“They say you’ve gotta lose a couple fights to win
It’s hard to tell that from where I’m sitting
They say that this is where the fun begins
I guess it’s time that I was quitting
A slight figure of speech
I cut my chest wide open
They come and watch us bleed
Is it art like I was hoping now?”
—Avett Brothers, Slight Figure of Speech
Dear fellow sojourners on the way, parents, artists, you people over there with your hearts on your sleeves, all of ya’ll…
Is it art like we were hoping now?
Motherhood like I was hoping? Womanhood like I was hoping?
My answer: Yeah. But I sure didn’t always understand how thriving would look like fighting. And soon as I thought I understood fighting often looks like sitting down and shutting up—the learning began all over again and again and again.
I didn’t know how to hope so big until certain griefs swelled my heart, like babies swell their mother’s womb. When love lives inside, everything transforms. Maybe it never finds its way back again. Maybe that’s OK. Maybe it’s amazing.
When will I always remember the way that seed pierced through my soil and how it grew to be so good? Often, at the forefront all we can feel is the piercing. It’s alright, we’re getting there.
Here’s what we must know: The sacrifice of living a life of love will leave the realm of the romantic and just be utterly. vulnerable. daily. life. It’s not gonna be a one time titanic, it’s a daily death, chest wide open.
Take my hand today, and remember how beautiful this is? Don’t be afraid, and don’t for one second think you are losing. But most of all what I want to say is, please, don’t quit.
For a long time I wondered how to live like this. Over and over I’d ask, “But how do I live? How do I live?”.
How do we live raw and wide open? You know, the way of love?
I’d sort it out logically. “I’ll live open, not to man, but to God”, but then I’d get stuck again because honestly—open to God inevitably makes us open to man…so.
Then, quietly, a little song on the wind:
“Where O death is your victory?
Where O death is your sting?”*
Death masquerades as your loss and it’s win. Depression, illness, failures, losses, fears, threaten to consume, BUT. When, in our humanity—our death dark valleys—we understand this image of God we bear is full of glory and we embrace our mortality as actually being nothing but immortal, because it was created by the immortal One, “then the saying that is written will come true:
‘Death has been swallowed up in victory.'”
The questions that confine us, can become the questions that define us. We can’t stop asking, but we must not stop listening either.
How, how, how?
Maybe we’ve all heard, “there is no fear in love”. Yet, here we are, swimming in this amazing world full of love (it’s true), shaking like leaves.
John said perfect love really does drive out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. Sometimes, I’ve gotten lost and it seems like all the reward there is for loving is punishment. Yet, when I fear…the truth is, I’m aching (wide open) for one thing, to know love…and oh, hey, there love is. Really.
Fear just can’t win, the place it brings us to, there on our knees, is the place we were needing to be all along. Humbling, yes. Living art like I was hoping now? Yes, ohh yes.
In love, we don’t have to be afraid. We don’t have to be afraid of the raw, wide open, vulnerable art of our lives, of being a spouse, a parent, a creator, a sojourner who has no label or place or idea where you belong. This, every. single. part. of this, is your story. It’s what you were created for.
Sometimes this makes me cry.
It may be lonely, or feel like a lost way. But truth is truth is truth and it can come on the wind if it wants to. It can make us cry. It will make us cry. But not all tears are sad, and sometimes even sad tears have a way of starting to wash over us things that need to go away anyway. Then, those most delightful things we call happy tears can take over.
Truth is: God. He overcomes. We are made in His image. Delightful in His eyes is our shape rising out of the mud. Yes, mud. No denying it. He never denies it. We just haven’t always known mud was our birthplace, birthright, birth done right.
“But even more important, we must learn to acknowledge that the creation is full of mystery; we will never entirely understand it. We must abandon arrogance and stand in awe.”
So. Let’s keep on loving. I’m gonna keep on mothering. Keep on wife-ing. Keep on writing, being a sister, a daughter, a friend. I’m gonna keep on giving myself fully to it. This isn’t in vain. Fear is a liar and consequently, a revealer actually. When fear says stop, that’s when it’s time for us to start running straight through. That’ll be art like we were hoping, now.
I’m with you in the longing, and the hoping and the really good stuff we’re made of.
Whether you are a physical or spiritual parent, or simply soul hungry to let Mercy lead, I’m with you. I’ve written a book of honest prayers I’d love to put into your hands. We need each other. We need to be honest, pray and strengthen each other. My book is based on the prayer Jesus gave his disciples, with space for journaling as well as prompts to dig deeper in faith, not fear—Buy It Here.
*1 Corinthians 15
1 John 4:18