A year ago it was good Friday, and I wrote a small poem in the dimly lit sanctuary of the Anchor Fellowship in downtown Nashville. I was staring at a picture (below) representing the 13th station of the cross, where Jesus’ body is taken down from the cross. The hands holding the soil of barely-begun-new-life just hit me right where I was at, right where I was trying to hold things together myself, waiting for life to spring up from broken soil.
You don’t have to do this.
You don’t have to hold this
Struggle, struggle, struggle
To grow this.
I’ve already done it
Set redemption into motion.
It is finished.
Rest. Rest. Rest.
I posted it on Instagram, “for those who feel a little buried by life,” and I think we can still relate to that, don’t you?
Our current circumstances can definitely leave us feeling buried.
My chest is tight and it’s hard to look ahead to a re-opening economy, not just because of the remaining risk from COVID-19, but, if I’m honest, it’s because working from home has revealed a lot of the stress I run under at my job. I’m afraid of diving fully back into that, now only doubly so because I’ve held my ground, remained at home, worked hard, but also found rest in new ways–through yoga and a schedule that has actual breaks in it, and moments to breathe, instead of being chained at a desk and to a phone that rings incessantly.
What’s weird is that the first few weeks of self-isolating and working from home, I felt so relieved. Alive. Happy, even. I have worked hard, but I’ve also learned new, needed boundaries and had fun and taken care of myself and my body. I found a way to hold rest even while working hard and still being stressed at times (because we’re all in just one overwhelming, stress-inducing environment right now, okay?).
And I guess that’s the realest fear I can admit that I hold here:
I’m afraid of undoing the growth. Being buried again by the guilt and shame that haunts this hardworking woman in a male-dominated industry. Buried by the expectations that come in a sales environment. Buried by the worry of having enough, as my husband’s industry will likely remain closed for the foreseeable future.
Will I just be buried again, despite the growth? Will I take these changes back with me?
I’m afraid that I can’t. And not just because I’m going back into a workplace that has operated decently well as an essential business and has kept going despite widespread slowdown. It’s me, the habits I’ve forged in that office. The unhealth I’ve long excused and looked past. The anxiety I’ve let just kinda bubble up. The fears I’ve nurtured in my spirit.
Amplify all of this with the fears that some may not maintain the CDC recommended changes to keep us healthy and safe as well, and it’s truly a mountain of feelings.
The soil where I hold growth and life seems broken where and when I all feel these things. Growth feels less tangible than ever. Even though I have grown and stretched myself in new ways in this season, and in the even wilder new season of being married in the midst of it. Growth is hard to see, harder still to feel, but it’s there. It’s always there. There are two words used in Colossians chapter one to describe growth, and they are used once describing the gospel (1.6), and again a few verses later (1.10) describing Paul’s prayer for them. There’s no prescription given for making it happen in either case. It just does. It is assumed. It is known, prayed, & hoped for. It is a part of the very identity of the gospel, and, therefore, of us.
Hold the broken soil anyway.
Broken soil often looks like it won’t produce anything, but we hold it anyway. Like the station of the cross picture, representing Jesus’ body removed from the cross: we still hold on, fears and all; we hope for new life despite the death we see. Despite the death we hold in our feelings, in our lives, in our world.
It’s dark here. But there’s light here, too. There is growth. Because even on Good Friday, light broke through the darkness. Life came through death. Growth sprang up out of very broken soil. And we didn’t have to hold a single bit of that story together.
(We still don’t.)
I may not feel like enough today, trying to hold my story together, feeling buried with fears and anxieties. Trying to hold onto this growth that has come out of the broken soil of the past few weeks. I feel fearful. I feel anxious.
But these feelings are not my identity–though they are so very deeply a part of me, that it can be very difficult for me to believe that truth (enneagram 4 over here). It’s true, though:
The fears I hold do not make me who I am.
I am not known to God as fearful, as anxious.
I am known to God as beloved. daughter. his.
& that is enough. to face fears, to hold broken soil, to keep moving forward and believing that growth is happening. no matter what.