• Dana L. Butler

The Dismantling of Our Lives (A Window Into Raw, Unfinished Beauty)

The sink was piled high with dinner dishes.  The table still had crumbs on it and the dining room floor needed to be swept.  It didn’t matter.  Their hearts were so much more important. Stan and I sat in our living room chatting and laughing with our dear friends who’ve been living and working on the other side of the planet for the last year and a half… and who will have to return there right after Christmas.  Our one time together as couples and we don’t actually know for sure when we’ll see them again.   The seconds were precious. The conversation meandered from ministry to life in the country that is currently their home to community and life as a part of the Body of Christ. And then it happened.  It was the greatest gift they could possibly have given us. Our friends opened their hearts…and poured them out.  About how it’s been hard this last year and a half and how they can’t understand what God is doing and how life has just. been. so. painful. As my friend spoke, I listened intently, everything inside of me keenly tuned into the fact that this was a sacred moment.  A holy encounter. She stopped talking.  We sat in silence and the seconds ticked by.   I wanted to speak, to let her know that her heart had been heard, understood, that her story and her heart were being held with grace.  But the words wouldn’t come.  I was too much in awe of the gift she’d just given. It’s so sacred – God’s dismantling of our lives, of all that’s familiar, and the secret ways He works in the deep places of our hearts, miles below the surface… how He fashions and molds and shapes our hearts, and how He’s so committed to having His way in our depths, to conforming us more to the image of Christ and to intimately revealing His heart to ours and walking right beside us through it all.   And how all of this is happening in our secret places, deep inside us, even, and especially, when everything around us and everything inside us are so dark that we can’t see His hand.   He’s carving raw beauty in the darkness.  In the pain. So sacred, His processes inside of us. So the seconds ticked by and finally my friend whispered, fighting tears and staring down at her lap, “Sorry…” and I squeaked out something about “please don’t apologize – this is the real stuff…” and my feeble words in that moment just could not come close to doing justice to all that was burning in my heart. She had given us the gift of beauty.  Exposed the raw, unfinished, painful, gut-wrenchingly glorious process.  All of the unanswered questions and all of the aching and the not understanding and the pulling out of props and the gentle, tender breaking down of the human soul until all that remains is just that heart, and its Creator… and where do we go from here?   And she shared it all with us.  They both did. They apologized for complaining and we tried to explain how this was the furthest thing in the world from that.  This is the reality of life and even though they can’t see it in this season, we can see the hand of God and their raw honesty was the gift that made the way for us to see the beauty He’s forming in them…. So sacred.  So holy.  So beautiful.  So profound and precious. More time ticked by.  It was nearly midnight and I’d bet you that not a one of us was thinking about going to bed.  I know I wasn’t. We prayed with them and again my words seemed to fall flat.  I couldn’t even begin to express how deeply my heart was affected by their vulnerability and the beauty of God’s hand woven throughout their story, in all of its not-yet-completeness. But I know that God will continue and complete the work He has started in these precious hearts.  And I am so crazy, ridiculously privileged to be able to stand here on these sidelines and cheer them on and behold and wonder at the perfect working of God in the lives of our sweet friends. What an incredible gift.  I feel so challenged – challenged to more often allow those God’s placed in my community a window into all of the rawness and beauty of His processes in my own heart and life… And challenged to continue to intentionally seek to grow in my ability to steward well the hearts of those I love… To learn to hold the stories and hearts with which I’m entrusted with compassion and grace… to be one who sighs with and cries with and rejoices with others and doesn’t try to fix…  But one who, with just a few words of grace and compassion and truth, can toss into place a handful of stones that God will use to begin to form a bridge from the hurting human heart back to the tender heart of its Creator. This is who I want to be.  I don’t know what else to say today.  I just couldn’t NOT write out all of these things that have been rolling around in my heart.   Thanks so much for reading today, friends.  Praying that God will encourage you here.

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