“all the best things are both beautiful…and terrifying.”

i have been thinking for days now how to even begin this blog, how to title this blog, contemplating how on earth i was even going to piece this blog together.

last thursday, my best friend of over three years, flew from Texas to Wisconsin for a weekend i will never forget.

from the moment she arrived, i didn’t stop grinning until the moment i said goodbye at the airport.

for so long i was cynical about it all, i didn’t let myself believe it was truly really happening, even the day before, there was part of me that couldn’t help but expect something to go wrong.  i was afraid of being let down and hurt again so i kept those walls up.

well the thursday mary was to arrive, i woke up in the morning to hang out with one of my other lovely friends, miss joelle who happened to also be visiting for the weekend..ish.  so i picked joelle up from cara’s and we went off to find the post office (where she had a package waiting) and right after that, we went off for a lunchtime adventure to Chipotle because yes, it IS just that good.  the car ride with Joelle was nothing i was expecting, right away at the beginning it was real and it was honest and it was okay to be unguarded.  i wasn’t used to that so it took me awhile to let go, Joelle was patient though and coerced me to sing along loudly to the airplanes song…on repeat…for quite awhile.  ha. “making memories” as she called it.  then we got our food and i discovered just how much bonding happens when you eat a burrito with someone, i mean seriously, you can’t  be strangers after eating burritos together, it’s just not possible.  after food, we got back into my car and played 20 questions all the way from Racine to Kenosha… fair warning to anyone ever, Joelle is very very good at 20 questions.  then Cara was home and we went to starbucks for a bit and the next thing i know, we are leaving, headed to the milwaukee airport to pick up mary… i was all jitters and nerves.

meeting in person was, for me, one of the hardest things i’d ever done.  here was the person who had seen the dark parts of me, the joyful parts of me, the celebratory moments, and likewise, the scary i-wonder-if-she’s-gonna-make-it moments.  through it all, she never left my side.  it never made sense to me and then i started to learn about the grace of God and forgiveness, and i was questioning how this amazing lady could still be my friend, after all, every single other person i had deeply trusted had left me, usually at the worst possible time.  but it had been over 3 years, numerous late night conversations, she was there with me on the brink of suicide, and when i got filled with the Holy Spirit, she was there too.  my heart was overjoyed at finally hugging in person, yet it was also apprehensive.

so we got to the airport and parked.  it was my first time at the milwaukee airport so walking in was a completely new experience for me.  cara checked mary’s flight time once we got through the doors and i’d been thinking we’d have at least 10-15 minutes, maybe longer to just kind of chill and for my nerves to calm down.  no such luck. “oh she’s already landed” -cara, me: “WHAT??” so we checked the location and dashed off to find the place where Mary would be.  i remember walking and trying to calm my heart which i swore was beating so loudly it was a wonder security didn’t tackle me for harboring a bomb.  but nope cara and joelle couldn’t even tell, i was overreacting again.  as we walked on, quickly now, i started shaking and i could feel my hands losing control of themselves…. i looked up from my hands and saw just what i was picturing in my head — a tall shock of white blonde hair.  joelle was filming me (which i found out afterwards) and i started bouncing the second i saw her and i vaguely remember cara saying “you can’t run” and replying “watch me” as i dashed off to finally hug my best friend.

http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=10150355153170779

once she was finally able to pull me off of her (oops) we walked off and i think i remember telling her to pinch me…i was having such a hard time believing it was real.  in order  to make myself believe it, i grabbed her arm and didn’t let go as we were walking.  something about the tangible proof kept me from crying.  i was so insanely happy in that moment, i didn’t care about anything else around me.  i was alive and it was REAL.

so then we left the airport and drove back to k-town, grabbed some food at applebees and went home where i planned on going to sleep right away but i just couldn’t.  mary was HERE and we did a mini shoot involving hipster glasses and she gave me this BEAUTIFUL and AMAZING poster involving my story and her story and our story together.  eventually we did lay down and curl into bed…but then started the talking.  i kept telling her to hit me with a pillow or something– something had snapped in me and for the first time with a friend since i could remember, i just could not shut up.  there was so many things to say, i had waited sooo long.  but she was just so patient and tolerant and eventually we did sleep.

then the next morning it was up bright and early to drive to stevens point! oh the adventures! from driving past FF5’s tour bus, to jamming in the car, to making Buildabears for the first time and the fun adventure of buying things for the band…haha oh the pineapple! and we picked up Jen and on we drove! arrived at Stevens Point and met up with our favorites.  it was just like coming home in a way, well we were invited on to the bus and chilling and a little while later Kevin shows up and ya know i’m sitting next to mary and he walks onto the bus and exclaims, “MARY! you are NOT in your normal state!” which cracks us up and we continue chatting until it’s about time for us to go into the show.

into the venue we went, stopped at will-call to get our tickets (ie–passes since we were backstage) and we pushed our way through the crowd til we got to side-stage.  it was at this point that we realized Joelle & Mary would need photo passes, so Joelle did her thing and next thing i know the show has started, Mary is off taking photos in the pit (in heaven i could tell) and i just let go.

that’s the thing about concerts.

the music.

when i go to a show it’s about soaking in the rhythms, letting the bass teach your heart how to beat,
it’s about being yourself and dancing to the songs you love. it’s about letting the lyrics wrap around
your heart, enter your soul and heal you.  it’s about connecting with the God who created music to begin
with, it’s about LIVING in the moment and not worrying about past or future, problems or situations.

concerts are freedom.

and that was what i was doing.  to be honest i didn’t know We As Human before this tour but i found myself falling in love with them, (as often tends to happen when i see a band live).   sooner than i was ready for, their set was over & Manafest was leading off with his hit song “Avalanche”.  Now, don’t get me wrong i’m not a huge Manafest fan (rap is definitely not my thing) but i was delightedly surprised when in the midst of the set i happened to hear him go into his song “Impossible” which has been my favorite song of his for years now. i was really into it now, jumping and singing as loud as my lungs would allow.  without holding back i screamed out loud –singing straight to God, “take everything You need, take every part of me, give me some room to breathe, before i lose control” and then much too quickly, his set was over and their was a brief break and set change.

during this time i remember wandering around trying to prepare myself and wrap my head around the next 2 sets, knowing full well i would lose it at least once and basically being overwhelmed because after years of talking about it, for the first time when i got overwhelmed during a song, Mary would be there and i wouldn’t be alone, i’d have someone to lean on and someone to hug me when i was overwhelmed by God.  Mary was flipping through some photos and i was lost in thought, pacing back & forth, when she turned to me and looked me square in the eye, “are you okay?”  i smiled and replied “yes.” even though i was extremely jittery for what was about to happen.

Disciple then took the stage and with the first few notes of “The Wait Is Over” i knew i was at home.  forget taking photos, forget filming anything, i was lost in the rock.  that’s the thing about Disciple… it doesn’t matter if i’m backstage, in the lobby, front row or back of the venue…NOTHING can keep me from totally rocking out and losing myself in it all.  in between headbangs, i was immensely enjoying watching the guys do their thing on stage and also it made my heart happy to watch Mary, totally in her element taking photos and thoroughly enjoying herself.  the guys then moved into “Watch It Burn” which is my very favorite song to really rock out to from Horse Shoes & Hand Grenades…the lyrics are super freeing and it’s just AMAZING  to scream “to all the hell inside that’s been controlling me– set it off, set it off, let it all burn DOWN!!!” and so i really let myself go. not too long after that, Mary had left the photo pit and was right next to me — Invisible was up next and we both knew it.

and through the melody and the lyrics that pierce the darkness we’ve both known, both of us shed tears and hugged through pretty much the entire song.   The set finished with “Scars Remain” and some epic crowd moshing for the crowd-cam.  I don’t know about Mary, Joelle or Jen, but Scars Remain is  one of my favorite worship songs that Disciple plays live.  it’s that moment when Kevin sings “when i see You, i see scars that are matching”  i lose it and everytime, God just swoops in and reminds me that my pain was not wasted.  my scars are never wasted, it’s all worth it, and He UNDERSTANDS. so that was Disciple. cue the ending of the set list, wiping away tears and hugging Mary tight.

Skillet’s set wasn’t TOO bad for me, i mean i know the songs, i’m used to their rock style (don’t get me wrong they are very amazing and i do not discredit their talent or skill at what they do, Disciple is just my band).  HOWEVER, i won’t lie…they opened with Whispers in the Dark and anyone who knows any bit of my story, knows that song meant very very much to me at one point, it still  does.  I found myself singing along, but also taking in the lights and the atmosphere.  As the songs went on i let myself be carried into Skillet’s set more and more until all of a sudden Mary was next to me again and i realized what song was next.  This time I didn’t want to fall apart, I wanted to be there for Mary.  and The Last Night’s familiar intro began and i wasn’t even expecting it to hit me so overwhelmingly (i completely blame it on the situation and who i was all with and what was all happening at the time) and the song just WRECKED me.  but Mary was there and we unashamedly held hands and hugged during the song and it was 100% beautiful.  soon enough the show was over and we were left in a daze.

far too quickly the lights were back on  and we we left to wander around.  after a bit more hang time with the Disciple gang, and saying goodbyes, we headed off for a long drive home…and after we dropped off Jen, i successfully got us lost in Illinois and we didn’t get home until 7am.  i know i’ve got talent. the truth is, i was incredibly angry at myself and i kept urging Mary to sleep in the car but she kept saying “no, it’s okay” and i just let her go, didn’t really fully admit to how upset i was at myself, and eventually she fell asleep.  once she fell asleep i spent about an hour and a half with God, completely berating myself and not really letting grace into the picture.  i cried on and off the whole way home but silently and both Mary & Joelle were fast asleep so it was okay for me to let go.
after about 45 minutes of sleep, Mary woke back up and we were just pulling into Kenosha.  i was extremely quiet as we dropped Joelle off and before we even got home Mary was questioning me.  i said i was fine but once we got into bed at 7am, i admitted to being super upset at myself.  when i looked into Mary’s eyes i fully expected anger or frustration, instead i only saw love and grace. i couldn’t stand it, i buried my face in my pillow and let the tears come, but she was very firm, “do NOT be mad at yourself Liz. it happened, it’s over, it does NOT own you. years from now we will laugh about this.”  and…i let it go.

we slept between 3-4 hours,woke up and drove off to Appleton to see the tour on night #2.  this time we saw both an acoustic performance AND the tour again.  once again it was beautiful andonce again i was losing myself in the music, living every single moment WITH someone, and being REAL.  then, suddenly during Manafest’s set, i felt attacked in ways that i hadn’t known in months, all of a sudden i was being dragged downwards and i felt sad and just plain HEAVY.

i didn’t understand why in the midst of this beauty and perfection, i was feeling miserable.  i knew one thing for certain — i did NOT want Mary to see me like this and i did not want to ruin the concert for her.  tough luck, it’s uncanny how well she can read me (even when we’re not in person, you’d be surprised.  i should have realized in person would be intensified. ohh Holy Spirit i love you but sometimes 😛 😉 and from the moment i realized something was going on with me, i also realized Mary was watching me intently.
“are you okay?” she inquired.  “yeah i’m fine” i was totally lying, but like i said, it was more important to me that she enjoy the concert.  i could tell she didn’t believe me though and she kept pressing, “are you sure?” and then i finally admitted that no i wasn’t, but it wasn’t super bad either, i just wasn’t sure what was all going on at the moment, it was honestly that unfamiliar of a feeling to me by this point.  “attack?” mary questioned. “yeah i think so.” i replied, still unsure what was all exactly happening.  all through Manafest’s set i wasn’t totally paying attention to the show but instead i began praying in tongues and asking God WHAT was going on, why this was happening and why couldn’t i just enjoy the short amount of time i had with Mary?  that was all it took, just giving Him my full and utter attention right then and there and He gave me a picture and a word to go along with it.  Immediately I knew it was for Mary and I knew I had to tell her before Disciple’s set.  It was the first word that i had ever been afraid to give and the fear i was feeling was completely attack from the enemy.

so i grabbed her and walked outside with her (where it was freezing by the way).  I could tell she was curious what was going on and nervously I stepped out in faith, pushing aside my fear and looked her in the eye, “God gave me a picture and a word for you…okay?” and she was very relieved it wasn’t anything bad i could tell, so i spoke what i had seen to her and afterwards i felt an amazing peace from the obedience which was great! the attack on me was over and i had peace and i was ready to ROCK out during Disciple’s set.  tonight it was screaming along to “Dear X” and it was screaming along to “Watch It Burn”,, I found freedom there.

It was also in letting myself sing out during Invisible and instead of singing it for myself this time, I was declaring it as truth to every single person in that crowd, because God told me there were many teenage girls feeling and being trapped by the very same things that almost claimed my life months ago.  so during the song that was there for me on many terrible nights, i screamed out the truth and freedom of God, speaking it over every single person in that crowd.  then we sat down & chilled while Bob Lenz spoke to the crowd (he’s amazing seriously, especially to connect to youth) and i was honestly not feeling so amazing at that point. lots of excitement, little sleep with even less food and i was mildly dizzy.  sitting down was a good relief.

shortly after Bob finished speaking but before Skillet’s set, i ran off outside & inquired of my favorite guitar player as to whether or not he’d be able to dig up a monster for miss Mary because she was worse off than i was, he was super kind about it and said “i will get it to you just as fast as it takes me to walk from here to the bus and back” and next thing i knew, he was surprising Mary with caffeine and the look on her face just cracked me up.  i knew she would be okay then and i could relax.  she didn’t have much to say except she was shocked that i really just did that but there was absolutely NO way my best friend was passing out on my watch.

so she downed that and i sucked on some awesome tic tacs jen had bought the day before (IMPULSE BUY!) haha and told myself that i was fine and it was all okay.  we then rocked our way through Skillet’s set and MAN the crowd was BEAUTIFUL that night!! all the lame crowds i’ve ever seen and this one totally made up for them haha. well we finished the set, then hung out for as long as we could again, and Mary said her final goodbyes and we were off to home.  the 2nd night made it so Mary went to her 10th Skillet show and i went to my 10th Disciple show.

the next morning we got up for church, had some beautiful amazing things happen, man i love watching God move!
that part is not my story to tell but i LOVED being a small part of it 🙂

finally it was time for Mary and I to head to the airport and goodbyes to be said.
i wasn’t ready but if we are both honest, i don’t think either of us was ready.

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