The Joy & Pain of a Broken Empath

Empathy. Many days, it's awful. Being a broken empath? Nearly unbearable. I understand the "gift" of empathy. I understand that those of you who connect with my writing & have encouraged me to *finally* finish my memoir -or any book for that matter- see the spiritual gift of empathy in me. Being able to see & speak into the pain of others is a tremendously beautiful gift God has graciously allowed me to have to make my sista-frans & beautiful brothas a bit more at home in a world full of rejection. But. Empathy is the taking on of others pain. And I am a "high empath." Which means I'm feeling another's pain *almost* as if it were my own. If I'm closely connected to someone who's pain is unleashed in irresponsible ways, I am literally absorbing toxicity much like the dude on the 1st season of Heroes who absorbed others powers after he killed them, except I don't kill people so there's that. I digress.Yesterday I had a safe space conversation in which I ran through … [Read more...]

In Which Rescue is on Deck

I turn 40 later this month, and as such have become hella reflective. This year has been one of the worst years of my life. So much so, I’m thinking of canceling my 40th birthday party. Please, please forgive my swears, but what is the gottdamb mutha-effin’ point of a celebration when you are wildly swiveling through the five stages of grief every other day or week? And please know, I do not say any of this lightly. I do not say that for the sake of page hits, Facebook hyperbole, ‘likes’ or pity.I say this because it’s completely, wildly, disappointingly, surprisingly, mortifyingly true. For those of you who’ve kept up with my blog & my writings know that the implosion of my 1st marriage, a complete breakdown, a fierce custody battle, an ugly divorce are all a part of my story, and that too was deeply painful. This year rivals the level of pain & hopelessness of those years. I cannot say why. I am still surprised at the turn of events. I only know life is as equally a nightm … [Read more...]

My 2014 One Word Makes Me Feel Like Lightning McQueen

I've been praying for a couple of weeks for the Lord to give me a word to focus on for 2014. All right, womp womp womp I'll admit it: I picked the word Establish for 2013 & tapered off about 1/2 way through the year.  Would it make you feel any better if I told you my 2013 one word HAUNTED ME? No?  Well, it should.  Even when I wasn't actively blogging my #oneword progress the questions lurked in my brain folds, how are you doing at establishing 'ish?  Even though I don't feel like I did very well at it, I found it be a useful exercise.One thing I did manage to establish in 2013 was chaos.  My 2013 mistakes were pretty much epic.  This does not belittle my 2013 victories, in fact I'm dreaming up a what-I-learned-and-celebrated-in-2013 blog post, yet I struggled. I struggled. I struggle.Establish + repair fit quite nicely, like a puzzle piece.  I need to repair everything I didn't establish or even maintain.  Sigh.  It's been a little sad to consider this.  It feels like I'm losi … [Read more...]

I wish you could see yourself the way I do

I wish you could see yourself the way I see you!He was all flummoxed.  All concerned.  Reasonably so.  I'd communicated something-or-other about how I'm-not-good-enough-for-this or don't-deserve-this  OR THAT.  I'd weaseled my way out of kind words and decided instead to settle on why it's okay for someone to treat me poorly because, really, it was all just a big misunderstanding.  And yes, this friend loves me -of course- this friend just isn't sensitive to my issues.  And besides, I can't expect to be treated like a normal human being all the time.  I spit excuses faster than a speeding bullet.I wish you could see yourself the way I see you, he reiterates.It carried weight for me.  He'd said it with so much emotion, so much like a black pastor when he's hoopin', heavin' & hollerin'.  It was filled with all of that longing and all of that frustration because he knows and I know it: I don't see myself the way he sees me.I wish you could see yourself the way I see you … [Read more...]

Jesus, stripping, blow jobs and Gospel Music

I'm back y'all!  I can't wait to share more of what this little 6 week break has done for my tender bloggy heart, but I am definitely not going anywhere.  For now, I'm guest posting over at my friend Micah's blog, Redemption Pictures.  Today, I'm sharing my own picture of redemption.  More like a glimpse actually on some things I've never shared before. (ay ay ay) Hope it's an encouragement to you because there is always redemption available for you & I.  Always.  See you there?****[Image Credit]I was on my way home from a day of court in Downtown Detroit. It was 1995. I was 18.I had been in court for a family thing. Those were the worst court days. I’d rather have been in court for something I did, than face the fact that everyone in my family seemed to be a screw-up.  It wasn’t just that.  It’s that I didn’t want to keep facing the ongoing legal battles my family members seemed to be facing, the ones I was consistently snatched into.   It meant something for me for to be e … [Read more...]

Exactly Where This Blog is Headed in 2013

I am a communicator: a writer, a speaker, an artsy fartsy fashionista who has a hard time NOT communicating in one way or another.  It's nearly impossible for me to shut myself down, shut myself up or shut myself out of community & conversations.That is why I blog.  Because I have to.  Being a rabid communicator is who I am and how typically how I bless others the most effectively.I have to speak.  I have to lead small groups.  I have to write for others.  I have to preach.  Yes, I love to do these things, but they are also a key part of my gifts & identity.  When I shut those parts of me down, my head starts to explode while my blood starts to boil.  And then I cry.I've done a great deal of soul-searching in the past year not only about where my life is headed (more on that later) but what I'm doing here with this little, baby'o'mine, www.gabbingwithgrace.com aka GwG.For many, many years I've written here because its been a fun outlet of sorts.  But, sadly, I've … [Read more...]

For You, Netizen

netizen |ˈnetəzən|nouna user of the Internet, esp. a habitual or avid one.~The one that made me even more impressed with Donald Miller and want to rush out and buy his next book.My understanding of the Church has radically changed. Since Blue Like Jazz came out, I’ve sat in many a green room and talked with many Christian leaders and I’ve discovered there’s a lot of competition and power struggle taking place in the church and it reminds me of the world. I’ve taken part in those struggles. I’ve contributed to them and I’ve made some of them happen.But seeing that, feeling it, and wrongly participating in it has caused me to wonder if God’s view of “the church” is very different than ours. I now believe the church from man’s perspective is an earthly organization, and the church from God’s perspective extends into man’s organization of the church but is not defined by it.-From Storyline Blog, How My Faith Has Changed Since Blue Like Jazz~The one that made me want … [Read more...]

Technicolor Jesus

~“I just want to hear God. To know how he’s speaking to me” she said tearfully, looking at the ground her shoulders slumped in defeat and frustration.  From the Bible belt area of the North otherwise known as West Michigan Amy had come to the recommit her life to Jesus at the Urbana Missions Convention.  Though she had gone to church her whole life, knew all the right answers and that God theoretically was present she felt like she was missing something.As we talked I thought about how many times I had talked with students who felt similar to Amy- that they weren’t connecting with God as they studied scripture, prayed or went to church.  They felt like there was a missing piece of their Christian life.  As Amy and I talked and prayed together Jesus gave me an image- of her returning to her campus and hometown and beginning to see Jesus’ presence like she was wearing 3-D glasses- things that had seemed strange and blurry about where Jesus was at work in her life would begin to … [Read more...]

When God Speaks the Unexpected

Day 2 of "When God Speaks {or doesn't} kicks off with a heartbreakingly beautiful story from another beloved friend, Dabney with whom I had the pleasure of working with while I was at InterVarsity.  Trigger warning for those who have lost children.~Last week I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl during my 21st week of pregnancy.  Katherine Goodwyn Robinson was born on January 2nd, 2013 weighing 11 ounces and was 9 inches long.  Kate died during labor as we expected and the words on my heart were those of Psalm 23.  Not because it is the Psalm most people associate with times of tragedy, but because it is the Psalm God gave me to hold onto when there was nothing left in the world to hold onto.In September, I drove to a retreat center north of Pittsburgh, one of my favorite places to spend time with God.  It has been a meaningful place now for several years and been one of the spots that I know I can expect to meet Jesus.  This time, I had asked my friend and spiritual direc … [Read more...]

Meet Fred.

Recently, I was asked to write a blog post about a Minister I have learned from who has made a positive impact in my life.Can we celebrate the people who have directly poured into us, instead of the random celebrities who sometimes entertain us?Given the ways my previous supervisor has recently cared for me, this was an easy task to do.Meet Fred.He's nothing like me, you know.  In fact, we may be almost complete opposites on any given personality test.  What we lose in Meyers-Briggs compatibility we more than make up for in mutual respect, kindness and a healthy dollop of humor.We do have running in common!  Only he runs Bostons...and I run, well, 14 minutes per mile.Fred serves as the Regional Director in the Midwest for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA where I used to be in ministry for the past 12 years.Fred is responsible for thousands of college students, hundreds of staff and multiple campuses across the 4 state region.  Due to staffing losses he's oft … [Read more...]