There are hurts in life that are hard to put a finger on. It’s hard to explain them to a friend, hard to make sense of them in your own heart, and hard to learn to bring them to the God who authors the story and cares to hold the hurting heart.
Maybe it’s the loss of someone you love. Maybe it’s your own inadequacies to meet the needs around you. Maybe it’s the discovery of waking up in a world that is different than you thought it was. Maybe it’s a big life change that leaves you unsure of how to find your footing again. Maybe it’s past rejections that you still don’t know how to move on from. Maybe it’s things in life that bring back painful memories that you just don’t know what to do with. Maybe it’s many of these things combined that make life look and feel foggy. Maybe the filter that you’ve learned to experience life through feels a little dusty. If you’re there, you’re in good company, because I’m right there with you, and I’ve been trying to write through it for weeks.
Maybe you need time to dust off the filter, whatever that means for you right now, but it seems the time is scarce and there’s Christmas lists and people to care for and work to be done and laundry to do. And distractions too, lots of distractions that can numb it all for a little while.
Because there’s a desire to just move on and then there’s a questioning how. I like to try to patch my hurt right up, but patching isn’t always what my hurts need. Hurts come with so many questions, and when I patch the hurt I try to shove the questions right back in that little place they came from. That can feel smart because really, I don’t have the answers to all of these questions, and the inability to answer them can really put a sting in my heart. On the other hand, somewhere there’s a burning knowledge in my soul that those questions are there for a reason and that they are each sent to me to deliver a gift to my soul. There’s a need to let the questions come, because though they are hard, though they try me, though they burn things that have sat in my heart for years, they are sanctifying and they are gift.
Cousin Kenneth spoke it at Janie’s funeral this weekend. “God is here with us, He is weeping, mourning, and hurting with us in this time and place. He is here and He is encountering it all with His love, His grace, and His mercy… How do we move forward? We let ALL of these emotions, all of them, transform us, knowing that God is in control and that He is here with us.”
He spoke the reminding words that Jesus wept when death happend, Jesus threw tables at the sin in His Father’s house, and Jesus knew the feeling of being forsaken by God when He was at deaths door.
I have spent weeks looking for the answer to a question that I’m not really sure how to ask. How do I refuse to patch, how do I sit with the hard questions and be honest with them without giving in to the hurt they make me feel. How do I honestly feel the pain in my soul that I don’t even know how to put words to without giving up hope? How do I embrace the gift of all of the emotions while holding on to the love my God has shown me. What do the dark things I feel have to do with the God who I am loved by. How do I embrace the gift of them both simultaneously?
I’ve wondered if there’s some strange secret, some curious set of brain waves to travel to get to the end of hurt, some near magical combination of thoughts to reach all the way through the hurt and find the way through to the other side. No one has ever given me any secret recipe for that.
One thing Janie’s funeral is still teaching me in a way I haven’t learned it before, is that there is not a secret path for me to walk through the hurts of life; instead there is something much better. There is One who has already walked that path for me and has given me His own life to claim as mine. Because of the Gospel, I am loved as the child of the One, holding the hand of the One, filled with the Spirit of the One, who has already walked the hard path that all these questions take me on. He doesn’t give me the complicated roadmap all the way through a life of hurt and leave it to me to find my way through. He gives me something I can handle. He holds the roadmap for this path He has already walked through and He gives me this gift. I can boldly speak all the dark feelings at the foot of His cross where I am loved beyond measure and He tenderly lifts my foot in His own power to take that next step in front of me. Just one step at a time, as a beloved child of God, I walk through a world that hurts, by the power of the faithful love and victorious grace of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.