The stone

February 22, 2010

I was thinking about everything, the fact that I found myself in the vice grip of alcoholism, and the fact that quitting is good and hard at the same time. I was thinking about remorse and regret and redemption. 

It is all so big.

And then I just set it down.

All the thinking, like a stone I’d been lugging around.  

kerplunk.



There is no figuring it all out in one day
, I said to me. 

So I played myself a song and I sat with it. Just sat with it.

The next thing I knew my arms were above my head and I was dancing a bad 80’s dance right here all by myself, stomping and even spinning. I shook it and I sang louder and louder and I didn’t care about anything.

It wasn’t until the song was done that I thought even one insecure thought like,

This must look ridiculous, what if the neighbors see me through the window? I just didn’t. I was feeling too light for that. Like when you slip or trip on the sidewalk and all you can think about is catching yourself. And it isn’t until the moment passes and you’ve found your balance that you have the wits to look behind you, sheepishly checking to see if anyone was there. 

The dancing was like that, my body too busy to pay time or fear any kind of attention.

Here I am, this girl. One who believes with all of her soul but sometimes not her mind and heart that God is really actually totally and completely who He says He is. That He is all things love and that He’s here despite the mess and because of it.

Here I am this girl, but I’ve never in my life felt freedom void of insecurity like that. Sure, I’ve danced a thousand times, at school dances and bars and weddings and in the kitchen with my boys. But this just felt different, more joyful, and maybe even holy.

~~~~~~~

It’s as if there’s always been a stone in my belly, churning me up and pulling me down. A

thing that had me standing in church and everywhere else my entire life, looking out of the corner of my eyes with my arms crossed, afraid to trust the love that gently walked circles around my heart. That was me, always standing there, scared that I was somehow more irrevocably flawed than the next person. You know, so unique with all my faults and fears and mistakes that I would worry, at least at some very deep level, that I was the only person on the planet undeserving of unconditional love. And then the stone would grow in the pit of my stomach. 

I was scared of freedom, comfortable in my uncomfortable skin. Addicted to the familiar trappings of my ruminating mind.

I quit drinking and then I saw it was all still there, that fear of never being good enough, that stone. But I can dance

with it now because I finally know this stone is not stuck in my belly for good, and even if parts of it will always be here, I’m finally realizing that even that is okay. 

Just own it and let it teach me something, you know?

~~~~~~~

That first night without wine, I did something that finally triggered a true commitment to

really working at something, for the first time in my life, honestly. 

When I kissed my sleeping boys, I whispered

I promise you while tears dropped to their pillows. I’ve done that same thing again, every night since the first, smelling their hair while whispering those same words. I promise you. I am saying it even though that stone in my belly throws itself around when I do, and I start to doubt that I can really do it. 

I’m saying it anyway.

For me, faith in God or myself or anything else takes a kind of getting lost, while I still don’t understand it. Like those unsure and sacred whispered promises in the dark, sometimes my head and heart aren’t certain and yet I say it,

I believe. It starts something miraculous when I do that, like the joy in terrible and holy dancing. 

A month ago, I was tripping around and fumbling for balance, my arms out, my knees bent. Then I slowly and sheepishly turned around and there He was, standing on the sidewalk like the old friend that He is. And that belly stone, it sat still and quiet, afraid of that kind of love.

In that moment, my head and my heart ran to do some catching up with my soul, tripping and sliding and fumbling and caught.

 

“So Heaven meets Earth like a sloppy wet kiss
and my heart turns violently inside of my chest.
I don’t have time
to maintain these regrets
when I think about
how He loves us…” 

“If grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking.”

 

John Mark McMillian

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