Saturday, October 18, 2014

Beauty From These Ashes

"To love and be loved is both a blessing and a tragedy. It both heals and wounds, salves and scars. Though I know in my heart it is, sometimes I wonder if it's worth it. I'm really scared to love, really scared to be loved."

"Molly, Mamaw is not going to be in the house when we go in this time." I had played on the floor by my grandma's deathbed and sat by my dad at her side for a few weeks prior to this and still I did not believe that she was actually gone.

"Yeah she is, Dad," I laughed playfully, sure that he was joking with me. My little four-year-old heart could not quite grasp the fact that my grandma wouldn't be there. I walked inside and saw the empty bed where I expected to see her lying as usual, and then I knew. I knew that my dad was right. I left her house that day and did not hear her voice calling out to me, "Watch your step!" as she had always lovingly warned me when I left her house and bounded down the porch steps carelessly.

Only a few months after I attended my grandma's funeral, I attended my grandpa's. Two years later, my teacher called all of us together to tell us that our school bus driver, an older man I had attached myself to, had died. A year after that it was an elderly woman I loved named Violet. A few years after that it was my great-grandma.

One afternoon, I sat in a corner of my bedroom and sobbed over the pain and loss my little heart was experiencing. My mom came over to me and with tears gently told me, "Molly, please don't let this loss keep you from getting close to anyone else." At the time, though, my little heart was a lover, and it continued to attach itself to other people. It attached itself to an elderly couple, Roy and Mary, who became like my grandparents after the death of my biological grandparents. Roy is the one who gave me a mint that caused me to lose my first tooth, the one who had me convinced that he drank coffee for dinner every night, the one I visited almost every day just so I could sit by his side on his front porch. Mary is the one who I read books to, who I flipped through the pictures of my baby book with, who I sat beside while I did my homework; she was my "grandma," I was her "little angel."

Then one day when I was twelve our phone rang and my mom called me to her side. I immediately knew what had happened. "It's Roy... I'm so sorry, Molly." My mom cried and tried to console me at the same time, but my heart was broken. A month ago, my phone rang again and I tried to fight back tears in vain while I was on the phone with Mary's grandson. Again, my heart was wrenched. This time, I was 11 hours away and I didn't even get to say goodbye.

Why am I sharing these things? It is not because I want pity, because I don't. It is not because I want attention, because I really don't want that either. I write because I have to, because God has given me a story that He has not intended I keep to myself. I write because I know that every person has a story that is filled with its share of loss and pain.

"To love and be loved is both a blessing and a tragedy. It both heals and wounds, salves and scars. Though I know in my heart it is, sometimes I wonder if it's worth it. I'm really scared to love, really scared to be loved."

These are honest words that I prayed to my Father last night. The truth is, I love deeply and I am deeply loved and it terrifies me. At any moment my phone could ring again. At any moment my heart could be wrenched, wounded, and broken again.

So, why?! Why continue to love and continue to open up my heart just to invite in more pain that I really cannot bear?

Because this is what Christ has done for me (Isaiah 53:5). Because this is what my Heavenly Father has called me to do (John 13:34). Because the gift of loving someone far, far outweighs the pain of losing them. Because in the Family of God, I have all eternity to continue loving them (1 Thessalonians 4:13).

And this is why I trust that God is in the works of turning my mourning into joy, my despair into praise, my ashes into beauty (Isaiah 61:2-3). I trust that He is also in the works of doing the same for you. It's okay to wrestle with the Lord, to ask Him the hard questions, to wonder why He has allowed pain. It is okay to be heartbroken and angry that He has not allowed you to say goodbye. It is okay to pray honest prayers, to let your Heavenly Father hear your heart, to crawl on your knees to the Throne when everyone around you is telling you to run to it but you know you don't have the strength to even stand. He just wants you. The same God who has allowed the heart-wrenching, breath-taking pain is the same God who comforts and heals us of that very pain.

"He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away" (Revelation 21:4).

That's the beauty in these ashes, the hope in the midst of this pain. This life is not all there is. Praise God this pain is temporary, this "light momentary affliction... preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison" (2 Corinthians 4:17).

Father, thank You that even when I do not understand Your ways I can still trust You. Help me to trust You more, especially when my heart is deeply grieved. Thank You that this is not my home, that You are even now preparing a place for me where there will be no more death or crying or pain. Thank You that even when I cannot "thank You," that even when I am in a place of despair and hurt because You would allow me to hurt so much, that You still love me and want me and pursue me. Thank You for holding my heart in Your hands. Thank You that when I cannot stand, I can fall on You; that when I cannot understand, I can still rest in You. Oh, God, You are good. Thanks for loving me.

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