I had a meeting yesterday: some clients had an architect join us at a home straight from the 80’s. The 80’s didn’t seem to mind compartmentalization of rooms, low ceilings, plain and simple finishes, and bathrooms that were more than 20 steps away from bedrooms.
As we walked through the house daydreaming and spending invisible dollars, something the architect said stuck with me, “The secret to creating beautiful spaces is light. No one wants to walk into darkness, and so it’s my job to allow the light to come through.”
I wanted to invite him over to my house and ask, “Can you do that in the abstract as well as in the concrete?”
Even if he’d said yes, it would have been about three days too late.
I seem to have made it through the dark. Just when I thought the darkness was home, or that the darkness was all consuming, or that I would forever be wandering blind in the dark—all life’s friction created a spark and ignited hope.
It was immediate. And it was unexpected. And I didn’t have much to do with it.
The hardest part of my faith is surrendering weakness. For a woman who just wants to be strong enough or smart enough or good enough, confessing that I just can’t is demoralizing. It’s admitting need when I want to have none. It’s a return to infancy where I cannot feed myself, change myself, or love myself in a way that promotes growth. It’s dependency in a woman who just wants to be named independent.
Switching metaphors from light to air, because both are so essential to everyday living…
When I was a kid, I played so hard that losing the wind from my lungs was a common occurrence. The first couple times sent me into panic, and my mom stood above me and coached me through it. You’ve lost your breath, but it will return. Once I believed her absolutely, I could fall off the swing or the merry-go-round, lose my breath, and just stare at the sky until my diaphragm worked as it should once again.
Leaving ministry and the church was a bit like launching myself off a merry-go-round and forgetting the small lesson my mom taught me, “Your breath will return.” Not because of anything I do, but just because that’s the nature of the body.
This week has proven her right once again. My breath has returned. I wake up and feel the familiar expanding and contracting of my soul. I opened an old textbook for the very first time and started researching the role of cities of refuge in societies of integrity, because it matters that our next administration is going to defund sanctuary cities and I want to know exactly why it matters spiritually. I can hear familiar verbiage like grace and faith and prayer and not feel sick with grief. I want to run toward God rather than from him.
But there is something else, too. Jumping off the merry-go-round broke me in new ways. And in the healing, I’m not so certain I’m aligned the way I once was. I’ve wrestled through the pain and broken the straight-jacket of faith. What I now have feels a bit wild and untamed. As though the young woman I once was has met the child of God I am and the two have found home in each other. The offspring of that marriage is a faith that cares less about answers and more about developing questions together. A faith that doesn’t require conformity or performance, but instead just wants to dance in the light. A faith that doesn’t need to follow rules of behavior or language, but just needs to act and speak.
I’m back. But I’m different. And I really had nothing to do with either. Jesus, being the architect he is, found a way to bring some light into my dark spaces.