It hasn’t stopped for months now, and I haven’t had the perfect term for it until today: Searing rain.
I have no experience with acid rain, so I’ll refrain from relating it to that, but I can’t help but feeling that I’m standing in the middle of a downpour. I’m so drenched with God’s all-consuming love, joy, grace, and peace that I can think of no time in my life that He’s been so pertinent and powerful. But the same rain that thoroughly washes me with such strength and comfort stings as if my entire body were an open wound and I’ve been taking an antiseptic shower.
But if the pain were not so deep, then the process would not be so beautiful.
One thing about today (well, yesterday now) that epitomizes everything I’m feeling now was our church meeting today. Though I can’t tell you everything that’s been happening, my church, my family’s church, that I’ve attended since elementary school, found ourselves on the front page of a local newspaper for far-less-than-flattering reasons earlier this week. It’s been a very painful time for our congregation, and was obvious all day long, especially at the meeting this afternoon. But the most powerful moment of my life came from it.
As the tension crescendoed to an overwhelming pinnacle, the two men who had been in a heightened discussion found a pause to shake hands, embrace each other, and cry together. Suddenly all the men in the room somehow flowed up to the altar and embraced each other as they wept aloud (honestly, I only cried a little, but I’m working on it. Keep praying for me.), prayed, and sang worship songs, even falling on our knees at one point and crying out to God. I’m not at all exaggerating when I say that I’ve never seen anything like it. No person remained unfazed, our Pastor and leaders were under heavy scrutiny, families were hurting, tempers flared, people were politely cut off and asked to sit down, questions went unanswered, people strongly disagreed with each other, but everyone loved each other. Especially the two men momentarily at the center of the conflict, even as they went back and forth becoming more and more irritated and impatient, they said to each other at several times that they loved each other, and that’s where the difference lie. We weren’t against each other, but everyone needed to express something because all of our pieces are essential to fixing this mess.
At the end of the meeting, there was nothing that we could all agree on except that we needed God. Our faith in what He is doing and has done in this situation has never wavered and we’ve been clinging to Him the entire time. No problems got solved, we weren’t able to reverse any of the pain, and nothing had suddenly become perfect for anyone. But that meeting was a chance to stand up and commit to loving each other better and making our church and people better through all of this. All in all, I couldn’t be more proud of my church.
If the pain was not so deep, then those moments could not have been nearly as beautiful.
The pain… It’s beautiful. The mutilation… Beautiful! Your life tattoo… It’s beautiful.