When pain strips you down -

Today was not a good day. It was a hard day. 

About 4pm, I said "Enough of this!" and went to the beach. I never regret time outdoors. It is never time wasted. I came away feeling as though finally my feet were on firmer ground after walking on the hard packed sand and running through the waves. 

There is no better Earthly place for me than the beach. It hears sorrows no one else will hear, it touches me in ways no one else can move, it carries the tears that drop into the sea, down into the depths of Christ's never ending love. Here is where He is. Here is where I know Home is. Here is where I return. Here is where peace usually finds me and doesn't let go.

{All pictures are iPod Touch pictures, taken today}

"I wanna sink my feet, down in security. Unmoved by changing tides, and shadows' shifting lines.
I'm tired of getting worn, let me wake with the morn, once again be reborn, and think about 
Eternity a little more."  ~ Jillian Edwards 

Today was full of good news and bad news, and it was a lot at once. Plus it's been a week of hard anniversaries. 

From the minute my feet hit the sand, I felt the shattered pieces of today and this week fall into the open.
I walked in the waves and on the sand and felt the breath spill out of me. Today was too much, all at once. 

I can't say who I was thinking of when I realized that I was sad. But I was ... sad. Underneath, I feel quite sure that I've been sad all week. I did something new this year called "Distract yourself with everything possible and pretend it never happened.". It works great until suddenly you realize it totally did happen and everything hits you like a bomb exploding, and then you can't move because you think your heart is going to be crushed with all the sadness all at once. Stupid move. 

I think when you have so many people stripped away from you, you feel less like you,
and Home feels less like Home. The beach will always and forever until I die be Home to me. 

When I was driving home from the beach, I was trying to figure all this out in my mind. 
And I finally came close enough to where I think it makes sense. To me anyways. 

When you lose someone, or many someones, and your heart is stricken with grief, you feel as though pain has stripped you down to the bare basics of what you can understand. In those bare basics are the normal emotions: joy, sorrow, anger, fear, pain, laughter, peace, etc. But instead of finding just one, your heart feels many of them at once, and doesn't know how to sort any of it out. 

So in the midst of a joyful moment, you settle on that emotion and knowledge. "This is joy! I will be joyful, for this is joy!" and when you are sad "I'm so sad. I need some space to cry because I am wounded." and when you are angry "I need to get out and run. I need to work this out! I'm angry!", and so forth. 

In those moments, you intentionally pick that emotion and stick with it. It's a choosing, in that time. "This is joy, I can know joy and sorrow together, this is good." or "I will have joy in my heart, and yet allow myself tears. Tears bring healing", and so on. 

And that is how Biblical grief works. That is how the human mind processes and heals your heart. 
That is how we live well in a broken world. It is a "both, and" world for us. 

And it's easier to identify those in others. Perhaps in a party setting, we can SEE joy. We feel it, we express it, we laugh and rejoice and know it. We are comfortable being IN that joy, and we are joyful to know others in that joy. We find the joyful face in the room, and we revel in it. 

There may be real conversations that involve sadness, and perhaps tears and sorrow in the midst of that joyful party, but overwhelmingly, joy will most often pervade and overcome that sadness. Because we have chosen JOY in that moment, and it is what we are going with. We won't let it go easily. 

It's much easier to BE in that emotion, to LIVE IN that moment of emotion, to KNOW others in that emotion, to SEE that emotion for all the God-given blessing that it is. We understand it, we live in it, we enjoy it, we crave the simplicity of knowing just that one pure knowledge of uncomplicated understanding. 

And honestly, it's easier to see it worn on the sleeve of the one without so much sorrow in their lives. 
Because me. Me? Me I don't understand so much. I'm struggling to remember what I wore last Sunday for church, yet I can remember in vivid detail what I wore for a funeral 2.5 years ago. I'm struggling to understand every loss. I'm struggling to hold myself in, and yet, let myself open to grieve too. 

On a beach alone, with the only person ahead, far ahead, and others behind, I still kept swiveling to see if anyone would not understand my tears. I'm so quick to stop myself from grieving in public that I haven't given myself enough space for it. And it makes it hurt all the more. I need to grieve. 

And oh, if we could have had it any other way! And oh, if we could all have gone to the brighter shores of Heaven together it would not ache so!! And oh, if our prayers for healing could have been for this world and oh, if we had not had to say so many goodbyes or seen so many funerals. 

These years. These years have been indescribably hard. Hard that a 5 minute explanation from a question of "Where are you in life?" won't answer. Hard in a way that leaves you crying in some part of someone's house because you can't answer a question you don't know yourself. 

All I know is that joy and sorrow are more intertwined than I ever would have believed. 
And that if I were to really tell you the honest, whole, real, unfiltered truth: is that I am indescribably sad. 

I am incredibly sad. 

I am unbearably wounded. 

I am unforgettably grieved. 

I am impossibly broken. 

I am unwillingly shattered. 

& I am irreplaceably longing for Heaven. 

This depth of pain: it can't be fixed or made better this side of Heaven. It can only be eased by the Lord's peace. 

 Never has a quote better summed up my heart than this by C.S. Lewis - 
"We are not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us; 
we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be." 

Because I have felt the sobs breaking from my throat in the night, I have held the shaking shoulders tight against mine, and pressed their heads onto my shoulders to cry, I have walked more valleys than I could have imagined and felt more sorrow than I believed I could bear.

I have known so much grief and pain. And I have known that God is good in the midst of it.
I have never not known Him to carry me through it. 

But fear does say: "Enough. Please please please, Jesus. Enough. I can't lose anyone else." 

Trust hears the words echo from time and eternity: "It is finished." 

"Now the daylight flees, now the ground beneath quakes as its Maker bows His head.
Curtain torn in two, dead are raised to life - "Finished!!" The victory cry!" ~ The Getty's 

A dear friend shared this quote on FB tonight, and I was in tears at the sight of it, as all these words
tumbled around in my head. This is what I hold to, when rejoicing is so far from me. 

"Cast yourself on Him, and perseveringly depend even when you cannot rejoicingly hope." 
~ C.H. Spurgeon ~ 

This. Tonight. Amid the tears. This is what I can do: I can cast myself on Him, and I can perseveringly depend. 

I can dependI can abide. He is with me, He will not forsake me, He will shepherd me in my sorrow. 

And I will wake with the morn, thinking about Eternity even more than the day before. 

With love always,
~ Jean Marie ~ 


  1. This is my heart today, and these words of yours are my tears and sorrow and my joy too. Your sweet vulnerability truly, truly met me on this road of sadness and longing as I walk through this valley of tears. Thank you!


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