From the Wilderness
Image by James Lee, provided by Pexels.com
There’s a specific portion of a book I recently read that resonated with me. In Sue Monk Kidd’s book, The Book of Longings, the story follows Ana, a Jewish girl who knew at an early age she had a fire within her—a well full of living water with words to write and stories to keep. In her prayer bowl, she inscribes:
Lord our God, hear my prayer, the prayer of my heart. Bless the largeness inside me, no matter how I fear it. Bless my reed pens and my inks. Bless the words I write. May they be beautiful in your sight. May they be visible to eyes not yet born. When I am dust, sing these words over my bones: she was a voice.
If you’re here, you likely follow me on Instagram, Twitter, or you are a friend still tracking with me on Facebook. You know I have my own story. I worked in vocational ministry for three years hoping to do work that would bless and grow God’s kingdom, but things quickly fell apart. My experience broke me—mind, body, and soul—and I have had to do the gritty work of collecting the broken pieces and asking Jesus to restore them. And I believe he is.
My journey to healing hasn’t been linear, and I don’t think it is meant to be. There have been detours and obstacles, and, more often than not, I would much rather sit down and cry than try to figure out a way forward. When the hard days come, I know it’s my body telling me to grieve. So, I let myself fall apart. But I also have days where God has given me enough fuel to traverse the rockiest terrain. In every season—in feast and fallow—he has given me the manna I need. He extends it to me daily. And each day, I have to make the choice to accept his sustaining hand.
I want to be upfront: I am not healed. But I’m getting there. Jesus is healing me through the tears I weep. He’s healing me on the days I want to rage and even through my rage. He is getting me through it, and, friend, most days, it is not pretty.
A large part of my healing has come through owning my story and reclaiming my voice. The fear and the shame that kept me quiet made the largeness in me so small. But through articulating my story, I reclaimed that largeness and the gifts within. The eager young woman I was, the one willing to work for the Kingdom of God while on church staff, she still has the gifting that God has given her. And now, having walked through Gehenna, I have the wisdom to use it. In my writing and through connecting with so many of you, I gained my sense of self, I have found community, and I was reintroduced to the magnificence of Jesus again. And I am more whole for it.
I am a scarred but whole.
My aim for this newsletter is to help you remember that Jesus makes broken people whole. Many of you have had your churches or communities hijack Jesus to justify sinful abuse done his name. I want to make very clear that that is not what Christ stands for.
I don’t want to talk AT you. I want this to be a conversation. I want you to know you are not alone in picking up the broken pieces of your life. There are so many of us doing that work with you. I want to help you reclaim the voice that others quieted. I want to display the power of story—YOUR story. I want to remind you that God has planted a largeness in you that the world so often wants to stymie. And, for goodness’ sake, if everything above sounds boring and dumb, I only want you to give me the opportunity to be in your corner, cheering for all the good and beautiful elements God has called you to be.
So, the prayer from The Book of Longings I now pray over us:
Lord our God, hear our prayer, the prayer of our heart. Bless the largeness inside of us. Let us not fear it, but embrace it. Bless our pens and our documents. Bless the words we write. May they be our worship unto you. May they remain for those who come long after we are gone. And when we are dust, sing over our bones: they were voices crying out in the wilderness.
From your sister in the wilderness,
K.J. Ramsey’s This Too Shall Last
So…light, easy reading. 😏
Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments of this post. If you’re a voice in the wilderness, what’s the message God’s given you to speak? I look forward to reading.