This whole thing, start to finish, is not about me. This existence, this space on earth I occupy, these moments of intersection into other people’s lives, this whole thing called life is not about me. Counter to culture’s doctrine, I am not the hero of the story. I am an underscore, a shadow, a very fuzzy reflection of a brilliant reality. I am ashamed to admit I am fighting this truth tooth and nail lately. I know this truth. I teach it to my girls. I believe it. But I almost always shrink from the courage to live it. I want to have an edited picture, filtered, in focus, one that will earn plenty of approval. Because I am just that good. The only problem with that sort of picture is, that is a lie, I am not that good.
You see, there are three great sorrows in my life. My daughter’s health complications, my little boy’s death, and one of a very personal nature. Of the three, the first two blasted places of pain have a breeze in them that smells of spring, and there is a blanket of soft new growth peeking through the soil. I know I will, and often already do, call these dark events the greatest blessings of my life. The third is a mystery yet to me. It seems as if this one personal war is a prism, the slightest move or it casts the light a different way. I am certain there is much good here, and yet there is so much sadness. There are broken dreams, lost years, hard memories, and so many tired hopes. I can’t seem to understand this third strand of the story of my life. I can’t seem lay hold on what the conclusion of that part of the story will be. Perhaps there will be no definitive story line, perhaps the days will continue to melt into years and the years will bring me to my end never knowing the certain point of this last third strand. I know of the three hardships, this personal one has been, and is, the hardest. It has marked me the most, it has changed me for the better, and it has isolated me as nothing else could. It is the silent one of the three, not to be spoken of, not to be known, not to be permitted public sorrow. I think that is why it chafes me so much more than the others, I am not to speak of it. I cannot use it for some little good except in the most clandestine of ways. The ongoing strain seems to be such a waste. If I could only say without shame, I am what I am for having been abandoned by a dream, and picked up in the tenderest of ways by the God I call mine. Perhaps if others knew, it might help them find courage to rest themselves on an identity founded upon the Rock that is a shelter to the weary, a foundation in the storm, and faithful through all the ages. I hope one day, I might have a story braided together of these three strands, complete and beautiful, one that I can share, one that makes much of Christ, for He is the hero of my story.
I am choosing to be embarrassingly honest right now, because lately I keep finding myself in conversations with hurting people, conversations that echo eerily of a past I never want to visit again. I find myself listening to a stunned voice, reeling in shell shock over a security that has imploded, staring at a life looking nothing like the one planned, stumbling in a no mans land nowhere near the destination of “victory in Jesus.” This is a shock I know well, so well that I know the answer beyond all doubt. Grab that person’s hand, and desperately run to Jesus as fast a possible. Help them see the goodness in His touch, the kindness in His voice, and the radical contrast between knowing about God, and sitting at peace in His presence. It is safely in the iron fortress of the Father’s hand, completely out of control, and free from the false security of good behavior, that an individual and God must settle this question. What if the answer to this heartache, this problem, this shock is a permanent no?
When Jesus spoke to Martha after her brother died, in her moment of soul shattering sadness and questions, He reminded her who He was, and challenged her with a question. Do you believe me, right here, right now, in this no, Martha? What if Lazerous is dead and that is the end of this story on earth? Will you trust me then? Do you believe I am enough life for even this? God cannot embarrass Himself by allowing a thing that is all wrong. And I will never find myself embarrassed for having trusted Him with the thing that is all wrong. His no is not an accident. His question pierces the silence in my soul today. The same way He questioned Martha, He asks me, He asks any hurting one, Do you believe me for this no? Am I enough life for this?
I will have to answer this question ever single time I find myself reeling from a fresh disaster. I will have to look at my sorrows, and my disappointments, and my broken pictures, and I will have to decide. If this is no, permanently, will I choose life? Or will I cling to these things that have wounded and hurt me? Will I worship the questions, the fears, and the doubts? Or do I worship the Way through this, the Truth of this, and the Life in this? Who or what will form my identity? The things that have happened, or may happen, to me. Or the person I actually am in Christ. I cannot have both.
I am not redeemed because of the good I can produce in my own life or the life of another. I am redeemed because I am hopelessly broken, helpless to do good, and fully dependent on the saving grace of a perfectly holy God. I choose life. It is only after I have made this choice that I can move forward and grow. Growing is the outward demonstration of a faith in the God who is Life. Life is active, it moves forward. I am not that women anymore, I am this one. I have loved and lost. I have fought and lost. I have strove for perfection, and it nearly poisoned my soul. Here I stand, broken yet whole. I know who I am. I know what has happened. I know my secrets the outside will never know. Let others endlessly scramble for an image. I will rest in reality. I will own my skin, scars and all. I will own my decisions, and stand by them as choices I made, not inflicted upon me by the will of another. I will enjoy my blessings with gratitude, and do diligence to maintain a careful memory of them. I will look nothing like perfection, and I will love it, for it is my daily reminder of my need for Jesus.
Why? Because this is the life that God has given me. Today, this situation, this mess, this is mine. I will thrive in it. I will find my song in it. I will work to be the best one of this kind of mess the world has ever seen. Why? Why not! I have the power of Christ in me. I have the all the grace for all the victory that I can ever need. Jesus Christ is bigger than an image, degree, job, status, or success. Jesus Christ is bigger than this. I will be this person who He knows personally, and for whom He died individually. I will not wish to be someone else. That is not my life, they are not me, and I was given something special and hard and valuable. I was given a diamond of a life, rare, unique, and beautiful. I will blossom in this, because I have Life in me. Jesus Christ suffered a pain intended to free me fully and completely, not partially, not somewhat, not so that I could feel secure in my own goodness, or so that I could rise in the esteem of someone else. That cross was meant to be the theme of my story. I will not be gagged by guilt’s accusations of a sin debt Christ has already paid. I know who I am. I am Christ’s, and I will live like this is not about me. This truth focuses the picture, sets the lighting flawlessly, and makes it worth showing.
John 11:26-27 Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?