What happens when the *Thing* doesn’t work out?
(A relationship, a friendship, love, a job, a career, a career step, something you endeavor to do with great passion…. something you think you’ve been “called” to)
What happens when the *Thing* that’s animated your imagination, given your heart direction, and given your actions a deeper (more far reaching) trajectory, doesn’t work out at all?
Different from never happening, what happens when the *Thing* finally presents itself as a wide open door of possibility then starts to go very badly, once you’re through the door. And then instead of changing or getting better, it ends.
When the *Thing* ends it is a painful flail in slow-motion, a stagger into the surreal.
Color, flavor, light, and movement all drain from the basin of your present reality.
Days may accumulate into a week of bewilderment.
And when that one bewildering week turns into two, you start to see yourself in a way you never have before.
When the bottom of YOU drops out, and the strings in the knots and in the elaborate weaves you’ve woven for yourself begin not to just unravel, but disintegrate between your confused fingertips, you start to get real with yourself real quick.
Illusions tumble away and you really start to *see* yourself. Unclear are your past motivations or reasons for doing anything, but cuttingly clear are the expressions and gestures and missteps and messiness of the body you see before you in a mirror, and of course the vivid mess of multicolored shreds and strings piled at your feet.
That is what happened when my *Thing* didn’t work out. And now, on the other side of hope—on the other side of all of that animating wonder for the thing that was not to be—I wonder why (at all) the thing took shape in me. Why did the hope or idea take shape with such certainty in me? It is easier to discount the truth—the realness— the validity of the thing into whose arc I threw myself. But along side of the failure, it still stirred up truth, and realness and validity in me and those things leave room for purpose. So maybe doubting the thing is not the way to examine it, or even to doubt at all, but to examine my hope, my certainty of the outcome.
Many of my most beloved sayings are those that describe exactness in the mess, beauty in the chaos, knowing that life should not be organized but radical, that we are all together fully messed up and are wrecks, and are also fully good. We are not simply “either’s” and “or’s”, but “both’s” and “and’s”. We are things riven, but also beautifully given.
And so I share this poem by Christian Wiman. Please give it a read. It’s also beautiful read aloud, so give that a whirl if you will. You can also hear the audio of Christian’s reading by clicking here
“Every Riven Thing”
God goes, belonging to every riven thing he’s made
sing his being simply by being
the thing it is:
stone and tree and sky,
man who sees and sings and wonders why
God goes. Belonging, to every riven thing he’s made,
means a storm of peace.
Think of the atoms inside the stone.
Think of the man who sits alone
trying to will himself into a stillness where
God goes belonging. To every riven thing he’s made
there is given one shade
shaped exactly to the thing itself:
under the tree a darker tree;
under the man the only man to see
God goes belonging to every riven thing. He’s made
the things that bring him near,
made the mind that makes him go.
A part of what man knows,
apart from what man knows,
God goes belonging to every riven thing he’s made.