Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Stripped Bare

Life can be difficult.


When you're facing something that is difficult, human nature often makes you feel a little afraid.

You look down the long, dark corridor and reach into the space beside you, hoping there is a hand with which to cling.   When it's the corridor of labor, as in to bring a child forth from your body, hopefully that hand is your husband, your midwife, your doula, someone who loves your heart and is trustworthy in the feat of guiding you through.  It makes it easier.  Somehow, you are not so afraid.  When someone is with you, each step forward is much less scary.

In life, it is much the same.  But...sometimes there isn't a hand there.  Sometimes you just have to have faith that though you see no hand to hold, nothing tangible to cling to, you can walk through the corridor and come out on the other side unscathed.  Because even though there is no human hand to hold, Christ is there holding not just your hand, but your whole life.  Every breath. Your feet, your movements, your meager steps, each counted and upheld by the same hands and feet which were pierced through to save.  To save YOU.

Jude, a dear friend of mine, recently told me that my current life-state sounded so much like Lent, she wondered what Lent actually looked like for me.  That was even before Lent began!

I try not to complain but I feel like I have a lot lately.  I am weak.

But in my weakness, Christ's strength is made perfect.

Ya know, every mama gets to that point where enough is enough is enough.  It's one thing after another and in this long labor of raising children and keeping a home, there are bound to be a few moments years of rough patches, where things just keep rolling along, gathering momentum, pulling in anything and everything in its path.... One big gigantic snowball looming and ready to roll over and crush you.

I'm at that point of throwing my hands up and shaking my fist at the sky.  But....BUT last night, I remembered Jude often encouraging me to just surrender.  SURRENDER.  So I did. Palms up, in my kitchen, I surrendered.

The moment was heavy and broken.  Shards of my life weighed me down.  I was attempting to pull out a plastic cup which got lodged in the garbage disposal.  This, after retreating from a battle I didn't even begin with the hot water heater which was leaking all over the laundry room floor, soaking blankets and other random clothes awaiting wash.  That, after spending the last three days cleaning up puke and washing my hands a thousand times because my two boys have been sick with "THE PLAGUE," one currently at the hospital.  And ALL THAT after the last two years of other devastating and difficult things.  Don't get me wrong, I know everyone is battling so much. I know this. I'm not an exception. I'm not saying my issues are bigger or more terrible than those of anyone else.

But even Christ needed help carrying His cross.

So there I am, trying to dislodge this cup which was the proverbial straw for me, and I felt like I might explode. I am in the middle of this dark corridor of life, crying out into a vacuous space, and I hear a voice telling me to just surrender.   I am being stripped bare.  A lodged cup or a busted hot water heater, or even sick kids puking for 3 days is NOT the end of the world.  This I know.  But those little things on top of the larger things that remain a constant, they were just too much at that moment.

Strip me away, Lord.  Strip me away.

So last night, my dear friend Jude lends me some really beautiful words.  Words that soothe; balm to my soul. 

"Try to imagine that you are tending to Our Lord as he makes his way through the narrow streets toward Golgotha. Be Veronica...with every puke sheet you wash, every bottom you wipe, every drink of water you offer...tend to Jesus in His Passion.  Imagine Our Blessed Mother and how her heart was aching to see his open flesh and dripping blood. Imagine how she, too, must have felt that God, Her Father in Heaven was stripping her, like you, to bare bones that first Lent. Imagine how she must have felt that she could not bear one more moment. But, she did. And, so will you. You are a STRONG WOMAN, Rebecca."
Being stripped bare is no joke, people.  And if you are unwilling, it can be all the more painful and messy.  But as I look around my house, disheveled, filled with germs, laundry piling up, broken things to be fixed, and as I look into the deepest darkest corners of my heart, my life, my personality, broken me to be fixed, I see a mess, yes... but it's a beautiful mess.   All this stripping down to bare bones is teaching me something.  Everything.  I have to conform my sufferings to Christ's sufferings and continue down this dark corridor of labor, of life. 

My friend had a few other words for me which gave me pause. Made me think.  Ushered in a new perspective.

You ARE truly the Cyrenian; helping Jesus to carry His cross. It is good that you surrendered. He WILL provide the grace for you to persevere and because you are willing to accept that grace, you will make it through.”
I am helping Christ carry His cross?

Apparently I am.  And I have no doubt that He is indeed giving me grace.  I have no doubt on that dark day when Jesus was crucified, Simon the Cyrenian was given multitudes of grace.  That his selfless act of helping a broken Christ to literally carry the weight of the world up a mountain was more for his benefit than Jesus'.  Simon himself was being stripped bare, even though he could not know this.  What an amazing gift to a poor sinner to suddenly without notice be given the opportunity to carry Christ's cross!

Life can be difficult, yes.  The sufferings we experience, be they marathon sickness or broken appliances, losing a loved one to cancer or rejection of family, are all meant to gift us with grace.  To draw us to Christ.  To bring us home.  In our weakness of being stripped bare, we are made new and Christ's strength is seen.  Do not run away from suffering.  Stop living your life trying to avoid every single uncomfortable thing.  Pick up that cross and allow yourself the gift of suffering, the weakness and humility, the hardship. There is a point to it.  When the gray skies clear and the heaviness has rolled away, there is light.  A purpose.  A hope.

So step forward into the darkness!  Trudge on!  Labor away! You. can. do. it.  He will give you grace and you WILL make it through.

I promise.