Skin and bones. Tears and laughter. Arteries and bruised fingers, small hands and semi-consistent heartbeat. Prologue. Narration. Foreshadowing to which I am blind. Plot twist. Foil. An epilogue – sometime. A resolution – somehow. An author – somewhere.
I am. I am a person with a story. Some of that story I’ve told to others. Some of that story I haven’t. And some of that story I still don’t even understand myself. Part of what it means to be is to learn which parts of the story I need to cling to and which parts to let go. Which parts to ruminate on and which parts to hand over to the Author in broken surrender. The Gospel is tragedy, comedy and fairytale, writes Frederick Buechner, and if my story is patterned after the Gospel, that means it contains elements of each of those things as well. I am tragedy. I am comedy. I am fairytale. Not necessarily in that order – cut and dry, black and white. There is ambiguity. One day can carry hints of all three of those things. Perhaps even five minutes can. Learning to love Jesus and love myself means learning to trust that the tragedy, comedy, and fairytale all mingle and dance and kiss and life would not be as beautiful without their trinity.
Enough poetic subtlety for one post? Okay. Here’s my heart on a piece of paper:
I am tired. I am sad. I am so thankful my heart feels like it’s breaking. I am so broken my heart feels like it’s yearning. I am yearning so deeply my heart feels like it’s seeing Home, waving at a distance, counting down the days…
There was a time during the retreat this week where I sat and I cried. For a long time. It wasn’t exactly a crying for the present moment, though; it was more a cry of remembering, of letting myself feel, of realizing that certain wounds may not heal in the way that I want them to. Certain patterns of thinking may never go away. Certain temptations and desires – no matter how deeply I try, no matter how painfully I want them to – may never disappear. And part of what healing means is to accept that. To recognize that I don’t have control over that, and if I’m going to follow Jesus completely, I need to be able to accept that truth, terrifying as it is. But it is hard.
It is hard because of how deeply I believe in certain things. For example, I believe that Jesus is good. I believe it – I would stake my life on it. Every moment I’ve ever experienced is caught in a net of His goodness, and “life itself is grace.” I have tasted enough of His beauty to be forever ruined for anything less. But I also feel this inkling in my heart that tells me I need to come to terms with the fact that some pains are not going to go away. I am going to have to keep feeling it, keep swallowing it, keep letting the tragedy bleed into the comedy and hope that the fairy tale is painting a watercolor out of it all. That the Artist is in the middle of a masterpiece. That the Poet is in the middle of the volta.
Sometimes you find an author who builds credibility with you. If they were to write another book, you would go to the store and buy it. If a certain scene or character feels weak or wrong, you would keep reading despite that because you trust them. Because they have proved to you in the past that they know how to write a good story. Because you have given them your time, your faith, and your self countless times, every time you open one of their books, and they have never failed you before. Because you know that they know far more about the art of writing than you.