Then they took the last step together, and when she kissed her, her mouth as warm as summer, the taste of her sweet and clear, she knew, at last, that she was home.
And in the end, we were all just humans… drunk on the idea that love, only love, could heal our brokenness.
The point is not that this world is too sad to love or too glad not to love; the point is that when you do love a thing, its gladness is a reason for loving it, and its sadness a reason for loving it more.
I like you…your eyes are full of language.
The following is a letter I wrote to a young woman friend of mine on her thirteenth birthday:
As I lay in bed snuggling my youngest son to sleep, he nestled his chin into the hollowed out portion of my breast, where there is a thick red line from the surgeon’s scalpel. The pain was rhythmic as he jawed my name over and over, lullabying himself into slumber, but I didn’t move him from my chest. The name he sang so softly was not “Mommy,” but “Maggie,” because Isaiah is the child of a broken home. The home Tony and I now maintain is not broken, but houses many scars: flesh torn by disease, memory anguished by death, loss whispered into an otherwise silent night. Isaiah slept, arms pretzeled around me, chin chiseled deeply into that hollow.
“In this world you will have trouble.” This is the only God-breathed promise I can remember on command, and it travels around my mind like a train, speeding and slowing with the terrain, whistling at inopportune moments. “In this world you will have trouble.” This truth, etched more deeply in some than in others, expresses the core promise of our faith. As Alexander Schmemann explains:
Only after we have understood [that we will suffer], can we understand the answer that Christ gives…to suffering: not the abolition of suffering, which in the fallen world is impossible, but the transformation of suffering itself into victory.
This is the transformation Christ accomplishes when He Himself accepts suffering, when He voluntarily surrenders Himself to it. We would be unable even to hear the words ‘transformation of suffering into victory,’ or they would remain the most meaningless of all rhetoric…were it not that our spiritual memory still preserves the image of the suffering Christ. What does this memory tell us? That Christ, the Son of God, the radiance and light of God on earth, entered into our suffering, in all its fullness and terrifying measure.
Thus, through His own co-suffering, He gives us the possibility of transforming our suffering into co-suffering with him, and therefore into spiritual effort, into spiritual warfare, into spiritual victory.
Gabby, you will suffer. Your sweetest, happiest moments will carry pain in them – a child healing his aching heart on your scarred chest, wisdom that comes at great personal cost, loss you cannot heal, even if you spent your entire life trying. You will suffer, and you will not know why. I do not have wisdom for you as you move toward fully fledged womanhood, only the following admonition:
Pray because you want to speak love, and hurt comes out instead.
Pray because you have wisdom, but act in folly.
Pray because you understand the depth of your own suffering, and lack empathy for anyone else’s.
Pray because you want humility, but your pride overshadows holy wishes.
Pray because you understand right and wrong, yet betray your most fundamental conviction.
Pray because you are filled with grace, yet speak of another’s sin.
Pray because you don’t feel His presence. Pray because you do.
Repent because the cataloguing your own sin makes it difficult to remember how another has wronged you.
Pray because your suffering is yours and no one else’s, and you must know the suffering you will know, because no one else can know it the way you will.
Pray when your pain gives you a special understanding of life; because humility has yet to come.
Pray because you are loved. Pray because you’re not.
Pray because you mourn, and hate the world for not knowing whom you mourn.
Pray because in your happiness, you will sear the heart of another consumed in grief.
Pray because you weep, pray harder if you have not yet known weeping.
Pray for those who can’t pray for themselves, because the time will come when you can’t pray for yourself.
Pray from your place of innocence. Pray from your place of experience.
Pray when you think you should pray. Pray when you think you should speak.
Pray the Jesus prayer (Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner) because keeping your own sin before you is the only way you will be able to forgive those you hate.
Pray because you love imperfectly, and imperfectly hide your disdain from the disdained.
Pray because Judas earnestly asked, “Is it I, Lord?”
Pray because suffering will be borne, borne well or poorly.
Pray because you forgive, yet it manifests in you as self-righteousness.
Pray because you have grace, yet don’t extend it.
Pray for the courage to live your own story, because you have to live it, courage or not.