What I remember is the darkness. How quickly the sun disappeared and January blew across the Thames in cruel bursts. We had argued earlier, not disagreeing so much as missing each other entirely. Five inches and a world apart, we stared across the river like this foreign city's silhouette might break the icy spell if only she'd look our way.
But we never caught her eye.
Those tears, the ones I stifled with squints and swallows, they made it only as far as my right sleeve.
I wonder whether it is worse to have warning--to see the condition of the thread by which you hang, to anticipate the free fall. I don't honestly know. But I saw the thread that night on a London bridge, and the fear, it looped itself like myelin sheath round every nerve, such that even years after the tears dried, I could still feel the fear in my fingertips.
Those of us who have trusted the story of the empty tomb since the age of six, the ones with dog-eared pages in our margin-scribbled bibles, our marriages aren't supposed to dangle halfway off the cliff. Our newborn babies aren't supposed to spend most of their waking hours in daycare, and our careers aren't supposed to hold the hours hostage with gray-vs-gray decisions, the only-in-it-for-the-paycheck barrel pressed hard against our temple. We aren't supposed to fall apart from the inside out.
But we do, and to pretend otherwise is to look grace straight in the face and lie. And doesn't this constant cradling of image tire us out? Don't our arms grow heavy with the weight of holding it all together? So much of ourselves we exert just to hold up the mask so that even if we were brave enough, we'd probably be too spent to smile with our own lips or tremble with our own tears or look with our own faces.
It's been six years since I stood at the bank of the Thames and felt the edges of my perfectly scripted Christian life begin to crumble. It's easy to admit it now--to share how I used to struggle, to admit how precariously close I came several years ago to destroying my marriage, to confess a former habit of worrying more about how things appeared than about how they actually were.
But in the middle, when we need each other most, we tend to hide how bad it is. From others, from ourselves, even from our God, we hide.
I desperately want to do away with the hiding. Can we stop pretending we're okay when we aren't? And while we're at it, let's lose the spiritual caveats we use to diminish how deeply we hurt. Let's find a way to be honest, to mean it when we say, "but for the grace of God, there go I..."
Live creatively, friends. If someone falls into sin, forgivingly restore him, saving your critical comments for yourself. You might be needing forgiveness before the day's out. Stoop down and reach out to those who are oppressed. Share their burdens, and so complete Christ's law. If you think you are too good for that, you are badly deceived.
Galations 6:1-3, The Message