Can I Tell Y’all a Story?

Let me warn you that it’s long and meandering and doesn’t have a tidy ending.  I have to also preface it with this: I’ve been unsure of the right timing or way to share these thoughts, because there are so many important conversations in this world right now that need our attention.  I don’t want to pull away from any of that ~ at the same time, maybe the overall story of history and change is affected by our individual experiences.  So, here I am… with an avocado pit in a glass.

I’d almost given up on this avocado pit.

I’ve been watching it for nearly 10 weeks… I’ve seen the cracking of the sides, the emerging of the root… but no sprout, long after Google told me to expect it.

The crevices in the sides just kept getting deeper and growing… I wondered if it was just breaking into pieces after all these weeks of being in the water.  I wondered if I should just throw it out.

But the root kept getting longer… so I left it in place, hoping the root meant SOMEthing was happening within that pit.

And when I glanced over today ~ there it was.  At last, a sprout… the hope of a plant that will bear fruit.

The outer shell is completely broken in half at this point ~ it’s held together only by what is happening on the inside.

I thought the breaking meant death, but it meant life.  It meant room to grow.

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When I try to put into words what these past months have meant, the only ones that feel right are holy disruption.

A disruption is a break or interruption in the normal course or continuation of some process.  Taking it a level deeper into the word, the root disrupt means to rupture ~
which I followed in my Merriam Webster to “breach of peace, tearing apart of tissue, the state of being broken apart”.

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I didn’t even know that I needed to be disrupted.  I didn’t know I needed to be broken.

But I prayed for it, without knowing exactly what it was I meant.

I read Ezekiel back in April and wrote a prayer-poem about how I might react if the Word of God came to me like it came to the prophets… How many times I have asked to hear His voice, to see His glory, to give my life to all He asks ~ but even as I wrote that yearning down again in my poem, I stopped short.

What if?  What if I really heard Him like a rushing wind or felt the trembling of the earth in His presence?  What if I knew the power of His Word would upend my life like it upended those in the days of old?  Would I really choose to run toward Him?  Or would I shut up my windows, turn up my podcasts or tv streams to drown Him out, lock my doors tight to keep everything safely in place?

If I could see the cost, would I choose to say yes?

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The first cracks came with Covid, with the blatant truth that there is much we cannot know, understand, or control.  I looked at empty shelves in the grocery store for the first time in my life and caught a glimpse of how fragile our systems actually are, how much we depend on what we have always known, how I have taken the ease of our daily routines for granted.  I sat with questions I could not answer, stories from overcrowded hospitals, research that brought no assurances, facts that changed with the day.

And then there was the news of Ahmaud Arbery.  I heard myself explaining to my kids something else I could not understand ~ a young, innocent man chased down and murdered because he was black, and a justice system that protected his killers.

And then… there was Breonna Taylor’s death.

And then… there was news of George Floyd.

Disruption came to our nation, to so many cities, to me.

Crack after crack after crack…

Because, all along, the system has been broken, but I didn’t see it.  All along, people of color have been pleading for change, but I didn’t listen with open ears.  All along, there were burdens on the shoulders of people I’d call my brothers and sisters, but I never wondered what those burdens weighed or if I could help carry them.  All along, for years, “black lives matter” were just words that didn’t impact my heart beyond momentary headlines.

But I could not unsee.  I could not unhear the voice of God asking me to lean into a wind of change, to let illusions fall, to listen to what I have not yet heard, to lay down every stone my hand grips in defense of my own sin… It’s the breaking that I didn’t know I needed and it comes in the hands of the One who knows, intimately, what it means to be broken.

I know that people shy away from the words white privilege, but in its simplest breakdown here… I do have immunity (and an advantage) from the issue of being affected personally by race in our country.  There may be so many other factors that have affected my life, but I’ve never had to worry that my skin color would be one of those factors.  Which means that I can walk away from this invitation to change without consequences for my own life…except… as a follower of Jesus ~

I hear Him clearly tell me: Lose your life to gain it. (Matthew 10:39)  Love others like you love yourself. (Mark 12:31) Rejoice with those that rejoice.  Grieve with those that grieve. (Romans 12:15)

He’s the one who clearly shows me: love is not safe or easy or comfortable. (John 15:13)  Love sacrifices, takes risks, puts others first, does not ask us to deserve it.  Love leaves the 99 for 1. (Luke 15:4) Love washes feet, (John 13:5) eats with outcasts (Matt. 9:11), walks the extra mile (Matt. 5:41), forgives and prefers others (1 Corinthians 13) and casts out fear. (1 John 4)

In this place and time, everything feels unsure and uncertain and agendas float beneath so many words and pandemics change our world and pain and confusion are everywhere… but the truth of gospel-good-news has not budged even as my need for it has multiplied.  So I stay in the words of Jesus.  I try to keep company with the One who is Truth (John 14:6), who has not and will not change.(Hebrews 13:8)  It’s His still voice that cuts through the noise.  It’s His direction that I need to hear. (Psalm 23)

It’s a choice to let down our guards long enough to see if there is anything we need to surrender.  It is okay to be vulnerable.  We can trust Him with the breaking and letting go, because He is the same One who restores and redeems.

We can feel like we are falling apart but on the inside? He is holding us together.
He’s making space for us to grow.

And, right now, while I search my heart and listen and learn and just try to do the next right thing… it’s with the prayer that there is a root growing here by a river of justice and righteousness… So that when I am called to speak or act or given the chance to open my life wider to others, I will do those things firmly planted in truth and love.

That’s why there’s no tidy ending here.  Because this story has just begun, for me and for others around me.  We are coming into it halfway through the narrative, but I don’t want to sit out of the next half.  I don’t know, exactly, what it will look like, but I have heard and I have seen the cost of silence, of staying the same, of complacency ~ and it is infinitely too high for our black brothers and sisters to have to keep paying, over and over again.

I don’t know.  Maybe it’s silly to find hope in an avocado pit, but I do because it isn’t just the avocado.  Our cells divide so we can grow.  Seeds must break to bloom.  Caterpillars disintegrate to become butterflies.  Waters must break before a birth.

So if God chooses to break us ~ I trust Him in the process because He is near the broken.(Psalm 34:18)  He is the One who heals our wounds, the God of salvation who brings life where we see death.  And in this holy disruption, in this holy breaking, I see room for new life.  I see room for growth.

I see a future that can bear fruit: love, joy, peace, a church and a kingdom where we are one body, our differences displaying the full glory of God.

That’s where I want to be.

 

(Photo: Christie Lambert)

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