Sweet girl, Broken woman:

A year ago, you were running down a hallway to see your daddy who was fighting for his life in a hospital bed.  Today, those visceral memories of those seven weeks and the hell that followed are playing back in your head.  Today you see the last year and how it has nearly destroyed you.  You see the grief you were mired in and the terrible battles that you’ve fought when almost no one was looking.  You see the tears, the desperate prayers, the less than graceful moments.  Today, you are seeing just how badly and terribly the last year has broken and weakened you.

But you don’t see how far you’ve come.

You forget that before the worst started, you saw wounds and you reached out for help.  You made the call and scheduled the appointment.  You crawled into his office.  And you kept going.  Even as your dad got sick and your world spiraled further out of your control.  Even as you watched him suffer and slip off to heaven–you still sought the help.  Even through the darkest and deepest grief, though the private struggles and battles, you kept going back.  You kept seeking healing.

How far you’ve come!

You kept going to church, even when the thought of sitting through Mass made you want to run away.  When the priest would get to the parts where they prayed for those who had died…and you would fall apart.  You kept approaching Him, even though He said no to your most desperate prayers on those dark days in the hospital.  You continued to pray; though the words were clumsy and the prayers short and numb.  You pleaded with him to raise you up, sustain you.  You asked for healing, for redemption.  Even in the fear of another no, you kept asking.  You rooted out your weeds, separated the wheat from the chaff.  You kept fighting.  Just like he told you to.

Oh, how far you’ve come!

You hit bottom, and you stood back up.  You retreated and leaned into the darkness.  You learned who your friends were.  Those who stood with you in the gap, those who prayed for you and with you even in the darkest hours of night.  Those who comforted you, but also challenged you keep growing.  They let you weep into the phone, crumble onto their couches.  They helped you try to laugh and find the broken joy again.  Even if felt wrong.  They watched your children so you could go into the other room and give way to the broken sobs when you realized that tower of a man was not going to make it.  They showed up to the funeral and held you up, held your children.  When you felt like you lost everything, they showed up and showed you how wrong you were.

Indeed!  How far you’ve come!

Last year, you stood next to his bed fearing the death that would eventually come.  Last year, you felt like you were going to crumble in the face of deep and horrific suffering.  In the last year, you thought surely that life was going to break you.  But the last year didn’t break you.  It broke you open.  Today, you got up.  You laced up your shoes.  You went for a run.  Today, you acted on the growth you have cultivated in your family, in your marriage, in your soul.  Today, you feel so much less anxious.  Today you weep tears of joy at the wounds that have healed–because you reached out for help.  Today, even though you lost the man who was the anchor of your first family, you have greater faith in the true Anchor of your soul.  Today, your soul is purer, your heart still grieving but hopeful, and your whole self just a little stronger than yesterday.  So much stronger than a year ago.

Oh, sweet woman.  Oh sweet soul, broken open.

Yes, your heart still aches.  Yes, the tears still fall so easily.  Yes, the gaping hole he left still throbs so profoundly.  Yes, you feel the pain from the battle wounds of the last year. But you kept fighting and keep fighting.  You kept praying and keep praying.  You kept healing and keep healing.  You kept weeding out and you keep weeding out.  Today, you still have growing and healing to do.  Today, you still have grief to endure and dark moments to survive.  You still have much to endure.  You still have wheat to pull from the chaff.

But, sweet soul, don’t get mired down in what you’ve lost and the darkness that has covered the last year.  Remember, too, how far He has brought you.  See, too, the redemption He has wrought.  Don’t forget the resurrection and the healing and the victories.  What glory!  What blessings!  You still have to walk this road of grief and healing.  But, oh sweet daughter of God, look how far you’ve come.

Sweet woman of Christ, see how far you’ve come!

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