Several years ago, before my life as i knew it unraveled, I was on a vacation. I remember, very distinctly, sitting poolside, listening to music on my ipod. A song came on called, “Like a Lake”, by Sarah Groves. It was beautiful, and as I listened, I realized I had no earthly idea what she was talking about. Actually, I remember thinking that the song was pretty dumb. Here are some of the lyrics: “So much hurt and preservation, like a tendril round my soul. So much painful information, no clear way on how to hold it. Everything in me is tightening-curling in around this ache-I will lay my heart wide open-like the surface of a lake-wide open like a lake.” Dumb…right? It gets worse (or better); “Standing at this water’s edge, looking in at God’s own heart-no idea where to begin, to swallow up the way things are. everything in me is drawing in-closing in around this pain-I will lay my heart wide open-wide open like a lake.” What I now know, is that sometimes I am clueless, or think things are “dumb”, is because i can’t relate on a personal or emotional level. Or in this case, it was also because my life had been too easy up until that point.
A few months after this vacation, a period of hurt, loss, grief, sadness, anger, anguish and fear entered my small sheltered world. Somehow, this song came to my mind. I cued it up and listened with different ears, a bruised heart and a doubtful spirit. It now made perfect sense. I couldn’t put words to my feelings-but this song described me perfectly. “So much hurt and preservation-like a tendril round my soul.” My soul felt the tightening. The curling in around the ache. I felt the confusion and wondering of where to begin-to swallow up the way things were. Those were the only words that could explain the unexplainable. No wonder it didn’t make sense before. During this time, i also discovered several Psalms that expressed the otherwise inexpressible. Until I had walked in these new shoes-that felt way too tight and gave me blisters-I couldn’t understand how David (who wrote most of those Psalms) could ask God to call down justice to his enemies. To “smite” them. Or how he cried out in desperate anguish and never slept. Or how he pleaded with God for relief from his sorrows. None of this made any sense to me. Until Suffering entered my life like an earthquake.
But there is a bit more to the song that also describes me: “Bring the wind and bring the thunder, bring the rain til’ i am tried. When it’s over bring me stillness. Let my face reflect the sky. And all the grace and all the wonder, of a peace that I can’t fake-wide open like a lake. Everything in me is tightening, curling in around this ache-I AM FIGHTING TO STAY OPEN. I AM FIGHTING TO STAY OPEN. OPEN. OPEN. OH WIDE OPEN. OPEN LIKE A LAKE.” It’s been several years since that season came upon me. And let me tell you-I had to fight. You may have heard that I had Leukemia this year. I kicked it’s butt. That was nothing. There’s nothing like the fight to stay emotionally engaged and open and soft and willing. Can I get a witness? Some of you make think I was brave in my recent battle with Cancer. God made me brave before that, as I fought to stay open to love and being loved. To stay engaged in the world and not hide. I realized that I am extremely lucky and spoiled to NOT identify with this song until a few years ago. Many people, maybe you, have been fighting to stay open and to continuously pry the tendril from your soul for more of your life than you can fathom. It is not an easy match to win. But please Don’t give up. Keep wrestling. Keep fighting. Keep asking God for the “stillness” that comes after the rain and the thunder.
Today I am on vacation, sitting poolside, listening to music on my ipod. I purposely pulled up this song. It made me sad to reflect on that time, but it also gave me hope that “stillness” and healing is possible. The fight to stay open was worth it, and when the rain comes again, I will be willing to fight to stay open-“open like a lake.”