Driving through towns in Haiti, you’ll often see men on the side of the road mixing cement. They will spend hours under the merciless Haitian sun, working at the base of a small mountain of cement powder, pouring it in a bucket, mixing it with water, patting it into bricks, and selling it in the market. I learned from some friends in Haiti that often they add sand to their powder to cut costs. So they send these bricks of sand to the market, where they are bought and used to build houses, schools, hospitals, you name it. And you and I both know that cities built of sand can’t remain when the earth quakes.
God used this little nugget of truth to help me make some sense of the heavy plate of heartbreak that 2013 served me. Long story short, the rug of my life got pulled out from underneath me. It turned my world upside down and left my heart in shambles. (My last post was crafted in the midst of this heartache.) After six months of being as lively as a sad sack of potatoes, God used Haiti’s bricks to let a sliver of light into my hopeless state.
I realized that I had built a lovely house for my heart to keep it safe from the pain of our broken world. (I’m pretty sure everyone does this, but I haven’t met everyone yet, so I’ll just speak for myself on this one.) Unbeknownst to me, this house was made of Haiti’s bricks. Enough cement to look like the real deal, but enough sand to keep it fragile to the elements of life. These bricks come in lots of different colors. Anger, pride, religion, just to name a few. My bricks were a dazzling shade of perfectionism. As long as I never felt, thought, said, or did anything wrong, my house was fine and my heart was safe. My life really worked for me for a long time. Until an earthquake came.
When my life got pulled out from underneath me, my entire house came crumbling down in one fell swoop. In the midst of the pain and confusion, this picture was the only language I had to understand and communicate what was going on. I was sitting in the remains of the living room, flattened walls, broken picture frames and shattered dishes strewn across the floor, heart completely vulnerable and exposed.
For a long time I thought God wanted me to fix my house, and I would just sit there and cry because it was beyond anything I could possibly repair. I begged Jesus to just come and make me whole again. Sitting on the floor in my brokenness, I wondered where on earth he was and what was taking him so long.
Finally, one morning I woke up to discover Jesus on the floor with me. My heart flooded with hope. Finally, he’s here and he is going to rebuild everything and put my life back together. He was there, but he didn’t move a muscle. I was acutely aware of his presence, yet all of the pain and confusion remained. Time went by and still he just sat on the floor with me. With each passing day, my hope turned into restlessness, confusion, and frustration. The whole analogy culminated in a conversation with Jesus that branded my life.
“Jesus, why did you even come here if you aren’t going to do anything to fix this?”
“Hope,” he replied, “I’m determined to prove to you that I don’t have to fix you to love you. And I don’t have to clean a single thing to want to be here with you. But if I never rebuild your life, would you still want Me?”
His question has left me undone to this day.
Our hearts weren’t meant to live in suits of armor. That conversation marked the beginning of a journey of letting God demolish everything that I’m hiding behind that isn’t Him. I’m still very new at this. And it’s been terrifying and devastating and beautiful. It is awful to be so vulnerable to pain. But I’m learning that to let Jesus be my shield, my glory, and the lifter of my head is what it means to be alive.
To be fully seen and wholly known in all my brokenness, and to find myself nonetheless hidden, covered, and wrapped up in the steadfast love of Jesus, has changed me to my core. I think I’m beginning to understand what Jesus meant when he said things like “whoever seeks to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it”. It is painful and exhilarating and wonderful and messy and beautiful. But I can say that it is worth it because Jesus is worth it. Because in the midst of it all, I discovered his faithfulness, his patience, his kindness, his hilarity, his steadfast love, his worthiness.
To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.