I just finished a long overdue conversation with a dear friend. She is the only person who I have really known and connected with my entire time in Japan. We started out on AIM chat before I came to Japan, and we have seen many different aspects of our relationship. She has seen and shared almost all my struggles in Japan. It's easy to take people for granted and forget how important they should be to you. And I'm thankful that tonight I remembered that she is one of my "important people."
In the course of our conversation, I was struck again at our condition. I have a group of very dear friends here in Japan. We are all battle scarred by our time here. We have struggled and fought and gotten lost together. We get confused, and go off track together. And we laugh and cry and fall down together. And many times we do the same things apart. Half the time we aren't sure if we even like each other. But we always, always come back to each other. We are spiritual sisters, tied with bonds of love and grace and faith and pain that probably couldn't be cut even if we tried.
We love God, we love Japan, and we love each other. We often don't know how to express our love, and sometimes we allow it to get warped, but we do love.
It's good to remember sometimes.
But in all of this, we all struggle with our human condition. We each have our own personal struggles, the pitfalls unique to each of us. We are each attacked at the very core of who we are with deadly precision by our common Enemy, who wants nothing more than to tear us down, demean us and render us in-effective. We each have our Arrows, designed to wound us so we are unable to Live.
As we are struggling with our own Arrows, it's easy to forget that the ones we love also have Arrows of their own. I know I forget all the time. I assume I'm the only one who doesn't have my act together, I'm the only one who falls down like this and I'm the only one with this pain inside that I can't get rid of. And so I get frustrated when my community isn't there to help me, or doesn't have the answers or can't support me. It's easy for me to think "forget it." and cut off my lines of communication. Or question whether I'm actually part of the "group" or not. I devalue myself, and my sisters. And the Enemy smiles in triumph.
But tonight I have been graced with a small window of clarity. A vision of our reality.
I see a battlefield, and my and my sisters are on it. It's the aftermath of a battle. We have survived, but not without wounds. In fact, we all look like porcupines, we have Arrows sticking out of us in many directions. A couple of us are walking, holding on to someone who can support us just a little. A couple of us are down on our knees, unable to move because of the wounds we can't reach ourselves. And we are all unable to really help each other. Any attempt we could make to remove each others Arrows would only end in the Arrow being moved around and causing a greater wound. Those on the ground can see those walking, and feel the jealousy or feelings of betrayal. "Why can you walk? Why can't you help me? What did I do to deserve this?" Those walking can see those on the ground and feel fear and frustration and hurt. "There's nothing I can do for you. Why can't I help you? I'm barely standing. Why can't you see that I'm injured too? What do I do when I can walk but you can't?" Only none of us realize that our vision is clouded, or even if we do, we can't change our feelings.
It's frustrating. It's painful. It's full of questions we don't have answers to. We all scream out at one point or another "Why God?"
And in the midst of this vision, I see a prayer for my sisters and I (and for others who live in the same reality.) I see the gentle figure of Jesus, walking among us. And He stops beside each of us, and places His hands gently upon our heads. And He offers us healing, and helps us to stand. Beside Him is the Spirit, who has come with new armor (to replace our battered ones, or to give us new were we had none at all.) Our tears flow again, but this time with joy. Our wounds have been addressed, and we have been filled with life. And being filled with Life, we can become Life givers to those around us. Restored, we can finally be who we were meant to be. Instead of porcupine pin-cushions, we are realized as Brides of Christ. And we can embrace each other fully and joyfully for the first time, because there are no longer Arrows in the way. This is Life. This is my prayer.
I debated a bit if I should post this or not. This is a deeply personal image, not only for me, but for my sisters, who I know will read this. And careless words can wound deeper.
But this is a needed prayer. We need healing. We need deeply personal images. We need hope.
So in hope I will post this, more vulnerable than usual. And in hope I will pray, that someday this vision will become reality. I pray for the healing of my sisters. I pray for the future of Japan. I pray for our wounded hearts desperately seeking life to the fullest.
I pray from my heart, for the first time in a long time. I pray with passion for those I love. I pray to hear the voice of Jesus asking "What is it you want? Do you wish to be healed?" And I pray for a season of Joy to refresh us all and the arm of Blessing stretched out over us, for we too are children of Abraham.
And today I rejoice, because today I have a prayer to pray and a God who hears.
And I Remember that I have already been blessed, with such beautiful sisters, whom I love.