Lately, I've been listening to a new song by one of my favorite bands, Needtobreathe. They are fantastic, you should take a listen. They manage to cross over various genres and break the mold in every possible way. All of their songs leave me breathless. This particular song, called "Multiplied," has been moving around in my brain and my heart and making some serious waves that must break out and put themselves on paper. The lyrics are as follows:
"Your love is like radiant diamonds, bursting inside us, we cannot contain
Your love will surely come find us, like blazing wildfires, singing your name
God of mercy, sweet love of mine,
I have surrendered to your design
May this offering stretch across the sky
And these hallelujahs be multiplied."
About 2 weeks ago, as I was struggling with my friends and my family
through some very difficult terrain, I heard this song for the first
time. It has moved me in an inexplicable way. I wish I could put my
finger on it - the music? The harmonies? The beat? The lyrics? I don't
know. What I do know is that I can't stop listening to it, and when I
hear it, I get that familiar lump in my throat and I feel like I'm
transcending everything - all the pain and the sorrow and the suffering
and everything. These words have been making their rounds back and forth between my
head and my heart, doing some serious renovating and remodeling. I'm
going to attempt to put this into words, although I'm sure I shall fail
Recently, some of my closest friends have experienced the ultimate depths of heartache and sorrow. One friend is coping with the loss of a close friend. Another friend is working with family to deal with a tragic loss. Another friend is at a tremendous crossroads about her path in life. These experiences bring out the worst in us, I have come to learn. We find that our strength is stretched in ways we never imagined it could be. Pain has the power to pluck us up from our comfortable places and shake us so we descend into the abyss like salt from a shaker. Suddenly, our shoulders are sagging and we are so ragged and worn we scarcely recognize ourselves.
I've spoken here about my faith before. Anyone who knows me knows that it's a defining feature of my life. I'm not an "Everything happens for a reason" kind of Christian, nor am I a "God has a plan" kind of Christian, nor am I a "Let go and let God" kind of Christian. I'm not going to try to make you feel better with some silly words. I don't know what kind of believer I am. I do know that most of the things that I believe make people uncomfortable, because I'm a little radical. I have really struggled for answers for my friends who have been facing life's biggest challenges and overwhelming pain. The truth is, I don't have answers. What I do have....is this song.
"Your love is like radiant diamonds, bursting inside us, we cannot contain...."
To me, this sounds like the experience of pain. It bursts insides us and sometimes we feel as if we may explode from the sheer weight of our sorrow. God takes this pain - in whatever way you allow God to take your pain - and holds you and caresses you and polishes you until you are bursting with love like diamonds: radiant and impossibly beautiful. It may take months; it may take years. The process may last your entire life. It is a process.
"Your love will surely come find us, like blazing wildfires, singing your name..."
Pain seeks us out. It attacks us when we are least prepared. It waits in the corner until we've finally let our guards down and given up the fight for the day, then it pounces. It's all consuming, like a California wildfire. Picture for a moment being trapped in a fire like that. I think there is a point where you give up and think, "This is the end." Then you look up, and one brave firefighter is breaking through the flames and shining a flashlight and looking....looking....looking for you. Shouting your name like her life depends upon finding you and bringing you out of the blaze. You've been found, and you've been saved.
"God of mercy, sweet love of mine, I have surrendered to your design..."
I will never get tired of thinking of God as my love. It has nothing to do with human love. It has everything to do with the idea that, at the end of the day, even if I have let every single human being down, there is something that remains true to me, regardless of my ridiculous and thoughtless mistakes. As far as God's design, I don't mean "predestination." I mean that we are created in God's image, so our pain, our loss, our depths of despair are NOT places that we travel to alone. We have the constant company of the most eternal vibration of love and light, the ultimate antidote to that horrible poison, pain.
"May this offering stretch across the sky, and these hallelujahs be multiplied..."
I think that, sometimes, giving up our pain, loosening our grip on it and throwing it into the void, can be something of an offering. We're finally dragging ourselves out into the light and saying okay, I think I'm ready to let go of this. Maybe we're not actually ready, but this initial gesture is such a violent thrill of release, such an earthquake of bottled-up emotions, that we're ready to begin the process. When we can begin this process, perhaps it is our way of shouting 'hallelujah!' to the universe. Maybe, every time we are able open our fingers and release a little bit of whatever is hurting us, we are crying out to God, "Thank you! Thank you for creating a space for me to be broken, to be only parts and not the whole, to be a fraction of myself! Thank you for running into the fire to save me when no one else could save me. Thank you for gently rounding out my rough and painful edges so I could be radiant like a diamond. Thank you for being a light in dark places, when all other lights have gone dim." We learn to say this over and over again, and our faith thrives through our expressions of grief, loss, pain, and less-than. Maybe our imperfections make us strong. Let these hallelujahs be multiplied.