My heart took a big tumble this week. It bounced around and hit a few sharp corners. It is bruised and bleeding today still, pulse-tender like blistered flesh burned on an electric stove. It is still on crutches today, slathering itself in ointment and retreating to quiet spaces.
And I have a lot of thoughts to work out about what's behind all the brokenness and what God has to do with any of it and what it means for my understanding of The Church at large and my voice and my place in things. I don't know quite how much of the pain is a result of my clumsy tendency to stand up for unpopular injustice with a fierce spirit and too many words, and how much is an answer to that prayer I pray in the dark… the scary, exciting, beautiful, awful one. The one that goes, "Break my heart for what breaks yours."
But it's all tied together like a knotted necklace chain and I'll have to untangle it later, after the ointment works its magic, after the wincing has stopped.
Because I'm still slipping between raging indignation and quiet tears. I'm still racing from corner to corner of my mixed-up mind, from the icy shadows to the warmth of the sun.
Somewhere in the midst of this, truth and love and healing will bring me back. They're already beginning to.
But what's saving my life this week are the soft places, like the crook of my husband's arm…the first place I want to bury myself when the hurt stings sharp and the brokenness weighs heavy and he listens, quietly, and hears. Ryan is my safest place, the corner I retreat to when nothing is sure in the world… when my thoughts about God and friendship and mothering and church and work and life bury me in fear and doubt. And then he sits with me, quiet, and I don't need to speak and he doesn't either, and it's love all the same. Ryan is all I know about love on some days, because the way he does it is really something worth taking notes on. He understands the value of presence and his short words linger long when I'm tempted to ask "Why?" What's saving my life today is gratitude for the man in my bed who taught me all I'll ever know about staying.
What's saving my life today are the tiny miracles… picking up the right book at the right time, communities so full of grace and love that I can't escape from Jesus love even when I try to retreat. What's saving me now is that slowly, hour by hour, I'm reminded that there are others standing up for the kind of love I believe in, people who aren't afraid to listen, to speak up for the marginalized and the wounded, people whose stories and lifestyles make a lot of people squirm. Fear brings out the ugly in some people, but intolerance brings out the ugly in me. I'm working on it.
What's saving me now are people like Tammy and Lindsey and Annie and Emily, praying and loving and sending me emails like grace with skin on all through my day. What's saving me, as always, is wild, extravagant grace, and a Nazarene whose love is making nothing in my world comfortable anymore and I suspect it's exactly the way it's supposed to be.
When the heart breaks open because you prayed for it to happen, because you know deep and raw that there's more than the moldable deity you see in modern American culture, it will mess you up. I'm not all that sure I even know what to make of it yet, or what it's going to mean for me, but I know this. It's time to step into quiet for a few days (a week?), to tiptoe away from social media and politics, from hot button issues and phone calls, to quiet my fired-up soul, listen to the breeze that wraps around in an embrace, and learn love from my kids again, the ones who I overhear in their bedroom in tiny voices saying, "You are beautiful," and "I love you," and "Jesus gave us to each other", because this is the love that washes over and saves us all, the love that is worth stopping and smelling and tasting and grasping with all our grip on the tender, unsure days.
So, friends, thank you for grace as I slip quietly away from this space for a few days to read and bake and pray and paint and swing and slide and laugh and sing and be still.
I promise I'm okay… really, truly. Quite full of joy and peace today after the fog of hurt is lifting and just being mindful that this is a place I need to linger for a beat, a pause to usher in Fall and learn a few things about the nature of love and experiencing God. A sorta-kinda spiritual retreat, if you will, a chance to untangle.
Love, love, love.
Be back soon.