WORDS // SAMI BROWN
The inspiration for my poetry has always been out of the deepest emotions of my heart. Sometimes it’s the joy, love, and incredible hope that God fills my life with. Other times it is out of the deep pain, hurt, and anger that I often try to avoid.
I grew up in a Christian home. I was taught about God’s love for me, how Jesus died on the cross for my sins, and how He was the only way for salvation. As a seven or eight-year-old I was able to comprehend this and I chose to believe it. It wasn’t really until middle school and high school that I began to learn what it meant to have a relationship with God. I tried so hard to be good, to not sin, and to apologize and ask for forgiveness as often as possible. Often my relationship with Him was marked by me feeling shameful, guilty, and not enough.
When I entered into college, I joined the young adult group at my church. This was the first time I experienced community and fellowship with other Christians. I didn’t know how much I longed for this until I had it. God began to fill my life with incredible friendships and mentors who asked me questions and poured into my life in a way that began to change me and I started to understand more of who I was and more of who God was. My heart was filled with so much love and joy. I had confidence God loved me, and I trusted Him.
A long season of pain and heartache started to unfold when a boy I began to fall in love with was killed suddenly in a car accident. Everything became so dark. I had so many emotions and thoughts I wanted to hide away from. Grief was scary, it was ugly, and it had no end in sight. I tried to move on. I told myself I could be sad for a little while, but I shouldn’t let it last too long.
Poetry began to be my private way of expressing my deepest hurts. Before this, much of my poetry was about God’s love and His goodness. Now, it had taken a much darker turn as I began to be more honest with myself and everything going on in my heart. This scared me. I judged my own writing. I would go over it on my “less emotional” days and cross out or throw away pieces I felt embarrassed of. I did not believe God accepted my hurting and painful emotions, or any of the darkness and hopelessness I was experiencing. Fortunately, I was very wrong.
God began to use my aching heart to reveal His unconditional love for me. He used my doubts and mistrust to show me His incredible faithfulness. He used my disobedience and my mistakes to show me His continuous grace and mercy. The God I had a relationship with did not act in the way I expected Him to; He did not run away from my tears, He did not shame me in my foolishness, He did not forget my grieving and despairing heart. He held me tight in His tender arms and told me His love for me could never end; He would never leave my side.
This next weekend will mark the 3-year anniversary of the loss of my dear friend, Joel. It is the first time I have felt able to be completely honest with my emotions. I have begun to make peace with my sorrow, my anger, and my fear.
I now know a God who embraces all of these emotions I used to count as shameful. My trust and my love for God is strong. He has been faithful to me through everything and I know He will be by my side whenever I fall.
LETTERING // SAM PALENCIA