December 31, 2014

When 2014 ends quietly



There is something terribly daunting about an empty page. A blinking cursor.
How can I cram these weeks and months into words, to make my silent blog not-so-silent? Do I even want to? I wasn’t sure. So it sat quiet.
Life was not quiet.
Fall flew by in a blur. October was crammed full of meetings and school and work and prep for my upcoming trip to Thailand. Ready or not, we were leaving on a jet plane.
And then, Thailand. How do I describe Thailand? Amazing. Wonderful. Providential. Holy. Devastating. Heartbreaking. Life-altering. I laughed so hard I’m sure I looked crazy and cried so hard I thought my heart would just burst open. We saw children sold in front of us, and we saw children offer themselves for sale. We spent afternoons playing jenga and drinking sprite with new friends who would be sold that evening. We saw God move. We loved people. We left it all on the field.
I came home exhausted and spent in a way I cannot describe. Jet lagged, yes. But much more than that. Utterly emptied of my strength.
This was a good thing. I remember sharing with our team several days before we left – there was no Kristi left. I was toast. The only One carrying me was Jesus – I had no physical, spiritual, or emotional strength left. And He really did – He carried me.
This was how I came home on Sunday afternoon. Monday, I got a call from our social worker – she wanted to meet with us regarding D’s family. Tuesday, we met with her in a small, sterile room across a little table; she told us that D would be going to live with his grandmother. What day would we like them to pick him up? I wanted to say “never.” Instead, we said, “Friday.”
I can’t put into words how difficult November was. My heart was not broken – it was shattered into pieces. Some pieces were scattered in the red light districts of Thailand, some were with my little D who I loved like he was my own even though he wasn’t… who I desperately longed to have as my own son while at the same time longing for his family to be restored.
I am a slow griever. I’m usually the one at the funeral who doesn’t cry much, and then a couple of months later can’t seem to get myself together. In some ways the loss hurts more now than it did in November. And that’s ok – D deserves to be loved so deeply that his leaving hurts terribly. I still find myself listening for him to wake up from his nap.
The thing about times of grieving and heartache is that no one can fully understand. NP can’t fully understand my feelings, I can’t fully understand his. Our Thailand team experienced much of the same things, but we processed them in very different ways. Friends and family wanted to hear what the trip was like, how we were doing after Daniel left… but we just couldn’t fully describe it, and they couldn’t fully get it.
And that’s ok. Jesus can. Only Jesus can.
Elkanah could not comprehend the depth of his wife’s grief – no one could. So Hannah poured out her soul to the Lord {even when Eli the priest thought she must be drunk!} and found Him to be faithful. 1 Samuel 1.
Hagar found herself so unjustly used and mistreated that she ran away and wandered alone in the wilderness. God found her, and she discovered that He was the only One who really saw her. Genesis 16.
The woman at the well tried hard to isolate herself, to avoid the painful truth of her own life, to avoid the condemnation of others. Suddenly she found herself face-to-face with Messiah, the One who knew everything she had ever done and yet still loved her with scandalous grace. John 4.
In this age of social media, of so many, many words, our human need to be seen and understood seems amplified. I constantly hear from women that they feel isolated, like no one understands, no one really sees. And they’re probably right in some ways. Proverbs 14:10 says, “Each heart knows its own bitterness, and no one else can share its joy.”  
No one else fully understands what 2014 has been like for me. And that’s ok – I’m going to let them off the hook. They can’t fully comprehend it. And I can’t fully comprehend their pain, either. The pain of an unwanted diagnosis, the loss of a dear loved one, their marriage struggles, a financial earthquake… perhaps I’ve been in a similar situation, but only Jesus can fully see. Only Jesus can carry their grief. Only He can understand.
I think that’s part of the reason why, sitting in a smelly stable after a host of angels had sent shepherds to greet her Divine baby sleeping in a feed trough, Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. (Luke 2:19) Because who could understand that?! Who would even believe her? Who could understand the joy and exultation and fear and uncertainty swirling in her heart and mind? Only God.
I don’t know what 2014 has been like for you. Even if you’re a close personal friend, I can’t fully comprehend what 2014 has been like. But He can.
Let’s agree together to let one another off the hook a bit, shall we? To stop demanding that people understand us? To understand that they just can’t, even if they try? To give ourselves permission to not attempt to explain… to ponder in silence?
He sees you, dear one. He understands your joys, your pain, your shame, your worries about what lies ahead in 2015. Cry out to Him and you will find Him to be faithful.