The Body of Christ can kill, and it can love. It can wound a wound so deep that years go by before you can let go. Sadly, those who believe the Word is Life can sometimes wound more deeply than others. Why is this? Because we are just as human as the next guy, but somewhere we have lost our way.
I spent the past week with women who bear their souls in words. They craft and create what is in them to tell truth, to tell story, and to encourage others. It is a hard thing to spill what is deep in you and fling it out there into space. You know you could be mocked, or criticized, or worse…ignored. We came as strangers, reading beforehand those stories which were difficult for us to write. Those stories that we told became something else altogether when we came to Lake Michigan.
Heather Johnson was our host at two very comfortable cabins overlooking Lake Michigan. Leslie Leyland Fields was our creative non-fiction teacher. Each morning was study time, and then sharing time.
I had written words about a difficult time in our lives when “the body of Christ” shattered us. I had lived it and tried to let it go for fifteen years. It was hard. It was harder to write about. We all shared difficult times, whether it was death, cancer or relationships. We wept at the writing discussions, and it came to me in a profound way, the depth of words those women spoke became more real to me after I met them and shared a week of their lives.
Thursday was our reading night. It was especially for a new piece we wrote at the cabin. I wrote some words, but it was lame. The whole week I couldn’t write anything but journal. I found a popular blog page of mine that was shared a few times and thought I would read it, but now it looked as though it needed revising! I was the only woman in the group that did not read that night. Instead I was filled with their words of significance. I understood that the whole body of Christ has pain and they grow through that pain, and that pain turned to an unbelievable love and understanding of pain.
It was important to me that I finally found my voice and wrote about that painful part of our lives that hurt for so long. I was able to let go in the writing and it seemed the final death of the pain, and in meeting women with so many hurts who survived, I found the deep love of the body of Christ. Christ had met them in their pain and filled them. Now they are spilling over with his love…the real look of the body of Christ.
Those hugs, tears, and physical gifts given from women who were once strangers, who live and love the art of capturing of words on paper.
Here are some of the gifts:
I can’t give up on the body of Christ because of those who hurt me. I don’t want to use the cliché that Romans 8:28 will fix everyone’s pain. It won’t. God has great purpose in the lives of his children, and pain is part of that. One person’s story is so different from another, and each one most important.
Sometimes revelations come to me when shower water sprays over me. I came to Lake Michigan dredging up great anguish against my soul, and found love and acceptance spilling over from hurting women. God’s grace made them love better, love as a whole person, love at a deeper level. This is the most profound thing I learned from all of this. God allows life stuff to bounce us around so He can show how deeply He loves and longs to be close to us. He knows we suffer and He longs for a deep and abiding relationship with each one of us. When we are full, when we understand His grace to us, we begin to fall out to others as waterfalls that never end. We become Christ in us, to others.
So here is my tribute to my God who has loved the body of Christ so well:
God…You fill my soul so full it causes me to overflow. I will never find the perfect words to thank you Lord, but am forced to express Your love to others because it bubbles out of me. Why am I so blessed by a loving God? Why did You love me when I was not loveable? I am so privileged. Thank you, thank you, and thank you!
When the love of Christ flows over us, the volume increases.
It becomes uncontainable!