This essay and I are part of the Messy, Beautiful Warrior Project — To learn more, CLICK HERE! And to learn about Glennon Doyle Melton’s New York Times Bestselling Memoir Carry On Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life, just released in paperback, CLICK HERE!
It’s that time of year when our mailbox is stuffed with colorful invitations for Easter Sunday services from nearby churches. After briefly looking through these bright and cheerful postcards they all eventually (and rather quickly) find their way into the recycle bin. But there was one that held a grip on me.
It was void of any glossy finish and bright colors. Nor did it have the plastic smiles of families of every age and ethnic group. Rather, it was dull—a trendy kind of dull—but dull nonetheless, and flat in texture. Across the front were two words stacked; one on top of the other. And on the top word lay a lamb.
It was clever really. It certainly ranked high in it’s ingenuity to portray a play on words through picture. (you = ewe = Jesus) Clever indeed, don’t you think?
Yet somehow between tossing the other junk mail into the recycle bin and breaking up another fight between my sons, the You Promised postcard eluded the trash and instead landed on the counter. It seemed strangely content as it lingered only inches from its peril of the trashcan below, but something—perhaps Someone, kept me from reaching over and tossing it.
I knew it wasn’t about the invitation from the church from where it came. No. I was already happily devoted to the church I called home for over a decade. But as the day continued I was inclined to check on it lying there and continued to sneak glances at it as if to catch it looking back at me. And as crazy as it may sound, I swear to you, I think it was watching me.
But to be truthful, my polite glances became glares—even stare downs at some point. I’m not kidding. It’s like this trendy,dull card stock had something on me—and somehow even knew me. In the end, I didn’t have to look at it to know it was staring at me. Just its very presence was enough to signal hot wild tears to catch in my throat.
No. I’m not going to cry. I’m not going to break.
Because the truth is, I already did break—two days earlier. And two breakdowns in just a few days time is one too many.
I had to escape before I fell apart. And with all this talk about Easter, well…I needed to get out—and shop for an Easter dress.
Yes, I’m serious.
Because a sure way to stop feeling the scary feelings is to do whatever it takes to numb those feelings and in this instance shopping seemed like the most appropriate action. After all, everyone buys a new dress for Easter, right? Right.
But as hard as I tried I couldn’t find a dress fashioned of soft material that flowed freely. Believe me, there were plenty to choose from. But none of them felt like me—and none of them seemed to scream Jesus is Alive.
Instead I found a pair of dark jeans; ripped up, scuffed up, and worn down. The back pockets hopeless; the top seams permanently folded into unwanted creases. And yet looking at myself in the fitting room mirror I knew I found my Easter “dress”.
It didn’t scream—I am alive. It screamed—I am worn. I am tired. I am broken. And in those moments I reconciled with the messy part of me. This is me. Rough, ripped, scuffed, and bound with unwanted creases in my soul.
Over these last couple days I’ve pushed the You Promised postcard from my mind and at the same time obsessed over the breakdown I had at the beginning of the week.
The breakdown in which I crumble apart into large messy chunks. It was then when I dared to call a trusted friend and attempt to string together sob-filled words to make sense of the state of my soul. The words she spoke then still echo in my heart today,
Do you think you’re depressed?
Do I think I’m depressed?
Truth is I don’t feel alive. I can’t remember why I’m supposed to wake up and get up. I don’t remember the purpose of life—or my life. I lack in any ambition to move whether it’s in destiny or dish-washing. Everything has lost its flavor and all has gone flat.
And on a weekend where the countenance of many believers matches the bright, glossy postcards that have filled my mailbox, I keep a strong grip on the one equal to the dull gray of my on-again, off-again lifelong struggle.
Oh God, not again. Please not depression. Not again. You promised.
And there it is—the very thing that ate me up all week and stared at me from the kitchen counter.
God, You promised.
You promised hope and healing.
You promised freedom and purpose.
You promised restoration and redemption.
You promised wholeness and life.
And I can’t will myself to be whole. I can’t make myself heal. And I can’t fake happy or joy. I just can’t.
You promised, God.
And now the hot tears in the back of my throat release with a vengeance and anger fuels my fists as I charge the Holy One with my punches and Grace takes a beating.
How dare you God. How dare you leave me to fight this–again. I want more. I don’t just want an empty tomb, I want a full life.
I. Want. Life.
Because You promised.
I feel my heart beating and ranting as the Holy One stays silent and I cease fighting and fall to the couch and weep.
God, is it possible to live healed and only healed, or will there always be broken pieces inside me?
I wait for His answer.
He is quiet—so very quiet. Until I hear…
Bit by bit, child. Bit by bit.
Beloved I will drive the enemy out bit by bit.
You feel the broken, I see the healed. You are both—and both bring Me glory. Beloved, you bring Me glory in all your messy and beautiful ways.
You are safe. You are Mine. You are loved.
Breathe Dear one. Breathe. Be free to embrace all the pieces of who you are and still move forward living life. Allow Me to breathe life in you.
Bit by bit I will drive the brokenness out before you, until you are healed enough to take possession of your promise land.
I promise. Beloved, I promise.
Little by little (bit by bit) I will drive them (the brokenness) out before you, until you have increased (healed) enough to take possession of the (promise) land.