I wrote this in my journal last July, and even though it’s really private I decided I’d be brave and share. I’d been trying to write a book for six years – SIX YEARS. Oh I’d made progress a bit at a time, here and there, enough that I had a really messy first draft. And there I got stuck. I’m sharing this with you because everything changed right after that day.
My messy first draft turned into a book called Peering into the Tunnel:A Outsider’s Look into Grief, which was published in October. I got unstuck, to put it mildly!
As I talked with Jesus this morning, my right hand in His, I was overcome by loneliness and restlessness. And I realized that I had stopped moving toward … anything, because what I was carrying in my left hand was so heavy that it was keeping me from moving forward. And so I prayed, and this is what came out.
Lord, why am I stopped in my tracks? I have hold of Your hand and I can see Your light shining on the path ahead – yet I’m paralyzed. I thought I was making progress!
You are paralyzed, Child, and you have been for awhile now.
But why? I don’t understand.
Why? Because what you’re holding in your other hand weighs eleventy hundred pounds.
Ha! Ok but what is it that’s so heavy?
I think you already know – but I will shine my light on that hand now anyway. Tell me what you see there.
I see aloneness. I see dissatisfaction. I feel wounded. That no one gets me, so there must be something wrong with me.
There’s nothing wrong with you, Child. Nothing. What’s wrong is your thinking.
But wait. Again? We’ve talked about overthinking so many times. Will I ever learn?
You ARE learning, whether you feel like it or not. Your dissatisfaction is leading you now to seek out true satisfaction. That satisfaction only come from me, and with it comes joy.
Oh how I want to feel that joy! What now? How do I get there from here? I’m stuck, not moving at all, and there’s desolation all around me.
Drop it. What’s in your other hand. You’re holding it all so tightly that your insides are in knots and your brain is playing tricks on you.
I slowly begin to open my hand, and as I suspected it was full, and I mean full. Of lead balls, each with its own name. Shame. Jealousy. Restlessness. Pain. Loneliness. Bitterness. I began to inspect each thing, turning those balls around and around, trying to figure them all out.
Did I tell you to inspect those balls?
No. You said to drop it. All of it.
So what’s keeping you from doing that?
I guess I’m not sure. And honestly I feel kinda stupid right now.
Stop. This is not about how you feel, and you are most certainly not stupid. Be honest. You know the answer so tell me – what’s the hang up?
I think I’ve been carrying it all so long that I was used to the weight.
Yep. Go on.
But just now it feels too heavy for me to take another step.
It is. You are indeed stopped in your tracks. I want BOTH your hands, and I want you to bring them to me empty. Empty of all those heavy things.
I unclench my hand a bit, and a ball – the ball of shame – starts to drop. Frantically I find myself trying to catch it … but why?
Because you’ve been carrying it for so long that if feels like a part of you. I don’t want that for you. I want you to just drop it.
I look down at my hand, and see that the ball of shame is still there.
Yes it is. But only because you caught it and put it back. I want you to drop it. In fact I want you to drop them ALL. You needn’t try to “process” what’s in that hand – just open it wide and let it all drop. Let it crash to the ground, all of it.
Even though I really really want to inspect those balls, I begin to open my hand. I think that I need to understand them all before I put them down.
And how do you feel about that?
Not great. I’ve got a burden that’s too heavy to carry yet I don’t know how to set it down safely.
Ah yes. It is too heavy – but my burden is light. I want you to be a lightweight. Then we can move again. Trust me.
But I do trust you.
Do you? If you’re worrying about keeping your burdens safe, encircling them and holding them tight, that leaves no room for me to help you.
It seems like I shouldn’t need help with this.
But you do. So stop overthinking and open your hand and DROP IT ALL. Now. Trust me, Child.
And so, finally, I opened that hand as wide as I could and just … let it all go. Not caring if every bit crashed to the ground, not even looking down to watch the results of the crash, because if there was anything good there I was suddenly confident that HE would catch it, refine it, and hand it back to me light as a feather.
Is that right?
It’s exactly right. That’s you trusting me with your pain, trusting that I will not waste what needs saving, and I will destroy what doesn’t.
Wow. It seems so simple when you say it that way.
What do you notice right now?
I have to think this over. I DO feel like something has changed. I KNOW that junk was too much for me. And then it comes clear.
I feel free! And yes, light as a feather. My feet don’t feel stuck in clay. Can I really just go forward and leave all those pieces of me behind? And now what? I feel suspended.
YES!! Leave them all behind. Let me have custody. The “now what”? I think you know.
It’s time to move again? Forward?
And – here’s the hard part – don’t look back. You will get focused on those balls again and will be tempted to pick them back up because they are familiar.
That does sound hard. I’m not sure I can do it.
You shouldn’t be sure, because you are right. You can’t. Not alone – if I’m not present and willing to take those burdens, what a fine mess it would be! But I am. Present AND willing. And I’m waiting patiently. But don’t you wait – you are miserable.
I know that is true. And I’m tired. Tired of being miserable.
Look at your hand. What do you see now?
Oh! I see it holding Yours – or rather, You are holding both of my hands now.
Suddenly I’m reminded of the child’s game, Ring Around the Rosie. And I feel like dancing and spinning and going round and round with Him, laughing in joy and with freedom.
I love that image, don’t you? Let’s dance then. Let’s go round and round together for a bit so you can simply feel enjoyment and freedom.
And so we do. Will I look back? Probably. But … will I pick up any of those balls again?
You will go back from time to time, but when you do it will be so obviously heavy that you will know to drop it again. Let it crash. Soon those balls will be gone altogether.
I promise! Shall we dance?Joy and freedom rain down as I hold both Your hands, mine empty of all that weight – and full of Your unfailing love.