I want to write a fun little blog post. I'm stocked up on ideas on what my next adventures in dating one will be and have even started drafting it. But to write about that today is to lie and a while back I committed to telling the truth so I'm going to do that again now.
As a 20 yr old, I was a highly sensitive individual. I remember crying regularly about the pain that this world experienced. I remember feeling on a deeply personal level the pain of those I cared about. I also remember feeling the pain of those I didn't know, the horror and tragedies that were part of this world, I remember grieving when I saw those things happening. I remember thinking; I can't wait until I'm older so that I will stop crying about these things so much. There's so little I can do, surely time will pass and my heart will harden and the pain will lessen and the tears will stop.
In a word. Naivety.
Time has passed, 14 years give or take. And I was so wrong. I guess I could have chosen a path that deadens the heart and the tears would have slowed to a stop. But that's not in my make up. There was certainly a time in my life where I stopped crying or showing emotion in front of my ex husband. But I never stopped grieving for others. If anything time has increased my sensitivity.
About a week ago our family received some tough news that rocked our world for a while. The kind that makes you stand up and pay attention. But unfortunately life never stops for those things does it? You still have to go to school and work and bathe children and make meals. So in the midst of hearing all of that there was little time to process. I found myself crying at my desk on a Friday afternoon for no apparent reason. And my standard response to my tears? Annoyance and confusion. Where were they coming from? Why now? I don't expect being 34 rather than 20 to dull that kind of personal pain but sometimes I wonder why it still has to catch me so completely off guard. It does every time. I forget I'm not made of stone.
On the heels of that a few days later I hear about a woman being murdered that lives quite close to me. She's a friend of a friend and the daughter of a teacher at my daughter's daycare center. It appears to be a murder-suicide of a domestically violent nature. All of that hits close to home and my heart wants to pound out of its chest cavity for the pain of their family. At the injustice of domestic violence. At our futility in the face of it all. It's too much. Too much to carry. It's wrong. God please come, I can't carry this anymore.
You'd think that grocery shopping would be a safe mind numbing activity in the face of the pain. Go do something routine. Just don't think. Make a list, cross off the list and fill the cart, buy the groceries and go home. But this heart, this God given one that I carry around in my chest is on full alert now. I see an old man in his late 80s I'd guess navigating this crowded store on a Sunday afternoon in his little motorized cart. I think kindly of him, his presence isn't annoying to me or slowing me down. I'm grateful for the opportunity not to rush. I think about 20 other things about him and the other shoppers, even the ones annoyed by him, as I fill my cart and then it happens. He misjudges a turn and sends 100s of cans of pumpkins down the aisle, rolling all over the place. I catch his expression for the briefest of moments. Humiliation. Frustration. I wonder if he's thinking about how he used to be the young manager, capable and strong. I wonder if he thinks that life is cruel for taking part of his capabilities from him. I wonder if he's sorry for embarrassing his still able-bodied wife or frustrated for her obvious annoyance with him. Doesn't she understand?
But all I really see is his pain.
And the pain of a family soon to be burying their daughter.
And the pain of my family navigating confusing waters again.
And the pain of officers who wish they would have made it there just a bit sooner to save her.
I can't carry all of this. When I try to bad things happen. I make terrible decision or cope poorly. I know that I can't stop feeling it. I actually don't want to stop feeling it anymore. But I also can't carry it. I have to lay it down and hand it over and let it go. None of that is easy or makes any sense or is even possible sometimes. But holding on to this pain will suck the life out of me and make me sick, whether in heart, spirit, body or mind, it will infect if I allow it to fester.
But right now, it feels like I can't let go either. I'm sitting with it at the moment because I need God to come and take it and I hope he does soon. I know that having a heart that feels is a gift, but it can be a burden too if I don't learn how to manage it. This heart is part of my calling but it can become my stumbling block if I am not careful with it.
Perhaps I'm alone in this, the only one who walks around seeing and feeling the pain of all the other humans that inhabit the earth but somehow I doubt that. In so far as I am called to mourn with those who mourn I will continue to do so, but I'll also be thankful for when the laughter returns.