The psalm in the lectionary reading for today contained this phrase:
...Praise him with full voice...
I stumbled over it, wrestling with the meaning of the word "full."
Full as in 'filled to the top'? 'not empty'?
Full as in 'deep and throaty'? 'at the top of my lungs'?
Full as in 'all in'? 'Holding nothing back'? 'Brutally honest'?
I sat in that last description of full--'all in, holding nothing back, brutally honest'--and realized that this is what I've been wanting, but this is also what I fear: letting my full voice praise the Lord. Because my voice can be strong, but it can also be a whisper. My voice can be steady, but it can also be unavailable when I need it most. My voice can rejoice, but it can also lament and curse.
"Prone to wander, Lord--I feel it!" These are words that feel more true today than on most. Is it part of my full voice to praise God this way? Does the struggle to be faithful to God in thought, word, and deed, and to love my neighbors as myself--does that honor God? As I wrestle with the frailty of my flesh and soul, I think, "Shouldn't a 'dedicated Christian life' look a lot less like a bar fight and more like a victory lap?"
But then I think about Jacob wrestling the angel from dusk until dawn. And I remember that in this fight, his name was changed to that name which God would call his people: Israel. He who wrestles with God--and wins.
Our lives are not diminished by the bar fight between our faith and our reason, our desire and our weakness. No--our lives are made better as we struggle, our hearts given room to put down deeper roots. That I can claim this either means that I haven't suffered much, or that I believe that all suffering can be redemptive, and that's a topic for another day. As I nurse my bruises and wrap the wounds after this round of the fight, I let my full voice come before the Lord--anger, frustration, despair, lament, a dawning joy, a hope for the future, and the growing feeling that I don't fight alone.
"Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel, which means 'God with us'" (Matthew 1:23 NRSVCE).