It was better than Hallmark, when Matt and I left the Global Leadership Summit in August and he looked at me and said, “Part of our conference experience needs to be that we each go home and order one of the books that was mentioned by a speaker and that sounds intriguing.” I swooned. He totally gets me.
And so we did. I ordered a book about imagination in the workplace, and he ordered a book by Erik Larson called, The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz. You know, some light reading.
Last night, I made the horrible mistake of checking my email before I went to bed, only to find another hard something waiting for me in my inbox.
“There should be some kind of warning tag on emails,” I said. “Some red, flashing light that warns you not to read the contents before trying to go to sleep.”
But it was too late, and the stressful news sent us to reminiscing about all that had happened in this year that was unbelievably hard. Layer upon layer of hard things that were almost laughable in their strangeness. That’s when Matt told me about the Blitz and how people would walk to work, stepping over the rubble of the most recent bombing and not knowing when the next bomb might come.
There we have our theme for this year: bombs and rubble and the underlying anticipation of new trauma about to hit at any time. Sometimes we can laugh about it and sometimes we can’t breathe. But we have to keep walking to work, and that is hard.
I pulled out Elisabeth Elliot’s book, Suffering is Never for Nothing, because my soul was tired and I thought maybe I should read this primer on suffering again. (If you have not read it, hurry to buy a copy. It’s straight-forward and practical, with no flowery speech but only “this is how you make it” advice.) Elisabeth says this:
We stand up as a body in church–the church that I go to, for example–and we say a creed out loud together. We are not explaining anything. We are simply affirming. And that’s what Christianity is about. God is God. God is a three-personed God. He loves us. We are not adrift in chaos.
We are not adrift in chaos.
“I feel like I should sit down and journal all that has happened in this year,” Matt said, “but I’m afraid it would do me in to see it all.”
Of course, I’m the one who journals, in my lovely wheat-colored Growth Book, so I laid in bed and thought about all I would write. In doing so, I felt a watermark emerge underneath all of the traumatic events: God has been with us.
Costco has put up Christmas merchandise, so I feel it’s safe to hum the song, “Emanuel, God with us. Emanuel.”
He has been with us, encouraging us, strengthening us, and for me most recently, chastising me and disciplining me (I begrudgingly admit, for the betterment of my soul.) I have stepped through the rubble this year, often with tears streaming down my cheeks as the dust has settled from yet another unexpected explosion, but I’ve never walked alone.
We’re in the middle of a blitz of sorts, and we are all hurting and tired and frightened, each in his own way, but God is with us. We are not adrift. Be encouraged and keep moving forward.