She struggled with it. The way it felt inside of her chest. The things it had spoken to her. The emotions it forced her to feel. The way that it had become both her greatest asset and yet, her biggest liability. The rooms it contained – some full, some empty…some locked. It was broken, yet beating. Bleeding out, yet still viable.
Her heart had not stopped as she had thought it would…and in the stillness of it, she heard a whisper.
I put my pen down, pushed my mug back and sank down onto the warm patio table in front of me .
“God, why is this still so painful?”
It had been a week. A week since the papers were signed. A week since the beginning of the end had become so much more than a phrase to me. A week since the blue ink had dried and my lawyer had hopefully called me “honey” in her dull brown office for the last time. Two years since I had sat outside on a morning a lot like this one and asked God why I felt like I just couldn’t reach my husband.
It was beautiful this morning. Late summer. Birds chirping. The sun filtering through the trees in the way that I loved so much, making the chlorophyll in the leaves glow and shimmer. The warmth of the sun had made me move my position from one chair to another and as I struggled to get comfortable on the outside, on the inside I was unraveling. I forced my swirling thoughts onto the notebook paper, determined to make sense of them, grasping for some nugget of truth to hold onto today. “Focus, Jen,” I told myself. But it kept happening. Somehow this vessel inside of me kept filling up. I struggled to manage it, to focus on my thoughts instead as it brimmed and drops began to splatter onto my black sweatpants. The vessel tipped, and I was poured out. Again. For the third time this morning.
“God, it feels like I will I cry like this every day for the rest of my life.”
I surrendered, not wanting to keep it in yet not wanting to feel it pouring out. I wasn’t just feeling the pain – I could see it. He was giving me a visual…a rendering…helping me to grieve.
With my eyes clenched shut, I watched myself opening a door. Faint light filtered in through a dirty window on the right side of the room. Broken pieces of furniture lay strewn across an old hardwood floor, covered in dust. Curtains hung awry on the window frame in front of me, ripped and torn. A heaviness hung in the air. I walked to the middle of the room and hunched over, bracing myself as I began to cry. Slowly, I knelt facedown – my fists outstretched on the floor – as wracking sobs went through me in waves, so painful that they were silent. Everything was gone. I sank deeper and deeper into the tear stained floor with each wave until the tears stopped coming .
It was over.
Slowly I sat up, feeling the weight of the stillness. The vessel was empty again. I was dizzy but peaceful, my jagged breath the only sound in the quiet. Feeling something warm on my feet, I drew a sharp breath and opened my eyes. Reesie, my dog, lay at my feet on my new red brick patio. The sun was still warm. The album in my headphones had advanced several songs.
I squinted in the light and picked up my pen again.
“God, give me hope” I wrote. “Lift my head as I cry so hard that I feel like I am becoming part of this patio table. Bless this heart and heal it. Let this destruction give way to love again. And joy. And beauty. Please help me trust You.”
It had felt like a blessing and a curse, this heart of mine with its rooms. I had always struggled with it. The emotions that it forced me to feel. How it felt so much at one time. It was my biggest strength and my greatest liability. It was broken, yet still beating. It was bleeding as it was torn in two and rooms were emptied. And I asked him…
Why do I love so deeply?
Why do I have to feel this pain?
Why have you asked me to walk this road?
And then in my mind, I saw her. A woman, weeping at Jesus’ feet. Weeping like I had just been. Broken, as I had just been. Praying for redemption, as I had just been.
I grabbed my Bible on the patio table and looked up “tears” to see if I could find her story. And there in Luke 7, I read the most beautiful words.
“Therefore I tell you, her sins have been forgiven…for she loved much.” (Luke 7:47 NIV)
It was just like God to bring her to mind in a moment like that. When my heart had been pierced and was throbbing. When the weeds of the day had been ripped out and the ground was ripe for planting. It was just like him to pour out the sorrow and make room for Truth. It was just like Him to remind me that the heart that I had was the one that He had specifically given me…and He knew exactly how to care for it.
Maybe you’ve been there. Maybe you are there right now. Maybe you’ve experienced a loss, a wrong, that cut so deep that your whole life has been thrown off balance. Maybe you are tired of facing the same challenges every day with little signs of hope or change. Maybe you are searching for courage to do exactly what it is that He has called you to do. Maybe you too are looking for comfort. Or answers. Something, anything, to grasp onto.
Maybe you too are tired of the vessel in your heart brimming with years of broken promises, disappointments, and dreams that are now shattered.
Whatever your maybe is…I promise you, friend, His is bigger. He longs to be with us and comfort us in the moments when our vessels become full and need to be emptied. He longs to replace the broken things in our hearts with “maybes” of His own. He longs for us to let Him into those moments that are so painful that our cries are silent and we are sinking into the floor.
The woman who washed his feet with her tears was forgiven, was saved, because of the depth of her love. And we are saved – and so beautifully comforted in ways unique to each of us – because of His.
“We love because he first loved us.” 1 John 4:19
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39