The epistle reading for yesterday was from the first chapter of 1 Corinthians.
God—who has called you into fellowship with His Son Jesus Christ—is faithful.
God is faithful.
It had been quite a few months since my parents split.
It had also been quite a few months since my shoulders knew how to relax past my earlobes. I was tight as a bowstring, ready to hurl arrows of icy apathy on anyone who came close. I knew getting close would cause me to bend out of my rigid fortress, and I knew it would hurt.
As it was, drawn up like that, there was no feeling. I felt nothing.
My doctor said I was depressed. No shame in it.
However, as a 17-year-old, there wasn’t much about my life that wasn’t shame-ridden.
My mom had left.
On the Enneagram, I lead clearly with an 8. I am what they call the Protector or the Challenger.
The locus of my being is in my body, rather than the head or heart. I feel mightily in all of me, and I usually act mightily in response.
Anger is always just right there. It is the tinder box to my fierce and fiery passion—in love, in guardianship, and in justice.
It was a hot and holy anger that struck my numb and knotted soul that night, so many months past the fission of my nuclear family. The flash of fury was like a whip. My eyebrows shot way up at its impact, I grabbed my Bible—portal to God, it was—and, sassy as all get out, I snapped at the ceiling:
“I’m just going to start reading here, IF that is okay with You. IF you don’t care. I’m JUST going to read.”
I ached with the Utter Silence, with the solid mass of abandoned I had become. And I was fed up with it.
So I fanned the lightning-struck brushfire of holy anger until it flamed in my belly. I directed its heat and righteous insolence at the One I needed to hear me. To be with me. To tell me I was not left, not alone.
My shaking fingers randomly flipped to 1 Corinthians. I have since chuckled at that, I tell you.
But by the time I hit verse 9 it was over.
“I, Paul, yada, yada, yada…”
“…He will also strengthen you to the end, so that you may be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful; by him you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” -- 1 Cor. 1:8-9
Something about that last verse sparked at me.
I read it over and over.
With each pass the fury inside me gave way to absolute and burning Light, a Light that warmed me to feeling. The furnace moved through me, melting the tension in my muscles and the fear that caused it.
It was that word: faithful.
Faithful. Faithful means steadfast, always returning, constant. In my life right then nothing seemed steadfast, nothing seemed it would return, and nothing seemed constant at all.
Except for this wild God who had, indeed, called me into fellowship with her son, Jesus Christ.
Holy Spirit’s fire burned anew in me the remembrance of God’s calling—the call that wooed me to singing as a little girl, the call that welcomed my ragamuffin self as an awkward preteen, and the call that would turn me into a minister of the gospel, an agent of her very Kingdom.
Hot tears rolled down my face as I realize that no matter what--no matter who stayed or who went, no matter what changed or what didn’t, and no matter what I felt or couldn’t feel—God had and always would be the Steadfast, the Ever-Returning, and the Constant in my life.
God had come to me as she always had before, though certainly in a different way. God reached me in the way I needed and in probably the only way that she could.
God is faithful, even to provoke a brokenhearted 17-year-old spittin’ mad.
The faithfulness of God is always the beginning of healing.
It is God’s faithfulness—God’s never-failing resolve to show up—that can melt hearts of stone and ignite the fiery strength needed to step toward freedom and wholeness.
The night I hollered at God was the start of a long path toward reconciliation with my family’s tragedy and, eventually, toward a renewed relationship with my mom.
About a decade has passed since that night.
The faithfulness of God has carried me and spurred me through the rough terrain of healing, and still does. To notice this journey, to look back on the road we have traveled, makes me want to scream in thanksgiving—to whoop a primal yell of absolute victory and promise.
God has done mighty things. God has empowered me to pass through fire—to be fire, even—and to come through.