Emily is one of my dearest, most kindred blogging friends. She is bold and generous; lives out her life with deep conviction to Jesus Christ and love of family. I’m so honored to share her wise and winsome voice here with you. I hope you’ll welcome her in the comments and check out her blog for more inspired writing and books.
I was reading the memoir, A Stolen Life. I kept putting it down and then picking it up and saying how hard it was to read, and my husband asked, “Why do you then? Why do you read such sad stories?”
I didn’t know the answer until I was standing on the moonlit floor of the bathroom, sleepless again, and I saw myself as a little girl standing and watching people, just watching–this little homeschooled girl in her second-hand clothes and bowl-cut hair, watching the world–trying to understand how it keeps going. Keeps spinning. Trying to discover the secret to its endurance and faith.
Sad stories get me, because the character of the story had the tenacity and strength to endure the past, and the motivation to write about it. And I want to know the secret. I want to know how to endure.
I was in our old red mini-van and it was hot. I was trying to get the air flowing. Everything was fixed, the vents were open, the temperature was set, and still there was no air. Finally I realized I hadn’t pushed the power button. Suddenly, air released into the van and we could all breathe again and I prayed right then and there, Lord, let me find Your power button. To release Your Holy Spirit in me. Let me breathe.
And I don’t know if it’s the stories of the Syrian refugees traveling miles carrying bundles, having nothing and somehow surviving, but I’m learning to let go of my need to be okay.
Because part of overcoming is being able to sit in the pain. And to not only sit in it–but to embrace it.
In his memoir, All is Grace, Brennan Manning recalls words that Brother Dominique Voillaume said to him: “You are on the threshold of receiving the greatest grace of your life. You are discovering what it means to be poor in spirit. Brother Brennan, it’s okay not to be okay.”
I’m a fixer. A controller. I need to take care of something and fast or else it will bother me, and when I can’t, I don’t let go. I just let it bother me.
When I’m lying on my pillow at night and I can’t sleep, I get so fixated on insomnia that I forget to rest. Because even though I’m not sleeping, I can still rest. I can choose to accept my sleepless state rather than fighting it.
Rainer Maria Rilke says this:
Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart
and try to love the questions themselves like
locked rooms and like books that are written in
a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers,
which cannot be given you because you would not be able
to live them. And the point is, to live everything.
Live the questions now.
We will go through trials. Christians should expect to go through more, in fact, than the rest of the world because we believe in One who was killed for his teachings. Who was called a heretic and drunkard. A blasphemer, and we will go through pain. But perhaps it’s not all about getting to the other side. Perhaps it’s about the journey, the sitting in the pain and knowing God is there with us. Jesus could have called down angels to release him from the cross. He could have proven he was God another way. He didn’t have to die.
Yet his Father called him to it, and so he obeyed. He prayed bloodied tears and then he endured the crucifixion. He didn’t fight it. He knew one day he would rise. And he knew God was doing something big in the pain.
God is with me in the darkness. He is with me in my sleeplessness. He is with the Syrian refugees as they walk. He is with the writers of sad stories in the midst of their stories, before they are ever written.
I don’t need to be okay.
Because God is here. In the unanswered questions. In the empty. In the pain.
Join us in the comments and for further discussion at Redemptions Beauty Book Club on The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown as we let go of numbing, powerlessness and scarcity this week to cultivate a heart of resilience, gratitude, and joy. This is day 10 of 31 Days of Letting Go in the Deep End. Find out more here and join us for daily posts delivered to your inbox by adding your email address to Subscribe in the sidebar. It only takes a few seconds and it’s painless, I promise.