Not only what they say, but also what they don’t say.
The whole story is told, not only in what is said, but also in what is held back. Take this blog, for example.
Readers sometimes applaud my transparency. I do try to be that, but honestly, the best I often manage is selective transparency.
Too often, I write from my comfort zone. Admittedly, I have a really wide comfort zone for transparency, but there are topics you don’t see here.
I still have broken places: my childhood, my marriage, my bank account. Not a lot of transparent posts about those things. You should pay attention to that. God does.
This is how God works: Knowing my broken places, He moved me into a run-down house we can’t afford, that my husband chose, despite my objections, directly across the street from where I grew up.
He aims straight at my brokenness.
How He uses this mess to heal me and glorify Himself – now that’s the post you want to read, but I don’t want to write.
But Jesus, undaunted, knocks until I invite Him in for coffee. (Yes, of course He drinks coffee. Black, like Jethro Gibbs. What did you think He drinks? Wine coolers?)
He’s not put off by my broken places. He pushes me too show them to others – not because my messes are particularly fascinating (they’re not) but because when He transforms them – that is a thing of beauty.
Still, I wrestle with Him. I’d really prefer to write about your pain – not mine.
My pain is boring. Writers avoid clichés, I don’t want to be one. I want to make you laugh and think me witty, insightful, and unusually close to God.
You know when you’re sitting in church and the pastor says that one look at a person’s checkbook gives him more insight into their spiritual life than the record of their church attendance? Yeah, I just want to crawl out that day, curl up in a ball, and quit playing. (Although, mine probably says I am deeply aware of my dependence on God, and spend much time on my knees.)
My marriage – well, it’s just a real marriage. We have amazing nano-seconds of closeness when we believe we’re soul mates, interspersed with vast epochs of time when dear friends hand us business cards for therapists and lawyers.
The story of our marriage can be found in Ezekiel 37. I keep looking for anniversary cards that contain these verses with an appropriate drawing: “The hand of the Lord was on me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” I said, “Sovereign Lord, you alone know.” Ezekiel 37:1-3
I can write about marriage without bleeding right now because the bones of our relationship are resurrected again. We’re hoping to make this renewal last to our 30th anniversary next May, but we’ll probably experience marital osteoporosis sometime around New Year’s.
And my childhood. Wow. There’s nothing more humdrum than sad childhood stories, right? Boo-hoo. I didn’t get everything I needed, and now the little girl inside me is still searching. That’s the kind of transparency that makes people cough softly and look away, hoping you’ll spare them the details.
But, that’s me. It’s as much a part of who I am as the writer who makes you laugh, and think. Despite being fifty-six, somehow I’m still mostly six-years-old, looking for acceptance, attention, and a place to belong.
So I ask Jesus, what should I write? And He says, “Write about the broken places.”
And I say, “Seriously. That’s not sexy – not the stuff of blog posts that get shared.”
And He says, “You miss the point. The greatest stories of your life are when I’ve met you in those places of brokenness, and done My best work.”
He’s right. Which is why I’m writing an entire book about how to have hard conversations and filling it with the one’s I’ve had and flubbed, and then had again.
But as much as I talk about Jesus, what I really want is for you to think I’m something special. I want to give Him glory, but it’s all mixed up with wanting to stand beside Him in the spotlight and get noticed, too.
I’ve always felt like a stained-glass window. When the light is shining, it’s a thing of beauty, a work of art. But when there is no light, it’s a dull, lead-lined, black thing that doesn’t even make a good window.
Jesus is the light that transforms me into something worth seeing. I have the potential for beauty, but not until I’m filled with His light.
He’s not at all put off by my brokenness. He looks at it and says, “I can totally work with that. Let’s show other people how you’re broken so they can see what I do with it. Then they’ll know what I can do with them.”
(I don’t answer Him. I stare at Him like He’s crazy, and He knows what I’m thinking anyway, so I don’t need words. Then I sigh really loud and start typing.)
It’s in the places I am silent He speaks the loudest.
In the places I am broken, that He shines. All I can give you is a blog post and a glimpse of my broken places. He can give you all you’ll ever need.
If you offer Him your brokenness – He can use it twice. Once, to testify to you of His power and love and then, to testify of it to others.
What are you holding back? Might God use it in the telling?
— Lori Roeleveld (@lorisroeleveld) September 2, 2017