“Saltwater and honey / love that tastes like pain.”

The weekend just gone, it was such a privilege to be with Sheila at Rhythm of Hope. This day, sensitively curated for couples journeying with infertility and childlessness, is an amazing thing, combining thoughtful talks with heartfelt worship and bringing together people who are walking a difficult path, often feeling alone. SWH has always been a supporter of this day, and so it was this year. Lizzie also joined via video.

I shared the poem I wrote, which shares its name with this blog, and realised I’ve never posted it on here in full. You can listen to it above, and here’s the text below…

Which is why I’ve come to see the glory in the pit

And God is there in the thick of it

There was a bad man in the good book

who took a good look at his bad life

and picked a fist fight with God.

He didn’t know it at the time

but as he wrestled the almighty in the grime

of arid desert ground

he found in the fight some inner fibre and strength

and though he went away limping

he was walking taller than ever.

He was Jacob,

but the new name God gave him

became a byword for a nation

that even to this day wrestles and tussles

with its own identity

and with its neighbours and aggressors

so I’ve come to see

that there’s some truth in that old story

that in the wrestling pit of life is where the glory resides –

Not in the Disneyland rides

Or the holiday slides

Or the dressed-in-white brides.

No the glory resides

When we look God in the eyes

And start to fight

As we start to cry.

The glory is in the pit

It’s NOT in the script-

You know, the script?

The script we feel we ought to recite

For the play we didn’t write

But that we think is right

The script that dictates

we meet our soulmates

kiss and caress them

dress to impress them

until when the time’s right and the venue’s free

it’s all – “here comes the bride”

And honeymoon in Bali.

And then KIDS

And this where the script gets you to pick

how many

and what you’ll name them

before there’s any indication

that it’s even possible.

Cos here’s the nub of it


Life’s acts aren’t fixed

and one in six of these fairytale plays

never makes it to the stage anyways.

And the problem with this obsession with the script

that’s total bullshit is

What if your story doesn’t fit?

Which is why I’ve come to see the glory in the pit

And that God is there in the thick of it

And though God knows I prayed

that He would get us to the good bit

where it didn’t hurt so much

and where I didn’t cry so much

and where my love would get to touch

her firstborn son

and that he’d have my eyes…

I came to realise

that God was with us in those tear drenched nights

that God’s with-us-ness is written on his birth certificate

Emmanuel – God with us

God with us in the tears and wounds and pain

with us in the darkness and the rain

God with us behind the closed doors of our grief

That become my hope and my belief

That God is with us in the shitty pit – He has to be

Else life and faith is surely just catastrophe.

But faith, like life, has come to mean for me

The mingling of tragic and funny

Each colour of the rainbow

Each clouddrop of the rain

Saltwater and honey

Love that tastes like pain.

God give me strength to go through this again

God give my story grace so that it matters

And faith to tell it from the place of shattered hopes and faded dreams

That from the rubble

From the seams

Of these unscripted stories

God might weave

And build

A world

Less like a fairytale

more like a wrestling bout.

Perhaps that’s what it’s always been about.