Last week was a not so great week for me; I know, I know, we're not supposed to admit such things as Christians... I mean, we are supposed to be always chipper, right? Not so. A couple of weeks ago I was messaging a friend who said " I feel like 'happiness' is a luxury..." and I made the statement " I feel like we create it. It's a choice and something you have to be persistent with... Joy may be a better word." Well, I'm not sure if life took that as a challenge from me or what? But my family received a bad health report within a couple of days of this conversation. I came home from work to find my mother staring at the Christmas tree, crying and repeating "I don't understand, I don't understand." Can I just tell you, I am a quintessential "fixer," I get myself into more uncomfortable situations because I offer advice or give my opinion on how to help a situation when people are just wanting to vent or when it's too early in a friendship; I just want to fix all of the problems and I have a hard time when it's not something I can help or someone who can accept help at that time. This is a situation I can do nothing to help, and when I can't help I don't know what else to do other than be strong and be there for everyone else, forgetting my own emotions. And that worked for this situation too, for about 3 days...
Friday morning I woke up feeling sad and exhausted, almost the same feeling as when you've had a tragedy happen and have cried all day then yourself to sleep the night before... That sort of emotional hangover feeling. I normally don't allow myself to stay down, music helps, prayer helps, friends help, etc. but this time, nothing seemed to take that dark cloud away... Many friends reached out with caring messages, texts and chats, I loved them and was thankful but the pick-me-up they normally would afford didn't seem to happen. Saturday morning I awoke to the same emotional atmosphere, everything that happened over Friday-Sunday that normally wouldn't even be a thought for me felt like a much bigger deal filled my eyes with tears; whether it was a misunderstanding I created by trying to be funny via text that didn't turn out or burning cornbread I was making for dinner didn't matter... And I'm not used to being the overly-emotional type so it made me feel a little crazy, haha. And on top of the frustration all I could think was "of course I had to say happiness is a choice and now I can't make myself happy 😩 I wasn't asking for a life lesson you know!"
Saturday morning I woke up with a song on my mind, Close to You, I listened to it all morning on repeat and cried (I'm listening to it as I type)... A portion of the lyrics in this song says "I just want to be close to you, under the shadow of your wings please hide me Lord, so that I might be close to you... No evil can stand where you are, so I just need to be close, close to you..." and those words were (and are) exactly what I felt my heart was crying. Saturday night at prayer meeting I put the same song on and just sat and cried and prayed; but I have to be honest, I wasn't saying much... I just wanted to melt into God and get it out, and that I did. I knew I had to go through the emotions before singing with the worship team on Sunday or I'd just be a puddle on the platform... I'm happy to say I was not a puddle, ha.
Today, I thought of a biblical narrative that somehow has connected differently in my mind to life's brokenness:
Jesus was in Bethany, in the home of Simon, a man Jesus had healed of leprosy.And as he was reclining at the table, a woman came into the house, holding an alabaster flask. It was filled with the highest quality of fragrant and expensive oil. She walked right up to Jesus, and with a gesture of extreme devotion, she broke the flask and poured out the precious oil over his head.
Usually in this story, we think of the woman and encourage people to be like her... But today I thought of my life/myself as the alabaster flask of perfume.. Broken, not fit for the usual use, damaged, sharp... But there is precious oil found in a broken vessel... I'm not sure what is going to happen, I'm not sure if tomorrow the sun of healing will shine and all will be right in my world, but I'm learning that maybe that's not what should matter to me. That's the thing about life, it knows just how to break us all open... It can be painful, difficult, sad and can bring us to our knees in seconds. Sometimes when I hear someone sing a song in brokenness it means more because I know their story, I know they sing about struggle they have been through and somehow that becomes a deeper level of connection with me and worship to God. I've heard before that sometimes the greatest praise is just one more step on the journey with a lifted hand through fear and pain... Maybe that's the point of our brokenness in the first place, along with all the unpleasant emotions brokenness affords us a reminder that life is fragile, to love while we can and as hard as we can, not to focus on the small negatives, to appreciate the little pleasures of life. Brokenness reminds us that we don't always have it all together, we cannot control everything nor protect ourselves from hurt let alone protect everyone else, it teaches us to take the chance whether it be in love or a new friendship or business opportunity. Brokenness should teach us to stop holding back, both in asking for/going after things we want, to stop holding ourselves back with doubt, to stop holding happiness back with fear, to stop holding worship back with circumstance, to stop holding closer relationship with God back with apathy or laziness, to stop holding the giving of ourselves and our time back. Brokenness should be teaching us all not to hold back in any area, we don't have enough time or opportunities in life what we can afford to waste any of them.
We have to remember the oil, maybe the point of brokenness is to allow that oil to flow more freely in worship to God and in care for others. I've read many quotes on brokenness, "broken crayons still color" and "we're all broken, that's how the light gets in." and now I'd like to add "when life breaks your vessel, let the oil pour out."