from an article originally posted August 4, 2014...
Something in my heart knew this week at church would be something different. Jason was living near to his heart last week. We enjoyed the beauty of a lot of shared tears throughout the week. We wondered over our story in a new way. We let ourselves look upon our story in a way we had avoided. I can tell when Jason is uneasy with a sermon—it’s going to be my favorite. Before he went to preach, I turned to him and asked him how he was feeling; he was already in tears. He simply looked at me and said, I feel very raw today.
Halfway through the sermon, my friends behind me were sitting with their heads between their knees, listening, crying, praying. At the end of the sermon, that dear friend simply walked up to Jason, and hugged him and thanked him for sharing from his heart. Braving his broken. Letting down his guard. It mattered. It mattered to the broken in the crowd. Which I think included everyone.
Isn’t that all of our story? But so few of us brave our beautiful brokenness. We gulp back the tears, move quickly into something that feels productive, and we numb ourselves to our pain. We numb ourselves in so many ways. I have tried every brand of numbing. Every way to avoid. There are moments, many moments I do not believe I have cancer. Jason and I still look at one another and simply say, This is not our story.
I am still working my way slowly through A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken. And what has captured my heart is their embracing of beauty. But to capture beauty, we must slow down to wonder upon it. Not simply drive by quickly for the snapshot of it. The calling of embracing beauty is the slowing to see it. Today my children are agitated at me because I have said no to screens. No to the numbing of mindless watching a thing. They are uncomfortable in the quiet. But slowly, slowly, I hear their imaginations building. But the cost is the painful constant asking for the numbing. Dolls have reentered the rooms, games have found a new forum for play, and my children are beginning, beginning, only beginning to enjoy the wonder of the coming thunderstorm upon the ridge.
I have held post beside my laundry love today. Three servant-hearted ladies have come and loved us with the deeper cleaning our house needed. But I have quietly folded the clothes of my loves. I have wondered over the love I know. I even curled upon my dryer-warmed robe and slept for a moment. I woke to the plunking on the piano and the choreography of a new play among my littlest. The unraveling of their beautiful imaginations.
It hurts to forego the numbing screens, the quick going, the endless entertainment, and to wonder. Wonder over the coming storm literally and figuratively. To wonder over the beautiful pain in our story, to wonder over the goodness that can come from quieting ourselves. To wonder over a God that is not unaware or unconcerned with the brokenness in my story. But rather, I get to wonder over a God that meets me, loves me, longs to hear from me in my brokenness.
I know last week Jason sat quietly before Psalm 3. Those eight verses that spoke of fear stared him in the face and left him uneasy. He knew he was being asked to preach close to his heart and not from a distance. It was beautiful and it was hard. After the sermon, I met the most beautifully broken stories. Stories that don’t come with a happy ending. I looked upon the beautiful face of a husband and wife that have tasted grief I cannot imagine. There was an unmistakable beauty to them. A beauty that will not accept simple answers to deep pain. But a longing to not brave their pain alone.
Today, today, I have wondered over their story. I feel so humbled that they braved a room where people didn’t know their story of unbelievable pain so near to the surface. Like us, they left church needing a nap. Needing quiet. The husband gently looked at his beautiful bride and said, I would like to return, and she looked at him through the haze of her grief and simply said, I would like a nap. I understood them both. We need community, and we need rest to brave true community. Community where our pain is left exposed. Community that enters our crying and walks together with us near to Jesus.
Needing to hear love in the quiet corners of a safe relationship, the quiet words that whisper I’m proud of your tears today. It was courageous of you to share them. It is my great privilege to speak those words to my love when he sat down after preaching an impossible text that asked him to look honestly upon his fears. Vulnerability takes energy, courage, and the overcoming of self and pretended strength.
Today, this day, I’m left quieted and thankful for my guy. He is being asked to walk a path I cannot imagine. His courage to walk his story in brokenness instead of anger leaves me in awe. God has been gracious to keep his heart so tender and soft. His courage to be broken leads me ever so gently on this rocky path. His broken courage gives me strength. Strength to be beautifully broken.
Tears are meant to be shared. Sometimes in a room full of people, and sometimes alone together. Some tears are meant to be poured out to Jesus, and some are meant to be shared with girlfriends. Some tears need to be followed by a nap and Mexican food. But braving tears... I always feel like tears shared are one of the greatest gifts I have ever shared with another.
Psalm 3 (my favorite parts)
But you, O LORD, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head.
I cried aloud to the LORD,
and he answered me from his holy hill.
I lay down and slept;
I woke again, for the LORD sustained me. Arise, O LORD!
Save me, O my God!
Salvation belongs to the LORD;
your blessing be on your people!
Do you allow a pace to see beauty? Do you let yourself enjoy enough quiet to hear and listen to your story? Do you brave your tears? Or does your brokenness scare you? Do you let your community see you, really see you? Or are you constantly testing those that love you? What would braving your tears look like for you today? To Jesus or to another?