It takes incredible courage to look on the broken and painful things in this life…to not look away when others shield their eyes. To be willing to enter in with another human being, and carry suffering together awhile. I’ve written before about the “courage to see.” Those who are so brave are greatly blessed with the most sacred of gifts…the nuggets offered by a soul willing to lay their own hearts bare in a world that may not know how to receive the offering, in order that you may see the treasures hidden in a human heart. The beautiful gifts God weaves through a life…the beauty born from ashes…the gold refined from another soul walking through the fire.
There are also the ones who miss it. The ones who stay away. The ones who shield their eyes, because it is too difficult to lay down the shield and look. Because, looking may graze the carefully guarded pieces of our own hearts. Places we don’t want to revisit. Those who, for whatever reason, miss out on receiving the gifts waiting for them when they lift their eyes to see.
Tonight, I had a book signing for Sufficient Grace, in the hometown of my parents. It’s always a swirling of nostalgia, mixed and intense emotions, when I visit their town. There were some dear to me who were there in the gathering of hearts tonight. Those who have always been brave enough to look, and to love us, even in our darkest times. And, there were a few empty places…noticed only by me and a handful of those who know me well. Places left empty by the ones who miss it.
I have spent some time in my life, lamenting the ones who miss out on the most valuable gifts, and sometimes my lament has been selfish. I’ve considered how their absence has brought me disappointment. How I’ve felt left alone, or rejected in that moment. I walk around in human flesh, after all.
But, tonight, I felt great sorrow…not for my own feelings…because, in truth, my heart is filled to abundance with the blessings God gives…with the connecting of human hearts, I could never imagine…with the immeasurable gifts of seeing those who do come and feeling astounded at the miracle of being even the smallest of cracked vessels to deliver His message of grace, love, and powerful redemption. My sorrow is for the hearts of those who miss it. Who sit out the dance…who stay away from the challenges. (And, believe me, I know what it is to try and muster the brave to go when you want to hide in the safe place…I know the excruciating courage it takes to make yourself go to the places no one wants to go…again and again.) Those who cannot see beyond the pain for a moment…those locked in the bitter broken. I struggle often, not to carry the weight on my own shoulders, as if there were some way I could physically carry them to a place of healing…pry eyes open to make them look, and reach inside their hearts…past the carefully built walls…to help a heart see, not only the bitter broken…but more…the grace-filled healing love He wants to pour into them.
But, I am not…nor will I ever be the One capable of breaking through the broken to find a path of mending. Only my Jesus can do that. Only the Holy Spirit can nudge a soul toward His truth.
I was awakened in the wee hours, at 2ish a.m. to a text from one of the boys from my kitchen, reading my book. (Well, actually, I was awakened by Mr. Gerken’s snoring and the residuals of a migraine.) He is one who has had the courage to venture places few are brave enough to go, to expose his heart to the things others miss. That courage has led him to lead great philanthropic efforts to support Sufficient Grace Ministries, as a college student. His willingness to see the very hard things has helped further our mission, so that other mothers will not have to walk this path alone. He, and many other boys from my kitchen who stuff bears and give speeches about baby loss, and send me notes of encouragement, when they have no idea how much I need to know that this humble offering is making a difference in the lives of others.
The picture of him bravely seeing, reading the words from the deepest places of my heart…the words of a mother whose life was forever changed by the words… “I’m sorry, there is no heartbeat.” That picture stood in stark contrast to the empty places of those who miss it. Those who remain shrouded in the pain, disappointments, fear…who stay in the broken places, because sometimes the path to mending means feeling the full brunt of things, leaving the false security of the numbness and leaning into the sharp shards of the shattered shrapnel from past disasters to allow the pieces to pierce through our carefully built walls…to allow whatever pours out to ooze real and raw and true. So the Mender can begin His mending.
I do understand the courage it takes to go when you want to stay, to look when you want to close your eyes. And, I’ve kept my eyes closed too…a time or two. Because I’m His, I’m never allowed to shy away for long. But, the thing is…we do have a choice. I could resist when He prompts…and sometimes I do…and I miss what He has for me. The beauty…the gift.
The good news…the amazing, hope-filled…never leaving us in the muck news…is that as long as we have breath in our lungs, we will be given another chance. That’s the grace we are given. Grace that doesn’t run out. A love that relentlessly pursues us. I am sad for those who miss it. But, as long as I have breath…I hold on to hope in the One who will never stop giving us the opportunity to come and receive the fullness of what He has for us.
There is always a great gift, in showing up, in going when He prompts, in looking on the places that are hard to see…in being stretched beyond our zones of comfort. Here’s to praying that we can muster the courage to see…so that we don’t miss it. And, here’s to being ready the next time, if we missed out on this opportunity. For all of life, every moment, holds opportunities to see His love and grace at work.
Lord, help us to see. Give us strength and eyes and hearts that won’t miss the gifts you give. How ever they may be packaged.