“I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong; by no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward- to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.”
It’s been a few months since I’ve written anything, and I have a pathetic excuse as to why.
Sure, as little man grows and develops his day to day care is definitely becoming a little more involved and he requires more direct attention. Matt is gone more with his new job, and Jamison continues to constantly seek engagement with the world around her (read: really loves to have all the attention all the time). All good things, and all things that make me crash at the end of the day in happy exhaustion.
But if I’m being more truthful, the reason I keep waiting to write is because I feel like I’m not ready. I keep waiting until I reach the pinnacle, the point where I can look back as an expert with a clear resolution on everything that has been happening for, well, the past 29 years. Right now especially I'm so in the middle of everything that I know nothing. I want to be able to write from the end of the story, knowing the beginning, the middle and end, and seeing the clear story line of my life.
Every year at New Years Eve I live for setting goals for the New Year. I love it. I love taking dreams, breaking them down into attainable goals, and coming alive as I work my way closer to where I want to be. This year when my friend Danielle was texting as asking about my New Year’s Resolutions, the biggest overall goal I could think of was grace. I’m tired. I’m so beyond tired right now. I have a million questions, am more uncertain than ever, and I'm worn out. And I want to give myself grace this year.
That includes grace to admit that I don’t have to know everything, and that I am no where close to any sort of attained perfection.
It would be so great to be the person who has it all together, and has the answers, but why I do I want to appear that way? It serves my own pride and does nothing else.
Maybe I want the illusion of having wisdom and a tidy ending when what others need to hear more is someone else coming alongside and admitting, “I don’t know either.”
“Sometimes I fear we believe we must have it figured out before we share. We must have crossed through that middle space, now having clarity and beautiful perspective, before we can share about the depths through which we waded to get to that other side...
Where are the stories of those in the thick of it, the ones who haven’t reached the other side of the valley yet? Where are the stories that say, ‘I’m here in the middle and if you are too, let’s do this together, because I haven’t figured it out, but maybe we can together.’ Why doesn’t anyone share that part?”
-Krystle Bowen, Edge of Wild
In the words of Katniss Everdeene, I VOLUNTEER AS TRIBUTE.
This is where I am writing from. This is where I am sharing from. I have no degree in theology, no profound resolution, no grey hairs (yet) as a crown of wisdom. I am a (please say it’s still young?) 29 year old baby raising babies and trying to love God and be more like him every day in every way I can.
The secret’s out: I have no answers. I do have a lot more questions, but as my questions increase my faith does as well. With every unanswered question, the more blindly I walk forward, and with every next step more trust in God rather than myself is required.
When I hold little man in my arms and watch him scream in pain while I try everything I can think of to lessen his discomfort I question God. Why does he left bad things happen? Why does my perfect son suffer because of another one’s decisions? Why does this innocent baby have to deal with so much? Why do friends of mine struggle for years to have children when so many have been abandoned?
The sermon at our church last week talked about the Israelite nation fleeing Egypt, and their journey to the promised land. As a kid, it was funny reading and hearing stories about the Israelites. They were totally stupid, amiright? It was pretty easy to laugh and think to myself that I’d never be that oblivious.
As an adult, it’s increasingly painful and reassuring to read about the Israelite people as a whole in the Old Testament because I am more and more aware with every year how similar I am to them. Thousands of years later and unfortunately there is not much new under the sun. For instance, their repeated offense of pleading to God as if their perspective and not his was the full and accurate measure of the situation. They pleaded with God to bring them back to slavery just moments before God was about to annihilate the entire army.
Most days here are happy and full and beautiful. But there are some days like yesterday when little man was in so much pain. Tears were streaming down both our faces, and the only thing I could think of was to take comfort in the fact that my perspective is not God’s. For all I know I am sitting here crying when 30 seconds from now it will all make sense; the very things that cause me to question everything are just pieces in a bigger story line that does make sense.
I am certain some many will mock for blind faith or blindly believing in things I don’t understand, they are right in my limited knowledge base. I don’t understand God, I don’t know why he allows or dictates tragedies, and there’s a lot of the Old Testament that goes right over my head. On the other hand, when you look at the people God chose to use in the bible for his purposes, a lot of time those people were also pretty suspect to downright dodgy characters so I’m in good company.
In one of my favorite songs by Rend Collective, the lyrics read:
In the shadows In the sorrows In the desert When the pain hits You are constant Ever-present You're the song of my heart
You're the joy joy joy lighting my soul The joy joy joy making me whole Though I'm broken, I am running Into Your arms of love
-Rend Collective, Joy
Those lyrics were the inspiration behind the name of this site. I do not want to sit here, paralyzed by the knowledge that I don’t know everything and won’t do everything perfectly. I want to live and write and do and try, knowing that I won’t do it perfectly and confident that God’s grace is sufficient and that his perspective is the only one that matters. I want to keep running, broken as I am, because even in the midst of this messy chaos his love fills my entire being with joy.
“We need to learn to err on the side of action, because we tend to default to negligence. So many won’t do anything unless they hear a voice from heaven telling them precisely what to do. Why not default to action until you hear a voice from heaven telling you to wait? For example: Why not assume you should adopt kids unless you hear a voice telling you not to? Wouldn’t that seem more biblical since God has told us that true religion is to care for the widows and orphans (James 1:27)?
One reason we don’t err on the side of action is the harsh criticism we receive when we fail. People are quick to point out action that ends badly. But we rarely recognize the sin of omission. We criticize the guy who fed too much sugar to starving children rather than criticizing the thousands who fed them nothing.
The servant who buried his master’s money rather than investing it like the other servants spared himself the embarrassment of a failed business venture. But his cowardice earned him the strongest rebuke: his master called him wicked, lazy and worthless (Matthew 25: 24-30). You don’t want to be the servant who does nothing out of fear of messing up. You may well make a mistake through misguided action, but you’re guaranteed to make a mistake by doing nothing.”
-Francis and Lisa Chan, You and Me Forever
So today I’m doing something. I’m writing. I’m sure it will be full of spelling and grammatical errors. I’m sure it will not be formatted correctly, or have theological holes, or only be read by my mom (who will blindly ignore all of that and still call me up to tell me I’m awesome. BLESS YOU MOM AND ALL MOTHERS OUT THERE).
I don't have any answers, or wisdom, or insight. I am fully in the middle of chaos. And that is ok.
It is ok because I know and trust a God who does hold all wisdom, answers, insight and grace in his hand. I love him and I know him even if I don’t understand him. I trust he has a plan that does have a beginning, a middle and an end. I trust that his resolution is the final resolution, that will bring clarity and sense and peace to everything that has happened.
In the meantime, I step forward, falling and failing with joy in my heart and certainty in what I do not always understand.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will direct your paths.”