In looking at the way I handle sickness, conflict and negative emotions, it would be safe to assume that I was raised by a pack of dogs (or men) instead of by two licensed psychologists.
I prefer to handle all of the above as quickly and efficiently as possible- seeing them all as inconvenient interruptions to the joy and sparkle of my day-to-day life.
I am graceful and patient with the people I love when they are sick or brokenhearted. I get that from my mother- a firm believer in being graceful with yourself when your body or your heart is aching.
I will gladly hand you tissue after tissue, pray endlessly, answer 3am phone calls or eat tubs of ice cream with you, spouting off lame quotes like “tears are like water for the garden of your heart,” and encouraging you to rest and to allow yourself to be where you are in that moment.
But when it comes to me… oh mama… when it comes to me, I’m like a drill sergeant.
Or a dude.
I want the conflict, illness, or emotion to be over as quickly as possible. When I’m angry, I cry, almost as if on cue, having no idea what to do with my emotions other than to squeeze them out of my eyes as fast as I can.
When it comes to my relationships, if there’s a problem, I want to discuss it and solve it immediately. I find myself throwing solutions at it, promises, apologies, and even contemplating duct tape as a possible relationship mender. (My attempts at problem solving recently have been just as ineffective.)
I don’t avoid conflict or hurt feelings or illness. I just face them head on and plow through them, trying desperately to climb my way to the other side where rainbows and romance can once again reign supreme. (My friends are currently laughing and rolling their eyes after having read that.)
What I’m discovering more than anything right now is that I am absolutely wildly uncomfortable in the tension- in the shades of grey.
For someone who’s creative and sees the world in colors and flavors, my aversion to grey seems somewhat out of character.
But it’s there.
When it comes to my heart, I’m much more comfortable with black and white.
I either want to risk it all and throw my heart in fully, or I want to run and snatch my heart away to someplace where it’s sure not to get hurt.
But unfortunately, and uncomfortably, that’s not the way all things work.
Sometimes there is tension. Sometimes there are conversations and arguments that can’t get resolved with a quick apology, a plea to just forget it, or a strip of duct tape.
Sometimes there aren’t ready-made answers, or solutions or guarantees of any kind.
And sometimes you have to surrender the duct tape, the solutions and the control- submitting your hurting, confused and tender heart to Jesus- the one who weaves it all into a masterpiece- better than you could have ever dreamed of.
I took a walk with Jesus this morning, having already tried to squeeze some frustration out of my eyes, and still having some to spare.
We walked to the park around the corner- a place that has been a total sanctuary for me these last few weeks- and I found myself just talking to Him.
My voice was muffled and frustrated and it took a lot for me to choke out intelligible words- as is often the case when you have your own homemade solutions and duct tape wrapped around you like a sticky prison.
“I thought I had learned this year Jesus! I thought I’d handle life better than this. I thought I was refined and grown and better.”
And He looked back at me with a bit of a laugh as He pulled back a strip of duct tape.
“You have baby girl… you have. But that was only the beginning.”
And as I walked and talked and breathed, and as more tears of frustration squeezed out from my eyes, this is the conclusion that He lovingly led me to.
When the world is swirling and there are more questions than answers and control feels as easy to grasp onto as a cloud, we have two choices.
We can swirl with it, allowing the tension to break us and our desire for control and answers to swallow us up whole, or we can choose to rest.
Jesus offers us rest- always- and regardless of what’s swirling around us.
He is our refuge and our strength and the safe place where we can bury our faces when the world seems too hard and too confusing to bear.
And while we have our faces buried in His chest, when we have our lives fully surrendered to Him, and our control safely back in His hands, we can trust that something beautiful is coming.
No argument is too messy, no question is too big, no obstacle is too high and absolutely nothing is outside of His control and His loving gaze.
We can trust him. We don’t have to fix this on our own.
Handing the reigns back over to Him doesn’t mean that our circumstances will change immediately, but it does mean that our hearts will.
It means that in the midst of the swirling and the chaos and the questions, that we can be steadfast and restful and joyful… knowing that it’s all being taken care of.
So here’s to trusting in the tension and surrendering our duct tape, slowing down and giving up control.