Wednesday, December 20, 2023

The Giant and The Tiny Useless Person

Written Spring 2021

Right now, I talk to God in the space between sleep and wake. I meet him there, in these moments between worlds, because I can’t do it anywhere else. 

As I’m slowly waking, before I’m alert enough to put up my guard, I talk to Him. I tell Him I’m mad (spoiler alert: He’s already very much aware of this. I tell him a lot). I ask Him to just figure it out, do what He’s going to do, and to pull me through. Sometimes I say names over and over again, unable to formulate thoughts around the tenderness these wounds bring so instead I give them up for Him to do with as He wants. 

In the vulnerability of night, I exhale my prayers weakly. I have made it through another day and He did not let me go, though many times I asked him to. 

I have wanted God to let me go. I have begged him to do this.

I keep getting this image in my head of God, a giant, holding me, a tiny useless person, tightly in his fist. We are at eye level, his fingers wrapped around my middle, my arms resting on his thumb. And I just want Him to let me go.

I can’t be who I think I’m supposed to be for You. I certainly can’t be all the quiet and not-so-quiet messages I’ve been fed all my life. I can’t do it and I’m tired so please just release me, I beg of you.  

Release me. Release me. Release me.

Dear God, just do it. 

But He won’t. The grip does not loosen, the arm does not lower. Sometimes (most times) I flail and yell. After I have exhausted myself, we contemplate each other for a while. And then the cycle continues. The giant and the tiny, useless person.

I am in this place, this stalemate with my Creator, because I pulled a thread. I pulled a thread and wound up with a whole mess in my hands. 

I pulled at the parts of my faith that had been so tightly intertwined with man and country that I could hardly tell the difference between the two. I watched in a sort of bemused annoyance then abject horror as my people built golden calves; sure of the deliverance they would bring, insistent on the deliverance they brought. 

I examined the pieces of me that I had always tried to hide or silence, for fear of sinning or making others sin. The tender and bold parts of me that were both praised and admonished, called forth and called out, leaving me confused about what exactly a Godly woman should be, but also quite certain I was failing at it nonetheless. I covered up. My shoulders, my legs, my mouth, my heart. So much of my life has been spent trying to uncreate what He had created. 

I tugged at the part of me that held all the bones and sinewy muscle, the tendons and organs and blood. I pulled at what held me together and found it lacking. I found that what held me together wasn’t as tightly bound as I thought, nor did the pieces fit together the way that they should. 

In some ways, this wasn’t a surprise. Instinctively, I think I already knew that I was a delicately held together mess. I am too much and not enough, all in the same body. I cannot lessen the parts of me that make others uncomfortable nor grow the parts that they find more palatable. What do I do with this mess of a person?  What is to become of a too-much-not-enough woman? What to do with a heart too sensitive, a mouth too loud, a body that shares Eve’s form?

I expect hard things in life. I love people and community and I find great joy and fulfillment in the way God has made us to be relational beings. But I’m also highly sensitive to the tension and conflict and heartache we bring one another. I bend towards melancholy and lament. I walk with sadness tied loosely around my shoulders, a sweater easily slipped on (I’m actually much more fun at parties than I sound, I swear). 

I couldn’t pull the thread and not pull His people, my people, along with it. We are not islands. Our stones ripple far beyond ourselves. I had to grapple with the things I had done to them, and the things they had done to me. I had to confront that what I had been taught and what I was seeing were two different things; the bewildering confusion of Word and action at odds with one another.

This is where I broke pace with God. The heartbreak and rage I felt over my people felt like it would kill me. For months, I couldn’t talk to God. Not wouldn’t, but actually couldn’t. It’s like my brain would hit a wall when I went in His direction. It was a hand held lightly over the water but never able to break the surface. I was so exhausted and hurt and angry and filled with such deep, abiding grief that all I could do was curl into it. My anger blanketed me. 

This time of reckoning, of world shaking, of thread pulling, brought me to my spiritual knees. No, that’s not right. Even on my knees would have been better than where it brought me. I was a curled up mess on the floor, both metaphorically and, oftentimes, very literally. There isn’t a part of me that hasn’t felt poked, prodded, or utterly decimated. The tiny, useless person in the giant’s gripping hand.

I used to keep my phone on my bedside table and I would stare at it right up until the minute I fell asleep (sometimes falling asleep while looking at it), and I would grab it before I had even fully woken up in the morning. I was very purposeful in needing to distract myself from the heaviness of my grief; from God.

But after it was clear He would not let me go and that we were at a standstill, I have relented this one, tiny part to Him. Awake, I keep him in my peripheral view; unfocused but still able to track any sudden movements. But at night, I leave my phone in the kitchen and let Him have the moments between sleep and wake.  I am weary and reeling, and this is what I have to give.  I know it isn’t enough, it is simply what I have, and so I give it.

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