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I woke up especially tender this morning, the aches of the past few months finally making their physical space in my chest, reminding me that they are not leaving and they are not too pleased with the way I have been making them hide either.

And so I began with coffee and outside air, journaling those unraveling sort of prayers, the kind that contradict and question and end with the words help me and heal me.

And then the day wore on, as days have a way of doing: with finger knitting lessons from my oldest and paint all over the table from my littlest, with plates of scrape and a dog to walk.  And the ache continued, the rawness riding less in my chest and more in my throat now.

I tossed penne and spinach and boiled some eggs to be doused in coarse salt and pepper for my babes.  I grabbed a onion from the pantry and began making thin slices through its harsh layers, eyes pricking with involuntary tears. I slid them off the board in to the pan of warming avocado oil, grinding salt over their sputtering and resumed feeling badly for myself.   Why am I so tender? Why do I feel grief so phsyically? Why do things impact me and others seem fine, solid, in control?  Flip.

The onions are hissing now, softening, one side a bit darker than the other. The steam turns savory.  Why is the path of love and forgiveness and vulnerability so dang hard? How many times do I have to learn this lesson? Flip.

A perfect caramel crust begins forming on the edges and I know it’s almost time to scoop them out –just a little longer.  Don’t rush it.

And then I see it, suddenly, in the rings in the pan and in the ache in my chest: it’s right here in front of me.

I can choose to avoid the heat of trial and tenderness and pain.  I can avoid walking in relationship and vulnerability and remain closed and hard, afraid of being hurt and misunderstood.

Or, I can slice my self open, accept the heat and the waiting and become tenderized and sweetened in the process.  I can accept that through intensity and discomfort and time something that once was hard and harsh can be completely revolutionized, almost unrecognizable.  Something that once caused tears and dominance can now instead enhance and sweeten every single thing it encounters.

This morning I had asked God for continued tenderness instead of bitterness, I had told Him that felt like asking for a toothache instead of a black tooth, that it felt like trading gnarly weeds for an empty hole in the ground, a growling reminder of what once was–that both options were awful.  (I wasn’t be dramatic AT. ALL.)

But now, instead, I find myself grateful.  I am grateful for this small moment of realization while making lunch: a reminder of what can happen when I surrender instead of fight, when I allow myself to become something entirely else.

I am mostly grateful for physical, in front of me evidence of what can happen when we hand over our power in the process: goodness, sweetness, flavor.

(mercy, peace, compassion, love)

I am grateful for tenderness today.