A Poem for Papa

I’m no poet, and I know it, but when I started to know God, I would read Him my favorite poems. I was convinced that every love poem and love song was about Him. One of my favorites is ee cummings, “i carry your heart with me (i carry it in my heart).” The last time I recited it back to Him was when I was leaving Bethlehem, Ga. Something clicked that night. There was a truth that I discovered then. It was that He is in all good things, in all honorable and true things. Between Bethlehem and now, I stopped reading. I stopped reciting. Maybe because I’ve been running.

I’ve been running fast from every giant in my life. It’s like the Jason movies. No matter how far or fast I run, there they are lurking in a dark corner. In the moments where I find a shelter of quiet, I sleep. I’m exhausted, yet my feet keep running.

I’ve heard somewhere that the definition of insanity is repeating the same thing over and over again expecting a different result. I always run to the same places, looking for the same people, and asking for the same kind of help. Insanity.

I’m reading this book by Louie Giglio titled Goliath Must Fall. I encourage you to read it. It is so good! Giglio discusses strongholds that people have on their lives and how to be free from them. As I’m reading, I’m making a list of all the things that I’m running from, and there’s so many. Things I dare not say out loud, things I suffer with every single day, a few that are common like pride, approval, control, and abandonment. There’s so many, but I believe they all come from one giant.

Today, I find myself tired of temporary sleeping spots. I want rest. I’m tired of temporary refuge. I want peace. I’m tired of running, and with that there God is. There He is to love me, protect me, and honor me. There He is because He wants me. He wants me more than words can express. So, today, I have a poem for my forever expanding, infinite God who gives me permanent rest.

i carry your heart with me (i carry it in

my heart) i am never without it (anywhere

i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done

by only me is your doing, my darling)

i fear

no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet) i want

no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)

and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant

and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows

(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud

and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows

higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)

and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)

Psalm 33

“Sing joyfully to the LORD, you


it is fitting for the upright to

praise him.

Praise the LORD with the harp;

make music to him on the

ten-stringed lyre.

Sing to him a new song;

play skillfully, and shout for joy.

For the word of the LORD is right

and true;

he is faithful in all he does.

The LORD loves righteousness and


the earth is full of his unfailing


By the word of the LORD were the

heavens made,

their starry host by the breath of

his mouth.

He gathers the waters of the sea

into jars;

he puts the deep into


Let all the earth fear the LORD;

let all the people of the world

revere him.

For he spoke, and it came to be;

he commanded, and it stood


The LORD foils the plans of the


he thwarts the purposes of the


But the plans of the LORD stand

firm forever,

the purposes of his heart through

all generations.

Blessed is the nation whose God is

the LORD,

the people he chose for his


From heaven the LORD looks down

and sees all mankind;

from his dwelling place he watches

all who live on earth—

he who forms the hearts of all,

who considers everything they


No king is saved by the size of his


no warrior escapes by his great


A horse is a vain hope for


despite all its great strength it

cannot save.

But the eyes of the LORD are on

those who fear him,

on those whose hope is in his

unfailing love,

to deliver them from death

and keep them alive in famine.

We wait in hope for the LORD;

he is our help and our shield.

In him our hearts rejoice,

for we trust in his holy name.

May your unfailing love be with

us, O LORD,

even as we put our hope in you.”

‭‭Psalm‬ ‭33:1-22‬ ‭NIV‬‬

“I haven’t worn shorts since the second grade.”

That’s what I said to people when they asked why I wore pants often. It hasn’t been since the second grade. Maybe from the sixth grade until I was a sophomore in college. Either way, that’s still a long time. 

I remember the seed for my protest of pants life so clearly. I was in the second grade. The day was about over, so the teacher let us talk to each other. One girl came up to me while I was talking, stopped me mid-sentence to point at my leg and say, “Your leg is gross.” I looked at my leg then at her and said nothing. I earned my scar. I survived biking down one of the most vicious hills in my neighborhood. Most kids ended up with busted chins and rough knees and elbows. I had only a scar going down one of my shins. 

Being in the second grade, I took her sentence and ran with it. Although I didn’t verbally give much time or effort to what she said, I did mentally. I became heavily conscious about what people said when they spoke about blemishes on my body. 

“You’re gonna mess up your skin because of all that rough housing.”

“Your legs are gonna be covered in scars soon.”

“Your leg looks gross.” 

“Everyday you have something new on you.” 

They never commented on the scars alone but the whole entire body part. As if it was a crime to show you fell down. 

I always played hard as a kid, but by the time I was in the 6th grade, I hesitated. I second guessed every route. In seconds, I was able to analyze all possible outcomes. I started taking the road easily mastered–the road that led to minimum blemishes. I also, despite my inner protests, wore pants and long sleeves every day. Now, it would be an exaggeration to say that the one little girl in my second grade class altered how I saw myself, but when you tack that on to every comment after that, there was little wiggle room to be myself. 

There was always a reason to cover up: the dog scratched me, I gained weight, I didn’t want to get darker in the sun, I lost weight, there could be sweat stains. So much disdain grew out from every body part. I learned to hate myself and the roads I took because I thought everyone else did. 

By college, I was exhausted and hot. Having covered up for years in the Georgia heat was unbearable and unnecessary. I broke out the shorts, tank tops, and skirts. I finally let the breeze in and my personality out. I basked in the Sun. I hiked and rough housed and didn’t think twice about getting hurt. I moved forward without hesitation. 

All of this to say that I understand now how people pick and poke at the end result of something they don’t understand. It may not be pretty and put together to them, so they reject it. My battle wounds show that I not only survived but also thrived in environments that did everything to take me down. 

Sure, superficially this is about body image, but this is definitely about Christ. I still wasn’t all together good with Papa by my sophomore year. We knew each other, and we spoke often, but we lacked a relationship. It wasn’t until last year that I found out truly who He is all about. I can let people pick at part of my picture and say it’s gross, but it’s my responsibility to know who I am. I am more than an conqueror. That isn’t just a saying. That’s me not taking detours for an easier, less scary route. That’s me not getting lost in the reactions people have to my journey. That’s me acknowledging that when I came out of the thickets, I only had a scar while others lost their life. 

I could go through my time here covered up and safe, never pushing myself too hard or too far, but why? The beauty about a scar is that it will fade. The testimony will always be there, but the result won’t be, so if I brush it off, I miss an opportunity to share wisdom. I miss an opportunity to connect with someone about what God has brought me through, and that in itself is the biggest loss. If I refuse to talk about the Creator who got me through, then I’ve lost the whole point of the story. 

“I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever. For great is your love toward me; you have delivered me from the depths, from the realm of the dead.”

‭‭Psalm‬ ‭86:12-13‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Most times, praise comes in the form of proclamation, but sometimes, it comes in a simple whisper that says, “I have overcome because He did.”