Sunday, April 22, 2012

I Will Love You Again

If my misery could be weighed,
if you could pile the whole bitter load on the scales,
It would be heavier than all the sand of the sea!...
Where's the strength to keep my hopes up?
What future do I have to keep me going?
Do you think I have nerves of steel?
Do you think I'm made of iron?
Do you think I can pull myself up by my bootstraps?
Why, I don't even have any boots!
Job 6:1-7 (Message)

Grief is a battered boat on a pain-ocean. Its occupants often find their primary grief a magnet for other secondary griefs and heartaches. These intrude to form a constellation of sorrows. It is an earthquake complete with aftershocks that forever changes your emotional geography; bootless bare feet numb to the pain of broken glass underfoot, unending night where the darkness remains whether eyes are open or closed.

It comes to us for so many different reasons. It can come through death or illness, injury or betrayal, calamitous choices or injustice. It brings pain, sorrow, fear, anger, hopelessness, isolation and more. It is the boot thief Job lamented. The future not there anymore. The event that strips down to the bone not just down to bare feet and it makes life ugly and unwanted.

I once knew of a woman whose young son fell ill and never completely recovered. She became his round the clock caregiver. She performed tasks that would have worn me out in eight hours in the hospital but she did them around the clock day in and day out. Several years into this her firefighter husband was burned in a fire an died in a burn center miles from home.

There were parents of a friend I had, a friend who survived a terrible disfiguring car accident in high school only to die when a drunk driver killed her, head on, two weeks after her parents watched us graduate from nursing school.

I have a friend I had to pick up off the floor of her hallway where she was beating her head against a wall to obliterate the images of her husband's infidelity, discovered about the time her child was diagnosed with a crippling medical condition.

There was a church friend who cut herself to release the pain of years of childhood sexual abuse.

I have several friends who have lost their only sons or only children.

The alcoholic family system I came from took part of my own childhood away and influenced my adult life in unhealthy ways that brought sorrow and loss.

We all know someone. Some of us have been that someone. Some of us were doing all the right things when sorrow and loss overtook us. Some of us called to it by name by the bad choices we made. Some of us had our boots yanked off. Some of us pawned them and grief walked on bare feet.

Whatever form grief took and however long it lasted, the remedy I have known was God and time. (It also helps to acknowledge that my grief does not make me an expert on someone else's.)

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

We are not unfamiliar with this scripture, spoken to the exiled Jews carried away to Babylon, and penned by Jeremiah under divine inspiration to give them hope in loss. If we were to read the chapter this is taken from, we would see that God's instructions to those who had lost possessions, home, family, country, and social standing was to build, to plant and to live. (You will see more if your read the chapter).

Those are three things we couldn't care less about when we are grieving. Three things we do not have the strength or ambition to attempt when it hurts to open our eyes. Three things it would not occur to us to do in our struggle to believe God was still good.

God's encouragement remains, "Plant a garden." Plant it in the soil so dry it hurts. Plant where it is strange. Plant it and call to the life that will be restored. Plant the future. I cannot imagine a more joyless and unwelcome task. I could not imagine it even as my hands obeyed.

I was fortunate in that I had family and friends who brought seed and planted along side me but that first seed to drop was one I held in my own cupped hands and whispered to it, "Live."

If your life has a wound let me say how sorry I am for your suffering. Maybe all you can do now is consider the idea that there is a future. That there might be a garden. That there could be seed. Tomorrow or a week from now or a year from now may you have the strength to stride out bootless into a waiting garden with a God-promised future.

You are loved.

I close with the thought provoking words of a survivor of childhood abuse who journeyed from abuse to fruit:

To love life, to love it even
when you have no stomach for it
and everything you've held dear
crumbles like burnt paper in your hands,
your throat filled with the silt of it.
When grief sits with you, its tropical heat
thickening the air, heavy as water
more fit for gills than lungs;
when grief weights you like your own flesh
only more of it, an obesity of grief,
you think, How can a body withstand this?
Then you hold life like a face
between your palms, a plain face,
no charming smile, no violet eyes,
and you say, yes, I will take you
I will love you, again.”
― Ellen Bass

-Kat, loving again, planting in hope

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and he saves those whose spirits have been crushed. Psalm 34:18 (NCV)


  1. yes. we all know someone. we are all that one. what beautiful words to share in this sorrow. to rise and whisper "Live".

  2. Agreed. What beauty to rise from the ashes, if only we would let him plant in us new life!

  3. I lost something I did not think I could lose. Hard. Hard for a long time. One day I bought some daffodils in the grocery store and told God thanks for making them so beautiful. I told myself he grew them for me. I planted bulbs and when they came up I told him I planted them for him. This blog made me smile because I thought I came up with this idea on my own. Didn't know it was in the bible. The loss is still there but there are so many bulbs now between it and me. Josie

  4. "weeping endures for a night, but joy comes in the morning" Psalm 30:5 I'm waiting for morning. . . "

  5. I love how you closed this post with the verse Psalm 34:18. As a few others have mentioned, beauty does rise from ashes.