I sit here in the quiet of the morning, trying to gather up the thoughts in my head about what this moment was to be like. And I look down at the tattoo on my left wrist, an ebenezer to what has happened in this year and all the years before it. “We’re stacking stones, love.” I’ve said it to her time and time again. “We’re stacking stones.”
I wonder if we ever look at a year that passes and say with great confidence, “This – THIS was a beautiful year. Every day. The best.” Oh to be certain, the further we move from the days behind us, the easier it is to frame them like a tapestry and wrap them and then give them as a gift to ourselves. Here is the gift of the child we had or there is the gift of that time we got the job or wrote the book or took the risk. But when we are living the days that are passing, we get tangled up in the threads and get trapped in the design.
“I’m having a hard time tonight.”
“I know. I feel it…just want you to know you’re not alone.”
“Today feels lighter. Today feels like a good day.”
“I should just BE better. Surely Jesus wants me BETTER.”
“Please be graceful to you. Please give yourself the same breathing room you give others.”
“309. Today. We count. That’s less than 100 days from a whole year.”
“Hope shines in you. Even when winds blow and threaten to snuff it out. “
“I am not forgotten. I am not forgotten. I am not forgotten. I am not forgotten.”
“We’d think scars would simply grow more faint and soft over time. But scar tissue is a tricky beast. It contorts and tightens and pulls us back to the pain of the wound. And we wonder if healing has even begun at all.”
“I danced all night with a guy I just met and had the best time ever. I laughed more than I have laughed in a long long time. I just wanted to share those good things with you.”
The words, a diary of a year of longing to be free from the vile words of an enemy who lurks like the shadow of death. The words of battle-weary nights and still rising up to fight. The words of small victories, one after another. The words of not sure anymore and then more sure than ever. The words of throwing away weapons of self-inflicted warfare and doing good with our hands.
And then there are the words that have become a mantra, a prayer, a hand-over-heart pledge that was first uttered as I traveled to the other side of the world. My daytime prayers would cover her dark night season. “I’ll meet you in tomorrow.” They’ve become her words too.
“I love you very much. Cheering you on. I’ll meet you in tomorrow. Because love stays.”
“Because redemption is still a force I’ve not fully reckoned with.
“So 2014 is the year of REDEEM. Redeeming time. Redeeming relationships. Redeeming dreams. Redeeming vocations and avocations. Redeeming talents. Redeeming the finest of detail. Redeeming me. Glorious exchange after glorious exchange. Beauty for ashes. Gold for dross. Cornerstones for rubble. Strength for weakness. Time for time.
“Time and again.”
I’ve walked this road with her, reluctant paraclete unable to find the perfect words beyond trust, keep walking one small step at a time, keep and keep keeping, please please please don’t give up and don’t let go.
The road has changed me too. I’ve discovered expanses to the clear blue depths of grace, have felt myself drown in it and then be given breath by it. I have felt lost, felt alone, felt condemned by well-meaning people who just knew it would be better for me to walk away because I am a writer and an encourager and not equipped for the truly broken, felt like a failure because I couldn’t just fix it, felt that surely Jesus wants me better because the person coming alongside always must be better and stronger and fully wise, yes?
A year ago, I had it all planned – the day we would commemorate 365 days with a tattoo. I knew the word that would be there, embossed on my wrist so that it would be impossible to forget, impossible to deny. Of course, it would be “selah.” A purposeful pause, because breathing was the thing that always slipped away from me. It was the thing I knew I needed. Purposeful pauses, remembering what had come before. I would certainly learn how to breathe in a year.
But the days changed that. I learned that I can’t breathe but for the breath I am given by its Creator. I stared at my own brokenness in the mirror and for the first time saw beautiful looking back at me. I learned to love stories more – or maybe I learned to stop talking and listen more so I could really hear the depths of them – and I learned more about the victory of surrender.
While she learned to sail – learned to do good with her hands and see good in her heart and see a salvation that has saved and is saving and will keep.on.saving. – and found her sea legs for both the current and the calm, I learned felix culpa. Happy fault. “Fortunate fall, that raised for us so great, so glorious a Redeemer.” I had written before of being thankful for all things. But the year has embossed the words on my heart. “For God judged it better to bring good out of evil than not to permit any evil to exist.” ~Augustine
And so they are now embossed on my wrist. The hunger for breathing replaced by the celebration of breath. A fermata note is there too, a grand pause with a length determined only by the conductor.
One year. 365 days. And this I know. I will look back on this year and say with confidence, “This – THIS was a beautiful year.” I will frame it like a tapestry. And we will stack the stones.
PostScript for you, because you have chosen to read the story.
The storms still crash at her scarred vessel and there are nights I look at my tattoo and wonder if the story I’ll share is a story of once was.
“Tomorrow is supposed to be day 635.”
She texts and I whisper the prayer. “Please don’t die.” I never let her know it in that first year, but there was another prayer always being whispered.
We meet in that day, and in the ones that follow. And the days haven’t ended, and the journey continues.
We still meet in all the tomorrows.
We are all being rescued, my love. And shame will not win. Please message me and let me know how I may pray with you, for you, over you.