It feels heavy today.
I thought that as the fog piled up around me in the wee morning hours, clogging the headlight beams, tossing itself over my car like one of those dense blankets you throw over a fire to smother the flames.
And inside I felt a little bit smothered.
Life unleashed a lot this week.
And I wasn’t ready.
Do you ever have those days or weeks when you feel like in a breath you become the worst version of yourself, like one big walking weakness? At first, you’re okay. Got a lot going on, but holding it together.
And then out of the fog, Satan sucker-punches you.
And it’s like the stars that fly around people’s heads in the cartoons, like he’s out of the blue walked into your house under the cover of night and kicked open that box that holds all the stuff that you’d like to never see the light of day again — your deepest hurts, your deepest grief, the things you struggle with.
And he’s like that bully kid who doesn’t care how sacred that particular stuff is. He’s just dumping it all out like cheap toys to be played with, throwing them all over the floor, breaking them, messing with them, and you watch in horror, powerless as everything broken is horrifically on display.
That was my week this week.
And I spent all seven days on hands and knees crawling around, trying to pick it up as he just reached into the box and threw out more.
For the love, just make it stop.
But that’s just not how our enemy rolls … not once he has his crosshairs trained on you. He just goes harder. (I mean, just look at Job 1.)
This week was hardly like Job. But in one particular moment, after trying for days to catch up to Satan’s pace and overtake him, I cried mercy. I was in a conference, and the worship leaders started playing a song that yanks my heart back to a moment I’d love to never revisit again. What are the chances they’d play that. Right now. This week. Two friends saw it happen, and they reached over from both sides and grabbed my hands. I squeezed them like I was holding on for dear life.
I found myself wishing I’d worked a lot harder to keep a tighter squeeze on the lid of that box. To not leave my vulnerable spots wide open.
But as I squeezed their hands, I remembered that I’d released my grip on that box a while back, on purpose.
Because I can’t control it even if I try.
And because the pain itself isn’t the problem. Weakness itself isn’t the problem. Neither are the struggles.
It’s going to come out sometimes. It’s going to hurt sometimes. I’m going to wrestle sometimes. I’m going to ugly cry on friends kind enough to let me in the middle of a worship service, and I’m going to do it sometimes by myself in a bathroom stall, or my car, or in my bed at night.
That song, for instance. It’s not the first time it’s been played. It’s played a thousand times (or ten thousand, one might say) in the past two and a half years since the day I sang it as the guys carried my friend Clare’s wicker casket down the aisle. Sometimes I’ve switched it off the radio. Sometimes I’ve been able to sing it. Others I’ve been able to just let myself cry and tell God how much it hurts.
The box gets opened.
But the difference is this — I don’t have to hit the mat when the punches come.
Because when I’m buried in God’s Word on a daily basis … when His truth is filling up the corners of my heart … and the box opens, I filter it through His truth. When I’m not going from strength to strength in the power of His presence and Word, I’m just Grace. Grace who means well and wants to hold it all together but who has a well of emotions that runs from Alabama clear through to China.
But because of Jesus … even that Grace can see her pain through the lens of His love and truth and greater purpose and in light of the highway to Zion that’s getting me to the place I want to be more than anywhere else.
When I’m weak, He’s strong.
But only when I saturate myself in His strength.
One night, as tears ran down my face, I texted one of those hand-squeezing friends and told her how I much I hate it when weaknesses smother you.
And she said this: Sometimes I wonder if God lets our emotions overtake us to remind us that we can’t control everything. I don’t love it.
I don’t love it either.
But the fact is … it’s better for that box to get opened and remind me why it’s important I not try to life on my own. It’s better for it to drive me into Jesus. It’s better for it to end up in His hands than stay locked up in that box. It’s better for me to remember that it’s Him I want, and that He cares for me, and that all this is temporary.
And that grounds me. It hurts, yes. But hurt feels different when it’s grounded in His heart for me.
And that … that part I love.
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