What does one do on a sick day? With hot bean bag and peppermint tea in tow, I shamefully struggle to log in on wordpress (forgot my password – check!) and peek at the date on my last post. Writing wouldn’t be the only thing I’ve neglected in the last 6 months. My journals sit forlorn and there is a bookshelf full of books waiting for my attention. Survival mode is how I would describe the last 6 months. Put one foot in front of the other, keep walking, keep looking up, whistle that happy tune, cling to a hope you can’t see… wait for His promises. Get out of bed… repeat.
The truth is, I don’t write because I think, for once, my broken heart has felt too private, too sacred to speak aloud. The truth is, I don’t even know if I can put words to the heaviness of the winter.
I suppose if you have spoken to me lately, you’d hear my woes of leaving my old job. It was a security blanket for me, a cradle where my infancy was fed and watered. Fewer opportunities to take on new and risky work, peers who kept me giggling and light, closeness and comfort in a city I know. I have had such difficulty in adjusting to a new office where all of these crutches were stripped away. In fact, it wasn’t until I had an opportunity to return to that office several months later that I realized how much more satisfying it was to be stretched in your work. To come home feeling as though you truly made a difference. To be stretched so thin but ultimately recharged by far more rewarding work. I was wallowing in a pool of self pity until the chance to go back presented itself and I found myself dreading the monotony of a larger office where I am needed less, where there would be less autonomy, fewer opportunities to learn, and greater temptation to blend into the background when it comes to initiative. Maybe one day I can take what I am learning in New West and return to my Langley home with something to bring to the table. Maybe one day that will be the next step in my career. For now though, I’m starting to feel content. It hasn’t been easy, however. There have been many tears and many frustrating weeks. I’m exhausted as I try to navigate this new schedule and commute and I’m not ashamed to say I miss my old officemates. But finally, a corner turned.
Jesse has been pushing forward in school as well. It’s hard to believe in only one year he’ll be finished! The first in his family to obtain a degree. And though this is no indicator of a lack of success and passion in his family, it is source of great pride for me. Primarily because he’s always been one of the least likely to tackle four years of projects and papers and late nights fine tuning work. He runs on empty probably 90% of the time and yet still finds a way to finish every week. He has far more ambition and determination than I ever did during nursing school. That said, perfectionism always come at a high price.
Real marriage is real hard. We know this. We all know this. Our second year, learning to be a team and learning to bear each other’s burdens, has coincided with such heavy personal burdens. Work and school surely weigh us down with their intensity but everybody – and I mean everybody – also battles these inner demons. We battle that one thorn in our side, unable to shake it that we might remain humble. In a marriage, his burdens are mine, too. We try to stand up under the weight of each other’s pain and try to come through to the other side as unscathed as possible. I think I’m learning lately to lean into the brokenness. Brokenness has a special quality to it – a pouring out of oneself. Not having anything to give and yet giving anyway. Isn’t this the best kind of giving? The best kind of love? Sacrificial givenness. I don’t want to turn my face away from the things that are painful but lean into them, let my tears fall on the mess, and let it be broken. It hurts to be poured out though.
“The art of living is believing there is enough love in you, that you are loved enough by Him, to be made into love to give.” (The Broken Way)
I feel like these words are the only reason I’m still standing. A bit hunched over, perhaps. This winter feels like a lesson in the true meaning of love – living given. Sometimes I don’t even know what it is that is being poured out – only that I am.
I remember one night, not too long ago, laying in bed and opening an Ann Voskamp post I receive by subscription in my email. A sharp inhale as I read the first lines…
I once held a bird in my hand.
No one else could see it, but I felt it. I felt it’s heart thumping hard and afraid.
It happens– there are ways to look fine on the outside…. and no one knows what you’ve really survived.
But honestly? You didn’t just survive, so let’s toss that myth right at the outset.
The way you keep walking? You may be wounded. You may be hurting. You may be limping. You may feel alone and overwhelmed and an unspoken broken — but you’re no victim. And you’re not just a survivor. You’re a Thriver.
You may bleed but you rise.
Yeah, it may not feel like it — but you are seen… how you just keep keeping your chin up and living brave through the hurt and how you keep taking one step out of bed and another step through the door — and how you keep scaling mountains by relentlessly taking steps forward.
But I wanted you to know — your wounds are seen and it’s okay…
You are so brave to keep facing the light. To keep walking toward Home.
The Scarred Savior will know you’re His — by your own scars.
And when He cups your face, that moment when His scars touch your skin? You’ll be wholly healed.
Words so desperately needed. They ignite a flicker of hope’s flame in me, timid as could be. One foot in front of the other, keep walking, keep reaching. Hope and hold unswervingly to His promises (Hebrews 10:23). I am learning too that promises are not always the same as healing. His promise does not mean we become unbroken. Perhaps we learn better how to live given and lean into the brokenness. Jesus “emptied Himself [without renouncing or diminishing His deity, but only temporarily giving up the outward expression of divine equality and His rightful dignity] by assuming the form of a bond-servant… He humbled Himself [still further] by becoming obedient [to the Father] to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:5-8). He made the will of God His own. He emptied himself and in His broken flesh, we see divinity. His ultimate glory shone through ultimate brokenness. There is a holiness to brokenness that does not beg to be made whole. Being poured out makes room for Him to fill us again.
These are things I’m learning as we are poured out for each other.
In just three short weeks, we leave on the trip of a lifetime to Europe. We often say to each other how wonderful it will be to reconnect. To be nourished by culture and language and the spirituality of wandering. Jesse is convinced our trip will ignite an unquenchable desire to live in London. He’s probably right. Either way, we will return much richer than when we left – of that I have no doubt. This winter has brought forth the painful reality of brokenness surpassing anything we’ve ever felt before. But we keep moving forward. Pressing on, one foot in front of another, humbled by the holiness of being broken.