The Christmas Fudge was perfect, the tree decorated, cookies baked, and we were full of expectation for a wonderful time together. All six of our children were coming home for Christmas, along with spouses and our two grandbabies. We couldn’t wait. I was making dinner when my husband John went out to get the mail, returning with assorted Christmas cards, fliers for local businesses, and a letter from our youngest daughter.
“Dear Mom and Dad,” he began, after opening the small white envelope. He read out loud a familiar greeting and the fact that she had a lot to tell us but would keep it short and sweet. While I stirred the rice, his voice tapered off. Void of expression he read until the end, the paper almost too heavy to hold, soon fell to his side.
After thirty-one years of marriage, you know when something is wrong. “What?” I asked. “What is going on?” He lifted the paper toward me, turned and walked out the door. Unable to handle his own grief, let alone, watch me digest what was now our new reality. A reality we never saw coming.
By the time we received the handwritten note, our adventurous nineteen-year-old daughter, we had thought was living in Tennessee, would be settled into an East Coast apartment with her husband, a young man whom we had never met.
I turned the letter over in the hope that is was a hoax or prank. It wasn’t.
For us, it was like watching someone we cherished walk, with an open hand, toward a flame and not able to do anything to prevent touching it.
I felt shattered from the inside out, like a person pushed from a tall building, landing like a gelatinous blob on the sidewalk below, and lived. Everything hurt.
I no longer wondered about all the things I did wrong.
I wondered if I had done anything right.
As I watched her come back for the Holidays, pack up the rest of her belongings, and leave, all I could ask was WHY? While it is easy to hope for some Hallmark ending, sometimes silence is the answer we have to settle for. The fact is, she is an adult now, the decision was hers. We have no choice but to accept it.
So, I pick up a broom and begin to sweep the shards of raw emotion into a pile.
It is a pain that brings parents to their knees. A pain that makes childbirth seem like a walk in the park. An anguish shared by others who have silently cried into tear stained pillowcases.
“Faith is the strength by which a shattered world shall emerge into the light.” Helen Keller
I think about the Lord, our Heavenly Father, and how many times I have broken His heart. Strong willed decisions made without fully understanding the consequences have no doubt been something that He has endured on my behalf countless times. And yet, because of His unconditional love, He waited. Time and time again he looked toward the horizon with unfathomable forgiveness and mercy. So will we.
Are you broken? Maybe, like me, you feel like your life is nothing but a barren wasteland. If you have ever gone on a road trip, think endless miles in the Utah salt flats, void of anything living or life sustaining.
Desolate and lonely.
Even in our brokenness, God is there.
Sometimes the only thing we can do is trust Him with our shattered pieces and wait for the streams.