I was about a decade behind on the Friends phenomenon that took over the western world. As a Young Life leader I spent every Thursday night with my Apex High School friends. Friends was pre-DVR, therefore I never got in on the witty banter and coffeehouse camaraderie until I started having babies. As a mom with 3 itty bittys I found myself looking for a 20 minute mental break. Friends was the perfect past time. To this day, I quote Friends in any and all relevant life circumstances. Last week I wrote my Friends’ friends to enthusiastically alert them I was out of the sweat pants phase! For those of you who know of Chandler’s post break up depression, you know it is a very real phase that one must go through. After taking a much needed time out this past weekend–Chris said, “Jenni, you’ve done some real good thinkin.” (This was Joey’s response to Chandler being banned to a box for 6 hours.)
Chris was right though, I have done some “real good thinkin” over the past few days…over the past month even. My head and heart are less hazy, angry and dark. Colors appear brighter, my heart feels lighter, and I am far more hopeful about the future. Ask me to bust in to out a few lines of, “It is Well with My Soul,” and we might have to put a pin in it…but I am certain I could hum a bar or two.
What has made the difference?
Sticky note reminders: I received two notes within the past week from old Young Life friends. They are two very different young women with two very different stories. Each shared how my faith and friendship made some small difference in their world. One friend went as far as to scan a letter I had penned 16 years ago reminding her—no matter how hard and painful life becomes–there is a God who loves her. She was now (unintentionally) throwing my words back at me. I wondered…did I really mean what I wrote? Did I have any idea how hard or ugly life circumstances could get? I think somewhere deep inside I did, but we all need reminders.
The prayers of My People are legit. Sometimes things can only be moved forward through prayer. No doubt in my stuck, stubbornness it is the prayers of the saints (aka: my busted, broken, but wonderful friends) that have moved things down the field. You know who you are…for real…thanks.
Books (the Book and the mentors I mentioned earlier) are speaking loudly to me. One author, who speaks about God in ways I hardly thought possible without a lightening bolt to the forehead; likened his experience of silence from God to a door that had been bolted and double locked on the inside. His questions were so cutting and cold that it made my doubts look and feel lamb-like. I needed an advocate, giving permission to ask the hard questions–instead of stuffing it or falling off the faith cliff.
During my time of “real good thinkin” I found Lewis’ words especially interesting,
“When I lay these questions before God I get no answer. But rather a special sort of ‘No answer.’ It is not the locked door. It is more like a silent, certainly not uncompassionate, gaze. As though He shook His head not in refusal but waiving the question. Like, ‘Peace, child; you don’t understand.’
Can a mortal ask questions which God finds unanswerable? Quite easily, I should think. All nonsense questions are unanswerable. How many hours are there in a mile? Is yellow square or round? Probably half the questions we ask–half our great theological and metaphysical problems–are like that.” C.S.Lewis A Grief Observed
No amount of thinking will fully get my heart unstuck. Yellow is not square nor round. The circumstances surrounding our story this side of heaven won’t likely make sense.
The silence has broken and recently messages of His presence in my life and in the lives of those I love are emerging.
The gap between my heart and God’s had become tremendous. I am certain He remained close–but for me–it felt like there were oceans between us. The healing over the past few days and weeks has been nothing short of miraculous. It is not a coincidence that God re-routed us to the beach for the past month. My most spiritual moments unfold at sea. I began to compile my mental notes and messages. Writing has always been therapy for me. While kicking and screaming…I have been writing. While praying and reading…I have been writing. I have placed some of these words in to a mini memoir of sorts. I am going to put it in to ebook form to share with you. It will be my gift of gratitude for your willingness to stick with our story, for following our epic adventure, even when it didn’t end awesome–and for putting up with my many tantrums along the way.
In the sweatpants phase on Friends you do a lot of moping, crying and eating of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. If you are me, you roll your eyes a lot. You scowl, and kick things. You question what went wrong. Staying stuck in this phase leaves you fat, angry, and not super fun to be around. I am thrilled to have shed the sweatpants and moved on to the next phase.
I don’t know what this next phase has in store but I am pretty sure it entails attempting to live life palms up:
Palms up means you have nothing to hide and nothing to gain or lose. Palms up means you are strong enough to be vulnerable, even with your enemies. Even when you have been tremendously wronged. Bob Goff
Sweatpants are off.
Bring on the next phase.
May You Be a Blessing and May You Be Blessed,