[I have been stuffed full of words for so long, I thought they would pour out of me onto this blog, but this week, as I have been sorting through the thousands and thousands of words I have written over the past year, I got a little stuck. Which ones do I share first? Share at all? maybe they’re a little bit too dark? Too sad? Too hopeless? Too intense?
It’s hard to share words you wrote yesterday, that no longer resonate today. That you’re not even sure if they’re true. But I know they are real – the feelings and the thoughts were real. So, I’m going to start a new tag: ‘Words from the Wilderness.’ (Let me be clear – not words FOR the wilderness. But words FROM.) These are words I’ve written over the past 15 months. Some represent how I feel today, and some certainly do not.
Spoiler alert: some of them are dark. Good news: their darkness doesn’t change who God is at all. Don’t be threatened by wrestling words. Ever. And I promise I won’t either. If God can handle Job in the whirlwind, and if He can tolerate David’s dark days recorded in the Psalms – then I know He is not afraid of the words that have whirled within me.
My hope is that these writings from the wilderness will give you courage. Some of you the courage to finally grab someone next to you and tell the truth: that you’re a mess, that you’re afraid, that you are angry with God, that you’re not sure you believe in God at all. Some of you the courage to listen without panicking, to sit with the wrestlers and the weepers and learn to enter the pain without trying to fix.
They won’t be in any order. I have no idea how many I will post or when I will post them. But let’s start with these words – written on a day when I realized that an increase in pain didn’t actually mean I was getting worse.
The more devastating the wound, the less you feel immediately. Your body shuts down in severe injury. Feeling the pain isn’t functional – the damage is too wide and extreme for pain to help you take action, it’s not constructive and it is more than you can bear – So your body, designed by a gracious and loving Father, shuts down that part of your brain that registers the hurt.
It’s a coping mechanism that is designed to give you enough time to adapt to a distressing situation.
Some of us latch on to denial and refuse to let go, even when it’s time for a new grace: the grace of pain that prompts you to grieve, process, heal. If it’s healthy denial will at some point give way to crashing ocean waves of pain. But, if when tragedy comes and you feel unaffected and able to move on with your life and months and months later – this still stands true – it might be time to evaluate if you have misused a great gift. Denial is like a bandage that’s supposed to be applied to a wound to stop the bleeding, but at some point, it must be removed so that you can deal with the wound.
I would live in denial if I could. I’m happy to shove the cotton wool into the wound and just leave it there. Let the skin heal over it. And even though I know the truth – that years from now that will actually limit the functionality of that part of my body – the cost/benefit analysis leaves me foolishly grasping for anything that will minimize the pain.
But in His great grace, He hasn’t let me do that. Trust me, it’s not me who longs to wake up and face the fresh pain of a situation. It’s not me who is eager to deal with what has happened. It’s a loving Father, who lets me sit with my face pressed to his chest for as long as I need, shutting out the world and it’s hardship, but then, eventually, He shifts me around in and holds me tightly even as He ask me to look at the wreckage around me.
He breaks down my denial – with small puncture holes at first – just cracks – letting the pain come in slowly, until eventually He has removed the veil altogether and I look up to find that together we are facing things I never believed I could face.
When you wake up in such pain that you can’t quite catch your breath – it feels like you’ve grown weaker, it feels like the walls are crumbling down and you’re being overwhelmed by something you’ve been holding back until now, but that’s not what’s happening. You’ve grown stronger.
When the pain rushes in, receive the encouragement. Your blood has clotted. It doesn’t feel like it. It feels like it’s getting worse, feels far more painful now, as the great Surgeon begins to treat the wound, but it’s because some kind of healing has already begun.