Monday, April 22, 2013

sucking chest wound

In high school some friends and I got to be part of a disaster preparedness drill for a local children's hospital.  We were each assigned a trauma injury, rolled in on gurneys, and the doctors had to deal with all of us at once.  I had the "sucking chest wound," you know, the kid they're supposed to give up on because she has minutes to live anyway, and they're more likely to save someone else.  So a lot of doctors came by and left quickly, but I thoroughly milked every moment of gurgling and gasping like the quintessential melodramatic teenage hollywood wannabe who got to replay her death scene over and over.  It was fabulous.

nerd moment.

So when a tornado passes over your house, it isn't that the wind is so strong that it sucks your roof off.  The speed of the wind causes the pressure to drop and difference in pressure causes the air inside your house to push upwards on the roof.  It's more like the air inside the house is trying to rush out to fill the void outside.

the synthesis?

I have these moments where I tangibly feel that same sucking chest wound. The difference in pressure between my outside and inside is so intense I feel like I have my mouth stuck on the suction end of a vacuum hose and and I'm being turned inside out because of the negative pressure.

I had one of these moments recently and all I could do was sit in my car and sob.  At some point though, I've come to realize that the fundamental nature of these moments is longing.  The anticipation of something like marriage, or heaven, or children, or spring, or anything good is so arousing that if you  drift away from or even lose the focus of your longing, then the void left is overwhelming.  I'm not being trite when I say that I completely understand why people drink or have sex or do drugs or become workaholics - anything to feed the black hole created by the longing.

I love cooking, and no, I'm not changing the subject.  Someone once asked me if I were a good cook.  I find that a strange question.  I love to eat what I make, but I suspect I'm a terrible cook.  What I love about cooking, though is how much it teaches me about the art of waiting on God.  Emmett's grandfather taught me how to make jam, and I spent hours in his kitchen learning how to wait for just the right moment.  Too soon and it never gels, too long and turns out unpleasantly firm.    I'm a rusher though, and without proper training (sometimes even despite my proper training), all my jams would be a runny mess.

I have the same problem in life.  If I have a question, then I want an answer and then the conversation is over.  It isn't that I don't care about people, so much as I don't know how to go about the art of building relationship.  Emmett was wonderful at this.  We would have a question we needed answered, something as simple as 'when are you arriving.'  Emmett would make a call and an hour later we would have our answer.  I would get so frustrated, and he would look at me like I was nuts because for him, you can't just ask a question.  It has to be just right.

In cooking, as in life, I'm really bad at sensing the 'just rights.'  Too many plans here, too little self-control there, a little over-indulgnece here, a smattering of conceit just then, a missed social cue, or a preoccupation with my own agenda, and before you know it, my longings have become so blurry that the same old sucking chest wound appears out of nowhere.  A gradual buildup of missed cues and 'just rights' becomes a landslide of unfulfilled longing set loose by a single pebble.  Not enough time to wash my hair or being tired or feeling inadequate next to someone more beautiful/talented/hip/funny/etc - any of these pebbles can trigger an overwhelming rush of emotion.

I find myself learning the art of longing, of waiting, of seeing the 'just rights.'  Balancing the promise of a new creation with the reality of sin is an art that escapes me.  How to live in the tangible joy of the promises of Christ without feeding that insatiable sucking chest wound is not an art I've mastered.


  1. this was perfect for me tonight. I don't feel better. But normal. But understood.

  2. Oh Wendy! I relate to you so much! You somehow put into words exactly what is going on in my head and heart, and help me understand myself a little better. The longing, the void, the tension between the now and the not yet...yes.