I feel an exhaustion and ache and hurt that permeates my entire being. There is a dull throbbing pain which goes clear to my soul. Too much, just too much has happened and I want to turn back the clock, turn away and pretend that everything is good and normal and this is a bad dream. Sadly, I can't. I can't take back my words at work that flew out of my mouth in a fit of fury and arrogance. I can't take back the day last week that my grandchildren's other grandparent, and the father of my son's wife, put a gun to his head and pulled the trigger. I can't dry their tears, because I can't dry my own. So I cry and I ache and I hope. Because there is always hope, even when things are hopeless.
When things are good and right, hope is unnecessary. There is little to hope for, because things are as they should be. It is in the midst of the storm that I cling to hope, to the trust that tomorrow will be better and the day after that and the day after that. How do you find rational words to describe an irrational act? How do you tell children that he never wanted to hurt them, when all they feel right now is hurt? How do you help children cope and heal and feel safe, when the adults are all acting worse than children? So I hug and I love and I listen. I listen to children's questions, ones that do not have a good answer. I listen to a daughter's pain and grief. I listen to a husband and a father who fears and hurts for his family. I listen to people I have only a cursory relationship with, as they look to me for words of understanding and comfort. I listen to the words of a man, who hurt so much he couldn't live another day. I listen for the voice of God, who seems so very far away. Yet, he is close and near. He is weeping with all of us, holding every broken person. He was there when the gun went off. He was there when a father-in-law discovered a bloody, bloated body. He was there when the children's world was shattered. He heard the wails of the survivors at the funeral.
I talk and reassure and give the right responses, the ones I learned in my counseling classes. They seem so hollow and inadequate. I feel like a fraud. They all turn to me for strength and for answers and I am short on both. I move forward as I am mired at the same time. I wait on the Lord, on the healing, on the wisdom. Yet, even as I wait, I keep taking one step at a time, praying that none of them are missteps.
In the depths of my hurt and weakness the Lord sends me comfort and wisdom and love. J is my rock and my lifeline. He pulls me out of the dark and helps me find my footing on solid ground. He tells me the truth, the things I need to hear and believe. His care and concern are humbling. His love is strengthening. He is a voice of reason, when I think reason does not exist. Scripture and poetry speak to my heart and express the feelings I cannot put into words. A friend messages me, the truest words I can imagine, given the situation. She will never know how her words are a salve to my soul. "It is senseless to us, and the only thing that made sense to him, I think that was the only thing he could see. He would never want to cause such pain for all of you. I just believe he could see nothing else. I pray he may now truly rest in the peace. Thank you for your friendship and trust. You are such a strong women and I am blessed to know you." It makes me wonder how I am a blessing. I do not feel strong or good or wise.
Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful. Hebrews 10:23
I think of God's people. I think of the Jews coming out of Egypt, moving forward on their faith in the Lord's promise. I think of the Jews in the death camps, clinging to their faith and God's promises. How can anyone have faith or hold onto traditions after something like that? Yet the traditions, the ritual, are comforting, familiar and hopeful. I feel a kinship and an understanding. I feel their hope, it sustains me. So, I take up holidays that are not mine, not part of my heritage. I will embrace this new year, a fresh start. I pray for mercy to be shown to me over the next year. I will hope for better times. I am a wild branch that has been grafted in. I am an adopted child, grateful for the grace and love.
Even in pain, I am so greatly blessed. I am blessed by J. I am blessed by good friends' words. I am blessed by my faith. I am blessed by those broken survivors in the wake of a tragedy. For he is compassionate and gracious and slow to anger and abundant in loving kindness and truth.