Today I just needed a little time. Some space to breathe and room to think. Looking outside, the gray ceiling of clouds promised a harsh cold, but I didn’t care. I found my running shoes, clicked my dog to his leash, and opened the door.
It felt really good to go for a walk alone–and for the first time in many months–without my iPod. Because what I heard today was a new kind of silence:
heels crunching into snow.
the scratch of hood on hair in rhythm with my stride.
buzzing electrical lines.
a far-off bird.
Reuben’s paws click-clicking on pavement.
my own breath.
wind in skeletal grasses, tall alongside the road.
the whir of cars racing past.
the rub of dog leash against gloved hands.
God was calming my soul.
I knew when I left the house that I had a lot to unload. Today in church we sang a song that I love, with a line that says that [Jesus is] “…gonna take what I can’t carry no more.” What we sing is a bluesy and wonderfully re-written version of Amos Lee’s Black River. And it had me thinking as I sliced through the winter afternoon.
Maybe I’m the only one who struggles with “carrying”. Maybe it’s easier for you to lay something down at Jesus’ feet and just walk away. But I’m finding that there are one or two things that seem to sprout seedlings in my heart even after I try and try to tear them out. Why does my mind persist in reminding me of the hurts and disappointments and measuring sticks?
With wind numbing my ears and stinging my eyes, I rounded another corner. I turned “the seedlings” around in my mind and weighed my options. I thought about love and wondered what it means to act lovingly when you feel injured. How do you know when love would confront, gently, and speak honestly? How do you know when love would leave it alone? Choose to overlook?
In 1Peter 4:8 the Bible says, “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” So I considered packing up my feelings and stuffing them in a Tupperware container, snapping on the lid, and lodging it into the back corner of the freezer. I would deal with these feelings by myself–sharing them with my husband, of course–but not approaching those directly involved. I would trust God with my heart and remember my great worth in His eyes. But I would not unearth my feelings in the context of a conversation with the salt-rubbers. Because love covers over a multitude of sins, and I should love them and not seek recourse in confrontation.
My other option was sitting down with them and, like coffee thumped over by a thoughtless hand motion, let my thoughts spill out on the table between us. Let them sit there and bleed into the tablecloth and dry as a stain. A muddy blob of emotion laid bare. Ephesians 4:26 says, “In your anger do not sin” : Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.” Except the sun has gone down many times. I guess I’m sinning.
The struggle is that relationships look easy on paper, but we all know that in real life they are complex balls of connections and history and love and trust and vulnerability. Maybe I think I’m ready to unravel that ball, but to be honest, the thought of approaching a table to drain myself is terrifying. It makes the inside of my heart feel spooned out and hollow. My palms start to sweat and I am filled with worry.
So, for now I’ve decided that “…the bitter pill I swallow is the silence that I keep.” [Ghost, Indigo Girls]
For now I will try to stop carrying. I will try to trust that Christ not only will carry it for me, but that He actually wants to do it.
I will remember that my worth does not require the validation of the world and a select few of its inhabitants.
That it is measured not by rulers and yardsticks, but by two beams that were hoisted up as the greatest demonstration of love the world has ever known.
I will keep walking and enjoying the crunch of the snow and the sound of my dog next to me.
I will swallow the pill and work on my own heart.
I will work on loving.