Do you ever feel ‘out of sorts’?
The feeling that underneath the veneer of ‘togethered-ness’ you give to the majority of the world around you, you are ready to fall apart.
And that sense that all the certainty of what you believed – whether atheist, agnostic, or someone of faith, something doesn’t make sense? That there’s more than the certainty you once knew.
Or maybe, if you’re a Christian like me, that all the rigid rules, doctrines and beliefs you once held sacred just don’t fit with the material reality of your life?
I’m pretty good at the whole, “I’ve got it sorted” routine. Sometimes, even, it’s a little true. But in the last few years the veneer of certainty has gone.
The more I’ve spoken about the way my faith is evolving, the more voices of disagreement I hear.
And the reason?
Because I’ve been brutally honest about what’s been going on for a while.
But if you’re thinking from this being honest is bad, think again. Because being honest about our struggles, our doubts, our fears, our uncertainty, our questions, is the healthiest thing we can ever do.
Here’s how I know this.
When I was young, I was mentally tortured at school, whilst at home my parents were in the middle of a long, painful, violent breakup. Then a few years later, in 2000, my Mum passed away.
On the surface, I got counselling and prayer, and it was largely sorted. Even under the surface, I had a lot of healing and resolution.
But under the surface, I kept a darkness hidden. My own dark side. An anger, bitterness, resentment, yes, even hatred. Towards God, and the world. No one, literally no one, but God Himself, saw this side. I won’t share exactly what went on, what was said. But the words “hate” and “God”, were said together many times. And the language? It makes the movie ‘Wolf Of Wall Street’, which had an average of three F words per minute, look polite.
It was anger of the worst kind, which would leave my chest painful afterwards from the intensity of it. I feared I would give myself a heart attack one day. Some days, I still worry, if this anger returns, that might happen.
The deep wound I kept bandaged up with a elastoplast, spilled red all over the page. And I shared it with someone on a private message. There was no going back. If I’d had time to reflect I might not have done this. But it had gone.
This led to a social media chat which lasted hours – literally. Don’t let anyone tell you social media is virtual, not real. I laid it all bare in this chat, and my friend listened, loved and encouraged. They were honest with me.
And I’ll be truthful, it got dark. Very dark. There were moments where light seemed very faint, almost dwindling.
But after many many hours, light became to claw it’s way back.
I felt a release I’d never felt before. I’d named what was going on in front of someone for the first time, and to have them there, saying ‘me too’ and ‘you’re not alone’, suddenly gave me hope.
For the first time, I didn’t feel I had to go through this alone.
I see now, it was a combination of Gesthemene and Golgotha. Part me being honest and saying “take this cup away”, and part crying and screaming “why have your forsaken me?”.
And I was able to nail all this anger, bitterness, hatred, rage, hurt, pain, grief, resentment, to the cross.
By naming it, I was able to put it to death.
I’d love to say I had a resurrection, and it’s all OK now. But I know better. The scars are still on the hands and feet of my heart. They are still raw.
It’s a new life, it’s liberation, but the scars still hurt. Resurrection isn’t a one off event, it’s a process.
And this is true for you and me.
Time To Name It
We all have things we need to put to death. Whether it’s pain from the past, or the deceit of certainty, or false views of God, or the myth that we’ve got it all together. Maybe it’s a job which is killing us, or a church where we no longer feel the love of Christ, and the light pierces less and less.
I’ve experienced it all. And I’m here to tell you, you’re not alone.
We’re all out of sorts. So we need to name it, grieve it, and nail it to the cross. And allow Jesus to piece us back together, piece by piece…all the while showing us other broken, out of sorts pieces of our lives.
We need to spill blood, so we can be healed. (you can tweet that)
One of the books which gave the courage to spill my blood, which reminded me I wasn’t alone in my journey, was ‘Out Of Sorts’, by my dear friend, author and blogger Sarah Bessey. It releases November 2 (January in the UK).
It’s a wonderful book, which is an example of this kind of honesty, in relation to Sarah’s own spiritual journey. Exploding the myth of certainty, and opening us up to a more honest, mysterious, restorative view of Jesus.
I’ll be talking about ‘Out Of Sorts’ more here in the coming weeks, and talking to Sarah on my podcast, ‘James Talks’ very soon.
All of us next to examine ourselves, to be honest about our brokenness, the brokenness of our faith, the real, honest questions we have. And this book tackles those questions through the lens of raw experience.
Because the question isn’t whether we’re out of sorts.
It’s how we’re going to respond to the truth, that we’re all out of sorts.
Whether we allow our wounds fester & grow forever – or if we’re willing to model Jesus. To be naked with our wounds, and spill blood to receive healing & new life.
Are you with me?
Question for Reflection:
Are you willing to spill blood in order to receive the healing you need?
Let me know in the comments below.
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