The reflection of the left side of my face in the window mixes in with the passing landscape of pines and mountain ranges and water and gray. The edges of the mixing images are sharp. Peeks. Branches. Cheekbones. Jawline.
Sharp, like the pain that sometimes grabs at my insides when I stare into the gray and wonder what my heart is made of. And if it’s more of me or more of Him. Or if it’s more questions and doubts than answers. And oh, it’s prone to wander, Lord I feel it.
Sharp, like the phrase that’s been rolling around on my tongue for a solid month—
That the Jesus I know keeps changing. The Jesus I love keeps taking on a different form. And yet, He himself never changes.
The train passengers around me whisper. They boarded the Seattle bound train in downtown Portland for a variety of reasons. The girl behind me speaks of mathematical equations. The man up front is visiting his mother. And then there’s the gray haired woman with the gentle voice across the aisle—knitting in a fluid and familiar motion. Up. Down. Up down.
The train car rattles as we cross over a bridge.
And there, with one leg tucked under the other and my head leaned back against the faux leather seat, I let God take his gentle hands and pull apart my ribs and reach the layers of brick and vines that have somehow grown around my heart. It’s raw and small and pulsing,
And a certain warmth came over it.
Like I was meeting Him for the first time again.
And I began to wonder if I ever really knew This Jesus.
I’ve known the Jesus who was born of a virgin. The one who came to die for my sins and save my soul. The one who called me to make disciples and who came to me one day and said, “Follow me.”
Oh, but this Jesus. This one makes me weep. For all that He is. And all that I am not. For living with me in the questions.
The seat beneath me jostles me to and fro, but I can only remember the feeling of the pew beneath me as a little girl. The carpet is blue and I hold a navy hymnal in my small hands.
Jesus, Jesus, Jesus
There’s just something about that name
Master, Savior, Jesus
Like the fragrance after the rain
For months, all I’ve felt was silence. Frustration. Emptiness. An angry bitterness towards God and the questions that kept me up at night.
It seemed almost overwhelmingly impossible not to be angry or confused or doubtful when I couldn’t get out of bed because my depression was like a blanket that laid over me at night. When the blood work came back and it wasn’t right. When the doctors gave me medication that was supposed to help with panic attacks and instead it made me cry in wrenching soul pain and loneliness and long for someone to simply say, “Me too.” When the text from my brother showed up on my iPhone and read, “Well, I have Lymes Disease.”
It seems like a lot of soul bearing to type out on paper. But maybe we don’t talk about our souls enough. About the cracks in our heart that we try and mend ourselves. Maybe we don’t acknowledge the pain and darkness actually surrounding our days and nights. Maybe we all need a little bit of “me too” and a whole lot of Jesus.
Because This Jesus—this Jesus sitting with me on the train—He was my “me too.” He was fragrance after the rain. He was my patience and kindness and grace and understanding and comfort and love and peace that surpass understanding. Even when I didn’t always see it.
He was the one who took my Why and What and When and How and WHAT THE HECK ARE YOU THINKING grumbles and stayed. They were far from perfume of praise.
But He stayed.
He never changes. Yet, who I know Him to be keeps changing.
And the questions, well, they’re still there. But maybe He was there in the questions too. Like a flower among the thorns. In the dark night when my face was pressed against my pillow, suffocating the tears. In the closet, when it was hard to breathe. In the angry rants and the selfish temper tantrums. In the sleepless nights and the moments when I could not seem to remember the way to pray.
Seattle’s misty sky hits me in the face as I walk off the train platform and into the city. I know Him to be here with me now. In this city. In this empty walk under the gray sky. This Jesus seems to be all around me. He begs me to come wander with him. To pilgrimage. To be reminded of all that He is and all that He is not.
Sarah Bessey’s words hit me. “Set out, pilgrim. Set out into the freedom and the wandering. Find your people. God is much bigger, wilder, more generous, and more wonderful than you imagined.”
And so, I take up my bundle, and I go.