Walking through the hard stuff

This morning I got a message from a dear friend saying that she was spending time with her Nan while she is dying of cancer. She knew her Nan lived a good life and my friend was philosophical and wise about that whole thing but threaded throughout the whole message, and largely unstated, was the knowing that regardless of whether this is a good time for someone to die or not, it's still massively painful to endure the separation, to wait for the time when there will be no more giving of yourself to that person with hugs, no more smiles exchanged, no more listening to their heart in conversation. There is the knowledge that there will be no more time on this side of eternity. It hurts, it's a hard reality, one that slams the heart with grief. And what in the world do we do with grieving hearts? Do we lay them out under the surgeon's knife to undergo the necessary surgery to make them beating whole and healthy again? Or do we do the thing I find I have the propensity for, which is to busy the body and bury the bleeding heart, wadding up activities like a handkerchief to stop the endless bleeding. Taking the time to sit slow, feel the pain, breathe deep and allow the grief of loss to rush through the veins is as terrifying to me as standing on the edge of a very tall cliff. Everything in me wants to pull back from that and get behind the safety of the fence but then the infection of sorrow keeps leaching into the body, unceasing, unrelenting and when I least want or expect it. It's called the festering cesspool of pain.
I wish I had learnt as a young child that it's good to cry, to let it all out, to be an uncontrollable mess, but I didn't learn that lesson well. I found my desire for self protection allowed me to hold things in, to try to put all the pain in a watertight compartment where it couldn't leak out, but the heart is porous, it doesn't work that way and the poison flooded on the inside instead of flowing out through my tears. And why do I hold it in? Because I haven't yet learned how to trust. Something on the inside doubts that He, my friend, my life, Jesus, will hold me in that place. I haven't yet trusted that even though I walk through the darkest valley He is with me there, comforting me. (Ps 23:4)


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