I wish I could tell you how I feel now. With the breeze on my neck through open window. Blackbird singing out toward sunset. Candle burning low.
I have been hunkered down. My heart a bit reticent to communicate although I have been diligent about listening to it. For the first time in my life, I now work to do something contrary to my personality: giving myself space to do nothing, produce nothing. And yet things—from my heart and head—are still pulled up from tilled ground. The soil watered and the beds cleaned. I have no patience for weeds twisted and roots tangled. This life strains for sun and song and air.
I just work more empty-handed now. Each day I want only Jesus to place in my hands the tools I need. I am less attracted to the striving that comes from forging my own tools, clearing my own path.
One of the results of open-handedness is that writing feels different for me—once a habit, a ritual, an attractive act of cleansing and plunging deep into icy water. Even while I sit here, the house miraculously still save a motorcycle rumbling in the distance, and a gentle hum of suburban traffic less than a mile away, I imagine the rush of ocean waves cresting cliffs near sandy shore. And I am in them, a woman who used to believe life amounted to saving oneself from drowning just before lungs expelled their last gulp of air.
I used to believe life amounted to saving oneself from drowning just before lungs expelled their last gulp of air.
I can sit here—imagine, a friend sitting across from you now—and have my heart connected still—still—to an entirely different place.
Oh, the breeze is cooling my fingers. Sing blackbird, sing.
You see, with writing, I can be here and not here too. It is a rhythm I am reapproaching as a discipline, a necessary exploration of the connection between heart and gut and head. It hasn’t been a regular habit for a few months now, and by writing, I am being kind to myself—attending to the deepest parts of me that long to awake, speak.
If anything this past year, over hours of Zoom calls with Father Chi as he guided me through the St. Ignatian Exercises, I have learned something most dear and precious: how to let Jesus hold my hand, feel his shoulder against mine, and believe my brokenness, once redeemed, is not weakness but strength, strength, strength.
Weakness and strength unite as beautiful when Jesus defines what is strong.
And I am getting better at confession, too—not just because my friend and I practice it together most weeks, sharing the bitter, raw bites of shame and contrition that we hold out together with shaking, open hands—two grown women-girls sharing stories and letting our knees get covered in life’s trials of trying and failing and getting up again. But I am also better at confession because of this: brokenness just isn’t that scary anymore. At least not when I confess, whatever it is, right out to Jesus too.
What I want to say is, I am less afraid of admitting my hard-heartedness, my anger, my envy, my pride. And to admit it with specificity. I am more apt to name the particular action, the exact brokenness and be unafraid that Jesus will love me less. Now, I let Jesus hold my hand through the day—and, when my heart is still, He helps me watch Him talking and praying and playing and crying and eating and laughing and sleeping and suffering and loving and dying and living. And I just want to be with Him all the time.
You see, when you are woman-girl who is loved and unafraid—unafraid, to take a good hard look at who she is without God—then she can be small, small, small. And that’s when there is love. In brokenness. And mess. I love Jesus there. I want more of that.
And shame is something with which I have so little patience anymore. It used to be invisible, a hulking terror enticing me to hide, keep silent, and do anything, anything, to prove that I was not wretched, but whole.
I am trusting a bit more that I am truly loved. And I am confessing the raw, hard stuff, the things I used to keep unspoken.
And I wonder if you will join me. Listening, looking, shoes off as we run barefooted and arm-swing wildly through land new and wild and good. It is a place undiscovered, yet recognizable. For these eyes and hearts of ours are made to experience freedom, with a God we have always known.
Tell me . . . what is your experience with shame? How is God healing you? How can I can pray for you regarding shame?
This post appeared originally at jenniferjcamp.com
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