"Life's essential harmony is within each of us. So also is life's brokenness. To be part of transformation is to look falseness in the face, to passionately name it and denounce it in our world, and at the same time to clearly identify its shadow within our own hearts and to do battle with it there."
J. Philip Newell
Once a friend told me that I had been pushing a boulder uphill for a decade. She was right.
But not just a decade, a lifetime.
I have lived my life in hard work, in wild sensitivity, in a deeper ache than I could name, in codependent hunger, in searching, in ill fitting spaces, in a longing for more. I've carried shame, and assault, and fear, and betrayal. There was a time when all of those things lived just under the surface of every word I wrote - it was the only way to expel the burden even a little bit.
I've also encountered. I've stepped my feet over unseen barriers and breathed in air that kept me alive. I don't know if I could explain it to you... and if I could, it might be too much Divine, or mystery, or unknown for the world we live in. My entire life it has felt like the barrier between my heart and the world was only a thin layer of skin, one I was helpless to thicken. I was born bold, but afraid, and I have always had a sense that somehow I would feel lonely, or misunderstood, or unheard throughout my entire life. I grew up with one half of me fully alive and the other half simply enduring.
And one time I heard Rob Bell talk about The God Who Wastes Nothing.
The God Who Wastes Nothing.
I look back at what I've lived, how I've always felt in my own skin, how I've carried the words, and opinions, and dismissiveness, and condescension, and lies of others like an extra limb. All the shit that was never mine to own, but that's what I was conditioned to do. All the tension that lived inside my body until panic would lift it out for just a moment. The unspoken, constant assumption that girls don't say no, girls don't reach higher than themselves, girls get married, girls give themselves away for the vision of others. The shame that filled my veins and eventually asked for my lifeblood. The weird balance of being protected, yet left exposed. The familiarity of being gaslit - because every single boyfriend had made that normal. The memories that I left buried until I had kids of my own. Seeing how small they were reminded me of how small I was. Seeing how innocent they were reminded me that I could never have known better. Seeing myself in them set everything in it's place. It is healing me to raise them, to celebrate them, to spur them on into who they are becoming. And that's how I know that The God Who Wastes Nothing has seen me with that boulder, shoved an ancient shoulder up against it, and pushed with me.
Turns out, these days I am really good at pushing boulders up hills. I'm resilient and I've faced my demons. I know struggle, and wilderness, and accusation, and I've looked right into hard eyes and tight lips. I've absorbed the energy in a room with all that judgement sliding towards me. I'm not afraid of those things anymore. More than that ... I forgive them. At least I'm in the thick of forgiving them. Over and over again, until there's nothing left but ash and wind.
Like Newell says, I can name and denounce falseness in the world because I do battle with it in my own heart. I'm not hiding from myself and I'm not hiding from the world. The people I know who are raising a cry of justice, and freedom, and even hope - those are the people who have seen their own dark interiors. They know what it takes to push against a mountain because they've done that work in their own selves. They know how to embrace humility, as much as it stings, because they've already been accused of being something they aren't. They know how to use their voices, how to press in when everyone else wants to disconnect and hide. They know how to be both brave and kind, how to love until their hearts bleed. They know how to sift through the indignation and justification of privilege. They aren't ashamed of the work they do or the consistency in which they have to do it. They aren't fragile, but they are soft hearted. They aren't broken, but they are scarred. And they aren't done yet.
For the rest of my life I will remember that The God Who Wastes Nothing was pulsatingly alive in the sound of human beings bringing a loud, insistent cry of NO to oppression and injustice. I will remember that The God Who Wastes Nothing spoke out the names of every murdered black son, brother, and father and as the grief swelled like a tidal wave I felt that holy shudder. I will remember that The God Who Wastes Nothing used buffalo and golden eagles to hold ground with Standing Rock. I will remember that The God Who Wastes nothing was alive in the lawyers who raced to airports and sat on hard floors all night, first responders to the massive injustice of the Muslim ban. I will remember that The God Who Wastes nothing was alive in the the federal judges who held fast to the Constitution, despite what it cost them. I will remember that The God Who Wastes Nothing held space with Sally Yates. I will remember that The God Who Wastes Nothing has been seen, and felt, and sensed over and over again through people. Actual people.
I know you're tired - all you love warriors. I know you have abandoned your reputation and have been isolated from what used to feel normal. I know you've woken up to things that have been at play for far too long. I know you vacillate between your own interior and the darkness pressing in on the world. I know you're learning how to rest, resist, repeat. I know you're facing down a giant right now and I want to remind those of you who are white that our friends and loved ones have been doing this work all along. For those of us who grew up with an inch or an ocean more of privilege in our hands, now is the time to remember that there is a God Who Wastes Nothing and we are being invited into the flow of that force of love. It's going to cost us that which we had never earned. It's going to require our fingers to loosen, our pride to vanish, and our shame to be dismantled. We're going to have to keep choosing to listen, to learn, to bow to the ache that others have lived with for centuries. We're going to have to choose to step aside and like, John the Baptist, shout straight into the wilderness: The God Who Wastes Nothing has something to say. We're going to have to amplify voices that have been overlooked and disqualified because of skin color. We're going to have to resist the overstep, deny ourselves the title of white savior, and take a seat. We're going to have to love harder, and longer, and broader, and fuller than we have ever loved before. We're going to have to stand up when we see dark clouds rolling in. We're going to have to resist, friends. And we're going to have to do that for the sake of love, of hope, of mercy, of kindness, and of the right to life.
Because you have faced your own shadows, you are qualified. Because you have done deep heart work, you are qualified. Because you have woken up to the expanse of Love and realized that it was NOTHING like you envisioned, you are qualified. Because you have looked falseness right in the eye and called it, you are qualified. And if not us, who?