21 Jan Had a Tough Week?
Friends, it’s been a tough week. We all have those, don’t we? Weeks when we particularly feel the crush, the push and pull, the “chronic-ness” of life. My tough week has been a result of forces both within and without: a virus laying me low, a friend’s worse-than-expected diagnosis, work that I can’t seem to make any headway with, things that won’t fall into place. Some of it is simply annoying, like grains of sand in my shoe. Some of it is “harsh news and urgent crises,” as Ted Loder puts it.
Tough weeks, annoyances, illness, pain, loss—it’s all part and parcel of our human experience. We don’t have any choice about it—our parade is going to get rained on. The only choice before us is how we will respond when the storm clouds move in, the gales whip up and torrents of water soak us to the bone.
What does it mean to be people of faith and hope in the midst of the harsh realities of life? It is honest and healthy to name our fears, anger, disappointment and grief. These are normal emotional responses, and it’s important that we acknowledge them. But, it’s just as important that we don’t get “stuck” in chronic worry or anxiety. There’s a reason “Do not fear” is one of the most often repeated phrases in the Bible.
I’ve discovered that I have an exceedingly short memory. I need to be reminded again and again and again of the very basic and foundational truths of my faith: I am not alone during this tough week. God loves me and cares about the pain I feel for myself and on behalf of others. God sees the tears of grief, hears the rant of frustration, notices the fatigue. God will, if I allow it, be my strength when I feel weak. God will weave wholeness and redemption out of yucky circumstances. God’s grace really will sustain and encourage me. I also need to be reminded that God’s story and my story have a very long timeline. These difficulties won’t have the final say in what defines my life. I am very grateful for that truth.
Ted Loder wrote a poem entitled, “I Need to Breathe Deeply.” (His book, Guerrillas of Grace: Prayers for the Battle, is a gem.) I share it with you just in case you’ve had a tough week, too:
grant me an ease
to breathe deeply of this moment,
this miracle of now.
Beneath the din and fury
of great movements
and harsh news
and urgent crises,
make me attentive still
to good news,
to small occasions,
and the grace of what is possible
for me to be, to do, to give, to receive,
that I may miss neither my neighbor’s gift
nor my enemy’s need.
a sense of humor
that adds perspective to compassion,
that adds persistence to courage,
quietness of spirit
that adds irrepressibility to hope,
openness of mind
that adds surprise to joy;
that with gladness of heart
I may link arm and aim
with the One who saw signs of your kingdom
in salt and yeast,
pearls and seeds,
travelers and tax collectors,
sowers and harlots,
foreigners and fishermen,
and who opens my eyes with these signs
and my ears with the summons
to follow to something more
of justice and joy.
Yours for the Kingdom,