I am, by nature, a fixer and a runner. It’s hard for me to stand by quietly or sit in the mess of life. When faced with discomfort, I’d much rather jump in to mitigate the problem or get as far away from it as possible.
I often move forward, facing conflict with haste, not so much as a means for resolve, as much as a one of ridding myself of feelings I dislike . And for a long time this method, more or less, felt like it worked.
Until it didn’t anymore. Until the facade of peace I bought and sold myself no longer held its value and things began to crumble.
Through continued trial and error, I’ve come to learn there is no quick fix to finding true growth and healing. That, for me, the only way out was to go in—to dig deeper and wait longer. To take in my full surroundings, retracing my steps and truly learning who I am and where I’ve come from.
Honestly, it’s really hard and some days I fear it swallow me whole.
This last year I’ve seen more pain and confusion in my own heart, and the hearts of many I care about, than ever before. It seems that all around me people are struggling with questions of identity, shame, deep heartache and fear— and what it all means when coupled with faith.
In an attempt to employ my previous method of attack, I’ve spent more than my fair share of time reading and listening to others’ proclamation of faithfulness, prescribing it to myself and turning it around and appealing those around me to do this same.
I’ve read and regurgitated verses from the Bible, like a coach—hyping myself and others up to get out there and take on life like a champion.
This in itself is not so wrong; I believe faith can beseech faith. Encouraging one another to keep going with the knowledge we’ve been given about God is a beautiful and essential thing. I wouldn’t have made it this far without a pretty solid team holding my hand and stirring me out of the dark seasons—and I consider it a great honor to tell of where I’ve been, standing in those same gaps for others.
So please hear me when I say, this is not a plea for silence or timidity. We belong to each other and sharing our stories is one of the greatest gifts we can give and receive.
But I fear sometimes we do it without really listening; without really standing in our own muck or that of one another long enough to look around and take in the whole scene.
Instead, we hear the discomfort, we feel the ache and immediately go on the attack. We sidestep true healing be reaching for passages and prose, accounts from our own lives or stories we’ve heard and apply a one-size-fits-all answer to pain, faith and uncertainty that’s all very relative.
It’s an easy thing to do—we throw solutions we know at questions we don’t understand. But it rarely works. With great matters of the heart it’s almost always a process as unique as we are as individuals.
We, as humans, are strange and wonderful creatures. We are complex and idiosyncratic. We have great commonalities with one another—but each of us has lived a different experience and therefore we see, hear and feel both life and God in unique ways. This makes it damn near impossible to fully understand one another without great effort and patience.
When choosing to be allies with one another, we need to sit down next to, not across from each other. Taking in the scene before us, we need to note each piece of detail in a true effort of understanding.
We need to listen longer and move slower—matching our pace with those in the process. It’s tempting to want and rush one another into healing—but growth is often strange, moving at inconsistent speeds, at odd hours of the day.
So together we wait. We walk. We cheer and we mourn. We fight and give up. Then we fight again. We find moments when words of great faith and hope bring pieces together and others when only cold beer will do.
We will fail. We’ll misstep, finding ourselves faulty friends, offering imperfect words in crucial moments.
We’ll find forgiveness.
We will heal.
Just don’t let go.
We need each other.