Meanwhile our little friend kept running around the house. And then, he started screaming, because why not scream in an empty house that has an epic echo, right? The running and screaming got our attention. We stopped talking and watched him. The more I watched the more I laughed. “Man!” I thought to myself, “kids sure know how to have fun!” Then I remembered I was in my own empty house and what rules were there against running around in circles while screaming in your own house? None. Zero. Nada. Zilch.
A couple of years ago, for the very first time that I can ever remember, I missed Easter. When my alarm went off to get me moving in time to make the sunrise service, I felt a little bit “off.” I thought it was a headache, so I rolled over and made the decision to skip sunrise and get myself to the 10:30 service. It wasn’t long, however, before I knew something was wrong. It was vertigo. My husband was eight hours away on a ski trip in Colorado. When he called to report on the fun he was having, he could tell something was wrong.
Tasha sat slumped on the bench in the corner of the fitting room. Tears formed and spilled over into her lap, just like the rain outside. Tasha’s friend (she can be Nikki) said, “But we’re getting through this. We are doing this together.”
Through the years, I have learned that some of what we call “failure” is really just growth, or transition, or a lesson being learned. It is the act of discovering something new about ourselves and the world, or entering in to a new season, or becoming more fully alive.
As God is prone to do, God was teaching me something in the midst of an ordinary, human moment… When we grieve the news of war and famine, of families being torn apart, of people losing their lives, of injustice, poverty, sickness, and death, God grieves with us. God enters into the weight of darkness with us. God does not shy away, or point a finger, or scold, or blame. God comes near to us, presses in with us, bears the weight of sadness with us. Thanks be to God.
I received my first prescription for anxiety and depression ten years ago. It was Lexapro. I had been to therapy, and it helped. But the tape still kept playing in my head. When I was growing up, I knew mental illness was a thing, but no one called it that. Touched. A little off. Crazy. Loony. These are the words I heard. The adults in my life inferred that the right amount of faith would cure it, if you were looking for a cure. But mostly, some people were crazy… and others weren’t.
This is the look we should have whenever we think about how much God loves us and invites us to the ultimate Royal Wedding!
I wasn’t sure how the story would be received. But isn’t that the whole idea behind risking our true selves with the world around us? We never know how we’ll be received by onlookers, and often, that keeps us silent when we should speak up. Sometimes, our concern about how our true thoughts, our true beliefs, our true mistakes, our true selves will be received by others keeps us living behind masks that conceal who we really are and how we really feel.
This is what it means to hear someone else’s story and honor it, value it, and treasure it. This is what it means to enter into relationship with another person, another group of people. Of course, Jesus was our best example of this. He moved into our neighborhood (as Eugene Peterson has paraphrased it), and did not consider equality with God something to be grasped. Instead, Jesus made himself nothing so that he could draw near to us, and heal us.
Brave spaces are transformational. Brave spaces draw a person out and give them the opportunity to be transformed. Alternatively, safe spaces often make it safe for me to stay the way I am. Brave spaces invite vulnerability, while safe spaces often keep me shielded from growth. David’s brothers and the rest of Saul’s army chose safety when facing Goliath. But God calls us out of hiding and into the light, where we are invited to partner with God in miraculous acts that bring a new way of living.