Whitman, Job, & why pretending gets us nowhere

Minor catastrophes happen on the daily. If you’re my roommate you get a milkshake shower at 10 on a Friday morning. If you’re me you get a deep tissue bruise jumping off a hay bale. Or maybe you’re surrounded by major catastrophes – maybe things in your world are pretty rocky and it’s all you can do to get out of bed in the morning. If you’ve made it up today, I salute you – embracing another day of unknowns simply by opening your eyes is half the battle.

We are all stumbling blindly along, usually pretending we’re just peachy, because heaven forbid someone judge us for our closet full of chaos. And what I’m here to say is darling, wear your chaos like its Gucci. Bravely show the world you can be a good person and still have bad days. Bravely show the world that you can be broken of heart but not broken of spirit. And bravely show the world that strength is having the guts to share your failures. There is so much dignity in honesty. 

You may be struggling but you are not irreparable. You will never, even in your darkest moment, be irreparable.

I think we feel this pressure to sweep our emotional dirt under the rug because our culture is so darn success oriented. All that sweeping takes a lot of energy though, doesn’t it? Let’s stop with the cover-up: I’m flawed, you’re flawed, we all fall down. We cannot demand perfection from ourselves or those we do life with, otherwise we’re setting ourselves up for unmet expectations and a lot of disappointment. Our society says have all the answers, but it is impossible for us to have it all figured out. Absolutely impossible.

So trials come and we puzzle and we hurt and we try to be vulnerable. What of it?

Lately I’m learning that this process of hurting-pondering-growing could just be the most beautiful part of the life I am leading. But it is only beautiful when I embrace those who are also hurting, pondering, and growing. Searching for answers won’t fill the void within us. Searching for peace will.

I had to read this poem for class recently, and at the risk of revealing just how much of an English nerd I am, I’ll admit that it is one of my all-time favourites. My man Walt Whitman wrote it way back in the day:

When I heard the learn’d astronomer,

When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me,

When I was shown the charts and diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them,

When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured with much applause to the lecture-room,

How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick,

Till rising and gliding out I wander’d off by myself,

In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,

Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.

Isn’t that lovely? What Whitman tells us is the world will ask us for answers. The world will ask us to unravel life’s greatest mysteries and explain away the allure of living with unpredictability. Where is the magic in that? We should never assign labels to things that are beyond us. When I am alone with my thoughts and my desires, what a joy it is to gaze up at the stars and wonder. I won’t find answers but I will find God and he is more than enough for me. Perhaps you haven’t found God (yet), but you can still stand amazed at the splendor of creation and realize that you are a part of something glorious.

The stars say marvel.

Marvel at what is beyond you, marvel at who is beside you, marvel at that which is behind you.

I read Job 26 the other day and if you’re not into Christianity you can stop reading here but since we’re considering acceptance and being comfortable with the uncomfortable, I’d suggest you give the rest of this a try.

Job had it rough. I mean really, really rough. He loses children, property, servants, friends, health – think of your worst day and Job’s was worse. But he never cursed God and he never stopped believing that God had control. When I’m plagued by insecurity or uncertainty, I turn to Job. If I need to be reminded of how fiercely God loves me, I turn to Job. And should I forget that God holds this world in his hands, Job reminds me that I might as well stop wrestling and trying to be God…because God does a pretty great job at being God all by himself.

“He stretches out the north over the void and hangs the earth on nothing…He covers the face of the full moon and spreads over it his cloud. He has inscribed a circle on the face of the waters at the boundary between light and darkness. The pillars of heaven tremble and are astounded at his rebuke. By his power he stilled the sea…Behold, these are but the outskirts of his ways, and how small a whisper do we hear of him! But the thunder of his power who can understand?” (26:7-14)

Catastrophes happen. Crisis strikes us all. God says don’t lose heart, don’t give up, don’t run away, and don’t stop wondering at everything I am. That is why I find my rest in Him. Be encouraged today and know you are loved.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s