A couple of weeks ago, my neighbor knocked on my door to ask if I had an electric screwdriver. I don't. But I asked her why she needed one, and she told me that the side fell off her chair that morning and she was trying to put it back together.
I'd just returned home from another tool-oriented project, so a lot of the stuff I do have was out. I told her I'd be over in a few minutes. Ten minutes later, I walked through her front door.
One of her recliners, about 25-years-old, she'd said, was in pieces in the floor. It's what she told me had happened, but for some reason, I hadn't been expecting quite that. I'm not sure why.
I proceeded to tinker around a bit, to assist her in searching for the screws that had come out, to assess the situation, and as always, to smile at the baby every time I could catch her glance. Then something struck me, and I pulled out my ratcheting screwdriver and started to take this chair apart.
My neighbor stood nearby, watching with a confused look on her face. She started to say something about my obvious dis-assembly of the chair, but mid-sentence, she stopped. And smiled. She saw what I was up to. It made perfect sense.
If this chair had any hope of going back together, it had to come further apart. There simply was no other way.
I say that to say this:
Next week is story week. I sort of hadn't planned it this way, but this is how such things happen. On Tuesday (November 27), I will be guest posting on my friend Sarah's blog. God has opened up this tremendous opportunity for her to use her platform this month for 30 Days of Story. Each day has been taken by a woman willing to share a part of her story for the sake and the glory of God. I am honored to be a part of this.
But here's what it's not going to be: it's not going to be the stories you've already heard me tell. I don't plan on sharing the details of my life so much as the battle in my heart. Because, at least for those who have been around me for awhile, we all know the details. I've been broken and humbled by these details, and God has done tremendous work in them and through them in getting to me.
I also, however, feel that so much of story is not about what happens so much as how your heart responds. My heart...is wracked. In all honesty, I've been wrestling with what piece of my story to tell and how to tell it for several weeks, and this wrestling has resulted in sleepless nights, pure angst, a restlessness within me, an increasing sense of the burden this narrative has had as I've tried to find the words, and just a paralyzing presence in all facets of my life. It's also made me a little touchy, a little sensitive lately, and I have to issue several apologies to those who have been on the wrong end of that.
In humble apology, I say that I have had no right to ever take the wounding of my heart out on anyone, even on the seemingly guilty. The only thing I am entitled to do with my heart is to take it to God.
The story I am sharing for Sarah, and the others I will share here, are not my usual words. They are not narratives that will just pour out of me and be all beautiful and clean and wonderful. These writings will be as honest, as real, and as raw as I think they must. I hope you will grant me that grace.
Because as I've allowed these pieces of my story to touch me, there's not an easy answer. I have sensed my heart breaking all over again as I finally come face-to-face with these not-so-fairy tales and these are pieces I don't feel like I can just pick up and put back together. This is a heart that's got to be broken down if it ever hopes to be rebuilt.
That said, let me also say this: I have a firm policy about not writing words for you that I ought to be saying to God. I will not preach before I pray. I will not share without surrendering. God is the God who holds the power (and mercy and forgiveness and grace) to mend my wounded heart, and He gets everything first.
Then you get the story. In the hopes that my honest journey might somehow encourage or strengthen or, I hope, invite you into your own. May God bless my humble words as I do my best to break this all down and invite Him to build it back up.
And as these things happen, while I'm guest posting for my friend Sarah on Tuesday, I am also...guest posting for my friend...Sarah...on...Tuesday. Sarah 2 just had her second baby, so I will be sharing a story with her readership about what it's like to be the new baby, and I am equally honored to be a part of that.
I don't know how God works these things out. I wrote for Sarah (2) probably about 2 months ago, and she's kept it on file until her baby arrived. Baby is here, so she penciled me in for the 27th. Then Sarah comes along and schedules out 30 Days of Story on her blog and plugs me into the 27th. And then, for added measure, another friend told me about a meeting she was having concerning some idea I'd had...she's meeting with that party on the 27th. So I finally gave in and all I can say is, "Ok, God. I give. What's up with the 27th?" It may be something; it may be nothing. At the very least, it will be story.
Stay tuned for story week, where things fall apart. Right here all week and across the web on Tuesday. And keep reading through the following Monday, as I have a few words to say on the other end of it all.
As for my neighbor's chair, it's back in one piece. She's probably sitting in it right now.