Walk Gently Among Your Fellow Humans

One of the most interesting (and best) pieces of advice on relationships I ever read was this:  Imagine the person with whom you contend as an infant or a very elderly individual.  

Try it. 

Pick someone who rubs you the wrong way every which way to Sunday and think about him or her as a tiny baby or a frail and feeble grandparent. 

I’ll wait.  

Did you feel some of the hostility melt away when the image of your “thorn in the flesh” as a helpless human came into focus?

It works every time for me.  It doesn’t mean that I won’t have to address any underlying issues between me and whoever.  But it does tame the mean and vengeful out of me.

It makes me tender when I talk to a friend or family member about a testy topic.  It helps me be kind to the cashier who has picked now to count out her drawer just as it’s my turn after I’ve been waiting in a long line.  It moderates my reaction from road rage to a more appropriate and safe, “Oh, well!” when cut off in traffic.

It makes it easier for me to be gentle. 

Gentle:  1. having or showing a mild, kind or tender, temperament or character; 2.  moderate in action, effect or degree; not harsh or severe.

~Google Dictionary

Truth is we are surrounded every day by people who are one unkind word away from falling apart.  We drive down the highway with strangers whose lives are filled with pain.  We work and eat and worship and play with folks who carry wounds we know nothing about.

walk gently tree bark

I don’t have to understand everything about someone to appreciate that there is more than meets the eye.  All of us have scars and secrets, stress and strain, unmet needs and unseen struggles. 

So I try to give the benefit of the doubt, assume the best, extend grace, be humble, choose love.  

I want to walk gently among my fellow humans.  

At minimum I hope to do no harm.  At best I hope to encourage another heart to hang on and keep trying.  Most of the time I probably fall somewhere in between.  

be soft

 

 

 

 

Time Alone Does NOT Heal

time does not heal its a lie Time, by itself, does not heal the pain of child loss.

But time, plus the work grief requires, plus God’s grace poured out on my heart and in my life, does bring a measure of healing.

heals the broken hearted

I did not believe that in the first months or even years. But I can testify to that truth today.  It has been a slow and very painful process full of stops and starts, one step forward, two steps back.  

Am I still very broken?

Absolutely!

Am I still limping?

YES!

Until the day I die I will never be the same.

But I have grown stronger and better able to carry this load of sorrow and God is helping me turn the ashes into something beautiful.

beauty-from-ashes-clothespinThat something bears witness to my son, to my pain and to the truth that, with God’s help, I can endure faithfully to the end.

And God is no respecter of persons-He has not given me anything He will not pour out on every single heart that asks.  

My prayer for each wounded reader is that you will feel the Father’s loving arms around you and that He will flood your broken heart with His grace, mercy and comfort.   

 

close to the brokenhearted

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

 

 

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