I read somewhere this weekend that stepping into grief is a lot like stepping into a dark room. The door shuts behind you and you panic because you can’t see, your arms go flailing all about, you’re lost and alone and unsure. It’s scary and it’s lonely and you aren’t sure what to do, but then your vision adjusts. You look around and with new eyes you see what at first you couldn’t—that there are people who climbed in there with you when you went to that dark place, like my friend Joanna who cried with me and let me cry with her and who knew so well what to say and how to say it, I may never respond to anyone who is grieving again in the same way I once would have done. Then your eyes adjust more, and even more shockingly, you see there are people all around you who were already there, people who have walked through their own miscarriages, people like some of you who honored us with your stories, and you think, I had no idea you were in this place!, and you find real comfort in seeing what you could not see and knowing, not only are you not alone because of them, but also they’re not alone because of you. It’s a strange thing, a shared sorrow, what the Bible calls bearing one another’s burdens. I learned these last few weeks that hearing someone else cry can give me a moment of relief, like they are letting me entrust them with part of what’s so sad, so I don’t have to carry it alone. I learned how much I want to do that for other people when they hurt. I learned how a lot of you already know exactly what that means. I learned also about this thing people call presence, having someone sit on the phone with you or jot back-and-forth emails with you, and how it is truly, shockingly, a help. Why would it be a help when your soul is crushed with sorrow? Yet it is! A miracle to replace a lost one, a gift I didn’t expect. And I learned or am learning too, and this is maybe what I was trying to say in that last post, that once you go to that dark room, it’s a bit of work to get out. It’s a lot of lamenting and wrestling and continual moment-by-moment deciding to lift your eyes and fumble for the door and push towards the making of a sandwich or the cleaning of a room.
Tim took me to Memphis Saturday, a three-hour drive in the morning to get there and a three-hour drive in the evening to come back, and those few hours we spent driving new streets and new neighborhoods was such a balm for my soul, like someone opened the door and let light flood my sight. On the way there, we listened to a lot of Tim Keller (this is highly recommended) and on the way back we did a lot of talking and praying, and I don’t know how else to say it but that there has been a truly supernatural peace that’s come as a result. I wanted to tell you this here because I know a lot of you have wept for us and with us, and I know a lot of you have prayed for us. And I want you to know it’s helped, you’ve helped, and I have resulting hallelujahs erupting from my heart. I want also to tell you, if you are grieving in some way today, especially if it’s in a way that’s hard to share, that there is, always, hope.
ps! the cream puffs! A week or so before Valentine’s Day, I said something to Tim about wanting to make eclairs, and when he later decided to make me dinner, these were the dessert. We’ve made them five times since, I’m not exaggerating, because there is just something about that light, airy pastry dough mixed with thick pudding and chocolate. Something that I can’t get enough of, even in the midst of hibernating, heavy weeks. I’d say I’m sad I spent so much of my life not knowing how easy they are, but really I’m also glad because, now that I do know, I’ve had them six times in three weeks…
pps! also worth mentioning: Between the cream puffs and the pudding, you’ll need 7 eggs. Just wanted that on the table so you know.