I read yesterday that Tim Keller was glad he didn’t write any books in his 30s, because he was pretty sure he would’ve wanted to burn them once he reached his 40s and 50s. I breathed a sigh of relief, as I thought of my silent fingers, so little to tap or say. Right now, I just feel needy. I need input, I need wisdom, I need advice, I need time and growth and truth.
This has been a year spent unraveling all my neatly packaged philosophies: those theologies and convictions I put in boxes and labeled, tied with pretty bows. Life is completely messy, and we are utterly incapable and powerless. I’ve learned that ignoring or brushing over this truth, even if in the deeper parts of the inner life, will lead to fear, anxiety, a nameless sadness — a tireless but ultimately empty pursuit of everything and nothing. Vanity of vanities! (Ecclesiastes 1:2)
In His loving grace, God has been in the process of smashing my boxes. Has that ever happened to you? It is so terrifying. He took the box labeled “health and youth” and replaced it with a thyroid disease that was previously rather uncomplicated — but this year, it hurt me, it confused me, it sent me into physical and emotional chaos. I’ve seen the powerlessness of human will over a broken body. A broken body? I’m only thirty-one! How could this be? And as the road of life stretched out before me, I saw that bodies only get more broken with age. This was not encouraging. Box smashed.
This ushered in a million other thoughts and questions about my views of God, of human brokenness, of how suffering and joy can coexist. Am I okay that all life ends in death? This was scary for me, mostly because I was unaware of how much I have placed my heart in the here and now — life is short! I must make the most of it! There is only one! These are all true, in a way, but what if God doesn’t allow me to “make the most of it” to the degree that I have pictured? What if “make the most of it” includes illness? Or sadness for a child? Or never realizing my “true calling”? Or a lifespan amidst gobs of cultural change? I have few good answers and loads more questions.
The two things that bring comfort right now are these:
(1) Jesus has gone to the depths of my most terrifying places, and beyond. I cannot imagine His sorrow. I am simultaneously relieved, filled with affection, and crushed for his suffering on my behalf. I have seen only a sliver, and have felt my sliver to be a harsh burden. How much more for Jesus?
(2) I will never understand God’s ways, and He never expects this of me. It’s okay to wonder, but my only peace is to offer the contents of my heart and relent. I am not in control. I am utterly incapable. Your will be done.
I don’t think I will be writing books for a long time coming. Though I still hope I will eventually find something to say with clarity.