The rocks are spread out on the laundry room floor this morning -- all those stones scrawled with the hurts and burdens of a hundred women.
I turn the rocks in my hands, weeping for all the ways that we cast stones at ourselves, making ourselves believe we've never been good enough, and we never will be.
Maybe these are your burdens, too? The ones that boss you around, hold you back, pin you down, make you hide? These were words, written on rocks, and they touch such a tender place in me:
"I am afraid that I'll disappoint God."
"I'm not special."
"I'm not pretty. I'm not enough."
"I have stupid ideas."
"Others say it better. Who the hell cares about me? I've got nothing."
"Discouragement because I don't know anyone who would endorse me."
Self-accusation is like dirty laundry. And dear Lord? Can you help us separate the lights from the darks?
Soul-brave women dropped their rocks into wicker baskets on Saturday night at the Jumping Tandem retreat in Ashland, Nebraska. I stood up front, a nervous wreck with a microphone and a shaky voice, telling a room full of God-sized dreamers about the rough-hewn burdens I've carried, burdens that have tried to keep me from laying hold of God's best for me. How I've been a fear-a-holic, an approval seeker, a people pleaser.
I confessed how I have to lay down rocks every day.
And the women in the seats nodded their heads, making me feel brave. Because they are like you and me: They have had enough of being bullied by fear, discouragement, comparison, unbelief, and a hundred other "Not Enoughs."
We were a room full of people, stubbornly saying this: We've had Enough of the "Not Enoughs."
And that room full of sojourners named the bullies that shout on the inside. They wrote the names of the bullies on the rocks, then pledged to talk back to the bullies when they try to pick fights again.
There's something very courageous about calling out the bullies of fear and regret and self-disqualification.
It's like saying, "Hey fear, I'm onto you."
Our shoulders were not made broadly enough to carry burdens alone. We need soul-sisters and soul-brothers to help us drop our burdens at the feet of Jesus. Emily and Holley and Lisa-Jo helped me carry the rocks away, because they were too heavy for me to carry alone.
"I was scared to let my rock go," one woman told me afterward. "I was scared because I've been holding onto it for so long. I didn't know how to let it go."
I reached a hand up to brush a tear from her cheek. I nodded. "I know. I know. But we can do this together. I believe in you. Because I believe in Jesus, who lives in you."
On Sunday afternoon, I hefted that bucket of rocks into the back of the car, next to the suitcase. I carried home a bunch of lies, and my husband carried them in to the house.
This morning, I laid them out on the laundry room floor, and thanked the good Lord that He still moves stones.
And one of these days, when the snow stops flying here in Iowa, the girls and I will take those rocks here:
And we will throw every one of them in the lake, letting them sink to the bottom.
Dear friend on the other side of the screen:
Jesus is not intimidated by a pile of rocks. He might just ask you to use a rock to slay a giant. And He’s been known to roll certain stones away.
Maybe you need Jesus to roll some stones away today, to resurrect a few things for you. How can I pray for you today?
(Rocks in basket photos taken by Diane Bailey and Sandra Heska King)
Other photos from our retreat (taken by Laura Rath, Laura Boggess and Nasrene Fynewever):