I sat on my bed weeping, rocking my body back and forth. I heard the lyrics fill the space in my living room, and travel to the quiet place in my bedroom. The air was thick with her voice:
I’ll praise before my breakthrough
Till my song becomes my triumph
I sing because I trust you
I will bring my heart, I will lift my song
I realized today, while watching students play at recess, that during this forced detour, it’s not the triumph or the outcome I am waiting for – it is the song I create in the process. A tender song built of pain, lament and strength. This song is produced in the midst of purposeful pain.
The purposeful pain is the ‘in between’ places of our lives.
“The In between sub-leasing my apartment on time and closing on my house”
“The In- between waiting for the surgeon to tell me if my dog Lucy made it through surgery or losing her.“
“The In-between wondering if my husband would sign the divorce decree with a fight or my freedom be easily granted.”
“The in between confronting the abuse in my family, and waiting for signs of repentance.“
“The in between losing a relationship and waiting to see if a new one will begin”
“The in between waiting for children or if I will ever have the chance to conceive.”
“The in between if I will ever belong to the family I fell in love with or be a solo liver for the remainder of my days.
The ‘in -between’ places are some of the scariest places to live. They are terrifying, they force us to sit in the great unknown. The in-between asks us to hold grief and loss in one hand, and tenuous hope in the other. The in-between challenges us to face pain, and yet hold onto our joy to get us through.
The in-between is a human condition that will come and go in seasons over the course of our lifetime.
Henri Nowen writes, “Those who do not run away from our pains but touch them with compassion, bring healing and new strength. The paradox indeed is that the beginning of healing is in the solidarity with the pain.”
What does touching my pain with compassion look like? How do I befriend my pain enough that she and I can remain at peace, within the solidarity?
Here are a few practical strategies:
Let go and cherish yourself in the unknown and the mess.
Grieve, sit down and let it pass through your body, even when you are cleaning the classroom sink.
It is okay to ask for help, stay close to your community.
It is okay to be emotional and write it all down.
It is okay to fall asleep holding your Bible like a teddy bear because you are so desperate for the comfort of Jesus.
It’s okay to be angry and ask really hard questions.
Surrender. Like floating on your back in the lake. The more you fight the more you sink, when you surrender and completely let go – you soon float above the surface like an angel spreading her wings.
Anyone can practice these strategies and they are healthy, but what about the song? How do I engage with the song of lament, joy, strength, courage? Who composes it’s melody and who pens the lyrics? Does it sound like a minuet or the sweet sadness of a lonely saxophone on a hot summer night. There is no right answer.
When my acute pain began, I saw myself walking away, it was the longest walk of my life – down the alley, past my neighbors garbage cans, garage doors and concrete. I couldn’t tell if I was shocked, sad, or numb. As my feet dragged slower and slower, I caught sight of the most beautiful purple flowers. Two of them growing up from the concrete – flourishing in this dirty alley, despite it’s environment. Standing there side by side looking tall.
**Exhale** one melody penned onto the page.
I was embraced by a mother, who listened with kindness, compassion in her eyes, her prayers reached up toward the heavens; pleading for mercy, my desires, fortitude, and comfort.
Another note scribed to the page.
A hug, “Awww… I love you Rochelle” Arms wrapped around me tightly. “Friend, this is so sad, my heart is so sad for you.”
A harmony and melody composed at the same time as my song becomes more captivating.
“Jesus, I need you. I need your embrace.” Psalm 142:3 “My spirit is weak within me, but you know my way Lord.” The steadfast love, holds my attention a little bit longer than the pain now.
My song becomes deeper, it echo’s within the chambers of my heart.
My song becomes my triumph.
It’s not about my victory or getting what I want. This is about the song, what song is formed in the midst of pain?
My song is formed by moments of goodness around me. The small beauties that decorate my day. A friendly smile here, a giggle there, a flower in the alley, a friend’s hug, joke or companionship. The collection of graces like when my dog lays up against my side to remind me I am not alone, when I invest in a project around my home – actively taking part in the beauty from ashes process.
The song is the love Jesus pours out into my heart, knowing his daughter is in pain and knowing that He is not leaving me. I can curl up in his arms and cry the tears I need to release.
The song becomes the beautiful tapestry of pain. Pain that produces beauty in it’s melody. Pain that makes way for a new song. A new song born of goodness and grief.
“Sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth. Sing to the LORD, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day.” – Psalm 96 says this. I don’t know that this particularly means stand up in church and sing a worship song.
I believe that in our seasons of ‘In – Between’ we learn a new song to carry us into the next. We compose out of the pain and tragedy in our lives. We collect the moments of beauty that are sprinkled through out our ‘in -between’ and these moments of goodness display a treasury of assurance and safety as we sit and wait holding both grief and joy simultaneously.
My Dear Sister,
Can you hear the song? Can you see the notes of melody all around you forming a new song in your heart? The music that soothes, creates space and capacity for new growth? Do you see the harmony swirl around your world as you make sense of the pain?
It is not our outcome or triumph that matter – it is the intimacy in the melody of our new song that matters most.
Listen and you will hear.
“Be surprised by joy, be surprised by the little flower that shows its beauty in the midst of a barren desert, and be surprised by the immense healing power that keeps bursting forth like springs of fresh water from the depth of our pain.” -H. Nouwen
You are not alone.