I don’t know anything, I have nothing solid under me … but I trust You.
Five years ago, I walked the grey streets of Oxford, my mind gnawing on something that one of my tutors had said to me over coffee. Being away from home and all you know will make you feel the edges of yourself. He meant that I need not cling to my conservative moral beliefs while I was out from under the eyes of people who knew me. I think he was worried that I was naive and easily led, rather than a tenacious soul who poked at ideas to make sure I knew what they really were before—or even after—believing them. Thankfully, I had spent many months and years thinking over the things I believed and why. I may have appeared fresh-faced and over-trusting, but underneath, I had at least a bit of perspicacity.
My tutor was right about something, however—Oxford did make me feel the edges of myself. I knew where I stopped and the ancient stones began. I knew—perhaps more intimately than ever before—how small I was. I knew I was nothing special, yet simultaneously unique and necessary, because God had chosen to form me and bring me to life at a given point in His story.
Since my term in the City of Dreaming Spires, various events and seasons in life have made me feel the edges of myself. In Oxford, it was both the unfamiliarity of the city and the suddenness of the adventure given to me. The city was established and bold, ever busy and meandering like the Thames. It made me feel young and small, but adventurous and curious—much like a child who is afraid of the dark, but unafraid to ask ’embarrassing’ questions or play make-believe as if it were real. I felt solid, at home, present in Oxford.
Other experiences have made my edges known in precisely the opposite way. I have felt like the proverbial fish out of water, disoriented and unable to think clearly, let alone ponder slowly and deeply. Sensory overload and all-things-new have made me cling to God, knowing my best defence was to take a deep breath. Inhale. Lord have mercy. Exhale. Christ have mercy.
In the midst of feeling uprooted I pray frantically, I don’t know anything, I have nothing solid under me … Jesus, anchor my soul, keep me from drifting. I don’t know, but I trust You. His steadying hand isn’t always tangible. Sometimes I flail while He holds me, until I tire out enough to hear His whispered, Peace. Be still. It’s His call to stop thrashing and know that I am held. I am loved more than I can understand with my questioning mind. When I don’t know, I feel that my edges are dull—yet discernible. The Father’s lithe hands grasp my slippery self and He holds me secure, bringing me to a place of quiet rest in the middle of uncertainty.
When I feel most like myself, when I feel at home, my edges are distinct and crisp. When I feel least like myself, adrift in the scary ocean, my edges are still known, but blunted or warped. In both cases I am being shaped by the Maker. He helps me to grow deeper, healthier, and more like Himself. He shaves off my warty tendencies and calloused feelings to reveal that He is pruning me—from the edges inward—into His image. Christ have mercy.