If I’ve learned anything over the past few years it is this: the beauty and the ugly come together. One tangled knot and try as you might – you can’t deny the presence of either. So often we wait to live the lives we want until we have it together. Until our embarrassing weaknesses are controlled and easily kept away from the view of our life’s company.
Last year I found myself sitting on a mountainside deep in the upcountry of Burundi, Africa. The dirt was bright red and the smiles of those around me a bold white against their beautiful dark skin. We sat waiting until we could hear them coming in the distance. The villagers and I. Waiting for the faint pounding we felt coming up the mountain.
It grew louder and ever closer until the men broke through the bushes into the open space before us. Twenty or so men carrying barrel sized drums on their heads. The mountain pulsated with the rhythm of their drums as we watched. The beat was inescapable. As if I was wrapped up in it’s echo that surged through the hills below. It was all I could feel and think about. The deep thudding almost seemed as if it was coming from inside me. In that moment there was no getting away from the beat. Everything I felt and thought was permeated by the dominant pounding.
And I find myself craving the simplicity of that moment again and again. No matter what thoughts tried to creep up it was impossible to think them through the drums. Their pounding was the boss. I long for that overwhelming beat because so often I feel the music at war within myself.
A gracious tune of inspiration and wonder. The kind of music that accompanies majestic and playful things. And then the suspenseful melody rivaling it as fear’s soundtrack. And there is no beauty in this place.
Today I cried in the car on the way to write this. I was listening to Bethel’s song “No Longer A Slave” and I could. not. contain. it.
The pain. The weariness. The shadows that make their ways into the sunniest of my days. Fear. It unhinges the deep peace I have been promised.
Lies have tricked us into believing that we cannot be great until we are whole.
But our offerings which are healing to others are often given from the midst of our own pain.
In the midst of our lack, we can offer a blessing. From our own brokenness we can offer strength to another. While we fight our own battles we can love with passion. The dreams and the fears – they are a messy lot.
And you know what? I did a poll recently and the one thing people said held them back the most was fear. How do you move past it?
How do you walk through fear?
It is as simple as it is hard.
You just keep walking. On the days that make you freeze in your tracks. During the conversations that make the tears flow. Through the nights that grip you with their loneliness. You keep moving. Clawing your way along if you have to. Being dragged by the friends brave enough not to leave you behind. Even if it is only by an inch, you keep moving.
In the moments when the lies taunt you with the most dreaded of your thoughts. When the ugliest parts of you seem to tattoo themselves to you for all to see – keep walking.
Walk toward the mountain – toward the One whose beat can drown out all of your thoughts. That will overpower the negative emotions plaguing you. Tune your ear. Listen. Let yourself be wrapped up in it.
In Him there is no darkness at all. In Him there is no darkness at all. In Him there is no darkness at all.
How do you stop the war of melodies in your mind?
Introduce a new beat. A stronger beat.
Even if you are lost beyond all measure. Not even sure which way is up anymore. Lean in. His song will carry you up the mountain – up to the high ground – when your own feet can’t carry you.
Just move. On the hard days when you betray and battle yourself to believe the best. Have hope. Listen for the beat.
For all of us up on the mountain or deep in the scratchy and dry valley – my prayer is that His pulse becomes our pulse. Just like on the African mountain. He will carry us. And with Him, we can walk through the fear. We just have to keep leaning in.
I’ve had a hard week. An embarrassing and raw realization of my own desperate need for a Savior. So here I am saying to you, “Hey guys, I’m a little broken.” And you know what? I see you in your ugliest places and I value you right there.
You and me? We may have seasons that leave us bruised and battered. But we will make it through and live lives of neon hope to the world around us. How do I know? Because we’ve got a God who makes broken bones dance.
Guest Post by Liz Griffin of Lark & Bloom