There are some things that no one can bring glory from, but God. Our lives can be a mess of howling wild wails into a dark night. And yeah, broken family ties can be that one thing that always brings you to tears. Tears at the thoughts of your future without the people of the past. Tears at what you’re missing out on in the present. Tears at the seeping wounds of others. Tears as you remember the worst that has been said to you. And yeah, we can be the woman shot twice in the leg who tries to carry the family member with innards-spilling out up a mountain.
Sister, it is okay to not know how to carry that weight.
We all handle it differently. Some of us buckle under its weight and stand paralyzed. Some crumble. Some pray for strength. Some can pray for everything but that. But if it goes on long enough?
Eventually, we are all the same. At some point, we all get blood-loss anemia-level tired. Our hope for earthly reconciliation flags, in part because hope disappointed can hurt too much as milestones and holidays pass. Because days can turn to weeks, weeks into months, and months into years of someone choosing not to be a part of your life. Of someone tearing down your life, the people you love most, and the vision of your future. The situation and the pain is always there, underlying everything. It makes answering questions about your family uncomfortable. It makes you feel deep shame.
And yeah, strength seeps out we walk and crawl and claw.
But here’s the thing: We are all always moving. We are all always walking through our pain, and there are always only two directions: towards God or away from Him.
We can still walk towards Him and while we wrestle, cry, wrangle, and ask why. The main thing is to make sure that you’re asking the questions to Him. Jesus will sit down next to you and tenderly comfort you, but we won’t hear Him or see Him unless we’re facing Him, even if it’s in a posture of pain.
And if I know anything about Him, I know this. “I want the answer. He wants me to come close” (-Ann Voskamp)
I ask Him when, He asks me to come close.
I want pain-relief. He draws me close.
When I tell Him I can’t carry the burden, He tells me it was never meant to be mine, and to place it on His shoulders. And for me to climb aboard, too.
I tell Him I’m apparently not worth loving or saving. He whispers to me the truth of His wildly pursuing love.
He said it to me on a wind once: Stop shutting me out of the struggle. I can take it. I created you. I can take your struggle, I can take your tears, I can take the way your mind is processing this.
I knew the scripture and head-logic truths, knew I shouldn’t feel the way I did…but it didn’t change the fact that I did feel that way. It took me inviting His presence into my struggles to make some breakthroughs in heart-knowledge and regain peace. It still hurt, but His presence started mending some of the depth of the pain and wounds.
Know that you can be honest with God and still feel a Father’s love, Jesus’ overwhelming tenderness, and the special comfort and peace that the Spirit brings. We can still hear the truth about who we are. We can still praise Him for who He is. Who He is doesn’t change despite our changing family circumstances.
Walk or crawl in the pain with God long enough and I guarantee that you are walking to a breakthrough…maybe not in your family circumstances, but in your joy.
And it’s okay to not know how to put the pieces back together, to fix the hollow, the pain, the empty. God knows how. Trust me, because I am proof. He gathers pieces of you that you didn’t know you had or needed, and puts you back together a different person. And even though I wish it didn’t take the pain to get here, I’ll admit it…a better person.
I wish I could offer some magic quote that spurred on healing, but the truth is my heart wasn’t completely healed before God healed the situation (after 4 years). I didn’t believe it would ever be healed. All I can say is I was there too, and I’m unafraid of your wounds, words or confessions. And so is Jesus.
The few tid-bits of practical advice that I do have for someone going through family-pain:
- My anthem prayer during overwhelming pain when it’s too hard to pray anything else? “Hold me, Jesus. Get behind me, Satan.”
- It’s easy to forget at times, but try to remember that the devil is the enemy
- Sometimes you can love too much to pray. If that’s the case, invite others in. Let others pray who have a little distance. Who aren’t brought to tears every time they try. It’s okay to ask others to pray your family through. It’s okay to need support. It’s okay for there to be seasons of personal healing without deep focus on the grief of ThatSituation. Prayer is also important. Commit to praying a couple times a week, and leave the rest up to some warrior-friends
- If you are able to pray about it, by all means, please do. Ask God to help you not grow weary when you pray.
- Repeat: It isn’t your story of shame. It’s His soon-to-be story of redemption
- Remember that there is a covering that He can place over those affected. Our actions still have consequences, but He is able to comfort and cover during the consequences. Especially the little children. Never forget how Jesus loves the little children. No one and nothing can create a wound in them that He can’t heal.
- Read Lysa Terkeurst’s book Uninvited: How to live loved when you feel left-out, less than and lonely. Helpful advice for living loved in light of rejection.