Pretty Pebbles

When I was a little girl, I used to love collecting river rocks. I would often wade out into the frigid waters of the Taylor River, my eyes reflecting the same shimmering light that danced atop the water encompassing my ankles. The ends of my long blonde hair would slowly dip in and out of the water, kinda like a paintbrush, as I reached down to collect the rocks below. Each time I touched a soft stone, I could hear my mother’s voice reverberate softly in my mind, It’s the river that made them that way, Alyssa. It’s the water that made them smooth…

People from past relationships…are kinda like river rocks. While still in the river, the glimmering water casts its spell and declares that all of the stones are beautiful, even though nothing is really known about a certain stone besides its color and maybe its size until we take the plunge and raise it up out of the water.

Reaching for that rock can be scary, just like dating. The hair stands up on your arms as your being is shocked by the cold of a new, foreign current. You like what you see, but you still really don’t know much at all about who or what exactly you are drawing up near to you. Unfortunately, there really is no easy way of doing it. You either take the risk and be vulnerable, or comfortably embrace your current circumstance on your own.

One cannot accurately evaluate a stone, or a person, until you reach out during those first few dates and gradually grab that rock and lift it up out of the water. Now, you are able to see things much more clearly than before. The illusion that the mirage the water brought with it will have faded. Now, you are able to see that certain something for what it truly is.

Sometimes, the stone isn’t as smooth as you thought it would be…or maybe it’s bulky form doesn’t rest all that comfortably in the natural folds of your hand…You find yourself slowly changing your mind. This is not at all what you were expecting.

The right thing for you to do, in this instance, is to toss that rock back into the river. But, why is it that so many of us choose, instead, to let that stone settle down into a home surrounded by the lining of our pockets? The longer you carry it around, the longer you become attached to it. Attached to something that keeps bumping a bruise into your thigh as the rock’s rough edges keep pounding in stride with every step you take. That rock may be doing a lot of moving around in there, but it’s never going to get smooth unless you toss it back into the water. However, like a child, you like it simply because it’s yours.

Letting go isn’t often easy. In fact, it nearly never is. Once that rock is gone, you are able to uncover that bruise you had been choosing to ignore for so long and see it for what it truly is. Black. Ugly. Mangled. Disfigured. Your mind now plays host to a number of thoughts.

How on earth did I ever let this get like this? Why did I allow this to keep on happening to me? Why was I so stupid? Why? Why? Why?

Letting go is hard, but it is absolutely necessary in order for the healing process to begin. Over time, that bruise will heal. That rock you thew back into the river? The current that carries all the trials of this life and the passing of time will hopefully smooth that stone out one day with their harsh friction, allowing that stone to rest gently into the hand of another.

The time of healing can be a long and painful one, if the bruise is bad enough. In this case, maybe you should hold off a bit before quickly settling on a random stone just to feel something jangle in your pocket like loose change. Unless, that is, you don’t mind allowing that bruise to spread to such an extent to where it becomes the new normal to you.

But, when you are ready (which one day, God willing, you will be), you can try your hand at wadding out into those bitter waters once again. You might pick up a rock similar to the first, but you now know to gently put it back in the water and allow your eyes to travel elsewhere. And maybe, just maybe, you’ll proudly share a home with a pretty pebble that’s smooth surface peaks out just slightly over the edge of your mantle.

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Rise

The other day, I caught a glimpse of the thick, hardened callouses along the bottoms of my feet while wearing my Chaco’s (ya know, the good kind that don’t wrap around your big toes). I quickly looked away, my long hair snaking its way into my mouth during the process, proceeding to ask myself for the millionth time what on earth I am doing training for the OKC Memorial Marathon coming up… I looked at the tips of my fingers as I pulled the stray hairs out of my mouth. Same callouses, just smaller. Thanks guitar.

It was then that I was reminded that callouses form on the heart, too.

The physical definition of calloused is “made hard” or “hardened”. However, the secondary definition consists of adjectives such as “insensitive”, “indifferent”, “unsympathetic”…

Friends, I encourage you to not let circumstance harden you hearts. Past, present, or future. That exam you did poorly on, that boy that never notices you, that post you quickly scroll past on Instagram for whatever reasons, that extra roll that just won’t go away around your middle, that person that made you cry, that coworker that narrows their eyes when they look down on you, that bank account that makes you seriously reevaluate how you chose to spend the rest of your life, that parent that you can never seem to make happy, that friend that unintentionally did that thing that destroyed you, that sibling that you can’t help but constantly compare your life to, that family member that just won’t get better, that prayer that you’ve prayed almost a hundred times to no avail…

These things are all common circumstance. For many. You are not alone.

Circumstance holds the potential to have immeasurable power over your life. The good things that happen can do you good, but can also cause you detrimental harm when being worshiped by the competitive defense/guilt mechanism known all too well by way too many that steals our energy, focus, confidence, clarity, and joy. Likewise, the bad can be truly terrible, but the weight of what truly makes it terrible can strengthen us once we finally brace ourselves and lift it up to God.

You will be ever hearing but never understanding, you will ever be seeing but never perceiving. This person’s heart has become calloused…they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes… (Acts 28:26-27)

Calloused hearts find the bitter in what is sweet, and the dusk in what is light. Even when it isn’t easy to do so, forgive. Embrace. Love. Encourage. Restore. No circumstance is meant to keep us down. That pain of the past that you just can’t let go? Let it go.

We are made to rise. Be that radiant light. Defy the odds. Rise.