As I write about God being the Author of these incredible stories we're blessed to live, I can't help but wonder what the characters in other stories feel like. Do they see the way their stories are woven together? Do they know the threads that run through them? When we see them again and again in what seems like the same situation with a new outcome, do they comprehend the redemption that's taking place in their development?
Redemption is a funny thing, at least as you're living it. You keep finding yourself in these scenarios that feel so strangely familiar that your heart just seems to stop all on its own. You have opportunities maybe you didn't have the first time around, or things have changed just enough that they're about to change big time. All you have to do is remember that yesterday is gone and today is something new and tomorrow is filled with the promise of hope and a thousand amazing things and then...do it again.
Whatever it is. Whatever second chance you have that you blew the first time. Whatever opportunity has come knocking once more. Whatever choice finally feels like one that you can make. Whatever it is. Do that.
But don't expect it to heal you.
That's what's funny about it, I guess. We think that redemption is meant to heal us. And I think in the long term, it probably does. We think that second chances are supposed to be mending. We think that when one thing seems to come together in a new way, the rest of things ought to, too. Isn't that what redemption is? Doesn't it put us back together?
No. It doesn't.
A few months ago, I would have told you that it does. I would have told you that it has to. Because I needed for it to do just that. I needed redemption, and I needed redemption to be the thing that would put me back together because, I swear, there were days even recently that I didn't think I could feel more broken. And then, redemption happened.
There's not even a good way to explain this to anyone who hasn't yet been there, but all these stories that had lived so long in the recesses of my heart, all these tales that had dwelt in darkness and been cast in shadows, came to play again on the main stage of my life. In almost the exact same ways except, well, except that I am different now. My heart is different. My body is different. My strength is different. My faith...is different. I didn't realize what was happening until I couldn't catch my breath and I couldn't figure out why. I didn't understand what was going on until my heart stopped and felt frozen in time, in this broken story, in this place marked by failure and fear and ache. Marked by woundedness. There's a Danny Gokey song right now called "Tell Your Heart to Beat Again," and I had to learn to do that. Because here was my redemption.
And it broke me.
Redemption broke me. It's still breaking me. The realization of the way that the threads run through my life, the recognition of a God who is taking what felt like frayed ends and tying them together...it breaks me. It cracks open all of this pain, all of this fear, all of this burden that I've been carrying for so long in what has long since become merely a shell of me, and in the way that our beautiful, paradoxical God does things, I have never felt either more broken or more whole than I do right now. And I know that redemption is only beginning in me.
I know that there's more darkness to face. More chapters to revisit. More scenes to replay. More second chances that are coming my way. More times when I won't be able to catch my breath until, with a sudden gasp, I realize that I've been here before. Not exactly here, but close enough. Close enough to try again. More times when my heart will stop and I'll have to learn the rhythm of my life all over again. There's more of this coming, and...and I already feel so broken.
Don't get me wrong - I'm not complaining. Far from it. I'm...shaking my head in that way we do when we just can't believe something is real. I'm pushing back tears that I'm not yet ready to let pour out. I'm trying to pray and finding myself too overwhelmed, then wondering what the Spirit is groaning on my behalf because I tell you - I have never been more sure that God is hearing me than in moments like this when I can't...even....
So I'm thinking about the Author of this story. This broken, beautiful, messed-up, redeeming story that I'm trying to live. I'm thinking about all the scenes we've played out together, all the chapters already done. I'm picking at my own broken threads and wondering when...and how...they'll all be tied together. I'm going back over pages marked up and marked out with red ink, then flipping forward to a thousand blank pages yet to come. And I'm wondering how other characters feel in their stories....