Kara’s Collection: Worn Paths

From an article originally posted January 28, 2014…

I can’t escape it—I’m needy, everyone around me is needy, there is just no fighting it. Yesterday, one friend was headed into exploratory surgery while another one was flying to the bedside of her mama in her last beautiful moments in this place. Last week was an unbelievably humbling week where the strength I thought I knew faded into abyss of yuck. I was brought beautifully low, and from that place I have enjoyed grace in a new way. I see before me my need and weakness.

Today I went to my oncologist and frankly discussed my future, how my treatment plan will go forward, and the remaining treatment options available to me. He’s pleased with my current treatment, and feels that it is actually reversing some of my cancer. Two places that previously showed cancer on my PET scan now look to be clear. We both struggled through future looking as snorts carry with them a lot of radiation exposure. We concluded that it is a necessary evil for now with the aggressive nature of my cancer. I have a peace with the plan, but the reality is still a tough pill to swallow. He said I would probably not have surgery options in the future, that my fighting will be with hormone suppressants, radiation, and chemo. A trio of hard. Not exactly what I wanted to hear, but grace will be there. I know it will meet me if it comes to that.

After my appointment, I was sitting in the car talking to a friend about my appointment, when a man came around the corner of a coffee shop. He looked at me, shrugged his shoulders and reached in his coat for a giant bottle of whiskey. He drank deeply, then returned to his coffee. His face was tired, and his clothes were worn and battered. This man knew, he knew me, and I knew him. Both at the end ourselves in different ways, and both confronted at a young hour of the day with our neediness and brokenness. But each of us traveling a different path with our brokenness. He scared me, because I knew not exactly how he traveled his journey to broken, but I know the path well.

Life can be so hard, and the journey towards hope sometimes feels cloudy. My peace is often robbed, and I forget to rest in Christ. I need reminding, I need the truth placed constantly before me. The hunt for grace, and resting in the finished work of Jesus sometimes feels to hard, and creature comforts seem easier. Like the world-torn man drinking his comfort, I drink mine with busy-going, people, food—endless amounts of stuff fill that place. But the labor of quiet, the work of slowing, the looking for grace...Well, as simple as it is, is sometimes impossible.

Brennan Manning knew the struggle in this life. He knew the struggle to move toward grace and rest in Christ. Life in the living was complicated and hard for him as it is for me and the man at the coffee shop.

Getting honest with ourselves does not make us unacceptable to God. It does not distance us from God, but draws us to him-as nothing else can- and opens us anew to the flow of grace. While Jesus calls each of us to a more perfect life, we cannot achieve it on our own. To be alive is to be broken; to be broken is to stand in need of grace. It is only through grace that any of us could dare to hope that we could become more like Christ.
— Brennan Manning

This needy broken place, this unknown, hard, scary place of fear is the place that drives me to grace. This brokenness keeps me in a place expecting grace, needing grace, and waiting at the feet of the one that gives love. In my weakness, I travel many roads looking for the comfort only Jesus can provide. Roads of anger, gluttony, laziness, selfishness, control—they all leave me wanting. They all leave me void of real peace, but I have worn the path of trying to find those comforts. They are not overgrown paths from my avoidance of them. No, these paths toward comfort and away from real peace and grace are well tended—often walked paths in my life. I grieve how well tended these paths really are. I will keep looking for grace. I will not tire of resting in Jesus for peace, but I need help in the journey. I need community and the gentle care of those who know my heart. I need to be shepherded away from the creature comforts I seek that leave me void. Life—this living—is too hard to do alone. I’m such a weakling. Today’s mention of my cancer, my limited treatment options, future looking for this sneaky-aggressive crap cancer left me wasted and weary. But, no matter the broken state I come to Jesus, He’s always, always, always there to love me with Himself.

I have a community of such tireless friends and family that do not weary of my weary. I’m unbelievably indebted to their love and grace. I cannot do this living without their love and pointing me toward grace.

What paths of comfort do you travel to mask your own brokenness? How has community reminded you of grace when you have grown weary of looking for it? How has Jesus met you with Himself when you were tired of yourself?