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Sunday, November 17, 2013

Not Ordinary Love Songs

When I woke up this morning, on a spare mattress in the college dorm room of a good friend who let me stay with her when other travel took me close to her campus, I planned to get up, shower, get dressed for worship, and go with her to her church.

But I got up way early. Way, way earlier than most college students do on the weekend. (You see, I'm regularly an insomniac, and the last few days, it's been prevalent and persistent. Last night was one of those.) I had tossed and turned sleeplessly for at least two hours, until the sun was pretty much fully filling the room even through the dense fog outside.

So I found myself ready to go about the time she headed to the shower. I took my Bible and prayer journal and went to the commons room for some early prayer time before corporate worship.

Generally, prayer journalling for me can last an hour or more, if my schedule allows it. Five to six handwritten pages, as I struggle and plead and confess, and then confess more explicitly, and search and seek and weep, is pretty normal. Call me Israel. I wrestle with God on the page daily. And I thought this morning might go the same way.

If you read my last entry, then you know that I've been struggling deeply with depression lately. Topping the list of causes have been my sense of worthlessness, expendibility, and pointlessness. Grief has been ever present. Loss has loomed. There have been unfair speculations. I have felt accused, accused, accused. From my (admittedly erroneous, but I know that only cognitively, not emotionally) limited perspective, it has felt as though God has been playing a game of cat & mouse with me. Just when I feel I've made it safely to a corner to catch my breath, POUNCE, down he comes again. I begged him to relent. I thought it would never come. And my frame, it is only dust. I wanted to run away. I just wanted to run and run and hide somewhere. But where?

So this morning, I sat down by the open window, the air damp from the mountain mist, and opened the journal. My mind was all over the place. I didn't know what I wanted any more than I knew what was good. I knew I was about to go to worship, and with that fracturing and discombobulation, I feared I would hear not one word of the service. Depression brings its own form of ADD, it seems. I always feel guilty when I attend worship and can't get my head to get in there with me. That only adds to the depression, in the end.

So I was writing and praying and asking him what he wanted me to do, because I just didn't know. And when I was just a paragraph--not pages--in, I think he said, "Go home." It was such a relief to hear! It was an immediate confirmation. I had planned to start the trip just a few hours later, but it seemed so direct. "Go home." I love an adventure. I love to travel. I love to be out in different places. But today, I needed that one destination. I needed to go home.

And it's good to be home. I'm thankful for a safe trip. Coming down the mountain was a bit hazardous. Thick fog, high altitude, tightly winding road with practically nothing between driver and empty space--and not an incident to report. I'm thankful to be home with my family, even though it's a chorus of deep coughing around here right now. But it was the ride home I needed most.

Don't get me wrong: I am completely committed to regular corporate worship. We are called not to stop meeting together. Worshiping away from home sometimes is more encouraging to me than being in my regular spot, because I get to see the evidence of the universal church, alive and well. So I am not advocating skipping out on services. But I also do believe that sometimes God just wants us alone with him, for a time, and that's what I had with him in the car today. God and me and my (mostly) secular music.

I plugged in the iPod and the first song to come on was Peter Gabriel's In Your Eyes. Commonly thought of as a love song from that 80s-era teen classic movie Say Anything, I have never considered that song as something to be taken at face value. It has always rung of deep spiritual meaning to me. It was even more so today. And here's what I heard first:

Love, I get so lost, sometimes.
Days pass and this emptiness fills my heart.
When I want to run away
I drive off in my car
but whichever way I go
I come back to the place You are.

And all my instincts, they return
and the grand facade, so soon will burn
without a noise, without my pride
I reach out from the inside.

Yes. That was me, and it was what I needed to hear. I felt total security right then, like the opening of the doorways of a thousand churches. He sees me. He really sees me. I was so tired. Everything is so much WORK! Relationships. Job. Home. Managing these crazy emotions. Work. Grief. Pain to push through. Senseless hurt. Misunderstandings. Accusations. Work.

Love, I don't like to see so much pain.
So much wasted and this moment keeps slipping away.
I get so tired of working so hard for our survival.
I look to the time with You to keep me awake and alive.

The music was enveloping, and I realized I needed this time with him alone in the car more than anything else right then. And the pain of the accuser's tactics began to melt away. For the first time in weeks, I didn't feel that clenched fear and anxiety in that space between my gut and my heart, under the ribs, where it lodges so regularly. I was exhaling and inhaling in time to the music. It was relief. But it didn't stop there. The next song was a love song, directly from him to me.

It's the purest track on my iPod. Lavender by Marillion. It became a dialogue between us this morning.

The sweet imagery is of innocent children, playing without even a hint of corruption in sprinklers in the park. They were running through the rainbows. They were singing a song for you. It seemed to be a song for you, the one I wanted to write for you...for you...you.

And this is what He wanted to write for me: Lavenders blue, dilly dilly, lavenders green. When I am King, dilly dilly, you will be queen. A penny for your thoughts, my dear. A penny for your thoughts, my dear.

My King has promised himself to me. The beauty of creation is his love in physical form, shared for daily enjoyment. He loves me. I am secure. The accuser is silenced. He sees me, pure, innocent, no condemnation. And my thoughts, he wants them. "I owe You for Your love. I owe You for Your love. For Your love." The world, though dimmed by fog and mist, became instantly beautiful again.

I have missed it.

But it didn't stop there. The early church dealt with Rome. This morning, Rome dealt with me. The Promise continued the conversation:
If you need a friend, (John 15:15)
don't look to a stranger. (Job 19:15)
You know in the end,
I'll always be there.
(Matthew 28: 20)
. . .
And if I had to walk the world
I'd make you fall for me.
I promise you, I promise you, I will.
(John 1:14)

He did walk the world. He did it to fulfill the promise. And he did it for me. And I needed to know that, really, really know that this morning.

The promises flowed. The accuser was silenced. I was renewed.

I could respond with Bono as he belted his own version of Mary's Magnificat (Luke 1: 46-55) --though not nearly with the vocal power or range, but I did the best I could to magnify the Lord with my strained, wavering, untrained contralto.

Magnificent. Oh, Magnificent!
I was born, I was born to be with You.
. . . This foolishness can leave a heart black and blue. . .
Only love can heal such a scar. . .
I was born, I was born to sing to You.
I didn't have a choice to lift You up
and sing whatever song You wanted me to.
I give You back my voice, from the womb.
My first cry, it was a joyful noise!
. . .
Justified, till we die you and I will magnify!

And it was. Magnificent. Personal, intimate, absolutely necessary worship wrenched from me today to hold back the voices of despair and sweep away the effects recent events had left on me. My black and blue heart was touched and healed as surely as the wounds of the woman who had only the hem of his garment.

Magnificent. OH.


Donna Cannone said...

When you die, we are going to publish your prayer journals posthumously as, "The Confessions of St. Rebecca".

--Rebecca said...

Oh, dear. I shall have to put it in my will that at least the journals get cremated!

glenwied said...

These deep thoughts you bear is one reason I so admire you. Your ability to express these thoughts so clearly is a gift from God. Thank you.

--Rebecca said...

Thank you, Mary. You are so faithful to read those thoughts.
And I am thankful to have words again today. Words are worship from me. I hope that at the end of my days, the positive ones stand as my Magnificat. (And the negatives are swallowed up by his victory.)

Anonymous said...

Rebecca, you write for all of us. I too move in and out of deep despair, and I too was moved and joyful at Sunday's worship service. Totally at peace. And then right back to reality. We really need to get out of this funk. It is so draining.
Fellow Survivor

--Rebecca said...

Thank you, Fellow Survivor. Yes, draining is a good word.
I long for the reconciliation and unity and security that the future will hold. But in the meantime, we can just help carry each other. Thanks again for stopping by.

Anonymous said...

Rebecca, read Singing Eagle's post from today On the Grace blog. She nails it.

Are you OK today. I'm tired of not being OK. For me, I can't believe I let a girl, even one I loved with all my heart, bring me to my knees. My daughter and I looked at pictures from our rehearsal dinner 24 years ago. What happened? My ex wanted to just throw it all away, including our wedding portraits, but my daughter saved them. They are valuable to her because we were once a very happy family. Do you remember the Barney Hug, the big purple dinosaur, " I love you, you love me, were are a big happy family" We did that all the time.

I have read many of your posts so I have a glimmer of understanding about your life.

My question to you is, "are we being attacked?" I don't mean the N's in our lives, they are only the tools used to attack us. My exes maiden name is Jobe. That's what makes me think about that question. Plus, our deep abiding faith going back to our teen years. When I was first attacked 6 years ago with one of those horrible rages over nothing and then banished from her presence for a month, I read and re-read Job over and over. I think I need to do it again.

Lowen said...

This was amazing to read. Thank you.

--Rebecca said...

Thank you, Lowen. From another writer, you know your words of affirmation encourage me. Thanks for reading.