Thursday, July 23, 2015

Face Down in the Rain

There are plenty of good days - days when the sun is shining, patience is generous, laughter is bright. Days when the little things remain little and the blessings loom large.

Many days start out like this and then can change in an instant. Sometimes it feels like the anxiety is waiting right on the other side of the door, crouched and ready to make its move at precisely the perfect moment.

It might be a photograph, a news headline, a text message, an announcement on Facebook. Just a little drop of rain that sets off a storm. 

That day, for me it was a song lyric.

"Earth has no sorrow that heaven can't heal."

Sometimes I listen to Spotify while I work and I had been lost in a playlist created by Lauren Daigle. With the notes of Hillsong and Kari Jobe floating through the headphones, I clicked over to Facebook. Not that surprising considering I am in charge of my ministry's social media. There's a good chance I was going to find some funny Buzzfeed quiz and share it on my timeline though. I scrolled quickly down the page and I stopped when I suddenly saw her lovely face.

Have you ever found out something terrible via social media and felt a fresh kind of powerlessness?

On that night in February, I was simply checking Facebook quickly before going to bed. No big deal, same thing I do nearly every night. But there was something very wrong. The posts from my friends and colleagues from the community we last lived in in were laced with grief and disbelief. It took me about 3 minutes to dig a little deeper and find out what had happened.

A former student of mine had committed suicide.


The girl with handwriting that looked like it should be a font, the soft-spoken voice with ambitions and large opinions, a gift for dance, empathy and doing hard things.

She had been my student, yes. But she had also become my friend over the years.

She had become a writer, using a blog to work out her feelings of darkness and depression. Roxie had sent me a Facebook message about a year ago, inviting me to read her words and meet her in that place.

And then it defeated her. And as the truth of the news hit me, my knees buckled and I hit the floor as the cries of "No! No!" started to fly out of my mouth.

So there I was at my desk, more than 5 months after Roxie's death. Scrolling down my timeline once again. Someone had posted a video of her dancing along with a link to this news story that was released after her death.

Reading about Roxie, remembering her and grieving for her once again, I found myself starting to cry. For Roxie, yes. But also for the dark places I have found myself in, sometimes afraid I wouldn’t be able to find my way out.

Then Come as You Are by Crowder began to play in my ears.

Come out of sadness
From wherever you've been
Come broken hearted
Let rescue begin
Come find your mercy
Oh sinner come kneel
Earth has no sorrow
That heaven can't heal
Earth has no sorrow
That heaven can't heal

There are times when I feel so broken and hurting that I wonder if rescue is possible, if it is even worth it. Days when I can't even explain why I'm so sad, so angry, so defeated.

There's hope for the hopeless
And all those who've strayed
Come sit at the table
Come taste the grace
There's rest for the weary
Rest that endures
Earth has no sorrow
That heaven can't cure

Exhaustion weighs on me and I often have to fight the urge to stay in bed and hide for days. It's a tired that goes beyond just needing sleep.

So lay down your burdens
Lay down your shame
All who are broken
Lift up your face
Oh wanderer come home
You're not too far
So lay down your hurt
Lay down your heart
Come as you are

Then come the moments when the ghosts I thought were banished come back to torment me one again, whispering lies to my heart with increasing intensity, convincing me of things my head knows to be false, but yet I somehow keep crawling back to believing them.

Run home, sweet girl.

I often find myself face down in the rain, breathing heavily, tears mixing with the raindrops. My fists pound into the ground and I scream out in frustration, wondering how on earth I wound up here again. 

Sometimes I linger there a bit too long and it becomes more difficult to get up.

But if I'm willing to look up, to lift my head up out of the mud and show my face, He is always there. Waiting. And though I am ashamed of my mess, tired and beaten and brought low, I know that I will never be left there in the darkness alone.

And as I think of the mud, the darkness, and Roxie….I find this piece from Ann Voskamp.

The best way to tend to your open wounds is to open your arms.

So this is me, Lord, opening my arms. Coming just as I am, busted and broken.

Ann says "sometimes you just need someone to storm Heaven for you."

I wonder if someone pounded on the gates for Roxie.

It should have been me. She invited me in, reached out to me with what strength she has as she lay there in the darkness.

I saw here there. I met her there. And then I left, expecting her to follow me.

I should have stormed Heaven for her. I should have shook its gates until the hinges broke.

I didn't understand. And I'm so sorry, Roxie.

So very sorry.

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