Every Riven Thing
“God goes belonging to every riven thing he’s made.” – Christian Wiman
Here’s the question I’ve been asked several times since yesterday’s post: Why didn’t I include that story in my book about Megan?
The answer is simple: I wasn’t prepared to tell it. In fact, I never imagined telling it.
But this Wednesday, I led an evening on the theme of “hands” in scripture (the hands of Jesus . . . the hands of God . . . human hands). And after agonizing prayer and hours of conversations with Diane, I decided to write it.
But then the question was, do I make that public to a broader audience? After all, it’s a bit embarrassing. Most of us want to hear stories of how people held up under pressure—not of how they buckled. That’s why we often tell the stories of how hymns got written while omitting some of the later stories.
I’ve recently mentioned that my favorite hymn is “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing.” We love to give the background of the young convert who wrote the stirring words; seldom do we go on to point out, however, that the writer who penned the profound words “prone to wander” did, indeed, wander from the faith later in life. (There are different strains of tradition about whether or not he returned.)
Even Wednesday night, we pulled out an old gospel pop song: “Put Your Hand in the Hand.” I didn’t bother to mention that the author of those words later ended his own life in despair.
But, again, Diane and I decided to go ahead and publish the piece on behalf of others who feel flooded by a dam that has burst in their lives. For me, the flood was an immersion in depression, doubt, and grief. But it could be many other things.
If that’s you, perhaps you’re wondering: When do I get my “you-will-be-ok-Daddy” experience?
You may not. I’m 56, and I’ve had one in my life.
But, and here was the real point of the piece, there are hands all around you that can hold you and guide you back to life.
Be careful, of course. There are many judging hands, shame-inflicting hands, retaliatory hands. Don’t go there.
But there are also plenty of gentle hands, compassionate hands, safe hands. They might be the hands of those whom you already know and trust; but they might also be found in unexpected places.
Do not suffer alone. Life isn’t over. There can be glory days ahead. Years after I thought my life might never recover, I’m living in the best part of my story.
God goes belonging to every riven thing, my friends. God’s story involves the sorrow of bearing pain and sorrow: “From his riven side which flowed,” as a wonderful old hymn reminds us.
But there’s one thing you have to do: open your hands. Admit that they’re empty. Trust that God will give you a new future and that he’ll do that, at least in part, through the hands of others.