I’m going away… to the mountains… just for a bit… but I’m so happy for this little bit!
It wasn’t really planned this way. I was going to Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville. But it turned out it was out of network for insurance so, last minutely, I cancelled that and was able to change to a different Mayo. It takes 14,000 years to get into the Mayo in Minnesota but the Mayo in Phoenix would take me (which happens to be in network. Craziness that I have to go thousands of miles away to save money… but the last few days I’ve begun to realize what a great joy it will be to return to Arizona).
I started the trek to Arizona when I worked for a Congressman from this district. I continued to come even after my Washington days… I’d always have a blast in Phoenix but also looked forward to my drive in the mountains of Arizona to beautiful Lake Havasu City nestled away in the amazing landscape.
While packing this week I was looking for my Arizona driving tunes music that my friend Lauren made me several years ago. This was my special Arizona CD and I can’t find it anywhere :(. So this time the mountain drive will be a little different. But not just because of the CD missing… but also because Nicholas will be beside me… and also because my driving thoughts are different.
It is in these mountains I healed… I sensed God… I would drive as the brokenness of the world loomed heavy… Washingtonianess… making sense of the secular world… Then there were the thoughts I healed through regarding a broken engagement that took place a week before the wedding was scheduled (I’m so grateful now! But at the time I was left reeling emotionally and spiritually). As life happenings would weigh in my thoughts, eventually God would cause my heart to sing again as those joyous tunes played on my rental car CD player… as I’d watch the vibrant sunset begin each time like clockwork right before Lake Havasu finally appeared past the bend.
Once when I was driving in those mountains I was healing from church pain. Several years ago it had taken place… by the time I left DC I felt deeply wounded by a church I trusted. The unhealthiness of some subtle facets of theology… the misunderstanding of elders… weird accusations… some things I’ll probably never really understand. I left with the desire to hide and not know the reality of church pain again. I was going to sit on the back row of my next church and not be too heavily involved in church inworkings.
But I didn’t keep my little selfish rule. I worked in it. That’s been my world the past 4 and a half years. I heard the personal stories, struggles, sins, triumphs, joys, heartbreaks. And the politics. And I truly believe that the politics of churches are more painful than anything Washingtonian. For it is that churches are dealing with the spiritual realm in a way in which Satan just loves to work. And I’ve seen a lot of that work. It has been a few years of deep growth, deep learning, deep rethinking and strengthening my understanding of the theology of the Church universal.
In my job I see a lot of pain just because people are involved. I face it and work with young women together through it. I can counsel a girl on a broken engagement. I can cry with a girl whose mother abandoned her. I can talk to someone who has been abused. I can sit with someone who gains confidence in sharing her doubts about God. Or someone who has been afaird to take off her mask of spiritualness and be vulnerable and real. Or someone who is facing longterm pain. Or someone who is re-thinking core foundations because of having seen death in the face. But the pain of the church is a pain of a different sort. In the other pain, one runs to the church for comfort. But here it is the church that betrays. That is the worst. I don’t really think we normally are prepared for when this happens… we don’t easily gain the skills, the place in our brain, the coat racks emotionally or mentally to hang that kind of pain on. But it happens again and again and again. The church universal is broken even as it is already seated on the heavenlies.
Sometimes it is particularly hard. And these days, with many young people in the midst of this, I particularly hurt. They are young! They don’t have the emotional backbone or spiritual maturity to handle the pain they are seeing. The weight is too heavy and their hearts are at special risk toward bitterness. And this breaks my heart.
I was thinking about it last night. And the thought came to mind, that, in all the church’s mess, Jesus died for this? For this broken mess of the church on earth? In all its sins and terrible fights within itself? Yes Jesus died for this church which He calls His beloved. For this. For me as one of those people within it. That’s an amazing love. Now how does that affect how I view the pain? How does that affect the words of Christ’s healing that I can pour out into the hearts and souls of others as I own them myself? That’s what I’m continually figuring out. That’s been a pain part of my journey these four and a half years. And I think it is a massive key to living well, to loving well, to serving well, to understanding reality well. And perhaps that’s why, this time, I’m going to the mountains…