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Half of 28 is 14

February 28, 2014 — 3 Comments

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February 28th is my dead brother’s 28th birthday. Is that what they call the Golden Birthday? He always was the golden boy. The dead often are.

I don’t believe in celebrating the birthdays of the dead, but this one in particular sticks to my ribs, to my heart, and in my soul in a different way than all the rest. It is a benchmark birthday.

Andrew was 14 when he died and it has been 14 years since he died. Life has gone on as normal for 14 years, but now we are on the other side—the side that will have experienced more of life without Andrew than with him. It is a strange thing to celebrate or commemorate, and yet I do.

A few weeks ago a friend said to me, “Sometimes I think about all the things he’s been spared from, just by going on ahead of us,” and I had to agree. A lot of living—and dying—has happened in these 14 years. I am glad he was spared, and I am also glad I was not. God does know what is best and I trust Him in that.

There are things about Andrew that are forever memorialized in my mind, his wide mouth and smiling eyes, his lanky legs and heavy steps, his long fingers and, most of all, his kindness. Andrew was kind to everyone he met, a simple, unaffected kindness. The sort you get from hardly anyone and want from almost everyone. He had time for you, for everyone. He might have taken all the time in the world to get to you, but when he did, he had time.

For many years I felt the injustice of being the one left behind—me, the one who is always in a hurry to get everywhere, him the slow almost plodding one. And yet he got there first.

The irony is never lost on me.

Live and Let Love

October 7, 2013 — 4 Comments

The thing about dying, I have heard, is your life passes before your eyes. All the choices you have made and all the ones made for you, a clear succession of days, weeks, months, and moments—encapsulated in a second. A rush of every fear, joy, hope, and terror you’ve ever felt.

The thing about singleness is that the best way to live it is to live it hard, to die, yes, but to live, really live. The unmarried person is concerned with how to please the Lord and the Lord is the shepherd of the widest pasture known. The thing about marriage, I’ve heard, is the best way to live it is to die a thousand deaths, over and over and over. To lay every dream, desire, and fortune at the feet of a tangible other—an other who has dreams, desires, and fortunes of his own. It is an invitation to come and die.

In all my years of singleness I saw the portion before me, wide open pastures of expectation and anticipation; sometimes riddled with fear of the unknown and sometimes full of risk and reward and sometimes frustration at what seemed to never be. I teetered on the edge so many times because one wrong move seemed to set the course for my life. Come live, my Savior said, come to me and trust me: LIVE. Open wide your heart, your abandon, your treasures, your lot, and live. Come live with me and be my love, like the poet said.

In only a few months of anothering, I see only the portion behind me. My life passing before my eyes, all my fears, regrets, joys, expectations, and I see God bidding me to come and die. I uncurl my fingers from the gold of what I have built and what I have trusted in, what works for me, and what dreams have come. Come die with me and be my love, the vows could say.

Why are you writing this on Sayable, you are asking me, I know. Keep this stuff between you two. Tell us only the joys and hopes, the good things we dream of our futures. But I cannot, my friends, because I promised you Sayable would be about the gospel and this is the gospeling done in me today. Today, this week, the gospel has asked that I lay down me, all of me, every part of me I have crafted and found pleasure in, the parts I have imagine that God Himself finds pleasure in—I lay it down.

Here is a small comfort: I imagine in those moments before dying, when your life is passing before your eyes, how much life can fit in a moment? It may feel a lifetime, but a moment is so small. What you realize you are losing is so minute, so temporal, and I find solace in that tonight. My rights? My dreams? My preferences? Mere vapors, here today, gone before tomorrow.

And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.
Luke 9:23-24

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It is raining when I wake. I stretch my legs, hooking my toes over the end of my bed. I have not been able to shake the brokenness I feel these days. There is good news and bad and it comes simultaneously. The world is broken and we are in the world, and sometimes of it too. A new niece was born yesterday and a man who is like a father to my brothers died last night.

I was brought forth in iniquity.

There are those who excuse those words as poetry. But what is poetry if not man’s attempt to make sense of what seems senseless or too mysterious for simple words? What is poetry but God’s way of making beautiful what seems ugly? When science fails me and theology is too wondrous for me, I take comfort in mystery, in poetry.

An unsettling verdict, a drug overdose—”this world breaks every one of us, and later we are strong at those broken places.” Hemingway did not believe in original sin, I don’t think, but even the best and worst of us knows the cracked and creviced face staring back at us from the mirror. Are any of us whole? Really whole?

A week of conversations on brokenness, where baggage on original sin and depravity and hope circle and devour—it leaves me feeling brokenness more acutely. No one is unscathed, and especially not the one who thinks he is. We all walk with a limp and better that we acknowledge it than try to hide it. You’re broken? Me too. Let us walk more slowly beside one another then, the journey toward the kingdom is not a sprint or a race, there are no winners—or losers. His glory is our collective trophy.

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit,
a broken and contrite heart, you will not despise.

Brought forth in brokenness, brought forth in wholeness—either way, what He desires is the cracked and creviced child. The one who knows her sin and her faults, her needs and her Savior. The one who knows his helplessness and his fears, his limps and his Healer.

What need have we for a Savior if we can find a scrap of wholeness on our own?

Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:

“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
“O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
I Corinthians 15:51-57

What is Lost

March 27, 2013

When you have experienced loss in aching ways there comes a time when you are expected to be finished with your mourning. One year, two, the imaginary line is drawn and you feel guilty mentioning the thing that you once held more dearly than anything else.

You might be grieving a friend, a husband, a brother. Perhaps a relationship or a home or a job. But what you are grieving and what you have lost are different things. What you have lost is security, the knowingness, and no matter how much warning you are given, there is no way to prepare for a mourning of this kind.

So you dip your head, you close your eyes, you let your hands rest in the soapy dishwater until they are wrinkled, the skin as translucent as your heart these days. People are patient and careful with you, afraid of your fragile skin and see-through heart. And you are grateful for the ones who say nothing, simply put their warm hand on your cold and crooked neck. And you are most grateful for your own bed, your covers which wrap you tightly because it is security you miss more than anything.

But there comes a time when people begin to wonder about your overgrown grass and glassy eyes. “Isn’t it about time…” they say, with their heads nodding like bobble heads in the backs of New York City taxi cabs, plastic and too large for their bodies.

And so you begin cutting your grass and looking people in the eye again. You nod to them in the grocery store, even if you don’t remember they brought you five casseroles in a row once. You no longer talk about what you grieve in the present tense.

Years later you casually mention what you lost once, surprising yourself with the cavalier tone—are you turning into a bobble head too? But you still go home, wrap yourself in your covers, knowing joy comes in the mourning and in the morning too.

But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers,
about those who are asleep,

that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.
I Thessalonians 4:13

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

This has been sitting in my draft folder for a while now, but over this past week several people in my life have lost loved ones and so I thought it apropos to post. Grieving looks different for everyone, but we are still called to mourn with those who mourn. Pray we would mourn well alongside them, with hope against hope.

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Drinking Often

March 13, 2013 — Leave a comment

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I am thinking of the first communion these days, more part of the Easter story than the Christmas, but how can we love the birth if we do not love the death? I am thinking of that cup of wine, the sign of the new covenant, the blasphemous words of a man at a table with 12 friends: drink this new way of doing things, this new kindness of God. Drink it in remembrance of me.

“As often as you do it…” That’s what he said. It’s odd that a man who was saying, “I’m doing away with your rituals and sacrifices, your habits and your rules,” was also saying, “do this often.” But this is what I think about last night falling asleep: He has set for us pleasant perimeters. He says do it often, but remember it’s not your religion anymore.

He knows us so well to use a word like often.

We need this, with our hearts so prone to attempting and trying, to sacrificing the modern lambs of our time, our tithe and our truant hearts.

We need this, we who do not understand that the kindness of God draws us to repentance and anything less is a marauder of faith and a shortcut to legalism.

I drink the cup this past Sunday with no resolve in my heart to do better next time or try harder tomorrow, no attempts to force a change of heart or fall into an apathy of my soul. I drink it with the freedom to drink it often, as often as I need a reminder of the new covenant, as often as I need the kindness of God drawing out my repentance. I drink it in gratefulness.

Someone said to me a few months ago: I’m only grateful for the Old Testament because it shows me where I’d be without the New Testament. I think about this often. That’s really what Jesus was saying, drink this small cup, this sip of wine, do it to remember where you were and where you are now.

Doesn’t that taste good?

(Published originally this past year on Grace for Sinners)

Whenever tragedy strikes, for the young boy who has lost his dog or the recent Connecticut shooting, it’s in these hollow places our theology makes itself known. We may say we are not theological, but Tozer once said that “what a man thinks about when he thinks about God is the most important thing about a man,” and so we are all theological.

It is in these dark moments that we think about God the most. His existence or His absence, the strong tower or the hollow void—we shout our questions out and wait for an answer, or don’t. We think about God and so reveal ourselves.

Mere hours after the shooting on Friday crosses formed on the school property, candles were lit, and people kneeled down, heads bowed. Churches filled for vigils and our President read from the Word breathed words. Children singing Silent Night opened Saturday Night Live, and today a rendition of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah circulated from NBC’s The Voice.

It seems that when tragedy strikes we all find ourselves pulling at the familiar spiritual things, bringing forth faith in an agony akin to childbirth with none of the beautiful reward.

But sometimes our hallelujahs are empty because we don’t know the God with whom we’re pleading.

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After my brother was killed, I can’t remember whether it was days or weeks or months after, a family friend erected a cross, painted it white with his name on it clear: Andrew David Ferguson. My father put that cross in the ground less than a mile from where we lived. I was there when my brother died, misshapen on the wet highway, and the cross is nearly forty feet away.

I passed that cross for years and it’s still there, I’m sure, overgrown with weeds and tall grass—and every time it is not a reminder of my brother, but instead my father. My father, though he tried to get there quickly from seven hours away, was not there with us on that rainy April morning. The cross is a reminder of the void—not of my brother and the tragic way he died, but of my father, the one I wanted to take care of us, explain this, clean this mess up, make sense of it.

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And so in moments like these, when we are all seeking sense, building towers of thought and politics, I understand the fumbling words people say and don’t mean, the beautiful heretical tributes, the plastic crosses and empty prayers, the haunting hallelujah song and the comfort we find in trite verses. I understand we are all trying to make sense of it all—using whatever we understand to make our way there.

We are all looking for a Savior in the hollow places. We are all betraying our theology of belief or unbelief. We are looking for someone to make a way, make sense, make whole.

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So be gracious in days like these, hold the gospel near if you believe it is truth, and if you don’t, come near, come and drink. God is not a God who promises answers, even to His children, but He does bind up the brokenhearted and set free the captive.

He was once a Father who set up a cross in a moment of unspeakable tragedy too.

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If you’re interested, I have a guest post up at Everyday Awe today on The Worth of a Soul.

“He shouts, breaking in, throwing his grand cloak over our unrighteousness, our unworthiness, our most tender parts and our weakest shames. She’s mine! He says. He’s mine! He says. I’m claiming this weary soul. I’m calling its worth.

A new and glorious morn.”

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How to die beautifully

October 20, 2012

There are things I ought to have learned in science class, but I was too busy hankering for art class to pay much attention.

Did you know that the reason the autumn leaves are so spectacular in the northeast is because the weather has an indecisive air to it? It’s true. One night it’s cold enough to frost and the next day it’s warm enough to kayak in a tshirt. In the mountains the reds and oranges are deep and rich, and in the valley fields the green is vibrant and lush. The sky is almost always a steel blue, nearly grey, but still clear. I cannot describe this well enough, I know. I’m sure I tend to romanticize it because I tend to romanticize everything. It makes for a better story, see?

But trust me: it is beautiful here. Even today, while it rains steadily outside the side porch where I complete my wedding tasks of the day, it is beautiful (of course it helps that my wedding tasks for the day were to take buckets of flowers and make them into eleven presentable bouquets).

Tonight I’m going to leave these bouquets of roses and hydrangeas, seeded eucalyptus and ranunculus here on the porch. Outside, where temperatures will probably dip into the forties. I’ll leave them here. And for the same reason that the leaves get more and more spectacular, I have no fear for these flowers.

It goes against my gut to do this, leave them outside. Because flowers bloom in the warmest months, I assume that that’s where they’ll thrive best. But a year in Texas is teaching me that while the heat may force a bloom to open, it does little to sustain it.

We all need a little indecisive air, a bit of a chill, to be sustained.

I had a conversation with a friend the other day and she’s asking the right questions: why does it have to be so hard sometimes? Why does it have to hurt?

I don’t have answers for her. I’m finding the more I know, the less I really know.

But I know this: those leaves wouldn’t take our breath away if they weren’t dying in the process.

And I don’t like that. That makes me uncomfortable. I hate death, it is nothing but stings and barbs. But I love life because it is nothing but newness and cycles.

I love life because I know that I will die a million deaths until that final one, but each one makes me a little more vibrant in the process, and each one brings the promise of newness. That’s something I can plant my soul in.

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This post was originally posted in October, 2011. But in honor of peak week at home, I’m posting it again. Enjoy your leaves northern friends!

TRADES

September 11, 2012 — 4 Comments

You listened to part of the transcripts this morning before someone who knows you better than you do told you to stop, before you’d end up in the closet, in a ball of tears.

You’ve never seen New York like this. Eerily silent and dust covered. A city of the walking wounded. You stare into the eyes of strangers for five, ten, forty seconds before either of you realized that in New York City you don’t do that. You avert your eyes, look away, avoid, but not this week. This week you stare. And you nod at the end, sighing in unison. You are both thinking the same thing after all: what just happened?

Every park is filled, every corner is filled, every mind is filled: what just happened?

Fences are filled with Missing Person signs and the homeless aren’t the only ones laying, dazed, on park benches and curbs.

You know things are going to change you, but you don’t know how much, or to what length. You don’t know, for instance, while you watch planes crash into familiar buildings, that in ten years two of your baby brothers will be soldiers and men, stationed in countries torn by war. You don’t know that in ten years every day you will pray for peace, mostly because peace means that they will come home in one piece.

You don’t know that in the weeks to come, you will open the coffee shop every morning at 5am and you will listen to your fellow countrymen wake up to the news, giving their best war-plan strategies while they hand you their dollar-sixtyfive. You don’t know these things. You don’t know that freedom really does cost something, but in your wildest dreams you never imagined it would cost this.

You stumble through a shell-shocked city, one wrapped in yellow caution tape. You try to make sense of what just happened.

You don’t know that everyone you know knows someone who knew someone and you find out years later that you knew someone too. You regret losing touch.

You love history because when you hear about what has happened, it helps make sense of what is happening. But when what is happening is happening in real time, in your life, around you, there is no sense to be made of it.

You just stare at strangers a little longer. You both nod. Maybe you reach out and touch their arm.

What should have made us afraid, for a few weeks there, made us brave.

You’re proud to be an American. You are. You pray for peace. You hate conflict. You hate that your baby brothers wield guns and wear uniforms. But you love your country. You loved it dusty and shell-shocked, and you love it bankrupt and tired. You loved it confused and bewildered, and you love it arrogant and corrupt.

But you love heaven more and you long for it. So you pray only this, but every day: even so, Lord Jesus, come quickly.

Come quickly. 

(Originally posted on the ten-year anniversary of September 11.)

I’m tired.

There, that’s out there.

I’m exhausted. No, I don’t have a little baby waking me up at all times of the night, or four kids to corral into fine formations, or a family to provide for or a company to lead. But I am just one person and being just one for 30 years can be tiring too. I’ve been getting up while it’s still dark most mornings and for this night owl, that’s enough to spin me into the oblivion of tiredness.

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I sat across from a friend on Wednesday and we talked about what it means to enter into one another’s sorrow. How it means that we don’t just feel pity or empathy or a burden, but that we actually enter into it. We feel it. We know it. We know it as acutely as our own sorrow.

This goes for joy too. But somehow joy peddles us forward, while sorrow only seems to hold us down.

There are so many, many sorrows in me today. I can’t even give number to them and so few of them are my own that even if you ask, I won’t tell you anything is wrong, they are not my sorrows to tell.

My pastor back home told me once to do my homework in class: pray for a friend while I’m with them, counsel them right there, and that doing this would alleviate some of the burden someone with a gift of mercy is going to carry.

It was some of the best advice I’ve ever gotten and I rarely let an opportunity go by without praying for someone.

But sometimes mourning with those who mourn means that we ache with their unanswered prayers. Sometimes it means we wake up aching and go to bed aching. Sometimes it means we keep careful watch on our phone for updates and careful watch on the messages we send out, keeping watch over souls that have been entrusted to us.

I’ve been depressed before, no secret there. And this season feels acutely like those seasons before: I want to sleep, I forget to eat, smiling feels like too much work, work feels like too much work. But last night as I slid between my sheets and put my head on my pillow, closed my eyes and felt the tears brim to the surface, fall over my cheeks, I felt the Holy Spirit say to me, “There is nothing light about mourning, but there will be light in the morning and morning is coming.”

I woke up late this morning and for the first time this week the sun streamed in my window, a sliver of light across my comforter.

 

I’ve got layers of lies
that I don’t even know about yet.
Sara Groves

Here’s what happened:

A friend told me something and I believed her. I do that. I’m a believing, trusting sort of person. The thing is, what she told me was only half true. Not half true to her—she told me the truth as best as she could, but it was only half of the whole truth. I didn’t know the other parties involved, so what could I do? I believed her. This is what friends do.

But the water has sunk to the bottom and the oil has risen to the top and with it all the floating particles that are still coated with enough water that I can’t look into that cup without seeing more of the whole story.

And my heart is sick.

Because her true-to-her story was only half of the story and now I know the other half, and the other half is my friend too, and when you love oil and water, even if they hate each other, what can you do? You believe them both with as much grace as you can muster. This is what good friends do.

But at some point the whole thing gets shaken up again and it takes a while for things to settle and while it’s still shaken you feel sicker and sicker still because there are always three sides to every story, hers, his, and the horrible, awful, honest truth. With a choice so divided, what can you do? You choose truth. This is what the truest friend does.

To choose truth, though, means to lose other things, namely trust.

Today trust was lost and I mourn that. I mourn it so hard and so deeply because I have been lied to, though neither of them did the lying.

I was the one lying all along. And that is the most heartbreaking of it all.

Paul admonishes the Thessalonians to “aspire to live quietly and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you.”

I’m stuck on that today because I didn’t live quietly and I listened to the lies. But the lies were of my own making and they said something like this: You are big enough to handle the heartbreaking details of someone’s life all by yourself. You are big enough to have an opinion on lives that aren’t your own. You are big enough to discern truth from lies and from opinions and cries.

The truth is that I am not a part of the problem or the solution here; I am only a particle that floated to the top of his story, coated in the residue of her story. Just one small particle.

And if God did not give me the grace to handle this (at least without some amount of bellyaching), then it is probably best for me to simply bow out.

oil and water

Come and cheer

December 1, 2011 — Leave a comment

A few weeks ago, around a campfire and laughter, someone asked the question: What is your irrational fear? The myriad of fears present were surprising, and some of them somewhat laughable.

Mine?

A car accident.

My roommates try to logic me out of this on a regular basis, but whenever possible, I pass the car keys to someone else. Their logic is that wherever I am sitting in a car, if there is an accident, I will still be in it. But it isn’t the fear of being hit or even dying. The fear is that I will cause the accident.

A friend asked me why last night, after I passed him my keys. Why the fear? I suppose the accidental death of one brother and the near death of my Mom in a separate incident leaves me somewhat shaky, but really, I’m a safe driver with only one ticket under my belt (for an expired inspection) nothing else to show for my fear. It’s irrational, I know.

It’s a shadow of a fear, a fear of something that has cast a long shadow in my direction.

It’s death’s dark shadow.

And yet, it’s not death I fear. It’s that hulking, overwhelming, aching isness of death. Death is not anything, it is a void, but that void is more present than any tangible thing I know. I feel it close this advent season. Cancer. Dialysis. Miscarriage. Suicide. Wherever it can, life steals itself from us, slinking into the long, dark night like the cloaked bandit it is.

That ache sits heavy. That shadow casts long.

There is nothing, nothing, that can fix that and the more I live, the more death comes knocking, the more I know that there is no cheer on earth to be found when we sit shell-shocked holding a sobbing friend. We are indignant for moments: so young! So good! So much life to be lived still! We are quietly broken, we are resolute, beating this thing. But at the end, when there is nowhere else to go, when cheer is far, far from us, we can know only this:

He has come. And He is coming.

He has come with that broken new cry, the cheer of birth, even a lowly one.

And He is coming with that final and perfect cheer. That last hurrah. That final trumpet.

Bringing a light so encompassing and infiltrating that no shadow will remain, no darkness will linger, and no death forevermore.

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Oh come, Thou Dayspring, come and cheer
Thy people with Thine advent here;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death’s dark shadows put to flight
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to you, O Israel!

How to die beautifully

October 14, 2011 — Leave a comment

There are things I ought to have learned in science class, but I was too busy hankering for art class to pay much attention.

Did you know that the reason the autumn leaves are so spectacular in the northeast is because the weather has a indecisive air to it? It’s true. One night it’s cold enough to frost and the next day it’s warm enough to kayak in a tshirt. In the mountains the reds and oranges are deep and rich, and in the valley fields the green is vibrant and lush. The sky is almost always a steel blue, nearly grey, but still clear. I cannot describe this well enough, I know. I’m sure I tend to romanticize it because I tend to romanticize everything. It makes for a better story, see?

But trust me: it is beautiful here. Even today, while it rains steadily outside the side porch where I complete my wedding tasks of the day, it is beautiful (of course it helps that my wedding tasks for the day were to take buckets of flowers and make them into eleven presentable bouquets).

Tonight I’m going to leave these bouquets of roses and hydrangeas, seeded eucalyptus and ranunculus here on the porch. Outside, where temperatures will probably dip into the forties. I’ll leave them here. And for the same reason that the leaves get more and more spectacular, I have no fear for these flowers.

It goes against my gut to do this, leave them outside. Because flowers bloom in the warmest months, I assume that that’s where they’ll thrive best. But a year in Texas is teaching me that while the heat may force a bloom to open, it does little to sustain it.

We all need a little indecisive air, a bit of a chill, to be sustained.

I had a conversation with a friend the other day and she’s asking the right questions: why does it have to be so hard sometimes? Why does it have to hurt?

I don’t have answers for her. I’m finding the more I know, the less I really know.

But I know this: those leaves wouldn’t take our breath away if they weren’t dying in the process.

And I don’t like that. That makes me uncomfortable. I hate death, it is nothing but stings and barbs. But I love life because it is nothing but newness and cycles.

I love life because I know that I will die a million deaths until that final one, but each one makes me a little more vibrant in the process, and each one brings the promise of newness. That’s something I can plant my soul in.

A few peeks at my colorful day

dayenu

September 14, 2011 — 12 Comments

It is the method to my step and the life to my spirit and it is not that God is good, but that God is still good.

When my brother died one of our friends wrote a poem called Dayenu. It means “It would have been enough” and it was what the Israelites said after each common grace was given to them: escape from slavery, dayenu; through the red sea, dayenu; manna in the desert, dayenu.

It would have been enough if God had only done this one thing and nothing more, it would have been enough.

David prayed it again with different words: “Bless the Lord, oh my soul.” Soul, you’re downcast, you’re empty, you’re sad, but oh, what God has done! It is enough. So bless the Lord.

I think this tonight so many times because my soul is a heavy one today, the effects of sin are near and touching people I love and me too. I’m confronted about the words I say, I hug a tearstained girl, I cry my own tears, we’re praying for an unanswered prayer and this is what I’m thinking all day: God is good, yes, and so we long for the completion of what we want, but God is still good while the completion is far, far off.

It would have been enough if He had only created the earth and put us here to tend the garden.

It would have been enough if He had brought us out of captivity to settle in the wilderness.

It would have been enough to leave the Old Testament hanging for 500 more years.

It would have been enough to birth hope in a manger.

It would have been enough to have smitten His son and washed His hands of it.

It would have been enough for a resurrection alone.

It would have been enough for me to be born, to enter fighting and gasping for the stuff of earth.

It would have been enough for me to live through today.

Because God knows something that I cannot even fathom with my earth encrusted prayers and thinly veiled attempts to get more of Him by getting more of myself: He is still good and He is faithful to finish and He has already won.

This comforts me because sometimes I hear an answered prayer and my heart jumps inside of me, words on my lips: God is good! But I stop here, because even in the lack of what we pray for, He is still good. He has brought us thus far and He has done enough. He has not left stones unturned or promises unanswered. He is not waiting for you to get your act together or for me to learn one final lesson.

Tonight I’m asking myself what I’m asking for. Am I asking for meekness? For righteousness? For a glimpse of my heart’s desires? For repentance? For gratefulness? What am I asking for that cannot be quieted by one simple declaration: what You have done is enough for you to be worthy of all glory today.

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What has God done for you that is enough?
If He did nothing more, is He still worthy of your praise? Your trust?

A few weeks ago my roommate (who’s also the person I get to share my office with at work) and I were given the opportunity to attend this conference. I don’t what we expected and I’m still not sure what all we received, but this I know: it felt like a bath of encouragement for my creativity. I walked in feeling parched and left feeling inspired, driven, excited, and not alone. My favorite speaker began his session with this song and when he was finished he asked us to analyze it. What is it about exactly. Talk amongst yourselves. Discuss.

Season and I both blurted out what we thought it was about, one of us said Death and the other said Life and we concluded that we couldn’t both be right.

But we were. The song is about a funeral, the death of someone who was loved. But the song is also about a wedding, the beginning of something new.

How can it be both?

This week I told a friend that it feels like sometimes I have a wedding and a funeral going on in my soul. Both ends of the spectrum of joy and they land square in my center. The conversation was precipitated by the reading of Isaiah 54. I’ve read it so many times before and never thought: this is about me. But the other day, when I opened the Message Bible I keep on my desk at work, those words were for me. And I felt the tears choke me up.

I felt undone.

Because this passage is about a funeral and a wedding. It’s about acknowledging death, the lack, the emptiness, and finding hope in the middle of that, birthing children in spite of barrenness.

It is not about lying to yourself about who you are and who you want to be.

It is about letting the facts speak for themselves. It is about telling the truth.

The truths which hurt. And the truths which delight.

Someone stopped by the office later on in the day, a missionary from a far away land. We were told later that she’d gone through many miscarriages, and when finally they had a baby boy born to them, he died a short while later due to poor medical care in the area in which they serve. I felt the tears choke me again.

But here is the rest of the story: she and her husband run an orphanage in the mountains of this European country, where abuse and neglect and poverty leave no one unscathed. They have adopted dozens of children into their care over the past 20 years. They have not let their heartbreak or death ruin their story, though it is a part of it.

It’s about a funeral and a wedding, see?

Both. At the same time.