Pain

...now browsing by category

 

Waves

Monday, March 7th, 2011

Part of the inner world of everyone is this sense of emptiness, unease, incompleteness, and I believe that this in itself is a word from God, that this is the sound that God’s voice makes in a world that has explained him away. In such a world, I suspect that maybe God speaks to us most clearly through his silence, his absence, so that we know him best through our missing him.
-Frederick Buechner

I know people who have active, vivid dialogue with God – they speak to him, and they hear his voice respond.  I am not one of those people.

When I talk to God, I am usually answered with silence.

Most of the time, it’s not that I think that God is not there – but, like Buechner says, perhaps his silence is meant to create a longing that I wouldn’t otherwise have.

And for me, these days, does that longing ever exist.

On Friday, I sat at the edge of the Caribbean, listening to the water hit the sand.  It made me think of a line in Alli Rogers‘ song “Closer to the Moon,” when she sings of listening for God’s voice:

“It’s in the aching that you know there’s something more.
I have never heard even a single spoken word,
Except the rhythm of a wave upon the shore.”

The steady pulse of ocean waves reminds me of the voice of God – it’s one of the biggest reasons I miss living in Seattle.  There is a comfort to the sound and the pattern, wordless as it is.  When I feel frustrated and anxious and doubtful that he even exists, the ocean somehow, inexplicably, brings me back around to truth, calming my heart and soothing my fears.

I’m back in a very landlocked Denver now, after 7 days in Haiti.  A mere week was not enough time to even scratch the surface of the culture, the language, the people – but sitting by the ocean on my last day was the best way to wrap up the first of what I hope will be more trips.  Listening to the waves reminded me that God is still there in Haiti, in the midst of the poverty, the devastation, and the crumbling homes – and he is still here in Colorado, in the midst of my sadness, my uncertainty, and my crumbling home.

Tonight

Friday, February 25th, 2011

I am leaving for Haiti tonight – on the heels of the saddest week of my life.

The situation involves more people than just myself, so I won’t say much.  But this is something that began all the way back here – and now, over 8 months later, my heart is torn down the middle like a paper valentine.

I will be boarding the plane tonight a hollow shell.  I could not have planned that the timing of this trip would coincide with the events of the past few days.  I am raw and fragile and physically shaking, and easy as blowing on a dandelion, I come apart.

But I have been shown such kindness in the last few days – from friends and co-workers and even a few strangers.  Thank you for purchasing my songs, and as of today, fully funding my trip to Haiti.  Thank you for your emails and phone calls to tell me that I’m cared about.  Thank you for taking responsibilities off of my plate so I could focus on the crisis at hand.

And as inconsequential as it may seem, thank you for reading these words today.  It would have felt dishonest to not share the state of my heart as I leave – and it’s a really big deal to be able to share a little sliver of one’s struggles, even if just through writing.

Despite all I have lost this week, I am blessed.  I really am.  Next time you hear from me, I’ll be at Mission of Hope, blogging with a Haitian accent.

Bloom

Monday, December 6th, 2010

Hope isn’t always an easy thing, and it doesn’t always feel very natural.  But I’m learning that hope is more than a feeling (more than a feeeeeelingg…) – it’s a choice, a deliberate commitment, like exercise, or saving your money instead of spending it.  It’s the wiser, healthier decision – the one that will bring the biggest payoff, even when it doesn’t feel like it at the time.

Recently, I’ve experienced discouragement and disappointment and hurt – to the point that I’ve stopped hoping for anything, because hoping hasn’t felt easy.  I’ve snuggled up with loneliness, curled my back to hopelessness, and taken comfort in the company of emptiness because it’s what has felt most real.  Hope hasn’t felt real – it’s felt imaginary, like playing pretend, like inventing some mythical creature and expecting it to materialize in front of me.

But the rejection of hope is actually to my detriment.  It makes me an ugly person, a bitter person, one with walls and suspicions and frown lines.  And moreover, as a Christian, I am called to hope, commanded to hope, even when it feels dangerous because of the possibility of pain and disappointment.

It might get cold, and all of our leaves may fall off, and our branches may crack – but hope is trusting that our roots will hold, and spring is going to come, and something is going to bloom again.

It’s just that what blooms might not be what we’re expecting.

This life, this world

Tuesday, September 7th, 2010

In the past week, a lot of life has happened.

I got two different phone calls reporting engagements, and one reporting a suicide.  I had my soul fed by nourishing, true words – and I had my feelings hurt by a single thoughtless sentence.  I felt pretty and then I felt ugly and then I felt altogether invisible.  I clinked wine glasses with some of the most magical people I have ever met, and my heart nearly exploded with the joy of it all.  I laughed until I almost fell out of my chair, and then turned around to speak quiet, quavery-voiced fears to a friend.  I watched a 10-month old take a solid first two steps – and I got word that another friend’s 19-year old son, a boy I used to babysit for, was murdered.

A single painful story can be more than all of the happiness I could ever dream.  This world is not a safe place, and I am at a loss for how to move through it.

Have I mentioned my state of physical woe?

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

Last Thursday morning, I was in a car accident.  Don’t worry – the Honda’s fine – or, at least she will be after the other guy’s insurance pays for a new $750 bumper.  Do you know what this means?  I am losing my bumper stickers.  All of them.  No more “FRESH BEER.”  No more “VIVA NASHVEGAS: EAT MORE RHINESTONES.”

This is probably for the best.

While my car will be spiffed up in no time, I am suffering the effects of whiplash.  My lash was whipped.  I am stiff and sore, and can barely turn to the left to check my blind spot when I drive.  I don’t even want to think about what further calamity this could lead to for the Honda.

But you can’t keep a badass down, and on Sunday, I walked a grand total of 17 miles – a 9 mile hike south of the city, and then an 8 mile walk back in Denver.  When I finally got home, with the force attainable only by a girl who had just walked 17 miles, I stubbed my toe on the couch.  I stubbed it so hard, so mightily, that I thought I was going to pass out from the pain.

It didn’t take long to figure out that my toe – the same one that I broke back in January – is blasted to smithereens.  I won’t go into the dirty details, but let’s just say that it’s swollen beyond recognition (I’m sorry, are you a toe?), and black, and the bruising wraps around to the bottom of my foot, spidering its way up the ball.

Sorry.  Maybe those were the dirty details.

So that brings us up to the present moment: ice on my foot, heat on my neck, wishing for whiskey.

Good morning.

In other news, look what happened to my sister.  She’s always getting picked up by guys.

An interesting past

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

Show me a man with a tattoo,
and I’ll show you a man with an interesting past
.”
-Jack London

Have I mentioned that I’m in Nashville this week?  I am.

I flew in for a wedding this past weekend (Mark and Erin MILLER – holla!), and am sticking around to work from the home office for a week before flying on to Austin for another wedding.  What can I say – three one-way tickets were cheaper than two round-trips.

I am staying in a posh condo right across the street from work, running with East Nasty a couple of times, having fantastic hair days, and getting some good, quality time with my amazing friends.  Call me dense, but I didn’t realize how much I missed Nashville until I got back.

Yesterday, I accompanied the Handy Graham to get his latest tattoo – which was my first time witnessing any such thing.  At one point, I knelt down close to ask him how much it hurt.  “Would it be like me digging my fingernails into your face?” I asked, and thought about trying it just so he could give an educated answer.  But he is tough and manly, and didn’t let on how much pain is inflicted by applying the 11-needle buzzing PEN OF FIRE to one’s achilles tendon.

Today just happens to be his birthday.  Happy birthday, Grahamer!  I hope you aren’t scabby!

And that is a birthday wish I can always stand behind.

Right now

Monday, May 18th, 2009

On Friday night, I attended a memorial service of a dear friend in Seattle.  While there in the church pew, celebrating the life of and grieving the loss of this amazing woman, another friend took my hand and placed it on her pregnant belly to feel the baby kick.

One friend is giddy about a new love interest in her world.  Another is dreading the inevitable breakup she will soon have to initiate.

And after a gorgeous spring day – the kind that confirms that Seattle is the most beautiful city on the planet, and nudges my spirit saying, “Remember what it’s like to smile?” and in which I got sunburned cheeks from being outside at Green Lake and along the waterfront of Shilshole – I spent the evening with, and felt the incomprehensible sadness of, my sweet friend who is living in the ruins of having lost a child.

Death and life, the end and the beginning, profound joy and severe pain; contrasting events juxtaposed in the most poignant way.  It made me feel so small.

And I was re-reminded: the only way to find life is to live in the present.  To be emotionally gutsy enough to feel whatever we need to feel, come what may.  To attempt to live in gratitude, no matter the disappointments or frustrations or non-ideal circumstances.  To find the gift in the “right now” – because life, ready or not, is going to hold a vast spectrum of events, emotions, stages, chapters, seasons.

We have to be present.  We have to.  Because in this life, longing is inescapable – but to be available right now is to be open to hope right now.

Watching and waiting

Tuesday, January 13th, 2009

On Saturday, it was my immense honor and privilege to take part in little Ben’s memorial service in Seattle. The entire service was perfect – every aspect, every detail, was so Ben – from the “Finding Nemo” medley played by the small ensemble, to the many references to the movie “Cars,” to his Aunt Kristen’s fabulous purple heels (Ben’s favorite color). The sight of his gorgeous face on the front of the program literally stole my breath – this was a stunning, remarkable child.

How did it come to this?

Sitting in the front row during the service, I could feel the wave of grief from the thousands of people behind me – the sorrow was palpable, thick. And as I stood onstage alongside my beautiful friends Catherine, Sue, and Robyn to sing, I saw the brokenness in the faces of the community, of the family, of Jeff and Carin. So many had hoped, so many had prayed, so many had pleaded with God to be merciful.

What do we do with our unanswered prayers?

It would be impossible for any child to be loved more than Ben, I am sure of it. And in his absence, there is a void, an ache, a sense that nothing will ever be right again.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true. -Revelation 21:1-5

Come, Lord Jesus, come.

Broken

Friday, January 2nd, 2009

This morning in our new house, because of a miserable failure on my part, we awoke to no heat and no hot water. We have spent the past 2 weeks with no internet, and since I left my phone charger in Kansas City after Christmas, I’ve been limping through with no real phone access. My closet doors fell off the tracks. My Chi hair straightener has mysteriously stopped working. I had a flat tire on Sunday night, and when I called AAA for help, was informed that my service had expired. To top it all off, the first time that Mel used the mug I gave her as a housewarming “happy to be roommates!” gift, the coffee flooded out through a crack in the bottom.

A lot of things in my life are broken. But none more so than my heart.

Little Ben’s broken body was taken from this broken world on Tuesday. And there are simply no words to express the grief, the anguish, the suffering of his family and community. It’s the most devastating tragedy I have ever experienced.

God is good. But life’s a bitch.

Sorrow

Tuesday, November 4th, 2008

Keeping vigil with the Townes today. There are no words.

I am clinging to the truth that no matter how deep our sorrow, God’s love is deeper still. And I’ve heard it said that grace always flows downhill: pooling in the deepest, darkest places of our pain. May the Townes feel that inexpressible peace that passes all understanding.

And may Ben smile his pure-sunshine smile, the one that is so much like his mom’s.