Some days are hard and I just want to give up, but some days life is really good. Sometimes everything hurts and sometimes I’m so grateful to be alive. It’s difficult at times but I find something beautiful in being willfully optimistic. Defiantly positive. Even when I feel awful and my body and brain are dragging me down, choking me, whispering lies in my head, I choose to look forward.

Today I’m 19, which feels oddly surreal compared to turning 18. I don’t know why. As I look back on the past year, I’ve gone through so much change and a mess of emotions. As I’ve gotten older (I know that’s a cringe phrase, I’m literally only 19 which isn’t that old, but whatever), I hurt harder and fall harder but I also love harder and experience more deeply. It’s beautiful and devastating at the same time. But it makes hope all the more precious, juxtaposed against the dark.

The idea of “depth” of feeling strikes me tonight. Depth conjures up images of swimming deep into the ocean, or plunging into the vastness of the space between stars, or reaching inside oneself to find my heart. Whenever I hurt or love or cry or rejoice and I get that gut-punch in my solar plexus I think I am feeling, along the z-axis.

Yesterday I sat on a plastic folding chair in the little room where my tiny church meets and cried. I sang brokenly to the music, with all my chest, until my voice cracked and I choked on the words. You are exalted. You are worthy of our praise. You are good, God. The sound glowed with the bright southern California morning sun. It was just 20 people and a girl on a guitar and a guy on a keyboard but I’ve never heard anything that felt so full. During the sermon I cried messily in front of strangers, tears dripping into my mask, as I let the words sink deeply into me. When everything goes to chaos, he holds you together. When externally your life is a mess and internally your heart is falling apart, he holds you together. When you were dead, he brought you to life. When you run from him, he finds you.

You do not have to be good. You do not have to try to be good. You cannot be good, but he is good.

He comes to you, where you are.

I felt so overwhelmed but so held. I felt so uncertain yet so safe. And in that moment, I knew I would be okay.

Getting older is experiencing so much more than I ever could have imagined. I thought about the people I’ve met and what they loved and seeing a little bit of that from their eyes. An eighteen-year-old boy crying over missing his little sister at home. Myself and a girl in my engineering class looking up from math homework to analyze Taylor Swift’s newest album at 10 PM. A math professor writing an equation then stepping back and whispering, It’s such a beautiful thing. Over shitty dining hall food, myself and a friend talking about how our families sacrificed for us to be here. Walking home in the dark and looking up at the stars shining despite the light pollution of a big city.

Last night, I spent two hours in silence with one of my new friends and we talked sparsely, mostly just drawing and making art next to each other. I told them good night and after they left, I sat in the empty study room on the eve of my birthday with music playing and my heart choking on something I couldn’t name.

And I thought, oh, this is what it’s like living in three dimensions.

Broken so deeply, loved so deeply.

I have so much to live for.

below: one of my favorite songs. only Christian song I’ve ever heard to include an f-word, but man, it is real and it is raw. it’s authentic (true to the Gospel), and it’s what i feel. if anyone ever told you Christianity was about being good, they were so wrong. Christianity is about being broken, and it’s about being saved because we are broken. it’s about being LOVED so deeply even though we don’t deserve it.

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