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  • Writer's pictureRuth Sauers

A beautiful unraveling

These last couple months have been hard. There have been some big, hard, but also good things happening in my family. A lot of it is not mine to tell right now, but my past has been smacking me in the face, tapping me on the shoulder, and staring at me in the mirror.

I was made aware of some horrific details of things done against people that I love, that I could not reconcile a good God ever allowing. There have been some days of such darkness as I have struggled to understand how God could allow these things to happen. I have felt a heaviness, a weight, a blackness so dark it threatened to erase all goodness and beauty. I have pummeled my fists against the chest of God. I have screamed my tears out. I have dissolved into a sobbing mess. I have said how could you let this happen? How could this suffering have gone on for this long with no consequences? I have asked my husband to pray for me, I have asked friends to pray for me. I have read psalms of lament. I have asked God why, why, why. And I don’t know why, and I’m still in it. I haven’t been able to balance the books, I haven’t been able to trace His hand and say, oh yeah, He did that because this was going to come out of it. I know beautiful things have happened and I know terrible things have happened. And I know He is over it all. I know He did not spare his own Son, but gave Him up for us all. And His Son went through terrible horrible shameful suffering, and I know His Son is my sympathetic High Priest who has felt all of these things along with me. He hasn’t just felt them with me, He knows what they feel like, because He has felt them himself in his own body. This gives me such comfort, that He has felt shame and suffering and knows what I feel.

I have started seeing a counselor and I know this is just a very needed and helpful step. I know there are some deep wounds and some past trauma that I need help talking through and walking through. I know that a lot of my stories I have never properly grieved. My counselor is going to go through some of these stories with me. And doesn’t that sound sad? Wouldn’t it be better to just focus on now and the good life I have and leave the past in the past? But the truth is that the past is never just in the past. I bear the scars and I am broken because of them. And they affect me and the way I think and the way I live now. So going back to grieve those stories properly- even though it is sad and it is hard, even more, it is healing. Cathy Loerzel says, “The darkest parts of your story can be looked at by human eyes, by your own eyes and by the eyes of God, and not flinch, and can actually be seen without humiliation, without shame, without a sense of condemnation. And when our stories are seen both by our own hearts and with witnesses around us, we don’t even know how much healing is possible.” More than ever, I know that the only way out is through - through the pain, through the questions, through the anger, through the sorrow. Little by little the darkness is lifting, not that there aren’t still shadows, but there are cracks of light breaking through.

Why do I tell you all this hard stuff when I don’t know if I’m through it yet? Why am I letting you into the middle of the story and not just the glorious end? When I was growing up I longed for people to put away their plastic smiles and talk about what was really going on in their lives. I longed for people to talk about their real struggles, not just their church-rated stuff. I had real struggles and I would have loved to talk to someone else who had real struggles too. But a lot of us were taught that you keep those things quiet, you don’t pour out your questions and your anger and your uncertainties and your troubles in church. You wear your lipstick to church. We want to glorify God and God is glorified with hushed voices, and quick obedience, and only talking about joy and love and all the things you’re thankful for. God is glorified with smiles and with praises, not with tears and lament and doubt and questions and brokenness.

But I’m here to say that God is glorified by all of it. Why would we ever think that we need to prop our God up? That we need to dress him up in the finest clothes, and the most beautiful smiles, and the nicest pleasantries - why would we think we need to try to make our powerful, all-knowing, all-seeing, all-caring God who knows our hearts look any better? Couldn’t He do just as much of a work if we just let it all be seen and known? Wouldn’t it just be easier to just lay it all on the table? Our God is not uncomfortable with our horrible truths, with the things that scare us, with the questions that keep us up at night. He is not uncomfortable with the wrongs that we can’t reconcile in our minds. He is not uncomfortable with our past choices that we carry shame about and would rather keep hidden. He is not uncomfortable with any of it. In fact, He says bring it.

And so, I tell you these things as I'm walking through them, because you might be walking through some hard things also. And you might need to know that someone else is going through something, and struggling, and wrestling, and grappling. And you might just need to know that it's okay. You might need to know it's okay to be in the struggle, not just that we praise Jesus and give Him glory when we get out of the struggle. Bringing all of our stuff to Him, even our rage, even the things we think are ugly or unchristian, it glorifies Him - because we would not come to Him if we didn't believe He is God, and if we didn't believe He cared. The very act of crying out to God is worship. We can bring all of our mess to Him and little by little He unravels it into a glorious masterpiece, a masterpiece that would not ever be as glorious without the mess, a masterpiece with his artist touch woven into every fiber.

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