you called me

You tried to call me

by something

I wasn’t.

You tried to call me “love.”

You tried to name me.

You tried to

fit me

in a place

you thought

I belonged.

But soon,

you called me “too much.”

Or “too little.”

But you never called me


I fell short.

I needed




You tried to name

my passions.

You tried to name

my plans.

And for a while

for a while

(oh, my dear)

for a while,
I believed you.

I did.

I was content

in a cage

singing for you


being fed

my name.

But when I became

too much

when my song

was too loud

you covered my


to make me

I slept.

One day,

(graciously, now I see)

you set me free.

And I didn’t



to be

(Oh, dear.)

I did not have someone

to name me


was I?

I could’ve been what you named me.

I could have been “Love.”

I could have been what

you called me.

But that’s not






You gave me crowns,


such crowns

you crowned me

with tinsel

and soft words

and roses

and gentle

But all of those things


Tinsel crowns

fall off.

When I bowed my head to listen to you




So I forged my own crown.

A crown of hearty metal.

And it won’t slip off

because I won’t

look down

at you.

I won’t look at the


of names

I used to be called.

I call my own name now.

I name myself.

I arise and sing

like a bird uncaged.

So forge your own crown.

Wear it, and don’t let it slip.

Call your own name,


call it until someone responds.

And if they don’t,

keep singing your song.

Oh, darling,

you may have to sing








they may try

to call


Call your own Name





a. w.


tasting our bitter herbs.


In a traditional Passover meal, it’s common to partake in bitter herbs. A seder often includes an herb called maror, which literally means “bitter.” The word bitter comes up a lot in the book of Exodus, probably because the Israelites don’t really look back on Egypt with a whole lot of fondness. But they looked back on it nevertheless. And thousands of years later, their descendants are still honoring it, still remembering.

Why would they remember such a terrible time? Their entire race was enslaved by a powerful kingdom that was unbending when it came to labor and punishment. They had all but given up on God after their own newborn babies were killed in front of them. Even after Moses led them out of Egypt, the Israelites wandered around the desert for a heckuva long time. Probably not a lot of happy memories.

But every year, generations gather together and partake in a meal of six parts. A lot of times we eat food to enjoy, but this meal is eaten to remember.

How often do you think about something you’ve done and it brings a bad taste to your throat? If you’re like most people, it happens often. We as humans like to carry around regrets. We like to look back instead of look ahead. And looking back – remembering – is a good thing to do, if you do it right.

See, the Passover meal isn’t shared and eaten in order to wallow in self-pity. While the meal does involve saltwater to represent the tears and anguish the Jewish people have suffered (as well as other foods that are eaten symbolically, not out of enjoyment,) it’s not a pity party where everyone cries woe is me, woe is us, nothing has gone right. 

It’s a meal to remember the goodness of the Lord.

After Moses delivered the Israelites out of Egypt, they were far from grateful. Although they were free from bondage, they had no idea what was going to happen next. They got scared. When humans are scared, they do things they regret. The Israelites muttered and complained and lost faith in God almost altogether. They wanted sign after sign to know that God was still with them. And even when he did send them a sign (i.e., manna from heaven to provide food for them) they still got scared and stored as much of the food as they could because they didn’t trust that the Lord would provide the next day. The same thing also happened with water. Most of the Israelites literally wished they’d have died in Egypt.

Not very great memories for a people to have, am I right? “Hey kids, want to hear about the time me and your mom were so hungry we wished we would’ve died in slavery?”

So why do families gather together every year and eat a meal that represents the mistakes and suffering of their ancestors?

Because remembering the bitter times reminds us of God’s goodness.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to wait on the Lord. I hope that doesn’t sound like a complaint. I’ll tell you right now, 2018 has not been an easy year for me so far. Things have happened that have caused me to plunge deep into self-searching. That self-searching easily turns into self-doubt and then self-pity. Every day is a struggle to wait on the Lord.

And lots of people have gone through way more adversity than I have and remain faithful to the Lord. How? By partaking in a feast of bitter herbs.

There is a fine line, however. Remembering can easily become a pity party. At least I know that’s true for me. If I think about my past mistakes, I end up wasting the rest of my day by wallowing in my own suckiness. There’s no hope for me. I’ve made too many mistakes, too many regrets. 

There’s a difference between regretting our bitterness and remembering our bitterness.

Have you ever noticed how if you regret something, it really doesn’t help anything, other than making you feel terrible? Yeah, me too. Remembering is different. Remembering is feasting on our own bitter herbs, tasting the ugliness of it –

And remembering what God did to restore us.

Remember your bitterness, but also remember the grace of God that came alongside it. Remember your faults, but also remember how God has filled in the cracks of your imperfection with his love.
Remember the badness, but remember also the goodness of the Lord.

I remain confident of this:
    I will see the goodness of the Lord
    in the land of the living.
Psalm 27:13  

Think about your bitter herbs. Be specific about them. A lot of people see the Lenten season as a time to give up something earthly, like sweets or social media, but I also see it as a time of deep (and sometimes painful) reflection. What is preventing you from approaching God on His throne? What needs to be purged from your soul so that you may open your soul to God?

You will experience bitterness in this life, in some way, shape, or form. It may come from an oppressor on the outside, or it may come from within. If you don’t confront and taste your bitterness, you will remain locked in a cage with the key in your hand, complaining about how there’s no way out.

How have the Jewish people been able to survive for thousands of years even in the face of adversity after adversity? By tasting the herbs, and remembering the Lord.

How will you, as a Christian, be able to stand the darkness of the world and still keep your faith? By tasting the herbs, and remembering the Lord.

Remember these bitter herbs. Taste them. And then remember Who was by your side all along.

a. w.

Dear Young Christians: Stop Chasing Romantic Love.


It’s a boy-meets-girl world.

We crave tangible affection. We crave it in different ways. Oftentimes, we crave a love that is romantic – long-walks-on-the-beach and long-talks-after-dark romance. Sometimes (oftentimes) we crave it so much that it becomes an ideal. Or an idol. This isn’t a new conversation.

We have expectations for the way our lives should run based on what we observe. We grow up, we go to school, we get a job. And somewhere along the way, we expect Mr. or Mrs. Right to come along. That’s how it happened for our parents, our grandparents, many of our friends and relations. Love happened. You might expect to meet in college, or during your summer job, or at a work party. You expect that somewhere along the way, maybe after a few duds, it will happen for you.

But sometimes it doesn’t. Either it doesn’t happen when you think it will, or it doesn’t happen at all. Not everyone finishes out their life happily in romantic love.

We’ve all grown into these expectations. When our circumstances don’t line up with our expectations, we begin to worry. If I don’t have a partner, something must be wrong with me. I must not be doing something right. As a result, we have incredible young single men and women believing they’re not enough, saying self-degrading things like they’ll be a crazy cat lady or a 40-year-old virgin – “forever alone,” like one popular meme. They’ve stopped seeing value in themselves because someone else hasn’t seen it.

And that ain’t right. Our value shouldn’t be found in that.

I’ve had a lot of interactions with single Christians, having grown up in a Christian environment. It’s implicitly part of the Christian algorithm to get married. If it wasn’t, churches wouldn’t have marriage retreats and Christian Mingle probably wouldn’t exist. In my opinion, this mentality causes desperation and devastation. If I’m not in a relationship/married by now, then something must be wrong with me. Christian men and women become desperate for companionship, and bad stuff happens when someone is desperate.

It seems to me that the church shouldn’t spend all its time and resources on those who are married. Marriage retreats and relationship self-help books have their place, but there’s only one kind of love that the church should be stressing above all others.


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Agape might sound like “friendly” love. Or “friendzoning,” if you will, because it implies a brotherly love. But what else does it imply? Unselfish. How often do we pursue romantic love to get something out of it for ourselves? In all honesty (and speaking from experience,) our need for romantic love rarely comes from an unselfish place.

There’s a reason agape has those three main definitions (I’ll get to the fourth one in a second.) Agape is vertical, horizontal, and plural. Agape reflects the love God has for us. Agape reflects the love we then show to others as a result of God within us. Agape should be present in all our personal relationships. 

Agape is how we should live our lives. I know it’s impossible for humans to be completely selfless, but what would an agape world look like? Single men and women would not feel desperate, needy, or “forever alone.” They would be filled with agape love. That love would overflow into every pore of their lives.

The world would be a love feast. 

What the heck is a love feast? 

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Who doesn’t love a good meal? Even better, a good meal shared with the ones they love? A shared meal directly correlates to companionship. What if we lived in a world where churches hosted meals, not specifically for the married or the single, but for everyone. An agape feast!

I am not married yet. I would love to someday be married and have children to raise with the love of the Lord. Marriage has sometimes (often) become an obsession for me (you should see my wedding board on Pinterest.) I yearn to live my life with someone by my side – a husband, a father, a companion. I will not find that by being desperate, by swiping through a dating app, by going to a singles’ group thinly veiled as a 20-something church group.

I’m well aware that I am not promised a happy marriage. None of us are promised romantic love.

Do you know what we are promised? Agape love. If you need a reminder of that, read John 3:16.

God does not promise us romance. To think that our end-goal as a Christian is romance cheapens the idea of love. God has promised that we have a bridegroom in Christ. A husband or wife is merely a bonus – and if you are privileged enough to have one, you’d better treat them as one of the greatest gifts you’ve been given. Marriage is a gift from God, when it’s rooted in agape. But He gives other gifts that are equally as valuable.

Set your heart on things above.

And go forward in agape.

a. w.

Ode to the Girl


She was a late bloomer.

When the other girls wore mascara in 7th grade,

she zipped up her favorite hoodie and wondered why.

(She looks back on pictures now and knows why.)

But she didn’t care.

She wanted her books and her music and her laughter,

not the attention of a prepubescent boy.

Some people said she “just did her own thing,”

which some people said as a compliment,

and other people didn’t.

She wasn’t the It girl in high school.

She didn’t draw attention to herself,

she watched the quintessential high school drama unfold

but still she just

did her own thing.

And that was okay.

But she did bloom, the shy bud.

She bloomed into herself.

While she wasn’t the one that all the boys chased after,

she had a beauty of her own that lay beneath the skin.

If anyone were to wade into

the deep waters of her mind,

they’d see a rare loveliness

not found in many girls her age.

But sometimes those deep waters were rough.

And dark.

Her thoughts would crash against the rocks

and she would


She doubted her beauty, her goodness, her worth.

She would wilt under the stress of the world

and the power of other’s words on her soul.

She started to feel


and she didn’t like it.

The soil beneath her was rocky. She couldn’t thrive.

Until one day,

she realized

that if she wanted sunlight

she had to be the sun.

She couldn’t count on anyone to tell her what she was

(or what she wasn’t.)

If she needed rain, she would be her rain,

and she’d dance and laugh in the storm.




More radiant than before,

with that same deep beauty

that takes time

to bloom.

Wildflowers pop up

and disappear

in a day.

They’re pretty, but that’s it.

She was an orchid,

priceless and patient.

When she bloomed, people noticed.

Instead of plucking her,

they admired her

and nurtured her

so she would grow


And like the orchid,

she bloomed alone,

not among a field of poppies.

They wondered how she did it.

She smiled and said,

“I just do

my own thing.”

a. w.


How Do Christians Deal With Demons?


I’ve had nightmares before, but this one was different.

I was laying in bed and I knew I was sleeping because I couldn’t move. I could only watch. My head was facing my window and my nightstand, and I knew someone was sitting there even though I couldn’t see them. They didn’t say anything. Suddenly my mattress started moving by my head, like someone was violently tapping on it.

I vaguely remember hearing someone say something, along the lines of, “I’m here, and there’s nothing you can do about it,” followed by laughter (and certainly not happy laughter.) I knew I was dreaming because I followed it into the kitchen, which didn’t look like my kitchen. I tried to tell it to go away, but my voice didn’t make a sound. All I heard was laughter. I slept fitfully for the rest of the night.

I forgot about it the next morning til I got to work, then it hit me. What a strange dream. In the days leading up to it, I had an uneasy feeling. It seemed as though me and my roommates had been on edge. I texted my roommate and told her about my dream, and she said she’d had a similar one – someone who wasn’t there had said her name.

Okay. Something was up.

My mind started to race and I started to panic. I’ve seen movies like this. We’re all going to end up going crazy. We’re going to be consumed, possessed. It’s going to be violent and bloody. The exorcism scene from the first Conjuring movie stuck out in my head.

I took a deep breath. I remembered Whom I serve. And the darkness has no power over Him. I went home after work, walked through my apartment, prayed in each room, and then stood in the center of the living room and commanded in the name of Jesus Christ that the demon leave and never return.

I’ve slept like a baby every night since.

I can’t be positive that my apartment was actually occupied by a demon. When I pitched the possibility to my roommate I felt like I sounded crazy. But she also felt pretty certain about it for a number of reasons. I can be positive, however, that my roommates and I are protected by the blood of Jesus. We can’t be harmed by demons, as much as they might try.

About a year ago I read a book called Spiritual Warfare by Karl Payne, a must-read for any Christian who has questions about the supernatural – which, honestly, should be all of us. It opened my eyes to the realities of spiritual warfare in the present day. We read several stories in the Bible about demonic possession, but they seem so far removed from our slick 21st Century lifestyle, governed by safety and certainty. Illnesses are diagnosed and medicines are prescribed. Criminals and murders are deemed clinically insane and locked up. Happenings that are nothing short of miracles are chalked up to coincidence.

I remember a part of the book where Dr. Payne talked about how he discussed it with other pastors. The pastors got a deep look of fear in their eyes and said, “but Karl, what if they get you?”

That goes to show how much the modern church doesn’t know about demons and possession. We’ve been shown by Hollywood that demonic possessions are violent, gory, and usually don’t end well. Ed and Lorraine Warren, the famed exorcists of the mid century, have books and websites and recordings dedicated to their extensive and often disturbing exorcisms. (Seriously, read Dr. Payne’s book – it’s an eye-opener into how these are extremely uncommon exorcisms.)

Dr. Payne specializes in exorcisms, but he thinks it’s a shame that pastors – and laymen Christians – don’t dedicate more time to understanding the supernatural. I’m focusing on the “bad” supernaturals here, but that also goes for the good. Where there are demons, there are also angels, and the Holy Spirit, a supernatural being, which is present in all Christians. Dr. Payne’s first “exorcism” was when he was very young. He went to his neighbor’s house and when he asked his neighbor’s name, the man gave a different name than his own, and knew that whomever was speaking was not his neighbor. Some freaky stuff went down, and a few weeks later his neighbor disappeared. (Again, read Dr. Payne’s book to get a better understanding of a true exorcism. He says not to address the demon specifically, which will avoid the chaos that the Warrens often talked about.)

I know I sound crazy. I sound crazy to myself talking about it, but I firmly believe that there is a war going on around us, and that war became personal to me recently. Something was trying to attack me and my roommates. And I’m not trying to toot my own horn saying, “got rid of it.” I had nothing to do with getting rid of it. I could have shouted alone in my apartment all day and nothing would have happened.

Demons don’t have to obey me, but they do have to obey the Lord. And any believer who confronts a demon in the name of Jesus will be freed.

I hope this helps if you’ve been struggling with this as a Christian. It’s kind of a specific thing, but if you’ve been feeling oppressed or surrounded by negativity recently, I wouldn’t rule this factor out.

Remember: you do not have to be afraid. You cannot be harmed by a demon if you are a believer. It’s definitely a scary thing to think about (you think I don’t want all my lights on at night after that dream?) but you can rest knowing if will be handled.

Guys, this is 100% real. I have heard well-respected pastors speak on and write about this subject. We need to be real and realize that we’re not alone in this world. But we’re also not alone in the fight. Let’s keep this conversation going, and march forth without fear with the light of God to guide us.

a. w.

6 Ways to Love An Anxious Girl (and How She Will Love You.)


If you spend time with human beings, you know what anxiety is. Some people just deal with baseline worries and stressors, while for others, they worry daily whether or not they’re a head case. Anxiety is real. It has many definitions and wears many masks. For some people, they feel it when they’re in a plane. For others, they lay awake at night crying uncontrollably for no particular reason. Anxiety is diverse.

People with clinical anxiety can be difficult to love. Not because they’re unlovable, but because they’re…anxious. Whether their anxiety is environmental, behavioral, or hereditary, something causes them to overreact, overthink…and over-protect themselves. As a woman who struggles with anxiety, I sometimes feel like I’m impossible to love – I’m too much to handle, I overreact too quickly, I’m too clingy and needy. Just the other night, I went over to a friend’s house for pizza and when texted and didn’t hear from them, I panicked and almost left because I thought they were ignoring me. (Turns out, their phone was in their car.) They apologized profusely but felt guilty. Anxiety is very self-focused. am a burden. cause all this damage.

If the one you love struggles with anxiety, I have a few pointers for you, based on how I’ve heard my female friends talk about their anxiety and how I’ve dealt with mine (sometimes in the wrong ways.) These small things go a long way for someone who often feels like they’re out of control.

1. Don’t baby her. If she opens up to you about her anxiety, she’s not asking for special attention or for you to treat her a different way. She just wants someone to hear her. It doesn’t mean you have to protect her from anything that might make her anxious. She wants honesty as much as everyone else, even if it might hurt her. It’s not about hiding bad things from her, but communicating them to her in a way that she can process rationally (for example, do not text her: “We need to talk later.” Talk now or don’t say anything about it.) She does not want special treatment. That will embarrass her. 

2. No “fixing.” Just presence. When she talks about the things that make her anxious, she doesn’t necessarily want you to make them all better. Again, she just wants listening ears. You can bet that someone has preached to her before old cliches like, “Calm down! Don’t worry! Look at all the good things in your life!” She wants to look into your eyes and let her feelings out, and she wants you to be open and honest with your feelings too. It’s okay to just say something like, “Wow, that really sucks. But I’m here for you, okay? What do you need?” She is not a problem to be solved, but a person to be loved. 

3. She will love the little things. Anxious people don’t like being the center of attention. A grandiose display of affection is not what she craves. Bringing a huge bouquet of flowers to her at work or decking her car with balloons might give her a heart attack. A good morning message, a note in her car door, or a quiet dinner at home will make her heart soar. Remember, she wants your presence.

4. It’s not you. If she’s quiet or distant, it’s probably not your fault. Never assume that it is because that can lead to murky waters. Ask her what’s wrong. She might not be great at expressing her thoughts, but she does want you to know. It’s okay to ask, “Have I done anything that has upset you?” She will (probably) quickly tell you no. But if it is something that you’ve done to upset her, she will want to talk about it. Just remember, she may not be great at voicing how she feels. (Usually in an anxious person’s mind, it’s always their fault.) She wants to communicate, but remember her brain is going a mile a minute. 

5. Encourage her daily. This is a good practice for any relationship, not just with an anxious person. If she’s going through a stressful time, remind her how special she is to you. Tell her that she is doing so well, accomplishing so much. Be her cheerleader. Remind her that she is strong, hold her hand and pray with her. She will do the same for you.

6. Be patient. It’s not always going to be easy. People with clinical anxiety are at constant war with their minds. Some days there’s a truce and she may seem weightless and jovial, the next she may be paralyzed and reluctant to talk. It’s not because she doesn’t love or care about you. It’s probably because she’s scared that her anxieties will become real. Be patient. Sit with her, give her your time and your presence. She loves you fiercely but feels like she’s fighting a losing battle. She wants you fighting alongside her, not at odds with her.

Remember: she’s going to make mistakes, just like anyone else. Sometimes relationships can’t survive mistakes, and that’s okay. Those mistakes may be amplified in her head and she might think everything is her fault, despite how irrational that is. I’ve made lots of mistakes when loving people, and it’s easy to be held hostage by all of the things that went wrong. In all honesty, if you toy with her anxieties or totally ignore them, you will eventually lose her.

A wise friend once told me that relationships are rarely 50-50. Some days they’re 60-40, or even 80-20. Each person has different needs, and some days they have more needs. But one thing I can tell you about the Anxious Girl: she is always fighting, even if you can’t see it. On most days, she is her own worst enemy. She wants you in the ring, not facing off with her, but standing beside her and pumping her up for the fight.

And she’ll be there in your ring, too.

a. w.

Who Do You Say That I Am? (and Who Do You Think You Are?)


You’re not who you think you are.

Isn’t that a scary thought? The person that you’ve always envisioned yourself to be, however close or far from the truth, isn’t who you think you are. Who you think you are is simply that – who you think you are.

Humans are good at this by nature. We like to think that we are innately good people. I’m sure that the “bad” or “annoying” people in your life don’t think they’re bad or annoying. People don’t tend to think that way about themselves (unless they’re wallowing in self-pity, which is an entirely different blog post.)

I mean, Hitler thought what he was doing was “right” in his own mind. That’s a bit of a drastic example, but it’s true. Think about politicians in general – they’re great at this. However they are portrayed to you on a TV screen, whatever news you read about them, they usually think that their values and perceptions line up with the way things should be. And you may disagree, because your perceptions are different. You may percieve them as selfish or out-of-touch. And with so many scandals popping up in the news recently, it’s easy to distrust anyone who claims to have authority. Because they’re not who we thought they were.

So why do we construct who we think we are or should be in our heads? Because it’s only natural. Self-perception is innate and comes from a variety of feedback we recieve from the world around us. People tell you you act like your mom – you percieve yourself as being like your mom. Pop culture tells you that blondes are dumb – if you’re blonde, you might percieve yourself as dumb. You might take on traits and characteristics based on feedback as well, in order to enhance your self perception. Girls your age dye their hair, so you do too, et cetera.

But it’s still not who we are. It would be too easy if that’s all there was to it. We would constantly be morphing, becoming different people based on who we think we are when we wake up in the morning (haven’t you ever gotten out of bed wishing you were someone else?) Change is a bit slower than that and it’s often hard to see until further down the road. People do change, but usually not into their ideal self-perception.

So where do we find who we are? We can’t always say we are our job. Our job may change in the next few years. We can’t always say we are our family. Our family isn’t going to be around forever, and bigger influencers may come into our lives as we grow up. It can’t be a dollar amount, or a spouse, or a child. It can’t be a degree, or a vehicle, or a brand. We can use these things to fluff up who we think we are, to project ourselves to the world. But all of these things are finite.

It’s a natural, human thing to adapt and project. The truth is, we are born with holes. We try to fill these holes with different things, things I’ve mentioned before: a job, a spouse, a success story; or possibly you try to fill it with more incendiary things like drugs, alcohol, and reckless sexual exploits. These things might fill you for awhile, but that hole can never quite get filled. We’re like broken jars: whatever we put in, it will continue to leak out.

Why am I talking about this? Why am I making you, and myself, come face-to-face with what you need and what you think you need? Maybe it’s because I’m not who I thought I was and need to rethink that. Like I said, you’re constantly changing. No human being is stagnant or even stable. It would be stupid to believe that. There is very little in this world that we can rely on being constant, if anything at all.

Isn’t it great that we have a God who is the same every single day?

When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”

They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”

Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.

Our souls come from a God who is unchanging. People at the time were so flabbergasted by who he was that they tried to equate him to one of the ancient prophets. That was the only logical explanation for what he was doing.

We like to think we know who we are. We like to think we know who other people are. But the thing is, we will always be works in progress. There’s something almost liberating about that thought.

And to be completely honest, who we all really are is Depraved. We are in need daily for a Savior. Someone to save us from who we are and who we think we are.

The unfortunate fact of this life is that we are never who we think we are. We can post whatever we want on Instagram, say whatever we want, update our LinkedIn however we see fit. We can choose friends, boyfriends, girlfriends, mentors, who solidify who we think we are, but it will never change the fact that who we are is needy, thirsty for something beyond the persona.

I think you know Who can fill the cracks. I think you know Who can fill you. Because that’s what it all points back to. Don’t be afraid to bare your dirty soul to Him. He wants to see you, not who you think you are. Oftentimes, we hide the darkest parts of ourselves from people, even people we love the most, because we’re afraid. I’m often afraid that people will see through me to who I truly am and be disappointed. I live in fear of letting people down.

But God wants it all. He wants every ounce of your fear and disappointment in yourself. He wants all of you, and He will never be disappointed by you. He will see your pain, your darkness, and know it in ways that no one else can.

Run to Him. Show Him your scars and open wounds. Show Him who you really are.

a. w.