To Continue…

Sunday mornings are usually a perfect contrast for me. My body and spirit are tired, spent after cracking my soul open and giving everything I have, giving everything I am. At the same time, I am absolutely refreshed. The act of corporate worship is this gorgeous life-giving privilege, and the only word to describe the state of my being is grateful. It’s a paradox, and one I have grown quite accustomed to welcoming.
Last Sunday was different. After the talk, I could only sit and stare through the windows of the sanctuary. Before we entered into our service, I was excited to give the message, excited to share what I had learned and in anticipation for what it could mean to us, as a group, and to the heart of each person, individually. But with each passing second, each word uttered, the weight of the moment multiplied. My emotions spiked, with elation giving way to intense sadness. The joy of the message transforming into the grief at the brokenness that makes that message so sweet.
We prayed and said our ‘Amen,’ and I quickly turned and collapsed into the front pew (where no one ever sits), my front pew. Several tears ran down my cheeks and my heart broke, again. There was no refreshment, only exhaustion and heartbreak.
Once everyone was gone, I left and sat quietly at home until I could take the walls no longer and went to the gym to process the confusion of the morning under a thick layer of sweat and the old album (new to me) from Dave Hause. What happened? Why was it so awful? How could I have mistaken the message so fully, I was giddy less than 2 hours earlier? I wondered if everyone was as thrashed as I was.
But, here’s the surprising thing that I learned: It was heavy, heartbreaking and difficult. But that didn’t make it awful. That I was thrashed doesn’t make it bad. I didn’t misunderstand anything. It was exciting. See, our culture kneels at the altar of the convenient and the easy. We say things like, “if it’s meant to be, it’ll happen” implying that if it’s hard, if it requires something of us, it must not be our path. That if it’s uncomfortable, then maybe we should re-think our decision. We’ve decided that pain and struggle are clear signs that we’ve done something wrong.
So, when I felt such a weight on my spirit, I immediately linked it with something negative. But I was wrong. That weight was significance, meaning.
Listen to what I wrote a few paragraphs earlier: The joy of the message transforming into the grief at the brokenness that makes that message so sweet.
The thing that causes the joy IS the brokenness. How can you know rescue if you’ve never known slavery? How can you savor the sunshine if you’ve never felt the cold rain? We are first guilty, then pardoned through this amazing grace – If we don’t understand the ‘guilt,’ how can we soak in grace? How can we know just how ‘amazing’ it is?
In The Dark Knight Rises, when Batman defeats Bane, it’s obviously awesome, but it’s only awesome because he had been broken first. His back, his spirit, his will were left in pieces. He had to get up, had to fight. His struggle was not a sign of failure, it was the setting for the most beautiful victory.
There’s a saying, “Nothing worth having is ever easy,” and that’s mostly true. Maybe that’s why in our culture of comfortability, where everything is so superficial and disposable, we don’t have much thats ‘worth having.’
It’s hard to stay married. It’s hard to stay healthy. It’s hard to examine ourselves. It’s very hard to grow. It’s hard to continue…
We have to acknowledge that we are broken (and I know that’s a terrible discovery) before we can be fixed. But in the repaired version of ourselves, we are stronger, deeper, better on the other side than we thought was possible.
Had I known how difficult it would be, I would’ve probably changed things.
I’m so thankful I didn’t.

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