Today hasn’t been as bad as I expected. Thought I write that pretty tentatively; there’s a whole lot of day left. But I was expecting to wake up pretty emotional. Instead, I woke up with gratitude in my heart. Gratitude for a peaceful night’s rest. Gratitude for waking up later than usual. Gratitude that today is a marker, a stone of remembrance for me.
But for the first time, that stone of remembrance isn’t in a place. It’s not sitting on soil where I thought it always would be. It’s not traveling light, looking for another place to land. It’s in someone’s hands. Not mine.
One year ago, I sat in the Oslo airport and read psalm 68. I sat by a window near the plane, watching and waiting for us to leave. This plane would take me back to American soil. I think I felt pretty similar then, to how I feel today—
My heart is full of emotions, most that I cannot name or fully understand right now. All that I feel isolated by, totally unknown beneath them, beneath their avalanche. Their coldness doesn’t bother me; the hiddenness does.
But I am learning that there is a gift in the hidden place; there is a better one who sees me when no one else does. There is a better way he invites me into today, in this place where isolation meets me.
Because it is here that he invites me to himself, to know him better in the transition as the one who never changes. To see him rightly in the unknown because he has made himself known. And to rest in the hidden place because he never hides himself from me.”
It’s funny how quickly I both run to and shy away from the hidden place. As an introvert, it is something I crave, even need, sometimes. But as an Enneagram type 4 (sorry not sorry), probably with a wing 3, it is something that scares me. To not be seen and known for who I truly am (or to feel rejected even after) is my worst fear. I hide myself to mine out who I am and how I’m feeling; I run towards openness when I am allowing myself to fully, vulnerably be exactly who I am.
God meets me, he meets us, in both those places.
When we hollow ourselves out and need to hide for a time and when we run towards others to say proudly: this is who I am! He meets us because he knows us, he made us exactly like this. With this exact imprint and design (we have no design flaws). Why? Because it draws us to him. On either end of the hiding—running spectrum. It’s not that he wants us doing one or the other; running is no more valuable than hiding. It’s that he wants us with him, wherever we are.
That’s why this stone of remembrance, for me, now is in his hands. For awhile there, it was on soil; but that soil shifted and shattered beneath it. Does that mean it is not worth remembering? No, the things we remember have a future. A hope. There was still growth to come. You have to break open the earth to plant something. I didn’t know that as it was happening, as my dreams of living in India on mission forever shattered beyond recognition.
Shattered soil is where the seed belongs.
But now I come back to that field with him. Oh how I ran from him and this field at first a year ago; not wanting the hiddenness and waiting and hoping that planting asks for. I bolted from this field so many times. Towards a new job and line of work, towards self-hiddenness without the work of finding my identity in him, towards filling my hands with dreams I thought I should do—because it’s a new season and there should be all these new things in my hands. Right? Right?
My hands are empty now, no longing grasping for new dreams, nor bolting towards work, but choosing again and again and again that this is what he meant. The stone of remembrance is in his hands. He holds the past, present, and future I’m just walking one teeny-tiny step at a time in. The dreams he spoke as he shattered that soil dropped into the ground I was sobbing over then, the ground my stone of remembrance tumbling over in. And this is what he meant for them.
A year later, I’m looking back over this field—wide-eyed, a little teary, laughing over these words as I write, that seem so surreal to me now—and seeing that the shattered soil brought forth fruit: words and relationships and new life that never could have happened otherwise.
“Those who went out with tears, bearing the seed for sowing, come home with joy, with armloads of blessing” (psalm 126).
the shattered soil is where the seed was sown
buried deeper as I bolted
but missed out on seeing the seedlings
the first sprouts of green coming out of all these dreams
scattered across that shattered soil
where I thought all hope was lost
and I stopped waiting
because working is easier
when you think your dreams are done
lost in the depths of such broken soil
but when I slow down to sit with them
I see that they’ve grown
even while I was away
that they’ve been tended to
even while I refused to be
I see that all along
it was never up to me
to do something with these dreams
the shattering did not shatter me
to the point of shattering the still-growing dreams
but my dreams got planted deeper still
because of the shattering
the stirring up of the soil
brings me to a rootless place
where I can finally abide not in a calling or place or set of dreams
I thought once so appointed
but in a person who so appointed
me to be here, just here as me, in him dreaming and desiring dreams
that only this now-shattered soil