Light and Loveliness

Reflections of Emily Sue Allen

Date archives November 2013

Life & Faith

For the Weary Heart

Standing on the edge of a season that means beauty, love, and fullness to so many, I sit in tension knowing that for many others, this season is not quite so full of goodness. Loss, loneliness, hardship and heartaches that may not be immediately obvious to outsiders, eating alive the insides and the outsides of life, even if the outsides show all smiles.

Solace Arts 2011, http://solacearts.com

It is hard to be grateful in challenging seasons of life. We really just want relief from what hurts, and not be asked to wear a mask of holiday spirit that leaves us feeling emptier than we already feel on the inside. Grateful words don’t come easy to the broken heart. So we just don’t say anything. We try to smile when someone brings their exuberance near, but only halfway because the honest truth is, we feel a lot more hurt than happy.

It has taken me many years to make peace with what I have grown to understand about gratitude. Thankfulness is not about words or feelings. Thankfulness is a position, a posture. A sitting still with eyes closed and palms open, letting our surrender speak silent thanks to God when our lips are not able move, for the breath in our lungs and the promise of new mercies every morning.

Thankfulness is lived by not giving up. It doesn’t mean that overwhelming joy is bubbling forth from the inside at every moment, although that may begin to happen the more we live gratitude in the midst of our circumstances.

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If tears hang close for you, if you have longings unfulfilled, hopes dashed, troubled relationships, and feel the grit of humanity rubbing against tender places–if you feel vulnerable, weak, uncertain, or anxious–I ask you to open your palms face up and see if you can’t reach out. To God, in prayer, even if your prayer feels small. To me…I will pray for you if you don’t have words of your own. To someone near. Live your thanks by not giving up. By not closing in and living in your heartache all alone.

You are meant for relationship, made for connection, and this holiday season, I pray for love to come near to you and begin to heal the broken parts that feel beyond repair.

Life & Faith

Scars

**The first I’ve shared (or even re-read myself) of my writing challenge, from day one on 10/19/13. 

To re-write a story or revisit it with new eyes. To look back on it with enlightened perspective and understand just a little bit what it might have all been about. More than the hurts and traumas. More than the heartaches and loss. A journey toward wholeness, toward a heart sculpted by suffering into an engine for compassion. Eyes opened to goodness and the tenderness of God. Realizing that sometimes what hurts on the front end produces fruit on the latter end.

Our stories are what make us who we are. We have a choice to respond to our experiences–to tear down walls that keep us from real love or plunge deeper in the mire with self-destructive behaviors that take over when we give in to the overwhelming grief. Can we possibly walk through suffering without being stuck in it, endlessly. Like swimming. We are wet all over with life’s troubles, up to our necks in the worries. We can be there, paralyzed still, slipping beneath the surface, or move ourselves toward breath, life, maybe even finding the faith to step up out of the depths and walk across the water with Jesus, who calls us to something much more than we realize. The life He gives is not reserved for the later-on, the afterlife. The joy and peace He offers are for now, right in the middle of our troubled hearts and complicated lives, if we would only take hold of it…to go to Him.

http://solacearts.com

There was a time I could spend hours upon days upon years thinking about how I would re-write my story. Piles of hardships and heartaches that really seemed unnecessary and unkind at the time. If I were the author, I would have written it differently. When we are in a season of discomfort, the only relief we can imagine is to get rid of what it is that makes us uncomfortable. Zip it up and send it away. Bury it deep so we don’t have to stare our heartaches in the face. Medicate the hurt so we feel numb to it and can maybe, just maybe forget it is there. But none of those things really bring the satisfaction or relief we’re hoping for, because there is no suffering and forgetting. Even if we try, the scenery changes, and the characters might as well, but we end up repeating the same story of heartache and loss again and again with a totally new backdrop. Cycles of behaviors that we think help us cope, actually keep us captive in the dark place with tentacles around us, keeping us captive to the prison of sorrow.

We bend, and bend, and then snap in two pieces, or crack into thousands more when the very things we built our whole lives or self-worth around fail to stand in the storm. Families, relationships, friendships, bonds of trust that seem irreparably broken by selfishness, sin, and the pressure to preserve oneself by any means necessary, often leading to hurting ourselves and others in the process.

A healing journey is no walk in the park. As any person with a significant bodily injury what it takes to get through physical therapy to regain some type of normal motion again. It doesn’t happen in days or weeks. Or sometimes even years. And often, some of what was originally there is lost forever. Our wounds mark us. But scars are, or can be, more than reminders of our pain. They can be markers of our victories as well. Reminding us of what we have overcome. Teaching us that we can survive through great hardship. Forming us into thoughtful, compassionate individuals because we know intimately how hard it is to travel the low and broken road.