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Five Years :: of Hope

Tomorrow is the five year anniversary of the day my daughter died.

There are two streams of thought I have today:

I am grateful – I see my children running in the autumn sun, I watch my husband holding them, I feel their arms wrap around my legs, and I realize, “Five years ago I could never have imagined life looking like this five years plus one day later.”

I am humbled – My husband and I weren’t blamed for my daughter’s death, we nearly lost our second daughter but she survived due to medical expertise, we have health care, a good home, a very supportive community. I have only survived the death of my daughter, and there was no tragedy in my life before it, and there has been no serious tragedy immediately following it. But others in this world – a significant portion of the current human population and most of humankind since the beginning of Creation – have suffered tragedy after tragedy after tragedy in one lifetime. Holocaust survivors. Rwandan genocide survivors. Assault victims. Orphans. Jesus.

My pain has opened my eyes wide to understanding that this world SUFFERS. It is always in pain. There are many, many who have been nailed heavy blows and the pain is excruciating. I am ashamed of my white girl naivete, that I have lived such a cushioned life and not understood how truly broken the world is and how very broken I am regardless of privilege.

My counselor told me over and over again during the first couple years of counseling, “You are broken. Just like everyone else. There’s nothing different about you than the next person. Your circumstances might have been different, but your fallenness is the same as theirs.”

My daughter’s death has changed everything in me, even my soul. I view the Gospel differently, I view my pain differently, I view the world differently, I view my friends differently, I view my family differently, I view my circumstances differently, I view my money differently, I view my marriage differently, I view my children differently, I view death differently, I view moments differently…..

I don’t want to take a single thing for granted. And I don’t want to think of myself as privileged anymore.

I only want to see God’s tremendous mercy & his lavish grace and love “the least of these,” even if only from a distance.

In processing my own pain, I want to reach out to the world that is in need and say, “I feel it, too. I feel the ache. The loneliness. The shame. The regret. The hurt. The anger. The anguish. The grief. The sadness. The brokenness. I feel all of that, too. You are not alone. WE are in this TOGETHER.”

My friend’s mom suddenly passed away and I didn’t know about it till after the fact. My friend has been suffering deeply from that loss, and though I don’t get to see her often I made sure to hug her at church and give her a knowing smile. After I’d walked away she rushed to me in tears, “Thank you, thank you, thank you. Your hug just means so much. Your smile. Knowing that you care and that you get it and that you’re praying for me. It all just means so much.”

As Jessica Honegger relays in her powerful book Imperfect Courage: we are all in this messed up, broken world together. We have got to be on each other’s team, we’ve got to care about the injustices of this world, we’ve got to share our own stories with vulnerability and humility, we’ve got to see the good in people, we’ve got to hope the best for others even if from a distance, we’ve got to care about something other than our own comforts and our own successes, we’ve got to work through our failures, we’ve got to see Jesus in the middle of the muck & mire, we’ve got to see our weary selves & this weary world that is seeking for Hope & Truth & Love that only comes through Jesus.

Yes, pain and tragedy are fuckin hell. That’s not where it ends for you and me. Pain can lead to healing and healing can lead to empathy and empathy can lead to building bridges and building bridges can lead to others recognizing their own pain and others recognizing their own pain can lead to looking up at Hope.

The Gospel is here for you and me today. Our pain is heard. The Gospel is all about validating my pain, your pain, the pain of this tarnished and torn apart world.

There is Hope for us yet. Five years or fifty years later.

In the hands of the potter,

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