I wake up with my hair on fire
I need something to water me down
I can’t keep walking on this wire
I gotta move, I gotta come around
~from Only Love, Grace Potter~

I am comfortable with the short end of the stick when it comes to emotions. I am practiced at numb, I am good at comfortable, I've made my peace with distant. I am in a recovery group called "Wounded Heart" for abuse, and the stronger emotions are there on my list. Anger. Disgust. Passion. Delight. Joy. I wake up with my hair on fire, and I need something to water me down. It's not the shower I often forego to tend the children needy around me. It's not some emotional salve I've bought in this world. It's the Word, washing away the torrent of my anger and my fears.

I sit in a friend's church and listen to a sermon on the Beatitudes. And the passage I am memorizing rises out of the red letters like a sentinel flag of freedom:
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you." (Matthew 5:9-12)
Peacemaker. It's been one of my "labels" since childhood. Always, always I try to find a way to make peace. Even if it means placing contempt on myself, taking blame, shifting it onto my shoulders, freeing others from it.

I am also an expert at compassion. I learned it as a nurse, but built brick walls between the compassion I felt and the tragedy of others. Sparing my own heart. Keeping my wounds silent, secret, fulminating in their dark places where only God and I could see the depth of the pain in my soul. I have known compassion as a mother, and I've gone about it methodical - what is your problem and how can I fix you? I haven't sat in emotion with my kids. I regret the moments I've been nurse/mother instead of mother, the hen who gathers her chicks and dries tears as tears slide down her own feathered face, regretted the ache of my children that I cannot join, for fear of cracking open a box grown pregnant and dangerous with years of keeping the lid on it.  I don't join in emotion with my husband, except for those God-given moments of married oneness when often it is tears, tears I know not whether they are of joy or sorrow or repentance or miracle. When he is angry, I am calm. When I feel rejected, I pile it onto my shoulders like the embers of the past, burning but burning on calloused skin, skin leathery and impenetrable from years of piling on embers and scarring the shoulders.

I've heard the whistle in an empty bottleneck that breathes life into the truth that I cannot comfort myself. I've bathed myself in the carcinogenic smoke billowing from my cigarette, a sorry patch for the anxiety of spirit deep within. I've seen the despair in the empty bottom of a pill bottle, knowing the false peace offered there has expired until the next refill date.

Now, I watch the man stumbling home from the bar where he nurses his wounds, and I wonder if he hears the empty whistle of the bottle just emptied, if the wounds are already seeping darkness back into his soul as he staggers home incoherent.

I watch the smokers huddled in groups outside buildings where their self-medication is not welcome, and wonder if they feel like rejects, know that this quick kill of pain will dissipate in seconds and leave them marooned on their island of no hope.

I take my antidepressant faithfully and wait for the monthly refill.

In the midst of it, my hair is on fire. I feel angry. I feel grief, deep grief like the grief when someone dies and you cannot be with them and it kills you second by second as the wracking sobs herald your powerlessness. I've felt passion unfulfilled and hatred at those who won't fulfill it.

I am on fire.

Your pain seems insignificant in the grand spectrum of the world, of reality, of history. Japan washed over with waves of devastation, and you bring your paltry sorrow to the Mercy Seat? You ask for justice when others mourn what was taken by a force of nature, something they never saw coming, the grief penetrable, visible in every picture emerging from a nation wracked with grief? You cry over your miscarriage. You ask for justice in your city. You beg for Him to take your cause in a meaningless dispute? Yet He is God who hears all, loves all, and is forever the protector of justice and love.

Yet silent. Hand over mouth, trying to put the cap back on the bottle of emotion, trying to figure out where God intends me to spill this. Where does this emotion fit, in a world of Godly mothering, wifing, friending, daughtering?

It comes to me like an epiphany through the mist on the roadside and the mournful drip of the snow through the trees as winter breathes it's last mournful foggy breath into the warm wind of spring.
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in time of need. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. The nations rage, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice, the earth melts. Be still, and know that I am God. The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. (from Psalm 46)
I remember the song sung in clear sweet soprano at the funeral of a child for whom I let down the brick walls built to protect my compassionate heart, a child who walked fearlessly through the gates of death and into the arms of Jesus, right in front of my eyes.

Be still and know that He is God
Be still and know that He is holy
Be still, O restless soul of mine
Bow before the Prince of peace
Let the noise and clamor cease

Be still and know that He is God
Be still and know that He is faithful
Consider all that He has done
Stand in awe and be amazed
And know that He will never change
Be still

Be still, and know that He is God

Be still; Be speechless

Be still and know that He is God
Be still and know He is our Father
Come rest your head upon His breast
Listen to the rhythm of His unfailing heart of love
Beating for His little ones
Calling each of us to come
Be still, Be still
~Be Still and Know, Steven Curtis Chapman~

When you feel powerless. When you feel rejected. When you feel like you have completely lost your voice. When there is nothing you can say to fix it, to make it better, to make it right. When there is nothing you can do to destroy the lies being spread around. When you feel vulnerable. When you feel weak. When your passion brews up a smoking, billowing fire of anguish deep in your soul.

You have a voice.

You are not powerless.

You are right. You can't fix it.

Sit there. Feel it. Let it sink in.

And know there is always someone listening.

Always someone who will have His revenge for the righteous.

Always someone standing for the victim.

Always someone participating in your pain.

You are not alone.

Your voice cries loud to heaven, to the One who hears. Your spirit groans when words fail you, and the Holy Spirit transmutes those wordless depths to the One who hears (Romans 8:26). The One who cares. The One whose holiness takes your speechlessness and turns it into the power of life itself (II Corinthians 12:9).