All week I’ve been trying to write this post.
All week I’ve been grabbing handfuls of words and trying to ease them out of slumber into something worth sharing with you all.
I tried writing in my room, alone, in the dark. Outside, in the sun. In the chapel. Over coffee. Under blankets.
I sketched out a couple sentences of what I wanted to say, and then stared. Days went by. More scratches and scribbles.
And so I thought, how hard can it really be to write a simple post about God’s mercy and healing when I’ve been doing this blog for over a year now and, I mean, I’ve been told I’m pretty good…so…
Until I realized the problem.
I’m pretty angry at God.
And so, here I sit before you, with no sage words of wisdom, nothing deeply therapeutic or even remotely life changing. And certainly not as eloquent as some of my posts have been in the past.
I sit here before you to say that healing’s freaking hard.
Look, y’all, I’m just being honest – this completely sucks.
A week ago, she said to me, with a huge smile on her face,
“Have you ever seen a baby bird hatch?
It goes pretty slowly. Peck, peck, then he has to rest. Then he pecks some more, then a rest. He keeps doing this until he’s finally free.
Do you get what I’m saying?”
From one girl to another girl to me, this is what has been said about healing.
Another, chewing thoughtfully and deliberately before speaking, said to me that same day,
“It’s like when you’re running so fast that the branches are whipping you in the face and scratching your eyes.
And when you finally trip, it’s okay to lay on the ground dazed for a rest. It’s better there sometimes, resting on the ground, healing.”
A week ago, these were a balm on my worried heart.
It means that if I haven’t completely healed yet – I’m still doing okay!
And now – now after days of veritably pulling my own teeth out to write a blog post about healing – now after everything that has happened or everything that hasn’t happened to me, I’m just reminded that healing is painful.
Healing is painful.
And it sucks.
Last night, readers, something happened to me.
I don’t know if I can explain it well.
But last night, I was prayed over – anointed, embraced, cleansed.
Was I healed?
No, not entirely.
But there was a shift, a melting contrapposto, a bit of a nudge in the right direction, somewhere deep inside of me.
And, guys, I cannot express this more plainly but…it genuinely hurts.
I have lived my life with the burden of the idea that if I do just enough, I would wake up one morning complete and total.
I have lived my life with the burden that after just enough time, just enough effort, just enough therapy, just enough praying, that I would one day wake up and be better.
Bright and shiny.
And this burden, though hopeful, was heavy.
Because every day that I didn’t wake up bright, shiny, whole, or healed was one more day that I ran my fingers through my hair and looked at my grimace in the mirror and said to that stranger staring back this is as good as it’s going to get today, and imagine how painful that gets to be when you hear it every day.
When will I just heal? God!
And so I was angry – am angry – because I was, of course, under the impression that once I scratched and clawed my way through those 2 and a half years that scratched and clawed right back at me that my uphill battle would plateau a little and I’d at least have a chance to breathe for a day or two, and at the very least just be healed already, damnit.
It’s only gotten harder.
Because every day that I didn’t wake up bright, shiny, whole, or healed was one more day that I ran my fingers through my hair and looked at my grimace in the mirror and said to that stranger staring back this is as good as it’s going to get today, I realized just that.
I stare at a stranger.
I am a stranger in an even more strange land.
Who am I anymore?
For 2 and a half years I defined myself by what I did in those multiple lives I led back home.
The Friday-Saturday girl who got into more than her fair share of messes, and the Sunday girl who acted like those same messes never happened.
And the Monday through Thursday girl, of course, who was some glazed-over, half-shell version of that which she wanted to be all seven days of those weeks.
Who am I anymore?
Because when you define yourself by that which you used to do and suddenly you’re thrust into a situation where you may not want to do those things anymore, and even if you did want to do those things, you don’t have the resources or opportunities to – you suddenly find yourself without identity. Without meaning. Without a real sense of self, or, radically enough, a real sense of anything.
Because when you define yourself by that which you used to do and suddenly you’re thrust into a situation where you do want to do those things again and be that person all over because, yeah, it was damn awful, but at least you were good at what you did, and suddenly you’re good at nothing because you define yourself by nothing – you suddenly find yourself without identity. Without meaning. Without a real sense of self, or, radically enough, a real sense of anything.
Because here’s the thing that plagues me and it’s that I’m so angry at God that I’m kicking and crying through the hair that’s sticking to my mouth and screaming through the pain that’s growing in my throat – and what does He do but hold my wrists and wait for me to tire myself out so that He can hold me?
God, when will I just heal already?
Because healing means being asked to completely abandon anything and everything we ever found comforting to us – because even when things sucked, we knew what we were doing and who we were being – so to heal, to just throw that aside and move forward vulnerable and bare and naked?
Because once we’ve slept with the devil, things get a little trickier to just toss aside – and that’s when it starts to hurt and that’s when the healing comes in tidal forces of dark emptiness.
At least when I felt hopeless and despairing, I felt something.
God, when will I just heal already?
Because my friend tells me she railed against God for giving her the horrible opportunity to get good at being bad and then He whisks her away to a place where being bad isn’t as much of an option anymore, and then what is she good at but being angry with her Maker?
Because another friend tells me that she’s determined to become friends with people who have been through this whole thing before and made it out onto the other side, because she certainly doesn’t know how to stop being angry at God – and I certainly can’t help her.
It’s been said that healing is warm and happy and breezy – after all, you’re getting better!
But healing to me?
Slow and painstaking. And bone dry.
And so, yeah, I’m angry. I’m angry because why the hell would I have to go through 2 and a half years of what happened only to come out on the other side and realize that I’m not actually on the other side yet – nor will I ever be until my death, when I finally get to escape the confines of this ashy mortality to be reunited with Him in totality and completeness and being bright.
That’s what sucks.
Because I’m here for some purpose, and I can’t see it.
I’m broken and bruised for some purpose, and I can’t see it.
And they tell me that God wants to heal me completely – it’s only a matter of when, or how soon, how quickly.
I was prayed over last night, readers, do you remember that I said that?
I realize that this is an awfully cumbersome post – bear with me – but do you remember when I mentioned that?
I was prayed over last night, and who do you think came in to take all my rage and just toss it aside to give my soul a bit of an unwanted, yet nonetheless needed, bear hug?
Yeah. He did that to me.
He let me feel nothing after I was prayed over, you know.
And in the midst of feeling absolutely nothing (which scared the hell out of me and almost definitely scared the hell out of my friend who watched me feel absolutely nothing as I sat there in wonder at my weightlessness), I realized that to feel nothing is our opportunity to feel Him.
When we don’t feel ourselves, we fill ourselves with Him.
And in that moment, He grabbed my wrists and jerked my eyes to His and spoke to me firmly enough to make it through my own selfish screaming and He said to me,
Drop your nets, Daughter. And follow Me.
And like that, it fell into place.
My hands, pulled down to my side by a good strong yanking, which burned like someone slapped my palms repeatedly.
My heart, pounding out of my chest with adrenaline or fear or fire or all of the above, which burned like I swallowed something too strong too quickly.
My forehead, anointed by oil and a thumbed sign of the Cross, which burned like the height of a fever.
So this is the truth of what I’ve been struggling with?
We are defined by what we do, readers.
Yes, we are defined by what we do – but not by what we have done.
We are defined by what we do in that moment of now and in those moments of now which have yet to come.
And are we defined by dragging our nets behind us, struggling to trudge as the weight behind us snags on crags and trips us up if we try to move too suddenly?
Or, are we defined by dropping those nets and following Christ?
Drop your nets, my child, and follow Me.
So this is the truth of what I’ve been struggling with –
When I define myself by what I have done, I find myself the conglomeration of a million and one mistakes mod-podged together into a collage of glamorous sin – that is not okay and that never will be.
But when I define myself by Who I will follow, and the conscience “now” decision to follow Him…
Ah…now it makes sense, what He speaks into my soul when my tired-of-fighting body slumps against His chest.
Now it makes sense.
I stare at a stranger in the mirror every morning because I stare into the eyes of someone who has defined herself by she who no longer exists.
And when you stare at something that doesn’t exist anymore and you just will it to appear and it doesn’t – that gets you nowhere but cussing at a Tabernacle and eating more ice cream dejectedly than can possibly be good for you and, last but not least, bitterly affecting your relationship with Abba to the point where you can’t even listen to a praise and worship song without rolling your eyes in a huff.
But when you turn your eyes and stare at He who exists perpetually and just will yourself to drop those damn nets and step out of your entanglements and follow Him with a broken and bruised but nonetheless whole-hearted YES – that’s when the miracles happen.
That’s when the miracles happen and you find that healing freaking hurts but, by the grace of God, it is a beautiful pain.
Because when we define ourselves by what we have done, we are limited and fading ashes, but when we define ourselves by Him who asks us to drop and follow, we are perpetual. We are eternal. We are whole.
Because they say that at the end of the day – at the end of time – it doesn’t matter where we start but where we end up.
And then, when this realization hits as you stare at your burning palms and healing heart in wonder, you find yourself okay with the fact that the baby bird takes a good long time to hatch and you’re okay with the fact that sometimes it’s just better to let yourself be knocked over and to lay on the ground to rest.
Oh, and remember when I said that I expected my life to plateau after I spent almost three years climbing up three steps and falling back four?
– Why would we ever be safe from anything that Christ Himself wasn’t safe from?
And if that Man can let himself be stripped, whipped, nailed, hung, mocked – why would we ever expect to be safe from a bit of suffering on this earth that He once died upon?
Because a friend sends me a text message out of the blue that reads “we are not the sum of our weaknesses and failures, we are the sum of the Father’s love for us and our real capacity to become the image of God” – and THIS is where I lift my tired head off of His chest and just grin through a grimace because I have been made to look like an absolute fool for ever being angry in the first place.
Because that same dear friend who took me out to slam his hand against the steering wheel in frustration for the way that he perceives he is being treated sent me this just a few short days later – because God freaking makes us look like fools on a daily basis because we believe that we have some semblance of smugness in our selfishness and then He loves us and shows us up with his Divine mercy.
I mean, seriously, read those lyrics – “We can trust our God, He knows what He’s doing though it might hurt now, we won’t be ruined. It might seem there’s an ocean in between but He’s holding on to you and me and He’s never gonna leave” and you cannot make this up because God delights in not only us but He delights in one-upping us with His Divine healing and His surprise jokes and His beautiful and painful command to drop your nets and follow Him.
And so, nearly 2300 words later, I realize that I have used the single most roundabout blog post to express solely this:
We are broken and bruised and yet we can define ourselves by the “yes” we shout to following Christ – which, while painful, is necessary and beautiful and oh so full of humor – and yes, we can even find healing by dropping our nets and our perceptions of who we want to be and realizing that we are not staring back into the mirror at a stranger but we stare into the eyes of a child of our Abba, a child who is healing and moving forward towards Him Who gives light.
Because the Father of Lights delights in His children.
Because the Father of Lights can take your question of literally who the hell am I today and cup your chin and cover the mirror and just answer,
Today, like every day, you are Mine, no matter how healed you think you aren’t.
And isn’t that answer better than any answer the mirrored stranger mimics back?
And isn’t that, readers, is a hell of a way to start the day – and to start eternity?