I was a week past deadline on this post.
I sat at the keyboard for two days straight while fever swallowed up my hours and I mopped up my nose with a growing pile of tissues, gathering like soggy clouds in my wastebasket. And my fingers hovered over the keys. Backspace gobbled up my words faster than I could get them down and I must have started five or six posts before the letters trailed off and got stringy and anemic like my story was being siphoned off and stolen away. I wanted to blame it on the flu, because who can think clearly and write in a cohesive way when you’re fighting off tiny viruses, but I knew it was more than that. I knew I was fighting more than my body in trying to write this post.
I messaged Kris and told her I was trying, I asked for direction and she offered prayer and so much grace. I reached out to some writer friends who get the struggle to nail down words during hard seasons. Who understand the work it is to show up and say something and the sheer joy it is to produce anything we’re proud of because so often the battle to get to the blank screen means wiping the slate of all the better things we’ve already read by writers who seem to have killed their demons and slayed their obstacles and are rat-a-tat-tapping out their life’s work to their receptive audience of faithful readers.
And I was struggling, folks.
I am the girl who struggles. Flails about, really. Maybe we all do in some way or another, I used to be so much better at hiding it. But I’ve been particularly humbled during this failing season, full of health problems, and mental illness, and life stresses. Hiding it doesn’t really work anymore.
I took a sabbatical from writing due to these mounting pressures, and had hopes that when I came back I would be able to do the work. Writing has always been the thing I do to feel God’s pleasure.
But writing isn’t enough without a life worthy of the words and this is the dilemma. Because our real lives aren’t always enough anymore. There’s a pressure to showcase our service with Instagrams of us serving the poor, or hashtagging causes on twitter, or selfies with the #leastofthese.
There’s pressure to be more and do more and we’ve all felt it. That slow churning ache that our one wild and precious life is slipping away and we’ve done nothing to make it matter. I’ve woken panicked that my life will be wasted because I wasn’t paying attention or doing enough.
Social media and blogging is like a catalogue of all the things you too, could be doing. It’s so easy to browse.
I dreamed grand dreams right here in the middle of the ordinary because everyone else seems to be able to pack their kids up and send them off to school or gather them at the table and homeschool them or be up all night with a toddler and still make room to do and go and be. Other people seemed to be able to teach bible studies and write books and travel and speak on stages or pushed up close with their knees almost touching over coffee while intimate confessions are spilled and the gospel is oozing into the cracks. Other people can bake casseroles and visit the sick and sit with the dying. Other people can write about the injustices in the world without the rage of the heartbroken, sagging under the burden of being too sensitive and fragile to hold much at all. A person whose capacity is so low they have to retreat like a child, covering their eyes and plugging their ears while drowning out the shattering pain in the world.
Other people can minister, other people can matter. In these moments I tell God He made me all wrong.
And so I sat here at my keyboard with accusations hurling through my mind- How can you write about hospitality? You haven’t even been able to get out of bed for half of the year? Let alone serve anyone or open your home. You can’t visit the sick, you are the sick. You can’t minister to the needy and the poor, you are the neediest and the most pitiful. How can you write about ministry or strangers or meeting needs? You can’t even manage without help. How can you write about anything at all?
You’ve done nothing to make you worthy of this space.
And so I didn’t write anything at all. I didn’t want to make a mess at the table. I didn’t want my soiled and dirty and wretched offering of not enough to be served up for everyone.
I didn’t want to be pitied or soothed like a petulant child. I wanted to be admired. I wanted people to say, look at how she does all of that, how she pours out over and over and God meets her. Isn’t God good? I want to be like her! I wanted to have something worthy to bring.
So I’ve struggled for days to write a single word, because my flesh wants to tell you of the ways I serve my church, and the hurting people. It wants to tell you of the difference I’ve made in that one person’s life just by being a presence who says, you don’t have to pretend everything’s fine.
I want to tell you of the ways I’ve opened my home and set the table and pulled down the wine glasses and lit the good candles and said come. But I’ve done none of this lately. I would have to stretch my story so far back to tell you of the girl who did.
I’ve barely managed myself most days.
And so tonight I sat on the couch and I cried. Sobbed really. At all the emptiness I feel when I try and just can’t. At the resentment I have in my heart when I will to be someone who can do, and find instead I am someone who just is. And I asked God, why, in the flood of tears. Why me? What could I possibly have to say anymore?
And maybe I didn’t hear it when I started typing. And maybe I don’t even know if I truly grasp it now because I’ve told myself this too many times to count and it’s still ridiculous and too scandalous to swallow.
But this is the gospel, nothing more, nothing less. The grace we find at the table. Come, just as you are.
While we were sinners, wretched and unworthy with no notable Instagrams or achievements, with no accolades or retweets, with more failures than we can count, with baggage and trauma and stress, with ministries that fail and intentions that are full of flesh, so reeking with need for a savior, Christ died for us. He pulled the chair out as wide as the cross and he offered us a seat at His grace table.
And then I typed, I aimed as small as a girl can aim. Just a tear drop in a bucket really. And it was enough.