Truth and Tenderness: A Sermon to Myself

I will give myself permission


To pluck up what was planted
To break down
To lose


To flail marvelously
To be & do what I need
To spread out
To experiment


To feel
To be alone
To be with
To wonder
To be surprised
To love more than anyone knows


Of the uncomfortable
Of the weirdness
Of the indescribable joy
Of feeling right
Of doubting

I've started and deleted so many articles lately and have several more sitting in drafts right now. My heart is breaking for those affected by the floods in Houston & it's surrounding areas, and India and Mexico. North Korea just conducted a huge test that created a 6.3 "man-made earthquake." Idaho & Wyoming are having earthquakes. And on and on..... Everything feels like a crisis and I never feel like I can do enough to help.

When one part of this earthly body hurts, truly the rest of the body feels it. 

All I can bring forth right now is what I've been passionate about all along, whether I write about creativity or healing or eschatology: loving through tenderness and truth. And doing what I can, as I can. Without explanation or apology. (That's the hard part.) Anything I do feels small and insignificant, but I have to trust that it matters somehow. 

In these turbulent days, these words feel more literal than ever—

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing. 1 Cor. 13:1-3

What would love say?

These words are on my heart & lips every single day. Now, as I draw this informal series on spirituality & eschatology to a close I am moving forward with a conscious burning of this question into my heart as I write: What would love say? It's my own creative prompt to lead, guide and inform my words. Because without love, nothing else matters. <Spoiler alert: I'm gonna mess up.>

What would love do?

And then there is the lifestyle of love. Jesus tells us what ultimate love looks like: Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. (John 15:13) And John writes, By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. (1 John 3:16) While this may at times mean a literal sacrifice of life, I believe it also means a laying down of my own desires, reputation, will, and anything else I might otherwise want to hold onto, protect or preserve.

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. 1 Cor. 13:4-8

I love this description of love. It's soulful and uplifting. I'm not a "tough love gal" as some laughingly describe themselves. I'm tender & deeply empathic, and quick to tear up at anything that moves me—achy or beautiful. My way is the way of whispers, of tender mercies.

How do tender mercies talk about uncomfortable truths?

What would love say? And how would love say it? 

I don't always know. I am here, awkwardly holding my heart with trembling hands, flush-faced and earnest. 

It hurts...physically make anyone uncomfortable. I am one who longs to bring healing and relief and restoration and comfort and nourishment to body and soul.

And I have received an uncontrollable sense of urgency, and it's "religious" in nature and involves prophecy, salvation, souls. 

Why is my heart so tender!?

Why can I not be a gruff bearded man who is content to bull-doze his way through thundering out his truth without caring about how people think, feel, or respond?

Instead I am soft and sensitive and want to write poems with ink and lens and close my eyes when I sway and listen to this. I love sweater weather more than anything except sweater weather and really good coffee. I want to hygge my whole life and everyone else's, too.

"I miss the old Hillary," someone said recently.

My heart is throbbing in my hands. Oh, love. Here we are, pressed together. Let's just promise, both of us, not to apologize. Miss the old me. Don't apologize for that. I'll keep standing here, as long as I'm asked to be here, writing and saying the things divinely placed in my heart. I won't apologize for that. And I will pass you a fresh cup of coffee, turn the music up, and yes, I may cry a little but God is a good, good Father and I am his wild-haired and sensitive little daughter, and may we make it through, both of us. May it be well with our souls. 

Hillary McFarlandtenderness