Monday, April 30, 2007

where words do not exist

i have said more than a few times over the past several months that i feel like i am in some in-between land in regards to my language: i am losing my ability to form intelligible sentences in english, yet i don't know spanish well enough to articulate thoughts either, so i am stuck attempting to convey concepts using primitive words and hand signs... or no words at all. and for some people this would be no big deal... maybe even a relief to not have to talk. however, if you know me even a little, you will know that this inability to communicate verbally has been a little bit of a stretch. okay, maybe even a big stretch at times :)

however, it is also one of the challenges i have become most grateful that i was forced into. my last couple years of college, i learned a lot about the value of good friends, friends that i could really share my heart with - my struggles, my joys, my hurts, my thoughts, my dreams, etc. and as i found healing in places that were needed in my relationship with God and the church, i ended up in roles where i was also encouraging others to find their hearts and give it in its entirety to God. and i loved it, spending many hours over coffee sharing dreams and thoughts on life and our faith and our God. and so when i first came here in august, i had a head full of ideas and a heart full of dreams. i was going to plunge into the middle of these people and get to know their hearts and their culture and their language... i would meet them where they were at as we connected with them in the clinic setting, but i would understand that what they really need is a relationship with our jesus, and i would seek to connect with them on a heart level that is necessary to see change really effected.

thank God for his grace.

the first hurdle came when i witnessed how reserved these people are... quite different from the bold, open, individualistic yet not-scared-to-share-all-our-thoughts-and-feelings, type of college-setting america that i had come from. the second hurdle came when i realized that i really cannot speak this language; although this realization has also been mixed with awe at times by how much we really can understand from simple non-verbals, there is also the reality that it is hard to communicate with anyone on any level, let alone a deeper level, when you cannot speak their language. and i have also learned much in the way of this Truth from the fickers, a family that allows for there to be quiet space in a way i have never experienced before when living in community.

and so, i was forced many times early on and blessed many times more recently, to sit and dwell in times of silence. and i have learned that most of life is lived on a level where words do not exist, even when we try to cover this Reality with forced ramblings or endless thoughts. and there is much beauty that comes in this: there is a freedom that is found when no one is talking simply for the sake of talking, and a deep security that can only come when someone is willing to enter into and sit awhile with you in those times that cannot be expressed in words... times when there is no demand on your heart, your thoughts, your emotions, but just the simple presence of someone who cares enough to stay. and i have found so much healing and grace in this that i have been left wondering at times why we do not live like this more often.... until i remember that silence does not come naturally to us for a reason... a good reason. because silence allows for not only the beautiful things of this life, but also for the pain of life, of the hurts, of the confusion, the doubt, the frustrations, the deep questions that plague us, begging us for answers and propelling us into life with an energy that is needed to fight to keep our heads above the battle we find raging deep within ourselves.

and i know that this is nothing profound... i think that everyone knows all of this to some degree, whether they acknowledge it or not. i know that i have reached these points of realization many times in my life. but, realizing something and knowing what to do with the realization are two very different things. and sometimes the old ways of functioning are just too comfortable and too familiar to be thrown aside for a dark path of uncertainty. and i would like to say that all the things you just read and are about to read in this post are things that i have learned how to put into practice amazingly, but the truth is that I have witnessed these Truths lived out in the family that i live with here and experienced it being offered to me much greater than i may ever learn how to live out in my own life. and i know that it is only because of this that i have come to realize anything that i could write about in this post, leaving me in one of those ironies of life where i am left with mere words to describe something that cannot be described with words alone...

and so as i look over the past several months, i am once again humbled beyond words at the fact that i am finding this freedom only by the grace of god at work in my life, understanding that it is his grace alone that rips away all those crutches, leaving us stranded and dependent on him to start to show us a new way of walking... that slowly pulls us out the mud and brush on the side of the road that we so easily get distracted with fighting and leads us back on the dry ground where he then takes our hand and walks beside us, gently reminding us over and over again - usually just with His presence - that he is right there with us and that what he has to offer is better than any of the things, or even relationships, this world could ever offer.

and furthermore, i am learning that it is his grace alone that will heal the people i live with and minister to, both physically and at a heart level. the more i discover the healing that can only come from God's hands and the Answers that can only come from His heart, the more i long for those around me to discover this for themselves too.... which i am finding raises even more questions and struggles. but, i am also learning - and this is a lesson i usually have to remind myself of about 52 times a day - that i cannot heal these peoples' wounds physically or emotionally, i cannot calm their frustrations or change their life circumstances, i cannot make them rich or change the mindsets that help contribute to their poverty at times, i cannot make up for years of violent civil wars, or heal scars from years of abusive husbands too drunk to care who they are hitting when they come home. and in the same way that no one will ever be able to answer the questions deep in my soul, i will never ever be able to answer the questions they ask deep in their hearts... the questions we all ask deep within our hearts.

and so i find myself entering into this silence within myself and struggling through it with my Creator and Maker, the same One who holds this entire universe in His hands. because i am starting to understand that this peace and security that we all long for so deeply is not going to come from some outside source or circumstance.... it can only be created within ourselves as we allow Him to move deep within our souls, and then be carried within us throughout our day, no matter what circumstances we find ourselves in. and only then can our life truly begin to be about what we will offer those around us instead of us looking to those around us to answers this deep need for security deep within us.

and as all my answers for my own life and the answers i thought i had for the lives of those around me are slowly being ripped out from under me, i am finding myself left with an indescribeable security that comes from One greater than me... one that allows me to simply enter into the lives of these people and let that be enough... to let there be space, to let there be grace... to let there be silence. and to let that speak to those deeper places that their Creator longs to move in... and then, when i stop seeking to give them my talk, my answers, my thoughts, hopes, and dreams for their lives, truly He can move.

i pulled out an old cd the other day, one i haven't listened to since high school, and discovered a treasure-trove of lyrics. one of the songs speaks to the ironic twists of this thing we call Truth... the Truth that is only found as we are honest enough to enter into those places that we often try so hard to run away from... those places that silence speaks of. and it reminds me that this same God of Truth that often places us in uncomfortable and sometimes painful circumstances will also be the exact same God of Love that "... heals the wounds it makes..."

child, don’t close your eyes,
the Truth contains much beauty…
and though it scars your soul,
it can heal the wounds it makes.

you’ve been deceived to think the pain is to be dreaded.
when you’ve got nothing left,
it will give more than it takes.

"honest" by kendall payne