It’s that moment when the phone rings, that bit of news you always feared would come, that conversation with a friend and her world has shattered in a million pieces. And we cry and try to understand the why. There is no why. Just heart break.
I remember the first news. Where I was standing in church when I happened to overhear my youth pastor say to a fellow youth leader those dreadful words: We need to relax today because we just heard that one of our youth passed away.
Who? My world stopped. I couldn’t breathe. Who is it, Pastor Nate? Zina. Then he rushed off to find his wife.
My world wasn’t stopped anymore. Now it was spinning. I sat down and felt like I was tipping over still. I sobbed it out on a friends shoulder.
Church – His body. When one hurts we all feel the pain. And we need each other’s shoulders to cry on and arms to lean on as the world tips off its axis.
Her funeral was bigger than her family realized. I remember the weight that had been crushing my heart lifted as they talked about how Zina loved Jesus and her passion was evident – I hadn’t known. How do you know, as a youth leader, that when they go off to college if they’ll remember anything you tried to teach them? But she had. More than I could have hoped. We’ll see her again one day.
Fast forward one month… the phone buzzes. A text from a dear friend. Then another. Life keeps shattering bit by bit. I can’t help them, but I can pray. We will be ok. I try to say what I can, though I know nothing will help. I didn’t know that when their worlds crashed in… when their hearts broke. I did not know that mine was about to crash even more. A heartbreak I’d never known.
It was a Sunday afternoon in February. The sun shone. Bright on the snow. I had just had a beautiful day at church and was just finished dinner with family. The day was as perfect as could be, in spite of the hard week. Sunday is like a fresh slate – we all get a second chance.
The phone had rang twice and I missed it… 5 frantic texts and a voicemail from my little roommate/sister in Christ. I called her back – her voice shaking: Claudia passed away. Last night. No one knows why. She’s gone.
My world crashed. My heart shattered.
It couldn’t be real. I loved that girl. Tried to help her through her mess and pain… reached out countless times and heard her stories and tried to point her to Jesus. She always pulled away, but I knew one day she’d see and know My Jesus.
I couldn’t breathe. Guilt overcame my senses. Did I do enough? What if I missed something? I should have tried harder. Oh Jesus… that poor little girl all alone in that apartment. What could have happened to her?
When grief and guilt overcome, it’s hard to control ones actions and reactions to life. And sometimes the way we react is to shut down completely.
If we shut down we cannot feel the pain. If we can’t feel the pain we can go into a sort of waking comatose in which we pretend that everything is ok… when really, our hearts are shattered.
Sometimes it seems the only way to survive heartbreak is to pretend it never happened.
This was the beginning of what I call my breaking season. I’m currently learning to heal – bear with me as I’m still rusty. My heart shut down in order survive the pain. But some say when you shut your heart down to pain you shut out the love as well – and Jesus is the one who loves. My heart also shut down to beauty and creativity as well. (To be quite honest, I haven’t written much this year at all since the breaking season. Not writing – it’s almost like not breathing. Suffocation.)
My desire this month is to share my journey of brokenness through this blog as I read through a sweet book called, “The Broken Way” by my dear friend Ann Voskamp. I’ve learned that grief takes time, hearts need to be held, and pain is part of the beauty. Also, the pain is eased when holding tight to the Body of Christ. We are all meant to hold each other through the breaking.
More next time… just one last golden quote from this beauty book.
(The Broken way can be preordered at http://www.thebrokenway.com. Release date: October 25, 2016!)