We need you here.

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Last week, after encouragement from my amazing community of friends and coworkers, I did something slightly uncomfortable and really vulnerable. I signed up to perform in a poetry slam. Poetry has been an expressive outlet for me for a few years now. It is not simply a type of writing to me; it’s a form of expression, coping, a safe haven, processing, reflection, healing, extreme vulnerability, and altogether a truly remarkable art. Don’t get me wrong, I am no Maya Angelou, Charles Dickens, T.S. Eliot, or Emily Dickenson. But when I signed up for the poetry slam, someone told me that you can’t compare one person’s art to another. Sometimes I can’t find my words, and sometimes they aren’t very good, but they matter.

My words matter and yours do too. This poetry slam was part of my school’s “Dream Big” series, which revolved around a tribute to MLK. I stood up on a stage in front of a theater full of people of different ages, backgrounds, political views, religions, races, sexualities, and stories. That evening was one of the truest embodiments of unity that I have ever seen. I hugged strangers of all kinds and the theater erupted with support, giving merit and worth to the words and stories of those who were brave enough to stand up and let us into such a vulnerable state. The truth is, we really are not all that different. Whatever story you have, no matter what race, religion, sexuality, or story you hold, you are a human being who was put on this earth for a reason. Your story holds great worth. Your words have power. Your feelings, no matter what they may be, have merit. I learned what speaking up and speaking out means. I am learning to use my voice (loud one at that) to tell my story and quiet my voice to listen to others’ stories.

I was asked to share another poem at the final Dream Big event this Thursday. Though sharing such vulnerability is difficult, I am honored to stand up and share my story in hopes that I touch someone in the audience. I hope to use my story to help others, because all of us are on some sort of path to healing. Your story, like mine, could bring healing and help to someone who is hurting. Vulnerability is so difficult sometimes, but as a great woman Brené Brown once said, “Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.”

So whoever you are or wherever you come from, we need you here. Your story has purpose and power.

Whether you are hurting or thriving – we need you here.

Whether you are black, white, Asian – wherever you come from and wherever you are going – we need you here.

Whether you are rich or poor – we need you here.

Whether you are a Republican, Democrat, Independent – we need you here.

Whether you are straight, gay, transgender – however you define yourself – we need you here.

Whatever you wear, think, like, dislike – we need you here.

If your past is full of hurt and the present is difficult and the future seems dark – we need you here.

Friends, there is a seat at the table just for you. Come as you are, bring what you have. You are loved and are worthy of belonging.

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love always, Madds

 

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For the past year, I toyed with the idea of starting a blog. I absolutely despise journaling, and the only writing I do that does not somehow relate to school is poetry.

A few months ago, I received a call that changed my world. One of my best friends, Maddie unexpectedly passed away while studying abroad in Spain. This sent me into the most difficult and painful season of my life, as I have spent the past few months grieving such a sudden loss of someone I loved deeply. I have spent hours with friends, family, and her family crying, reflecting, sitting, sifting through photos, videos, journals, mementos, paintings, drawings, anything. I hold onto everything I have left of her because I know that the memories we made have become finite. It gave me comfort to read through her old notes… handwritten words in her unique jargon that somehow breathed life into a painful situation. One of the closing lines of a note she wrote to me read, “love always, Madds”. This line serves as a reminder of our bond and also as a command. She loved everyone she met and shared a love that was so full of joy and humility that it served to share her testimony. She truly radiated the love of Christ because He had filled her with His love and compassion. These words, in her handwriting, are now permanently tattoed on my foot and remind me every day to love like she did.

You are probably wondering what the heck this has to do with a blog. Well, through this hard season, I have also realized the importance of writing. Journaling, blogging, whatever it may be, I decided to start this blog to share things that are happening in my life, but focus on the lessons that each experience brings. I am not a writer, and I am not an artist. These are probably fairly evident through my blog posts and the layout of this minimalist site. I did not create this to impress anyone or for class or to flaunt my wisdom (because you cannot flaunt what you, too are seeking to gain). I am simply a human being that wants a medium to share the things I learn along the way. This blog is for friends and family to see what’s been going on in my life. I have received a couple of amazing opportunities this coming year and would like to use this site for weekly updates.

I named this site “sporadic selah” for more than the appealing alliteration. The word “Selah” is a term found in the Bible, quite frequently in Psalms. Though the exact meaning of this word is unknown, many believe it was used as a musical direction or related to praise. Though there are many interpretations, the Amplified Bible translates the word “Selah” as “pause, and think of that”. Many other interpretations link the words “Selah” and “pause”. Along with difficult, this past season in my life has been busy. I juggled many trips home, grieving, a funeral, 18 units of schoolwork, 2 jobs, many job applications and interviews, and so much more. This past semester went without many pauses, which was not helpful for my physical, emotional, and spiritual health. Pausing and resting is necessary for life. To reflect, to grow, and simply to enjoy some silence sometimes.

May this serve as a catalyst for a sporadic selah in your life. I know it already has for me. I pray you find some quiet in your day or your week for a sporadic selah. Thank you for your interest and investment in my life. I plan to post weekly or bi-weekly. Sometimes more, sometimes less. A sporadic selah.

This blog is dedicated to my best friend Maddie “Madds” Elliott. She taught me what love and joy look like, and what full reliance on the Lord truly is. She taught me what truly matters in life. Dance freely, my amaryllis.