I hope you judged The Beautiful Ache by its cover last week, and felt drawn to explore it. There’s something so beautiful about it to me, both the title and the cover. And when I first saw the book several years ago, it did what every good book should do. It completely grabbed me. Drew me in for a closer look. And a quick glance at the back cover and Prologue was all it took to land that little paperback on my bookshelf at home instead of at the bookstore.
Here’s what grabbed my heart after the title and cover caught my eye.*
You’ve felt it. It’s the ache that whispers, “There’s more.”
It’s the pang that strikes when loss is sudden, or suddenly realized. It’s the stealthy tears that fall when something stunningly grand (or nakedly simple) sets holiness on clear display. It arrives with the crickets chirping on a June night, or a bright pink sunset slung low and wide across the sky, or the sound of a child’s sleepy whisper. [Or at Christmastime. …] It lingers in memory-infused music and nibbles the edges of silent hope. It’s evoked by a longed-for touch or a word well spoken, delivered just in time.
I don’t have to ask if you know what I’m talking about. You do. You’ve felt the ache too.
Hardly a day goes by that I don’t feel it … that fleeting pang that pierces and pries open the heart but doesn’t nearly satisfy. It whets the appetite but doesn’t begin to fill it. It unmasks beauty but not completely. It reeks of truth but stops just short of telling all.
The trick is learning to allow the ache to take me where it wants to go, to tutor and tantalize my mostly numb senses with its laser-sharp aim. The challenge is not to kill it before it fully arrives or dismiss it before it is ready to go.
So what if the next time it came you opened your heart just a little wider … and offered the ache a standing invitation to visit whenever it liked, to drop in anytime it was in the neighborhood? What if you denied the urge to fill the crevice or crater-like space it makes with activity or noise or food or drink—and simply sat with it for a while?
However the ache touches your heart, it is a good thing. It is meant to entice and unsettle you, and draw you closer to the God who truly satisfies. The beautiful ache points us beyond. It is not meant to be ignored. So when it comes—and it will—why not move in closer and ask the ache what true and terrible secrets it knows and longs to tell you? You won’t regret it.
*Taken from Prologue and back cover of The Beautiful Ache: Finding the God Who Satisfies When Life Does Not, by Leigh McLeroy
There is so much to say about this, and much that we’ve said about it in previous posts. If you’re just joining the UnbridledACTS Journal, you’ll find hints and whispers of this theme running throughout. One, in particular, comes to mind … and I hope you’ll take a moment to read it (or re-read it, for those of you who already follow the blog). Your heart really is trying to tell you something, and though it may be painful to hear some of what it needs you to hear, you might also find yourself thrilled to reconnect with long-lost parts of yourself that you’ve missed hearing from. (www.unbridledacts.org/listen-to-your-heartits-trying-to-tell-you-something)
I want to be careful not to unload too much at once here. Some of you may be ready for a tidal wave of new understanding about this, but smaller doses are probably best for others who are just beginning to explore and reconnect with the deep things of the heart. It can feel a bit overwhelming at first. And that’s the whole purpose of the UnbridledACTS Journal … to share the deep things of our hearts and what we are learning as a community, so that you know you’re not alone with the things of your heart. For some reason, we tend to think we’re the only one who struggles, hurts, or messes up … and the shame wrapped around that lie keeps us from opening up with the truth. For a great post on that topic, check out our Truth or Dare post at www.unbridledacts.org/truth-or-dare.
Learning to live full, satisfying, and rewarding lives takes honesty and intentionality. It takes courage to admit to ourselves that we have absolutely no idea how to change, instead of continuing to employ life-long devices that only end up accentuating the very thing we’re trying to alleviate. That ache. The one that won’t be satisfied by our devices. The longing we despise, until somebody comes along with a book, or a blog, or a conversation that echoes the cries of our own hearts, and we feel slightly unnerved, but mostly comforted, to realize we’re not alone, and that we don’t really want to be alone anymore. It was just a device. All we knew to do. And our hearts instinctively respond, “Please tell me more. Please tell me another way is possible. For me. Please help me find it ….”
That’s what we want you to know. There is more. The ache in your heart is trying to tell you so. We feel it with you, and we’re learning that doing something different is possible. It’s possible for you, too … and we hope that what you read here will help you find your way.
Thanks, once again, to Leigh McLeroy for her beautiful words … and her beautiful book … The Beautiful Ache. The opening excerpt is from her Prologue and back cover copy, rearranged just a bit to facilitate the flow of her beautiful message. For more about Leigh, please visit her website at www.leighmcleroy.com, and explore more of her “powerful writing [that] offers the hope we need to embrace the gap between the life we know … and the life we can’t help longing for.”