This past weekend as I was running my last few errands for my son’s graduation party. I went into a store to return a package of balloons I had decided I didn’t really need. I was going to exchange them for a single balloon. As the cashier explained to me I couldn’t return them I felt frustration rising in me. It was strange as I normally wouldn’t have thought a thing about it. But as I stood there with the plan I had walked in with suddenly falling apart I felt myself becoming angry.
In my mind I was telling myself….
‘Ruthann it’s $5 really?’.
As the conversation continued and I spoke to the manager trying to plead my case that I was unaware of their policy and couldn’t they grace me just this once. The manager responded short with me and as I stood dumbfounded at the register I didn’t know what to do….I know this probably sounds strange to most of you.
After all it was a package of balloons I didn’t really need but I wasn’t able to think past my dilemma. As I walked out of the store bothered….both at my response and with the store’s policy I glanced down at the shirt I was wearing,
it read ‘Love Dallas‘.
It’s one of our church’s key initiatives to love our city and community.
I knew I had terribly failed to show love as I voiced my irritation with the clerk and manager. I got into my car knowing I should go back into the store and apologize for my thoughtless words but I needed a plan. I was hoping my husband would talk me through it but as I opened the car door I realized he was on the phone and wasn’t available to help me process this.
You see grief shows up in all sorts of ways…
prior to dealing with my Mom’s death 3 years ago I had no idea grief can manifest itself as irritation. Differently than expected it doesn’t always surface in sadness and tears. This was true for me on that day. I had been grieving the days leading up to graduation. I was missing my parents and our sons who wouldn’t be with us. As I sat there a few minutes breathing and leaning into God I asked Him to help me. I headed back into the store and immediately apologized to the clerk who was both surprised at my response and gracious. I then asked to speak to her manager who met me up front. I also apologized to him and explained in greater detail how my grief was surfacing with my son’s graduation. I knew it was a big explanation but felt led to share it with him and what happened next was amazing…
Sometimes our mistakes can overwhelm us with shame because we lose sight that God has greater work to do through our mistakes than our strengths!
As soon as I asked the manager for forgiveness and apologized for my insensitivity that he was probably tending to a lot more than my $5 return that morning, he softened and opened up that his good friend had just hung himself the night before. He shared his shock from it and how he was processing it all. He then offered to fill all of my balloons with helium for me…he wanted to make things right. He didn’t appear to be a believer through our conversation but I was assured deep within my soul that there was a greater thing happening than my frustrations surfacing. As I exited the store with the balloons in hand I walked out with a humbled heart. Yes although I didn’t do the right thing the first time God generously gave me another chance..a redeeming redo!
He gives broken marriages….splintered families….hurting people redo’s all the time and even gives grieving Mommas who lose it over balloons another chance to make things right!
We all need these opportunities of restoration and redemption….
Grace has a way of taking us back!
After all how can love leave us so busted up?
God takes all our messy sin and removes it from within us & redeems every part of it, leaving us washed clean.
My sin didn’t cease with that event that day either. No truth is I was tripping over myself all weekend, but God’s grace gives us the ability to walk back to Him every time for cleansing and a renewing of our hearts. God loves the process of restoring souls and mine’s been in a bit of a busted up mess lately.
I keep thinking I’ll wake up and be out of it all in the morning but it seems He has me walking through it these days to be able to sit with those who are feeling a bit broken themselves.
I keep thinking I’m supposed to find my way out but God keeps showing me the deeper way through it and how He’s using it.
Our suffering is often what ministers to others…from brokenness to brokenness there’s power in His healing care.
What seems to be unraveling us can actually heal…compassion is more than sharing a cup of tea with someone its meeting them in their pain and brokenness…. and who is better to do that but someone who is broken themselves.
Brokenness has a way of drawing us to brokenness doesn’t it?
We pause a little longer,
look deeper into hurting eyes caught in pain
and search further for those in need.
It’s when life is working well that we tend to skip over our hurting world and look past the needy hands outstretched around us.
This grief my heart’s been living through has been teaching me not to fear pain, to know there’s hope beyond it and to allow God to absorb what sometimes seems too great for my heart to bear.
sometimes I wonder how we will all go on without you….
how my life will run without kids underfoot asking me to pause and look at their creations…this Momma who’s known for more years than not what it means to give up and give past is finding a new way to walk and serve…
it’s not the who God is calling me to right now it’s the blessing He’s calling me to be.
When our life ceases here on earth,
it won’t be the people with titles and fame who fill our funeral pews
but the ones we’ve stopped and shared moments of togetherness with, those we’ve cared enough to break bread with.
So rather than concentrating on losses that seem to be stinging lately God is shifting my gaze and calling me to look into the faces of those living and breathing around me….He’s beckoning me to look around rather than looking toward the past.
Oh the ache is still there but there’s a day when that will all fade away, a day when my life will see again those I’ve longed to see.
So for now my hope must live bravely loving to the end.
Our life is not about finding more peace to ease our pain I believe its found in the inconveniences of our days.
Our life is about being broken enough that grace can seep in and change us.
And as we go through this life-altering process God’s grace spills out all over those we get close enough to experience God’s all consuming love with.
Life hurts…because love does, but there’s nothing more beautiful than love shared.
And it’s in these seasons of brokenness that we allow to keep coming along that we will fall to our knees with our palms wide open and surrender ourselves to God’s healing…Oh if we could just live like this.always.and forever.
Never afraid of pain or loss again.
But we don’t get that not for now. Its on this side of heaven that people like me fall over and over again into the arms of God. And it’s inside His embrace for moments of time we escape the pain of the world, we are close enough to hear Him tell us He believes in us! It’s in His grasp we find hope….after the diagnosis seeps in and we absorb the reality of life without those we love…its in the seconds of these moments we feel all that we can and surrender our hurts to the One who can heal and carry us along.
Friends, our kids find Jesus in moments like this, in the brokenness of life.
Yet so many of us keep protecting them from pain. But if a heart can’t be cracked open Jesus isn’t welcomed inside. So it is with us too. If we cover over rather than opening up we miss Him…vulnerability cracks hearts wide open and leads us to healing. Life is hard so that we may need God who can heal and save us. Without pain and suffering in life we skip over a need for Him in our lives. And so it also is with sin…it’s in our brokenness of sin God is able to save us. So although we’d rather look clean from the outside in God knows what we need more than a freshly polished exterior, He knows we need our hearts re-membered by Him….
For God is the greatest of all Physicians and He’s the One that’s been healing hearts since the beginning of time…..
We can live with our heart broken wide open before God and not fear the idea of falling apart because the One who first put our hearts together is able to restore it again and again…the pain gets better but in the process we must offer our brokenness as our humble sacrifice…a way in which others find Jesus within brokenness and experience wholeness & restoration.
Our busted up world is longing to know they’re not abandoned in their brokenness and friends this is how we get to live out what we believe.
To show our hurting world
that Christ enters brokenness inside of us so that He can be inside of us!