My heart is hurting tonight. My heart is healing tonight. Can both of these take place at the same time?
I ask that you indulge me in a digression for the moment, for I need to explain how I arrived at this crossroads.
Two years ago. This blog.
What ignited my heart to write publically was my pain. Bob- my tumor, who has been my constant companion the last few years.
My reminder that life is too precious not to forgive others. Not to forgive myself. To look for the beauty even in the most unlikely places.
As I began to write and write and write some more, way more than I ever anticipated, I shared about pains that preceded old Bob; the demons of my teenage self, the tragedy of losing my marriage- my community, the physical pain of breaking my pelvis, and the emotional struggle of caring for my children in the midst of my broken body and broken heart.
I would never say I was thankful for those moments or seasons. Never.
Do they make me stronger? Yes.
Do they take my down paths I never would have been down? Yes
But never thankful. Never did I need to go through all that.
In fact, quite the opposite.
I endured. Endured.
Are we done yet, I would ask Him, my Lord, my Rescuer, have I been through enough?
Am I through yet?
But today all of that changed.
This week I am working at a home that takes girls out of the dumps of Managua. The vision is beautiful.
They care for these girls who have experienced extreme poverty, physical abuse and/or sexual abuse. They do an amazing job. My job is focused on the unseen need. The staff. Those that care for these girls. In between trainings and meetings and spending one-on-one time with ‘house’ moms and directors of the home, they sent me the girls to talk with.
There is something sacred about creating a space where people can utter words that have never been given life before, born right before your eyes.
A safe place for one’s deepest shame- sadness- grief- unbearable grief- to slowly peak out it’s hesitant head.
Details poured out before me and we talked back and forth.
Silence. Spill. Trickle. Silence.
I watched it like a dance coming to life right before my eyes.
Each one different. Unique.
I was amazed at the pain these little bodies had suffered and equally as in awe of how resilient they were. They were looking- stretching- reaching for purpose and hope.
I saw the fruit planted by their faith in God. A God that has saved them and loves them well.
I saw the fruit planted by these warriors – these workers- who have made this much more than a job.
A family. A love.
I don’t want to glamorize it because this is hard work. Frustrating. Tiring. Steps forward only to fall back. The progress is there. Slow, but there.
Beautiful little seedlings sprouting before me.
And as I lay on my bed tonight. Silent. Reflecting. I find myself pleasantly surprised by my thoughts.
A little one in the group. Her words played before me.
We need to start wrapping up, I quietly offered, but before we do, do you have any questions for me?
It was quiet for some time after it was translated. A long time.
She didn’t look up, but whispered. “Do you know what it is like to feel rejected?”
My heart sank. I swallowed hard.
The interpreter looked at me as the words spilled out of her mouth, her eyes not able to hide her surprise.
I glanced back to the little one sitting before me, head still hanging low.
Yes, I said slowly, her eyes eventually finding their way to mine. I shared briefly but enough that she knew I was no stranger to that pain, giving her permission to share more.
And the dance continued.
This image lingers before me as I lay tonight.
The prayer flowed out of my lips, the words forming before I realized what I was doing;
It’s time to thank you, Lord. For all the times I have suffered greatly. The times I felt like I couldn’t go on and even if I did, the pain was more than I wanted to face. Thank you for the times it kept coming and coming, because there is one thing I am so certain of, oh father of mine. As I lay here tonight, I would not have been able to sit with these girls- this staff- one after the other- tragedy after tragedy- without the suffering I have endured.
It seasoned me.
It seasoned me well.
I am starting to think, my Lord, my Rescuer, that perhaps I do not seeing suffering as you do.
Not to be endured. Not to be simply redeemed. But welcomed for what you have purposed me to do. I’m starting to undo what I thought suffering to be.
For today, I saw the healing in the hurt and found it beautiful.