancing act of this question. Because two very different things can be true at the same time – in most circumstances. But in some worlds, the reality of one belief negates the ability for a balance. The only option in this situation is an either/or. And in my new world order, this is no longer an option. I need room for generous questions. All of them. There is a weird beauty in the awareness. I can see why people who have loved me like family can no longer let this one hang without a defined answer. And it changes everything. Unlike anything I have ever experienced. Trust me on this one.

So what happens when the roots of so many of your family connections have changed? I mentioned that family is a big word. One that I have learned is big enough for my past, present and whatever image of family I have in 2 or 10 years. One that has grown and changed and morphed and settled and been unearthed again. And the more I really drill down to the truth, it just keeps coming back to one thing.

I choose you today.

That’s the part of family that I’m still in for. With no certainty – and all of the chaos. Who has chosen me and who have I chosen? Today. That’s family.

P.S. John Mayer came into my life during the pandemic and I’ll never be the same. Religion.