Please keep me from giving up when the emptiness feels as if it’s pulling me into a bottomless pit. Remind me that hope comes in the morning, and You are the God of the sunrise.
This thing called life has taken it’s toll on me. It’s no secret that I feel sad most of the time lately. I feel very tender too. I feel pruned and pretty beat up. I must have cried paint buckets of tears this weekend, and not those pint size buckets… I’m talking the 10 gallon ones from Home Depot. Every person I encountered I caveated the conversation with “I just wanted to forewarn you I am very weepy lately.
Somedays I wonder if this is what the summation of my life will be. Will my gravestone tagline be: She tried a great deal more than most, and she weeped far more as well.
A couple weeks ago my world felt especially small and my life especially insignificant. I decided to head to Starbucks to read and maybe walk through the Hallmark store. I love writing notes of encouragement and cards. There’s very few things more thrilling to me than finding a card that’s perfect for someone else. What’s better than hot chocolate and card browsing?
I ordered my favorite drink (Oprah Chai Latte) and as I was waiting, a bit teary eyed and feeling a bit purposeless, in came one of my most favorite employees at the grocery store next door.
This particular woman and I knew each other fairly well, well enough to get together from time to time for coffee, to let me know when her daughter’s softball games are near my house so I can walk over, and well enough to give me free nuggets and cookies when I grocery shop. My first two years as a softball coach, I coached her daughter. Her daughter hit her first softball on my team. I remember those years especially nostalgically, because coaching wasn’t just a pasttime or a job to me, it was a ministry. And I had a meaningful relationship with many of the parents and guardians of students on my team. I got many Dunkin Donuts coffees that year on early saturday mornings before games from parents and even some gift cards at the end of the season. Perks of the job!
Father, this desert of grief feels lonely and futile, but I choose to trust that You weave purpose into all things for your children. Minister comfort to this deep, deep pain. Give me rest for the weariness of grieving and hope that rests in trusting who you are in all things-even this.
She hugged me. I started to cry. It’d had been so very long since someone hugged me like that, like I was being held, really embraced. We talked for a while, a good long while. She told me of a friend of hers who has passed away from cancer and the challenge of it. I talked of the moment after my monthly scan when I wait to find out if they found a brain/spinal tumor. The moments that make us feel unsure, unsettled, and a little bit more alone. She asked if I’d be coaching and if I’d coach her now teenage daughter again. They missed me. We discussed my health and what it’s like to be vulnerable in a unique way because I am not well enough to work and have to rely on others for most things.
The next part was so small I almost missed it, oh but it was impactful. My friend said, “We have to pray. God is making you strong and I know He has to have purpose in all this. And the grief won’t hurt forever.” Maybe if you go to church together or live in the south, you hear those things all the time. But not me. Not in Boston. Not from less churchy people.
I’m tired of pretending. So many things are just not right in my life. And I don’t have answers. People close to me don’t even see how heavy I feel on the inside. I’m running out of strength. Help me to befriend my wounds. I’ve mastered the art of invisibility. People look straight through me. Help me find safe places to come out, to be seen, to be known, truly known in all my messiness and imperfection.
The years I coached her daughter were wonderful. I knew several of the parents became followers of Jesus. I regularly talked to my students and their families about Jesus (softball season is during lent and Easter afterall). I just did not know she had believed. She told me she would be praying for me daily. And I believe she does.
I long to be seen and known-as ruined and broken as I am-and to be loved without having to work to fix myself first. I’m so tired from having to fix myself in order to belong with other people.
The above quotes are actual pieces from my journal, which I prayed that morning and mornings before. I needed to know that God heard me. I was losing hope. Before I walked into Starbucks that day, I texted a friend to ask her to pray for me. I said I was having a hard day and I didn’t think He heard me or saw me. And I walked out not just feeling seen or heard by someone, but also by God. I felt useful to the Lord and was reminded that sometimes even the encouragers need encouragement and reminders of what hope feels like in the dark. And I am not out of God’s grip or vision, even when I temporarily am out of both the grip and vision of those I love.