The start of this week, Holy Week, started off, well, pretty fine and normal. We went to church on Palm Sunday, we worshipped and we praised and our hearts were moved closer to the Father as we listened to a sermon said right about suffering and cross-carrying.
It was a usual Sunday where our littlest cried uncontrollably in the nursery, inconsolable at best, and daddy went down and spent the morning in the church's family room while I sat upstairs in the sanctuary next to friends made family.
Service ended, our coffee cups empty, hearts full, and we changed diapers and decided it was an adventure-filled sort of day. A day to visit Washington Park, a park full of flowers in bloom, like green rooms of pink petals and cherry blossoms. We walked for but five minutes, not awed at the beauty of life springing forth after a dreary and long winter, and decided to make our way the mile south to the zoo.
The day was good and fine and ended with me working - a photoshoot and then a wedding consult - but it quickly ended and we found ourselves in bed and waking up to Monday.
Monday was hard and difficult and challenging at best.
Monday was full to the brim with me, mama, reaching and grasping with all my might to catch up on work piled high. As I sat at the bottom of my stack of work, I didn't even know how to make a list or where to start because the pile was stacked so high I felt suffocated. But I took one step at a time, I edited a photo or two and wrote a few past-due articles. I made some phone calls and answered some emails, but after hours of working at the coffee shop I remained in the swamp of feeling behind and bad and guilty that I wasn't at home with my babies and husband.
I never feel like I'm quite doing the right thing with my time.
Monday was full to the brim with daddy sending me SOS text messages, informing me that the babies turning toddlers were screaming for hours on end, what is going on, why do they hate everything? Their screams and cries were wearing daddy thin and stretching the skin of his heart, trying his patience and grace. Sometimes when the screaming is unseemingly worthless, it nags the soul and makes you more than tired. The screaming, though from babies turning toddlers, rubs you flimsy, forces you to grasp for grace where there seems to be none.
We dropped the babies turning toddlers off at a friend's house. Let's go work for an hour, we said, it will help us sleep better if we can just cross some things off of our long lists.
When we pulled in to the ice cream parlor with internet we looked at one another and decided we should instead spend the hour making eye contact, maybe even talking - we should be friends, let's feed our friendship.
We sat in the ice cream parlor and stared awkwardly, unsure what to talk about or where to meet in conversation. How are we living such different lives? We asked and we wondered, why does it feel like we are in two separate worlds?
Intimacy of the heart and body is hard when you have little precious souls to tend to.
It was the Monday after Palm Sunday I was reminded how essential it is to see Him in the suffering and the pain, the awkwardness and the seemingly-impossible. I initially thought about how I need to invite Him into the spaces of life that are uncomfortable and inadequate, but then I realized He was already there.
He was already in the space of our imperfect marriage, our uncomfortable relationship starved of heart-intimacy. He was already there, waiting for us, ready to bridge the impossible-feeling distance.
When you grow from a family of two to four within five months, adding two tiny humans who need constant help and unending attention, life is lived quickly - it's easy to count on tomorrow for heart-intimacy because you know that tomorrow your babies will be grown. You have to sort of find the friendship in between all the moments. And honestly? In between all of everything is tired and an ache to rest a running soul.
Tuesday came and I was soul-tired; sleepless nights string together endlessly. I somehow made it to choir practice with the babies turning toddlers and I was forced to face some fierce mama-instincts turn bitterly jealous. I spent the evening analyzing this soul of mine in between thrashes and screaming, the pulling away from me, unable to ignore the sharp pain stabbing me in some of the most tender pieces of my heart.
Sometimes it seems too painful to acknowledge the broken pieces.
Sometimes you can avoid those broken pieces, sometimes you can't. Either way, it's painful and it's exhausting, because even though we do our best to ignore the things that bother us, to ignore the pain-filled areas of our hearts and stories...it doesn't actually fix anything.
Ignoring the broken pieces or pain points doesn't heal or fix them. Pretending pain isn't a part of our story doesn't make pain disappear.
And what I continue to find is...when everything else is all torn away -- the pretty pictures and cliche sayings and perfect-appearing whatever -- when everything is raw and authentic and even uncomfortable..it is there I find Him. It's in the discomfort where He brings forth unexpected comfort, it's in the stinging rawness that His presence brings balm. Because He does anything but cast shame on our pain.
While I'm living life on high-speed, doing my best to not enter into the exhausting pain-ridden areas, He is waiting to lather my hurt in grace upon grace. He is waiting to surprise me with the gift of grace, the permission to just be me whatever that means in this moment.
You cannot skip the dark night of discomfort or brokenness, jumping to the joy or wholeness in the morning.
Attempting to do so completely negates conquering the depravity of The Cross.
The King cannot rise unless He has died.
When Holy Week feels less than holy, I am reminded that He is in the spaces of lack. He fills up the wide open cracks with grace.
And as we look on towards tomorrow, Good Friday, I can't help but think about the depths of darkness He went to so I can experience His love and grace and redemption, His hope and peace. I can't help but be reminded He chose to enter into the darkest parts of humanity, violence and wickedness, to take on all the brokenness the world has ever had or will ever have to offer. What crushing weight.
We try to make this Christian life, the culture of the Christian, something it isn't...sweet and pretty...the Christian life of Christ was anything but sweet and pretty and cute.
When Holy Week feels less than holy, I am reminded that He went to The Cross and the throes of darkness not so I would behave right or be perfect or live morally.
He went to The Cross because of love.
The cross is the great exposure of rawness, of brokenness, and I have the freedom to shed the shame of not living perfectly because that is not the point of Holy Week.
What if the point of Holy Week is to turn our palms up and open, to surrender our shame, to expose our most intimate and broken selves in order to know we are fully loved and loved fully?
It's at The Cross where suffering and pain are offered a voice without shame, space to cry out Abba Father why have you forsaken me?
It's at The Cross where our inadequacies are met with grace, where our brokenness is met with healing, where death was literally conquered. It's at The Cross where the invitation is to be fully you, wholly exposed and raw, your very truest self, and yet...entirely accepted.
It's at The Cross we are invited to acknowledge the pain and the suffering so that we may fully live.