Suffering

Amber Writes: Be Still

I AM GODMy friend and Pastor’s wife, Amber, is an amazing artist and writer. She has often been able to tap into the deepness of how things feel and write it out in such a way that brings a real peace, at least for me. I haven’t posted in over a week, due to exhaustion and a long and early labor, but as I hear of the painful things going on around me and the things I’m feeling in my own heart, I felt this was appropriate to share for today. I hope this piece Amber wrote brings you as much peace as it did for me. 


 

“Be still and know that I am God. 
I will be exalted among the nations, 
I will be exalted in the earth!” 
-Psalm 46:10 

 
Be still… 

When I am afraid, when my heart is pounding. 

When all I can do is exist in fear and panic. 

You bring peace to my troubled soul.

The turbulent sloshing of my emotions is stilled by your presence.

I know the assurance and comfort of your words, your hand on my heart. 

 

Be still and know… 

As my life spins with uncertainty and I quiver at quaking ground beneath my feet.

When I am reeling, knocked breathless by the bile of anxiety crawling up my throat, you still my doubts.

When disease and financial ruin steal away my equilibrium,  

You breathe rest and security by reminding me of your past and continued provision for me, by reminding me of your goodness, your greatness.  

 

Be still and know that I Am God… 

When I am angry.

When my self-righteousness and need for justice becomes greater in my mind than your divinity.

When I begin to chafe at hurts and fiery darts hurled at me and those I care for, and I plot a way to set things right. 

In your still small voice you remind me of my sinfulness and my own need for your grace, your mercy. 

You correct my wandering heart for you alone are God, the righteous judge. And your ways are not my ways and your ways are always good. 

 

Be still and know that I am God… 

When I am with you and my mind wanders, when I have been given an opportunity to be in your presence and I cannot forget myself, you gently remind me of your presence in my heart. You lead me into worship and intimacy by revealing yourself, your love for me and leaving in me the joy of praise to the lover of my soul. You allow me to simply enjoy you. 

 

Be still and know that I am God… 

When I am sad and feel alone, when my fear of vulnerability imprisons me behind my walls of defense. When I am struggling to feel connected, worthy, treasured. You speak to me with the closeness, familiarness of old friends, brought together long ago and sharing all of life. You reveal my own heart to me with the intimacy of a lover who knows my vulnerabilities and loves me, loves me with such tenderness, a delicate handling of the wounded places in my heart. You heal my hurts and replace the scarred tissue with new life. 

 

Be still and know that I am God, I will be exalted… 

When I am fretful about the future. When it seems as if the battle is too much, too long, too hard. When it seems as if the victory has been snatched away and those I love are left hurting, wounded, bleeding. When I have been betrayed and watched my fellow soldiers walk away from the fight… 

You are strong. You infuse my weary heart with the calm, steady assurance of your victory, already won by your son. You invigorate my battle worn heart with your sovereignty over all things, people and times. You give me promise and hope that your works will be finished, that the power residing in me is the power that spoke the universe into place, commands legions of angels and can bring about the resurrection of the dead into new life. You are the great I Am, the Alpha and the Omega. 

 

Be Still and Know that He is God.  

Overcast clouds

Overcast Clouds // JATWFear is like the overcast clouds, standing right in between sunshine and storm; joy and suffering. It’s like the holding of a breath, waiting for the rain to fall down in a rush. The temperature drops, and the wind begins to swirl around you. The hair stands up on your arms as you await for that first drop to land on your face.

Overcast clouds tell you to stay inside; it MIGHT storm. You wouldn’t want to take the chance and get wet, would you? You don’t need to breath in the fresh air. Stay. Inside.

What it doesn’t want you to rationalize is that whether or not it storms, you’re free to go outside as you please. If it doesn’t rain and the clouds dry up, you have the gleaming sun to dance across your skin. If the skies do choose to open up its floodgates, then… well, you’ll likely get wet. But getting rained on is rarely as terrible as we anticipate it to be.

Sure, you might get soaked. There’s a chance you’ll find yourself cold and frustrated. It might even cause a fever, forcing you to go back inside and rest.

Flower buds need the touches of sunlight AND water to bloom.

Embrace the sunshine.

Embrace the rain.

Sometimes, we get to experience these beautiful weather reactions called sun showers. They are my favorite. Yes, it’s raining, but the sun is also high and bright and reminding me that it’s still there. It’s in these showers that I reminisce on what it’s like to feel deep joy in the midst of suffering. It’s possible, I promise.

But if you find yourself listening to those overcast clouds, that’s okay. It’s a normal reaction. Acknowledge the clouds, and open up the front door anyway. Put one foot in front of the other, and plant your feet in the dirt you were made from. Close your eyes, and listen to the swirls of the wind. Smell the sweetness in the air as the temperature begins to cool. Slowly reach your hands out in front of you and whisper…

Here you go, Father. I hand this over, take the fear. Whether the sun shines or the rain falls… this life is worth the living, and from my lips your name shall be praised.

 

Flashback Friday: Bad Day

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Ya’ll… I KNOW you remember this song. I’m sure some of you hate it as much as some of you love it and feel all 2005 when you hear it.

I have a necessary relationship with “Bad Day” by Daniel Powter.

2005-2006 was pretty rough for this chick. While 2005 was the year I graduated high school (which to this day was one of the most relieving and liberating days of my life), I also went through some rough transitions. Earlier in that year I was broken up with, which just SUCKED SO BAD at the time. It was the worst! And thinking about it now, I feel silly even bringing it up. But at the time, it was so devastating to me. (You can read all about it in my LiveJournal…. if you can find it).

So “Bad Day” along with Kelly Clarkson’s “Since You’ve Been Gone” got me through most of that. Oh, and Jesus… I guess. Or maybe it’s better put that Jesus allowed those songs to keep me going, since I really wasn’t going to surrender anything to him, even though I claimed that I was a Christian.

I also did a semester at FIU, which I was not excited about at all. So, 2005 was weird, but kind of normal life. Then 2006 happened. I can look back at 2006 and pinpoint what may have been the beginning of the #RealLife Sanctification process.

My family started falling apart at the seams. It was one of those things I think I always knew was going to happen, and it was like a waiting game to see when the shit would finally hit the fan.

It hit, and the fan flung suffering all over us.

An argument turned into chaos on the front yard which pushed me to slam pictures on the terrazzo tile inside because I couldn’t contain my sorrow  and rage anymore. My sister disappearing into the dark night as my brother cried in the garage while begging me not to go stay at Jessica’s house.

(It is really hard for me to share those last two sentences, because it forces me to relive them. I’m still forgiving myself for leaving my little brother in that hell). 

The rest of that year is still one of the most painful years I’ve ever known (although the past 6 months are really trying to top that). The chaos only kept on coming, to the point where my mom and I never knew if everyone was going to be alive by the next day. People at church treated me and my sister like outsiders. My life was literally falling apart and all I got was a lot of religious platitudes.

(Disclaimer: if we went to church together during this time, please don’t hear that as a condemnation on you or our Church. I was just as guilty of doing to others what ended up happening a little bit to me, so there is no judgement coming from me. We’re all sinners in need of grace). 

For the sake of everyone’s dignity, I won’t share much more details of that year. But this song… this song stuck with me. Back when Motorola flip phones were cool, “Bad Day” was my ringtone for everyone. I just wanted to hear it anytime, all the time.

One of the only redeeming moments of 2006 was when I had to spend the day in Downtown Miami to 1) go to court over a parking ticket and 2) visit my dad in a psychiatric ward. So pretty much the two worst things ever. After court, I had time to kill, so I took the Metro Rail to Dadeland mall, and let someone put makeup on me in Macy’s. I don’t even know why I did that, but it made me feel better. I got back on the Metro Rail to go to the hospital, and my phone kept ringing…

Cause you had a bad day
You’re taking one down
You sing a sad song just to turn it around
You say you don’t know
You tell me don’t lie
You work at a smile and you go for a ride
You had a bad day
The camera don’t lie
You’re coming back down and you really don’t mind
You had a bad day
You had a bad day

I didn’t answer it. I wanted to keep hearing the song. In that moment, listening to “Bad Day” on the Metro Rail with my face fresh with makeup and strangers all around me, I felt like I was going to make it to 2007. I even started giggling, and said, “how bout you’ve had a bad year,” and giggled some more.

So, it’s 2014, and I’m still alive!

Maybe one day, ya’ll can convince me to talk about my closet ZAO obsession in 10th grade.

What songs have helped carry you through life?