Forced Pause

With the forced quarantine and isolation, has anyone else realized how devastatingly lost they’ve been?

This has been the question, in one form or another, on my heart and in my mind. Has anyone else ever gotten this far down a road they were never meant to travel? Has anyone else talked themselves into not looking back? Has anyone else been terrified to stand still? Has anyone been here, deep down a rabbit hole of their own design?

What a forced pause does is….. force you to pause. My prayer of ‘I don’t know where to start’ remains a centerpiece in my hour by hour existence. I find moments of peace, where I am able to truly surrender, but my spirit is not what it used to be. Peace is only found in small moments, eventually the test of spirit is lost against all the anxiety and fear that surrounds me. The honest reality is … my spirit is not strong. She became cynical and selfish and tired. She stopped practicing what she preached. She became stagnant and dusty with excuses. And then she became shocked when she realized how diminished and weak she really was. So when the lies of depression clouded the sky and anxiety rained down suffocating the small amount of spirit left, well… she drowned. She let the rain fall, she encouraged it, and when it became too much she gave up. She surrendered to the wrong things.

I reopened my bible. That was one of my responses to ‘I don’t know where to start’. I know it feels pretty self explanatory, but it wasn’t for me. In the move I brought little with me, but it turns out despite all my bad decisions I made a few good ones. I don’t just have one of my bibles with me, I have four. Why does one bring four bibles with limited space especially during a time of ignoring their faith/ running from the center of themselves? I don’t know if I can answer that except to say while I don’t always know why or when God intervenes in our lives… this was defiantly one of those moments.

Reopening your bible after years of letting it collect dust on different shelves is a strange act, but one that came with little output at first. I don’t know if you know this but there are A LOT of books in the Bible. I’ve read the Bible quite a bit in my past life. I used to know my way around it like the back of my hand. It felt hopeful but foreign to me. Similar to when you try sports you were once good at. Some of the skills are still there – you know how to shoot the ball properly towards the basket, doesn’t mean you’ll make it with ease anymore. You know you can sprint fast towards the goal, doesn’t mean you won’t pull a hamstring in your old age and out of practice body. That’s honestly how it felt reopening my bible. I knew the joy I had once found it in, the peace that my faith had brought me, and I knew how much I had once had memorized and organized in my brain. Shame and guilt and fear swarmed me when I realized I couldn’t conjure up any of my favorite verses. I couldn’t even remember where to find them. I held my bible in my hands and I found yet another pause inside all these pauses. Faith, to me, is surrendering to grace. Acts of faith are then an expression of that surrender and eagerness to live inside that grace – such as reading your bible and finding your own nuggets of truth through the stories. ‘Fun’ fact, similar to sports or weight lifting or yoga … if you do not use these muscles they weaken and break down. It takes willpower and a conscious effort to regrow them. I should mention I’m not saying this with any authority, I’m saying this as a person who is now having to be very intentional to regrow muscles she never thought she’d lose.

I don’t know where to start.

It seems to be my life’s prayer right now. It’s the most honest I’ve been with myself in a long time. I feel like I have so much to say, to cry out about, to be outraged by, to ask forgiveness for, to ask for help for… that sometimes or maybe I should say almost all the time it just overwhelms me and I short circuit. When I look at the full picture of the mess, my mind and body shut down. It reminds me of a home I used to live at, more than once I was down in the basement with a flashlight looking at the fuse box and figuring out what fuse needed tending to. That’s how I’ve had to begin looking at my spirit, my life, and my aches – as a fuse box. It’s a weak fuse box, this thing has been through the ringer so it’s not one that will hold up when too many things are causing a stir at once. But, when the inevitable happens and something shorts, I try to get myself to the internal fuse box and see what fuse is the source of the rest of the problems. Sometimes I can see it on my own, sometimes I have no light to guide me and it takes longer as I pray through it.

I don’t know where to start.

As for my bible, throughout the Easter weekend I listened and read the Resurrection story (found in the Gospels for those who may not know – Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John). This morning however, when I understood I needed to keep going – that for me healing will be found in continuing to dive in – I found myself responding to the Psalms. So that’s where I’m going next. The cries and hurt and love and prayers of David. He’s a bit of a mess, but faithful in his cries and I guess I can’t really see myself anywhere else. I’m a mess, but I want to relearn my faithfulness. Because I haven’t been. Faithful to my spirit, to myself, to my person, my being. I got gobbled up by the idea that if I can run away the problems would be left in the dust but the thing about that is…. even if you can outrun them for a time, you may find yourself in a forced pause. Maybe even a pause that the nation hasn’t seen since the Great Depression. And you may feel anxiety and fear and regret and shame and isolation and confusion ….. and then you may wonder to yourself and be in awe at the question…. Does God love us so much that he would nearly pause the world to get our attention? To bring our eyes back to him? To use the loss of everything in order to rework our hearts? To heal us with grace?

That’s pretty radical grace.

I want to believe in radical grace again.

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