I’ve been struggling lately with filling this space.
For me, writing is the process of tossing all sorts of loose ends to the ground, wrestling with them, and coming up with them neatly tied together.
But what do you do when you can’t organize your thoughts, when tying your words together is too great of a challenge because your life doesn’t feel tied together? What do you do when your prayers are so tangled up that you don’t even know what you’re praying for, when your emotions are so high and low when you’re used to stability, when your brain says move on and your heart says how?
You can’t tie that together into some nice paragraphs and a conclusion. You can’t write straight if you can’t even think straight.
And so I’ve journeyed on, thinking maybe someday I’ll have something to say, until today when it began to dawn on me that in this case, maybe the medium is the message. Maybe the fact that I can’t put this all together into some clear message IS the clear message.
Grief isn’t neat.
Life isn’t neat.
Love isn’t neat.
Following God isn’t neat. It isn’t safe. It isn’t even fun all the time.
But as C.S. Lewis writes, “Safe? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course He’s not safe! But He’s good.”
And I’m in this in-between place of knowing that, and believing that. I’m torn between trusting regardless of understanding, and wanting to understand. Life doesn’t look like what I thought I would look like. God didn’t work like I expected.
And so I’m doing my best on a day to day basis to lean OFF my own understanding and lean ON His. I’m trying my hardest to lay down whatever I can that day without stressing about what I don’t understand enough to give up yet. I’m praying that every day I feel worse leads me to feeling better in the long run and I’m thanking Him for every day that I feel happy and light and awake to His presence. I’m listening to songs that piss me off as they talk about God’s goodness one day and I’m singing them the next day, trusting in their words and feeling their truth in my heart. I’m taking steps forward while continuing to grieve what was left behind. I’m looking at a little face and feeling the hope of seeing her future while I pray for the future of her sister that I won’t see. I’m clinging to my husband in love, feeling blessed for the sweetness we’ve shared in the midst of the pain we’ve also shared.
I’m in between wrapped up and a hot mess. I can get dressed and cook meals and I am confident in my ability to spend the day doing normal life again, but I am not ready to say “I feel normal” again.
In many ways I prefer the absolutely, 100% broken stage. At least nothing is expected of you. You can just BE a hot mess. And your emotions are predictable. You just feel sad. There isn’t this weird back-and-forth thing, a tension between the old you and the new you that you don’t understand yet. You’re just the devastated you. It’s pretty straightforward, and people bring you dinner.
But I’m realizing that maybe being so broken and uncomfortable in this world and so pitifully aware of my inability to understand what I need, much less to heal myself from this, is right where the Father wants me to be.
“Do not love this world nor the things that it offers to you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but from the world. And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.” (from I John)
He never promised us comfort and an easy life. He never promised us that our journeys would be safe and neat and protected from pain. He didn’t tell us to seek those things, either, but as a lover of predictability and routine and control I’ve sought them anyway. I’m learning that I can survive without them.
I’m learning that what I want most in this in-between time is not a return to safety—but instead, to be within His will. I want to seek Him—not a specific outcome. I want to be the person He wants me to be—not just my old self.
As Emily Freeman says,
“Maybe you’re asking what in the world is going on in your own life. One way to ask that question is with a frantic soul, a furrowed brow and two tightly clenched fists, What now?!?
…But there is another way to ask – same words, different posture. In the midst of the waiting, of the wondering, of the time of transition, we can rehearse the things we know for sure.
Our lives are hidden with Christ in God.
Nothing can separate us from his love.
We will never be alone.
And so we ask with hopeful expectation, with open hands and a willingness to sit with our questions as we whisper these words before God. What now?”
It is from that place that I write. It’s not where I want to be, but it’s where I am. And so I offer it to Him.