Thursday, November 11, 2010

Just for once

I am a smart girl. I am a good girl. I am—mostly—a big girl. I am almost ready to be ready to acknowledge there might be some more letting go to be done. Nothing big, just a few little things like the deepest wounds in my heart, the strings that entangle every time, the right to require justice to places full of loss. Nothing big. I only realize now that those things don’t sound so valuable that anyone would want to keep them…they sound like things it would be good to lose.

But they matter because so much of me is in them. If I let them go, if I acknowledge that maybe there’s a different kind of choice I could make that would help with happy, then… then what about all the parts of me that I let go, too? What about all the tears and the pain and the prayers and the effort and the trying…didn’t those parts of me matter? If I just let them go then it’s like saying parts of me are not important, that the pain was useless, that the trying was well-intentioned but ultimately fruitless, that my very best efforts get me only to the point of admitting bankruptcy and stupid ignorance, or, worse, blind avoidance.

I’m not thinking terribly clearly here. I know that. I’m too tired.
And I know of course nothing is ultimately wasted, that the “family secret” is that all things work out for my good because I am called according to God’s purpose. I know that, no question. Even my nonsense gets used for my good and the good of others.

But just for a minute, I’m talking about the actual stuff mattering. Not the distance from pain that brings perspective. Not the perspective that brings insight. Not the insight that should breed trust…I mean the stuff. Doesn’t the pain matter? Doesn’t the effort of struggle matter in itself? My tears may be in a bottle in Heaven, but what are they worth now?

Just for once, I would have like to have been loved without the offer of strategies, without the obligatory reference to future redemption meant to spur me out of my pain. Just once, time enough to fall asleep safe and loved whether I chose the “right” attitude or not. Just once, the offering of love and safety and arms and shelter that did not feel compelled to remind me of what I ought to do when the moment was over and the shelter was gone and I was back on my own to suck it up and be tough and keep on doing the right thing. When you hurt that deep it’s only a matter of time before you stumble again, looking for the shelter.

Why is it so hard for anyone to see that sometimes, if you hold someone long enough without requiring anything more, they will finally take a deep enough sleep and a deep enough breath to get up, all on their own and without all the words, and do exactly what they ought to? Only this time, the wound starts going away and eventually they won’t keep stumbling.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Praying the heart to fight

“The days will come when you don't have the strength/ When all you hear is you're not worth anything/ Wondering if you ever could be loved/ And if they truly saw your heart they'd see too much…And praying that you have the heart to fight/ Cause you are more than what is hurting you tonight/ For all the lies you've held inside so long / And they are nothing in the shadow of the cross.” Beautiful, by Mercy Me

I heard part of this song and wanted to send it to a friend, but when I went looking for it, I found I needed it myself. I played it over and over, hoping to get it into my soul. The only part that got in at all is “For all the lies you've held inside so long / And they are nothing in the shadow of the cross.” There are lies I think I might be clinging to. Knowing the truth in my head is almost zero help; I need the power of something greater to get through. Only the cross.

I am angry. Angry at what feels like lack of growth. Angry at my circles, angry at my inability to suck it up and at least pretend to be presentable, and angry that even with my disgraceful lack of presentability my heart cries still get missed. I would say shameless lack of presentability but it’s shame-filled. It is an awful feeling to sell yourself out for the chance to be comforted and then hate yourself for the messy display. There is an epic conflict of convictions—on one hand the certainty that my real self is not acceptable and I should, for the love of everything, put it away, shut it up, don’t say it don’t text it don’t blog it don’t be it and if I must be it, then for God’s sake, hide it. And on the other hand the deep deep plea that if only, only someone would really see and really understand—and love me anyway, love me right there in the middle of it—that the other side of me could go away. Or heal. Or be shown a liar once and for all…

I am angry that I know so many of my thoughts to be lies and yet they feel so true that stepping out of them feels like some kind of betrayal. Let alone that it seems impossible to just step away from them. But I wonder, only just now really, did I know this was a choice? I was angry that it seemed not to be a choice; it seemed for all the world like a trap, a mire. Is it? When you see a lie and acknowledge it, rebuke it…that doesn’t seem to be enough. Have I been choosing to look to the wrong places for help? I swear I thought I was looking in the right direction. Does every single thing I wanted have to fall down around me before I see what still stands? Who still stands. Who has always been standing there, waiting? I thought I had reached for Him, I really did.

Another of my favorite lyrics won’t leave my mind: “On the edge of all I need/ still I cling to what I see/ And what have I there?” Letting go is terrifying. I don’t know if I’m even ready to make this choice…I don’t know if I’m ready to even acknowledge it might be my choice.

What if it doesn’t work?
What if it does?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


I am sick, sick, of no one understanding.
No one grasping the depth of my pain, no one realizing how much attention I need. Of no one rushing to love me in the wake of such an utterly selfish, immanently perilous statement.
No one understanding that my pain matters. It matters. It matters.
It matters.
My tears matter.
Every single one.
Every single breath: the ones hidden in quiet, the desperate ones I swallow so no one will hear, the long sighing lingering ones I wish someone would hear, the slow shuddering ones that starkly mark my aloneness, the gasping, tearing ones that no one ever hears. All those--someone should hear.

Everyone should be heard. Everyone should have someone who follows their every move, their every breath, who treasures every singe stupid, precious, priceless tear as if it was the blood of Heaven.

Every stumbling statement, every denial that is a secret cry for help.
Every cold shrug and achingly awkward expression--the flimsy but amazingly convincing proofs that I don't care, that it doesn't matter to me whether you care or not. I am so tired of no one knowing they only mean Please love me anyway, don't let me prove one more time that I am worth so little I can make you push me away with my own blank glance.

I am tired of the ones who should know not knowing.
Of the ones who have what I want not understanding enough to give it.
Of the ones who understand not having the chance in my heart or in years to offer it.

I am tired of no one knowing that my running is an invitation to pursuit. That my fight is a bleeding cry for embrace.
That the wretchedness I offer to your ears is the very best I have to give, the treasure of my heart, the pearls I've cast time after time after time after time into emptiness.
That although it is wretched it is beautiful because it is the most of me,
it is the chance to pierce the most secret place and shatter the lies and unlock the place of Beautiful.
The pearls I've thrown into nothing, which, altho pitiful and filthy with self, should be a higher sacrifice, offered to One who knows their worth.

I am tired of myself, of my obsession with the circles of my inability to break out of the madness. Bound by an unclear demand
that it all matters, that it should be given, that I am utterly at fault and utterly, inherently created to demand the impossible
and risk everything--reputation, dignity, self itself--on the chance of finding it.

I am too tired to do it again.
Yet I am weak enough to circle again if I could.
And I can't.

So I will throw my wretched pearls to a higher altar and say outrageous, audacious things to a God to Whom I have no right to raise my face.

And I will spend my life, such selfish hours as pain motivates, in pursuit of such a Love.
If I walk alone, I walk alone.
If I waste my name and my flimsy guards of presentability in hapless tries for lesser imitations along the way, so be it.
Because I am given an unsure Hope, a strongly, unlikely-felt surge that there will be no more desert circles like the last,
that this last desperate effort will win the Mirage of Solid Love.

Arms Wide Open, Misty Edwards

Saturday, June 26, 2010


"I keep losing people!" I cried.
I wanted it to mean, "Please don't let me lose you now. Please don't let this be one more loss. Please tell me how to make it go away."
Once, silence.
Again, "But what did you really have? What is it, exactly, that you feel you lost?"
And I was wounded by the silence.
And I was angered by the question. What did I lose? What did I lose!

Not just a mother, a father, a friend, a father, a mother, a mother, a friend....
Not just a confidant, a dream, someone to teach me, someone to hold me, someone to love my babies and teach me to love them well...
Not just a place to rest, a place to be allowed, a place to sleep sweet in peace, just once.
Not just dreams, and tears, and hopes, and fears.
Not just days of weeping and years of trying and months of aching and years of crying.
Not just a piano and an embrace.
A heritage and a story, the treasure of a secret.
Wishes, dreams. Effort. Love. Forgiveness. Service. Foolishness. Gifts.
My own pearls, thrown down like treasure to be churned in the bitter mud.
The most sacred things I had to offer, scorned because they looked like weakness and want.

Not a list of happy things. So, I wonder...
What did I lose?

More - if what was lost was never could it hurt so much?
How could something that never really happened, that was not promised and given to me during daylight, hurt so much at night?
How does a dream cause pain to a physical heart, and how does a wish and a thought and an imagination cause real tears, real human tears raining down a human face and swelling human eyes with sorrow?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Sinai's Chance

All I ever really wanted was enough time on your breast.

Long enough close to your heart to stop.

Stop–everything–long enough to feel safe.

I’ve felt closer but not as safe.

Strange, to feel not-so-close and yet safe. Strange,

for my thoughts, for once, to still my heart, for

them to say “Be still. You are loved. You are safe

here. This will not turn against you. This, you can

trust even though you don’t understand and are not sure.”

And for once, my heart listened.

The safety of your nearness turned my heart to Him.

Turning my heart to Him said “Even the worst brokenness

may be healed, even the greatest loss, the nearness

that rejected and wounded and spat…even that may be

healed. Even here, even here, may be the sunlit path

to dreams so bright they remain hidden.”

A tiny circle of vision. Looking at, seeing only the

place where a heart beats strong enough to be broken

by love, within a circle of arms that touches my

hair and does not push or wish me away.

A stirring. A place in my heart that I tried to

put away, mistrusted to go beyond the walls of my

skin, a place that could be my greatest traitor, sending

me to circle Sinai yet again. Or–chastened, wiser

but wild and terrified but reckless–could be met, for once,

in a tiny circle of blue and tan and safety that opens

into the everything of Him.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Friendship. Betrayal. Love. Loss. Longing.

Friendship. Betrayal. Love. Loss. Longing.

What’s the line from the songs? “Fathers and mothers, sisters and brothers.” I’d add, “Daughters and sons, beloved, lost ones…”

I’m thinking of the ones who look up to me, of the ones I look up to. The ones who took good care of me and the ones who betrayed me. And I wonder, who did I sell out without even knowing it? Who looked up to me but no longer does? I don’t really want to think about that. It’s easy for me to name the ones who didn’t treat me as they should have. We all make mistakes. And sometimes we hold people responsible for things they just couldn’t handle. So I hope there will be grace for me in the hearts of the ones I’ve let down.

God is a god of relationship. The Trinity is a relationship. God has a plan for the world, for each one of us. The enemy has a plan to get in the way of every single thing God wants to do. What better way than to ruin or distort or break or twist relationships? What gets to us more? What single dynamic is there in life more significant or powerful than relationships?

People don’t spend ten years on the couches of therapists over a lost job or a ruined vacation. They spend it over bad parenting. People don’t walk around miserable and dysfunctional because of some gift they didn’t get for Christmas; they do it because they were abandoned, abused, discarded, devalued, or betrayed. By people. By others. By relationships.

I don’t have deep wounds because my family was poor while I was growing up. I have deep wounds because my dad couldn’t father me right and my mother couldn’t mother me right, and because every other parent-figure who let me down only intensified the loss and the wound. Every time I hoped for someone to be there the way I needed someone to be there, and then all the someones let me down, or didn’t see me, or told me how I felt was wrong, it just pushed the hurt deeper and brought more shame.

It’s like unrequited love. When two people love each other, it’s a celebration. But when one of them loves and the other scorns, there’s shame. It’s somehow shameful to offer something beautiful—something precious—and have it be thrown back in your face. I’m coming to realize, so much of my shame was false—it’s not that my heart was necessarily wrong for wanting or needing, it’s just that what was precious to me was treated like trash. And so I thought maybe there was something about me that was trash.

But still…as I bring my wounds, my losses, my shame and my questions to God, I see that His way is good. Forgiveness is one of the hardest lessons I’ve ever studied, but there is so much freedom in it. It’s like a secret treasure, like the cave in Pirates of the Caribbean where all the treasure is stored—it’s dark and mysterious and you can’t see all of what’s hidden, but you can see enough to know it’s all treasure.

I can see that doing relationships God’s way, even if it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my whole life—and it is—is really, honestly the best way. There’s so much treasure to come out of it that we can’t even see a tiny part of it. It’s like standing in the mouth of the cave.