Yesterday was Easter :)

My sister asked if i wanted to go to Church with her and Alec, Reality LA's Easter service at the Hollywood Palladium. With the ups & downs of the past couple of weeks i was feeling unequipped in nearly every way to deal with hoards of people, loud noises, a long drive into a crowded and broken city. 

But every time i attend Reality's services i am SO blessed...so encouraged...by their desire for the glorification of Jesus and restoration in the city of LA. 
So i said i would go, and i did!

11am saw us walking down Sunset Blvd in a throng of people. Friends meeting up as we went, lots of smiling, greeting, happiness. I saw a hip young guy talking to a man sitting at the bus stop, as we passed i heard the young guy ask: "You got anywhere to go this morning, man?" "No, actually," bus-stop man replied. "Well, you're welcome to come join us this morning if you want!" said hip young guy. We were well past them at this point and i didn't hear the rest of the conversation. But i smiled.
Then we were filing into the building, surrounded by young people. Reality LA has a reputation as being a "young, cool, hipster" church...there are a lot of those kinds of people, it's true...but more and more it's growing into the city, and every time i go there the diversity of attendees increases, and it's encouraging. 
Milling around us were young people, old people, families, every race and color and walk in life, people in wheelchairs, people in their sunday best, people in their weekday coolest.

Then came worship, celebration of the victory of the resurrection, a choir singing praises in harmony. I appreciate Reality's approach to this, as i am not a fan of the "concert-style" worship in many churches...i feel like it pulls the attention away from the content and onto the people preforming in front of you, often seeming to show off how good they are at worship (whatever that means...i think you understand).
Reality has a band, but they remain cloaked in shadow. The only light on "stage" is a dim blue so they can see what their playing. I often forget they are there al all. Your focus is on the words glowing on the screen, all you hear are the voices of the singers, and there is no judgement on how you choose to worship.
Hundreds expressed thanks in their many different ways...some people seated quietly, eyes closed, rocking, just listening, some with hands outstretched, while others were on their knees, holding the bread dipped in wine.

I stood, and sang quietly. Looking at the words, or looking at the people around me. I usually sing pretty loud, because i like to sing, but every time i went above speaking volume i began to cry. So mostly i just whispered the words, or mouthed them...my arms wrapped around me...not able to let any sound out at all. I was overwhelmed with emotion, with so much burdening my heart, so many people heavy on my mind. Oh, God, the hurt and misunderstanding everywhere...I tried to pray, but my mind was a jumble.

In spite of my heaviness i did appreciate the time... all of it. The sweetness of the words, the genuine joy around me. Tim's message was your good, solid Easter message...the gospel. But not coated in saccharine sweetness, rather it was heavy and meaty with truth and importance. The importance of today, of not wasting a single day in fear and dread of suffering, of death, and of the pain of life. In fact, if you have 45 minutes or so, you should go listen to it...

Afterwards there were baptisms. Dozens of Baptisms...right there on Sunset Boulevard. Many had signed up ahead of time, and many decided to do it right then and there, as they gave their lives to Jesus. So with cars driving past, people walking by, the sky drizzling down, the men and women doing the baptizing climbed into the pools in full Sunday-dress...as did many who were immersed. Some people cheered as they came up, some wept with joy, some simply hugged the man and woman who baptized them. And sweetness filled the cold misty air.

A friend of mine named Carmen, who is dating a young man I've known all my life, Dave Meyers was baptized that morning... here is a picture of that (with Dave smiling behind her).
i love, love this picture.

Lots of friends said hello, I saw Pip, Ian, Shelvy and others. They asked if i wanted to come to an Easter brunch at Brad & Ashley's (Ashley, incidentally, is the girl on the left baptizing Carmen). But by this time, i was done. I mean...i was completely, utterly drained. I couldn't track conversations, i couldn't look anyone in the eye, i was shaking (not just from the cold), i was dizzy, my vision was a blur. Too much. I was just...done. I told them i had to get home...to...get stuff done...

Alec and Sarah asked if i wanted to go to lunch. No, i needed to get home...i felt like i was about to implode.
As i sat in the backseat i tried to breathe and relax...
my whole body ached as if i'd just run for hours, my head felt like a balloon, my heart kept skipping beats, and tears kept leaking from my eyes completely without my consent. 
There was joy in me somewhere... there had to be. I had just experienced a wonderful and God-glorifying morning! What is wrong with me? 
I felt broken and idiotic and discouraged beyond explanation. The most pitiful, dysfunctional and useless of Christians. 

I even skipped most of Easter with my family. Chad was home sick, and i used that as an excuse to only have time to stay for a little while then leave to bring him dinner.
little succulent orphans i brought home with me
I did take a walk with my sister, which was a sweet and healing thing. We looked at all the different blooming desert plants in the neighborhood, and rescued little pieces that had fallen off, taking them back with us to plant at home. 

It was soon after that i went home, and all but collapsed into my husband's arms with such depression and disappointment in myself i could hardly breathe.  Maybe if it hadn't been the 3rd or 4th time i had done so that week it wouldn't have been so devastating...but as it was, i was just exhausted.
i cried and tried to explain what was happening but my lack of ability to verbalize my thoughts sufficiently just frustrated me. (which is why most of the time i just don't talk at all...the fear of expressing myself insufficiently often outweighs the need to allow someone else to help me bear my burden. SO LAME.) 

Not even a month ago, he would have been distressed right along with me, trying to get me to talk, getting mad, getting frustrated, needing to fix me, needing to fix something, anything!
But events in the past week have developed a new understanding in him, and in me. On his end, that all he needs to do is be. Just be there. Speak softly, and speak truth. And that is just what he did. 

This morning we read today's My Utmost for His Highest, and it, too, did a healing work in me. For, aside from my over thinking, panic and social anxiety, i realize i was also feeling overwhelmed with grief for those in my life, in my family, who are lost. I knew that, as i stood in the auditorium, processing everything, but i don't think i realized the degree to which i had allowed it to paralyze me with hopelessness. That's right: hopelessness!! On EASTER!! 

Anyway, so this is what Chad read aloud this morning:

When he finished, i simultaneously wanted to jump up in celebration and thankfulness of being so directly spoken to by God, but also kick myself in the head at my weakness to fall into such an obvious trap: 
"Beware of getting ahead of God by your very desire to do His will. We run ahead of Him in a thousand and one activities, becoming so burdened with people and problems that we don’t worship God, and we fail to [be able] intercede." 
The "be able" is my addition, obviously. But that's...exactly...what happened. 
Like being diagnosed with cyclothymic bipolar disorder, simply putting words to something--knowing it had a name, a reason, an explainable existence-- was like dropping a weight from my arms. 

I don't mean to end abruptly...but i just ran out of words! I suppose that's the gist of what i'm thinking about today...i'm not sure if it's properly arranged or coherent, but there it is. I'll probably read this later and say "holy crap i wrote way too much..." 

Just...stop getting ahead of God. Stop deciding it's too much before you even know what He's really doing. He is pretty good at getting these things done. (that was for me, by the way. unless it was also for you, too.)

Here's the little succulents planted in their new little houses:

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