Visible Wounds

A sweet friend made sure I had Nicholas Wolterstorff’s book, Lament for a Son, in my hands just days after Dominic’s accident.  And it was one of the most helpful, kindest gifts I ever received.  It still lives by my chair and I look at it often.

It might have been the similarities in circumstances that took our sons-his died in a mountain climbing accident, mine in a motorcycle accident-or it might have been our shared theology, but when I read his words, they spoke my heart.

A professor of philosophy and a believer in Christ, he refuses to gloss over the hard edges of grief and pain.  He faces the questions head-on and brings me with him into the dark chamber of sorrow, letting me sit in silence and feel the heaviness of loss.

He does not wrap his experience up into a tidy package.

It may be counter-intuitive to those who have not experienced child loss to know that I find his lack of tidy ending MORE encouraging than the books I read that try to tell me it will all be just fine.

Because my heart screams that it will NOT be “fine” this side of heaven.  I will NOT understand this side of heaven.  I WILL NOT be satisfied with any answer this side of heaven.

There are many quotes from this book that speak to my heart, but this one sums up so much of what I am learning through loss:

If sympathy for the world’s wounds is not enlarged by our anguish, if love for those around us is not expanded, if gratitude for what is good does not flame up, if insight is not deepened, if commitment to what is important is not strengthened, if aching for a new day is not intensified, if hope is weakened and faith diminished, if from the experience of death comes nothing good, then death has won. Then death, be proud.

So I shall struggle to live the reality of Christ’s rising and death’s dying. In my living, my son’s dying will not be the last word. But as I rise up, I bear the wounds of his death. My rising does not remove them. They mark me. If you want to know who I am, put your hand in.

~Nicholas Wolterstorff, Lament for a Son

As I wrote on Dominic’s first Remembrance Day, April 12, 2015:

Two truths have been burned on my Soul. One, broken hearts still beat. We are surrounded by wounded people. Walking gently through this life is the greatest blessing we can give to one another.

And two, LOVE WINS. There is no force as strong or attractive or eternal as love. God’s love for us and our love for Him and one another will be the song we sing forever. It would behoove us all to learn it here on earth.

I am not who I was two years ago.  

My heart has been both broken and made larger.

My eyes see the pain in the eyes of those around me.  My ears hear the strain in a muttered, “I’m fine.”

I have no patience for petty disputes and silly games.  I am more empty of envy and more full of love.

And my arms reach further and wider to embrace and encourage the wounded.

As I have been comforted, I want to comfort others.

Blessed [gratefully praised and adored] be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort, who comforts and encourages us in every trouble so that we will be able to comfort and encourage those who are in any kind of trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as Christ’s sufferings are ours in abundance [as they overflow to His followers], so also our comfort [our reassurance, our encouragement, our consolation] is abundant through Christ [it is truly more than enough to endure what we must].

2 Corinthians 1:3-5 AMP

 

 

Running Ahead–I’m Coming!

My first post on this blog.

Now it has been two years since the morning the deputy brought the news to my front door.  Two years since I heard my son’s voice.  Two years since my life was turned upside down.

It seems unbelievably long ago–like a dream.  Yet also like yesterday–like that bad feeling you get when you wake from a nightmare and it just won’t go away.

I am not as fragile as I was on that day.  But I am just as broken. The pieces of a shattered heart never fit back together to make a perfect whole.

The burden is not lighter.  But I am stronger.

The pain is no less but I have learned to endure it.

“We are pressed on every side by troubles, but not crushed and broken. We are perplexed because we don’t know why things happen as they do, but we don’t give up and quit. We are hunted down, but God never abandons us. We get knocked down, but we get up again and keep going.”

2 Corinthians 4:8-9 TLB

 

“From the start, if you didn’t want Dominic to do something, you couldn’t let him see you do it.”   Read the rest:  Running Ahead

Some Days are Like That

I am better able to face the morning than I was in the first days and weeks after Dominic’s death.  I am more adept at laying aside the overwhelming sorrow and focusing on what needs to be done.  I can flash a smile, make small talk, act “normal” and participate in daily activities.

But there are still days….

Days when I cannot think of anything but the fact that he’s gone. Moments when sadness invades my heart and fills my soul. Hours when I just want to find a way to forget that every tomorrow will include the absence of Dominic’s presence and the fullness of joy I once knew before my world included burying a child.

And on those days and in those moments, a quiet word of encouragement can send a piercing ray of hope like a silver light into my heart.  A smile, a nod, a hug or a note can be the thread I hold onto as I struggle to pull myself up from the depths of despair.

I’m not the only one walking around with wounds.  I am not alone in the darkness of pain and heartbreak.

Jesus came to offer hope to the hopeless.  To lift up the downtrodden. To free the captives and open the eyes of the blind:

  The Spirit of the Almighty Lord is with me
    because the Lord has anointed me
        to deliver good news to humble people.
    He has sent me
        to heal those who are brokenhearted,
        to announce that captives will be set free
            and prisoners will be released.

Isaiah 61:1-2 GW

Our Savior walked tenderly among us and did not crush even the most wounded:

“A broken reed He will not break [off]
And a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish [He will not harm those who are weak and suffering];
He will faithfully bring forth justice.”

Isaiah 42:3 AMP

As we move toward the celebration of life over death, victory over defeat, hope over despair, may each of us be a beacon of light to someone walking in darkness.

May our hands reach out to help, our lips speak mercy and grace and may our hearts be so full of love that it spills out onto everyone we meet.  

Some of us tend to do away with things that are slightly damaged….When we dismiss people out of hand because of their apparent woundedness, we stunt their lives by ignoring their gifts, which are often buried in their wounds.

We all are bruised reeds, whether our bruises are visible or not. The compassionate life is the life in which we believe that strength is hidden in weakness and that true community is a fellowship of the weak.

– Henri J. M. Nouwen

 

Making Space for Brokenness at the Table of the LORD

As we enter the week on the Christian calendar when most churches celebrate the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, I am reminded that often we race past the road that lead to Calvary and linger at the empty tomb.

But to understand the beauty of forgiveness and the blessing of redemption, we MUST acknowledge the sorrow of sin and the burden of brokenness.

When our sacred spaces draw boundaries around what we can bring to the Lord’s Table, we exclude the very ones who are desperate for the bread and cup.  When we treat the path as unimportant and only acknowledge the destination, we discourage those that are struggling to keep up.  When we welcome only the triumphant, we exclude those that are trying.

Let’s throw open the doors to the church and

Clear the way for the Lord in the wilderness [remove the obstacles]; Make straight and smooth in the desert a highway for our God. (Isaiah 40:3 AMP)

Let’s invite the outcasts, the limping, the hurting and the broken to the table.

Let’s declare to the wounded that in Christ there is healing!

As I’ve written before: “The truth is that none of us escape hardship in life.  All of us have hidden heartache.  We all have cracks in our polished persona.”

Read more:  Beautiful Broken

 

 

Beautiful Broken

We try so hard to hide our scars.

We work diligently to cover signs of aging.  We spend billions on face lifts, tummy tucks and hair implants in an effort to fool ourselves and others that time and trials can be erased like chalk on a blackboard.

We aim for smooth perfection, though few of us achieve it.

But there is no escaping or covering the deep wound of losing a child. All the make up in the world couldn’t return my “after” face to the carefree expression of “before”.

Photo filters and special effects will never recreate the light of eyes that did not know the sorrow of burying my son.

I am broken.  This life has made cracks in my body and pierced my soul.

My wounds can be offensive to others–a reminder that they, too, may receive a blow that can’t be concealed.

The truth is that none of us escape hardship in life.  All of us have hidden heartache.  We all have cracks in our polished persona.

Dominic could be brutally honest.

A promise I made to myself, in honor of him, was that I would not hide my heart behind a false front or a fake smile.  I would allow others to see both the brokenness and the usefulness of a life lived with pain.

Recently I was introduced to a Japanese art form called “kintsugi”. Artists repair broken pottery with lacquer dust mixed with precious metals, joining the cracked pieces and highlighting the imperfection.

According to one source, “As a philosophy it treats breakage and repair as part of the history of an object, rather than something to disguise.”

What a beautiful tribute to truth!

My brokenness is part of me, but so also is the healing.

Revealing my wounds, I invite others to reveal their own. Sharing my pain, I encourage others to share theirs.  Opening my heart, I welcome you to open yours.

Displaying my scars, I uncover the glory of the God Who is healing them.  

This priceless treasure we hold, so to speak, in a common earthenware jar—to show that the splendid power of it belongs to God and not to us.

2 Corinthians 4:7 Phillips