Last night as I was lying in bed not sleeping, I was thinking about the post I wrote yesterday. It had been on my heart for weeks and I finally wrote it, but I do this thing, frequently. I’ll write what feels like this very prophetic piece about things I believe deeply. And then I’ll feel very strongly that I must put it in proper context, the context of my personal life. Because I’m a BIG VISION person, I get upset easily about the BIG PICTURE. That can be a prideful place to be, but that is not how I feel. I honestly do believe that God has given me insights to share, but I want you to know who I am, too.
I think yesterday’s post could be summed up in this simple statement: I feel compelled by my faith in Jesus to write so that I and others will feel less alone, and to remind the church that her God is better than this and has better than this for her. Those two things are in tension, I get that. I write the raging fire that’s clearing the field of weeds and the cozy fire that keeps you warm. All I can say is that they are in tension in my heart, too, and they always have been. If you knew me in high school and college, you may remember my pointed scripture readings at the sharing mic at church, or my old Xanga posts. I remember them with some embarrassment and humor, but also appreciation, because I finally remember myself again, back then.
I have always felt the ills of the world very deeply, I just slowly stopped letting myself. I remember weeping at our dinner table when I learned for the first time about child suicide bombers. I honestly don’t know if that’s a true memory or if it was one of the first times I remember feeling the weight of the world in my chest, so massive and wild that there was no way to handle it. I don’t think that means I am broken, I think that means the world is broken and I feel it.
I am not in good shape right now. I am dealing with a lifetime of pain that I have not known how to understand or feel, so much so that I forgot it was there for awhile. I have been very good at coping (ignoring it), but you can only cope for so long without facing your demons. They grow stronger during the coping. But I’ve grown stronger, too, in the last few years so I’m slowly, in fits and bursts, facing it. I have been in a panicky few weeks for many reasons: getting deeper and truer in my therapy sessions, the season’s change making it cold(er) and dark, and I have been isolated for a number of more or less unavoidable reasons. Yesterday I bundled the kids up and got them to school on time with lunches and clean clothes, feeling confident they felt loved and prayed over, and got back in my van and immediately started crying. I came home and promptly crawled in my bed without eating. Every time I emerged from my room to attempt movement in my day, I panicked and started crying.
I don’t say this to be dramatic. I am getting help. There is a way for me to be uniquely myself and healthy, and I am fighting for that. I say this simply to let you know, I am not special or strong or doing well. I just know that I can speak, so I must.
I don’t want to try to cope anymore, I want to feel it and I want to speak it. But I don’t want you to think that I’m just angry, or mentally ill, or that I am more mature and wise and probably have it all together. I am nothing more or less than myself, and I want to remember to share myself with you. I will continue to try to share my story, the way I’m working all of this out in real time, in addition to my more bird’s eye view kind of posts.
I have mentioned before how I relate deeply with Jeremiah. Now, if that doesn’t sound like a hubris-filled statement, I don’t know what does, but bear with me. Jeremiah was an incredibly sensitive soul. He was tasked with reminding the people of Israel who their God was, and showing them how deadly their current way of living and relating to God and each other was. The book of the Bible that’s named after him is full of his fiery calls for justice and shalom and warnings of where their behavior was headed, juxtaposed with his tender reminders of God’s deep, deep love, all sprinkled with his emotional outbursts. I feel you, Jeremiah.
“Oh, my anguish, my anguish!
I writhe in pain.
Oh, the agony of my heart!
My heart pounds within me,
I cannot keep silent.
For I have heard the sound of the trumpet;
I have heard the battle cry.” (Jeremiah 4:19)
“Whenever I speak, I cry out
proclaiming violence and destruction.
So the word of the Lord has brought me
insult and reproach all day long.
But if I say, “I will not mention his word
or speak anymore in his name,”
his word is in my heart like a fire,
a fire shut up in my bones.
I am weary of holding it in;
indeed, I cannot.” (Jeremiah 20:8-9)
I am not finished yet, not by a long shot. I imperfectly share what is on my heart, and I want to grow in grace. But I continue to write because I don’t have to wait for growth before I share, and because in the writing, I grow. I write because I can’t help it. I write because I have to.