Evergreen Day 2: A Gentle Joining
I saw a pretty little graphic floating around the other day that plainly stated, “Jesus says His yoke is easy and His burden is light so if it’s not easy and it’s not light, it’s not His yoke.” And I thought, well how incredibly sad for those of us in the throes of really hard and heavy things.
My daughter’s a year old and, in a lot of ways, I’m still finding my footing, still grasping around at how to be a mom. It took me many months to crawl out of a deep postpartum fog that had eaten me, where I fought tooth and nail with intrusive thoughts that both surprised and mocked me. In those first precious weeks of her life, a carousel of vivid and horrifying images spoiled what small joy I felt, what small connection I had, what small hope I held. My silky newborn would look up at me and grin tenderly, and I, as her keeper, would have to break her gaze to stop the continual plunder of it all. I wish she could know how much I wanted to love her those days.
I don’t think I’ve known sorrow like that. A misplaced sorrow like that. I had started to grieve in real time the death of my girl who, one wall away, was dripping in happy, peaceful, healthy, innocent life. What would my husband and I talk about when she was gone? Would we talk or would we just sit there and hate? I went down this tormented road until I was a shell of myself, unrecognizable and not able to be saved.
There was not one quick fix to healing for me. No singular moment of “snapping out of it” — there was only time, only tiny revelations of love, day after day, that lunged me further forward into comfort. When the terribly detailed pictures would come, I first tried to think them away and replace them with good, clean ones that made sense. But this was too large and too painful, too dominant and real.
I resorted to an exercise that I learned from a spiritual counselor years ago. When a devastating thing has come and invaded your space, bring Christ there. Imagine Him and imagine His physical face. So I did. I made Him watch what I had to watch and then I watched Him. His reaction to my pain started to save me.
As He saw my baby — a purity spoiled, a sinless spirit stolen, her unblemished skin skewered and flayed — He winced. He did not wail with me or shield my eyes from the horror or assure me it was fantasy or console me toward hope or take it right away. He screwed His face up and His neck recoiled like He hated what was happening, and then He held out his hands like, “Give her here.” Seeing what I saw was not too big for Him but it also wasn’t too small. That’s important. He is king, but He is friend. He knows what’s ultimately true, but He believes us when we’re totally broken. He clips His wings to be with us but miraculously still can fly.
I wanted to share this to say that just because we claim Christ does not mean we claim easiness and lightness all our days. It does not mean that we’re doing it wrong if we follow Jesus and still somehow feel troubled and burdened. It *does* mean, though, that there is this God, of whom we are made, that bends low and feels it and says, “Don’t take this upon yourself. Join (yoke) with me, and let me refresh your spirit with my gentle kindness. I’m simple—all I require of you will be pleasant and easy to bear.” Matthew 11:28-30
What good news. No striving in work or deed. No pretending the storms of life aren’t complicated. Just humble and here and abundantly held.
Verses to Read
Matthew 11:28-30 NIV
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
John 15:1-8 NIV