Mourning and Rejoicing

My life is not perfect. And my figuring out what my relationship with God now looks like has been somewhat delayed by 5+ weeks of illness, finally abated over the weekend. But as I finished The Lost Letters of Pergamum tonight, it sort of felt things were continuing to come full circle (in addition to the ways they already have, I mean).

I flipped through my old journal since I finished another one last night. The one just previous went from December ’07 to November ’08–largely because my less-than-optimal spiritual state seriously hindered my journaling much of the year. I took particular interest in the months of February and March when a lot of my more intense questions about Scripture and early Christianity came up, the pain heightened by the pressure I felt to make a decision about InterVarsity staff. As I went back, it was meaningful to reflect on the way in which really, despite my confusion, I always wanted to worship Jesus. That desire has felt different at different points over the last year and been expressed in various ways, often stifled more than I wanted. But it was there. And in the past five months, especially, it’s been slowly re-emerging and growing into a more mature form.

For some reason Pergamum took me back to all these things. It was another small bit of my journey, I think, but at this point things are much calmer. I’m not frantically looking for proof or all the world’s knowledge about Jesus; it was just fun to take a trip back in time and hang out with some of his followers, to imagine what the earliest Christian gatherings were like, and to feel invigorated by their dedication to the same gospel that captivates us still today.

Then I decided to flip forward into the summer section of the journal—which really ends with only 30 or so pages left in the book, in which I made my brief notes about my first fall at Fuller. As I told Jeremiah my story from the past year or so a few months ago before we started dating, I realized the extent to which my issues with God last year weren’t just compounded by the completely crazy stuff going on in my family but really revolved around them. While the other stuff was difficult, I would have been fine, and it would have been a much different story, I think, if I didn’t have all kinds of other shit going down. Instead, I had some of the most painful stuff I’ve ever faced, both fresh and lifelong wounds in my face on a daily basis. The pages of June, July, and August, especially, testify to this pain.

I am amazed how much time along with love and joy have healed those wounds. Sure, they still affect me, but they’ve at least scabbed over, and I think they’ll continue to heal in time. I feel like I’m actually discussing real things in therapy for the first time in a very long time, since so much of the past couple years—originally meant to deal with old stuff—was just damage control.

All of this is a little personal to be putting on my public blog, but I wanted to allow you to share in my joy, even as I remember my pain from less than a year ago, especially as other friends, like Amanda, seem to have gone on a similarly-paced journey this past year. Recently she decided she didn’t want to be angry with God anymore, something I decided a few months ago, myself. It’s a good feeling, even if things are not instantly as simple as might be nice. Rebuilding relationships takes time. But I feel good about where I’m at.

To contrast, I wanted to share a rewriting of the song “Blessed Be Your Name” that I made up in my head during the first InterVarsity meeting at UNC last fall. I attended the first and last meetings of the semester when I was in town, and it was incredibly difficult to be there during worship, hearing things I wanted to be true but honestly felt were bull at the time. Now this song of lament is both a recognition of the depth of the trouble God and I have gone through in the last year and a hymn of praise that things don’t always feel so awful—that somehow trust can be rebuilt even when clear answers to pain aren’t found.

Wondrous YHWH God
I feel like you’ve turned your back on me
When the gospel’s all I want to see
all I feel is pain

And loving Jesus God
I think you’d be quite a splendid king
But you don’t seem to rule everything
All I feel is pain

Some days I think that you’re real close and
I want to praise
Then the darkness closes in and
I have to say

I don’t get your ways
Are you Lord?
I don’t get your ways
I don’t get your ways
Are you Lord?
Where the hell are you today?



Filed under Uncategorized

2 responses to “Mourning and Rejoicing

  1. Jewel

    Very poignant, Ashleigh. Brava.

  2. Marshall Benbow

    Ashleigh – as one who has watched this journey for a little while now, thanks for the update on what the Lord continues to do. I am proud of you, and am thankful to get a picture of your pressing towards Christ.

Leave a Reply to Marshall Benbow Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s