I hung up the phone completely frustrated. A rhetorical question poked at me as I scrubbed my frustration into the rim of the stained coffee mug: “Who was that?” I’ve known my friend my entire life, yet the person I was talking to on the phone sounded like a stranger. The disagreements since March of last year have been more than my “I hate conflict” heart can handle. I’ve been unfollowed, called out, and shamed (publically and behind breaths). I’ve had relationships strained and doors slammed. But here, today, when I hear a familiar voice speaking foreign words, I am absolutely devastated. I don’t know how I can bear one more thing breaking in my life.
But the breaking keeps coming.
Just last night, my six-year-old daughter sobbed uncontrollably in my lap. Her body shook. What started out as mocking her brother turned into screaming on the floor. She broke. Through gulping for air, she told me how her feelings were hurt and how much she missed her friends. I held her tightly. I sang over her softly. Nothing relaxes a soul like a familiar song. She fell asleep with tears drying on her chin.
I wanted to explain to my little girl that I understand what it’s like to lose people. I wanted to list, name after name, the people I miss too. I miss the way things used to be when we didn’t just talk about politics, masks, and the governor. I spend most days mildly annoyed. World circumstances have put me on edge. I am always prepped for a potential argument. I wanted to tell her that I understand, that I want to scream, cry, and kick on the floor too. Instead, I sang.
The breaking keeps coming.
From COVID, racial tensions, school shutdowns, and the election — each one a punch in the gut, each one breaking our relationships.
I want to pull the blanket back to a safer time. I don’t want my daughter to hurt. I want peace to mend all the pieces of my fractured friendships. My temptation is to fix it, stop the bleeding, relieve the pain. I want to read an article that can make it all better. If I just scroll a little more, an answer will come.
But the breaking keeps coming.
Just when think it’s done, it isn’t. Maybe after the holidays, when the kids go back to school, or the vaccine is released, then the breaking will stop. But the breaking will only stop when God allows it. The breaking comes like an avalanche sprinting down a mountain, unstoppable. This breaking is of God.
God is working in our world through the unbearable hard. He has pulled back the sheet of denial, ungodliness, and self-righteousness. He has done this in the world and inside of me. I’ve seen sin in me. I’ve seen it in others. I’ve seen it in the church. Perhaps it was always there, but now it’s been revealed. The invisible has been made visible. We’ve been broken and cracked open like an egg with the yolk oozing everywhere. I am tempted to close my eyes, bear down, and just get through this. But if I do, I miss what all the breaking means. It means healing, and I want to heal more than I want anything. I want to be whole, pure, and right on the inside.
So when the breaking comes, I let it. I ask God for eyes to see my sin, a voice to confess it, and a heart that is willing to bend into the character of Christ. I cry as my daughter did with a stream of tears. One thing that helps me endure this season of suffering is worship.
I sing. I sing loud the songs of Jesus. I don’t belt out a tune to drown out my feelings, but as a way to feel my feelings with Christ. I sing louder to remind my own soul that Jesus is stronger, safer, and nearer in the breaking than ever before. God is about my healing — our healing. The breaking isn’t to destroy us but to help us. We worship as a way to see through the dark and remember God is still on the throne. The music from my mouth mirrors the longings of my heart. These songs are my anthem. I will sing in the shower, in my car, while I do my daily chores.
When the world is fragile, I will sing.
When relationships split and the church splinters, I will sing.
When I’m spiraling out of control, I will sing even louder.
Songs keep my heart fixed on truth. Like a brace, singing keeps my broken heart safe in one place. Everything that’s cracked must be held still like a cast holds a snapped bone. So I sing over and over again. I sing out of tune and almost obnoxiously. I sing quietly just like I did over my daughter. I am breaking, but I’m also being healed.
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