Because We All Have These Days: When We’re Just Hanging on by a String
I crack the eggs and the pan sizzles and there’s a kid hanging upside down off the couch, trying to knit a scarf.
“Remember to use the plastic spatula and not the steel one, Mama? Remember what Dad said?”
And her curls are all hanging down touching the floor and she’s doing a row of pearl with the blood all running way too fast to her face.
I switch spatulas.
“You might want to sit up.” I try to do no harm to the non-stick coating of one red frying pan.
She’s draped off the couch arm like an oranguntun, curls waterfalling down into an overflowing basket of stacked books and balls of yarn, and how in the world can anyone’s mind find the way to hold on to knitting needles when dangling upended?
Why does a mind find hope so much easier to hold on to than despair?
I scramble eggs. Dash a bit of salt and pepper. The clock ticks loud behind me.
The day my Grandma Ruth had shock therapy, I had talked to her that morning and wondered how it really could, how electrical currents could zap everything scrambled into something whole again.
Her voice had been a whisper that morning, like crawling up hidden on a shelf and I had tried to coax her weary-worry down with talk of leaves turning and sun exploding in mums and yellow everywhere, so certain, and she had curled up small in the nook of me not wanting to look or hear or be anymore.
Grandma Ruth and I, we shared more than these long, bony noses.
I look up from the frying pan. The inverted kid hangs paused, mid-stitch needles poking through yarn. “I must have….” She curls up like a Pilates instructor over her knitted rows.
“I must have dropped a stitch somewhere… see the hole?”
“Can you work your way back to it?” I scramble up edges.
I was a lot younger than Grandma the day on a Toronto street corner when something didn’t tie right somewhere in me and a mind can drop right through a black hole, right through that gaping black hole that just ups and blows right through you. I stood on a street with the cars flashing by loud. How can it be so easy to lose your way Home? Anxiety can take all your innards and whisk you into this froth of scrambled mess and depression isn’t a cut that needs a bandage — it’s a cancer that needs a battleplan.
I have stood at the stove and every breath can feel like you are losing the battle.
It’s either take captive every thought or be taken captive. When you realize life is war, you make prayer a shield and Christ your general and the victory is found in grace.
A friend I birthed babies with, she knows there’s no lone victors and every conqueror always has a team, so she reaches out to me last week. Tells me with she’s on the front lines and the negative thoughts are shelling her hard and she’s trying to hold the enemy back with the Word because the only way to ever gain ground is to get deeper into God. I pray for her everyday and over the scrambled eggs.
I mean every Scripture wielded word. I can feel it again, how all that black and scrambling feels. The way to stand with the falling is to give them the gift of the knees because this is His Body catches and carries each other home.
It’s there on the chalkboard, under the clicking clock, so I don’t forget, the name of a friend whose meds fail and she’s plunging into this pitch black depression. Her husband keeps holding her because the dark’s not a place you go and try to hold yourself together all alone. He whispers it close, like dew in a drought, that God doesn’t fail.
My heart’s in my throat when I tell him that I am a Cross-fool who really does believes it: God doesn’t allow pain unless He’s allowing something new to be born. And there are a thousand ways births can happen unseen to the naked eye but it’s the eyes of the heart that see the delivering mercies of God. Every breath is always one breath closer to birthing into eternity.
What I’m thinking over scrambled eggs is just that: In the Body of Christ, a mind can break just like a leg and if we don’t hide the shattering of our bones, why be ashamed of the shattering of our hearts?
I had sat through a Sunday sermon once where the preacher had laughed about how he and the wife and kids had lived a cross the street from a psych hospital — from “the loonie bin” were his exact words.
And I had sat there, 17 and scared, thumbing the frayed leather corner of my Thompson Chain reference Bible and thought of all the times I had visited my mama behind locked doors like that and I had swallowed hard and the edge of that Bible had blurred. The congregation laughed at the preacher chuckling from the pulpit.
The untold stories of the messed up people all around you, they wouldn’t make you laugh — they’d break your heart. And if the broken would just love the broken — this might free us all from the chains of rejection.
“You help me, Mama?” The knitting kid is sitting on the floor now, and she mumbles it, bent over this straggle of stitches sagging and missing.
I turn out the scrambled eggs and I kneel with her and I get that and it’s me: What do you do when you desperately just need someone to come help you figure this all out?
And there’s the Word-whispered assurance, “I am more than you need and I am like a mother and I am your Father and I am the Light that pushes back the black and I am making all things new — and that’s a promise that I’ll wrap right round you in any pit and pull you up and close to Me.“
That’s what I write it on these cards.
Cards shaped like puzzle pieces.
9 puzzle piece cards that envelope after envelope will all fit together.
And I send the cards to those two women, sisters like me.
Sisters with messy pieces and broken pieces and puzzling pieces that they don’t have the faintest idea how to fit together.
In the midst of all that doesn’t makes sense, the ink runs like a line to hold on to:
God’s putting together all the pieces of the puzzle and He’ll fill what’s still missing with His peace.
“Even if it’s a mess, it is still okay, Mama…” The kid who was hanging upside down trying to put it together, she smiles…
And I sit in front of the stove with its scrambled eggs —
and she keeps trusting something beautiful will come of out of everything knotted and all these tangled strings.
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Dear You: A Letter for the Hard Days
Someone you know who feels like they’re just hanging on & needs some real encouragement? I tucked 9 days of these Treasure Puzzle Piece Cards in the mail… “God’s putting together all the pieces of the puzzle and He’ll fill what’s still missing with His peace.”
Every Wednesday, we Walk with Him, posting a spiritual practice that draws us nearer to His heart.
For the next 2 weeks: The Practice of Suffering…. What does it mean to pick up a cross? How do we walk through hard times? How do we participate in the sufferings of Christ? We look forward to your Scripture study, stories, encouragement….
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