Michelangelo carved his ‘Piéta’ out of a solid block of Carrara marble in 1500 at the age of 23. The story goes that when he was asked how he’d done it, Michelangelo replied, “I just took away everything that wasn’t the Piéta.”
One wonders if this was his first try. Had he first started out with another piece of marble and made a mistake? Sort of “Oh, bugger. Now he shall be handless.”
History doesn’t relate but, thankfully, the One who is carving me does not make mistakes. Which is just as well, because the cutting is getting awfully deep. He is carving away some of the crucial support I always thought was there. Was part of me.
It is not so much that He is removing sources of support, but allowing me to discover they were not sources at all. I have been looking for support, for affirmation, for comfort, for refuge, for encouragement, in all the wrong places. Right assessment, just wrong approach.
It must have been almost as painful for Him to watch me discover this as it has been for me to experience it.
I have not enjoyed discovering where I’m mistaken. The process has been by trial and error and is painful, frustrating, perplexing and repetitive. I have gone to a presumed source of support over and over and over again expecting to meet supply, only to be disappointed. I have been slow on the uptake in some instances. When it’s not there, instead of letting go I have thought: “No, no, Josie, try again! YOU are the problem! Support should come from here! Change your attitude and you will find it.”
Buuuuut no! CRASH. BANG. CRACK. DROP. Face down.
When my expectation of support has crashed down in flames like the Hindenburg, I have looked to comfort myself like a starving baby in other ways. I try to make myself as “comfortable” as I am able. But this doesn’t bring me comfort, I can’t comfort myself. Not with real comfort. My appetites only serve to reveal my hungers not assuage them.
The discovery of false sources of support has been like the dismantling of scaffolding that I thought held me in place in the world. Scaffolding which turns out not to be able to hold my weight.
All man-made or man-centric scaffolding buckles under a task it’s not built for.
When false support buckles, you either slump into a pool of cellular jelly OR you discover the interior scaffolding that does actually hold you up.
The interior scaffolding that is affected by nothing externally. Real scaffolding which tells me who I am and how I’m loved. Scaffolding that tells me I’m not a mistake and I’m hugely valuable. Scaffolding that reminds me I’m not without hope. Scaffolding that enables me to stand and look out to see who I’m meant to be in the world. Because I can now hold my head up to see. Without any false scaffolding obscuring my view.
Interior scaffolding, custom-designed, gives me a robustness and a strength and support nothing and no one in this world can provide nor take from me. Things that the people I ran to could not have given me anyway. Even if they’d been perfect. It’s not their fault.
Interior scaffolding is not something I can make for myself or anyone else can give me. It is scaffolding I can only receive from the Builder Himself.
So OK, Lord. Painful as it is – sometimes shocking – please continue to take away all the false scaffolding in my life. Take it all away to leave only what is truly me. And only truly You.
You are my true support.