Saturday, January 19, 2019


The playlist in this coffee shop was clearly curated by someone whose heart was broken January last and they are not yet over it.

It's a pretty standard mix of Adele, Lana del Rey, and other melancholic crooners who fall on various slots of the brunette scale. One fairly notable piece is the Kina Grannis cover of "You are My Sunshine." Which I did not know existed, and I don't have much insight to offer into it, other than it was clearly designed for listeners whose seasonal affective disorder is accentuating the grace notes of a nuclear-devastation-level heartbreak.

(Currently playing: a terrifying cover of "Crazy in Love" that sounds like an Evanescence recording.)

Often, when we are sad or in pain, our first instinct is to remove the offending pathogen. (Especially if you are a smart person—all our liberal arts schooling was supposed to help us be happy! What on earth is the point of Aristotle if he can't even protect us from this non-sense of pain.) If your hand hurts, remove the thorn, if your body aches, seek medical aid. We are trained to seek physic for what ails us.

I sit in the quiet church (it feels like I have been here for ages, but it's really only been an hour), and I can't take my eyes off the gold of the cross. I want to find a narrative that can uncouple me from the thorn in my heart, that can redeem me from the squirming of my own unfulfilled desire.

I have to accept that, right now, I am aching for a man I have lost—through his fault or my own—or both, and that I will not always feel this way, probably. [Even though the thought of being so divorced from mutual consequence in each other's lives stings.]

But that, if all living is encounter, then this encounter right here is with the cross: an encounter with the weight of sin, of failure, of selfishness, of our own ideals and plans, and the God who uses each terrible mishap, each fight, each cruel text and anxiety and stress and each scar to work the world into some beauty.

This does not, in any way, diminish the puckers in the fabric of the world caused by our own sin. But, rather, it promises a way forward. A life on the other side that is not always pain. It promises a triumph of grace, in a victory that is often hard and gruesome and not always obvious.

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