Sometimes I use music to silence the ache of my heart, but there is no song loud enough to remedy the ache I feel when death comes incredibly close. Death always feels sudden and unexpected; sometimes it is and sometimes it isn’t. In youth and old age, the heart ache is just the same. What is not expected is the piercing pain that is with you when you rise and prevents you from sleeping. Causing you to toss and turn with questions you’ve never fully considered until tragedy has made it’s home in your inner circle of friends or family. No longer a tweetable article you sympathize with, YOU KNOW the victim(s).
I write about this as my heart has wrestled with what is true and what I feel. I feel pain, anger, and hurt because I know God can (and does) heal, but He has not in this instance. How do I reconcile my aching heart with what my mind knows to be true? A friend is no longer here; a family member will never again give me a warm embrace and tell me that I “need to eat more chicken to put some meat on my bones.”
As I increase in age, I have intentionally sought to simplify my life (some might call me a minimalist), but somehow it has become more complex. Somehow in my thirties, trite answers such as, “everything happens for a reason” are no longer sufficient. This response leaves me with little ability to be receptive to a statement which lacks empathy and seeks to assuage my ache if only temporarily. This response now seems artificial; like ingredients that shouldn’t be touched. Artificial when family and friends are dying of cancer. Artificial when sudden car accidents end the life of the first, consistent, positive male role model I ever had. Artificial when drug and alcohol addiction destroys the life of a young man biologically deemed father, yet emotionally and physically distant.
Tragedy has made its home in my heart and it is bitterly painful. Parts of me want to apologize because of the toll this grief has taken – that’s not going to happen. This need for apology causes me to desire to tuck away my vulnerability so that my friends and family can behold an apparently “happier” version of myself. That is not healthy and is no longer my method of coping. In earnest, I am not sure how long grief will be present, but I have made space for it. I am allowing myself to feel the pain of loss and to cry about it over and over again because this brings some healing to my soul. When the Healer (Jesus) doesn’t heal physically, I know of no greater remedies than:
- Those who remain close enough to listen, pray, and cry with me.
- Constant reminders of the beauty of community and that I do not have to be alone. I can choose the presence of those that love me especially in my weakest, most vulnerable state.
- Those who speak the truth in love.
- Beautiful memories imbued with laughter.
- Honestly sharing my disappointment with Jesus who can shoulder it. No longer waiting for all of the answers to life’s complex situations, but somehow gaining better perspective of the resurrection and the beautiful gift of eternal life that death gave me. Learning the spiritual principle of God producing life out of death.
At the crucifixion, death came when some of the people present wanted healing. From Jesus’ selfless act a newness of life has been made possible for all. All can be made new. Brand new. Maybe death is more complex than I thought. More complex than my longing for extended life so that I might personally gain or benefit. More complex for sure. I’ve learned how to praise God when prayers are answered as I expected; I am now embracing the difficulty of learning how to do so when they are not. In order to do the latter, I must remember who the God I serve is…He is just; He is love; and He is a good father.
My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the LORD. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. – Isaiah 55:8 [NLT]