When You Yearn to Feel Better

Never Let Go

My son ran ferociously. Elbows bent, fists clenched, feet flying, and Batman cape flapping. Just inches from catching up to his big sister, a crack in the uneven sidewalk knocked him to the ground.

His jeans tore and his breath left him until his scream found voice and filled the air.

My knees were on the ground a second after his fall. He hoisted his toddler-sized body into my lap and open arms. Then, he wailed a solitary demand:

“Feel me better! Please, please feel me better, right now!”

I had nothing in my big ole mom purse to help him.  Not a band aid, tube of ointment, or even a tissue.


How can this be? I thought. Of all the times for an epic purse fail, now is not it.

So I gave him all I could give and what he needed most of all in that moment: myself.

I held him tight, wiped away the tears that trickled down his plastic mask, and whispered “I’m here.”

His pleas continued. “It still hurts. Please do something to feel me better.”

Stupid purse.

So I gave him more of me.

I applied dozens of gentle kisses to his quivering chin, muddy palms, and bloodied knee. I sang. I rocked him.  I pressed him tight against my chest, right there in the middle of the sidewalk.

People walked by. We sat. Quietly. Together. Both of us yearning for solace of one kind or another.

He sniffed, gulped, and whimpered.

I kept on holding him.

Soothing him with my voice, prayers, and love until he exclaimed,

“You did it mommy! You feeled me better! – But, I don’t want to run anymore, I just want to walk beside you.”

Then, with his hand in mine we walked slowly home. His uneven gait hinted that he wasn’t pain free, but my boy felt better than he did when his knees skidded across the concrete. He also felt all the emotions that accompany a loving response from a trusted ally: Safe, valued, and hopeful that full healing would come.

As I held my little man (who was three at the time, but will somehow be eight in less than two weeks *GASP*), I remembered so many of my own falls. Not the physical tumbles, although I’ve had numerous, but the emotional stumbles that wounded me deep, stole my oxygen,  and pinned my head to my pillow.

Many times I have pleaded for God to take the pain away and make me feel better. Sometimes the pain dissipated quickly and other moments  the pain remained and even grew despite my begging.

But regardless of how fast or slow agony recedes, God doesn’t let go of his children . The balm of his comforting truth and steadfast love is designed to bring solace to  stinging, scraped spirits.

And when I am so shattered I can scarcely will the strength to ask for deeper relief, My savior pulls me closer. He offers me more of him until I’m able to walk … gingerly and still clenching His hand … feeling safe, loved, but better knowing the hope of healing.

“All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ.” – 2nd Corinthians 1:3-5 – NLT

If you’ve ever felt less worthy because you don’t have letters after your name, please read this.


Lately I’ve been thinking about the “credentials” I carry as a Christian. Not the kind of credentials that are earned. Not the type of credentials that will advance my career or boost my chances of snagging a job interview. But the type of credentials that come to all who earnestly follow Jesus.

Please join me at (in)Courage to read more about the importance of our real credentials … and play a fun, inspirational game while you are there.

But before you head over there, please take another look at the photo above … isn’t it a gorgeous shot? My stepmother, Gayle Miller, took that photo and her work is stunning. Please check out her gallery.

Love, Forgiveness, and Understanding Trump Perfect

Love Tullips

Recently, I was reminded of the awkward girl who inhibited this body of mine more than 20 years ago.  She barely spoke above a whisper or made eye contact with others. She also walked stiffly, wore a veil of rejection, and held a basket of fears.

Perhaps that girl reminds you of someone whose reflection flashed in the mirror of your youth. Those character traits are shared by many. And even for those of us who tightly closed the doors of the past, there are still reminders.

Not necessarily painful memories, because true healing is the best pain reliever, but more like souvenirs from a different lifetime that hint toward progress and validation.

Knowing who we were then helps us better identify who we are now.

However, for as much as I have grown in character, a few ragged remnants of my old self remain. I long for the day when I finally throw those scraps away. What a contradiction of character that I still hold them, unable to assign them to the trash heap in which they belong. One tattered fragment that at times still holds power over me is my struggle with perfectionism.

Perfectionism is nothing more than a form of pride, but I often mislabel it for “caring about others,”  and “holding myself to a high standard.” It’s perfectionism that causes me to put on the verbal boxing gloves and berate myself for a lapse in judgment.

Truth is, I’m going to mess up. I’m going to fall short. Despite my best intentions, I’m going to mildly offend some people and enrage others.

Some of the mistakes I make will be huge and marred with selfishness. Others will be small, unintentional blunders like forgetting someone’s name or speaking out of turn.

What I’m learning is that while it is absolutely necessary to accept responsibility for my mistakes, it also is absolutely necessary that I not dredge up those errors as a means of self-deprecation. It means I need to accept the unconditional truth about who I am in Christ.

I’m forgiven.

I’m forgiven even if the person I grieved chooses not to forgive me. I’m forgiven even if I hold onto to the shame of my mistakes.

I’m loved.

I’m loved even if the world calls me a fool and my friends abandon me.

I’m loved the same amount when I’m volunteering in a nursing home and when I’m cussing because I stubbed my toe.

I’m understood.

I’m understood even if someone looks at me like I’ve parachuted in from another planet.  God doesn’t always agree with my thoughts and actions, but He understands my heart. He made it. He speaks to it. He pieces it back together after it’s been wounded.

He holds it.

He owns it.

He has made it whole.

Forgiveness, Love and understanding trump perfect every time.

But when full understanding comes, these partial things will become useless. When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. Now we see things imperfectly as in a cloudy mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.— I Cor. 13: 10-12 (NLT)

A version of this post was originally published on June 21, 2010 at (in)Courage  under the title “Contradiction”

The Truth About Enough: For When We Need Rest

This post is part of the Finding Spiritual Whitespace Blog Tour that I am a part of, along with a group of soulful, journeying kindreds.


One of the most difficult challenges I face as a woman is the onslaught of mixed messages about what it supposedly means to be a woman in our culture, as well as suggestions about how I could improve myself.

From magazine covers to TV ads to Pinterest, I’m constantly confronted with ideas about how I can do better – how I can look younger and hotter, host better birthday parties for my kids, spruce up my home, improve my children’s chances of getting an Ivy League education, please my man in the kitchen and the bedroom, or climb a few more rungs up the corporate ladder.

The moments when I ignore the call to be more and allow myself to feel comfortable with who I am – quirks and all – are often interrupted by a seed of doubt that sprouts fast and tall. Contentment and peace disappear.

Suddenly, my skin doesn’t fit the way I think it should.

I notice faint evidence of wrinkles on my 40-year-old hands, and panic rushes over me. Have I done enough for my age? Will I do enough in my lifetime? Do I even have what it takes to be enough?

Is there even such a thing as “enough”? Because truth be told, I often crave more than what I’m given, too.

Someone compliments my smile. But while I respond with warm words of gratitude, inwardly, I wish I had Carrie Underwood’s bright, toothy grin.


My boss recently promoted me, and the opportunity both thrills me and rewards me. But fears of inadequacy also take hold, and I worry I don’t have what it takes to live up to the challenge. I’m afraid I will blow it. I also wonder how much further along I’d be right now if I was smarter, savvier, and hadn’t taken that six-year career sabbatical a decade ago.


After spending an entire Saturday cleaning my house, my fingers collect wads of dark purple dust I missed along the stairwell. Then I remember I also forgot to wipe down the ceiling fan blades … and the baseboards … and I remember that load of laundry souring in the washing machine … and that I forgot to thaw the chicken I had planned to bake for dinner. I wish there was another Angela, because 24 hours isn’t enough for this Angela to accomplish it all.


My son’s sticky lips land just above my eyebrow as he rushes outside to play with his friends. “You’re the best mommy in the entire world,” he shouts before slamming the door. Yet I remember snapping at him and his older sister only minutes earlier, and failure hits me hard. I try to shoo the negative thought away, savor the moment, and tell myself that I’m not a bad mom, only to defeat the positive thoughts with words of chastisement for not being better.


During these times, I need to remember that I am both enough and not enough at the same time. It is only when I accept the beauty behind that paradox that I am able to breathe, rest, and allow God to replenish my weary, fragile soul with lavish grace.

Here’s the truth about ”enough.”

Because of God’s love and mercy and through Christ’s dwelling inside you, you have a purpose in this world, and you are the only one who can fulfill that purpose. Therefore, in that way, you are enough. You are smart enough, gorgeous enough, and woman enough to be who you were created to be. You are enough for the light of God’s love to shine through you and your broken places. You are enough to make a difference.

But, you’re not enough to meet every need in this world. In fact, you’re not even enough to meet every need of your family members, or your friends, or your boss and co-workers.

And that’s OK. Because that’s by God’s design. Not one of us made of flesh was created to be perfect this side of heaven. Our bodies will fail us. Our hearts will deceive us. Our minds will confuse us.

Just as I need Jesus to make me completely whole, so does the rest of the world. When we try to function as Jesus instead of simply living to show His love, we exhaust ourselves even further. We frustrate ourselves with the knowledge that we’re not the be-all and end-all, when in fact, that truth should set us free and bring us rest.

In her debut book, Finding Spiritual Whitespace, Bonnie Gray takes her readers through her journey to find soul rest. Bonnie’s writing is as lovely as her heart, and there is godly wisdom on each page.

Something she wrote early in the book resonated with me quickly and remained as I read the ensuing chapters: Bonnie once felt suspicious of rest:

In her debut book, Finding Spiritual Whitespace, Bonnie Gray takes her readers through her journey to find soul rest. Bonnie’s writing and heart are lovely and there is Godly wisdom on each page. Something she wrote early in the book resonated with me quickly and remained as I read the remaining chapters:Bonnie once felt suspicious of rest.

I’ve had to make my own places of rest to shield myself from the world by planning well, solving problems, and pleasing others. It’s the kind of rest that is easy to check off, but it locks p my heart. Even trusting God became a test of my resolve. Rest became a battle to run away from the things that break me — instead of allowing the brokenness to bring me to him. All this running is exhausting. Because whenever I stop to face the silence, I have to face the truth. I am suspicious of a restful life. I don’t believe it can be mine.

When I try to be enough in the ways I was not intended to be, I become suspicious of not only my ability to rest, but my worthiness to experience it.

But I am worthy of spending time in the spiritual whitespace that unifies me with love and sets me free to be myself.

I am worthy of rest.

Bonnie Gray is the writer behind Faith Barista.com who wrote a book about her inspiring, heart-breaking journey to find rest, which garnered Publisher’s Weekly starred review. I’m taking the journey to find rest through this guidebook and invite you to read it too. You can get a copy HERE.