We have now officially been back from Bahrain for six months, which feels hardly possible. In some ways, Bahrain feels like another lifetime ago. And in other ways, like we are still very much re-entering here.
I sat down this morning with an idea of what I wanted to write to you. I wanted to write this post about what has emerged for me since we returned, some specific truths or lessons—about myself, about God, about the experience—that have illuminated in these past six months. I wanted to write this post about perspective, what we’ve figured out, solved, better understood. I wanted to offer you some bits of wisdom at this point in the journey, most likely because it makes us all feel better when we can dissect our experiences and figure out all the meaning behind them. I wanted to write a post that made sense of it all.
But, as I sit at my computer this morning, the truth is, I don’t really feel like I have much more figured out than these two things (and yet, I think we can go a long way on these two things):
1. I believe in the theology of found art, the truth of Ecclesiastes 3, that “he is making all things beautiful in its time . . . yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” I’m (sort of) able to trust this more and more in my life. God is unfolding a work of Beauty in us, but the Beauty is made from castoffs, throw aways, reclaimed, even broken pieces. The Beauty is rarely constructed from all the shiny stuff. Life sometimes hands us Intense and Difficult, and we can run. But if we are serious about living the Beauty, we will stay put and participate in the Beauty scouting and the believing. We will try to trust that art is always in the making.
If I were the Maker, I would create art from all the pretty stuff. But the Maker chooses the gritty, the gutsy, the inglorious for his glory. I hate this, and I love it. I hate that we have to go through Hard. AND YET, the Beauty is so much more magnificent when it’s hard won, so much more of a miracle when we see that the Maker was in and through the scraps of our lives after all. I’m grateful for the collage he continues to make in my life. I’m grateful for the pieces of myself I discover and rediscover in the foreign places.
Our most recent tour in Bahrain was not glamorous, rarely Facebook worthy, interrupted by Shi’a and Sunni infighting, and just generally a hard stage of life to be in the Middle East. And, also, we were carried through it in the most tender ways. Additionally, we were able to spend those months together instead of apart, which is the greatest gift. The art of it all was found more than it was manifest on first glance.
2. I must come around the table and sit next to myself as I would a dear friend. The Hard will win every time if we remain combatant with ourselves. Period. I have seen it over and over again. Living self vs self will keep us stuck and keep us focused on the wrong things. It’s a brutal and conniving tactic. We cannot see the landscape around us because we are so entangled with ourselves.
How can I nurture myself as a mother would a child, as a friend would a friend, as an 80 year old Leeana would a 20 year old Leeana? Most of us are really good at sending wary stares at ourselves from across the table. Freedom arrives when we are able to get up and move toward ourselves. You can take that to the bank.
So, I guess I do have that much to tell you. :)
After three babies in three years, a miscarriage, and a move overseas and back, I have learned that the Beautiful is often woven in with the Hard. And I’ve learned that we can let go and tolerate the messiness much more, even experience the Beauty more, if we will honor ourselves with a bit of compassion.
As always, I believe in you and so desire that you walk in FREEDOM!
God before you and behind you as you enter this week.
Love upon love,
P.S. Thank you so much to all of you who responded to my last post and entered into the discussion of fantasy vs Beauty for my book chapter. Your input is so incredibly helpful, smart, and certainly elevated the content and concepts in the chapter. Of course, you’re still welcome to leave a comment as the manuscript is not finished yet!