Some Sundays I question what on earth possessed me to set myself the intentional goal of these weekly posts.
This questioning has been particularly acute the last few weeks (which is why there hasn’t been any). In fact, late Sunday night two weeks ago I opened my computer and all I managed to get onto the screen was ‘Shit happens’ … and something about ‘being more awake’- but I’ll get to that later.
At the end of that day all I felt was that chaos and mess and pain reigned over all the small bits of beauty I might have managed to spy. In fact the most beautiful moments I could consciously think of from the previous week turned out to be the most painful. Beautiful, but heartache, sick-in-my-stomach painful.
And why is that? I want/ed to know how, despite the hard work I’ve done and the grace of God, I still cannot see beyond the mess. Why was I feeling so intensely, and darkly, about witnessing an intimate, beautiful and holy moment?
It has taken me a while to even put thoughts into words, onto a page.
But two things have been coming to mind all week.
The first is:
“Out of these ashes beauty will rise”The line I am thinking of is not the verse from Isaiah- though that is a powerful reminder. I’m thinking of the line from a Steven Curtis Chapman album; an album he wrote after his five year old daughter was accidently killed by his youngest son. After listening to the album and reading his wife’s memoir, I believe the Chapman’s have begun to see beauty rising from what they saw as the darkest moment ever.
And that reminds me that the truth Isaiah proclaimed thousands of years ago is still true today. Despite the chaos and mess and pain, God is still working beauty. I’ve seen it it my own life on occasion and I see it in the lives of others. I need to remember those times, when I question my sanity and the absence of beauty.
As life goes on and I continue to struggle with my own brokenness, with the pain and chaos around me, I will trust that God is working…. I will look for the beauty rising in the morning.
Second: during a moment of raw emotion and brokenness (read snotty weeping and losing it) after worship the other Sunday, I told the two friends brave enough to sit with me that I didn’t want to go back there (severe depression and suicidal thoughts) again, I won’t be able to handle it, I said. “But it won’t be the same this time,” a friend encouraged. “You’re more awake this time.”
That phrase caught my attention and I’ve been mulling over it ever since. This particular friend has not known me very long, only a few months. She knows very little about my story, even the most recent parts. And so the words she spoke seemed prophetic.
I am more awake.
A couple of months a wrote in a blog:
“These days, though, I find myself feeling and breathing and releasing. Words reveal truths and pains and hope that I could not find elsewhere. They begin to tell the story that I have been safely locking up inside my heart…. I am beginning to breathe and feel and believe again. And I am so very grateful for the gift.”The greatest thing that my near- nervous breakdown last year accomplished, was to drag me out of the stupor I had adopted for many years- my survival mentality. It was, very literally, an awakening. To who God had created me to be, to how I can live with this ‘disability’. To the fact that beauty, my love of words and the mysteries of faith, and the intersection of these things, was what would save me from myself. (See On Noticing Beauty from October 2011)
Through the awakening I began to allow myself to feel deeply again and express those feelings. I began to write and form beauty of my own that I thought I’d lost the ability to create. And it was in this time I found the act of intentionally seeking out beauty was not just therapeutic, but essential for finding God in the mess.
Which led me to starting the “I Spy Beauty…” blogs.
And so I am more awake. And I am convinced that God is making beauty out of ashes.
And that is why each Sunday, even when shit happens, I need to sit down at my computer and share some of the beauty….