The Sacred Space of Sorrow

As I walked to my car the smile that had been frozen on my face started to slip down. I quickly climbed into the driver’s seat and turned the car on. The tears began flowing instantly.

With vision clouded by tears I somehow managed to get myself home crying out to Papa the whole way home. I unleashed fury. I unleashed sorrow. I unleashed disappointment. I unleashed discouragement. I let it all come raging out.

So when I pulled up to my house and put my car in park I felt the familiar numb settle in. The deadening of my heart beginning. The fortress walls growing taller and taller. I sighed, wiped my tears and went inside.

It all felt wrong. It felt angry. It felt hopeless. It felt lonely. It felt scary.

I wish I could say morning brought relief. But morning seemed to only bring more sorrow. The overwhelming anger started to suffocate and I didn’t know how to breathe. In a sick twist of irony I had flashbacks to this same suffocation in February. This same hopeless place. This same feeling of teetering on the edge of explosion. This same place that ended when I met him.

I raged at my Papa all day.

why did you give me this desire if you refuse to fulfill it? is this a game to you? is the deepest longing of my heart intended only to be something that haunts me? what? what do you want from me? 

and I’m certain He wanted to tell me.

But I was hard. I turned deaf ears to the situation. I didn’t want to choose trust and faith and truth. I wanted to be angry and pout and throw a temper tantrum. Surprisingly there haven’t been many of those on this side of the break-up. Anger at Papa hasn’t been present as I’ve processed.

So when it showed up, it caught me almost as off-guard as the rage that came crashing down at him not very long ago.

I let myself be swallowed up by the dark place. I let lies win. I let myself slip into the murky waters of hopelessness. There were less than a handful of people who knew the depth I was sinking into. They alternated between speaking truth and holding my hand as I sunk, making sure I knew they would pull me out if I started going too far.

So that night I just wrote to my Papa. I wrote about what hurt. I wrote about what disappointed me. I wrote about what made me angry. It was alot of “I have nothing Papa. I have no fight. There is nothing left in me.” I listened to three very specific things: two worship songs and one clip of a prophetic word that was spoken over me at the beginning of September.

As a final desperate act to look for the light, I chose these things to try and remind myself that morning comes. I didn’t have hope, I didn’t want to borrow hope, but I could listen to hope and pray that the Spirit would intercede for hope on my behalf.

And because our Papa is so gracious, He showed up with big love and gentle words and hope for me when I had none. He didn’t come take my suffocation and my sorrow and zap it away. He didn’t remove the thorn from my flesh. He only met in my dark nights of the soul and reminded me that He is constant and steady and true when my circumstances are not.

When the dawn broke the next morning I felt the suffocation ease a bit. My circumstances had not changed. My life was still on the same path as it was the days before. My heart was still full of sorrow. But the day was more bearable and the aching less all-consuming.

I took this back to my counselor earlier this week. Disheartened and confused I confessed that I had let darkness win. I could recognize and see and identify but I didn’t know how to fight.

So she offered me a way to find holiness in sorrow.

There is a sacredness when we come to our Father with our sadness and sorrow and hurt and emotion without an agenda. It is a space that exists where those things are found in their purest form because they are experiences that connect us to the suffering of Jesus.

But, my raging and fury and sadness came with an agenda. TAKE THIS FROM ME OR FULFILL IT I raged at Him that night.

She reminded me that Jesus prayed a prayer similar to that. He asked His Father to let the cup pass but “thy will be done.” She reminded me that often as part of our sanctification process we must walk into suffering to know Jesus in that way. And it’s not out of cruelty or retribution. It is out of the Father’s jealous love for us. His beautiful jealous perfect love.

My face crumpled and the tears came pouring out once again.

“That’s what I wanted to do that night. I wanted to meet Papa in my sorrow and my hurt and my fear and my sadness. I wanted to meet Him there and have it be okay.” I whispered.

But fear won.

As I sat on the couch and let my soul empty much of its sorrow, I found worship in the depth of my unfulfilled longings. I found worship in the ache. I found worship in the sorrow. I found myself stripped down to my frailty and my fear and my humanity. And I found a love that says its okay.

So as I’ve wiped sleep from my eyes in mornings since I find myself dumping my sorrow into the sacred space. Offering it to my Papa with no expectations other than for Him to continue to meet me there. And with unclenched fists, learning to grasp the weight and freedom of these words, I quietly whisper, “thy will be done.”

 

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Two Steps Back.

There’s a scar on my arm.

It’s shaped roughly like a boomerang.

In February I went in for a routine skin check-up and found out there were things happening that were anything but routine. So on a cold March day I went to the doctor and let them slice and scoop and take away the threat of an invasion.

But it left a scar.

An angry pink scar with edges slightly raised and an odd purple-ish tint when I get cold.

The worst part? The worst part is that the day those unnatural cells were carved from my body was the day he told me his secrets. It was the day he showed me his heart and the day I said it wasn’t too much. By the time we went to dinner that night I could barely lift my arm from the pain. To my chagrin he offered to cut my hamburger for me so I wouldn’t have to lift it.

Not long ago I had a follow-up check-in to make sure nothing else started causing trouble. The doctor looked at my angry pink scar and frowned. He noticed the end was raised and painful when he pressed. So he took some medicine and carefully injected it into the most sensitive part of the scar, sending medicine to the edges that hadn’t quite healed. It hurt in that moment and for a good bit after. It took about a week for the scar to smooth over but eventually it did. The pain gone, the raised markings smoothed with only a visual reminder of what had once been.

The past 10 days have been like that doctor’s appointment.

My mending heart was smooth without bumps or bruises, pain or pinching. Visually there are marking of what once was, of what happened, of something that seemed normal but had to be removed. And yet to the trained surgeon’s eye, all was not quite well with the scar. It could still be better.

So my heart had to undergo the painful prick of the needle and the stinging of the medicine to finish the work started many months ago. I chose to have the Surgeon look at it. Chose to have Him heal it. Chose to have Him make it better. I could have left well enough alone with a painful bump always reminding me of that past, what I lost, what I went through.

Where it feels like two steps back it’s actually a painful step in the right direction — the direction of healing. And the best surgeons will tell you that all scars don’t heal the same way. And my guess is that neither does the heart.

However the process is not easy or fun. In my moments of pain it can feel like the scar has broken open like the day it was cut. Even if it is untrue and its just an old aching wound, it feels like it did with that very first slice. But just like the scar on my arm, the scar that only goes layers deep but most of the time doesn’t hurt, I know that in just a few moments this pain will pass too. And occasionally I’ll find myself running my fingers over the smooth scar marveling at what it was, what it became, and what it is now. And I can only hope and pray and watch for my heart’s scars to become the same.

Sometimes when it hurts again it doesn’t mean you’re back to where you were… Just figuring out where to go now.

Are We Out of the Woods Yet?

Eek. A month + since I wrote.

The last month I’ve been letting my heart open and close, say hello’s and goodbye’s, and tentatively ease back into the world. The four weeks that have gone by held two of the last moments of the last 8 months. I was unsure of how they would play out, of how I would turn out, of how it would all clear out.

The first one, my birthday, I seemed to survive relatively unscathed. The people who love me and know me and do life with me surrounded my days with grand gestures and sentimental sayings. I was never alone to think about the what if’s and the phone call that never came. I was thrown into the beginning of my 28th year with laughter and love.

The second was one I dreaded from that awful terrible night.

But I have to back up because it may not make sense. With space and time I’ve come to see that there was a beginning to the end. Yes, it was sudden. No, I did not see it peeking up with the sunrise. But like I said, with time, I can trace back the roots of the moment a seed was planted. It began not long after I bought tickets to a football game.

Football is not something I have ever been passionate about. I didn’t understand the rules, the teams, the colors, or even that the yellow line isn’t really there. My lack of passion was a small deal to the (ex) Boyfriend because he was a collegiate football player. I was open to learning and he was excited to teach me. However, we never made it to football season.

On a sweltering summer day, I heard about these mysterious “half-priced Broncos tickets.” I didn’t really understand but I quickly devised a plan to surprise the (ex) Boyfriend with tickets. I worked around his schedule, shooting for the end of October, never imagining that we would never attend that game. I bought them and kept the secret for all of 6? hours. When I told him after his bummer of a day, his reaction was not exactly what I hoped for, only sending me into a frustrated mood. My attempts at doing something special seemed futile and I couldn’t understand why he wasn’t excited.

So during that awful terrible night a few weeks later, I looked up with tear-filled eyes and pathetically asked “what am I going to do with the Broncos tickets?! I dont even like football!!”

Which meant that I had something to dread for another 3 months.

When I survived my birthday relatively unscathed I thought, okay, maybe this won’t be so bad. maybe i’m better? maybe.

I kept checking with my heart, asking it if we were in the clear? were we out of the woods? I stole the frantic pace and desperate questions from 1989 and asked my own heart. The silence was deafening. When that day came, when the night showed up and I sat in the stadium thinking about this night I had planned for him, for us, and the ultimate destruction that came from it all, I got so angry.

I got angry that he broke us.

I got angry that he wasn’t there.

I got angry that I wasn’t enough.

After the anger bubbled to the surface and eventually exploded, I remembered that I am a better woman today than I was a year ago. I remembered that I am a better woman today than I was 6 months ago. I am a better woman today than I was 3.5 months ago. I remembered that I am better for the Kingdom today than I was with him.

And he was part of that.

He was one of the best and the worst things that ever happened to me.

I love him for the good. I forgive him for the bad. And I let go of the rest.

So, heart, are we out of the woods?

It’s Time to Act Like a Bride.

Tomorrow is my birthday. Tomorrow I begin (what I’ve decided is) my late twenties. Which is terrifying.

I never thought I would be where I am at this age. I never thought I’d be childless, single, working outside of the music industry. I just couldn’t have imagined it. In fact, if you hear weeping today it’s probably my 21 year old self. But what I’ve decided is that I would not trade this moment for anything else.

Because this year, especially the last 10 weeks, have made me into a better version of myself. A version that loves Papa more and trusts His heart and is settled.

This summer, one of the things the (ex) Boyfriend and I talked about was plans for my birthday. I was so excited, even then, to think about celebrating with him. For the first time in many years I couldn’t wait for my birthday. He let on that he had already been thinking about it and preparing for it. So as I’ve moved further away from that awful terrible day, I find my days are so much easier. Except when I bump into things we had planned. Like my birthday. Thankfully, there are only two other things we had planned other than this week. So even those begin to wrap up.

I’ve been aware of the space in my heart and waiting to see if sadness creeps in. But so far my heart continues to look forward with hope. And on that note, I want to share something with you all about my thoughts on future dating.

If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you know I have lots of thoughts on the notion of pursuit. Is it okay for a woman to pursue, why aren’t men pursuing, if he doesn’t pursue me but says he likes me is this a relationship… etc.

Pursuit is a tricky thing.

I think there is a fine line between letting a man pursue you and letting a man know you’re interested. And now I know there are even more rules for pursuit when you’re in a relationship. I think the majority of pursuit belongs to the man; but in relationships we women need to do our fair share of pursuing as well. It just looks very different.

That was one of my favorite things about the speed at getting into a relationship with The (ex) Boyfriend. He pursued me well and quickly and made it clear he wanted to date me and only me. I then felt safe to pursue him back. But he did the chasing in the beginning.

He did the texting and the calling and the date-planning. Eventually we settled into a rhythm and I began to pursue his heart as well. I wanted to know his favorite color and his hopes and dreams. I started to plan occasional dates and be the first to text. He still led, mostly because he’s a strong man who thrives in leading, but I felt like I got to come alongside of him and make it more of a partnership.

I understood what we were doing and I was happy to learn this new role. A role I had never gotten to play before. When we broke up I remember sobbing at the thought of starting the dating process all over again. Because the truth is that I’m fantastic at pursuing but terrible at being pursued. I like everything out on the table, knowing what I’m getting in to, not letting there be any room to wonder or assume. Which absolutely could be a control issue. I’ll own that.

But it makes me feel safe.

Being pursued is scary and not something I get to control and risky.

So you know what my counselor said when I told her I was excited to open my heart up to love again but had overwhelming anxiety at getting to know people and waiting to see if they picked me?

She said, “Hey. Guess what. It’s time to start acting like a Bride. It’s time to let HIM run down the aisle to YOU. Let his heart be so overcome and so drawn to Christ in you that He chases you down. Stop trying to prove to a man that you’re worthy of love. He needs to prove some things to you now.”

And guys, she’s 100% right.

Sometimes I forget that I am the beloved. I am precious. I am seen. I am known. I am loved beyond my wildest dreams. I am worthy of pursuit.

Now hear me out, there is a fine line, ladies, between knowing our worth and acting entitled. Being confident of these things does not allow us to walk around like we are God’s gift to men. But it does allow us to trust that Papa desires earthly pursuit for us the way He pursues us.

Sure, I have different fears now that I did before. I have a few more battle wounds and a couple of scars. But I also have a confidence in what I want and who I am. The thought of falling in love again doesn’t scare me. The waiting scares me. The potential rejection scares me. The starting over scares me. But once again my counselor reminded me that I am not who I was the last time I did this. Now I have the tools to face fear and anxiety and uncertainty.

And I also know what it feels like to be pursued.

And that makes it more than worth it. Because it’s a beautiful thing.

My prayer lately has been that a man would be so focused on Papa and hearing His voice that my name is whispered into his heart. I’ve got friends who want to set me up and online dating options and maybe even a friend or two as potential options. But what I want is the Ultimate Matchmaker to softly say my name to someone who wants to build the Kingdom with me and is crazy about Papa. The rest of it, well we can figure all of that out together.