Only Everything

Come, thou Fount of every blessing,
tune my heart to sing thy grace;
streams of mercy, never ceasing,
call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it,
mount of thy redeeming love.

Abby was four months old when life started to unravel. The prescription from the dentist that made my stomach hurt- but made my husband float away- turned into the loss of jobs, homes, security, marriage, and a hot five and half year burn. There were times I thought I could not lift my head another day- and truthfully, there were days I didn’t. Looking at the ground made it easier to not acknowledge anything beyond my breathing. In and out. Keep going. If I don’t look up, I won’t falter.

One perceived need after another fell away, and I wondered how long one could free-fall before your breath stopped catching, your eyes stopped tearing against the bitter wind, and falling became normal. There were tender hands and mercies reaching out as I tumbled down, but they were powerless to stop the laws of physics and the cost of agency; their cool hands on my fevered brow offered brief human comfort and let me know I was not alone, even in their helplessness to stop the avalanche of life.

Scriptures and platitudes seemed to mock— no, a traveling husband is no the same as a single mother. Sometimes you are given more than you can bear, and you do fall. Not everything that doesn’t kill us makes us stronger- sometimes things just hurt like hell for no reason. You get used to the dark, to the howling wind, to hard sharp edges that cut and tear as you tumble by, wondering in desperation where God went…

That’s the most terrifying part. The utter and abject desolation of feeling abandoned by God. Lost. Forgotten. Forsaken. In the prolonged absence of light, with nothing to reflect back who you might be, you forget your own edges and question where the darkness ends and you begin. This is the place where your heart cleaves, the contents within spill into the deep darkness, you balk in terror at what seems like the end of the world. But the heart has to break for what’s within to grow… to push out of the darkness, where all seeds sprout, and force its way up, through some miracle, towards the light.

In that moment, one becomes fully human. We embody the fallen, and in some small measure, we might finally, in our own brokenness, understand the grace offered by Christ in his descending beneath all things. The contents of your shattered heart are the fertile loam that feeds the life as it pushes up, finally bursting into the light.

Perhaps there are other ways, gentler and kinder, to learn these lessons. Perhaps there is a different story for each of us written in the book of life. The single thing of which I am now certain is that the contents of our hewn, split, shattered, broken hearts— however they be torn asunder— is required for the seeds within us to find that light. Nothing less will do. Nothing more is asked. It’s only everything.

O to grace how great a debtor
daily I’m constrained to be!
Let thy goodness, like a fetter,
bind my wandering heart to thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
prone to leave the God I love;
here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
seal it for thy courts above.

14 thoughts on “Only Everything

  1. Remember to access the Priesthood of God for He is all powerful. More powerful than anything on earth. Never forget your testimony of Christ even in the darkest times because that testimony is still vibrant and pure. You are an amazing writer and most of all an amazing person. God WILL bless!

  2. Ring the bells that still can ring
    Forget your perfect offering
    There is a crack in everything…
    that’s how the light gets in

    This is what your post reminded me of. That crack, when the heart breaks open and it feels like death, is the moment when the light can finally penetrate and illuminate the dark corners…cauterizing and healing the broken parts so we can rise up anew, like the phoenix.

    Beauty from ashes. That’s what you remind me of.

  3. One of my favorite posts of yours, Tracy. This is beautiful writing that reminds me of my own shattering and finding the light. Your seeds will continue to sprout and grow. Eventually your light will shine the way for others who are lost in the abyss.

  4. Yes, you weave words. Your writing is distinct, but I’m reminded of Annie Dillard. She writes about God and her single life—differently than you, but something reminds me of her when I read your writing.

  5. Weeping, trying to catch my breath, reading this on Easter morning. Isn’t there a Pulitzer or a Peabody you can win for posts like these? It’s been months since I’ve caught up with you, Tracy, but you are good people and I now, like always, wish for good things for you. Have a blessed and happy Easter day.

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