A conversation

It happens most often in church, sometimes during live music, in an environment of conscious and corporate listening that the pain of my spirit gets so overwhelming, I am in danger of turning into a yowling mess in front of large numbers of people. Unconsciously, sometime over the past few years, the alternative has been to focus all of my attention on another source of pain...right-hand fingernails digging into the soft flesh of my left inner elbow, the least obvious way to exercise the need for a pain I can feel physically, a pain I can control. I can focus on it, break the control the wave of emotion has on me.

A few days ago, it was because of the sermon, which was about being a fisher of men. "Sometimes being a faithful witness," said the pastor, "is as simple as sharing what God is doing in your life." Tears prickled in my eyes. My arms folded, my right hand slipped a little way up the sleeve that covers my left arm. Short fingernails grip, bite into soft flesh just inside the elbow, where the needle scars from blood donation are.

What God is doing in my life? 

I imagine a conversation:

"Can I share with you what God is doing in my life? God seems to have spent past 14 years answering no to the deepest desires of my heart. Sometimes it seems like a taunt, intentional. You think you want this bread? Oh, dear! It's just a stone, painted to look like bread! Chip a tooth, did you?"

P1012289"Slowly, one by one, he seems to be taking away each of my most supportive friendships by giving them the exact gifts that I so desire, and have desired for so long. I see dear friends uplifted, encouraged, cared for, welcomed into new families, welcoming new life into the world. I see them growing into gracious, sweet, strong women, enriched and rooted, and I long for those gifts in my tumbleweed life."

"And each day that passes seems to make ridiculous my faith, such as it is. And yet God continues to say wait--which is really another no--to my heart's deepest desires for connection and family and love, for growth and encouragement, caring and being cared for, sharing a future."

I imagine the person I am 'witnessing' to about what God is doing in my life blinking blankly back at me. 

"Well, that doesn't sound like anything I'd want to be a part of. Why do you keep listening to him?"

P1012335I don't know. I don't know...except maybe because of the fact that unnecessarily beautiful places like Hawaii are on the map, and I am allowed to go there, and because of salty, turquoise ocean swims, and strong, hot coffee, and fresh pineapple, and long showers. Except because of the shiny Sunday faces and the soft, small hands of my friends' little ones, their smiles full of openness and trust. Except because of wine and worship and communion and food raves with friends. Except because of my garden and my kitchen and my studio, the holy common places He has put in my life. Except because of the sun on my skin and the feel of the brisk autumn breeze, the turning of the season, the temporary sweetness with the knowing tang of harvest bitterness in each bite of fresh fall apple. 

It's something beyond circumstances and comforts--I am subject to both beauty and bitterness, and whatever it is that I feel has been unfulfilled in my life is ever overwhelmed by the abundance of all that I have been given in life with Christ, and in his view of me, it is only the gold of gratefulness that survives the Refiner's fire.

My punishing grip of control lessens just a little as the wave of emotion breaks again on the forbidding shore of Trust.



sara said…
this is beautiful honesty.
Kony said…
made me tear up a little. or maybe a lot. love you jana. miss you lots.