Sometimes I just don’t want to write.
My mind just wants to be numb.
My heart just doesn’t want to feel.
I don’t want to pour out the heartaches and wounds of this tired soul.
I’d rather sit alone in silence.
Hold it in.
Pretend that life is perfect—or at least just fine–in these four walls.
Just not feel or even blink at the chaos that unravels around me and then lands in my lap a tattered mess.
But who would I be kidding?
I need to write.
It frees me from the loneliness of this life.
This broken, shattered life.
It gives me hope.
And in the distance, I hear an echo.
“That is my life too.”
I find community.
I find others with wounds like mine.
Others who know that life is not perfect within the four walls of our homes.
That we are not perfect wives or mothers or daughters or sisters or friends.
Others who know the heartache of loss and love and loneliness.
And in that community, I find hope.
I find renewal.
I find peace in the unraveling chaos.
Because, in the midst of community, I find Christ.
He draws close and He is in the midst of it all.
The healer of wounds.
The one who knits us together when the unraveling begins.
The one who holds fast to us when the world has emptied us of all hope.
The one who gives hope to the hopeless.
I look around my home and see the stacks and piles. Stacks and piles of things. Mail sits on the end of the black granite countertop. Leaning precariously, as though anticipating that it will slide to the floor, unopened. Stacks of books. Not neatly stacked. Just stacked. Waiting to be finished. Or started. Or just waiting to find a permanent spot on the bookshelf. And then, there’s the dust. The dust colors everything like a winter fog. Dulls those things around me. The dust, piling up, particle by particle, on everything, not left by anyone, but just settling there. I notice it, even if no one else does. But I’m sure they do.
Mom would have. She noticed everything. Everything that wasn’t put away. Every mess. Everything I never finished. Every crumb left on the counter after making toast. Every sock hiding under my bed. She noticed the things.
But somehow, she never noticed me. The scars. The pain. The loneliness. The heartaches of a young girl growing up. Or, maybe she did but she just didn’t know how to catch her daughter’s tears. Maybe she just didn’t have the words. Maybe she couldn’t help me heal because she had never healed herself.
Despite her flaws, I loved her, as little girls love their mothers. And, I miss her, even after all these years. Today, if she were here, I would sit down with her and gently ask her why she couldn’t be there for me when I needed her most. Why I needed to look elsewhere in my life for shelter from the storms. And, I would look into her eyes and seek to know her heart.
And, I would tell her that it was okay–that I had found comfort in the loving arms of my heavenly Father. I would tell her that despite the stacks of unspoken words and unopened hearts and the grey haze that dulled our relationship, that love prevailed.
In my home, the dust on the hearth piles up, the mail sits unopened on the counter, and the books sit patiently for shelves or pages to be turned. And, I try not to notice socks hiding under beds or crumbs gathering around the toaster’s edge. They remind me of the piles and stacks of words unspoken in my childhood home.
And, so, instead of tidying up the house, I look into the eyes of my children, searching for their hearts. I hope they know that I notice them–every aspect of them. Every tear. Every heartbreak. Every moment of loneliness. And, I hope they know that their tears, and heartbreaks, and loneliness are mine, too.
Today, I hope that the piles and stacks for things go unnoticed–at least for one more day.
The alarm sounds and I reach over to find my husband still sleeping. “Wake up, you leave today. . . I miss you already.” We linger, holding that one last hug before we set the day in motion. I pray, “God, cover him as he travels this week,” and I rest in his arms another minute.
We stumble around in the morning light. Our usual morning routine disrupted by this early morning flight. Two showers. Breakfast. Last minute packing. Snacks. Passport. Hanging clothes. Book. We are ungraceful and the clock says it is time to leave–well past the time to leave. Forgotten items send us scurrying. And the peaceful moments we savored just before we slid out of bed become a distant memory.
We head out the door later than planned. And rain–torrential–slows our pace further. Traffic. Brake lights. A bumper-to-bumper parade going nowhere. I note that we missed every light. Why is it when I’m late that the lights are all red? And why not bring up more negative things to pile on to the morning stress. . .
Why is it that, when things are what they are–things I can’t change–I make them worse? I thrive on the negative and create more stress. Instead of savoring the last hour I get to spend with my loving husband, I squander it with my ugly side. Why don’t I just shrug things off and laugh about them? And then I think:
“All that makes Him precious and dear to the Father has been transferred to me. His excellency and glory are seen as if they were mine; and I receive the love, and the fellowship, and the glory, as if I had earned them all.” –Horatius Bonar, The Everlasting Righteousness.
This morning I haven’t earned them all, that’s for sure. I’m grateful I don’t have to. And, I’m certain the way I’m behaving isn’t what Bonar was talking about with respect to the things that make Christ precious and dear to the Father. I imagine God, in a parental stance, arms folded, saying those things parents say to children when they over react–those things I’ve said to my only children so many times.
Yet, I am loved by the Father, even when I am clothed in the ugly. In my tattered “clothes,” I feel ashamed. Deep sadness for this foolishness. Deeper sadness that I haven’t poured out Christ’s love on my husband.
I breathe in God’s grace and forgiveness. The words spill out, “I’m so sorry. I wanted to take you to the airport so that I could spend this last hour with you. . . . And now, look what I’ve done. . . . Please forgive me.” I see a glimmer of God’s grace and mercy and love trickle down on us. We travel in silence the rest of the way to the airport.
We remain wounded by the morning, but I know we will heal like we have so many times before. We say our good-byes and I-love-yous, and I slowly pull away from the curb, reminding myself that “All that makes Him precious and dear to the Father has been transferred to me [and my husband].”
My tattered clothes remain, but the gift of the Father’s love and the promise of the cross, is transforming me one tiny thread at a time.
I wake in the darkness. The house is still. Only the sound of the furnace kicking on and the light tap of rain on the roof. I find comfort, as I reach my right arm over the covers and find my husband resting peacefully beside me. I find comfort, knowing that my two young adult children are home for the holidays.
Quietly, I slip out of bed, fumbling for my glasses. It’s cold, but I tiptoe out to the family room for my morning quiet time.
This time of year, we wake in the darkness and go to bed in the darkness. The days are short. I think, I’m not fond of winter. I don’t like the darkness. In the darkness I am alone, even when others are near. In the darkness I know only fear. Isolation. Lack of clarity. My mind races, listening, but not for the voice of hope. But overwhelmed by the sound of fear. And, I struggle to keep from drowning in the murky waters of the depths of darkness.
But then, the light creeps in. Light brings hope, like a hand, stretching out to me, lifting me from the depths. And I begin to see in creation the image and voice of the Creator. Small pink buds on the tree branches that sat naked and exposed all winter. The song of birds out my window singing His praises. And life is restored. My fear melts away like the snow and I am free from the clenches of darkness.
At least for now.