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Inconvenient.

There’s never a convenient time to break a dish, but especially when preparing to cook dinner.


I reached into the backseat of my car into my duffle bag to find something to blow my nose on.  Tears poured down my face and my chest hurt deeply for my best friend facing her first Mother’s Day without her precious mama.  And it hurt a little deeper for precious friends who were also facing the day without theirs.

This was a hurt I knew.  I remember my first Father’s Day fatherless.  I sat on one of my best friend’s front porches and wept on his shoulder.  I kept asking him how in the world I could ever face more Father’s Days.  I knew my friend would probably go to sleep that night with a pillow full of tears as would a handful of my other friends wishing they could buy their mama flowers.  That tearful pillow was not just something I could imagine, it was a feeling I knew all too well.


I was trying to cook dinner tonight after a pretty long day at work with lots of questions swimming in my head.  I reached to grab a cutting board to chop up some ginger and garlic when a glass dish fell and shattered all over my kitchen floor.

Everywhere.

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I froze for a second (which is my typical stress response) then grabbed a broom and began sweeping up each and every piece, amazed at how tiny shattered pieces found their way in each nook and cranny of my kitchen.  In one hand, I was thankful no one was hurt, especially the three baby kittens that have found residence in my laundry room (We’ll talk about it later).  I was thankful no one was about to come over and that I didn’t have a living room full of guests, but that thankfulness lasted for about a minute.  I was frustrated, not to mention hungry that I could not even cook a meal without something going wrong.  And this just was not the best time for my kitchen floor to be covered with glass.

As I swept pieces big and small into a dustpan all over my kitchen, I thought of how tired I can feel of cleaning up messes.  Yes, physical ones at times but so much more messes in my heart.  I am tired of weepy drives when I struggle to see the road through the puddles of tears crossing South Carolina state lines, wishing with all my heart when I saw the beautiful state flag flying I didn’t think of the one handed to me next to the casket that held my Daddy’s body.

And the inconvenient grief can hurt the worst.  This week I stood with my coworkers in an activity that was supposed to be fun and exciting that for me required choking back tears.  I’m just tired of explaining why things are hard or triggering.  I’m tired of jumping when I hear certain cadences of beeps in a nearby printer because it reminds me of machines in the hospital that I pretended to understand to fathom together some hope of my Dad surviving.

I’m tired of holding the broken with the blessed.  Of receiving sweet sweet blessings, that somehow prove themselves to be the tipping point that knock my mended heart off the counter and back into a million pieces.

The inconvenient grief is often unexpected.  The moments of pure bliss and joy, of answered prayers, knowing there’s a presence missing in the room.  Of still trying to call him after two years to talk through those questions swimming in my brain.


There’s never a convenient time to be broken.  To hurt and to grieve.  But sometimes the shoe drops, even in the sweetest moments, and the pieces of hurt and reminders of loss scatter deeper and wider than you could have imagined, making the cleaning more detailed and time consuming.

Because glass will always be breakable and we are too, but some of the best dinners are served in glass dishes.


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A few summers ago I was rushing to a work dinner when I hit a curb, causing my tire to deflate.  A dear friend and his family pulled up in their van right behind me for the same dinner.  As he began replacing the deflated tire on my car with my spare, his two oldest daughters came up to me.  The oldest began asking questions of how this happened, how it could be fixed, and if all cars traveled with an extra tire in case you hit a curb?  But the younger came and stood by my side and in every bit of her six year old wisdom looked at me with tears in her eyes and said, “Hey Emily Katherine, I’m sorry your car is hurt.”

And I’ve learned these are my two options in those unexpectedly hard moments- to question or to lean in.  To either ask why in the world this had to happen or why ofall moments this had to be the one for me to be upset, or to let myself have the tenderness of my six year old friend, Selah, and just admit that I’m sorry things are the way they are, whether that’s a shattered dish on the kitchen floor at diner time, a hard moment of fighting back tears at work, or a Mother’s Day without a mama.


Thanks for stopping by!

My name is Emily Katherine.  On this page you’ll find lessons I’ve learned through my own story.  You’ll find book reviews and recommendations.  And in between you’ll find a few resources I use in teaching middle school through college students.

I would love to hear from you through your comments!  Click the follow button to stay in touch.

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Unspoken Broken

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.

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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.

-Job 33:21

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?
If I go up to heaven, you are there;
if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there.
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.

-Psalm 139:7-16

The unspoken hurt, suppression, anger, grief.  The overshadowed emotions, fears, doubts.  The under-acknowledged sacrifices, unmet needs, and untouched wounds.  Unseen.

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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.”

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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.


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Thanks for stopping by!  My name is Emily Katherine.  On this page you’ll find lessons I’ve learned through my own story.  You’ll find book reviews and recommendations.  And in between you’ll find a few resources I use in teaching middle school through college students.

I would love to hear from you through your comments!  Click the follow button to stay in touch.

Eyes on the road

Feature photo by Katherine Dalton

I feel like the story of the Prodigal Son has been a key story in my life this year, not necessarily because I’ve had some uniquely wayward experience- I do so greatly need grace each and every day.  But, the Lord has continued to bring this story back to the surface for me.

I’ve been struggling recently with the question What do I do when I am watching a friend walk into a situation I know is not good for them?

We all have been there and I know that friends have been in the very same situation for me.  So what do we do? How do we respond?

I was talking to a friend recently who is battling a season of watching her sister make choices that she knows will cause her pain down the road.  She loves her so much that it hurts to know she’ll soon be hurting.  But, we all have been given advice at times we didn’t want it and know exactly how we received it.


My small group girls have been walking through the book Popular by Tindell Baldwin, in which Tindell shares her testimony, many choices she wishes she didn’t make and scars she wishes were never created.  She shared that amidst this she felt so alone and so broken, but the one thing that kept her going was that amidst it all, her parents loved her.

She had cheated on her boyfriend when she was drunk so he broke up with her and though she was in a sea of consequences for choices she should have never made, her parents bought her a bouquet of a dozen red roses and put them on her night stand and told her they were sorry her heart was broken.


And what I realized recently about the Prodigal Son is that for the Father to have seen the Son coming from a long way off, it means that He hadn’t taken His eyes off the road.

The Father had never lost all hope for His child, never decided to just go on with life and believe His son would always be broken and wayward.  He kept His eyes on the road in eager anticipation of His son’s return and when He laid His loving and gracious eyes on Him from a long way off, He ran to him.


And I think this is how we’re called to love the people in our lives that we see in seasons of brokenness.  If it’s our place to speak boldly and directly about the choices they’re making then may we ever so abidingly do so (disclaimer- if anyone in your life is in danger to themselves or anyone around them, it is not only your place but your obligation to say something and report the situation).  But for situations that are not life threatening, situations that maybe kind of aren’t your business or aren’t your place to speak up, though you are painfully watching them unfold, I think we follow the Father’s model.

Keep your eyes on the road.

Don’t you dare give up hoping that was is lost will be found, broken will be redeemed, empty will be filled, damaged will be restored.

But the Father doesn’t just run to Him, He welcomes him back into His house as a son.

And this is so important.

Often when we are in seasons of wandering, seasons of brokenness, we forget who we are. And the people who make the biggest difference are not the ones who tell us we shouldn’t and are so eager to say “I told you so.”  Instead, the people who make the greatest difference are the ones who look at us in the midst of our broken, lost, and weary souls, and tell us who we are- redeemed, whole, holy, loved, and accepted in Christ.  

“When you see me filled with doubt or self hatred, when you observe me during my worst seasons of discouragement and failure, I want you to both weep with me ad I weep and be filled with hope, not the empty hope that says trite things like “It’ll all work out” [..] but a hope that exists because it sees something in me that is absolutely terrific.  Believe that there is life in me.  I want to catch the gleam in your eye that tells me you know there is more to me than my problems and you are confidently hopeful that good will emerge.  I want you to ache when you see the good buried beneath so much bad, but I want you to be passionately convinced that by the grace of God the good is there, waiting to be revealed.” – CONNECTING, Larry Crabb

So may we keep our eyes fixed on the road, knowing that there is no brokenness, no sin, too far gone that the grace of our Father cannot restore and the creativity of our Author cannot redeem.  And may we remind the broken that in them is wholeness.

 

What do you think?

How have you been affectively loved and cared for in seasons of making poor choices?