Popular religion focuses so hard on spiritual success that most of us do not know the first thing about the spiritual fruits of failure. When we fall ill, lose our jobs, wreck our marriages, or alienate our children, most of us are left alone to pick up the pieces. Even those who are ministered to by brave friends can find it hard to shake the shame of getting lost in our lives. And yet if someone asked us to pinpoint the times in our lives that changed us for the better, a lot of those times would be wilderness times.
When the safety net has split, when the resources are gone, when the way ahead is not clear, the sudden exposure can be both frightening and revealing. We spend so much of our time protecting ourselves from this exposure that a weird kind of relief can result when we fail. To lie flat on the ground with the breath knocked out of you is to find a solid resting place. This is as low as you can go. You told yourself you would die if it ever came to this, but here you are. You cannot help yourself and yet you live. -Barbara Brown Taylor (An Altar in the World).
I love this quote.
I love this book. If you have never read Barbara Brown Taylor I highly suggest you do. I like her perspective on the Christian faith. She presents freedom with her words and I appreciate it.
I know the quote is long and that I've probably lost a lot of you but I am going to keep moving ahead.
I should be sharing with you my pictures from my trip to Italy and I will, but for whatever reason, I don't feel ready to do that today.
When we landed back in Des Moines after out eight day trip, I think it is safe to say that I had my breath knocked out of me. In less than a span of 12 hours I found out that Farmer Boy was fired (also another story for another time), that my sweet uncle had passed away back home in Ontario, and that Kelli was rear-ended by an uninsured driver who most likely is in this country illegally.
It was quite a bit for my jet-lagged mind to comprehend.
I am still trying to process it all.
Is this as low as I can go? Is this the place where I told myself if I got to I would die?
I don't have that place identified and honestly I don't want to think about what that would look like.
I would say that I am having a bit of trouble breathing.
I like paychecks deposited into our account every other week and now both of us are unemployed.
I like routine and normal because to me it means safety and security.
I have been praying a lot if the following counts as prayer:
I need help!
I have been told by many people through the years that I am strong. Maybe so. I'm not even sure what that truly means. Right now it seems meaningless.
My strength isn't the issue here. It seems to be about faith. Will I keep holding on to the things I have claimed to believe in for years or will I throw up my hands in disgust when the skies seem oblivious to my one word prayers?
This is a revealing place to be, to be sure. Do I feel relieved? Not yet. I'm still shaky and a bit frightened. I have never been good with not having a clear path.
Why do I tell you all of this? My parents think I say too much in this place.
Here's the thing.
I am convinced that we don't walk the roads we walk alone. I am convinced that my experience can help someone else, just like the experience of other's is helpful to me.
I am convinced that being open and honest and real leads to a life full of more meaning and depth and that is what I am going for.
So that is why I share. If it makes you uncomfortable, stop reading. If you've read it and don't know what to say when you see me out and about, don't talk to me. Really. It's okay. I will not be offended. Honestly, I probably don't want to talk to you either.
If you don't know what to say but want to say something how about a shoulder squeeze or a fist bump? It's code for , "Dude. This sucks. You're not alone."
So I am not going to end this with any wisdom or encouraging words. The truth is I am mapless and confused but I will share with you this song from my college days when I thought the pressure of finals merited blasting this song as loud as I could. Russ has gotten older, my worries have changed, but the message of this song still rocks.
Click here to listen.