This is a special edition of Splendidly, Kait. It is a collaboration with an extraordinarily talented artist and friend of mine, Jeremiah Wistrom. The photos you see below, including the lead image, were all taken and edited by him.
Jeremiah Wistrom is a part-time photographer based out of Denver, CO. He is a simple man with a simple goal: seeking unique beauty in the world and sharing it with others. He believes creativity and positivity can unite people, and hopes to bring this idea to fruition through his life and art. Thank you for taking the time to view his work.
Splendidly, Kait just traveled around the world in 80 days in a hot air balloon with Jackie Chan!
Just kidding. I’m just back from hiatus.
In the five months since I’ve written to you lovely reader people, a lot has happened. Here, let me try and catch you up:
I finished my sophomore year of college.
I got closer to God than I had ever been before.
I dyed my hair.
I hated it.
I dyed it again.
I wrote ten short stories.
I worked at The Paris Review.
I asked my step-dad to adopt me.
I lost myself.
I’m finding myself.
I’ve been asked by a surprising number of people when Splendidly, Kait was to return, and my automatic lie has been “soon” or “I’m working on it,” as the closest I would get to writing would be an 140 character Tweet. But quite honestly, it’s been hard.
These past few months, the world has been sort of… bubbling in turmoil. Both the cultural climate and the global climate are screaming for help. It is hard being brown and Black in America. It is hard being brown and Black everywhere. It is hard belonging to the “other.” It is hard watching lives disappear on a news channel. It is hard when those lives look like yours. It is still hard when they don’t. It is hard feeling helpless.
It is hard to create art during times like these.
Writing is hard. It’s tiring. It requires a lot of energy, a lot of attention and focus. Writing requires you to literally take pieces of yourself and splay them out on a blank page, stare at them for little bit, then rearrange them into something that would sound nice between your teeth or even resembles beauty. It is hard to make something beautiful.
I haven’t wanted to write. I’ve been too preoccupied with other things, other things that do not matter, other things that I can’t even remember to cite here. We call them school, we call them work, we call them relationships, we call them life. Life just got in the way.
Act I: Unknown.
Around February, around the time of my last post, I was able to say that I—for the first time in my life—had a full-fledged relationship with Jesus Christ, a relationship that stood on its own two feet and waved back at me. I talked to Him regularly, I talked of Him regularly, and I was learning my Bible.
Then March came and things got… hard.
Too much was going on, and I stopped talking to God as often. Although I was away at school, where most of my Christian support is, I wasn’t asking for help. I should have, but I didn’t. Then April came, and things got worse, and in May the kettle began to whistle.
It was a terrible combination of homesickness, self-doubt, overworking myself, comparison, selfishness, and meager faith. I felt lost. I still didn’t talk to God. Life kept getting in the way.
During the middle of May, I came home from school, and I can truly say that I’ve spent the first month of my summer vacation feeling broken. I was in my happiest place, my home with my bustling family and my pets, yet I was still struggling with the same feelings that plagued me while I was away from them.
I kept trying to psyche myself up, telling myself that I would work it out and tomorrow would be better. Then the next day would come and I would still be afraid of how my financial situation would turn out, how my relationship would function as it morphed into long-distance, how I would be able to achieve all the things I wanted to do and become, how, how, how.
I looked to other people for solace, trying to find my happiness in my friends or my family. I received it, but only temporarily, for when I was with myself again, I would feel empty.
I still wasn’t talking to God.
Act II: God’s Beauty.
Fast forward to earlier this week, when I finally reconnected with Jesus, reading Scripture and doing Devotional for almost two hours. I walked away from my desk feeling shaken, but sure. I had answers. I had solutions. Two hours for four months. I had missed out on a lot.
But, like I said, I had answers.
I hadn’t talked to God because I thought I was strong on my own.
I had bought into the tempting idea that I could do bad all by myself. I thought that I could handle it all, figure it out, get a lock on things without His help. And because I followed my flesh for months, I began to weaken. I had little peace, my sense of worth began to wane, my positivity was scarce, and my trust was even smaller.
Despite these signs to turn back towards God, I continued to follow flesh because it was easier than being reminded that I was not invincible, but it proved to be far more painful. I had been taking advantage of God’s forgiving qualities by trusting flesh more than Him, whilst knowing that I would be forgiven for my little stint.
I was a sinner being a sinner and ignoring my hurt.
I was afraid to talk to Him, yet it wasn’t because He would show me His Old Testament wrath – I was afraid to talk to Him because I had been bathing in His grace and His mercy while neglecting our relationship. I was ashamed. I didn’t want to become ignorant to the powers of my savior, but I had done exactly that. I had reached a point that I had been at before, but never while walking with Jesus.
Act III: Surrender.
Before, at this point, I would remain unhappy and experience long periods of wallowing and wandering. But now I have a choice. I can choose happiness and I can choose security. It would cost me nothing but my surrender. Yet, that’s oftentimes the hardest thing to do.
But I did it. I returned to praise and I returned to my Father, humbly accepting His love that I do not deserve, and acknowledging that He is my peace. He is my worth that I have been searching for, He is my trust and my home, my heart and my mind. I had to return to praise. I had to return to His glory, because Jesus didn’t die for me for nothing, and I must remember that each moment I breathe, I am being drowned in unconditional love. All the worldly things that consumed me, I didn’t know how to battle, because I am not God—but with God, I can do it all.
Surrendering to Jesus is not an easy task, and I am astonished that I went this long without Him, as I had a support system pushing me closer to Him on all sides at all times, urging me to have the brave conversations with Him and to humbly pray. I failed to listen, but sometimes the hurt becomes too loud that the only way you can hear anything is through Him.
In the words of my home church pastor, Carl Lentz, “We were not promised awesome, perfect, beautiful lives – we are promised an awesome, perfect, beautiful savior in this broken world, and we can be content in this.”
Yes, life is hard.
Yes, trusting in God is hard, but it doesn’t have to be.
It can be the easiest thing in the universe, it can become your second nature.
I lost myself for a little during a rough season and I had to consult with my Creator.
But now, I’m back, and I can say that things are looking brighter.
I’m taking care of my skin, I’m writing again, I’m planning content, I’m making money, I’m reading for fun, I’m getting a lot of sleep, I’m working out, I’m eating healthier, I’m talking to God again.
I’m using this post to spread a little Jesus into your life, too.
As many trials have hit me within the past few months, I have double the blessings, and the proof is in my peace.
I don’t know of what lies ahead, but I know that I am in good hands.