Hidden Sorrow

27 04 2011

One might think these encouraging developments would keep me in a positive state of mind. But waves of pain continued to wash over me. As Jacob and I drove down Highway 80 to the Therapy Center, we passed beautiful wildflowers growing in the median. In previous years I’d always loved this stretch of road and admired the brilliant display of color. But now their cheerful beauty seemed to insult my pain.

There were days when tears poured silently down my cheeks as I sped past gorgeous swaths of bright yellow blooms waving in the gentle spring breeze. I often glanced at other drivers in their cars and wondered if any of them were hurting as badly as I was. None of those strangers knew my heart was broken. Lord, help me be more sensitive to the pain of others. Suffering people are always around me, whether I’m aware of their circumstances or not. ~ from Parting the Waters

This morning I read a haunting and poignant post by Emily Wierenga at The High Calling, and it took me back to Highway 80. Always, everywhere, people hurt. In powerful word images, Emily shares the pain of miscarriage and how, afterward, even the sight of a tiny pink shoe was enough to shatter her. She writes of “the wrack of sobs over Fisher Price commercials, the way I’d despise every woman with a stroller, and then feel guilt for despising, and then shame. For failing to love others who could give life. For failing to give life.”

Strange about grief that it is intensified by another person’s joy. I remember the anguish of every missed milestone beginning in Jacob’s sixteenth year. Ordinary experiences of his friends — driver’s licenses, mission trips, school dances, graduation, college, marriage — were like a knife plunged into my heart and twisted again and again. Even a glimpse of something as unglamorous as a teenager jogging down the street could leave me undone. The things he’d lost confronted me everywhere I looked.

More and more I’m convinced that everyone is broken somewhere. There are a million different kinds of loss in every shade of ache. The woman whose teenage son is whole may have a fractured marriage or a deep, festering wound of secret shame. The woman pushing her beautiful newborn in a stroller may have just learned that her husband is addicted to porn or her best friend is dying of cancer. And why? Why all this sorrow, pain, brokenness? Are we merely victims, subjected to a curse pronounced on our first parents and passed down to us and to our children?

As much as it may often appear to be so, I don’t believe we’re victims, nor do I believe our lives are dictated by chance or the choices of others. I believe we live in a broken world by design. The God who richly gives us abundant delights also leads us into dark valleys for His divine and holy purposes. The delights and the pain are equally gifts, equally good. These are mysteries I often ponder, and they always lead me back to the foot of the cross, my heart bowed low before suffering I could never imagine or bear, my hands open in surrender to ways much higher and holier than mine. Redemption takes the broken and creates beauty that surpasses unmarred perfection. Always. Until a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it abides alone. But if it dies . . .

Easter is Light exploding from darkness, and we are fragments of colored glass, shattered, gathered, shaped by grace that truth can shine through, scattering prisms across the world’s gray and dreary hopelessness.

Emily wrote, “We are born to bear others.” And I am driving down Highway 80, listening once again to wildflower wisdom. I will not be blind to your pain. It is mine.

Celebrating what it means to live Easter and practice resurrection:


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15 responses

27 04 2011
Elaina

Beautiful, Jeanne.

29 04 2011
jeannedamoff

Thank you, Elaina.

27 04 2011
Candace

Jeanne, I think it again & again..it’s often the first thing that comes to mind as I read deep-grief posts such as this one and Emily’s : u hv to hv experienced grief to appreciate the depth of another’s grief.

I so so get it! So glad also that we hv Jesus who’s walking it with us..we fall on him..weep till we’re dry as the Sahara..surrender n allow him to feel for us when we’re numb n carry us when we can’t take one more step…

Great post Jeanne!

29 04 2011
jeannedamoff

Thank you, Candace. We do comfort others with the same comfort we’ve received. And it’s always a good think to fall on Jesus!

Love to you.

28 04 2011
emily wierenga

More and more I’m convinced that everyone is broken somewhere.

oh jeanne… this made my breath catch. what loss you have gone through… what horrifying loss… and i so wish i could just sit with you and cry and look through photos of your beautiful son… friend, your perspective here is so holy, so beautiful, so true. i am tucking it deep and praying i always remember, everyone is broken. as plato says, “be kind, for everyone has their battles.” i love you, sister.

29 04 2011
jeannedamoff

Thank you, Emily — first for stopping by to read this, and second for wanting to cry with me and look at photos of Jacob. Honoring the memory of who he was before is a gift to me, and you are tender to think of it. And thank you for reminding me of the things you pray to remember. This is why it’s good to tell our stories. Thanks again for telling yours. Much love to you.

28 04 2011
Cherry

Thank you for your words and insight shared here. Your three paragraphs starting with “More and more I’m convinced … ” were so good to read. It was so good to be reminded of this perspective. Thank you for ministering to my heart today …

29 04 2011
jeannedamoff

You’re so welcome, Cherry. I’m honored you stopped by.

28 04 2011
L.L. Barkat

And I am convinced that we bear others in more ways than we know…

1 05 2011
jeannedamoff

I’d love to hear the thoughts embodied in that ellipsis!

30 04 2011
Melissa

This was SO BEAUTIFUL. I totally agree that our world is broken by design… God loves us so much that he wants to keep us at a point of need, always on our knees crying out to Him.

I used to think I was God’s favorite child until some horrific events of the past two years… and while its been gut-wrenchingly painful, I’ve come to know God in a whole new way…

1 05 2011
jeannedamoff

Thank you, Melissa! It is such a mystery, isn’t it? And yet there is indescribable peace to be found when we bow low and embrace belief in His never-failing goodness. He truly does redeem all things.

Much love to you, brave heart.

5 05 2011
natalie

“Redemption takes the broken and creates beauty that surpasses unmarred perfection.”

This, my deepest prayer and wildest dream… that His beauty would shine through my brokenness.

On a day when the fiercest battle is fighting off discouragement, your words breathe Hope to a deflated heart.

many thanks
~ natalie

5 05 2011
jeannedamoff

Amen to your deepest prayer and wildest dream, Natalie. May it be so.

Much love to your deflated heart. I pray the God of hope fills it with His peace.

24 02 2015
Sunday Singing and Trusting His Heart.

[…] I do know that 1. God has a plan, and 2. that the low points in our lives are by His design to draw us closer to […]

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