Sometimes I write and people tell me I’m brave.
Because I write hard things. Because I dive past the small talk and tell you where it hurts. Because I don’t want to pretend.
Because I tell you it’s ok if you hurt too, I know the balm for the scars we carry, the antidote to utter despair, the flicker of light when your feet stumble and bruise in the dark night. Because I tell you He is big enough to be met with your doubts and your worries.
I want to invite you to meet Him, know Him more, see Him in the light I do, I want to share my Jesus with you.
And I want words to soothe the ache. I want to point you back to Grace, scavenging hope and beauty to line your pockets on the journey.
I’ve gotten good at digging for treasure. My hands are never clean because to find beauty you’ve often got to break hard soil, clawing it back to the place where things grow. Where hope is planted. It is always dark and broken and so deep down you cannot imagine anything would survive.
But how can we know life until we’ve identified with death? Hasn’t this always been the way we are reborn in Christ? This is where it cracks wide and unfurls and flourishes up into the light, budding into the kind of fruit that stains your cheek with nectar and gushes like sweet wine.
I want you to know you are not alone.
These are my hopes when I lift my pen and it feels like the heaviest instrument. When I come here again to tell you a truth I often wish were easier. To tell you a truth I often wish I could change. I’ve started three posts tonight to tell you other things; I want to tell you other things. But these are the true words I have to offer now.
You tell me I am brave, and I roll this around in my mind until it is worn smooth and I can almost make it fit. I’d like to take that nugget and tuck it into my palm, carry it around with me as artillery to sling against those giants who come to still voices and keep souls quiet. The giants who bellow: Your mess is too much for anyone to bear. The beasts of the land who whisper: You are irreparably broken and tedious. These giants and beasts hiss that God could not love you because you carry the scars of the chronically wounded.
Brave: I’d so like to think of myself that way. But I know it’s not. I didn’t shed the skins of the pretender until I was so weary of it all, so bone-tired and unable. Until I was weak. Until I could no longer manage to be anything but dependent.
I didn’t die like a buried thing until my burdens were too heavy a cross to bear and I had to admit I could not carry it alone. But oh how I tried. How I often lift it up again to test its weight and see if I can continue in my strength. I am always crushed beneath it.
The truth is I’m tired.
The truth is my need gapes wide in the most offensive and vulgar way. It is a constant devouring hunger, and I’ve not the strength to pretend anything less. I’ve filled it with lesser things, always to be bloated and sick and even more ravenous than before.
Every hour I need Thee.
I feel desperation catch in my throat as if my only oxygen can be found in spirit, as if my blood was thinned and only a transfusion of grace would fill my marrow with life.
I feel pitiable and empty and for once I am not ashamed of it. I lift my pen to tell you my truth.
I long to be filled and I find the most beautiful presence of God when I am the most wretched. It feels like nourishment. It feels like amazing grace.
I have been discouraged and battered but not without hope.
Sometimes obedience feels like exhaustion. Sometimes doing the thing He calls us to doesn’t mean it all works out how we thought. Sometimes we realize in the failing how much we longed for a tiny taste of our own glory, and it dies bitter on our tongues like the poison it is. Sometimes we thirst for living water to wash it from our throats and make us clean again.
Sometimes our message is one we’d rather not live with for one single day more, and we can’t bear the timbre of our voice when the pen slants or our lips part, we want a new song, a new story, but God tells you to keep speaking it because people need to hear that He is good. Not just when it seems like you should believe that, but when it seems you should absolutely curse Him and be done.
Even when we break, He is good.
Even when our worlds crumble, He is good.
Even when we cannot see, He is good.
Even when there are days that feel like the cruelest of jokes and hardships pile up at our heels, He is good.
Sometimes faith feels like more uncertainty than you’ve ever faced and you’re pushed forward and asked to trust yourself to be loved by God, fully and completely and just as you are. Right here in the storm.
And sometimes in the midst of it all, you find something blossoming. Hope unfurled and growing wild.
We sit on barstools as I swirl my drink around waiting for the hostess to clear a table. We catch up on the funny things our children have done, we people watch in the busy restaurant, and I stab at the lime that’s sunk to the bottom of my glass with my straw.
She asks how I’m doing, and I’m relieved that today I can tell her the truth without her eyebrows knitting together concerned. I can say I’m good and moving through my day without the saggy footed feeling of being pulled at, dragged down, without the constant weariness that has grown up into my soul from a catalogue of trials.
We laugh over crab fried rice and pumpkin curry.
“I am tired, but good,” I tell her and I mean it. I smile wide, and it feels foreign spreading through my cheeks up into my eyes.
But I know the truth of this too. I’m good, but it’s been hard.
The circumstances haven’t changed, but I feel hope that God is at work in the midst of the tilled and filthy soil of my heart.
Really it’s just a moment to catch my breath. It’s a gasp under the waves, breaking the surface of the trials and pushing my lips toward the crest as it pitches back and prepares to throw me again. I know I may be tossed ragged but at this moment I realize I have never been unanchored.
I am tethered to the grace that lets me breathe under the weight of the tempest.
I stretch my limbs like deep roots and inhale freedom. It is a moment. And it is enough.
It is the blossom of hope unfurling towards the light. As Charles Spurgeon said: “I have learned to kiss the wave that throws me against the Rock of Ages.”