First of all, I should be asleep.
Second of all, this all culminated with Samantha’s blog of the same title, which you should read.
Gritty. That’s how the last two years have felt, especially with God. I’ve fought crowd anxiety (that has surfaced out of nowhere since returning from the Race) and the weirdest isolation from church that errs too closely to how I felt as a child – in the wrong place, maybe? awkward and just confused? Why even do this? All of the above.
I haven’t wanted to pray elaborately. I pray in black and white: ready acknowledgement of my failure, immediate reminder of scripture, concise gratitude, amen. All of this completely lacking in ornate adjectives and rambling psalms.
Two years ago my heart broke a lot. God closed the door on Africa, where I felt planted but also my escape route, and soon after that my church crumbled. I lost my place and my people in one fell swoop. I have been angry. I have been processing. To be completely honest with you, I don’t remember much else of that year without glancing back at pictures. I know my sweet nugget was born- we just celebrated his second birthday- and I probably did a lot of yoga. The rest I avoid.
God — we’ve talked, but mostly out of necessity. Motions. Not without sincerity and truth, oh no, but without extravagance. After everything fell apart I pushed forward until I emptied all I had and the words stopped, but the motions did not. For that I am grateful.
We often sweep aside the Old Testament out of pride in our new covenant, which I understand, but I think we miss the good parts. The word “remember” occurs 133 times in the Old Testament:
Remember this covenant
Remember this day
Remember the commandments
Remember that you were a slave
Remember the Lord
Remember the Passover
Remember the word of Moses
Remember your faithful love
Remember your congregation
Remember Mount Zion
Remember my song
Remember my name
Remember the wondrous works He has done
in wrath, Remember mercy
And again over 30 times in the New Testament, often being, “remember what I told you” but most strikingly in, “as often as you eat this bread or drink this cup, do it in remembrance of Me.” Bread. Wine. A motion full of heart.
I have never in my life been more grateful for the cadence of liturgy, the simple rhythms that beg us to remember, remember, remember. There’s no coincidence that ‘practice makes perfect’ and recitation commits to memory songs, poems, monologues, passwords, birthdays. He knew we would struggle, met with heartbreaking years full of grit like sandpaper that would rub us raw so He created a rhythm. We fight our flesh for control in gritty seasons, seasons of messiness, but the cadence holds us together.
One of my favorite Sunday morning moments comes at the end of the service: “raise your hands and receive the benediction,” he says, motions, followed by the words of Aaron:
may the Lord bless you and keep you
may He make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you
may He give you His peace
Remember, remember, remember.
Remember Aaron. Remember the covenant. Remember the blessing. Remember the words are already written. Remember whose you are.
This week I rushed to church to be on time. I scurried through the Great Room, as I always do, grabbing only coffee on a direct route to my seat where I would typically sit until it all began. This time was a little different. I got up, walked across the sanctuary, and talked to two different people. It’s a small thing that went unnoticed and everything still feels gritty, pulled up by the bootstraps in a way, but I have not forgotten who He is or who I am. I remember. We are made of tougher stuff than we allow others, and ourselves, to speak of us.