Tuesday, August 16, 2016

From the Precipice

I have a friend, internet-turned-real-life, who wrote one time about the ministry of funfetti. It was (and is) one of my favorite things I’ve ever read via the internet, and I knew I would love Danielle from the minute I read it (stalker-alert). Because my life is a little (understatement) out-of-the-ordinary, it’s a rare gift for me to encounter someone that makes me feel less alone. Danielle is one of those gifts. She also makes me wish I paid closer attention to my writing teachers, because girlfriend can write, but that’s besides the point. Anyways, all that to say when I wanted to write something to celebrate the release of her amazing book, Assimilate or Go Home, I had many ideas of unrecognized ministries in my life that I wanted to write about. The ministry of the always-open-door; the ministry of the messy-minivan-as-taxi-service; the ministry of extra spaghetti and always-stocked ramen noodles; the ministry of sour patch kids; the ministry of lowering our expectations.

But when I take a minute to stop and think about where I am today, and where I will be tomorrow (the ministry of taking a minute), I know I actually need to talk about the precipice where I find myself dangling.
I had reached a breaking point, where I no longer believed I could save anybody and I didn’t know if God could either.

Danielle’s words give voice to the things I fear, I train my eyes over them like fingering a rosary, clutching hope that I will survive finding myself at the very end of my abilities.

Five years ago, when Caden had open heart surgery I sat in the same chairs we will sit in tomorrow, and I felt (mostly) peace at surrendering my son to a God I knew to be good. But after five years lived in the thick of a world more broken than I could have imagined, “good” seems a more fluid and inscrutable concept.

The problem is not that I no longer believe in God’s goodness, but that I’m not quite as sure what good actually means. My definitions of love and success and goodness have been flipped upside down as I live on the margins and walk alongside the broken.

The love has quieted me, confused me, and dragged me into places I never could have foreseen. It cannot be tamed, and that is turning out to be very inconvenient indeed.
There is a chapter near the middle of Assimilate or Go Home and I read it and re-read it, tightness blooming in my chest. Danielle says she's starting to believe that his eye is on the sparrow, in the beach strewn with dead birds and a landscape rife with loss and pain. She asserts that choosing life and messy relationships despite pain is a way to give a finger to the darkness, and I feel a kernel of hope inside that perhaps this is true.

All of us are slowly making our way to God, our hearts already broken by the time we arrive, searching for the only one who truly sees it all, the one who will never look away, the one who counts each and every fallen sparrow.

I imagine tomorrow morning, when we will hand our son over to skilled doctors and then sit and wait, anxious and skittish, for them to bring us back to him. I wonder how they can balloon his heart valve with the marvels of modern medical technology, wonder how too I might balloon my own heart, gently and firmly expanding its capacity for love and sorrow and joy all at once.

I am like the Israelites, gathering manna, just enough for today. Reminded afresh that I cannot save myself or my son, let alone the world. Instead I gather and nourish, quietly and not more than I need.

And so, rather than save the world, we carve a small space in it where the Kinngdom might come with kinship and grace and peace instead of fear. We inhabit this space, and then invite our neighbors in, even as we realize that they also invite us into their own spaces where the Lord is already present. Because when I stop trying to save the world, I remember that we do not bring Jesus to the margins but meet him there. We have no answers, but we do have compassion and lament and suffering with.

The world is so much worse than we would like to believe, and God is so much wilder than we are being taught. We can study the kingdom of God, but we can never contain or subdue it. Reading about it will never equal the experience of it. That we must discover for ourselves, and we will find it where God always said it would be: on the margins, in the upside-down kingdom.
*You guys, I don't gush about books lightly, but I seriously could have highlighted every passage in this gorgeous and somehow-still-completely-relatable book. Danielle says important beautiful things that point us to Jesus and his Kingdom and I want you all to go get it immediately. Seriously.


  1. All the amens and praise hands! ��������

  2. So many of those were my favorite lines too. What an unspeakable gift this book is.


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