She Rises While It Is Yet Night

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“We are meant to grow around a table of words, sharpening our ideas, filtering our thoughts, trying them out in a public space so they find more clarity. We are meant to grow like this, not in silence.”

The plate with the turkey pannini had only crumbs left on it. I pulled my journal closer and started writing: Saturday, October 20, 2012. Steveston. Lunch at Papi’s deli.

“Why am I so scared, so overwhelmed, by writing at the moment?” I poured out to God. Tired of feeling stuck. Tired of not getting out words I’d hoped to write. I’d been feeling the Silence from my old story, like a giant Tupperware lid covering me, shutting me up. It was feeling a lot like Night.

The irony of our theme for October–“Rise”–didn’t escape me.

On that Saturday afternoon in an Italian deli in a former Japanese fishing village–20 days into our theme–I moved my pen across the lined paper, leaning in the only way I knew how to pierce through the paralysis.

I asked: What is holding me back from being who You created me to be, God?

The answer came almost immediately, simply: Entering into the process.

I sat with the words, swirling them around like a San Pellegrino with lime, examining the answer from the depths of my heart … I felt the gnawing in my stomach, my heart clamping up, the flutter of anxiety.

My body reacted with a familiar fear. It must be true then, I thought.

The thing that is holding me back right now is this: my fear of entering into the process.

Yep. I wanted to throw up.

Rewind to May and our Women’s Theological Intensive at the Amahoro Africa gathering. A group of beautiful African and globally-minded women, gathered on a Burundian hillside, learning from each other.

We talked about Theology as Story: Mary’s story. Our old stories. The story Jesus is writing in us now.

Beautiful, soulful Rene August, friend and fellow South African, facilitating and leading, along with the wise, learned Latina Ruth Padilla … On Day 4, I remember some questions asked into our sacred space and I remember speaking out answers from my mouth, but how they just weren’t connecting. I remember feeling so frustrated, because I wasn’t hitting a sweet spot.

I sensed God was wanting to do something in me.

What are You saying to me, God? I prayed silently. Why is this so hard? Why don’t I get this?

I sat through the rest of the discussion, quietly pondering.

Then, finally, these words plopped into my head:

“Be in your story. Don’t abstract from it.”

Excuse me?

abstract vt

- to develop a line of thought from a concrete reality to a general principle or an intellectual idea

- to make a summary of the main points of an argument or some information

I wrote the words down in my journal and, as I did, tears of recognition started rolling down my cheeks. Yes, I can’t be in my story, if I am constantly trying to make sense of it first. Observing, extracting, finding principles, seeking answers and understanding. I imagined I could live life while simultaneously offering up a synopsis and a clear explanation for why I was feeling what I was feeling or doing what I was doing. But it wasn’t connecting.

So many parts of my story–South Africa, Apartheid, Taiwan, Canada, immigrant, mother, writer–I’ve struggled for clarity, themes and understanding, but I’ve done so for most of my life processing in silence, not entering into a conversation with others. Until I could offer a principle, a summarized idea or revelation, I figured it best to stay in my head and on the sidelines. About the big things, like racism, injustice, gender equality … But also about the everyday things. Because I haven’t figured out how to write out my daily life–how to bust through the abstracting–I stayed silent.

In my darkness, I’ve named myself incompetent, without confidence, cluttered, silent.

In the Light, like that day in Bujumbura, God consistently calls me to dive in, speak my piece, share my heart, sit at the table, participate in the conversation, lead.

But at the table I grew up at, I learned only two modes of communication: stunted silence and frustrated, accelerated shouting. I learned either keeping my mouth shut or running off and having to find answers/calm/sanity in books and poetry or pouring out my heart on paper; words never meant to be seen.

I didn’t learn a middle ground. I didn’t learn to simply be honest with what I was feeling and thinking at the time and to find acceptance, understanding, encouragement and Love there. I didn’t learn to sharpen ideas.

So, over many years, I learned to figure things out for myself, in the silence of my own head and heart and in the pages of journals.

Until, in my later twenties, I married an extreme extrovert. A loving, kind, gracious extrovert who very early on asked his editor wife, not to listen to the words he was saying necessarily, but to listen for his heart in it. He asked that I would take into account who he is and who I know him to be, before I nitpicked at the sentences with which he chose to express his thoughts during our arguments discussions.

I’m still learning.

And then: It wasn’t that long ago when I sat around our Friday night dinner table and there were friends eating with us and the discussion was rich. And I remember catching ideas on the backs of words and I remember the wave of understanding I felt … like tables are meant to be filled with words and love. I remember thinking: We are meant to grow around a table of words, sharpening our ideas, filtering our thoughts, trying them out in a public space so they find more clarity. We are meant to grow like this, not in silence.

For me, rising is writing. And it is a fight against the Silence that keeps wanting to shut up, shut down or divert. 

Here’s my not-so-secret confession: I do want to change the world. I want to speak out against injustice, inequality, racism and division, because I have been there and I can tell you from that place that it’s not pretty having your own little white corner of a world. In fact, it’s ugly and painful and unjust. I also know intimately how division wrecks: economies, countries, families, futures, hearts. Wouldn’t I want to save future generations these painful consequences of injustice?

Which means, according to Luther, I have to pick up my pen and write, even when it feels like Night.

 So, I embrace Proverbs 31:15:  “She rises while it is yet night …”

Not necessarily in the 4:30am wake up call kind of way, but in the way of rising into the Night that I see all around me and so often struggle with, even within.

The Night that looks like gender inequality, violence, oppression, poverty and suffering. 
The Night that looks like not having all my ducks in a row and all my themes clearly abstracted.
The Night that looks like admitting struggle and anguish, but also joy.

I am encouraged because into this very Night–our own and our world’s–women of valor rise.

Eshet chayil, says beautiful Rachel Held Evans.

So–that blessing, that ode to womanhood in Proverbs 31, for me, speaks to our valor and our ability to rise, in spite of.

When we don’t have all the answers yet, to rise … 
– When we don’t know exactly what we are doing, to rise …
– When we are criticized and ridiculed, to rise …
– When it seems like Night is winning in the world, to rise …
– When the darkness wants to overwhelm, we will rise …
– When we don’t have it all figured out yet, to rise …
– When we make mistakes and fall down, to rise …

I don’t want to be scared of entering into the process any more. I don’t want to be scared of making mistakes and saying the wrong thing or of being overbearing, because I’d like to imagine that we are listening for each other’s hearts–with ears of Love–and not just for the words.

While it is yet Night–in my own struggle and in our world–I want to rise … I hope you’ll join me.

_____________________

My dear SheLoves friends:

  • What is the Night that you want to and need to rise up into?
  • What does your rise look like? Is it writing? Is it speaking? Baking? Baby bottoms? Business?
  • What is holding you back?
I’d love to hear. xoxo

______________________

Image credit: Surrender, by Child is a Rebel

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Idelette McVicker
I like soggy cereal and I would like to go to every spot on the map of the earth to meet our world’s women. I dream of a world where no women or girls are for sale. I dream of a world where women and men are partners in doing the work that brings down a new Heaven on earth. My word last year was “roar” and I learned it’s not about my voice rising as much as it is about our collective voices rising in unison to bring down walls of injustice. This year, my own word is “soar.” I have three children and this place–right here, called shelovesmagazine.com–is my fourth baby. I am African, although my skin colour doesn’t tell you that story. I am also a little bit Chinese, because my heart lives there amongst the tall skyscrapers of Taipei and the mountains of Chiufen. Give me sweet chai and I think I’m in heaven. I live in Vancouver, Canada and I pledged my heart to Scott 11 years ago. I believe in kindness and calling out the song in each other’s hearts. I also believe that Love covers–my gaps, my mistakes and the distances between us. I blog at idelette.com and tweet @idelette.
Idelette McVicker

Latest posts by Idelette McVicker (see all)

Idelette McVicker
  • hopejem

    ” When we are criticized and ridiculed, to rise …” made me cry. Thank you for the inspiration sweet friend.

    • http://www.idelette.com idelette

      Thank you for reading, Hope, and I am grateful my tears can inspire. I am sorry that the tears are there, in that place, though … Not an easy one. Much Love xo

  • Sam

    Wow. I feel as if I wrote this myself. Thank you for sharing your heart. I’m also afraid of entering the process and I have been stuck in the night for a while. I need to rise.

    • http://www.idelette.com idelette

      Sam, YES! Rise and shine time. Much Love. xo

  • http://www.kelleynikondeha.com/ Kelley Nikondeha

    FINALLY! I’ve been waiting for it, wanting it, wishing the RISE in you would surface! We need your voice to ‘rage against the Night’ and beat back the ugliness of injustice and racism and inequitable economics. I am with you… rising and walking together. I want to see you rise, hear you roar. And let’s dance together, too, because rising and rejoicing go hand in hand!

    • http://www.idelette.com idelette

      Thank you, friend. Yes, there will be dancing! I was just looking at that Tina photo of us dancing at Amahoro … it’s such a great picture.

  • http://twitter.com/christinaquist Christina Quist

    Wow, I needed this. South Africa beat me today and I fully intended to stay down. You’re right. When the darkness threatens to overwhelm…

    • http://www.idelette.com idelette

      Dear Christina … o, your comment. I wish I could climb into your words and give you a hug and speak rise into the darkness together. My prayers are so much where you are right now. I’ve sat on my back porch and cried long tears over the news I am reading. I pray you will continue to rise … Much Love.

  • Toni LaCentra

    dwelling in a dark valley right now…but I shall arise…drinking from a not so sweet well but the sweetness will return…
    wish I could gather all of you brave women in my arms and we could have a great big around the world group hug. God Bless all of you.

    • http://www.idelette.com idelette

      O, Toni! I would love that … a great big around the world group hug. You said it. That’s my heart. I am sending much Love and a prayer for strength and courage as you journey through the dark valley. May you have everything you need in this place … God bless you too. xoxo

  • Daniela

    I am so glad I went back and read this when Ollie finally went for his nap. My night is still battling depression. 2 steps forward, one step back, sometimes it feels like three. And despite that, getting up, getting dressed , and just physically rising feels like victory. Love idelette. xoxo

    • http://www.idelette.com idelette

      You are literally rising while it is yet night, friend. Thank you for standing with me, as I am with you. Love you.

  • http://www.gabbingwithgrace.com/ Grace at {Gabbing with Grace}

    I feel completely beat down the “night” of my home. It’s smallness, it’s messiness, it’s clutter, the fights & confict and overall dissallusionment it brings to our all ready weighed down marriage….and I guess all the fear at rising up into that process to address it. Frankly, I don’t know where & how to begin…and I’m just ovewhelmed. ..and pretty sad. I know it seems like such a foolish thing to be afraid to address and change, but I have and could cry a lot more about it. Sorry for this emotive response, this post just really struck a chord for me.

    • http://www.idelette.com idelette

      Dear Grace, I pray you find the peace in the midst of this night season. I pray God will turn your desert into a place of springs … as you set your heart on pilgrimage and journey with God through this dark time. (Ps. 84.) I pray this too will pass … I pray for a restoring and a Peace to settle in your home and in your heart. Lord Jesus, cover Grace with your beautiful LOVE. I know you’ve already walked ahead of her … and your word is a light unto her path. Give her strength and endurance to walk on and drink deeply from your Love. // Thank you for sharing, beautiful friend. Sending much Love your way.

  • http://www.emergingmummy.com/ Sarah Bessey

    I’ll be printing this out and keeping it in my Bible, Idelette. I will.

    • http://www.idelette.com idelette

      O, friend. Your heart blesses me so much.

  • Autumn

    wow,this is exactly how I’m feeling this year..the word that came to me for this year was loud and clear, to RISE !
    I felt God nudging me that I was to no longer stay living so small minded, but to soar , make my voice heard, sing, shout, all the things that I had resisted so long & was too comfortable in .
    It has been me stepping out of my comfort zone and trusting God even when I don’t see the whole picture yet that has been my biggest challenge this year but he knows best and so I obey and so far I have had peace and Joy even in the midst of my night season and look forward to more of this rising with him xo

    • http://www.idelette.com idelette

      Autumn, that’s amazing! I love that your word for the year is RISE. I’d love to read what YOU’ve learned about rising this year … Interestingly enough, you also used the word “soar”–my word for the year. We’re tracking here. :)
      I am thankful you have been stepping out–singing and making your voice heard. Yay!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Brandi-Goff-McElheny/523018372 Brandi Goff McElheny

    LOVE this, my precious new friend! LOVE every single sentence and the heart behind it all. This is something I have struggled with as well. Living in an abusive

    marriage meant that I had to clearly articulate and defend any position I held for grace was absent. I am still learning to enter my process, to enter my pain and my questions. For to write and speak and share with others while you are still in process requires safety and grace. I don’t always have definitive answers about my own journey or even any given situation….and that’s ok. I don’t need someone else to have those answers either. I am finding that it is in the process, in the questions that I find my Jesus. He’s not waiting for it to all be cleaned up. He wants to get right into the middle of the mud and create beauty and intimacy right there. Oh so beautiful!!!

    In fact, I blogged about finding God in my questions and wrestling just this week so this touched me right where I’m at.

    http://www.iambrandilea.blogspot.com

    • http://www.idelette.com idelette

      Thank you so much, Brandi-lea …

      Your words also make my heart ache. I know what it feels like to have to walk on eggshells. That’s not the spacious, gracious Table God intended for us to have our words, ideas and identities formed around. And yet, God can use even that pain and meet us there. You’re so right. I’m so thankful for that.

  • http://www.facebook.com/benjity Abby Kelly

    I have never given that truth words in my own life -that my real writing is in a Mead notebook, never meant for another’s eyes. And I only open it’s cover to a questioning world when I’m sure that I have organized, arranged and interpreted my life, so that hopefully it’s of some use to them.
    I AM being called to rise, yet I have never been bold enough to take the risks that didn’t have explanations. Thank you, Idelette.

    • http://www.idelette.com idelette

      Abby, I am grateful my opening up has unlocked something for you too. This is what makes this process so sacred and beautiful and it makes me want to cry big thankful tears that God uses our humble offerings … those words written in notebooks and formed in the quiet of our hearts. Yes, you are called and yes, you are rising … it’s beautiful to see.

  • Lindsay

    Like so many others, I feel like this my heart here. The struggle to let go enough to rise, to be okay not having it all figured out. Not to let fear get in the way of God. Amen. Amen. Amen.

    • http://www.idelette.com idelette

      O, Lindsay–thank you for coming and standing here and planting your heart, so we can rise together. Yes, let it be so. I’m with ya.

  • stephanie

    I love this so much. I can really relate to not learning a middle ground of communication and (for me) being afraid of entering into conversation without processing things and trying to “figure it out” in my mind, being scared of saying the wrong thing, etc. It’s one of my biggest struggles. I love this: “When we don’t know exactly what we are doing, to rise…” I need that because I feel like I have no idea what I’m doing – generally. in life. Beautiful words, Idelette.

    • http://www.idelette.com idelette

      Stephanie, friend … thank you. We are doing this together and I am so grateful for that. Miss you. xo

  • Erin Wilson

    I think you’ve said something really important here, Idelette. Not every table is a safe place for us to process our words, thoughts and dreams. You’ve lived a life that has created safe spaces, safe tables to invited trusted friends to share. That investment is crucial, and something we can do for each other.

    • http://www.idelette.com idelette

      You’re so right, Erin. There are tables and there are tables … Perhaps why it’s so important to me now to be that table.

  • http://twitter.com/teenbug Tina Francis

    Wow. I’m so in that place. Where the words don’t come out right. Part fatigue + part fear. Wanting my words to “say something” even though I’m still in the thick of actually living life. I been wishing I could fast forward “the living” so that I could write about the wisdom gained on the other side. It’s like feeling my way through the dark at the moment. And sometimes I touch on something warm and intriguing and other times I touch something damp and stinky.

    I had no idea that you were in this place too. It’s oddly comforting. Thank you for writing from the dark place, it encourages me to finish my piece too.

    Hugs,
    Teen

  • Tammie

    Thank you for this Idelette!
    “When it seems like Night is winning in the world, to rise …
    – When the darkness wants to overwhelm, we will rise ”

    Those words are churning in the pit of my stomach. So lost for words! All I can say is thank you. Love this post so much. So glad you picked up your pen! :)

    • http://www.idelette.com idelette

      Dear beautiful Tammie, thank you so much for reading and leaving a comment. I so appreciate that! I love getting to know more of your warrior heart. Much Love.

  • Sherry Naron

    um, wow, Idelette – I just want to sit at the table with you and have a long talk. There’s so much in this that resonates with me. Thank you for opening up like this….

    • http://www.idelette.com idelette

      I do too, Sherry … so much. I know it will happen. And I know whether it’ll be over pain au chocolat in Burundi or at our dinner table here in Surrey, it’ll be communion. Thank you, friend.

  • Helen Burns

    Oh my treasured friend…. I read most of this with a lump in my throat as you unveiled these beautiful words. Thanks for your willingness to lean in, to learn your truth and to share it with us. You lead me with your brave words… you continually inspire me. I love you and value you more than words can say.

    Helen xoxo

    • http://www.idelette.com idelette

      Thank you for believing in me and loving me, just the way I am. You have been a safe and loving table for me and I will be forever grateful for your heart. I love you right back. SO much. xoxo

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  • http://twitter.com/grace_full_life Amy Hunt

    There’s so much here that you said…He covers my wounds with your words and seals the rawness with love. Almost instantaneously by what you said, friend. That growing together — out loud — it’s a remarkable moment to be in and let be. It’s rawness and authentic, and it’s sacrificing pride and perfection. It’s truth and it’s worship lived out. I think there’s really so much more in this post, and I think maybe what you said here is only the beginning — that maybe this isn’t a one month theme, but something He really wants you to pursue. My marriage needs this courage for me to RISE and for my groom to RISE — me in my authentic and him in his authentic and me in my acceptance of him growing as he’s imperfectly authentic and the same of him. Expecting each other to have it all figured out isn’t grace; it’s stifling. And so, this…it’s freedom. (I’m compelled to want to join you here…maybe a community to develop? There’s more He wants out of this…I’d love to talk ideas…)

    • http://www.idelette.com idelette

      Dear Amy, this RISE thing-I really believe it’s for all of us, male and female. I was reminded again today though especially that we are part of writing the chapter for women on the earth at the moment. But it’s not something we can do on our own. It’s a together season. I’d love to hear more of your heart. Much Love. xo

  • Holly

    Oh my dear Idelette, how I have missed your prophetic, clarion, poetic voice. And so, to read this, this singing manifesto of sorts…it makes my heart swell. I’ve just written an essay for submission elsewhere that is hauntingly similar to what you’ve shared here. I, too, spent years hashing it all out within the safe space of my head and heart and journals. I felt achingly dumb around folks who were better orators and I could not conceive how I fit into a world of words spoken out loud. Better that I just keep things to myself and ride the smoother waters I chose for myself. But to stand by “silently” while injustice and poverty and oppression paraded by, and, just as rebelliously, while grace and peace and joy lived, was to choose to stand in defiance to God’s invitation to join Him in the world. When all of that came tumbling in I HAD to rise on that wave of realization and embrace who God had made me to be..with all of my shortcomings and contradictions and fumblings. Surely God had created me for a reason. To not live into that reality was to thwart the dance of God. So I join you in rising. I will continue to share my words, here and there and everywhere. I will lay it all out, even if my voice is shaking. And I will be looking for you.

    • http://www.idelette.com idelette

      My dear word friend … thank you. Thank you for reading and commenting and looking for me here. I appreciate you. I don’t know how these things work, but I really love how Spirit can knit hearts together. How we really can catch ideas on the backs of each other’s words. You saying it the way only you can. And me doing the same. YES, let’s rise together. I am so grateful. xoxo

  • neritia

    Beautiful…rise my friend.

    • http://www.idelette.com idelette

      Dankie, vriendin! Lief jou so baie. Opstyg is maar net nie dieselfde nie, is dit? :)

  • Destiny

    So profound Idelette.
    Tina and I were chatting about writing last night and she told me I MUST read this post. I love the idea that we do not wait for all the abstractions to be fully formed before we talk write rise about. It’s freeing.

    • http://www.idelette.com idelette

      Thank you for reading, Des! I liked how you said that: “before we talk write rise about.” It’s freeing indeed. Here’s to keeping on keeping on. xoxo

  • http://www.facebook.com/colleen.gothman Colleen Gothman

    Wow! LOVE it on so many levels I can’t even begin to explain. Thank you for sharing. I’ve always loved Proverbs 31 but this just takes it to another level….much to meditate and pray about!

    • http://www.idelette.com idelette

      Thank you so much, Colleen! I love how God’s word can keep speaking and speaking and speaking … Alive, indeed. Much Love.

  • Monica T Smith

    You captured my present state! You do have words to express. I am procrastinating by dreaming and trying to get a visual picture of what my dreams and calling will look like because I am afraid of being in the process. I am afraid I will be consumed by it and won’t be able to get out of it if and when it becomes too much. Yet, it is also what I want. Go figure! Can’t be a disciple without paying the price.
    Clearly God knew what I needed to see and know at this very moment. Thank you for expressing my fear.

    Monica

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  • Rachel

    My first reaction your words: tears. My crying drew some looks, because I am currently sitting in the food court of the Denver, CO airport… but I didn’t care! My second reaction: I want to get up and dance! I did hold off on this impulse, lest the looks become truly concerned. Thank you for sharing, this was beautiful. I know I will be reflecting on these words for some time!

    • http://www.idelette.com idelette

      I love that you entered into your process right where you’re at! I tend to do that myself. I was talking to a mom in the school hallways just a few days ago and what she was telling me moved me so much, tears started rolling down my face just as the bell was about to ring for pick-ups. Great. But I love it too. I love that our hearts are soft like that. Thank you for reading and sharing your heart. If I was there with you, I would have danced with you! xo

  • http://twitter.com/grace_full_life Amy Hunt

    That book He wants me to write. I need to Rise from the fear that keeps me held back.

    I have read this again and again this week, friend. He’s tugging at my heart…to not be scared of “entering into the process.”

    • http://www.idelette.com idelette

      Amy, friend … yes. Please write it. Thank you for coming back and pondering with me. I’m so honored to be part of this sacred process.

  • Anonymous

    This is exactly what I needed to hear today. Thank you.

  • fiona lynne

    I’m catching up late, but Idelette, I so love your writing, and the heart that shines through it. I have always been an external processor – I can’t sit and think, I need to talk talk talk. And with that comes the fear that people will judge those unfinished, unsure, full-of-emotion conversations as my final comment. I need to process with others but finding people to do that processing with who will embrace my way of talking through something, who will give me safe space to wonder aloud, that is hard.
    But your writing today also gives me courage to keep rising while I still don’t have all the answers, the perfect theories, the ideas lined up in order. There’s too much darkness to just sleep through.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ann.manginelli Ann Davis Manginelli

    Your writing is beautiful. Your message is needed. Thanks to Rachel Held Evans for having your blog on her Sunday Superlatives and introducing me to your writing!!

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  • http://twitter.com/SoHeresUs Christie

    This is beautiful and exactly what I needed to hear. I’m really all about controlling the process and writing about the process and reading books and going to workshops and discussing the process, not so much the living it. The messy, confusing, bigger-than-me life God has put in front of me.

    I added it to my weekly favourites list: http://wp.me/p1HSzH-PN Thank you!

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