When we are tethered to Grace // Alia Joy // incourage.me

Sometimes I write and people tell me I’m brave.

Because I write hard things. Because I dive past the small talk and tell you where it hurts. Because I don’t want to pretend.

Because I tell you it’s ok if you hurt too, I know the balm for the scars we carry, the antidote to utter despair, the flicker of light when your feet stumble and bruise in the dark night. Because I tell you He is big enough to be met with your doubts and your worries.

I want to invite you to meet Him, know Him more, see Him in the light I do, I want to share my Jesus with you.

And I want words to soothe the ache. I want to point you back to Grace, scavenging hope and beauty to line your pockets on the journey.

I’ve gotten good at digging for treasure. My hands are never clean because to find beauty you’ve often got to break hard soil, clawing it back to the place where things grow. Where hope is planted. It is always dark and broken and so deep down you cannot imagine anything would survive.

But how can we know life until we’ve identified with death? Hasn’t this always been the way we are reborn in Christ? This is where it cracks wide and unfurls and flourishes up into the light, budding into the kind of fruit that stains your cheek with nectar and gushes like sweet wine.

I want you to know you are not alone.

These are my hopes when I lift my pen and it feels like the heaviest instrument. When I come here again to tell you a truth I often wish were easier. To tell you a truth I often wish I could change. I’ve started three posts tonight to tell you other things; I want to tell you other things. But these are the true words I have to offer now.

You tell me I am brave, and I roll this around in my mind until it is worn smooth and I can almost make it fit. I’d like to take that nugget and tuck it into my palm, carry it around with me as artillery to sling against those giants who come to still voices and keep souls quiet. The giants who bellow: Your mess is too much for anyone to bear. The beasts of the land who whisper: You are irreparably broken and tedious. These giants and beasts hiss that God could not love you because you carry the scars of the chronically wounded.

Brave: I’d so like to think of myself that way. But I know it’s not. I didn’t shed the skins of the pretender until I was so weary of it all, so bone-tired and unable. Until I was weak. Until I could no longer manage to be anything but dependent.

I didn’t die like a buried thing until my burdens were too heavy a cross to bear and I had to admit I could not carry it alone. But oh how I tried. How I often lift it up again to test its weight and see if I can continue in my strength. I am always crushed beneath it.

The truth is I’m tired.

The truth is my need gapes wide in the most offensive and vulgar way. It is a constant devouring hunger, and I’ve not the strength to pretend anything less. I’ve filled it with lesser things, always to be bloated and sick and even more ravenous than before.

Every hour I need Thee.

I feel desperation catch in my throat as if my only oxygen can be found in spirit, as if my blood was thinned and only a transfusion of grace would fill my marrow with life.

I feel pitiable and empty and for once I am not ashamed of it. I lift my pen to tell you my truth.

I long to be filled and I find the most beautiful presence of God when I am the most wretched. It feels like nourishment. It feels like amazing grace.

I have been discouraged and battered but not without hope.

Sometimes obedience feels like exhaustion. Sometimes doing the thing He calls us to doesn’t mean it all works out how we thought. Sometimes we realize in the failing how much we longed for a tiny taste of our own glory, and it dies bitter on our tongues like the poison it is. Sometimes we thirst for living water to wash it from our throats and make us clean again.

Sometimes our message is one we’d rather not live with for one single day more, and we can’t bear the timbre of our voice when the pen slants or our lips part, we want a new song, a new story, but God tells you to keep speaking it because people need to hear that He is good. Not just when it seems like you should believe that, but when it seems you should absolutely curse Him and be done.

Even when we break, He is good.
Even when our worlds crumble, He is good.
Even when we cannot see, He is good.

Even when there are days that feel like the cruelest of jokes and hardships pile up at our heels, He is good.

Sometimes faith feels like more uncertainty than you’ve ever faced and you’re pushed forward and asked to trust yourself to be loved by God, fully and completely and just as you are. Right here in the storm.

And sometimes in the midst of it all, you find something blossoming. Hope unfurled and growing wild.

We sit on barstools as I swirl my drink around waiting for the hostess to clear a table. We catch up on the funny things our children have done, we people watch in the busy restaurant, and I stab at the lime that’s sunk to the bottom of my glass with my straw.

She asks how I’m doing, and I’m relieved that today I can tell her the truth without her eyebrows knitting together concerned. I can say I’m good and moving through my day without the saggy footed feeling of being pulled at, dragged down, without the constant weariness that has grown up into my soul from a catalogue of trials.

We laugh over crab fried rice and pumpkin curry.

“I am tired, but good,” I tell her and I mean it. I smile wide, and it feels foreign spreading through my cheeks up into my eyes.

But I know the truth of this too. I’m good, but it’s been hard.

The circumstances haven’t changed, but I feel hope that God is at work in the midst of the tilled and filthy soil of my heart.

Really it’s just a moment to catch my breath. It’s a gasp under the waves, breaking the surface of the trials and pushing my lips toward the crest as it pitches back and prepares to throw me again. I know I may be tossed ragged but at this moment I realize I have never been unanchored.

I am tethered to the grace that lets me breathe under the weight of the tempest.

I stretch my limbs like deep roots and inhale freedom. It is a moment. And it is enough.

It is the blossom of hope unfurling towards the light. As Charles Spurgeon said: “I have learned to kiss the wave that throws me against the Rock of Ages.”

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When we are tethered to Grace, we can breathe under the weight of the tempest. {Tweet this!}

  • http://www.jacquewatkins.com/ Jacque Watkins

    This. Just this. ALL of it. He is good, always good..yes. I am tired, but I am good..yes. And these words of yours are His heart flowing through your fingers to woo and draw the weariest hearts to Himself, and you said yes to be used by Him and I’m so thankful–thankful for these words and so very thankful for you. And I’m joining hearts with you and choosing to kiss my own waves that are plummeting me onto the Rock of Ages even now and trusting no matter how the surges settle that it will be for my good, because He is always good. I love you so very much and am praying for you and every heart that reads these words. xoxo

    • Alia_Joy

      Thankful for you. We just got back from the doctor and the nurse was so kind and I thought of you when I saw your picture of the ice chips. It makes such a huge difference to those in pain, tenderness and service and the way you love. I’d want you for my nurse.

  • mysonsrnavy

    I luv your words grouped just so It’s like looking in a mirror. I’m so tired I can’t stand myself sometimes and I’m not a cat lady per say but I have one cat who depends on me to be fit and care for her as an adopted Raider Girl from AZ I have something wrong with my spacebar so my words tend to run together at times. I’m too dang tired to fix them.She along with Almighty God keep me getting up and putting my feet on the floor…wash clothes,dishes, make bed fold dry clothes feed her cook for myself as we are alone and divorced seeking God’s peace that took me nearly two years on my knees in tears and drained trying to figure out “now what”? Realizing my need is in God every single day to refresh me a bit and plant my feet and have His guidance with my hand resting in His. I wake up now to glorify Him for every “God” moment I have and there are many.I literally stumble… He catches me. I pray Thank you God and hope I still have you to catch me as each of us gets more tired by the moment. Just asking for strength every day and you grant it.

    • Alia_Joy

      God never despised a needy one. We come empty and tired and He meets us. He catches you. I dare say, the ones who know their need find the greatest presence of God.

  • Bev @ Walking Well With God

    Alia Joy,
    Wow…”I have kissed the wave that throws me against the Rock of Ages”. Like Paul asked, time and time again, to have the thorn removed from his side and the Lord lovingly told Paul that His strength was sufficient for him: his power is made perfect in weakness, I often feel tired and chronically wounded. I have asked God to remove the thorn from my side, but when you remove the thorn you remove the dependence on His love and power. People think that “dependent” is a bad word, but actually that’s right where we need to be – dependent and reliant on His amazing power and love. I hear in your words that you have suffered much, but through it you have been blessed to know the Lord in a way few may ever experience. Thank you for sharing from your heart that others may come to know the Jesus that you know.
    Blessings to you,
    Bev xx

    • Bev @ Walking Well With God

      “I have learned to kiss…” sorry misquote…

      • Alia_Joy

        Yes! So many times I’ve wanted a different story. I feel like the one who showed up to the party soaking wet in her party dress leaving puddles on the floor while every one else is having a good time. I know that’s not the truth but it can feel isolating when things are so hard for so long and there doesn’t seem to be much respite. It feels like drama and survival become the normal landscape of life. But God continues to draw me into seasons of profound weakness. And today when we are tossed again, I read these words, ones I wrote last week during a brief respite and I needed every one today. Just to remember that even though today feels hard and painful, He is good. Coming here and reading these comments is such an encouragement. Thankful for you Bev and the way you show up and continually speak life into us here at incourage.

  • http://momentsandinvitations.com/ Dana Butler

    Holy cow I love you, sister.
    Just give me Jesus.
    {thank you for your willingness to be poured out here…}

    • Alia_Joy

      I love you too. Gawww, so much. Give me Jesus and a side of road trip with some of my favorite people.

      • http://momentsandinvitations.com/ Dana Butler

        um yes. a side of roadtrip. please.

  • http://girlplusgrace.com Grace Girl

    I always look forward to your words because you express so well what I often feel. Today this part struck me; “The truth is my need gapes wide in the most offensive and vulgar way. It is a constant devouring hunger, and I’ve not the strength to pretend anything less.” Thank you for not pretending, in doing so you give us all a gift.

    • Alia_Joy

      Thank you for being a safe place to just show up anyway. It’s a gift to me too.

      • sheri

        you are very brave to express yourself with your beautiful words..you give water to those who come to the well ! and it looks like there are so many of us in need of the Word..thank you, so beautiful, so uplifting, so very needed, Blessing’s

  • Power of Modesty

    this is one of the best articles I’ve read in a long time. thank you for sharing your heart with us and being brave.

  • Sheryl87

    I know that I may be tossed ragged but at this moment I realize I have never been unanchored, love this! I warms my soul. Thank you so much for sharing your words.

    • Alia_Joy

      Thanks for visiting and sharing.

  • Anna Smit

    Thank you for these words, for the raw truth, for helping me feel less alone and for confirming the words and Scriptures I’ve been reading lately. If we lift up our eyes to Him, instead of clutching at that breaking thread, and really, truly stop to recognize and hold onto the truth that He is charting our path and we are not mere “windswept dust” (Psalm 1), then we can, as you put it, breathe, breathe deeply, knowing we are held under the shadow of His wings. Oh how I forget this truth daily and turn back to my old ways of control, of holding tight, instead of slowing to surrender all. So thankful for His mighty grace in it all and for your words of truth and encouragement.

    • Alia_Joy

      Less alone. Yes! And held close in the midst of it all. I forget too. Might indeed have forgotten since I wrote this last week. I am reading it as a reminder to myself as well. He is still good.

      • Anna Smit

        May He hold you tight this very day, may you feel His arms around you in the midst of your hard today.

  • Susan

    Alia, so much in this. I only know to say is that in my lifetime I have kissed many waves. Bless you sister.

    • Alia_Joy

      They’ll come either way, at least that way, His grace sustains us when they come. Thank you for visiting and sharing Susan.

  • Marjorie

    Wow, you know I was thinking was you so honestly put into words. I haven’t read it fully but scanning through quickly I realize that there are a few of us. Why do we buy the lie that we’re the only one? Thanks for your honesty it’s helping me face the truth that no matter how deep in the pit I’ve fallen, His love is “Deeper Still.” (Old song) Authenticity!

    • Alia_Joy

      Yes, we’re not alone. So true.

  • Joanne Peterson

    Alia, this speaks truth to me and I have no good words to express how. Just know this post needed to be written, not the other posts you tried to write. You put to words what I can’t…..

    • Alia_Joy

      I’m so glad. I think I wrote this one as much for myself as for anyone else. I needed the reminder today and God knew I would. I’m glad God used it to speak to your heart as well.

  • Jody Ohlsen Collins

    “Sometimes obedience feels like exhaustion.” Yes it does. Father, keep throwing us on the rocks of your grace that never fails.
    Such powerful words here.

    • Alia_Joy

      Thank you Jody. I’m feeling that exhaustion today. And seeking the grace that never fails.

  • http://CrystalTwaddell.com/ Crystal

    Your words soothe this “tired but good” heart!!! …”He is good. Not just when it seems like you should believe that, but when it seems you should absolutely curse Him and be done.” In one year’s time, my husband was in the trauma unit for a week from a motorcycle accident and last month in ICU for 8 days with a heart attack, we’ve had four car accidents and 2 totaled vehicles between my children, and the list goes on. I have had to admit that my heart is weary, that learning to exhale is difficult right now, and that I fight to take my thoughts of “what’s next?” captive and replace them with hopeful expectation of God’s plans to prosper. I always try to keep my head above the waves, but perhaps I need to “kiss the waves that throw me against the Rock of Ages.” God is crazy good, even in all this. Thank you for your beautifully rich words of encouragement!

    • Alia_Joy

      Oh Crystal. That’s so much. Yes, sometimes I think we struggle to keep it together but there’s something freeing about coming empty and weary and saying fill me, Lord. And even then, knowing that it doesn’t always look like resolution and tidy endings. Even in the midst of the crazy hard. Because you’re right, He is crazy good, even though.

    • sheri

      Crystal, your plate is so very full. am praying for you as I write this. Truth in what we feel and say can be so up lifting. thank u Alia for touching my heart with your words…so beautiful. am praying for all the ladies who have been brave enough to voice their Words ! Crystal I really feel that God will be showing his Holy Spirit to you, you have been thru so much and yet you remain standing!!! God is Good…

  • http://myfreshlybrewedlife.com/ Barbie

    Alia, I am overwhelmed with life — all the time. I am exhausted but how your words breathe fresh hope into my spirit today. It truly is well with my soul. Thank you for pouring out, even in the midst of your tired, and bringing forth this beautiful offering.

    • Alia_Joy

      Oh friend, I know. I do. I think I wrote this piece as much for myself as for anyone else. Last week I had a tiny break from it all but God knew I would need these words today. Today when we are all so sick again. When I’m hoping to keep my little guy out of the hospital because he gets dehydrated so easily because of other health things. When I’m so achy and tired and overwhelmed and I’ve had almost no sleep and I think, really? Again? I needed to come and remember He is enough, even today. Especially today. So much love to you, friend.

  • Mary-Ann Winslow

    This is the best Post I’ve read on Incourage since I subscribed about 2 years ago! It reminds me of the song “Am I Breathing Underwater”. Blessings Alia Joy

    • Alia_Joy

      I’m glad it spoke to you, I don’t know if I’ve ever heard that song. I’m going to look it up.

  • Kim@onerebelheart

    Tedious? You? Never! We are all broken, friend, but we are never without Hope. I love the way you string words together in ways that feel like poetry to my soul. It’s a challenge to kiss those waves because even now I’m feeling the current push and pull at me, but I should be glad of anything that drives me closer to the Father, even the hard things.

    • Alia_Joy

      Even the hard things. Truer words were never spoken. Thankful for you, Kim.

  • http://www.just1step.com Kara @ Just1Step

    Thank you for this. Life for us is very hard right now, and I feel like I’m running a marathon with no end in sight. Every day is a whirlwind of tasks and to-dos and health concerns and searching for answers and I’m just drained. So, so, drained. So thank you for these words to remind me that He is good and I need to keep pointing to Him.

    • Alia_Joy

      Oh Kara. My heart feels for you today. I am in this exact same place and it feels endless. And I am so tired I just want to stop in the middle of it all and cry for days. But I also know God hears those cries and He is near. It is living out the weakness by His strength alone. Jesus be near to Kara today.

      • http://www.just1step.com Kara @ Just1Step

        Thank you friend. :)

        • http://www.just1step.com Kara @ Just1Step

          Also, I’m trying to find your story to know what you’re going through. Is there a particular blog post you can point me to?

  • Kelly

    you wrote my story …thank you for using this gift God gave you!

    • Alia_Joy

      I’m so glad it resonated with you.

  • http://www.PetalsofJoy.org Heather Burgess Iseminger

    I walk through most of my days tired. Soul-weary from digging through the hard. I can grab hold of your words because I know all of them. Thank you for reminding me we’re never alone.

    • Alia_Joy

      Digging through the hard. Yes, you are not alone.

  • http://www.cynthiabranchesout.com/ Cynthia McGarity

    Oh, Alia Joy, I completely resonated with this piece today. I don’t know of your trials but I recognize all of the language, weary and soul-deep, that accompanies it. Thank you for finding the energy to write it…such beautiful prose. And you should know….if you ever write a book, I will race to the bookstore to purchase one. Will offer a prayer for your life today…

    • Alia_Joy

      I’ll take it. Thank you. Yes, maybe a book will be in the works in the future. Right now, I’m just praying to get through the week. ;)

  • Marsha Jackson

    Thank you Alia for sharing so divinely everything this heart needed to hear. I’m struggling with my depression all the ugliness of it. Sometimes faith feels like more uncertainty than you’ve ever faced and you’re pushed forward and asked to trust yourself to be loved by God, fully and completely and just as you are. Right here in the storm. That spoke to me like medicine to my soul ❤️! Thank you.

    • Alia_Joy

      I know depression too. I’m so sorry you’re struggling with that. It is truly horrible and yet I pray you know that you are not alone in it. God surrounds you with His love and mercy in the midst of the hardest bleakest parts. I know because He’s been with me too. Be gentle with yourself as one fully loved right now.

  • Veronica

    Alia, thankful for your words today. Keep holding on to the greatest Hope, and every God-given, good, and precious thing. Prayers and hugs.

    • Alia_Joy

      Thank you Veronica. I so appreciate your prayers.

  • Barbara Lindow

    I once thought I could be a writer …. perhaps not ….. your words and message astounded me! Truth unmasked …. raw truth with the power to heal.

    • Alia_Joy

      Barbara, I led a workshop at a writers conference this past weekend on the art of truth telling and how to steward your story. There were people there from brand new never written a thing to those who had published books and everything in between. The best stories we tell are the truest ones we bring. Even if they’re not tidy or pretty or perfect. You got it right, it’s truth unmasked. It’s not about fancy words or prose so much as resonance. Does it make you feel or change or think? That’s it. And we all connect to different things. So maybe you’re a writer after all. ;) We all have stories to tell and if we’re Christians, whether we write or not, we all have testimonies of His goodness. Tell those, even the hard parts.

  • Karrilee Aggett

    So – you know the drill… only add this to it: Ima steal you away at Jumping Tandem at some point so we can just sit! I promise! ;)

    • Alia_Joy

      Woman, I am yours. All the sitting and all the talking and all the eating chocolate.

      • Karrilee Aggett

        It’s like you KNOW me!

  • http://threebeesinabluebonnet.blogspot.com/ Rebekah

    Your truth telling and authenticity – in the face of all things – are some of the many reasons I love you so very much. Your willingness to go there; to dig and claw to unbury the treasure and the gift. Your willingness to acknowledge the mess and the muck and still have the ability to raise your eyes towards heaven and see God in the midst of all the messiness. You’re showing me time and again that taking the step to put it out there is a step in ministry and healing. So grateful for you.

  • http://www.claresaumell.com/ Clare Saumell

    Oh my Gosh, I needed to read this. I identify with every single last word.
    “Sometimes faith seems like more uncertainty than we’ve ever faced and you’re pushed forward and asked to trust yourself to be loved by God.” This resonates deeply.
    It’s unbelievable how desperately needy I feel these days, when I feel like the burden of my world is on my shoulders and I find it impossible to give it all to God. But if I can come to recognize that the neediness is not shameful, then surely I can find this “tired but good” place where this is a blossom of hope.
    Thank you, thank you for these words.

  • Beth Williams

    Yes!!!! This has been me for a while now. Dealing with aging dad’s illness, work stresses-job description changes, job changes for hubby and possible changes again–I feel super worn out–like I needed a respite!! I kept asking God for some kind of change a way to remove my thorn and He keeps saying no! Through all of this I am reminded of Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you” declares the Lord. “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you” “to give you a hope and a future’. Thankfully I am tethered to His grace and loving kindness! He has provided me with a good covenant friend who understands and prays with me.

  • Amber Cadenas

    Oh yes. I found myself doing the inward nod to so much of this, Alia. The giants. The beasts of the land. The being “chronically wounded.” I know these well, too. I know what it’s like to have been a pretender for so long until it was utterly stripped away. I know the “bravery” born of weakness and dependency. And to hear other voices like yours speaking what’s real? Such a gift. Thank you.

    And I look forward to meeting you soon… :-)

  • MLH

    These beautiful words help me hold onto Kara Tippetts sweet words of truth. “God is present in pain.”

    • Alia_Joy

      I love that so much. She is the perfect example of His power born in weakness. It’s beautiful.

  • Pilar Gracia

    Beloved WOMEN of God. When I read truth as such pouring out of our womanly hearts…… I HAVE to stop feeling sorry for my lonesome-self because there are millions of other women and people at risk out there, who DO NOT HAVE the Lord in their lives, nor the comfort of the Body of Christ to fall back unto, like we all do in this blog.
    We need to cry out in intercession for them as well…in looking OUT from within ourselves….we will serve Him for a better purpose.

  • HopeinHim

    Beautifully said. Thank you for being courageous enough to bless us with your story. Your (in)couragement gives me strength and keeps me focused on Him.

  • Johanna

    I have been tired and weary of this trial that has lasted 2 years now. When a loved one betrays you, and takes your pride and joy (grandchildren) away from you, the world seems weary, and tired, but Jesus holds me together. thank you for this post.

  • Kristi

    Alia– once again, you hit the nail on the head! Thank you once again for your honesty. “Until I could no longer manage to be anything but dependent.” Yes. Desperation for God certainly makes me cut to the chase as well. I love you, girl.

    • Alia_Joy

      Love you too.

  • Ema

    Thank u for sharing. It means a lot to me. No wonder the Bible tells us in revelation 12 that they overcame by…and the words of our testimony.

  • http://dontstopbelieving.me/ Brenda W.

    You ARE brave for being willing to live in the pain and the unanswered questions. Thank you for sharing with us.