When the people around you are grace givers, more-than-ordinary forgivers, and your heart is churning with the call to be forgiven. Because this is your life, to screw up, to forget, to be distracted and even though you want more than this for your own pride's sake, you just can't escape the brokenness. But you have these people, brave and strong people who constantly say "yes" to forgiveness, people who walk into relationships intentionally; people who willingly overlook the ugly, the junk, and chose to embody the very essence of LIFE: to be known and loved.

When the people around you are courageous. She walks with determination in her steps until the waiting is over. They forge the unknown with the most sincere trust and willingness to be refined. They pour into your family without thinking twice and consistently dive into generosity. Others laugh boldly, dream volumes, hug long, speak the language of a smile.

When you see on Facebook everything that your tried-and-true friends have to share and so you know generally what's in their days but you get an urge to look at them in the eyes and know their struggles and triumphs more deeply so you do just that, and they share their beautiful messy reality with you even though they've probably told the story a million times before. And when you sit down to eat they ask the pointed questions that are hard to answer in summary but are worth the time, and you laugh together at the memories you share, and you talk through kid-struggles and medical struggles and they answer your questions even though it feels like you should already know the answers; you should have made the effort to sit with them months ago. And when the end of the night comes, you hug like you mean it because these people have invited you into their story. They didn't have to. They chose to.

Because knowing one's story on Facebook is fine and nice, but tomorrow you forget who said what and you forget to pray even though you said you would and the details meld together and get lost in the muddled space of your brain but seeing the light in their eyes while listening to those same stories binds you and them as if you've crawled into their heart and have heard the echo of the details and emotions and the long-resonating truth. When you are in the presence of people who God is using for his mysterious, unknown, wild purpose, it's like God is there too. And God was there that night you saw each other in the faces and heard the burden resound and saw the victory obtained. And it was heart-changing.

When you've tiptoed awkwardly around and hesitatingly invited someone into your days, and they've graciously and boldly extended the same invitation to you, you leave and know better how to pray. You leave and you remember. You drive away confident of the value of relationships. You are strengthened and inspired. You are diffused into who God is and what he is doing. You are different.

Because choosing to share anything, especially life and stories and personal space, is a hard battle worth fighting but you're surrounded by people who keep on sharing with you. Grace.

let love and faithfulness never leave you. bind them around your neck write them on the tablet of your heart