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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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Review of And Still She Laughs by Kate Merrick

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I tend to find out about books to read through other author’s recommendations via Instagram or Twitter, but I found this read quite nostalgically.  I was in a strange period of time in my life when I was between books without a queue.  That feels strange to even describe as I now have a stack of at least 20 (no joke).  I channelled my inner Meg Ryan in You’ve Got Mail and went into a bookstore.  I walked down the aisle and this book caught my eye.  Though familiar with the publisher, I had not heard of the book or its author.  It felt strange to hold a book in my hands rather than read reviews on Amazon.  I remembered lessons from my elementary school librarian and read the back cover and flipped through a few pages.  I was sold and I’m so glad I was.


We all have a story.  We all have tragedies and losses and heartaches and miracles and real life, and while so much of life is glorious, sometimes it gets ugly.  No one is exempt.  We share in this thing called humanity, and I want us to feel– really face head-on– the reality of life with all its pimples and less attractive bits.  I believe it makes the joy more vibrant, the laughter louder and stronger.  So bear with me, cry with me, but please, please, laugh with me.

In this work, Kate Merrick shares about the difficult journey her family faced through her daughter Daisy’s cancer, ultimately ending in Daisy passing away.  She describes the ups and downs of Daisy’s cancer, when she and her husband felt hopeful and hopeless, when she was angry that these were the cards they had been dealt, and when she would lay in bed and hold every precious minute she had with Daisy.

While this read is heart wrenching at times, I was so blessed by Kate’s metaphors for grief.  She described the phenomenon so well and so honestly, even naming some facets of grief I had yet been able to put words to.  She talks honestly and openly about meeting God in the depths of doubt, hurt, pain and bitterness.

Nearness to God results in a banquet of peace beyond understanding, with a heaping side of joy.

Merrick connects her own story and struggle to many women in Scripture who were similarly handed unfortunate cards.  She bravely challenges her readers to move at their own pace, but to keep moving.  To keep pushing on and pushing away the barriers to return to the sweetness and intimacy of God.

If broken Bathsheba can say in Proverbs 31 that an excellent woman laughs at the future, so can I.  If Sarah laughs at the newborn manifestation of the promises of the Lord, then I will too.  Grief is real.  It is intense.  But what is more real, what is more intense, what is eternal is the hope of Christ, the drying of tears, the new heaven and new earth, the final conquering of death.

Through some of the most broken experiences of her life, Kate Merrick nudges readers of And Still She Laughs to shift their perspective from defining God through our circumstances to defining Him through His Word and proven character.  She holds the sacredness of grief and the depths of suffering she has faced, but walks with bravery and honesty into the truth of Scripture that provides the hope with which broken bones can rejoice.


Cwo_36H90YyZDh57ZRc3-wLpbFUXDKAFpDqTD3rIdhQThanks 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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Hope

I’ve found myself a little behind on my Advent reading, how about you?  I shared a couple years ago how observing Advent was new for me until about five years ago (To read more click here.)  But gracious, I have fallen head over heals into every way of observing this season of remembering the waiting, hoping, needing, and even sometimes doubting the arrival of Jesus.  A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices.

But hoping has changed for me in the past two years.  When you embrace a hope of clinging onto and believing with everything that you can, when you put your whole heart on the line with no other option of believing anything else and that hope is deferred.  All hope feels lost.  And empty.  And silly.  And a waste of time.

Yet Advent, is a season of hoping, believing, and knowing that Jesus will come gently and quietly into a lost and grieving world.  Amidst groans and cries for relief, his very presence whispers, “I hear you.  I see you.  I know.  I’m coming.”

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Yet in my own groans and cries, hope seemed too vulnerable to put on again.  I could never again face the hurt I felt of hoping and believing with my whole heart to see healing, to see a miracle, to spend more Christmases with my Dad, and my hope was unfulfilled.  It only brought to mind so many other things I had prayed, waited, and hoped for that also were unmet.  Unfulfilled hopes I still carry.

But I’ve learned to see hope differently.

Hope is far more a waiting for something in a hot, sticky mess than it is a peaceful, orderly affair. – Sarah Bessey, Out of Sorts

Hope is not just knowing.  Hope is trusting enough to place your every bet on what may make absolutely no sense to believe.

And knowing if not, He is still good.

Hoping, vulnerably placing every single ounce of our weak and scared souls onto God fulfilling his promises is one of the absolute bravest things we can do.  And for me, one of the hardest things I’ve ever recovered from.


(Warning: I will probably get some facts wrong.  Friends who are knowledgable about space/science/etc. please correct me.)

On October 15, 1997 the Cassini satellite was launched on a twenty year journey.  Cassini ventured further into Saturn than any other previous explorations, observing its moons that may be suitable for life and its rings.

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Upon reaching its 20th year, NASA planned for Cassini not to return back to earth, as it had consistently sent all images and information back to NASA’s headquarters.  Rather, Cassini concluded its pioneering through its “Grand Finale” by going further and further toward the surface of Saturn until Cassini could no longer endure the conditions.

On April 26, 2017, Cassini began its Grand Finale, sending images of Saturn as it reached closer and closer to its surface until after 20 years of discovery, Cassini’s mission was completed.

This video explained it’s Grand Finale in a way I loved.  The narrator describes Cassini plunging 22 times around Saturn’s rings then making its final decent to the surface of Saturn, “fighting to keep its antennae pointed at Earth as it transmits its farewell.”  On September 15, 2017 Cassini sent its last images of Saturn to NASA, concluding its 20 year mission.


If I’m honest, I think learning how to hope again, has felt significantly more like fighting with all I have toward something that feels so unsafe I may be destroyed, than it has felt simple, safe, or peaceful in any way.

Lacking the energy and sometimes faith to hope, in many situations I haven’t.  And I’ve regretted walking away from loved ones who are hoping and holding onto believing in a miracle with all they have.  And I’ve called that silly deep in my bones because I didn’t have the faith to claim and believe in my own miracles.  I only had space to hold my unmet hopes.


But in the sweetest of ways, this Advent season has felt really different.  Really hopeful.

Of sharing in the waiting of centuries.  The waiting and hoping that looked much more like groaning, doubting, and grieving.  And amidst that waiting, believing and knowing that “Unto us, a child [will be] born.”

Hope is vulnerable.  It’s pressing deeper and deeper into our Father’s ability while simultaneously pulling us further and further from our own control, even our guarding our hearts.

But the beauty of our Father that Advent keeps bringing me back to is that He is a God who “fulfills His promises.” (Hebrews 10:23)

And as I read through the prophecies that point to the life of Jesus, God the Son, I am overwhelmed once again with how dependable and sure our hope is.  How God will always prove Himself true.

And I’m writing HOPE all over my Advent book as I read:

“He has rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of the Son he loves.  In Him we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”
– Colossians 1:13-14, CSB

“What the law could not do since it was weakened by the flesh, GOD DID.”
– Romans 8:3, CSB

“Now since the children have flesh and blood in common, Jesus also shared in these, so that through his death he might destroy the one holding the power of death- that is, the devil- and free those who were held in slavery all their lives by the fear of death.”
-Hebrews 2:14-15, CSB

I’m learning to hope that my faithful Father will do what He says, even though He’s proven it time and time again, while the enemy loves to whisper the times my help felt unseen.  I’m working to allow myself to vulnerably lay all my heart deeply hopes for at His feet, and to know this is what He calls me to.  I’m learning to believe that I will receive, like a child who lays their head on their pillow, knowing Santa will bring them just what they asked for.

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Because our faith never calls us to be logical or to trust as much as we’ve seen trust fulfilled, but to have faith like a child.  A faith that cultivates hope.


fdb3Thanks for stopping by!  My name is Emily Katherine.  On this page you’ll find lessons I’ve learned through my own story, primarily in the sudden loss of my precious Dad on my 22nd birthday.  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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10 things to say to a grieving friend

1. “You can only be where you are.”

My counselor said these words over and over to me as I kept feeling like I should have made some kind of peace with my grief, I should have found some kind of purpose in it, or I should feel like I could go a day without a splitting headache. Shoulds can be really loud sometimes, but what wise friends shared with me in the pit of grief was I could only be where I was.  If that meant that day I was angry, that day I would be angry.  If it meant that day I wanted to cry, I would cry.  And if it meant that day I just needed to do something mindless, that was okay too.

2. “You’re going to disappoint people.”

Any experience with true grief is an experience of disappointing those around you. Expectations will go unmet and obligations unfulfilled and while I often carried this guilt, I learned that to truly hold my grief often meant not having space to hold ways I had previously shown up.

In her book Out of Sorts, Sara Bessey states that “We sort our lives on the threshold of grief.”  Something about grief, about seeing the frailty and brevity of life changes us.  It makes us.  Often for a time it sends us searching but it always leads us to new understandings and perspectives, also manifesting in new parts of ourselves.  A friend shared with me that this sorting of ourselves on the threshold of grief is like rearranging your house.  While we are reevaluating and moving around the furniture for its best, practical use, if a friend comes in to sit down on the couch where they have always sat, they will fall to the floor.  Becoming new versions of ourselves means not showing up in ways we always have.  Honest grief will cause you to disappoint people and it is a season, in which, they can only be understanding.  Their season will one day come.

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3. “That makes sense to me.”

No more gracious words graced my ears for the summer months of 2016 than these. When I would share the deep pains of my heart, the big questions that kept me up at night, or the fears I had facing the future, some would try to start statements with “at least” or quote scripture to me, but blessed friends would look at me with love and say the most honoring words “That makes sense to me”.

4. “I love you.”

Simple enough but goes the longest way. Your words won’t fix the hurt, but your continued loving presence will minister so much more than any words ever could.

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5. “I’m so sorry.”

Affirming the hurt and not trying to fix it. Saying you’re sorry to a grieving person makes room for them to sit in their pain in your presence.

 

6. “I’m here for you.”

When you need it and when you’re ready, even if that isn’t right now. I’m here for you leaves room for them to best define how they need you rather than assuming.

7. “Where do you see God right now?”

This one is not for the faint of heart due to the extremely honest nature of the depths of grief. You may be met with “I don’t. I literally can’t even begin to think about him.”  And you may be answered with “everywhere and in it all.”  But making room for them to share and wrestle with their walk with God when you aren’t afraid if their wrestling, anger, or doubt is an incredible way to care for those who are grieving.

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8. “That’s really brave.”

When someone is honest about the questions they are wrestling with or the doubts they have in their theology, rather than answering their questions, sitting with them in the asking and affirming their courage makes you an extremely safe place.

9. “How are you?”

They key to this question is to not stop asking. “How are you?” “What does grief look like for you right now?”  not only the week after a loved one is lost but in the months to come.  Remember the anniversaries and birthdays.

10. “It’s not lost on me.”

This is one of my favorite lines Coach Taylor on Friday Night Lights would say to a hurting player. He would look into a young man’s broken eyes and compassionately share “It’s not lost on me” that you’re hurting, that you’re angry, that you don’t know what’s going on.  Friends who remember your grief and bring awareness in a caring and private way are friends whose ministry is never forgotten.


 

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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, primarily in the sudden loss of my precious Dad on my 22nd birthday.  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.

Guest blog: Summer to Winter

My guest blogger today is my very own big brother.

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Michael is 6 years older than me and over 6 feet tall.  He has always been the big and strong brother, but in the past year has been brave in whole new ways.  I remember the very first night we were in the hospital together.  Michael and I got locked out getting something from the car and had to take a long way around to get back to the small room our family would be sleeping in that night.  Michael told me he was feeling the pressure to be the strong one, to be less emotional and more fearless, despite the fact that he was just as scared as the rest of us.  I was so proud of his openness and have only been overwhelmingly proud since of the courage he has taken to be angry, hurt, broken, and lost, because that’s the road grief walks you down.  Michael got all of the creative genes in our family as you’ll see in his writing style.

Thankful for you.


“Learning to weep, learning to vigil, learning to wait for the dawn. Perhaps this is what it means to be human.” – Henri J. M. Nouwen

This summer – I was reeling from the loss of my father, but found myself having to still do my job. I had flown to California for our largest annual event and had been assigned to filming and conducting some really personal interviews.

In this process, and between interviews, I overheard a conversation begin with a gentleman I did not know, about how his mom had just been diagnosed with cancer. So early in the process that they had no action plan yet, no treatment arranged. Just the sudden weight of it.

By the time we actually introduced ourselves to each other, it was a hug and not a handshake. And we were both in tears.

He and I have kept in touch, often, since that day in the summer. Me to check on his mom and his family, and he to check on mine.

Thursday night, I found out his mom passed away.

I wept for a woman I had never met.

I wept for my friend and his family.

I walked to dinner with my head swirling, unable to be a part of the conversations around me.

And when I made it back to my bed I turned out the lights and typed this note on my phone.

How do you offer “hope” when you can be so certain it cannot yet be felt?

Perhaps “hope” in these moments, is that you don’t hurt alone.

And that maybe, hurting is such a deep part of being human.

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Weep. Mourn. Wail.
Freely. Openly.
Let no man question you for this.
Let no man doubt your marrow.
There is so much strength – in coming undone.
I was told grief is love’s receipt.
And I let it wash over me. Still do.
Wave after wave.
Left rooms to weep in solitude.
Restaurants. Bathrooms. Hallways. Pulled over and bottomed out. Head on my steering wheel. 
Stood sobbing in the shower. 
Still do.
The friends that know that broken, will stand tall when you cannot. 
Texts. Calls. Dinner. Silent moments sitting. Pain filling their eyes. 
An overflow of their own.
These moments are pure. 
Be carried and baptized in their wholeness.
And throw your rocks at the moon. 
Every question and hurt and pain and doubt and fear hurled into the night sky. 
Full force. 
Core to extremity. 
Unleash. 
Til you collapse exhausted on a tear dotted pillow.
And wake up only to find the first fleeting moments of the day, where you actually have to remind yourself how much you have lost. 
And how much you hurt. 
And you sink back into your mattress…
To weep. Mourn. Wail. Freely. Openly.

-Michael James Dalton

Dust

Today, I opened  Microsoft Excel to do a project and soon found myself weeping angry angry tears on my couch.

It’s just not right.  It’s not right that my Dad isn’t on the other side to be able to call when I can’t figure out what I’m supposed to do.  It’s funny how the small things seem to cut the deepest.  You prepare yourself and build up your defenses for the big ones, but the small ones catch you off guard and cut deeply.

I missed being able to call you when I was moving into a new house.  I missed you being here to get everything perfectly set up and organized.  I missed you when I held a baby and rocked him to sleep and thought about what an incredible grandpa you would have been.

Gosh, I hate it.

I hate that there are no answers and only tears and anger and hurt and gaps.

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Big giant gaps with your name written all over it that only you know how to fill with your easy going, steadfast, long-suffering presence.  Your presence that carried a peacefulness that put everyone around you at ease, yet you knew that if you needed the slightest thing you would move mountains without asking questions.

Grief doesn’t make sense.  It doesn’t make sense that angry tears on a leather couch somehow mean progress.

I’ve found myself questioning and challenging everything I’ve ever believed, shaken to my core, and amidst all of it just missing you, your presence, your voice, and the way you saw and knew me.

Today is the start of November.  Another start to another month of another season that you won’t see and I hate it. I’m tired of trying to tell myself to look at the trees and tell myself that death is beautiful because it isn’t.  It’s painful and heart wrenching and it is a deep soul pain that I have felt in the most real and physical sense.

I wasn’t prepared for this.  Every book I read and movie that I watched was a story that involved some kind of conflict or difficulty or hurt but it always ended in resolution.  No one wants to go watch a story of a broken heart that just stays broken, a losing team that just keeps losing, or a Dad that fights with all of his strength for his life and dies a week later.

I’m tired of the mundane.  I’m tired of the clicks and ticks and noises that remind me that time keeps passing.  I hate the word passed.  I’m tired of telling people that you passed.  You did so much more.  You were so much more that you deserve a bigger and richer word.

I don’t get how to make sense of the lack of resolution, how to find a God that knows all and sees all and is in control of all and loves His children in the greyest of grey areas I have ever known.demolition

Even as the words are being formed from my mind to the tips of my fingers I’m telling myself these thoughts aren’t okay.  It’s not okay to not be okay and we aren’t okay with people that aren’t okay.  We aren’t okay with death, loss, grieving, and feelings.  We’re barely okay with someone responding “okay” instead of good when you ask them how they’re doing in the least sincere way.

But as much as stories with unhappy endings make us angry, we don’t know how to enter into our own, better yet the ones around us.  The loose ends confuse us and make us question what we believe and hold to be true.  So we stay away.

But You know my frame.  You remember that I am only dust.

I read these words in Psalm 103 and was honestly kind of offended at first.  Oh I’m only dust?  I am barely surviving by the 20 minute break that allowed me to rush to Starbucks and get an extra shot in my latte to do all that today asked of me and I’m only dust?!

But I am. I am only dust and the only context that my small, small frame has ever known and felt and believed is dust.  The dust that formed the world around me as You spoke it into existence.  The dust that you took to form a man to use his rib to create the woman who would become the mother of all creation, of all that I know, of all that I’ve loved, of all that I’ve lost.  Dust. 

Its make up makes it seem so very small, so minuscule, so inadequate of grieving, questioning, and beating up against all I have ever known.  But that is the very heart of the problem, that all I have ever known is dust.

But you are a God that knows all and sees all and is in control of all and loves His children enough to believe for them when they don’t have the framework that all we have ever seen and known and held dear is dust.  It’s vanishing, dissolving, frail, and messy.  You see us as the child C. S. Lewis describes satisfied making mud pies because she has never known a holiday at the sea.  You lead us by still waters.  You restore our souls because you have given them glimpses of more than the dust we have known.  Like the little pieces of asphalt that reflect and sparkle the light of the sun.  Amidst our mediocrity and inadequacy there are pieces of something more.

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So I’m done clinging to the old and the rugged.  I’m holding fast to believing that amidst the grey and the dust and the emptiness and my frailty, You understand that I am only dust.  But you know there is so much more.  And on the other side of dust and limited glimpses is resolution.  And in the dust, You are still creating.

Small.

Growing up with 2 older brothers will regularly remind you of your inferiority, primarily in terms of physical stature.  For me, this reminder was all the more in my face, and what was in my face was really their collar bones as both of my brothers grew to be around 6 foot and 5 inches tall.

I was always small and easy to throw around.  I always needed help with carrying heavy things and reaching tall ones.  I was the go to one to sit in someone’s lap when we only had 4 seats rather than 5.  I was referred to as “little one”.

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Recently, when my Dad suddenly passed away, I felt the very opposite.  Despite the fact that I was only 22 years old, 2 weeks shy of graduating from college, I was making life or death medical decisions, caring for my Mom in the loss of her husband, filing life insurance claims, and really having to be a big girl.

My mom and I talked about a month after everything about just how old we felt.  I told her I felt that on my birthday (the day my Dad passed away), I felt I had aged at least 10 years.  Nothing about me felt only 22.

But here recently, I’ve felt back in that place of being the shortest, the youngest, and the weakest.  I’ve just felt small.


I read a note a very kind and thoughtful friend wrote me the day after she had sat with me as I cried.  In it she said, “I want you to know you can always be small with me.”

And it’s exactly how I’ve felt.  Last week I moved into a new (to me) house.  I got all of my stuff inside and my family headed home and I had this moment when I had to make myself literally focus on breathing one breath at a time because everything hit me at once.  While I’ve had to be so big, inside I am still so small.  There was no part of me that had the energy to unpack and move in, no part of me that felt capable of managing a house and bills, and I just felt really overwhelmed and really small.

But there’s also a sense of being small I’ll never get back.

You see when you grow up having a Dad like mine, there is something about his presence.  Despite the fact that I always feel like I have to have a plan, keep my ducks in a row, and always make sure everyone is taken care of, with my Dad somehow all of that went away.  I knew he was capable.  With him, my mind could rest because I knew he had it all under control, had my best interest in mind, and would do absolutely anything to keep me safe.

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And I feel small when I miss him.

I feel small when I’m doing laundry and think for a second that something in the dryer is his, when I find a dryer sheet and remember how he always thought it was good luck to find a dryer sheet in your clothes.

I miss the feeling of being squeezed so tightly in his chest and knowing just how very safe I was.

I felt small when I popped a tire tonight and had no clue how to change it.  And I feel too small to go to get it repaired without a Dad to call on the other end to help me know what to do.

I’ve tried to tell myself that I’m feeling small so God can show up for me big, but I honestly feel like He just keeps making me smaller. And smaller. And the moment I start to feel like I have everything under control again, something else hits the fan to remind me that I don’t.

That nothing is predictable.  No part of creation is under my planning or supervision.  I am not in charge of my safety or capable of protecting myself.

So what do I do with that?

I’m learning to be small with Jesus in ways I never have before.
I am learning to stop coming to Him offering Him whatever I can muster up and keep pretending to be okay.  I’m coming to Him weak and empty and broken.

And He hasn’t met me in every empty place.

I know that’s not what you want to hear.  It’s not what I want to be saying.

He hasn’t.  Sure, He has been mindful of it and loved me in it, but there have been gaps that I have felt the depths of.  And I think He stays the satisfaction on this side of Heaven to remind us of the brokenness of the world we live in.  We feel the pain of it to remember that despite the beauty of His presence, it is not our complete healing and satisfaction.  Sometimes there are gaps.  Sometimes I sit in my car and cry because my heart gets broken and it just feels like it isn’t surprising anymore.

I’m learning to be small with other people.
I have fought since I could breathe to have it all together for everyone else.  I needed to be the leader, the front runner, the caretaker, whether or not in the spot light.  I have needed to perform, to prove, to measure up and sometimes the ground underneath your feet gets taken.  And I’ve been stripped of this to the point that I have been lost as to how to even interact with people.  I’ve wanted to keep people safe from the depths of the sadness and scariness of my heart, but thankfully blessed friends have pushed deeper.  I’ve learned that ministering to people doesn’t mean being invincible, but being broken with them.  I’ve learned to stop trying to be people’s Savior and remember just how much I need one.

I’m learning that it’s okay to be small.
I remember my brothers getting annoyed at having to help me sometimes.  They didn’t understand why I couldn’t just take care of myself or why I couldn’t just understand what they did.  I remember feeling so bad and telling myself I would just fake it and be big.  When people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I said “six feet tall.”  I felt shame for being needy and not being good enough and tried to muster up the strength to function at the same level of my two brothers who were older and bigger.  But you can’t function as what you aren’t, at least not without failure and difficulty.  And I’ve tried to be big and strong amidst feeling broken into a million little pieces.  I’m learning to accept that I’m not called to fill every gap.  And that sometimes, the best way to love and care for someone is for me to allow myself to be exactly where I’m at.

I’ve learned to empathize with moments people felt small in Scripture.
I love that God’s Word is not full of people who were constantly put together, but people who were very in touch with their emotions.  I’ve sat and wept with Hannah on the temple steps for her barrenness to the point the priest thought she was drunk.  I’ve felt the pain of Jacob’s heart when he was brought Joseph’s bloody clothes and told his son was killed.  I’ve agreed with David as he pours his heart out to God saying, “Darkness is a better friend than you.”  I’ve understood where Mary was coming from when Jesus came to town after Lazarus died and she didn’t go to Jesus, but stayed in her house.  And I’ve understood where Martha was coming from when she went right to Him and chewed Him out.

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I’m learning that “you can’t experience full recovery until you let your pain be fully uncovered”.
I’ve wanted to tie this up with some truth or hope.  We like resolution and happy endings that make all of the pain worth it.  The hard part, is sitting in the reality of not having a resolution.  Hard parts that characters of Scripture can empathize with us in, like Job, Stephen, Ruth, Jesus, etc.  I’ve wanted to “hide my crazy” and just be okay.  But you can’t be something you’re not, without failure or difficulty.  Our Western brains have been told to find whatever 3 step system we can to healing, wholeness, and wellness and sometimes the best thing for us is to just allow ourselves to be what we are- small.