06 August 2009

the tension

Many mornings lately, I wake up with the feeling that God has been about the business of scraping out my insides all night long. Even after a good, solid night's sleep, I wake up feeling exhausted, weary, and empty.

There's more going on than I could adequately describe right now -- there are many things happening that I can identify as good: purgative, sanctifying things. Rooting-out-the-lies things. Starting-to-heal things. This is God's goodness. This is God's mercy. This is the healing process.

And it feels like hell.

I find myself holding a constant tension: between knowing the truth of God's presence and goodness and simultaneously holding such potent feelings of pain and neglect. Between the beauty of engaging fully in the process becoming who I was always meant to be and the terror and agony of what I face in this present moment: deeply embedded lies, the wounds that reinforced them, and the feeling that this will never end.

On the way into work this morning, we saw an SUV with the verse Job 42:2 painted on the rear window with big white lettering. I looked it up:

"I know you can do all things,
and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted."

James asked if that gave me hope.

I burst into tears. I know this is true. This should give me hope -- and in a way, it does. But the feelings held in tension with the truth are so potent and powerful, so purgative and so scraping, so readily present without my needing to do anything to call upon them that I don't know how to function as a human being in this world anymore. Doing anything other than falling in a heap and weeping like a baby seems like an utter betrayal of the truth.

This reminded me of a Rilke poem (that I believe Joelle posted awhile back) that speaks to God's presence in the night times we walk through:

God speaks to each of us as he makes us,
then walks with us silently out of the night.

These are words we dimly hear:

You, sent out beyond your recall,
go to the limits of your longing.
Embody me.

Flare up like flame
and make big shadows I can move in.

Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.
Just keep going. No feeling is final.
Don't let yourself lose me.

Nearby is the country they call life.
You will know it by its seriousness.

Give me your hand.

Rainer Maria Rilke

It's not inspired. It's not Scripture. But something about that gives me hope. Just keep going. No feeling is final. ... Take my hand.


  1. You sound so tender here, like you've been in an accident and it hurts to touch and be touched everywhere. I love how you share your heart, the way I feel like I see it when you write it down. Love to you, now and always.

  2. Mmmm. I think Rilke was inspired, somehow (maybe not in the same way as scripture, but like you, my dear, are inspired, God-breathed). Thank you for your tears, your honesty in facing brutal life, for making flames that God can make shadows in--a truly beautiful dance. Bless you....

  3. kirsten, sometimes the only thing you can do is tell those around you, that they may go before the Father on your behalf. the image of the paralytic comes to mind, whose friends lifted him to Jesus. peace, friend! ~suz.

  4. Sigh.

    I love you, my friend. I've been coming back here a couple times a day to read this post since you put it up, but I still don't have any words to offer that feel like they mean much, except to say again that I love you. What the others have offered here is encouraging, too.

    On a total sidenote, I had my heart blown open yesterday afternoon by some stuff related to my solitude project. Reading this poem by Rilke again this morning on another of my visits here was timely. This time, reading it through the filter of my own experience yesterday, it encouraged me, too.

  5. I linked here from L.L. this morning, and immediately felt it a soft and beautiful place to read on this quiet Sunday morning.
    Thank you for that .
    I have only just begun getting to know the you of this space, and the pictures and words inspire, illuminate , and grace.
    I feel honoured that you shared your struggles with body image, which I suppose is really about self and soul image.
    So many of us share pain and insecurities, lost or never found identities. It determines why we feel compelled to write , or be creative I think.
    Some of us feel deeply, are sensitive, keenly aware of sight, sounds, and the constant balancing act of rest and activity and how it drains and invigorates.
    I hope you don't mind , if I take more time to read through more.
    There is such a breathtaking beauty here, intangible perhaps to you, but the mystery of life is sometimes the most blessed.
    Sorry if this sounds overly mushy or preachy,
    I guess my mood is a little poetic this morning :)

  6. Great: But you know, every time I say "I feel like Hell" I'm wondering how I know...I know I'll know if I was truly correct.