I reach for the top shelf of the cabinet, but the glass slips from my hand and shatters on the tile floor below. Tiny shards of glass everywhere. It was the last straw. I cup my face in my hands, lean against the counter and sink down to the ground as the weeping finally finds a way out.
The day is here. The one year mark since I last held Tage, since he took his last breath on this earth. Life remains shattered. My future, my dreams, my marriage, my hope — all of life fragmented since Tage died.
I walk into his room and sit down in his rocker. There’s a certain smell in there that reminds me of stories, songs, and smiles, of diaper changes and night time feedings. But I can’t smile about it yet. The memories still bring tears. I look into the eyes of my husband, the one man who misses Tage the way I do, the only one who truly understands this pain, but his eyes show the same empty sorrow and ache.
I wanted to have joy by now, but I can’t find it. I wanted God to be more revealing of His plans by now, but He has kept the cards hidden from me. I wanted to have a plan for my future, for what I might try to do or achieve or become in the next five years, but I have nothing — no general plan or promising idea to give me any sense of security that life might turn out the way I want. What do I do without a plan? Not that my plans have ever turned out the way I planned anyway. But for some reason, having one makes me feel safe.
Nothing about my life right now feels safe.
Because of Daylight Saving Time, my runs now happen in the dark. I have loved running in the dark since I first discovered it as a college student, because no one can see me. Except God.
I start out running, but usually within 60 seconds, I’m crying — heaving crying — and it’s impossible to cry like that and breathe with the rhythm of your stride. So, I have to walk. But walking means my route will take longer than normal, so I will have plenty of time to talk with Him.
Tears stream continuously down my contorted face which accurately displays the agony within. I talk out loud, my hands accenting my emotion.
“Lord, I thought I’d be feeling better by now!” I cry. “I thought it wouldn’t hurt this much anymore. I just want to hold him, Lord. Bring him back, please bring him back!” There is no audible answer, so I continue.
“I really can’t do this, Lord. This is still just too much. There are too many hardships piling on at once. How did You think I could handle all of this? What are You doing? Can you get down here and talk to me face to face, please? I need You to show up!”
These are not quick 10 minute conversations. I find myself traveling way outside the safe lines I had drawn for my life, battling thoughts that God has forgotten me, and fighting for my very life at times.
After I have vented my anger, my tone begins to soften. “I don’t want to do this anymore, Lord. Would you please just take me? Please. I don’t think I can go on like this much longer! I have no idea what You’re doing! Am I ever going to feel joy again? I think back to the days before Tage’s diagnosis, and I cry. They were wonderful, happy, joyful times. Will I ever feel that way again? I don’t want to always look at the past and cry. How much longer, Lord?”
There are no fireworks in the sky as I run, not even a shooting star. But there continues to be the faintest whisper, the tiniest stream in the middle of this vast emotional desert, the sense of a warm presence beside me during these cool runs in the dark. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted.
So, I tell Him what He already knows. “I’m so broken, Lord. All of me is completely broken.”
Last weekend, my dad and I ran errands together on Saturday morning. We ate breakfast and sipped coffee, reminisced about my younger days, and visited lots of hardware stores (because Dad would live in one if he could, I think). It was in one of these hardware stores that we found a candle displayed in a cracked glass jar. The jar was completely covered in cracks, yet it was by far the most beautiful candle in the aisle. It showed off the light inside it. “This cracked one is the most beautiful one here,” I casually commented to my dad, but I didn’t give it a second thought.
Until yesterday. Until the shattered glass reflected my shattered life. Until I wondered again if maybe God could actually take my shattered brokenness and make something beautiful with it.
It won’t look the way it used to. It won’t look the way I had always planned. But what if it might display His light in a way that no other jar does? What if it became the most beautiful one in the aisle because of how it refracted His light to the world?
So, for a moment, I wonder. “Could you do something incredible like that with me, Lord? Could you make something beautiful and sparkly out of my shattered mess and imploding brokenness?
I want to think that He can. He’s done it before in my life. But sometimes I wonder if this time it’s too much. What if this time He chooses not to? What if I’m stuck in grief forever, forgotten by Him? What if I never feel joy again?
I can’t remember the things I know right now. I am so grateful to the incredible people in our lives who continuously remind us of Truth during this dark time when we cannot see the Light. When we got home on the 16th, a beautiful table was set for us with a delicious roast and wine. The counter was full of flowers and cards. Next to our seats were these verses written by the loving hands of some of our dearest friends:
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are CRUSHED (shattered, broken) in spirit.” -Psalm 34:18
“When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears them and delivers them out of all their troubles.” -Psalm 34:17
“My grace is sufficient for you for my power is made perfect in weakness.” -2 Corinthians 12:9
“But the Lord stood with me and gave me strength.” – 2 Timothy 4:17
“The Lord will fight for you. You need only to be still.” -Exodus 14:14
“The pain you’ve been feeling cannot compare to the joy that’s coming.” -Romans 8:18
Then, last night, I went for another run in the dark. The emotions of the week still shrouded me.
“Lord, are you even here? Do you even care?” I prayed as I headed down the sidewalk.
My eyes were drawn to moving light up in the sky right up in front of me. It was a shooting star! The largest and most brilliant one I had ever seen! The orange orb’s bright glow captured my gaze as it fell through the sky, leaving a yellow, sparkling tail behind it. It traveled slowly, like the embers of a firework, as it entered our atmosphere and made its way toward the ground below. It was stunning. I hadn’t seen one like this in over decade, and I stopped to just watch and take it all in. I laughed out loud, as God reminded me He was here with a “shooting star.”
A shooting star is just a piece broken off of a meteor.
God knows how to use broken pieces to make them mesmerizingly beautiful.
Life is broken right now. It hurts. It seems unfixable to us. The light at the end of the tunnel is difficult to see most days.
My heart aches. My soul grieves. I don’t have any plan for what the future may look like. I don’t understand or have any of the answers I so desperately want.
All I have is broken pieces. Lots and lots of broken pieces.
And that’s all He needs.