We are girls with skinned knees
We are concrete and grace
Here’s to the girls with bruises and scars.
– Superchick, “Anthem”
Graceful suffering. Beautiful scars. Listening to “Anthem” recently, a phrase streaked images across my thoughts. “We are concrete and grace.” What a marvelous contrast. To be grace-dipped concrete, not a mere delicate flower. I like it.
My list of scars is long. Been close to death. Wanted to kill myself. But I survived. I’m marked–but I’m strong. So is the girl I know whose ex-husband would drug her and then sell her to men. So is the single mom working 80 hours a week and still struggling to make ends meet. Fill in the blank. You know someone like this. Someone who is concrete and grace.
To be grace-dipped concrete, not a mere delicate flower.
“God, who foresaw your tribulation, has specially armed you to go through it, not without pain but without stain.” – C.S. Lewis, “Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis”
Not without a loss of innocence, but without stain. Your purity retained.
I’m still angry at God. I’ll never understand. But, pushing through the bitterness, I want to believe what C. S. Lewis says: I am capable of surviving the memories of what happened and the pain of what will happen. Yes, it torments–to the point death seems the only relief–but I will survive.
Sometimes I believe it. Sometimes I scoff. Sometimes I just feel dead already.
Concrete. Still rough around the edges, perhaps chipped and pockmarked, but it’s not going anywhere. Concrete may not be the prettiest thing around, but it’s rock-solid in what it’s about.
Concrete girl don’t fall down
In this broken world around you
Don’t stop thinking
Don’t stop feeling now
Don’t break down my concrete girl
Grace. I’m tempted to say God has infused every moment of the dark years with riotous beauty and rich mercy. Such would be the more spiritual, inspirational thing to write. But there’s nothing spiritual about lying to appear more godly or mature. So I won’t.
But there’s nothing spiritual about lying to appear more godly or mature.
Some moments during the nightmare held bits of light. Other moments were pure darkness. I won’t call good what God says is evil. Grace may come in the morning, but there is no goodness in the acts of evil. I don’t think there is much good in mental illness either.
It’s hard to see the pain behind the mask
Bearing the burden of a secret storm
Sometimes she wishes she was never born.
– Martina McBride, “Concrete Angel”
We must draw from the ugly as well as the good in order to make art. A beautiful life is not confined to flowers, rainbows, and smiles. I believe it is one marked by redemption. Struggle. Sweat. Sleepless nights. Even thoughts of suicide.
A true artist is not one who is free from issues or baggage but one who is actively finding and putting together their broken pieces. Even as another wound strikes and more blood is spilled. If we waited until we healed to make good art, there would be none.
Here’s to the ones who don’t give up.
My goal is not to be “whole” (impossible if you are an amputee–though is it possible for anyone?), but to pursue beauty through the darkness. And some days it’s just to stay alive. So I write, cry, and groan bits of prayers. Even when I dig deep inside and find more broken pieces, I won’t give up. At least not tonight.
We are not what you think
We are fire inside.
Here’s to the ones who don’t give up