Sunday, August 9, 2015

on weakness and trust

Sometimes… at night… I think too much.

The fall of the dark curtain seems a veritable power switch for my brain, and all of a sudden I might be analyzing end times events or manufacturing the sounds of a break-in or remembering, vividly, near-forgotten scenes from a long-ago childhood.

Me and my sister Hannah, with baby Lenny and another kitten we only had for a little while before it died.

Last night, at 12:19 AM, it was grief that came to mind.

Bold, sharp memories of some of the saddest times of my life.

I can’t complain that I’ve had a particularly difficult life thus far, but I can’t claim that this earthly existence is ever quite an easy ride. And in the dark it was like all my forgotten wounds began to open again, like a fist hit me in the gut with breath-catching force… scenes that pour back into my head and flood my eyes before I can put up a defense.

The hot tears blotching my lined notebook paper that morning after they called to say Grandpa had died, and the ache that I felt less for him than for my mom, his youngest daughter.

The strangled silence at 10:25am on August 3, 2010, when they told me they couldn’t save my precious kitty, and the strangely delayed convulsing sobs that came after as I wondered at this new experience of intimate loss.

The odd mix of relief and heartbreak when I watched Mt. Hood go by on the left as my flight ascended eastward, bound for Orlando.

The bland coldness inside when I learned that my grandma had died days before, 2,000 miles away in Washington while I was trying to plod through one more week of counseling at camp in Pennsylvania.

These are all times that I survived; and yet in the night when they stampede my brain, I wonder if I really did pull through and conquer, or if the battle of mourning is only still in process after all. I still strain to hear my grandpa’s throaty voice or see him dip dinosaur crackers in his coffee. I still feel a little raw somewhere inside when I remember the taste of biscotti or the softness of Grandma’s voice or the cooing of their pet dove; the speechless hollowness that first appeared on August 3, 2010 at 10:25am is still there too.

Grief is a mysterious thing. In the beginning, it might be a hurricane… only to morph into a deathly stillness that is almost worse than the storm. It might become easy to ignore for awhile, until without warning, it puts a fist to your guts and you reel, blindsided, groping for balance, gasping for breath.
I wonder if greater maturity will someday yield me a surer hold on these wild parts of my emotional self, or if grief levels us all to an equal state of helplessness, regardless of age or life experience or personality. Perhaps we are all meant to need the muscle of someone else when we have been battered limp by this kind of pain. And yet it is incredible how often we collapse alone instead. Afraid of being preached at, afraid of being misunderstood, afraid of being judged, afraid of more hurt; too proud or too insecure or too confused—at least, these are some of the shackles that have kept my own heart bound up in the face of compassion. But what did Paul say…
“Our mouth has spoken freely to you, O Corinthians, our heart is opened wide. You are not restrained by us, but you are restrained in your own affections. Now in a like exchange—I speak as to children—open wide to us also.” 2 Corinthians 6:11-13
Opened wide. It’s risky. It feels unnatural to relinquish our only source of control when our first concern is to avoid being hit again where we’re already wounded. We are required to trust the grace and love of someone else if help and healing is really what we want.

Does that sound familiar? Maybe this is truth in more than grief... maybe in fear, in doubt, in sin, in loneliness, in anger.
“For the Word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do. Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:12-16

1 comment:

  1. Hallie, I have never heard anyone describe grief so acutely and precisely. It's like you just interpreted every emotion I have felt for the last two years. I relate all too well when it comes to letting my insecurities and pride interfere with grace and compassion. For me the hardest part is having patience and perseverance in the slow process of healing. I get so tired of trying and at some point it became easier to use my sorrow as an excuse for my sin and selfishness.

    By God's grace loss makes us grow as much as we feel small and defeated in the midst of grief. Like you, I'm not really sure if I'm "over" the death of my younger brother or the loss of friendships I thought would be forever. I don't think they key to grief is getting over it, as though it's some disease that can be cured. Grief is more like a wound, a broken bone, that takes time to heal and when the healing finally comes there are still scars and pain from the past that never goes away. By God's grace, grief ultimately shapes us into a different person, hopefully a better, godlier, more trusting and loving person.

    Thank you for sharing!

    Dani from A Vapor in the Wind



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