Our lifelong nostalgia, our longing to be reunited with something in the universe from which we now feel cut off . . . is . . . the truest index of our real situation.
C. S. LEWIS
When the Farmer comes in after eleven o’clock from the field, he carries it in on his grimy shirt, a few pounds of dirt. I wonder if he feels the whole gritty world on his shoulders.
He finds me in the rocking chair at the window in lamp light. There’s a book in my lap. He has no words. Before I can find words of my own, before I can say anything, before I see it coming, the tired guy kneels down on the floor. He takes my bare feet in his hands and starts kneading in these slow circles all across my weariness.
Slow circles across the bottom of my foot, pressing away the day with his hand, pressing back what hurts with his earth-lined field hands. He looks up at me. Why do I want to pull back, pull away?
Why is it so hard to receive? Why is it so hard to believe you are believed in? Why can it be easier to pour out than to let yourself be loved? What in the busted world am I afraid of?
He gently strokes my tired arches, long slow strokes, then deep, pressuring circles. And I try to simply breathe. Letting yourself be loved is an act of terrifying vulnerability and surrender. Letting yourself be loved is its own kind of givenness. Letting yourself be loved gives you over to someone’s mercy and leaves you trusting that they will keep loving you, that they will love you the way you want to be loved, that they won’t break your given heart.
I don’t know what to say. I want to distract him from loving me, want to ask him about wheat and moisture and straw, about the corn in the bin and weather forecasts and if there’s more rain coming across the lakes.
He winks, hushes my rising angst with his gentle touch, his hands working out the ache across the soles.
A day can utterly exhale under someone’s touch. And to let yourself be loved means breaking down your walls of self-sufficiency and letting yourself need and opening your hands to receive. Letting yourself receive love means trusting you will be loved in your vulnerable need; it means believing you are worthy of being loved.
Why can that be so heartbreakingly hard? Isn’t giving love sometimes infinitely easier than receiving it? Does chronic soul amnesia make me keep forgetting that if He believes in me, I am enough, because He is?
All I feel is I don’t deserve love like this—and I don’t. It’s a gift, and in the pure givenness, there’s pure communion. I yelled at a kid this morning. A son needed a ride into town, and I sighed too loud and said not today. I didn’t read aloud tonight, and a little girl went to bed a bit shattered.
I know he can feel it, without need of words, my regrets knotted right deep into me.
Why are you afraid to be loved?
The Farmer’s kneeling down in front of me with my filthy feet in his work-etched hands. There’s a kind of mutual surrender necessary to communion, this decision made to receive the pouring out that I hadn’t realized before. He cups my bare feet. Everywhere, there can be a willingness to be given. Everywhere, there can be the possibility of a vulnerable communion.
Koinonia is always, always the miracle.
He looks like Jesus kneeling down in front of a woman caught in adultery, and it comes like a slow grace, how Jesus handled her critics: He deeply unsettled the comfortable and deeply comforted the unsettled. The woman grabbed by the Pharisees was given what I myself desperately need. Before all the pointing fingers, Jesus looked up at the wounded and rewrote her fate: “You’re guilty, but not condemned. You’re busted up, but believed in. You’re broken, but beloved.”
Whatever you’re caught in, I make you free. Whatever you’re accused of, I hand you pardon. Whatever you’re judged of, I give you release. Whatever binds you, I have broken. All sin and shame and guilt and lack I have made into beauty and abundance.
Who gets over a love like this? In the midst of trials, Jesus guarantees the best trial outcome: you’re guilty, but you get no condemnation. No condemnation for failing everyone, no condemnation for not doing everything, no condemnation for messing up every day.
Who gets over a release like this? You are Mine and I am yours, and all I have is yours and all you have is Mine. I marry you to the mystery of whole perfection, and I carry all your brokenness to divorce you from all despair.
I can feel it along my touched fractures like light getting in:
NO MATTER WHAT THEY’RE SAYING, EVERYONE’S ASKING, “CAN YOU JUST LOVE ME?”
Jesus is not merely useful; He’s ultimately beautiful. When I see Jesus as merely useful, it’s tempting to want to make Him move my world. When I see He’s beautiful, it’s the heart that’s moved, and this begins to change my world. When Jesus is only useful, He’s a gadget or pill to make life better. But when Jesus is seen as truly beautiful, He’s a joy that makes us live better . . . love better.
Jesus looks plainly beautiful in this man tonight.
And he’s planting something in me: the grace of a love like this. A grace that will grow, as grace always does.
Taken from The Broken Way by Ann Voskamp. Copyright © [2016 by Ann Voskamp.] Used by permission of Zondervan.
Ann Voskamp's the wife of one fine, down-to-earth farmer; a book-reading mama to a posse of seven; and the author of the One Thousand Gifts and The Broken Way. Named by Christianity Today as one of fifty women most shaping culture and the church today, Ann knows unspoken brokenness and big country skies and an intimacy with God that touches wounded places.