It was the end of May in Northern Indiana, and it seemed as if the torrential downpour would never stop. I remember the way the rain pounded on the roof of the tiny cottage almost the entire weekend. I remember the way the water soaked the ground until the earth couldn’t absorb anymore. I remember the sound the drops made on the metal roof—loud, resounding, like the steady beat of a million drums. I remember watching the rain hit the windows, seeing it trace lines down the glass.
And I remember the way it seemed like the dirt and grim of my own life were being washed away. I remember the way the healing waters seemed to soak my raw and bleeding soul until I couldn’t absorb a drop more. I remember the way truths beat on the walls around my heart and mind, busting through an exterior built by lies and insecurities and doubts.
I remember the state of my humanity as I sat on the small loveseat in the tiny cottage, sometimes just staring at a wall, sometimes writing, sometimes reading, sometimes crying. I remember the state of my body—bloated and exhausted. I remember the state of my heart—anxious and angry and overwhelmed. And I remember the state of my confused and weary soul.
It was May of 2017, and I felt so very deeply broken. A voice deep within my soul told me that I needed a break, that I needed to step away from this world that I had created and cultivated. It was a world that was slowly suffocating me.
I was overcommitted to a million different things—an amazing small group of high school girls, a serious relationship, a job that left me searching for more, trips that took me around the world, leadership roles that asked me to pour out more and more of myself, friendships and family relationships, dreams for the future, and dreams that felt like they were dying. I was exhausted in more ways than I knew how to put into words, and in this exhaustion, I was met with words from those around me which held me in deeper shame.
“You’re too young to be this tired.”
“You can be tired when you’re my age.”
“Oh, come on, you’re fine.”
But I wasn’t fine. I felt beyond the opposite of fine. I had reached the end of myself. I had reached the end of who everyone else wanted me to be. I had reached the end of who everyone else expected me to be. I couldn’t run faster, work harder, or be better.
I was done, and I didn’t realize how done I was until I sat in that tiny cottage hearing nothing but the sound of the rain and the chaotic noises of my own soul.
Crying along with all the voices around me was my own voice. It was the voice of the Kate who tried to be perfect, who tried to have it all together. She screamed, “Be better. Work harder. Run faster. Stop being weak.”
Deep down, I believed that it wasn’t just my coworkers and friends and family and my own frantic soul that said these things. Deep down, I felt like these words were coming from the mouth of the Father. I felt like He looked at my world, at the state of my life and felt disappointed. I felt like I wasn’t measuring up to His expectations, like I was failing him.
I felt like He was 10 miles ahead of me, scolding me, “Come on! Be better! Work harder! Run faster. You’re better than this.”
That weekend, a new voice emerged from my soul, one that simply said, “I can’t. I can’t keep doing this. I can’t keep working and striving and hustling. I can’t keep trying to prove my worth, prove that I have a place, prove that I belong, prove that my voice matters. I can’t keep trying to prove myself to others, and I’m tired of trying to prove myself to God.”
And in those moments of deeply vulnerability, I remember being surprised by the Father, because I wasn’t met with scolding or correction or a disappointed dad. I was met with love. I was met with grace. I was met with rest. I was met with arms that held me, feet that carried me. I was met with a God who saw me in my fragile, human state, and embraced me with a level of kindness that left me feeling seen and known.
I was met with kind words that He spoke to my soul, the one that couldn’t take a step further, not because it was tired of working hard but because it was tired of trying to prove that it could.
As my heart cried, “Be better,”
the Father whispered, “Rest here, Love.”
As my heart cried, “Work harder,”
the Father whispered, “You are enough.”
As my heart cried, “Run faster,”
the Father whispered, “Let me carry you.”
And my heart was overwhelmed by this God I had always known but struggled to understand.
My story and this journey I am on with the Lord is full of these moments, moments of being completely surprised by the God I have known about since I was a little girl. This journey to discover the heart of the Father began in that small cottage in the middle of Northern Indiana. That weekend was the catalyst to discover not the God I wanted him to be, but simply the God He is. That weekend was a stake in the ground kind of moment, a pivot, a decision to go another way. It was a decision to choose rest over hustle, to choose practices over performances, to choose grace over perfection.
And it was a stake in the ground kind of moment to start this long journey—the one where I find myself completely surprised by the God I’ve always known but never understood.