(A repost from the archives)
I used to think I had all the answers.
Someone would say something- I couldn’t even wait until they ended their sentence before I was interjecting and admonishing and advising.
When I failed, fell down, messed up…perfectionism haunted me. I should have done better, known better, worked harder, been better.
When you’ve come to the end of yourself, when you no longer can run on your own power, when the well has run dry, and all of your so-called answers echo in the stillness…
That is when the real work begins.
I’m going to let my nerd show a little bit, peeking out from under my skirt like a lacy slip. I love Star Trek: The Next Generation. (I know! I know. You’ll still pretend like I am somewhat normal, won’t you?) There is an episode called “Darmok”, in which there is a communication breakdown of sorts. Our hero, Captain Picard, grows increasingly frustrated. He can tell that the alien is trying desperately to communicate; the universal translator can’t make heads or tails of it, but the Captain is noticing an odd familiarity in the rhythms of speech. By the end of the show (as any good tv show can), Picard has realized that the alien race speaks entirely in allusion and metaphor to past events—basically, to tell the present story (to Picard), the alien is telling a past story from his heritage. When Picard finally “gets” it— the relief is palpable. I have been heard. Someone knows my story.
For some reason, this story line, this episode, has echoed through my thoughts of late.
I have spent nearly two years in a storm. In the last three or so months, I have turned into a quiet harbor where peace reigns. While I probably wouldn’t have made the choice to spend so much time in the silence on my own, I clearly needed the time to decompress and listen. I know it won’t be long until I will have to leave the harbor behind, and I want to scribble out some of the things I have been learning.
There have been long stretches of time where God is telling me His story- at least, His story in relation to me, His love story over me. I think if we really took the time to be still and listen to this Song, we would be on our knees and in tears of awe around the clock. As it is, we sort of sip gently from the edges because that kind of love feels like a raging torrent- terrible, wonderful, all-encompassing. Overwhelming. I am not sure how I feel about it most days…it seems too much. And yet, at the same time, I feel as if our Lord is a gentle father, holding the cup for me, gently tipping it and watching so that none spills.
I have been listening carefully to the stories of those near and dear to me. Stories of storms, loss, redemption, worry, fear.
The two strands of stories are intertwining in my head.
I look back over the wreckage and rumpus of the last few years, and I realize that it is not wreckage at all- and that there is a very clear, distinct path through it all. I couldn’t have seen it in the fray of battle, in the midst of storm, but it seems so obvious to me in some ways that I sort of laugh to think of what I thought at the beginning, where I thought it was all going. When I thought I knew all the answers.
If there is one lesson I have learned over this time in my life, it has been simply this.
We humans, we are broken ragamuffins in need of a Savior, deeply scarred by sin, desperately in need of redemption. And each of us, no matter how ‘perfect’ we appear to be at the outset, are passing through storms. As Kelly has noted, it is always amazing and scary to meet someone in the crashing waves that is going through an unfathomable storm that we can’t even begin to wrap our heads around- loss of a child, loss of health, loss of so many stripes and colors…on the one hand, we feel comforted that we are not alone, that sorrow is not ours alone to bear- and on the other hand, we are terrified that we won’t be able to bear that other person’s storm and are so grateful for what little we are facing.
But it doesn’t change the stormy weather to know that.
We still have to pass through the storm.
If the storm comes to all of us, then, why, why as believers, as lovers of God, are we so quick to push one another under the waves?
It troubles me deeply.
I confess all the times I have pushed others under, have drowned them with my blathering nonsense, my crisp judgments, my failure to love.
I also acknowledge all the many times I have come to deep harm and pain at the hands of another believer, how lonely and abandoned I have felt in a sanctuary, how awful it is to feel that no one hears, no one understands.
And it occurs to me, that like Dathon,the alien, I think that that we just want our stories to be heard. Not analyzed, not planned out, talked up. Just heard. So that someone knows.
And how simple it ought to be to listen, and isn’t.
How simple it ought to be to love, and isn’t.
How simple it ought to be to rest in Grace, and isn’t.
I feel like I have even less answers now then when I started. I feel a bit bereft in this, that I am out in the ether now, standing on a Rock with fog swirling about. But I hear your voices calling in the fog, and I don’t feel so alone.