Unbuild, Rebuild

We walked into our home after an evening out together, a win on our part due to the busyness of this season, when it hit me: I had left a load of our clothes in the washer. I quick walked the ten feet from our doorway to the laundry closet in hopes that maybe I was wrong, swinging the door open with force to see what I had feared with a washer full of our towels. I then began to do what I dislike most, blubbering and crying about the mildew smell that was all my fault. All signs were certain with this mishap, everything now seemingly so clear, no question in my mind that I was for sure a failure.

Without many more details, it wasn’t just about my forgetfulness, but what the exaggerated reaction to something small like this reveals. Where now have I placed my hope?

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I have no need for hiddenness, although I am finding that unconsciously I hide certain feelings I am uncomfortable with, stuffing them down as I move on to the next task or thing to do. I will share with many where I am at, what I am feeling, while keeping a stone cold face, even smiling because even to me, my emotions seem so silly and unimportant to listen to. Maybe it’s less unconscious and more learned and practiced and habitual, my most conscious.

So the cup tipped over. What was spilled was a statement that I knew cognizantly wasn’t the truth, but I did believe it with my whole heart.

Once more with a misplaced smile, I shared with a friend that I had finally been broken to the point of complete weakness, maybe earlier in this season able to muster up whatever strength I had to make it through, but now simply begging God to get me through the day. It was probably more of a grimace, now having to admit that I have been eaten, chiseled, crushed to the point of dust that I was at desperacy, no triumphant way about it, but simply looking at the battle of a new day as one where I had groanings too deep for words where the Spirit thankfully could intercede. I could preach that this was the way, that this neediness was exactly where I needed to be, but loathed the stripping of my autonomy that I had plastered back onto myself, seeming to never truly learn my lesson the first, second, ninetieth time.

A lot of it has had more to do with the perception and talk of others as well, so nervous that something I said or did springs forth a geyser that rocks the boat, worried of what I could have done not recognizing it was not the right thing, curating a concoction of constant social paranoia, an aching anxiety and fear sitting in the pit of my stomach as a reminder that I am not abiding. Where now have I placed my hope?

This demolition of all that I have held dear will allow for holy and proper rebuilding to take place, yet, I have eyes only for the things lost than the things that can be restored.

I prepare others for the dormant season of the greenery that grows in their homes, the shedding of lower leaves to prepare for new ones many months later, the slowing or even total stoppage of new life as the weather changes from many hours of light into most hours of darkness. My body follows suit, tending to these small living gifts crowding my window sills in the small square footage of the apartment we will soon leave, more change, more shifting. I both crave a new adventure as well as staying put, the paradox of most of life settling as a comfort within me.

It is a battle, a fight, a war, all imagery I dislike so much as I long for peace and rest, and yet, there is work to be done. I am reminded of the love of Jesus not being unconditional, but contraconditional as coined by David Powlison, refusing to leave us where we are at. I had described it to a new mother last week like a parent refusing to leave their child in their poopy diaper, even if it means holding the infant’s kicking and grabbing limbs to clean them up from the mess they have made. I am writhing, I am frustrated, I am disappointed, and He is patiently helping me make new habits, new patterns, a new life out of much death. He is still good. He is with me.

O LORD, my heart is not lifted up;
my eyes are not raised too high;
I do not occupy myself with things
too great and too marvelous for me.
But I have calmed and quieted my soul,
like a weaned child with its mother;
like a weaned child is my soul within me.
O Israel, hope in the LORD
from this time forth and forevermore.
— Psalm 131
I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter, my great army, which I sent among you. You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord your God, who has dealt wondrously with you. And my people shall never again be put to shame. You shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am the Lord your God and there is none else. And my people shall never again be put to shame.
— Joel 2:25-27

This song has been a comfort for me in these past few days: The Year of the Locust, by Andrew Osenga