Friday, December 14, 2012

When The World Sparkles While Your Heart Breaks - Part I

My fingertips wrinkle in the suds and I'm emptied out. That's when it hits me, when the pain seems too close, too heavy, much too far away to touch. It happens at the kitchen sink, in the slow-slipping light of late afternoon, in the fuss of children and the chore of homework. It happens with dinner in the oven - the one I thought for sure would break me. The one that had me daydreaming fried chicken legs in a paper bucket.

Out my spotted window the grass gives up, too, jaundice creeping up its tips in broad day when it should be safely hidden under snow.

The house I see has boards in place of windows and a busted up foundation. My hands drip soapy and I look again, consider it all one more time. The vacant house seems right, somehow. I wonder if we're twins.

The tree is up. It's cheery. But it doesn't cheer me tonight. It's too bright, too distracting. Maybe tomorrow I'll love it again. But not today.

Today there are people I would fight for trying desperately to piece together a life where loss and redemption can both have a home.

Today I lost a person I was never brave enough to love.

Today I'm a mom too tired for this tough parenting gig.

Today my friend sends tear-stained text messages and I follow suit.

Today my child is sick and no one can help him get better.

Today jail turned to prison.

I lean one bowl against another, the towel soaked through. I keep washing, my hands going through the motions while my heart seems to exhale. Everything is not okay. It's one thing to find the silver lining, but some moments were reserved for hard truths.

I wonder about the boarded up house - our closest neighbor - and I know I'd be fine if it never went away. I might prefer it that way. Because this is the world we live in, where things hurt too hard and we fall asleep on a damp pillow too many nights in a row.

Maybe it doesn't have to be pretty to be beautiful.

I step back from my hurt and notice again that most of it isn't even mine. These are contact burns.

These tears, the too-long nights, the panicked pleas, all evidence of gifts I have been given.

I'd never make that trade.

The sink drains and the kids don't have a clue. They just want to watch Wild Kratts. They pull me out in a way that only they can do. The tree still doesn't cheer me, but it does brighten the room.

And though I know I can't fix a single thing, the truth pierces me - it's my high honor to walk through this season with a heart that leans heavy.

This pain is the purest gift, bestowed by hearts and hands who have chosen me.

I'll spend parts of every day sucking up the glitzy, sugar-frosted joy of this season, knowing very well that their trees may have never made it up. I'll spend parts of every day begging for their freedom.

I think fudge balls and mistletoe are not high on their priority list and I'm sure they feel a little lost in the glare. But Christmas is theirs, too. Maybe it's especially for them. No, I'm sure it is. Because Emmanuel came. He came to walk in my pain and in theirs. In yours. He came to see it for Himself, to touch it, to redeem it and call it beautiful. He came to be with us and even when it seemed like He left, He didn't.

God is with us.


  1. Christmas is for everyone. Just share it the best way you can. I know you do. Every day in every way. Even when you fail.

  2. We don't know each other but I'm sending you all the love I've got today.

  3. This post is hauntingly beautiful. Thanks for sharing your heart and helping us see more of the bigger picture of the world. You are giving all of us a gift with your words and life. Thank you.

  4. Love has come to walk among us. Do we see it? This is Advent.
    Love you friend.

  5. I am sending up a prayer for you tonight. Please keep sharing. It pulls me on to the narrow and difficult path instead of the sparkly Christmas-lit easy path and reminds me of truths it would be more comfortable to ignore. Thanks.

  6. Oh the tears that I thought had run out today started again on that last paragraph, Shannan. Praying you and yours sense His nearness even more this evening and in the days ahead.

  7. crushed but not despairing...pressed down but not destroyed. raw and wrecked and wandering through today. angry too.

    cried out. wrung out. heartsick.

    Romans 8:24-25 we are saved by hope.

    sending love.

  8. My words are few today. This was so touching and beautiful and sad and truth.

  9. I've come here tonight so our hearts can hold hands and our souls can keep vigil together. I need to share the pain, but find the hope and the love that will help guide us out of this suffering. Thank you for being this place.

  10. My contact burns go deep. God with us...and we so desperately need Him.

  11. I'm behind on the times, but I'm praying for your days.

    In Christ,

    Julie M.

  12. This is beautiful!

    Love and hugs to you and yours,
    FlowerLady Lorraine

  13. Love for others, compassion, obedience trump the sparkly, glitzy stuff any day. Jesus came, he showed up just like you are showing up in people's very real lives. Don't know you but I love you sister and I'm praying.

  14. It's so easy to focus on the hurt, anger and confusion...but you have made such valid point. This year, those families may turn their backs on Christmas, just the year they need to focus the most on that tiny baby who can help heal their pain, who holds them in His palm. Thank you for making me realize that. Once again, my friend, you have spoken the truth. Thank you!

  15. So beautifully written. Thank you.

  16. prayers for you and those whose pain you share.

    it can be difficult- this month- with messages of hope! joy! peace! life still moves on with messiness and complexities and raw tragedies.

    yes, one can only cling and whisper in exhaustion, "too much- help, immanuel!"

  17. Beautifully written...may God always be close to you and yours.

  18. Thank you...


  19. Yes. This is the hard truth I've had to lean into over long years of infertility and adoption and scary doctor's appointments: that to lament over this thing is to worship God. Lament is joining in with God to acknowledge that this thing - this abandoned baby, this diagnosis, this long hard waiting - is not right. Lamentation is a form of worship and thus is ultimately a gift. As we take the time to lament we are drawn in closer to God, deeper into relationship, and more fully into life.

  20. Thank you for your beautiful words. I'm sorry that you had a day that piled on to what was already horrible. "it's my high honor to walk through this season with a heart that leans heavy" - that is beautiful. You comfort others by sharing what is real and that is a true gift.

  21. Oh sweetie, life is so painfully beautiful isn't it? You sparkle for God for us.

  22. So beautiful. Know that you are not alone. Thanks for being brave enough to speak it for me too.

  23. better than any recipe I will make this season....

  24. "i know who goes before me
    i know who stands behind
    the god of angel armies
    is always by my side"

    may i never take for granted that HE is emmanuel and HE is with us...

    beautiful raw post my friend
    thank you for sharing your hurting heart ...
    that sounds so are loved

  25. Now I know why the Grinch's heart is two sized too small.
    It's so yours can be two sizes larger.

    I'm sorry jail has turned into prison.
    So sorry.

    And, I'm glad the boarded up house is a tiny symbol of your greater refuge.

  26. Bless your heart...

  27. I feel the ache in all of this. Tears came when I read "jail has turned into prison." But yes, God is with us, indeed.

  28. I have felt your pain. This was beautiful.

  29. sigh. i love this. i could read your words all day long. and i am kinda feeling the same way.

  30. Oh my word, so many times i read your words and i feel like you took a picture of my life and wrote eloquent words to describe it. the child in prison, the exhaustion and pain that comes from those 'contact burns,' even the oblivious little kids wanting to watch Wild Kratts. i love that i can relate to your posts, it makes me feel not so alone. praying for you.

  31. This is so beautiful. Thank you. This is why I love the Psalms. Sometimes there's rejoicing, sometimes there's thanks, sometimes there's a happy ending, and sometimes there's just lament. No matter what, God's got room for it. Thank you.

  32. We weep with those who are weeping....

  33. sigh.
    so must hurt.
    so much pain.
    brokenness everywhere.
    yet Hope runs rampant and begs for us to look Up.
    our need for a Rescuer is ever so evident in these times.
    only HE can heal, restore, and redeem.
    for that i am truly grateful.
    keep looking up. xo

  34. These are times I constantly have to remind myself that His mercies are new every morning. Sometimes that feels like empty words, but they're not, as Scripture is alive! I'm sorry you're hurting but your compassionate heart makes it an honor to know you.

  35. I think this may be the most beautiful and truthful thing I've ever read.

  36. Contact burns....I want to remember that phrase and I want to have lots of them, even though they hurt like crazy!

    We wait and we hope and we try to share that hope with it came in the form of glasses for 2 boys who desperately needed them. It doesn't change what happened yesterday, but it made a difference to one family in my life today!

    Thanks for writing as you do!

  37. Thank you for writing the words I cannot find. This is the comfort place even in your pain. Because God is here. May he be with all those families and those who are like them who walk thru this Advent in pain.
    Bless you .

  38. Several times today my husband asked what was weighing so heavily on me. I couldn't tell him because I didn't have the words for it. You have the words. Thank you for sharing your heart so beautifully, transparently.

  39. Several times today my husband asked what was weighing so heavily on me. I couldn't tell him because I didn't have the words for it. You have the words. Thank you for sharing your heart so beautifully, transparently.

  40. I want to write like say everything so beautifully and with humility, all wrapped in TRUTH! I am truly blessed by you!

  41. God uses you, Shannan. He gave you an amazing gift. You say what a lot of us feel, but can't communicate.
    My heart is heavy today, too. It comforts me knowing that I'm not alone and that someone who doesn't even know me understands how I feel.
    I love your faith in God. I wish I had a relationship with Him like you do. I'm so stuck though.
    Big hugs for you, tired Mama. x

  42. Amen. "Maybe it doesn't have to be pretty to be beautiful." Oh how this post rings true this season. Thank you for letting the Lord use your beautiful words.