Tag: christianliving

Broken but Beautiful

Grief and Infant LossSara's Space

Back in the beginning of July, I had a series of really bad days. I was lonely and felt like no one cared about me and my broken heart anymore. I am now just “the girl whose baby died” to a lot of my past friends.  People don’t treat me the same as they once did and I have definitely lost friends during this last year. A lot of friends, in fact. Infant/child loss is a very lonely road to walk down and that lends to some very bad days because sometimes you just need one person to reach out and say they love you and are thinking of you and your baby…..but it doesn’t really happen often at all. Most days I’m able to function and even put on a smile and laugh. I think of Luke every day, and I’m sure that I always will. Most of the time now I’m able to think of his adorable little nose and precious little kissable cheeks without collapsing into a pile of broken pieces. I will always long to see and touch him again, but I don’t always fall off the deep end when thinking of him anymore. Some people reading that may think “you must be moving on.” Wrong. I’ll never “move on” from the loss of my baby boy. The truth is, I’m still very, very broken. But I am finally learning to allow God to repair my brokenness. In doing so, I hope that one day, I will be made into something more beautiful and useful than I ever have been before.

On one of those lonely days in July, I actually picked up my phone (bad idea, by the way) and I sent a mass text to several of my family members. I have a huge family and they are truly all amazing people. Anyone of them would go to the ends of the earth for any of the others. But one area we all fail at (myself included) is reaching out to one another in the hard times. We will at first, and then eventually we begin to assume one of the aunts or one of the other cousins is following up; and we just…..drop the ball. Seriously, I’m so guilty of this very thing myself. Guys, if you’re reading this, know that I love you all and I know that I’m just as guilty of it and I don’t fault you one bit. So…out of my loneliness and honestly out of desperation, I sent them a message letting them all know how much they’d failed in making sure I was ok and that I was drowning and needed them. I didn’t come out and say the last part, but every one of them got that hint loud and clear. (They also stepped up to the plate too. They really are wonderful people.) One of my cousins sent me something that I have kept in a note on my phone since our conversation that day. I’m going to share a little of that with you now…..

“Most of us are more broken than we would like to admit. It’s in allowing God to repair us that He shines through the best.”

Wow. He could have stopped right there and it still would have been amazingly inspirational for me. It made me realize that I wasn’t allowing God to repair my broken heart. How dishonoring to the One who created me to tell Him “No! You can’t fix this!” But he didn’t stop at that simple (but profound) statement. He went on to tell me about Kintsugi. I added a little link there for you to be able to read all about what Kintsugi is, and I encourage you to google some images of it too, because it’s seriously beautiful stuff. Here’s a little breakdown of it though:

Back in the 15th century, when a bowl or vessel of some sort was broken, the standard for its repair was to use metal staples. This method was not very pretty and likely did not restore full functionality to the piece needing repaired. As a result of these issues, a Japanese craftsman developed a method of repairing pieces that not only restored functionality, but also looked better as well. Most people obviously would prefer the cracks to be completely hidden, as if the damage had never been done at all. This applies to our damage too, doesn’t it?? Can’t my heart be put perfectly back together again??? Can’t we just be the way we were before…..? I don’t want people to see my brokenness.

The problem is, when something is broken, the pieces can never be fit back together again and smoothed over perfectly showing no signs of previous damage. Rather than attempting to cover up the damage, Kintsugi actually uses the brokenness of the piece as part of its beauty after it has been restored. It is done with the use of a lacquer resin mixed with powdered gold, copper, bronze or silver to essentially glue the pieces back together. Even items that are missing pieces, either from completely shattering and basically turning back to dust, or from simply being lost; can be repaired using this technique.

 

Check out that vase. See those huge gold pieces in there?? Those would have been massive holes in the vase had they attempted to repair it without using this method. Those holes would have rendered this vase useless and something to be simply thrown in the trash. And that bowl….how pretty is that bowl?! The gold cracks running throughout it make it stand apart from other bowls that were essentially just like it.

 

Right now, I envision my heart looks something a bit like this…..

Not quite complete still, but the beginning of healing. There will always be a couple big gold chunks that stick out, but if I let them, they can be used to make me something far more beautiful than I ever was before. God can piece my heart back together again and fill in those huge holes where Azaliah and Luke are missing with something beautiful that will actually honor them far better than I could do on my own. He can take my brokenness and make something amazing out of it. I will always bear my scars of infant loss. I will always remember my babies and think of them, and even cry for them. But if I let Him, God can use those scars for good.

 

 

No one has a perfectly unbroken heart. We all have scars from our past and maybe even our present. It’s how we choose to repair those broken pieces that determines much in our lives. Will you continue to live in brokenness & despair and maybe even in anger and bitterness? Or will you allow God to make something more beautiful out of your scars??

PS: Ken, thank you for impacting my life. I love you, cousin.

First Visit

Grief and Infant Loss

Sara writes a lot more on our blog here about grief than I do. A lot of that has to do with how we are hard wired so differently. I usually have a more difficult time sharing the more personal aspects of life unless there’s a solid biblical lesson or exhortation I can pull out of it. Like most men, I don’t typically wear my emotions very close to the surface, though Sara often reminds me how much of it is actually written on my face like it’s God’s billboard. A lot of times, I can’t really even describe what I’m feeling in the moment and it may take some time before I can adequately put it into coherent thoughts.

Keep reading

Living on the Mountain Tops – Part 2

Grief and Infant Loss

In my last post, I pointed out from John 16:33 how we, as Christians, will inevitably experience trials and tragedies in life. It is simply one of those unfortunate truths brought about by a sin-cursed world and fallen humanity. We will find ourselves in various valleys throughout life. Some of them will be a shallow dip between mountain tops while others will be a deep and arduous descent that will test our faith in the worst ways. My main point last time was that how we live and prepare on the mountain tops will determine how well we are able to navigate through those valleys. This time, I want to give you three spiritual preparations that will help you prepare now, before you come to your next valley. If you are in a valley now, these things will be a great help to you in your climb out.

The first, and most important spiritual preparation you need to make is to take care of your eternity. Do you know for sure that you will join Jesus in heaven when you die? Chances are good that if you’re reading my blog, it is likely you either have that matter settled or have been presented with this truth before. However, if you have found your way here because you are struggling with deep grief and/or the loss of a child, let me pause for a moment and tell you something.

Jesus tells us in John 10:10 that He came to give us life, and an abundant one at that. The first step toward that is to recognize our need for God. You see, we are all sinners (Rom 3:10-23) and because of that sin, we are separated from God and are destined to spend eternity in Hell to pay for that sin (Rom 6:23; John 3:18-20; Rev 20:11-15). The bad news is that there is nothing we can do to fix our situation (Eph 2:8-9). The good news is that God loved us so much that He paid for our sin Himself (John 3:16) and all we need to do is acknowledge our situation and accept His gracious payment by calling on Him for forgiveness and salvation (Rom 10:13). If you want to get this settled and aren’t sure what to do next, please send me a message. I desperately want to hear from you and help you.

Now, why did I stop to make sure that matter was settled? I mean you didn’t come here for a sermon and altar call right? Well I’m glad you asked. Without Christ, your valley will be deeper, darker, and more desperate. If you lean only on people, they will disappoint you. If you lean only on yourself, you will find the support is rickety. You may eventually find a way to live with your pain and be less sad or depressed, but apart from God, you will find no true and lasting healing. Understanding eternity and God’s desire to spend it with you is the only thing that can truly transcend your pain. Whether you can overcome grief in the next year or you have to live with it until you draw your last breath, your pain is ultimately temporary if you have Christ (Isa 25:8; Rev 7:17, 21:4).

The second spiritual preparation you need to make is to prioritize the things of God. If you want to be able to lean on God in your valley, you have to be close to Him first. We often have this tendency to neglect spiritual disciplines such as prayer and Bible reading when times are good and forget that we’re supposed to be walking with God. Then we wonder with amazement why God seems so far away in the hard times. It’s not that He has abandoned us. It’s because we have wandered off the path He is leading us down and ultimately away from Him. If you want the comfort and healing of God in the valley, you need to stay close to Him on the mountain top. When times are good, it’s important to develop and cement your prayer, reading, and church attendance habits. It’s important to establish and cultivate those relationships with other Christians that will be a great source of help and comfort in your times of need. It’s important to get involved in a ministry or two of your church. All of these things are ways you can draw close to God, and you can rest assured that He will draw close to you at the same time (Jas 4:8)

The third spiritual preparation you need to make is so simple that it’s often neglected as a silly exercise. You need to count your blessings. Some of the best medicine for both prevention and treatment of a sad soul is the realization of how blessed we truly are. If you are reading this post, it is likely that you have a computer (or smartphone) and an internet connection which means you have (or have been provided) expendable income and the spare time and freedom to do so. That in itself makes you more fortunate than a vast number of people in this world. As Americans, we generally have our real needs met (food and shelter) and are concerned more with how much excess we have. God has promised that if we put Him and His business first, He will provide for our needs (Matt 6:33). Everything beyond that is truly a gracious blessing. Whether you list them out on paper (which I highly recommend on occasion) or simply enumerate them in your head, counting your blessings will show you just how bright and vivid your life really is with Christ and make the dreary portrait we paint in the midst of our grief seem a little less real.

I’m not promising that these three spiritual preparations will insulate you from all pain and grief or that they will immediately wipe away all sorrows. What I will promise is that if you employ them in your life consistently regardless of whether you are on a mountain top or in a valley, those tops will be a higher, those valleys won’t be as low, and wherever you are, life will be infinitely richer.

-Ματτ

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