When the gaping hole first yawned before me, when I was very first pushed into the shadowed abyss not so fondly described as divorce in February 2013, I was given a lot of advice. A lot of opinions. A lot of encouragement, support, and truth.
But nothing so true as these five tiny words one friend shared with me.
You won't walk this perfectly.
At the time, I thought, of course not.
Even as I strived to do just that.
But she knew. Because she'd been shoved into the same reluctant hole, she'd been swallowed by the same bottomless pit, had gotten sucked in as woman and climbed out as superwoman. She knew. She knew the pit well, knew the monsters inside it, knew how the wind howled with lies, knew the emotions that lurked dragons full of fire, knew the broken fingernails accompanying the claw marks on the walls.
It was the best thing she could have said to me.
Because as I stumbled, tripping, aching, climbing, falling, breaking, pushing, trying, those words echoed in my head. When I gave up and wallowed in the cold bottom, I heard them again. When I fashioned makeshift ladders out of idols and climbed on my own strength and fell because they couldn't support me, when I broke again too, when I cursed and wailed and pummeled the walls and snapped back at the wind, those words were true, always with me.
At first those words almost haunted with the unmet, unspoken challenge. You won't walk this perfectly. Almost a depressing tease, serving to make anti-logic and human survival instincts rise in a bloody bidding war. Sure I will. Sure I can. I have to. How else do you survive the damp dark pit? If I am not perfect, then how do I ever get out? I have to do it right. Do it well. Do it with grace. Do it. Me. I have to.
But you can't. And that's when the anti-logic and human survival instincts morph into something even more dangerous - despair. And you just thought the wind hollered lies before, now the roar is deafening and you turn to all that is false just to hold on. The equivalency of scraping the dirt out from under your fingernails just to plunge them back into the earth in a desperate attempt for a grip. For substance. For clarity.
For a stronghold.
But the strongholds have you now, and guilt and regret and failure and shame spin into a pit-tornado of condemnation. And the pit, the pit you despised but had almost grown comfortable in its predictability now is a whirlwind of terror, with no escape.
Still - you won't walk this perfectly.
And that's when the words, once a challenge, become a comfort. They aren't to spur you toward striving, they're to sate you with satisfaction. With peace. Relief.
You won't walk this perfectly.
And thank God for that.
Literally. Thank Him.
Because until you scoot over and allow Him room in the pit with you, you'll never climb out. Never be free. Never feel sunshine on your face again. He'll eventually boost you out, but first He wants to just sit with you. In that pit He has you all to Himself, your company, your heart, your hurt, your tears. Your failures and sin and memories and doubts.
And the dark isn't so scary, and the wind isn't nearly so loud, and the dragons retreat in His light. The monsters fade and your nails grow long and clean because you aren't so frantically digging anymore, you're safe. Even in the midst. Even in the shadows. Safe.
My friend knew I wouldn't walk this perfectly. Because she didn't. Because you can't.
And the good news is, no one, especially not Christ, expects you to. He doesn't want perfection, He wants access to your pit. No monster is fiercer than Jesus in warrior-mode, and when His daughters bleed, He's on it. Rest assured, He's on it.
From one pit-dweller to another, let me tell you this in truth and love. You won't walk this perfectly.
So just scoot over.