The pathway is broken and the signs are unclear
And I don’t know the reason why You brought me here
But just because You love me the way that You do
I’m gonna walk through the valley if You want me to
Recently, my gorgeous cousin Mary and I sat down and hashed out a life plan. We talked big picture stuff. We talked little picture stuff. We talked food, and kids, and flowers, and tv, and clothes. We talked relationships. We talked mistakes. We talked about love and faith. We talked MUSIC.
We stayed up until an ungodly hour playing songs for each other.
I love all kinds of music. I was having a conversation with a woman at the beach the other day about how the best work out music, for me anyway, needs to be a little angry. The best car music for me is up-tempo, happy pop stuff. On summer nights, I want something acoustic and nostalgic. I want James Taylor on summer nights. But the music that cracks me wide open, that my heart really responds to, is always tinged with heartache, somehow.
Good grief, you guys. Music. Actually, that’s it. That kind of music is GOOD GRIEF. When someone can write a song that captures that sorrow and says something TRUE with it, it’s grief that’s good. It isn’t precious grief, on a shelf. It isn’t maudlin, or gratuitous. It’s grief with dirt under its fingernails. It has a job to do, and it does it. I do love a job-doing thing. For real.
When my marriage was dying, I got stuck. I got completely entrenched in needing to know WHY. WHY did it have to be so awful? WHY did it have to be so humiliating? You want to leave? You want to give up on us, on me? Okay. That’s horrible, and painful enough. I got stuck in needing to understand the complete annihilation of our life. The burning of every bridge, the contempt for and abandonment of everything we’d built together.
‘Cause I’m not who I was when I took my first step
And I’m clinging to the promise You’re not through with me yet
So if all of these trials bring me closer to You
Then I will go through the fire if You want me to
The needing to understand WHY almost killed me.
I couldn’t sleep, I wasn’t eating, I was drinking too much, and begging God, my best friend, my lawyer- anyone, really, to please explain it to me.
The church I was attending at the time had a fabulous singer. He had such a beautiful voice, and sang so many of the worship songs that just opened my heart in a way that helped me to hear things differently. My friend Angela was checking out some of his stuff on YouTube and sent me a link to a cover he and a young woman did of the Ginny Owens song, If You Want Me To.
I commenced listening to it about eleventy-billion times over the course of that awful year.
I think my struggle with faith has always been just that. FAITH. I’ve always believed in God, but I think that’s different than having faith. I never felt certain that there was a plan, or that He would never leave. That involves trust at a soul level, and trust has never come easily to me. I think some people are able to relax into their faith in a way that has always been difficult for me.
It may not be the way I would have chosen
When You lead me through a world that’s not my home
But You never said it would be easy
You only said I’d never go alone
Some people’s faith seems like a graceful surrender. Mine has been more like a war of attrition. God wore me down. He out-waited me. I surrendered, but only because I had no fight left in me. I was shadow boxing the twin demons of shame and fear for so long, and I was so, so weary. Exhausted. Seeing my marriage go up in flames was the last straw. I lay down my arms. I didn’t so much relax into my faith, as I collapsed into it, wrecked. Undone.
I would listen to that song in the middle of the night, and sob. I would have the lyrics running through my mind, constantly. I think it was a “fake it til you make it” situation. That song is about not needing to understand the why. I was so not there, yet. But hearing that song, over and over, I began to believe that I might GET there. I began to have faith in the possibility of faith.
So when the whole world turns against me and I’m all by myself
And I can’t hear You answer my cries for help
I’ll remember the suffering Your love put You through
And I will go through the darkness if You want me to.
I think I finally did get an answer as to why. I believe it needed to get as awful as it did, because that was the only way for me to let go. I also think, that even if I didn’t get that answer, I am now in a place where that would be okay, too. It’s okay for things to be hard, and mysterious. Most of the important stuff in life is.
I don’t need to see the big picture every time. I know that there is one, and that’s enough to sustain me through the valleys of life. And, more likely than not, I’ll be singing as I walk through them.
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