i have my mug of hot coffee in hand and my face is warmed by the morning winter sun.
lately i’ve been so aware of my need to just sit in the warmth and comfort of God’s presence. to receive- with nothing in hand-not even the capacity to muster or pretend having it together. it’s been the strangest few months…nothing has made sense and i have felt irreparably flawed and more confused than usual. i started writing this in january and now it’s april. how !?
this past year has been a tough one regarding relationships. one of my darkest on record. ( thankfully, i don’t keep records.) but that’s how it all started.
and when it’s dark, it’s so easy to believe that the darkness defines me, especially when i have felt like a flawed failure.
old lies along with a few fresh ones have haunted my days and nights.
pulling hard at my tattered soul and causing me to question….everything.
i’ve described my state of being as that of a dismantled car strewn out on a driveway. parts here and there haphazardly as if a teenage boy whose wannabe mechanic skills have gotten him in way over his head. now there is just chaos and dismay. and a strange sense of helplessness.
even as i write this post, i have the sense of sitting cross-legged by the edge of this driveway with deep self-awareness at how i have spiritualized this process of being dismantled in the past. i feel the sharp elbow stab to the side as the Spirit is reminding me how i’ve been careless with my words of comfort when it comes to the process of transformation. the truth is, i’ve been told and admittedly have told others that being dismantled is a good thing , even a sacred thing. but i confess, it feels more terrifying than holy in this season.
it feels confusing and dark.
the darkness usually hits in the night. like a bony finger tapping me on the shoulder with accusing and suffocating shame. i see it for what it is. and even when i know it isn’t the truest thing about me, i feel utterly broken and carry a strong sense that i’m too difficult to love and not worth fighting for. i can’t seem to wriggle out from under this weight and can’t help wondering if i’ve opened a Pandora’s box in all my soul probing. or maybe i fell down a rabbit hole of sorts and can’t find my way back up to daylight. my heart wonders, is God anywhere in this darkness ? i don’t have answers but i’ve been desperately looking.
my side table by the bed holds stacks of books that i’d hoped would stir my soul toward truth. but nothing did. finally in january i heard some words from author Brene Brown explaining the second step of looking at and owning our story as “the dark middle”. it’s that place we come to in our journey where we’re too far in to turn back but not far enough in to see the light. in military terms, it’s called the point of no return. wow, when i first heard those words, i felt like i wasn’t alone or crazy. in fact, this idea brought some context and validation to the mess i was feeling. but something in me still couldn’t muster or move toward God. and even in my whispered prayers He seemed silent.
the only word He gave me during this long year was… mercy.
it means lavish, generous compassion.
kindness that God himself extends to us out of His affection and benevolence toward us. i had forgotten how much i ached for it.
i first became acquainted with the longing for mercy many years ago in the midst of deep grief. during that time i had the real sense that something deep inside me had gotten severed and i was bleeding out. part of me had wanted to find the quickest cure and part of me couldn’t move. but no matter how much i wanted relief from the gutting pain, i had an awareness that my soul just needed tending to. and that’s what the mercy of God does. it takes us to the place where our most fragile human parts meet up with His most healing touch. and it covers us, like a cleft in the rock.
since those days of grief and sorrow, i see more clearly how pain and loss can be God’s kindest provision for the soul. i have learned to see the invitation to come empty and needy to the streams’ edge as a beautiful invitation, not a terrifying one. i see how this dismantling has roused my longing for God. i see now that He was covering me, even in the dark middle of my story as i wrestled through the transformation process. i see how all my broken, shameful and dismantled parts were, and are covered by the safety of His grace and love…no matter how far strewn they have become.
my words here in no way minimize the overwhelming sadness and despair i felt during this past year, but God has reminded me in the sweetest way again and again that the emptiness and anguish we feel are His most tender gifts. because when comfort or relief can’t be found in ordinary things, our soul-roots grow deeper for what God alone can offer. nothing else satisfies.
so here is what i know of sweet and beautiful mercy.
it finds us when we have nothing to offer. no ability to muster or perform or earn kindness , but we know it’s suddenly all we desperately need.
we cannot arrange for it. we cannot earn it and we certainly cannot pay it back. self- sufficiency and control have no seat at the mercy banquet. it’s only for the broken and needy. for those of us who are out of options, out of good books and out of strategies for living a spiritually good life. (check, check ,check)
mercy doesn’t ever rush us to get better either. it sits with us like Shiva grace that has no time line. it’s the invitation for us to come curl up by the streams of Living water- the place where the kindness of God tends to the brokenness in us for as long as necessary-all the while asking nothing in return but just to surrender and soak in the flood of mercy.
taking in every drop with every new day.
so Father come. come find me and find us when we feel gut-punch broken and flawed. when we feel unworthy. when we feel restless and taken apart at the seams.
mend us. cover us and pour out Your vast kindness on us that is new every morning.
we need mercy today and every day in this broken world we live in. it’s the only thing that stirs hope and lets a hushed hallelujah leave our lips amidst the darkness of night.
we are desperate for it, just like craving the warm winter sun on our face…
bringing with it fresh Life to our dry and weary (and sometimes scattered) bones.
The faithful love of the Lord never ends !
His mercies never cease.
Great is His faithfulness.
His mercies begin afresh each morning.
Father, thank you for teaching me what the gift of mercy feels like. even if the path to get there is messy, dark and crushing . i believe You are up to good in the dismantling always…even when i don’t understand or see how i will be put back together.
thank you for reminding me that You do Your best work in the dark where the sparks are often hidden.
after all, a holy collision is never a tidy affair.
source: Rising Strong by Brene Brown