And you would have thought your story had more weight. More gravity and pulling down into earth than her.
Because you’ve gotten dirty, been dirty, flung arms wide into the air and cursed God, and he ransomed you anyway. And you’ve never forgotten how far you fall, you’ve never forgotten how your heart curls in on itself at times and is brittle to the touch, and you’ve never forgotten how when you write those words like a prayer, God fills you up. And when you hear her speak, even though she looks different, you know she knows this too. God fills her up.
She’s talking and you’re listening and this is grace and miracle. That you gathered voluntarily with 453 women and you feel nothing but peace.
You, that never belongs. You, that always tugs at the hem of your dress and hopes to God as you walk across the lobby that your dress isn’t tucked into your underwear because that’s happened before and no one told you. You, who stumble in the awkward pauses and sometimes can’t find the words for all the things whirring in your head and so instead you replay the conversation hours later and insert all the things you would have said and you seem so much smarter in this revised conversation, so much wittier when you get to do it again laying in your bed at night. You, who makes yourself the hero in the retelling, in the imagination of stages and screens and things where you feel seen.
But not this time.
Because this time you’re not worrying about your words. This time you’re listening to theirs. You’re not thinking about what you have to say, you’re thinking of what you can hear. The collective thrum of these God women.
You stand still and lift your heart and it pounds in your ears and you feel hot tears you don’t bother to wipe away, and in this moment you hear all hearts beating together. The kick drum pulses and you feel the whole world shift a little.
Because there is the girl who is catching up with words God’s put inside her teeny tiny frame and you wouldn’t know it looking at her because she could fit in your pocket but there’s a ferocity there. A voice that thunders in her words, because she has a story to tell. Of fear released and faith found. A walking into and with the promises of God. Fear not, I am with you.
And you curl into couches and talk about perfect love and the casting out of fears and you nod along because it’s just that. It’s the resting in perfect love. And every conversation you have with the brave women there brings you back here. You meet so many brave women living who they are.
Brave speaks into all the spaces you fill.
You feel free. Maybe the freest you’ve ever been with these words, but you’ve fought for it. You’ve had to repent and lay things down a thousand times and you know there will be a thousand more.
You’ve had to turn off notices and analytics and you wish you were different but you’re not. It gets to you in ways you wish you could ignore. But you’ve done it. You’ve done it because you don’t ever want it to be about you. You’ve prayed, “kill it, Lord, if it ever becomes about me.” And He very nearly has.
And you find you’re ok with that, and you find you are surprised, and you realize just how hard you were holding it when you started. And how easy it is for loose grasped open palms to curl shut like a trap.
You think of rest as a slumber, a closing of eyes after a long day, sunshine on your face and the stretch of long limbs into summer hammocks. But this rest is different.
This is the panting exhale after a battle. The heaving form of a body doubled over and at its end, a body that’s been bloodied and bruised and is pulled off the battle field, your full weight bearing down on God. And you realize that this is the only place you ever want to be. With feet that can barely stand, with limbs tired and worn and the embrace of God holding you up.
You realize you are only brave now because no one can touch you here. There is nothing that you want more than to be held up by God. And you pray a million times you never forget again.
And God tells you something. He tells you to fight hard and it looks a lot like resting in His arms.
What would happen if we all felt a little braver after this? Might we shape our words with grace? Because it’s easier to rant and rage and tear down than it is to build and extend and reach out.
If you let go of all that righteous anger, you might just have to deal with the pain that circles the rim of your words.
Might we face those blank screens with renewed hope that the words we type out are an offering of communion? Our very own flesh and blood broken and shared in the fellowship of His suffering?
Might we realize that broken people have sharp cracked edges and they wield themselves to wound, without knowing any better? And if you’re going to push into community you may very well get hurt. You may end up as ripped apart as you’ve ever been but you’re not fighting alone. God went to the cross for us, we’re gonna have scars too if we want to look like Jesus.
And you know there are those who slipped under the cracks and found themselves army crawling, bellies to the ground inching their way along past scars because they haven’t gotten it yet. Haven’t found the trick to being brave. It’s not in being seen or heard or known. It’s not in your words being shared or read or published. It’s in the surrender.
It’s in resting. You are brave when you abandon yourself to the absolute provision and grace of Jesus with not one thing added.
And you’re watching the twitter feed and the comments and you know some are hurting. You know they are confused because you’ve been there. And you wish you could set them free from all the mess they’re carrying around. You wish you could unbind them.
So often you’ve come away from all the things, where women gather and chat in groups and you’ve felt unseen and unheard and a thousand times smaller than when you went.
You’ve stood on the fringes and waited to be invited in. And you’ve walked away awkward and hurting inside.
And you wonder if you’re the only one who ever sees the ugly parts. You wonder if you tell the truth or instead say it’s pretty and tie it up with a tidy knot that grows resentment and bitterness in your gut. Because you used to tell the truth, your truth, at any cost.
You pushed hard and said the tough things and maybe you made those around you bleed a little too.
And you’re finding now that sometimes God has you speak, and sometimes He has you reach out and bind hearts with a smile booth or a conversation, and sometimes He has you kneel and pray and keep lips silent, and you’re wise to know the difference.
Because the truth looks a lot different these days. The truth looks a whole lot more like your own heart splayed and your own motives confessed and your own hands unclean and lifted to be washed. The truth looks a whole lot more like freedom.