A Near-Death Experience
Hey there, I know it's been some time since my last #messy post. Honestly, navigating my feelings is hard work as I try to gain a foothold. A friend asked me the other day, "Have you ever had a near-death experience?" Wow, I saw my life play back in my mind like a filmstrip as I sifted through the years, trying to recall a moment in time when I felt that I might truly die. I remembered the morning a thief broke into my apartment. He threatened me with a gun and a knife as I begged for my life. Thankfully, he took what he wanted and left. I think I have always been afraid to admit that I could have died that day.
It was scary too. In an instant I thought, I could die.
I was at the beach with friends, the surf was rough. A wave threw me down, my head pounded against the sand. I didn't black out but I was shaken, and I struggled to reorient myself. I flailed my arms as I tried to determine which way was up. Running out of breath, I finally sensed some light and gasped for air as I pushed through to the surface.
Spiritually, that's how I feel. One year ago in March a "wave" caught me and threw me down. I didn't see it coming. I think, if only I had been prepared I could have steeled myself against the rough and unforgiving onslaught, the violent and harsh assault. As a result, I was instantly disoriented. What just happened? What is happening? What do I do, where do I go? Reaching and flailing I tried to find solid ground but in the process I felt like I was sinking deeper. It's like a free-fall, it's hard to know how much further the drop is. I still don't know. In many ways it feels like I'm still falling. No foothold. Still shaken. Disoriented. Fearful. Breathless.
Running out of.
Running out of breath.
A Soul Struggle
I've found help navigating my story by listening to other experiences. Different voices help me put words to my own narrative. Most recently, I've been captivated by the heart-wrenching account from Jonathan Hollingsworth and Amy Hollingsworth in their new book, Runaway Radical. It is an incredible true story of faith, suffering, doubt, abuse, numbness, and healing. At one point in the book Jonathan recalls a question asked by an associate pastor regarding his plans for the future. Johnathan told him he just wanted a break from God. A break from missions the pastor asked? A break from God, Jonathan answered.
That tender and raw answer seems to explain a lot of what I've felt this past year. I need a break from the Christian culture that seems to have everything tied up with a bow. Where neat tidy answers respond to politically correct questions. And, honestly, I need a break from God, like Jonathan confessed. I've crashed and burned before, and for now, I'm done. I frankly don't want to look at any more carnage. Not now. I'm just not ready.
You see inside now.
What you knew before is that I have a messy life. You've seen some of my struggle. What you have not known (how could you), is the more shocking realities of the mess. The soul struggle. The battlefield where heart and mind and will is at war.
Giving up...Fighting until death.
And all the while, not denying...but not embracing God.
One night as I lay in my bed wanting only sleep, I found no sleep. In the quiet darkness, without any warning, the word Jesus silently rolled off my tongue. It's been fourteen months since I last whispered that name. You may ask, but Lori, how is it you write about the gospel, Jesus, grace? Exactly because deep down, I know I need it. Writing about it keeps me tethered. I find that writing about it somehow steadies my wobbly existence. I can't explain it any other way.
When the name Jesus tumbled out of my mouth in my mind, it rattled me. What came next was even more surprising...
...I drifted off to sleep.
A Hug For Uncertainty
I wish I had one of those beautiful bows to tie around this mess. I don't. I just have a story, the story of a fellow traveler making her way home.
Rather than a red bow neatly tied, it looks more like a crimson thread woven through and through.
I don't know much. I have less and less figured out these days. Gray has replaced black and white.
Some trials propel us to cling to certainty, while others propel us to embrace uncertainty.
While I long to have more answers than I do, I have peace. More and more, I am confident in Jesus. A better word might be desperation. A desperation for Jesus.
Nothing in my hand I bring,
simply to the cross I cling;