August of 2010 brought a lot of changes to our lives. Caitlyn turned 4, my grandfather died, Patrice was born, Postpartum Depression and Anxiety barreled into my life,
That last one was an earthquake that shook it all, every last inch of me.
My mental upheaval lead to an unsettling in every part of my life. It’s honestly impossible to say which of the issues were the most distressing, but I can say the most shocking, the most unexpected, was the desolation it brought to my Christian walk.
Attending church became difficult. I still believed what I had grown up learning and knowing. I just didn’t know how, or if, it applied to me.
Slowly, step by step, I am making my way back. I am reading my Bible most days, I am sitting through sermons at church without feeling ill or trapped. Things were, and are, better. But, there is still a bit of hollowness, a fair amount of distance and knowing that something was just wrong.
It is like that word at the tip of your tongue, you know it, but you don’t. The harder you try to figure out the word, the more elusive it becomes.
My days continue. I keep doing what I know to be right, doing what I have done for the last 30 years. Waiting for everything to be okay again. I’m not looking for the blush and excitement of new love in my walk with the Lord, rather, I am very much looking for the place where I know I belong.
Or, at the very least, to know why the distance, to know why I don’t belong any longer.
I just might, 4 years after the turmoil began, have received a kernel of understanding this week.
A few months ago, I slowly began reading the Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning. I recently added a devotional based on the same book. I am finding the writing a little circular, but I found my kernel, I found something to ponder, something to hold onto.
It is unimaginable to picture a wooden faced, stoic, joyless, and judgmental Jesus as he reclined with ragamuffins. The human personality of Jesus is underrated when it is perceived as a passive mask for the dramatic speeches of divinity. Such timidity robs Jesus of his humanity, encases him in a plaster of paris and concludes that he neither laughed, cried, smiled, nor got hurt but simply passed through our world without emotional engagement.
Wooden faced, stoic, joyless–that’s my Jesus. That right there is what has been trying to come into stark relief for these many months and years.
It’s my truth.
Like any girl that spent her teen years lonely in life and at church youth group, week after week, I sat through teaching after teaching about how Jesus experienced pain, joy, happiness and emotion just like I did/do. I heard it. I know it was supposed to make my awkward teenage self feel better, just as it is supposed to make my Raging, Bipolar, weak self feel better.
And yet, it doesn’t. It falls just short of truth. It fell just short of truth when I tried to take my life 21 years ago, and it falls short today.
I follow along, I want to know him. I want to live what I have been taught. I would truly go to my death to defend these things I know and believe, but I have no idea how to live them. None.
In all honesty, I know I am not alone. There are innumerable people trying to figure out just the same thing. Some, hang in there, keep trying to learn, keep studying; some walk away. I understand both, though I sorrow when I see people surrender to this struggle. I know I will keep fighting; honestly, it is all I know how to do. I have been living the Christian life so long, I am entirely incapable of doing anything else. This life is what I have known for the last 30 years. Going to church, reading my Bible, studying, is in the very fabric of my being. It is truly my default reaction.
Everyday, or almost every day, I open my Bible, I read, I study, I browse a Christian book or three. Each week finds me in church either helping or in the actual service listening to the sermon. On the weeks that I allow myself to walk in with little expectations, I find there are bits of truth everywhere that I can put in my pocket and carry with me. It is good, for every day I keep putting one foot in front of the other in this faith walk I have always known is one day more where true comprehension and acceptance can come.
Waiting, I am waiting.
I see Jesus standing there. Stoic. Unmoving. Not lifting a finger to draw me to himself. But, if we believe what Brennan Manning has written, that is not the Savior Jesus is. If we believe his thoughts on Jesus, there is a wildly loving, open, honest, cheerful, all encompassing lover of our souls just waiting for us.
You can never know how much I hope Brennan Manning is right. I hope Jesus is there wanting to woo me, wanting to know me, wanting to accept me. I am taking Brennans’ image of Jesus, an emotionally invested Jesus, and holding it up in front of my face. I am inspecting the nuances of this portrayal of Jesus he offers. I am listening to words, waiting for truth, Jesus’ truth. I am looking to know, believe and trust the truths made so relate-able in this song by 4Him.
Shelter in the Rain
How long have you been
Waiting on a little sun to shine
To take away the night
Hold on for you are never alone
Through the darkest skies
There is a guiding light
For our God is a refuge
Where the weary can run and hide
in times of trouble
He’ll be the calm in the midst of the storm
‘Till it passes by
Oh, you need to know
There’s a shelter in the rain
There’s a hope for your tomorrow
There’s a cover through the pain
When you’re underneath the weather
Jesus is the shelter in the rain
Sometimes when hope is hard to find
We’ve got to walk by faith
Until we see the way
Hold tight for we are promised in time
Those who patiently wait
Will never wait in vain
For we know God is faithful
He’s a fortress to run into
In times of trouble
He’ll cover us with the wings of his love
‘Till we make it through
Oh, we got to know
So tell me why
Why could you ever run away
From the cover out into the storm
Just know in time
The rain’s gonna bring a brighter day
And the clouds will be gone
But while you wait on the Lord
Lyrics found at http://lyrics.astraweb.com/
I seek, I wait. I hope.