Learning to Lean

The breaking began a year ago. God had spoken hard things; his words scalded me. He transitioned people out of my life, one after the next—friends, community, leaders, mentors—testing my true allegiance. He called me out of the harbor and into uncharted waters, placing me into circumstances with higher stakes than ever before.

I grieved. I grieved each thing and person he removed from my life; I grieved all he asked me to leave and let die; I balked in fear of where he was taking me. And I wrestled with him like Jacob wrestled with the angel: is this what I signed up for—such grief, such pain, such fear?

In response, he brought me to Song of Solomon 8:5: Who is this coming up from the wilderness leaning on her beloved? And I heard the desire of his heart: he longed for me to lean in close. He wanted me to keep step with him, to trust him to carry my weight, to hear his whisper weaving through the work and play of each day.

Yet all this time I had been Jacob, weaseling my way into blessing. Having received the promise before birth, still Jacob doubted the goodness of God, bargaining his way into the birthright, his father’s deathbed blessing, the woman he desired, his father-in-law’s possessions. That night, wrestling with God, Jacob once again demanded a blessing on his own terms. The blessing he received, however, would cripple his ability to ever manipulate again.

The blessing he received was not the face-to-face encounter, not the new name, not the story he would tell, not even the promise. No, Jacob’s blessing was the blessing of brokenness. God touched Jacob’s hip and broke him in his strongest place—in the place of his independence—and he limped out of the encounter, humbled and dependent. He emerged, not made whole, not healed, but broken. From that moment on, he limped and he leaned.

With each step, the pull of his muscles and the ache in his bones screamed the mercy of God.

*

My vision clicks into focus; I’d had it wrong all this time. A subtle lie had woven its way into my life—that I could come to God and he would fix me and give me words to say and things to do and I would leave strong and empowered and independent, doing things for God, putting on a show for him, but never once needing him—or others—along the way.

That was never God’s way. His desire was never to create a silent and submissive servant who would do all his bidding, perfectly and efficiently. His desire was for his daughter to live close.

But shame and fear had rusted the lock on my heart. I could feel his nearness, I could feel him drawing me closer, and I could feel the fear of being seen rising to the surface. I turned my face away and started running. And I tripped and I stumbled and I crashed into walls and my hands tightened into fists and my feet blistered red and my eyes hollowed out and my mind started going…

And one day he found me bleeding and unconscious on the side of the road. He found me broken.

But where my heart had been fractured and cracked, his love began to seep in. Only in the place of brokenness could I learn how to lean, how to come close. He broke me of my stubborn independence so I wouldn’t have to do it alone. He broke me so he could show me grace.

*

How did I miss it? How, in all these years of pursuit, did I never grasp this truth? The center-point of the story, the center-point of all eternity, is that moment when the Whole became broken: the almighty God hanging on a cross, blood streaming, back lacerated and raw, his side pierced through.

This is my body broken for you. By his stripes we are healed.

Healing rises from the place of brokenness. His blood is what saves us—we are healed at the very point where nails ripped through skin and thorns drew blood.

If I truly want to be like Christ, then surely I must do the same—to allow anything in my heart that can be broken to be broken. Like the jar of perfume that was broken at his feet, breaking my heart before him is an act of worship. Like the seed that falls to the ground and dies, the husk of myself is broken open to birth new life. Like the bread that was broken and multiplied in Jesus’ hands, so the breaking of myself feeds the hungry around me.

As I am healed at the place of his brokenness, so others are healed at the place of mine. His love leaks out of the cracks where I have let him break my heart open.

*

& he whispers to me once again: Who is this coming up from the wilderness leaning on her beloved?

It is me. I am leaving the wilderness of independence. I am learning to live as one who is loved. I am learning to let the love of God seep and saturate and stream like rivers of living water.

I am learning to surrender all my wholeness to be broken; I am learning to lean.

One thought on “Learning to Lean

  1. This is amazing! Isn’t it awesome how God can actually make us grateful for hardship? Going through the fire has brought me to a greater place of closeness to God, life and freedom than I could have ever imagined! Thanks for the reminder:)

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