I knew from the moment she said she had written a letter that nothing but pain would follow. I purposely sit facing that wall as I read, the wall where I had nailed my one word: TRUST. Words from the gospel of John surround it. One catches my eye. "The Light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it." Oh, but I do feel quite overcome. The pixels cut so deep. I try to breathe through the pain, through the questions, through the anger. And as it all rises, like a storm, like waves, pick your metaphor, I reach for my Bible. I need the Word in my hands, something to steady me, as her words strike blow after blow. I'm not the only one who has ever felt this way. Her words are not the only piercing, breaking, wounding in this world.
All of us, we need some miraculous healing, and it's not coming. I feel helpless, and I carry it like a weight for a week or more. I can feel it in my shoulders, the tight jaw, the clenched fists. Mostly I feel it in the way the tears are always close to the surface. How hard it is to smile, to think straight, to keep my own sharp words at bay. There's the ranting, the wrestling, the trying to reason, and I'm getting nowhere.
"There's so many things I say. So many things I preach. And I want to believe... I just can't! And that's the hardest, most painful part... I have no hope."
I exhale after that admission, like I've finally found the release valve. She looks at me, and I think how we all need friends like her, "You know, often..." She trails off, searching, making sure they are the right words, the truest words. "Yes. Often your hope is in you and your ability to do something to fix things and to have the answers. Your hope is not actually in God. Your trust is not actually in God."
I feel like I have no hope because I have no answers, no idea what to do to fix things and my hope is usually dependent on that, rather than on God. Sometimes the truth is hard to face, and that's why Jesus came in both Truth and Grace. Because the Truth is I often fail miserably at walking by faith. But the Grace is that God knows that, and that's why He's called me into this journey of TRUST. It's not Him pointing out my failures. It's Him inviting me to walk with Him on a journey that will transform and change and set me free. I exhale.
The next day, I'm rehearsing the story, yet again to another one of those friends everyone should have, adding in this most recent revelation. I say it, more for myself than for her. "Maybe I just need to stop, take a step back, and surrender. Maybe I need to just lay it all down. Maybe that's what trust actually is."
She smiles gently, "Ah yes. Rest. That's all I would want for you, all He would want for you. Just rest."
And all that to say this... That's why when that author posts this picture on her blog, my breath catches and I want to reach out and grab it, like it's grabbed my heart. This little girl takes the chalk and draws a picture of her mother, then removes the shoes and curls up right in the very center of her, ear against her heart. And I know she's right and it's all I want. This is how to live when life just hurts.
When life hits you so hard you find yourself curled up in tears in the fetal position, you can also find yourself in the very center of Him. I see the little girl surrounded by the lines she drew, and it's me drawing circles around what I really believe, around the Father's beating heart, and pressing into it, pain and tears and all. And it's the Father's arms, encircling me, surrounding me, as the mountains surround Jerusalem. And can I finally just allow myself, just for a moment, for as many moments, as many days as I need, to pull the knees into the chest and lay myself all down right in the very center of Him and let Him surround me?
It's a new picture of trust. Not the clinging to the rope and holding on for dear life, but Him holding me. Him holding me as I curl up, whispering until I can uncurl, "Fear not. Fear not. I am here, and I will not let any of you go. I see you. I know your pain. I will not leave you in it." Trust.