by Stories of Renewal
April 4, 2016
4 min read
If asked a few months ago to describe my story, I probably would have said it looked like a coastal community right after a hurricane: frameworks and foundations standing but with debris scattered everywhere. That’s been the past few years actually: a heartbreaking and yet surprisingly stunning hurricane. And, last Fall, after trying hard to hold things together, I hit a wall.
Exhaustion took the place of creativity and kicked vision to the curb. I felt paralyzed by decisions and entirely unclear of what to do or where to go next. Dreams and passions felt distant and almost impossible to articulate, yet at the same time so deep, real, and almost hauntingly alive.
I never thought that weakness and brokenness would start to feel like my normal.
It’s hard to describe a place where your heart feels like it’s been repeatedly bashed against the rocks as being the same place where it has come more fully alive. A place where, like wildflowers sprouting in war-zones, tears would mingle with laughter, and together testify–against all odds–to the unexpected beauty that can sprout and grow out of such pain.
I think there’s something about the love of God that we struggle to understand until we’ve walked through loss or death. Whether it’s the death of people we love, death of our ideas about what life could or should look like, death of dreams, or the death of thinking that we can be strong and hold it all together, the messiness of life crashes into our false ideas of strength and resolve, and we find ourselves feeling hopeless.
For me, it was a combination of losing my Dad and a long list of family members to cancer, it was a long-term injury and on-going health-issues. It was the academic, mental, physical, and emotional burnout that came from the pressures (internal and external) of international and local ministry, graduate studies, work, and life. None to the isolation of another, but working together to form well, a “perfect storm” of sorts.
I don’t think the gospel highlighting stories about dead things coming alive again and wildflowers sprouting in deserts mattered to me until I needed those pictures. Until I was sick, tired, and broken, and the only thing that mattered to me were the promises of a God who was with me and for me, regardless of how much things felt like they were falling apart. It’s here where I was, and continually am, captivated by the love of the Father who knows exactly where I am, and constantly invites me to make myself fully at home and satisfied in His love.
And in this love, I’m coming alive again.
In this freedom–never earned but only embraced–I’m learning to run again and in ways I have never run before. I’m learning what it actually means to love and be loved. I’m learning that love isn’t something you can earn, that love doesn’t run or hide when things get messy, and that the idealism of perfection is both impossible and entirely overrated. I’m seeing that God really does turn mourning into dancing and weakness into shouts of joy, even when those thing unfold in ways and timelines that are different than we may have chosen ourselves.
And, perhaps most freeing and beautiful of all is that I’m seeing and learning and living in the reality that this deep and audacious love of God really does make all things new.
Hello Hurricane: You can’t silence this love.
photo by kevin jacob