From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
For you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe.
I long to dwell in your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of your wings.”
It’s Saturday morning; I am flying home from a conference in Salt Lake City. We are above the clouds, thus the Rockies lay hidden by the air and moisture that typically moves around us, invisible. Today, their seemingly soft collaboration creates a barrier so we can’t see the mass expanse of rugged beauty below. Ageless rocks whose density and solid presence should logically divide and protrude through the something as gentle as air and water remain protected from our sight. It’s just another paradox; I am sensitive, it seems, to paradoxes these days.
The Psalm above has followed me these last few months – each time it finds me I hear some new message; that’s the mystery of scripture and art – if you are of a mind to distinguish the two.
When it first came to me, I could only hear the words refuge, could only feel the safety being offered. Today, there’s a paradox.
The safety and assurance still remain, but the pronouns pronounce my selfishness. The tower of refuge has become a tower within which I have locked myself – even a refuge from the God who loves me. The numbness of shock left me, quietly, and the noise of this world is deafening. The silent pain of a world without Taylor continues to be a strong riptide. I am not swimming toward the shore or out to sea in these raucous battles – I am just swimming parallel to both horizons, and my heart is faint.
I feel everything. I feel stones hurled at me that aren’t there or aren’t meant for me. It adds another layer of weight to bear for those who spend an abundant amount of time with me. I don’t know this fragile person and neither do they. I have worked hard not to bring extra attention to myself or be too needy and then my increased sensitivity does that very thing. Redundant and revolving, doubt creeps in creating more insecurity and more dislike. Thus, the reasons why the pronouns in Psalm 61 make me feel uneasy. I am tired of me. I don’t like me anymore. I miss the me that believed the prayers for protection I prayed meant she would be safe with me instead of knowing that those prayers allowed her to be wrapped safe in his arms at the most dangerous moment in her short life.
I miss being strong, and yet if I try to be strong does that mean I didn’t need her, didn’t love her to the moon and back?
I trust my God, but if I do, does that mean I have to find peace without her here with me?
If I accept this, am I still the mom that promised her the world?
If I act like I am content, will I one day become content or just a good liar, a great actress?
There’s a reason my green-eyed girl chased a rebellious spirit at times.
She is her mother’s child. Tell me I can’t – I will show you I will. It’s not always an attractive trait, doesn’t lend itself to submission. The paradox is - it’s the same strong will that knew the best action to take that July day in ICU was to let her go.
There’s a reason why we are asked to humble ourselves in the sight of the Lord; he recognizes our rebellion, reveals it, and often replenishes it in us.
There’s turbulence on our flight. We are bouncing around as though we were driving on the holey highways of Oklahoma. It’s just another paradox. We can’t see the pockets of air that are bouncing us around, and we are strapped in a machine in which we have no control.
From what we can see or perceive, it ought to be smooth.
In the story I wrote, Taylor ought to be here. She is a child who refused to be defeated by any circumstance. Quite selfishly and frankly, it sucks (sorry Mom) that her victory in heaven is our loss.
So here’s the final irony.
We are on a holy high way.
In order to truly find shelter under his wings, we have to swim or fly or float or fight against our very selves to choose to be beneath him. We have to realize the currents or pockets of turbulence are the limitations of our human understanding or the consequences of our rebellious hearts. The journey to His shelter traverses a holy high way, holy because he is with us. I am loved through the rebellion that makes my “heart faint”.
I think it’s interesting that refuge and rebellion both begin with the prefix re-. I think that occurrence in our language amplifies the choice in front of me. I will save you the English lesson on the prefix.
I have been to the end of the earth, friends; some days I go back because numb is addictive. I prefer the shelter even if it means I feel everything.
The mountains are miles behind and beneath us now, and the music my fiery red head loaded into my phone plays as I finish…
“Sing like never before, O my soul….
Whatever may pass and whatever lies before me, let me be singing when the evening comes….
For all your goodness I will keep on singing, ten thousand reasons for my heart to find…
And on that day when my strength is failing, …still my soul sings your praise unending, ten thousand years and then forever more.”
“Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer.” -
#golighttheworld with rebellious intention.