Not sure where this Good Friday finds you? Are you full of faith? Faltering?
Not beginning to comprehend or claim rights to pain and suffering, I do find myself needing to be honest about my faith…especially on this Friday.
A tragic unexpected fire sweeps through your home and you are told you have one more trip in to your house to rescue as much as your arms will carry. What would you save in a fire just after you have rescued your children, beloved family pet, and your photos?
Arriving home recently from what I would classify as an 18-month faith-altering crucible of life, I realize I am surrounded by BOOKS. Maybe this makes me a tad bit pathetic; but over my life time, books have been my teachers, mentors, and even friends. Sojourners navigating the choppy waters of life. Books are great entertainment and distraction…but they are also the very texts that inspire and prod me forward when I feel stuck.
In my fire, I realize, I would grab and armful of books. Books, well worn with notes scribbled in the margin, ear-marking where my life has taken me. Acknowledging where my author “friend” guided me in and out of turbulent times.
Over the past 6 months I surrounded my reading world with this group of “friends” who were asking tough questions, praying big prayers, and making people (including myself) laugh by not taking oneself too seriously:
Sara Hagerty, Every Bitter Thing is Sweet
Mindy Kaling, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me (and Other Concerns)
Shauna Neiquist, Bittersweet
Jennie Allen, Anything
Mark Batterson, Circle Maker
Examining this list of books it is quite telling where I was, and what I was searching for: Sweet in the midst of bitter life, purposeful prayers, a fresh look at faith, and humor that grounds me and forces me to laugh because life is twisted but shouldn’t always hover in the depths. We all must come up for air and Mindy made me breathe.
Here I sit on this Good Friday. I have spent time this morning in The Book that offers hope, life and prayers when I have none of my own. I now am LITERALLY surrounded by a group of titles for this next season. I feel warm and ready for a new set of words. A new group of mentors and friends. One is an old friend, I pick up his words with respect knowing his wisdom runs deep and his understanding wide. Others hold promise for a fresh perspective, encouraging a thankful heart, providing witty words. (My Wednesdays in high school were affectionately coined “Doogie Days” and I could not be more excited to delve in to NPH’s autobiography!)
The Problem of Pain, C.S. Lewis
One Thousand Gifts, Ann Voskamp
Neil Patrick Harris: Choose You Own Autobiography, Neil Patrick Harris
Shattered Dreams, Larry Crabb
A Grief Observed, C.S. Lewis
You can see where I am today. The titles paint a perfect picture of my fractured heart, where I have been, and the faith-shattering journey I have been asked to walk.
My head says, God is good…my heart does not.
No book, friend or mentor will tell me what my heart is unwilling to feel. I have seen things. Ugly, raw and evil things.
What will come next is sheer mystery.
Time, prayer, perspective, and some honest, straight-forward dialog with my Creator will follow. The Word will ring hollow and then ring true. Words from The Word, my mentors and friends will eventually settle in and take root, offering insight, my heart will soften.
This will happen. It has happened before…it will happen again. Mysteriously, I will find myself on the other side…faith shaken but not forfeited.
There will come a day when my heart makes peace with my head. There will come a day when, “God is good,” is not something I say out of obligation, but out of heart-felt sincerity. Words spoken not because I know it to be true, but because it is true.
I stake my hope in this mystery. I stake my heart on this faith.
Madeleine L’Engle says this of C.S. Lewis words from A Grief Observed, “I am grateful, too, to Lewis for having the courage to yell, to doubt, to kick at God with angry violence. This is a part of healthy grief not often encouraged.”
So (humbly) with full permission from two of my “mentors” I will yell, doubt, and delve in to the depths of darkness on a quest to find the goodness of God amidst this vortex of pain we call planet earth.
I am consciously losing my faith…with plans to find it.
My words for this next season will not likely be full of warm fuzzies. The words will be raw and real. Faith questioned. Doubts entertained. I invite you take this next truth seeking trip with me.
Feel good will not be the mantra…but faith restored will be the outcome.
May You Be a Blessing and May You Be Honest,