Let’s Talk About This Place

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A_Claire

It is a morning when I don’t have the emotional energy to run. To pound the pavement for an hour or more, pushing myself the way I normally do.

I feel thick with sadness and want only to wrap myself in my warm duvet, return to the safety of my dreams.

But as I curl onto my side, the breaking light of the morning sun stretches through the blinds and warms my cheeks, beckoning me into the day.

And I remember: This is our time. Mine and His.

I make Earl Grey tea and thread fluorescent green shoelaces through raspberry pink runners, fill water bottles high and secure them into my fuel belt, set running watch to zero.

My actions are slow, deliberately delaying the inevitable. If I can just manage 40 minutes, good enough. I don’t want to think. Don’t want to feel. Don’t want to pray.

I want to get it over with.

I slip out of the house quietly, leaving sleeping bodies nuzzled into the warmth of their beds.

As the cool air of morning clings to my bare arms, I walk briskly, noticing the rhythmic chatter of the birds, the pure blue of the cloudless sky, the distant jagged lines of the mountains. I break into a run, feet navigating potholes and grass verges. And I breathe into my sadness.

And for a while I just listen to the inhale and exhale of my breath.

But I know I can’t ignore Him for long. These Sunday morning runs are as much about prayer as they are about exercise. So after a few minutes I ask the question, “Okay God, what are we going to talk about?”

Let’s talk about this place.

I sigh, taking oxygen deep through my nose, into the depths of my lungs, out through my mouth.

I don’t want to go there again. To unravel it all and stare at the sharp fragmented pieces. To ask the same questions, face the same fears and dwell in the open wounds. I’m tired of talking about this place. I just want to run and forget. I want to let my body do the work.

He knows exactly where I am, of course. He knows better than I know myself. This is the arid ground I walk too often. Where the vastness of life and love and loss and despair meld into one huge knot and carry themselves on my shoulders. Where I feel overwhelmed and overrun by emotion.

Be present in the pain.

A warm trickle of sweat slips from my hairline down the side of my cheek. I push harder, settling into a rhythm, forgetting time, allowing myself to sink into my steps. And into my heart.

The pain. The weight of a parched marriage that has nearly ended several times, of the loss of a friend, of walking thin lines between depression and joy. Of building into my purpose, then wondering if that’s really my purpose at all. Thinking too much. Feeling too much.

The pain of not being able to let go. It’s with me when I wake; it’s with me when I sleep.

Let Me heal the wounds.

The wounds. The scars that chafe against my soul. There is comfort in hanging on to them; they are a familiar part of me. They remind me that I am alive, I am human. If I let go, am I letting go of my story?

Can you really heal them anyway, God? Aren’t so many of them the consequences of my actions—the cross I must bear? You don’t promise to take away our pain, You promise to use it for good.

And yet, these wounds they weigh me down.

Let Me carry the weight.

The thought is so sweet, so tempting. Yet everything inside me protests. To unburden the load would be to give up control, and trust that the answers will come, to give up the search for solutions.

Am I strong enough for that?

And so I hold on to this weight, this mass that pulls me down. I anchor myself to it as though it is the earth that supports me.

But it doesn’t belong to me.

Trust Me.

I look ahead to the final stretch of my route—the sharp incline that always leaves me fighting for air. My legs ache as I push against gravity, against the fearful thoughts that tell me to resist release, and the cry of my soul that says I can’t do it alone.

But I also notice that the sadness has eased, that the burden is just a little lighter than when I woke two hours earlier. I check my watch and realize I have been running for well over an hour.

When finally I collapse into the weedy blades of grass surrounding my home, I stare up at the sky, fingers resting against the rise and fall of my abdomen, and I smile.

This is the place. The place where God is close and I am vulnerable; where I know I am never alone.

This is the place of surrender.

_______________

Image credit: Guian Bolisay

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Claire De Boer
Hi, I’m Claire and though you may only see my words here once a month I’m part of the wonderful sisterhood of women who edit, upload and brainstorm behind the scenes of SheLoves. I was born and raised in England but pretty much see myself as a fully fledged Canadian. I spend just about all of my spare time blogging, editing and creating stories. I’ve also ventured into the world of teaching and mentor students in using writing as a tool for personal growth. My passion is to help others find the value and beauty in their stories and to find healing or self-awareness via journaling, memoir, or just "soul writing", as I like to call it. To learn more about my journey and the work I'm doing visit The Gift of Writing
Claire De Boer
Claire De Boer

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Claire De Boer
  • Bethany Olsen

    Oh Claire, every time you write on depression, it speaks to my soul. Don’t stop writing about it. Brave words from a beautiful person. <3

    • cjdeboer

      Thanks my friend!

  • Claire, I was captivated by this story of your running with God, because the breathlessness of the run was definitely superseded by your gasping, face-like-flint determination to lean into God even when it’s messy and painful.

    • cjdeboer

      That’s what we have to do right Michelle? – lean in no matter what..

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  • DJ Brown

    Thankyou for this, Claire. I’ve subscribed to your writing group and am about to begin reading/using your ebook. With this description of your own struggle, you’ve helped to motivate me.

    • cjdeboer

      I’m so glad Donna! I’d love to hear what you think 🙂

  • Thank you, Claire. This….”The thought is so sweet, so tempting. Yet everything inside me protests. To unburden the load would be to give up control, and trust that the answers will come, to give up the search for solutions. Am I strong enough for that? And so I hold on to this weight, this mass that pulls me down. I anchor myself to it as though it is the earth that supports me.” It is my life this very morning. Knowing I need to let go but holding onto it like it is mine to nurse. If I let go of the stress and pain, then I am letting myself trust. Oh, what joy to know I don’t struggle alone this morning. Praying for surrender, too.

    • cjdeboer

      Hi Nicole – you are definitely not struggling alone. Praying for surrender for you. xo

  • HBurns

    So brave and also so beautiful Claire… you’re conversation with God is gift to us all. We all need to be reminded of the stunning truth that God wants to carry our pain. I love you xox

    • cjdeboer

      Thank you so much dear Helen! I learn so much of it from you. xo

  • Bev Murrill

    And when you write, you write for so many others who can see the way through, because you write it for them to see…

    • cjdeboer

      Thank you Bev! That’s my intention – always. xo

  • Sandy Hay

    18 months ago my granddaughter got a dog, Mittens…who lives at my house and probably will all the days of her life (the dog’s life that is 😉 Because Mittens is roused easily I’ve changed up my morning prayer time. I’ve know for quite a bit that this is “not my place” to be with God, that it’s not our time, that i’m just settling for routine. Ok Claire, you’ve hit a nerve. Now it’s up to me to act. He’s already there waiting.

    • cjdeboer

      yes He is Sandy. Find your “Time” – it’s worth it 🙂

  • Nicole A. Joshua

    Your writing really communicates the rawness of your vulnerability and your journey. Your courage and authenticity is truly beautiful Claire. Thank you,

    • cjdeboer

      Thanks my friend! I so appreciate you. xo

  • Anne-Marie

    I’m right there with you, Claire. And have similarly felt a call to this reckoning. This letting God in when he of course knows exactly what the struggle is and what needs to be released. So sorry for the pain, so grateful for your courage. Grace to you.

    • cjdeboer

      Thanks so much Anne-Marie. I think we all know this place – grace to you too. xo

  • Lisa Burns

    It felt like honored, holy ground to read your words, Claire, and to be invited into this place of your open and vulnerable heart. Thank you for sharing. May you find continued healing in this place of surrender. Blessings.

    • cjdeboer

      Thank you Lisa!

  • You pulled us right into this intimate moment … Beautifully done.

    I feel proud of you, my friend.

    • cjdeboer

      Thank you my friend – your support always means so much to me. xo

  • Shaley Hoogendoorn

    Beautiful…”The scars that chafe away my soul” I know these resurfacing scars. I feel like I often reopen wounds so easily without meaning to. We have to relinquish them over and over again. I have visited this place before. Your words just reminded me that I was not made to carry the weight of worry and despair. Thank you.

    • cjdeboer

      You’re so right, Shaley – we have to relinquish the wounds over and over again, and we weren’t made to carry the weight. Thanks for reading 🙂

  • Erin Wilson

    Claire, I think you’re talking about emotional/spiritual weight here “And so I hold on to this weight, this mass that pulls me down. I anchor myself to it as though it is the earth that supports me.” But it exactly the way I experience my issues with physical weight. Lots for me to think about here…

    • cjdeboer

      Yes, Erin, I think this could apply to physical weight. I struggle with that too so perhaps it was subconsciously there in this piece there for me.

  • Oh Claire. This is just … wonderful. I felt like I was right there with you, the breath in your lungs.

    • cjdeboer

      Thank you, Lovely. xo

  • Jamie

    Thanks for sharing this story. I’ve just begun running, training for a 5K. My sister is a runner, for real– half marathons at least twice a year. Running makes her feel alive. But not me. It’s a chore the whole time. But I love reading stories like this that remind me of how different we all are and how we each encounter God. Running does not feel sacred to me and it does not make me feel closer to God, but I love that it does for you. And maybe someday, once I establish a rhythm, it will make me feel that way too.

    • cjdeboer

      Hi Jamie – I hope you come to that place where running makes you feel alive – it definitely takes some practice! Keep at it – it really does become something more uplifting after a while 🙂