When We Come Undone.

The past few days have been a swirl of emotions, honestly.

Watching people grieve, rage and lament shootings in the streets. Coming alive to my own ignorance of what it means to be black in America.

Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy.

Dealing with my own emotional world, the peaks and valleys of leaving a place you love and know for a place you’re beginning to love but don’t yet know completely. 

Dealing with things out of my hands, out of my control, like trying to sell a home and experiencing the “tease” of showings without the payoff of an offer.

Dealing with potential futures that, when lived, are not as bad as they seem but when you’re staring at them they aren’t the preferred future you would choose. Commuting between towns, missing those sacred moments of bedtime and “How was your day?” when it’s still fresh on my daughter’s growing mind.

I am very much against making this outlet, this blog, some sort of channel for emotional pornography – putting my own stresses and challenges on display. The last thing I’m fishing for is “Oh, it will be okay.”

I don’t want to be some sort of poster child for “Christian transparency” – ripe with all the edgy adjectives about being “real” or “authentic.”

What I want to do is be honest, to say without reservation that we all have those moments where we come undone.

Just because I have some ability to bring some hopeful words about God to the forefront and have a sense of my own soul, does not mean I’m exempt from wanting to toss it all - eat an entire pizza and binge watch Netflix tossing the “difficulties” aside and embracing what seems easier or “softer” to my mind and body.

It does sound good, doesn’t it?

The other temptation for us is to believe that with Jesus, with the amazing story of resurrection and grace and goodness, that everything bad or difficult is somehow lessened. Yes, we can live there for a while. I do. And it’s true.

We are accompanied – I fully believe that in the darkness He is with us. (Ps. 23)

Yet at some point, when you walk into that deeper darkness that blows your retinas wide open and leaves you disoriented and stumbling, the reservoir of energy we have for dealing with dark begins to drip dry.

We begin to feel the edges fray.

We begin to feel desperate, begin to wonder about things that were never questions or concerns.

We even begin to feel our bodies respond – back aches, headaches, rapid heartbeats and stomachs that stop desiring food.

An occasional drink moves from recreation to requirement.

Sleep evades us, tossing and turning and dreaming the smoky dreams of distraction in a half-conscious daze.

All the while, God is with us.
We have not lost our faith.
We have, however, begun to come undone.

When we come undone, we start searching for the way up and out. We would love to simply buy in to all the encouraging words, the words we need by the way, and know that “everything is going to be fine” and “God is in control.”

David finds a cave and scrawls breathless, sweaty-palmed poetry about the distance of God and God’s apparent unwillingness to work on David’s behalf.  This is good, I mean, it made it in THE book, but David doesn’t apologize. He is where He is.

When we come undone, we haven’t stopped believing those encouraging things – we simply can’t receive them. We cry out. We lament. But we don’t escape.

When we’re undone, God is calling us to something different. He’s calling us to unravel. He’s calling us to see the frailty of our own ability to hold our junk together, to see the real “us” that sinks below our balanced words and well-managed public profiles.

To become humble enough to know that we’re not enough on our own, and trusting enough to know that as children of God we’re bound to be more than we are right now.

So, instead of running, we let ourselves unravel a bit - spinning the fibers of our being backwards off the loom – we trust ourselves into the hands of a God who does not need us to be complete.

He needs us to be dependent, and the way to dependence runs through the city of our unraveling, our coming undone.

I’ve always said that if you want to know who a person really is, give them 3 days with a newborn who doesn’t sleep. The real “them” comes out quickly because there’s no energy to keep that inner person down.

So, when we come undone, we need friends who remind us that this too will pass. But we also need to live in the middle of this, in the sackcloth and ashes, in the uncertainty and the discomfort, and learn something new about ourselves that we can only see when…

…when we’ve come undone.

If you identify with this post, can I recommend some reading? Jonathan Martin’s How to Survive a Shipwreck is a moving and insightful guide for the journey of coming undone.

So I pray. And I walk. And I’ll probably take some melatonin.

And then, I’ll remind myself that I walk with a God who loves the undone.