'Chocolate Bunny' photo (c) 2010, Ginny - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

We sat on the bed, strained throats fighting to articulate sense. Easter was a few days past, and I halfheartedly ate the mini gourmet chocolate bunny; it tasted good but it made no difference at all.

I told him something was missing, something I couldn’t place but that I needed desperately to have, something that mattered to the whole of me and to my being whole. I folded the gold wrapper, not into my quirky trademark perfect, tiny square, but back into the form of the bunny, now two-dimensional, empty.

Our conversation careened us on a trajectory that terrified us both, tears and desperation mixed with confusion and rage, and I wondered whether it was God I was missing because the hole felt about that gaping big. But I had felt it before, this God-too-far ache, and I knew that it wasn’t His presence I missed this time, yet I felt sure He was my only chance at supplying this elusive life-or-death need.

I looked at the flat bunny, poorly reconstructed in my hand, and I wondered to myself with mournful fury, Where is the resurrection power now?

I was pressed by commitment to put myself somehow together, to reprieve us of the hard and horrible talk for a time, to gather with fellow musicians and practice a worship service I felt incapable of leading with joy. I made it only just through the door.

One of the dear ones, he saw me. He asked if I was okay. And I just couldn’t, not one moment more, bear any semblance of it. He asked if I wanted to talk, and we invited another friend too. And practice was suspended, the other musicians patient with worry, as the three of us gathered at a table that usually hosted muffins and happy conversation.

I poured out grief and fear and desperation, honest, messy truth, unchecked by propriety. These were not friends church culture would prefer I share my darkest heart with; they were men, and I was my most vulnerable. But to me, they were brothers. And if you cannot both laugh and cry with your family, then I don’t know the purpose of it at all.

They mostly listened, and they offered wisdom in small and gracious doses. One reminded me that the burden did not rest on me but on Him who takes all burdens, not just the sins of Good Friday. The other spoke my language, words too raw and real for tidy church foyers, blessing me permission to feel and give voice to the muck. And when we rejoined our waiting worship team, my brothers led prayer to cover me, and I could sing, even with some joy.

Still, the next night found me a zombie, hearing the Word but unable to interact with it; staring, not seeing; breathing but barely alive. It was depression in its realest, most ugly form, and I was sunk beneath it. The study concluded and most our group left, but the ones who were meant to remained.

One took my children and brought them home for bed because she loves them as she loves their mother. Two others took my husband outside, to breathe the air and to make space for his confusion and sorrow.

A gentle hand met my hunched back, smoothed peace over tension til my tears were quaked out. And this dear one, a sister, so different yet proved so alike, she listened without judgment to the ways I’d failed to fill in my desperately missing piece. She confided, and she supported, and she fed me with hummus and laughter.

Then we gathered back together, friends who study scripture and on this night had really lived it. We talked about little nothings, a relief from oppressive sadness, passing around a bag of mini chocolate peanut butter eggs.

And I folded my wrappers into perfect, tiny squares.

37 comments

  1. Thank you, Tamara, for your courage to share your heart & your life with an online community. This is real. Deep. Vulnerable. Your story shows the beauty of what a community of Christ followers can be.

    Just like a diamond looks most brilliant against a dark velvet cloth, we need to talk about the darkness to see the brilliance we each shine as Christ’s lights to the world.

    Thank you for talking about the darkness. And showing us the light of your friends, bearing your burdens with you.

    Reply
    • Beautiful comment, Stephanie. Jesus shows through your words.

      Reply
    • Thank you, Stephanie. Funny how to see that resurrection power alive in my friends, I had to enter a little into the grave. Well, not “funny,” but ultimately, “good.”

      Reply
  2. Yes, this is the Body. I’m so glad you have friends to lift you up and walk alongside you when these hard days come along. I love you, friend.

    Reply
    • Yes, it is His Body. Makes all sorts of sense that’s where I’d find that resurrection power.

      Love you back.

      Reply
  3. Sarah H.

    You are so precious to me, my friend.

    And God is so good to both of us.

    Reply
    • Thank you for feeding me. xo

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  4. You are a treasure, my friend. A masterpiece. And because of you, so many are blessed.
    Love and Light,
    Joy

    Reply
    • Thank you for being a part of the Body that always lifts me, even from across the computer screen.

      Reply
  5. I’ve been there lately. Only yesterday did I finally break through the fog. I needed this. Thank you.

    Reply
    • So glad you’ve broken through and that these words have met you well on the other side.

      Reply
  6. Words aren’t adequate to express the ugliness of being in the muck, nor can they truly describe the beauty of friends coming alongside and extending a hand to help pull you out.

    Your friends love you because you are a friend that loves.

    Reply
    • I don’t know why they love me so well, but I have a feeling it’s not just because of me. :)

      Reply
      • No, it’s not just because of you… but you are the type that loves those around you with that same “not just me” love, and that does help your friends love you back……

        Reply
  7. Jlunardo

    Beautifully written, Tamara. I am so grateful for the love and grace of God that embraced you so wonderfully through your friends. They were Jesus’ hands, feet, words, heart, comfort, peace, and love for you when you needed them most.

    Reply
    • Yes, they were. They were His Body in action. And they brought new life into the darkness.

      Reply
  8. Stephen A

    Your comment on fb is perfect–the church *is* people. And it’s the times like this that help us to see this truth so clearly.

    Reply
    • Thank you for being a part of my church, friend. And I’m glad we go to the same place to worship, too. ;)

      Reply
  9. What a beautiful example of the body being the body. Thank you for sharing with us, Tamara. I hope all is truly well now, and if not, I hope you continue making yourself vulnerable to your close brothers and sisters until it is all well.

    Reply
    • Thank you, dear David. I am well now; if I weren’t, I wouldn’t have dared try to put words to the story.

      Reply
  10. Do not know you, but this raw and beautiful post touched my heart because I have been there too. God bless you…

    Reply
    • Thank you so much, Jason. So kind of you to reach out.

      Reply
      • No biggie. I figure if you did not want people to reach out, there would be no comment section.

        Reply
  11. Sigh. You’ve done it again, T.

    That is all.

    Reply
    • When my sassiest, snarkiest blogging friend comments like this on posts like these, it fills my heart in a way you might not be able to imagine. Love you. Really, really.

      Reply
  12. george spaulding

    Thanks, tamara-i guess(and i’m still learning to appreciate this) that the christian life at its’ messiest is the christian life at its’ best…and so, so attractive!

    Reply
  13. What you experienced is the real body of Christ. We are messy broken people. Several years ago my husband became to sick to work, and needed a lot of care. It was almost impossible for me to get out of the house much. I work in my home teaching music. There was no way that I could get out of the house to go to church on Sunday morning. So some of my early to bed kind of friends met me every week at Barnes and Noble at 9:00 pm to love me and support me. We were the church together. We were all pretty raw. But we loved each other and made it through. It’s still tough sometimes. Sometimes for me my head’s so far up my butt that I can’t breathe and the depression is too much. I love haviing friends who will wade in and help me pull my head out and then just let me cry or fall apart or rant or whatever the current need is. We are God’s greatest gifts to each other. We are His heart and His hands. I’m so thankful.

    Reply
  14. [Air punched out of lungs.] Thank you for your honesty. This is beautiful. I feel bad sometimes for wondering the same things: “Where is God now?” or “So much for grace and mercy now” or “Bet He don’t love me now”. Thanks for voicing this.

    The resurrection power: Christ in me.

    Reply
  15. “But to me, they were brothers. And if you cannot both laugh and cry with your family, then I don’t know the purpose of it at all.”

    Missed this yesterday because I was helping my own brother and best friend move. It was just us because his wife was tending to a sick child and it was beautiful. We were doing hands and knees cleaning of their place, so it was that “in your face” mess that you don’t notice. The kind of yuck you don’t want people to see. But friendship DOESN’T CARE. Not about our grody houses and not about our grody lives.

    So we cleaned and talked about hard things and we got nasty and sweaty and gross. And when it was over, we went ahead and hugged. Because we love each other and none of that matters.

    Reply
    • Karen H

      Beautiful.

      Reply
  16. ANdy

    Great piece filled with honesty and empowerment. Thanks for sharing Tamara.

    Reply
  17. Envy;)

    Reply
  18. So powerful, so lovely, so wonderful. This post. Most of all, you.

    Reply
  19. A beautiful description of the weight of sadness and the lightening power of true community. Thank you.

    Reply

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