So, I left you last night with the promise that I would try to name whatever "dead" things I might be clinging to, and after I said that, I realized that the dead things we cling to are things we usually don't want to talk about, things we're ashamed of claiming even though we hold on to them like life rafts in a sea of salt water. "But this is who I was, and this is my story, and this is what I can't change about myself." You won't sink if you let it go. In fact, you'll float all the better. Even so, we cling, afraid to let the dead thing in us die. And like most dead things, it has a particular weight--one that we even refer to as "dead weight." Heavier. Harder to manage. A struggle to lift. Awkward. A dismembered limb. A suitcase of sand.
In short, to hold it is to proclaim, "I can not be who I am becoming. I can only be what I was."
God says, "Be still and I will fight for you."
Stop lifting. Stop struggling. Stop choosing. Stop. Just stop. Open hands. Open heart. What is placed there from His will? What does He ask you to carry?
Your love for your neighbor. And your love for Him.
But I know this weight, you say. It's heavy, but it is at least familiar. It's Who I Am. I must carry myself. What a horrible lie...
This is familiar, says the lie:
(And already I can feel my face rising crimson--ashamed to say it. This self I have protected from the light of letting it go.)
I can not teach or speak in public. (The Dead Weight of Doubt)
I am awkward and have hated my body to the point of torture. (The Dead Weight of the Body Despised)
I have been married twice and both ended in divorce. (The Dead Weight of Failure)
I used to drink too much. (The Dead Weight of Addiction)
I can't write or sing or paint. (The Dead Weight of Immobilization)
And who can forgive me for the dead things I have lifted, chosen? For the dead self who is/was a part of me?
I was talking to another poet today as we joked about poetry being made from self-loathing. And this is partially true, but only because of this: poetry is also, completely, undoubtably about understanding that we have been given the gift of naming so that we might redefine ourselves as free from that hatred. To allow ourselves to be loved--to be a space for that love. To open to it. Let it wash us completely clean and living. Through a word...through water.
That these dead things have been pulled away from me as I sat still and allowed Him to fight for me, as surely as He has said, "You are forgiven."
And listen: you'll hear the song of yourself unfolding as naturally as the first flower raised from the dead leaves it left behind from last year. What is it that God has made you, dear life?
Lift your heads, bright people. Open your empty, clean hands. Unlock your heaving heart. God makes you again and again and again. I know because it has happened to me and I wouldn't lie to you.