I was the kind of person who could, using some plausible excuse, inflict on a person I cared for a wound that would never heal.Haruki Murakami, South of the Border, West of the Sun
These lines from a story have haunted me lately. They seem to ring true in so many ways. People do inflict wounds on people they care about. I know, I have done it. And doesn’t it sometimes feel like your wounds will never heal? Your heart is broken in the same place so often. You are in pieces, and don’t think those stress fractures inside can ever be knit together. You have stopped imagining a time when you will feel whole again. I know, I have felt that.
The despair in this story is tangible. But as I read it, I was reminded that this is not the only story I have read. I know other stories about other people, like this one:
The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called mighty oaks,
a planting of the LORD
for the display of his splendor.
They will rebuild the ancient ruins
and restore the places long devastated;
they will renew the ruined cities
that have been devastated for generations
This is why I’m not a theologian. I don’t have clever answers about God, or how the universe works. I am not skilled in theological debate and cannot answer questions greater minds than mine have grappled with in the past. I don’t know why bad things happen to good people, or why good things happen to bad people.
But I can tell stories…
I write to remember that there is more than one story. That you and me, we are not limited, forever destined to hurt people as we try in vain to stem the flow of blood from our own gaping wounds.
There are other stories, other authors, other narrators, other ways of seeing and being in the world. There are stories of healing and grace and forgiveness. Beauty does grow up out of ashes, joy does come in the morning. There is hope of a steadfast love that never ceases, never leaves or forsakes. There are stories that end well, where the people are comforted, the land is healed, the King returns for His bride and the Kingdom is restored.
There is more than one story. The choice is, which one do I read? Which one do I tell myself and the people around me? Which one is my story?
“And they overcame by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony…”