Mended. This is my word. Or at least I'm making it my word (don't worry, my hope is that we can share this word). This is the word I just spent $21.00 on, so that I could have it stamped across a necklace, making it a binding piece that would lay close to my heart. Just so that when I feel like I lose sight of the process of mending, I can reach up to my chest and feel a physical reminder that yes, I am being mended. I am being restored. I am a picture of beauty for ashes. Mended.
I am a firm believer in heart composting: a tragic loss with a gleam of hope, the treasure in the overflowing bag of garbage, the passion singing through in the mundane. I believe in life coming out of death. I believe in growth coming out of messy. Whether it's the burial of a dream, a closed door, a broken family- whatever it is, I believe there is a purpose in the pain. I believe that sifting through the darkest times, the most confusing, gut-wrenching seasons of life can be one of the most fruitful things. It's in the bleak, honest hours of soul-searching where we begin to see our true-selves unveiled. It's when we can finally look ourselves in the face, tired eyes and all, that we can swallow that painful pill of trust, and say, "Okay God. You win. I will put my trust in you."
As of lately, I have been fascinated with this process of deconstruction and restoration-- not just because I am a huge fan of Fixer-Upper (shoutout to my Magnolia peeps), but because I feel like I've been living in a repeat cycle of it this past year. I have been beaten and thrown from side to side with this whole concept of losing myself in order to truly find myself. This is what Jesus promises in Luke 9:23-25 anyways, right?
23 And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. 25 For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?
In verse 24, the Greek word translated "life" is psyche. At it's root, this word means a person's distinct identity. Their soul. Their very self. That's big. So really, Jesus is saying, "Your old way of having an identity, of gaining a sense of self, has got to die. Yes, you have to die to it. But here's the kicker- I can give you a whole new identity. You'll get a whole new self." This is the thing- this stripping process happens, these growing pains throb, but along with it all comes the soft whisper of, "I want you to lose yourself to find yourself... And man oh man do I have a new, beautiful self in mind for you."
I think the word "beautiful" and feel it running down the hallway, ready to leap into my arms... But it's my job to catch it. If I drop it, I fail. There's no way for me to be beautiful if I don't get it this one time. The pressure of beauty is heavy. It builds. It prompts. It rearranges. It weighs... a lot.Especially on us ladies. If we don't understand this concept of "beauty," this high-stake beauty, then we miss our chance. There's no way beauty can come from this death in my life... this brokenness that aches. No way. Beauty doesn't want to rest in my tears. It doesn't want to dance in my selfishness, or petty remarks that are rooted in bitterness.
Jesus has mended, or rather, is in the process of mending this pressurized definition of beauty that has resided in my mind for far too long. In actuality, beauty is gritty. It's daring. It's perseverance. It's meekness and gentleness. It's humility. It's faithfulness. It's grace. It's kind eyes. It's being able to look into the clouded mirror and say, "I need Jesus." It's the new self. I look at Colossians 3:12-17, and I see a new definition of beauty.
12 Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Beauty means that in the mess of composting, in the broken infrastructure of life, we can look past our dirty hair and tear-stained pillows and rest in the promise and process of restoration... of a new self. The process is paradoxical, just like so much of our Christian life. Just as one would think unraveling would mean steps-back, it's progressive. It's progressive into a new grittiness, into new callouses, into a new self. These times make way for great restoration, great mending from the Father. There's so much to learn in the process of mending.
My hope is that this wouldn't just be my word, but that it would be all of our words. That we would champion one another along in this life, yelling from the sidelines, "It's gonna be worth it! The process promises life, and Life-Everlasting." The stripping hurts. The brokenness hurts. The let-downs hurt. But my God- there is a promise I know that I can be made sure of... That the more we lean into the pain, the more we embrace the Promise Maker and the Promise Keeper, the more our lives will spike brightness in the bleakness. As we rest in Him, we are being transformed from glory to glory. The Holy Spirit is so personally present in the pruning, so near in the heart-ache, so quick to anchor hope in the belly of our being. Our God is in the business of mending, and always will be. Hallelujah.
Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Romans 12:12