You might think your story isn't that special, that you have nothing to give. But if you think about it, you'll probably realize that you have already learned some life lessons that others would benefit from. Have you ever wondered how your story might be a powerful blessing to others?
Mary DeMuth's biography on Facebook begins, “If you met Mary today, her joy would confuse you.” I love that. After all that Mary has been through, the fact that she is known by her joy (not surprising if you read even one article she has written) is a testimony to the healing power of Christ. His love shines through her like light through a stained glass window.
Two years later, we are still completely humbled when we consider the massive wave of support we received when Levi died. I am convinced that the support of our community through that first difficult year had a good deal to do with the progress we made in our healing. Yes, the work of grief must be done on an individual basis. But knowing that we were never alone had a significant impact on how brave we were in approaching that work.
I see you there, with your screwed-up face and your well-coiffed hair and your impatient gesture each time someone in the line in front of you dares to order one more thing. I was much like you for many years, and once in a while, I see your eyes looking back at mine from the mirror. May I remember that Kindness is Never Wasted. I hope you learn this, too, my Lady.
By opening up your heart and showing others your weaknesses as well as your strengths, you become more of who you are, and give others permission to do the same. Isn't that the most loving thing to do?
The theme of my life for the last several months has been about becoming brave. My life has become less about protecting myself, and more about how my life can bless others. Sometimes, the things I have done have cost me. But for the most part, they have helped my heart and my courage to grow. Here are some lessons I've learned on the way.
I know that sunflowers think their job is to propagate their species by creating seeds. But today? It was to teach me that even when we've been hammered by life, and everything seems wretched, and we are broken all over the ground, we can still be beautiful.
Are you trapped in the tarry black hole of dwelling on loss? Are you jumping trains trying to hide from it? Or are you figuring out how to keep moving forward with loss as your travelling companion? How to avoid a train wreck on your road to healing, and your dreams.
Obstacles will always be there, right in front of everything you want to achieve or do, from painting a room to building a multi-national company. At the beginning, when there are the most obstacles between you and your goal, it is tempting to focus on those and decide that the end result just isn't worth the effort.
When everything extraneous has been stripped from your life by a loss, and you are left naked and broken, sometimes just getting your pants on in the morning is a big deal. But you look for those moments that you see progress, too. Moving forward, whether in small steps, or giant leaps--in the end, that's the only thing I can really ask of myself.
Love. Faith. Family. These values will be forever intertwined in my mind. And each one, while grand in theme, can really only be made tangible through individual choices, small acts carried out in small ways each and every day. They are built or destroyed one day at a time.
Being human is hard. There is so much pain involved in this thing called "life." But it is also joyful. What makes life easier is walking this road with other humans, and sharing those experiences of joy and pain with each other.
After having children, I really only had one major fear: backing over a child. As recently as last month, Jude gave Jason and I a "get to know you" survey that asked us a few meme-like questions, and this is the answer I put down as "my greatest fear."
And then, twelve days ago, my youngest child--for whom I had prayed for years and loved with all my heart--thought it would be clever to hide behind Daddy's truck as he was taking the big boys to school.
On Wednesday, I found I was grieving all the things that Levi will not get to do that I wanted him to be able to do. I find that writing songs helps me deal with very stressful and emotional topics, so I wrote "Things I'll Never Do". Here is a quick scratch recording on a video for this song.
We all have "cinquefoil" in our lives. Sometimes it sneaks in because we just don't have the time or energy to deal with it right then. Eventually, though, we have to stop and examine the things we fill our lives with and question, "Is this still of value to me? Is this something I want to nurture right now?"
Let's re-imagine a key scene from the gospels together, shall we?
The gathered crowd shouted in a frenzy of righteous indignation. Shouts of "stone her" and "kill the b__" rose into a cacophonic haze of hatred that all centred on the one young woman, barely clothed, who trembled in terror on the rough ground at their centre.
The Teacher started making his way through the crowd, and when men and women saw the look on his face, they fell back from his path in silence, wondering what he was going to do.
The woman squinted up at him, too, wondering what new terror was upon her.
How do you care without bleeding out? How do you protect yourself without becoming callous? How do you draw the line between "making a difference in the world" and "being healthy and whole for me and my family" when your heart breaks every time you hear about the damage done to one of the least of these?
Crisis is hard. Grief hurts. But I would much rather be a strong, tall sunflower, or an intricate and complex bonsai, each a masterpiece of beauty, than a poor, coddled sprout that dies young in the luxury of inadversity.