I’ve been wrestling with this a good bit recently. It’s been one of those things that keeps swimming around my mind, bumping up against my daily interactions repeatedly, yet I’ve convinced myself I don’t truly have the time to name it. Which is truly the fear of feeling it. Of being honest with who I am, where I am, how I feel, and the lies I believe.
The unseen. The broken. The ruins.
To know me well is to know I am deeply passionate about deep, honest, and open friendship. There is no better means to overcome shame and hopelessness than a brave friend saying the words, “me too.”
To advocate for your self, own your presence, and speak honestly about someone’s pointed words and how you experienced them, whether they were purposefully saying what they said or not is holy and sacred work.
Yet, what I’ve been drawn to is the unseen, the unacknowledged, or even the under-acknowledged. I recently read Unseen by Sarah Hagerty and felt her naming things I had yet had the resources to. The way some of my struggles and battles have felt unseen, unknown, or under-acknowledged.
In The Broken Way, Ann Voskamp names these hurts as your own “unspoken broken.” The battles you face that are forgotten or overlooked. I have felt and seen the world of “Mommy bloggers” acknowledge so many of these unspoken brokens we carry, especially as women. Brokenness like infertility and miscarriages or the unseen daily sacrifice and service of changing diaper after diaper and picking up the same toy over and over again. How real is that.
And how real are our unseen hurts, our unacknowledged sacrifices. The prayers I can’t count how many times I’ve prayed, without the result I’ve wanted. The emptiness of grief that feels too sacred to share. The hurt that’s overshadowed by someone else’s. The sacrifice it’s better if no one else knows. But I know. And you know.
Hiddenness. How sacred yet how shattering it can be.
Sometimes the bones we hope could remain “unseen” slip out. Sometimes in a startling way.
His flesh wastes away to nothing,
and his unseen bones stick out.
And sometimes we feel known and loved by our Father who knit us together when we were formless. Who knows our innermost beings.
Where can I go to escape your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
8 If I go up to heaven, you are there;
if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there.
9 If I live at the eastern horizon
or settle at the western limits,
10 even there your hand will lead me;
your right hand will hold on to me.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me,
and the light around me will be night”—
12 even the darkness is not dark to you.
The night shines like the day;
darkness and light are alike to you.
13 For it was you who created my inward parts;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I will praise you
because I have been remarkably and wondrously made.
Your works are wondrous,
and I know this very well.
15 My bones were not hidden from you
when I was made in secret,
when I was formed in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw me when I was formless;
all my days were written in your book and planned
before a single one of them began.
The unspoken hurt, suppression, anger, grief. The overshadowed emotions, fears, doubts. The under-acknowledged sacrifices, unmet needs, and untouched wounds. Unseen.
It feels hard to touch, to dissect, to understand which unseen things should be brought into the light and which should remain sacred. I think truly only we know. And truly only we hold the true weight, depth, and ramifications of our broken heart. Of the lies that ensue and the whispers that sting like venom in the quietness of the night.
You weren’t enough for him.
You weren’t what she needed.
You’ll never be able to do that.
You’re being dramatic.
I recently watched the movie Joy on a flight. Joy is a mother in her thirties barely surviving, raising her children as a single mom and caring for her parents who face some mental illness. She constantly sacrifices to make ends meet, but has a dream where she remembers how creative she was as a child. She realizes that for almost 20 years, she’s been hiding. In the dramatic dream, her twelve-year-old self looks at her and says, “That’s the thing about hiding, you think you’re safe but the truth is that you’re so lost, you’re even hidden from yourself.”
I’ve played that scene over and over again in my head trying to understand what it is about that scene and that dialogue that struck such a deep chord inside of me that has continuously reverberated into my heart, thoughts, and words.
I think sometimes my unspoken broken has been due to external issues, like someone else’s hurt or someone else’s grief, but the most sacred work I have done in the past two years is walking toward the 12-year-old girl inside of me, peeling back every layer of the ways she has hidden from herself to be safe. And in that lost herself.
I think holding some things close to our hearts is sacred, but keeping our own hurt from our own heart is the very opposite.
I think acknowledging our own unspoken broken, begins with seeing ourselves, acknowledging our own broken heart, and meeting our own tender souls with the same generous and gracious care we offer to those around us.