Lenten Reflections: Fasting Escapism, Being Present to Pain

Once the stone was rolled in front of the tomb there was no more denying the fact that whatever the disciples thought Jesus was going to do was not at all what He did.

None of them thought the story was going to end like this and yet here they were having buried their Master and their dreams.

Most of us can relate to a time when we thought our dreams were God’s dreams and we were on the path to victory only to round the next bend and head straight to defeat-or worse.

The eternal weight of the space between Jesus’ death and resurrection will only be known on the other side of this life, for the scriptural references are filled with both majesty and mystery. Though Jesus’ full assignment in those days is beyond comprehension, the disciples’ disillusionment is not.

Alicia Britt Chole

It can be tempting to try to distract our hearts from the pain of failure, dashed dreams, death, rejection or other hard-to-process feelings.

But that’s not how to heal.

If we pay close attention to what the disciples did in the wake of Jesus’ death, we see modeled a better way:

  • They gave themselves permission to bury the dream. It’s important to acknowledge and commemorate loss. That’s one of the reasons we have societal rituals surrounding death. It’s not about hopelessness, it’s about accepting reality. A heart needs to mark these moments.
  • They returned home to rest. “Rest is essential-a need, not a luxury” (Chole, 204). So often we seek frantic activity when faced with loss. We move our bodies in hopes it will distract our minds. But it never works. We may be able to push off the pain for a time yet it won’t be ignored forever. It’s so much better to give our bodies and souls the rest they need so we can process pain from a place of relative strength rather than exhaustion.
  • They didn’t isolate themselves. The disciples remained in community with one another. They intentionally maintained relationships. It is so easy to look for the nearest corner where we can lick our individual wounds. But telling, retelling and sharing our sorrow creates space for mutual healing.

Most of us will not see the resurrection of our dreams within three days. In fact, some of our dreams are sown for future generations to reap. Even then, obedience is never a waste; it is an investment in a future we cannot see. When we dream with God, our dreams-even in burial-are not lost; they are planted. God never forgets the ‘kernel of wheat [that] falls to the ground and dies’ (John 12:24).

What grows from that painful planting is God’s business. But sowing in faith is ours and, like the early disciples, our faithfulness is never sown in vain.

Alicia Britt Chole

When Dominic ran ahead to Heaven, part of me wanted to run away too. There were moments when I thought if I could just get started and keep going I’d reach someplace where the pain couldn’t reach me.

But that simply isn’t true.

I had to face the fact my son wasn’t coming home. I had to face the reality that I’d live the rest of my life in expectant hope, waiting for the fulfillment of Christ’s promise to redeem and restore.

Like that kernel of wheat, I had to choose to plant my dreams in the soil of God’s faithful love, extravagant grace and abundant mercy, trusting Him to make them grow.

How We Can Make Church a Safe Haven For The Brokenhearted

f you have lived a blessed life where the greatest challenge to your faith has been disappointment and not destruction then I am so, so happy for you. Really.

Some of us have dragged our broken hearts through the church doors out of habit with little hope we might find the genuine comfort we need to survive inside.

Because experience taught us that while it is perfectly acceptable to raise a hand and ask for prayer one or two weeks in a row, it better not become a predictable pattern. Patience with unsolvable and messy ongoing situations runs thin as leaders turn the discussion toward “victory in Jesus”.

But that isn’t what Christ came for-not that we don’t have ultimate and even some temporal victory through Him.

He came for the broken and breathless. He came in the flesh because our flesh is weak and life is hard and bad things happen.

We’ve got to do a better job welcoming and ministering to hurting hearts.

We have to.

❤  Melanie

I am a shepherd.  My goats and sheep depend on me for food, for guidance and for their security.

And every day I am reminded that a shepherd’s heart is revealed by the way he or she cares for the weakest and most vulnerable of the flock.

But most of us are far removed from the daily reminder of pastoral life that was commonly accessible to the authors and readers of the Bible thousands of years ago.  So it’s no surprise that we tend to forget the connection between a shepherd’s life and a pastor’s calling.

Read the rest here: Loving Well: How the Church Can Serve Grieving Parents and Other Hurting People

In The Early Days I Was a Walking Nerve

If you are in the early days of this hard, hard journey, do what you have to and find the safe circle that gives you time, space and grace to help your heart toward healing.

It may take longer than you’d like, but resting from the constant pressure of trying to protect yourself from the hustle and bustle in a world where child loss is misunderstood and frequently ignored will make a difference.

Read the rest here: A Walking Nerve

Just Twenty-Four Hours

It’s been just over seven years since Dominic left us suddenly, unexpectedly, and without warning.

Thankfully my heart has healed enough that every day is no longer filled with tears.

But there are still hard days, still challenging seasons.

And when they feel like they might last forever, I remind myself that even the worst day of my life was just twenty-four hours.

Night fell, the earth turned, and another sunrise showed up on cue.

I don’t know just when I figured it out, but somewhere in this Valley it dawned on me-NO day lasts forever.

Many feel like they do.  

The day I got the news stretched impossibly long in front of me as calls were made and people came to be wtih us.

But even THAT day ended.  Night fell, the earth turned, and another sunrise showed up on cue.

Read the rest here: Twenty-four Hours

Bitterness: A Terrible Legacy

Oh, how easy it would be to become bitter!  

If I’m honest, part of me just wants to tell the world to “Get lost!”. 

But the wiser part of me knows that’s neither a helpful nor healthy response to even this most awful burden of child loss.  

Lament is how we bring our sorrow to God. Without lament, we won’t know how to process pain. Silence, bitterness, and even anger can dominate our spiritual lives instead.

~Mark Vroegop – Dark Clouds Deep Mercy

Because my bitter spirit wouldn’t stop with me.

Read the rest here: Bitterness Is A Terrible Legacy

Learning to Listen: A Lesson From Loss

I admit it: I’m a fixer. 

But there are some things you just can’t fix.

I knew that before Dominic ran ahead to Heaven but I mostly ignored it.

I can’t do that anymore.

So I’m learning to listen better.  Learning to let others express the hard things that can’t be fixed so that their burden is a bit lighter for the sharing.  

Read the rest here: Lessons in Grief: Learning to Listen

Take All The Time You Need

Time, by itself, does not heal all wounds.  

But of all the factors that promote healing, there is NO SUBSTITUTE for time–not in the physical world of surgery and broken bones and deep wounds and not in the inner world of  emotional pain and brokenness and sorrow.

Read the rest here: No Rush

Missing Him Is Background Music

Sometimes I write a post for other folks. A topic pops up in a group and my mind starts whirling.

Sometimes I write a post for me. My heart is so full there’s nothing left to do but release its contents.

And sometimes, like this one, it’s a combination of the two.

This post is one of my favorites even it if never touches another soul. It’s both proof of healing and proof of the limits of healing in this life.

❤ Melanie

Another bereaved mom wrote that she was better able to cope now than she had been a year ago.

And thanks to Facebook memories she had proof.

Several comments down a second mom wrote something that got me thinking-when, exactly, did Dominic’s loss move from the forefront to the background?

I’m not sure I can pinpoint a day or moment when I realized that sorrow was no longer ALL I feel and Dominic’s absence no longer ALL I see.

Read the rest here: Background Music

It’s Impossible To Rush Healing

I’m heading toward seven years since Dominic ran ahead to Heaven (April 12th). And while I can mark many ways in which my heart has healed, I can list a dozen areas that are still tender.

I wish, wish, wish there was plan of action like physical therapy or a course of medication like antibiotics that could guarantee reliable progress if followed precisely.

But there isn’t.

All I can do is continue to place myself in the path of healing, do the next right thing and wait patiently for the pieces to fall back in place.


I’ve lived with invisible chronic disease for over a decade.

From the outside looking in, you’d hardly know that I am often in great pain.  I make daily choices about what I will do and what I won’t do based on what I can do and what my body refuses to do.

I take medication.  I do all the things I’m supposed to do to help my body heal.

But I cannot MAKE the healing happen.

Read the rest here: Healing Comes In Its Own Time

All Kinds of Medicine

I’ve never understood the *wisdom* in refusing appropriate treatment for what ails you.

Sure, no one wants to take a handful of pills every morning and every night but for some the magic of medicine has given us more years than we’d have otherwise.

But pharmaceuticals aren’t the only kind of medicine out there and if we availed ourselves more often of easy-to-access lifestyle choices and built in better habits we might all be happier and healthier!

There truly ARE all kinds of medicine.

%d bloggers like this: